Cubs

Carl White juggles grades, rebounds for Foreman

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Carl White juggles grades, rebounds for Foreman

In the past, Foreman's basketball team had the last names of the varsity players stitched to the back of their uniforms and warm-ups. Not this year. Coach Terry Head is taking a different approach."We're all about team this year, no super stars, just old-fashioned basketball. Nobody is better than anyone else," Head said. "I made the decision last year, to remove the names from the backs of the uniforms. Last year's team was too selfish. They were worried about themselves too much."Now I just want the kids to talk about Foreman basketball, what we do, no individuals. One kid asked me why I did it and I explained it to him and he understood. I haven't had any other complaints. Everybody is together, at study hall, morning practice, afternoon practice, eating together, Christmas party, one program, just Foreman basketball."Head, 40, in his 13th year has head coach, admits he never has been happier. "I like it better this year. It is less stressful when you don't have a lot of egos on the team. It's more fun to coach kids who want to play basketball for the right reasons. I'm having more fun with this team than ever before," he said.Foreman was 8-1 after splitting its first two games in the 78th Normandy holiday tournament in St. Louis. It isn't his most talented team, he admits, but it is comparable to the 2005 and 2010 powerhouses and it is more fun because "the kids want to work hard all the time and are willing to do whatever it takes to win."At Normandy, Foreman opened with a 56-32 rout of host Normandy, then
lostto Memphis (Tennessee) Melrose 54-46.Nobody exemplifies the coach's philosophy more than Carl White, a 6-foot-6 junior who works as hard in the classroom as he does on the court. White has a 4.2 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, scored 22 on his ACT and has attracted interest from Loyola, Indiana and Yale. He averages seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks per game.Last year, White put together an impressive resume. He was the leading scorer on the sophomore team and qualified to go Downstate to compete in the state's three-point shooting contest."But I knew it wasn't enough to be a starter on the varsity and that's what I wanted to do this year," he said. "I played AAU over the summer and I went to the coach's house twice a week to work out with him. I wanted to be good. I knew I could contribute to the team this year."White also grew four inches over the summer. He improved as a rebounder and a defender. He describes his primary role as the "defensive leader and backbone of the defense." But he said Head "is always on my back. He says I'm not selfish enough. Sometimes he looks to me to score more."But the most fun White has on the floor is blocking shots. "I like intimidating them, knowing the other team isn't going to the hole," he said.He is motivated by his desire to combine basketball with a good education in college. His mother always pushed him to get good grades since he was little and Head has stressed academics at Foreman."At first, when I was a freshman, it was tough to keep my mind on my books," White said. "But once you start doing well in school, you want to keep doing well and go to the next level. Other kids ask: 'Why do you study so much?' I think about where they are going to be in four years and where I will be if I do what I'm supposed to do."White wants to major in sports broadcast journalism. He is a big Stacey King fan and loves to mimic many of the former Chicago Bulls player turned Bulls television color commentator's trademark sayings."I want to play basketball and get the best education I can in college," he said. "It motivates me to be better, to keep working harder."I have to cut some parties and make more study time after practice. It's go to class, go to practice, eat, study, sleep. I have some time in the day at school during lunchtime to socialize. But I know that studies and basketball will determine my future. People will always be there. This is the time to get serious about studies and basketball."Meanwhile, White is close to his teammates. They hang out together. And all of them were looking forward to the four-day trip to St. Louis as an opportunity to bond and get closer together and compete against teams that they never have seen before.The other starters are 6-foot-2 senior Rickey White (no relation to Carl), who averages 14 points per game, 6-foot senior Terrance Overton, 5-foot-11 senior point guard Charles Thornton and 5-foot-9 senior Eric Patton. The first two players off the bench are 6-foot senior Clarence Boyce and 6-foot-3 junior Karon Linton."The challenge of coaching basketball is taking kids who are not that good and making them better, taking kids who normally wouldn't play basketball and get them involved," Head said. "This is the hardest playing team I've coached but it isn't the best. This group plays with a chip on their shoulders. They know they have to pay hard and together in order to be successful."Head said his best team was the 2005 squad led by Donald Brown and the 2010 team led by Mike McCall that lost to Whitney Young in the Class 4A sectional final. McCall currently is playing at Saint Louis University. Last year's team was 19-7 and lost to New Trier in the regional."This isn't the most talented team I've had. But it listens," Head said. "They are fun to coach because they want to work hard. They understand they don't have talent alone. They don't have a 6-foot-8 kid. So they are willing to do whatever it takes to win."

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

Spring training baseball games are up around the bend, but before boys of summer get into organized action, two of the team’s new coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey sit down with Kelly Crull.

Plus, Vinnie Duber joins Kelly to discuss these baseball conversations including the memorable first words of Kyle Schwarber to Chili Davis, “I don’t suck!"

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.