White Sox

Brindza credits Kelly with confidence to hit key kicks

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Brindza credits Kelly with confidence to hit key kicks

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- It wasn't the most important play of Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma, but the result may have been different had Kyle Brindza missed a 44-yard field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter.

Brindza had been solid to begin his sophomore season, his first kicking field goals with Notre Dame. He hit 10 of his first 12 tries, after he was thrown into the fray following Nick Tausch's injury in Week 2 against Purdue (a game in which Brindza went on to hit the game-winning field goal).

But Brindza began to struggle a bit in Notre Dame's 17-14 win over BYU. He missed a pair of field goals in that contest, and after hitting his first in Norman, the sophomore sent a 35-yarder wide left to leave the Irish without any points on a promising drive to open the second half.

But facing a crucial attempt with just under 14 minutes to go in the fourth, Brian Kelly had the confidence to send Brindza back out to try a kick in front of 86,031 fans -- a new attendance record at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Brindza hit that kick, and then a 46-yarder that put Notre Dame up by 10 with 3:22 remaining.

"I told him on the sideline, I said Im proud of the way you hung in there," Kelly recalled on Saturday. "Some may have hung their head, but he bounced back and came back strong for us. I said to him Im proud of you, but youre shaking my confidence. Dont do it anymore. And he promised that he wont."

Brindza was able to diagnose the issue with his missed kick in Norman -- he said he didn't keep his head down. It's kind of like a bad swing in golf -- pull your head up, and the ball probably isn't going to go where you want it.

"You gotta make sure youre doing everything correct, the mechanics, the leg motion and truly just keeping my head down and following straight at the target, and letting the crowd tell me its good or not," Brindza explained.

But Brindza credited Kelly's approach with him on the sidelines as something that helped keep his confidence up. Kelly, of course, has a reputation for purple-faced tirades, although that hardly was the case in his dealings with Brindza.

"Its a lot better than a coach coming up and yelling at you," Brindza said of his interaction with Kelly after his missed kick. "If coach came up and yelled at you right away, was very heated at you, youd kind of sit back and be like wow, and youd actually think more about the miss, rather than what do I need to do. So having a coach thats able to come up to you and have faith and be able to give confidence to yourself as well as joking around a little bit, which he did, its a lot better."

While Brindza's still getting his kicking form down, one thing he and Notre Dame don't have to worry about his confidence. Brindza described himself as confident over and over on Wednesday, and added that he's felt like a seasoned veteran since his first kick with the Irish.

"Its just like a quarterback throwing an interception. If your confidence level is low, youre going to go out there and possibly throw another one," Brindza said. "If you keep your confidence and keep building on it, and just have the mindset of alright, what did I do wrong, I need to correct it, go out there the next time and make the kick."

White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

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White Sox Talk Podcast: Class A manager Justin Jirschele, youngest manager in professional baseball

27-year-old Justin Jirschele made quite an impression in his first season as manager of the White Sox Class-A affiliate in Kannapolis. He helped lead the Intimidators to the South Atlantic League championship, and was named White Sox Minor League Coach of the Year. Jirschele came on the podcast to speak with Chuck Garfien about how he went from playing minor league baseball with the White Sox to coaching in their system. He talks about how growing up with a dad who was coaching minor league baseball helped mold him as a manager who is wise beyond his years. Jirschele also gives a report on some of the top White Sox prospects he managed last season such as Jake Burger, Alec Hansen, Dane Dunning and Miker Adolfo.

Zach LaVine cleared for contact practice

Zach LaVine cleared for contact practice

The Zach LaVine comeback is one step closer as the shooting guard was cleared for contact practice after checking with his doctors in California. 

LaVine will go through a step by step process over the next few weeks and the Bulls will gauge his progress to see when the best time for his return will be. 

But, given the nine-month process from his ACL injury he suffered in February, he's right on track and there doesn't appear to be any setbacks. 

"There’s no real timeframe, I guess," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said at practice Monday. "It’s really going to be on how he feels. We’ll try to do a little more every day with him. We did a little bit, got him some light contact today just to get the process started.

"He’ll be able to play a little two-on-two with not a lot of practice time these next 10 days. But we’ll throw him out there and continue to try to get him feeling better. There’s going to be a mental hurdle that he’s going to have to clear as well. I know he’s excited. His teammates are excited and the coaches are obviously excited as well."

LaVine's recovery has gone as planned since his arrival in Chicago from the Jimmy Butler trade on draft night. Targeting a mid-December return seems realistic but of course, the Bulls will take every precaution to make sure he's healthy for the long term, both for LaVine and the franchise, as he's a restricted free agent this summer--and they have no plans on letting him walk. 

LaVine told NBC Sports Chicago recently that he wants to get on the floor immediately but the Bulls know they'll have to protect him from himself in the meantime. 

"He’s going to have to string together a lot of really good days, and he knows that," Hoiberg said. "He understands that. The important thing is he’s right on track from where it was said after the injury. He’s been doing a great job with his rehab. He’s on time. He’s doing everything that’s asked of him. His strength numbers are where they’re supposed to be. I’m confident he’s going to keep making progress. But we’ll absolutely monitor it daily and hopefully it’ll just continue to get better."

The Bulls aren't sure if they'll send LaVine to the G-League but it's certain they have plans on not only how to use him when he steps on the floor but also a regimen they've stuck to, to ensure there are no real setbacks. 

Hoiberg has been salivating over having a true scorer at that position since trading for him, and LaVine has been eager since his arrival to prove to the Bulls and fans that he is a franchise player. 

Prudence in the moment of progression, though, appears to be the approach taken by both sides.