White Sox

CSN to carry live coverage of the 2015 IHSA Football State Championships (Nov. 27 and 28)

CSN to carry live coverage of the 2015 IHSA Football State Championships (Nov. 27 and 28)

Network to televise LIVE HD coverage of this weekend’s Class 1A-8A IHSA Football State Championships from Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, IL

PLUS -- Live streaming coverage of EVERY IHSA Football State Championship telecast – including surrounding pre/postgame coverage – to be made available to authenticated subscribers on CSNChicago.com  and via the NBC Sports Live Extra app 

CSNChicago.com to air highlight packages of all games throughout the weekend;

CSNChicago.com & IHSA.tv to also live stream every post-game press conference

Chicago, IL (November 23, 2015) -- For the fifth-straight year, Comcast SportsNet, the television home of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championships, will be airing LIVE high-definition coverage of the 2015 IHSA Football State Championshipson Friday, November 27 & Saturday, November 28 from Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, IL.  Illinois preps football fans can look forward to seeing every action-packed championship battle starting with the Class 1A contest on Friday morning at 10:00 AM CT, leading up to Class 8A’s highly-anticipated match-up between Loyola Academy and Marist on Saturday night at 7:00 PM CT.  The 2015 IHSA Football Championships will be produced by the IHSA & PlayOn! Sports.

In addition -- EVERY IHSA Football State Championship telecast on Comcast SportsNet, including surrounding pre/postgamecoverage, will be streamed LIVE on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports Live Extra app on tablets and smart phones.  Authenticated Comcast SportsNet Chicago subscribers can watch live IHSA Football State Championships action from anywhere in the United States.  The live streaming service is currently available to customers of Comcast/Xfinity, DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, Mediacom, RCN, WOW!, Time Warner Cable and Charter among numerous other carriers.  For a full list of carriers and more information about CSN Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit the following link: csnchicago.com/page/live-extra-faq.

IMPORTANT NOTES:

  • Friday’s Class 3A championship between Bishop McNamara and Unity (4:00 PM start) will air on both CSN and CSN+HD (NOTE: CSN+HD is located on Comcast ch. 201 in the Chicago area and in South Bend, IN…located on ch. 285 in Comcast’s Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets), while Friday’s Class 4A championship between Phillips and Althoff Catholic (7:00 PM start) will air exclusively on CSN+HD.
  • Viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s special “Comcast SportsNet Channel Finder” section (http://www.csnchicago.com/channel-finder ) or IHSA.org for complete channel location details for ALL games throughout the state. 
  • Fans are also strongly urged to interact via Twitter throughout the entire weekend by utilizing the hashtag #IHSA to share their comments and showcase their school spirit for their favorite teams. 
  • IHSA.tv will also be providing fans with a live stream of every IHSA Football championship post-game press conference. 

In addition, CSNChicago.com’s IHSA Preps section (csnchicago.com/preps) will feature highlight packages from all games throughout the weekend, along with week-long coverage & scouting reports from veteran Illinois preps sports writer “Edgy Tim” O’Halloran (@EDGYTIM) and a Twitter module aggregating all #IHSA tweets.  Plus – Comcast SportsNet viewers can look forward to a special “IHSA Football Championships” wrap-up edition of High School Lites on Saturday, Nov. 28 live at 11:00 PM for a complete rundown of every championship game, including expanded highlights and player/coaches interviews.  From an additional social media standpoint, fans are urged to follow @CSNPreps on Twitter throughout the weekend for up-to-the-minute 2015 IHSA Football State Championship news & game updates.

IHSA TV veterans Dave Bernhard (Class 3A, 4A, 7A & 8A) and Lee Hall (Class 1A & 2A) return in 2015 to bring viewers every thrill-packed play-by-play call, which will also include the second year pxp call from veteran Chicago-area broadcaster/WTVO-TV’s Matt Rodewald (Class 5A & 6A). Color analysis will be provided by veteran Chicago Bears/NFL expert Hub Arkush (Class 7A & 8A), along with former Illinois State University football standout  Chris Highland (Class 5A & 6A), Northern Illinois University football radio color analyst Mark Lindo (Class 3A & 4A) and longtime IHSA TV contributor/Illinois High School Coaches Association Hall of Famer Jack McInerney (Class 1A & 2A).

Sideline reports throughout the IHSA Football Championships weekend will be provided by Comcast SportsNet’s Kelly Crull (Class 3A, 4A, 7A & 8A) and WICS-TV Springfield/Decatur/Champaign’s Donnie Tillman (Class 1A, 2A, 5A & 6A).

The following schedule details Comcast SportsNet’s coverage of the 2015 IHSA Football Championships airing this Thanksgiving weekend (play-by-play/color analyst/sideline reporting teams are in parentheses):

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 27

10:00 AM –      Class 1A: STARK COUNTY (Toulon) vs. ARCOLA (Lee Hall/Jack McInerney/Donnie Tillman)

1:00 PM –        Class 2A: TRI-VALLEY (Downs) vs. AUBURN (Lee Hall/Jack McInerney/Donnie Tillman)

4:00 PM –        Class 3A: BISHOP MCNAMARA (Kankakee) vs. UNITY (Tolono) (Dave Bernhard/Mark Lindo/Kelly Crull)

(NOTE: This game will air on both the main Comcast SportsNet channel location & CSN+HD; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:00 PM –        Class 4A: PHILLIPS (Chicago) vs. ALTHOFF CATHOLIC (Belleville) (Dave Bernhard/Mark Lindo/Kelly Crull)

(NOTE: This game will air on exclusively on CSN+HD; please visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28

10:00 AM –      Class 5A: NAZARETH ACADEMY (LaGrange Park) vs. LINCOLN-WAY WEST (New Lenox) (Matt Rodewald/Chris Highland/Donnie Tillman)

1:00 PM –        Class 6A: MONTINI (Lombard) vs. CRETE-MONEE (Crete) (Matt Rodewald/Chris Highland/Donnie Tillman)

4:00 PM –        Class 7A: GLENBARD WEST (Glen Ellyn) vs. LIBERTYVILLE (Dave Bernhard/Hub Arkush/ Kelly Crull)

7:00 PM –        Class 8A: LOYOLA ACADEMY (Wilmette) vs. MARIST (Chicago) (Dave Bernhard/Hub Arkush/ Kelly Crull)

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

High School Lites is down to the final week of the regular season in local high school hoops as the Class 3A and 4A schools finish up conference play. The boys basketball playoffs have also started as the Class 1A and Class 2A regional championships will be played on Friday night.

The girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals will also be featured. You can catch all of those games on NBC Sports Chicago on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. with the 1A semifinals. High School Lites will air Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago

East Aurora at No. 11 West Aurora, 7:00 p.m. -- These two rivals meet for the 225th time. The Blackhawks (20-4, 9-0) won the first matchup by 22 points as they try to finish the season on a 12-game winning streak. 

Jacobs at Dundee-Crown, 7:00 p.m. -- Fox Valley rivals match up as Jacobs tries to go unbeaten in the conference. The Eagles (23-3, 15-0) has been playing very well as they've won 20 of 21 games heading into this one -- including an earlier win against Dundee-Crown. The Chargers (14-11, 10-4) has won seven consecutive games since dropping to the Golden Eagles as they're second in the Fox Valley heading into this one. 

Yorkville at DeKalb, 7:00 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East play in this one. DeKalb (16-11, 11-1) has already clinched a share of the conference title as the team's only league loss has come against Yorkville. The Foxes (17-8, 10-2) knocked off DeKalb at their place on Feb. 3 as they try to win again to get a piece of the division title. 

T.F. North at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the better teams in the South Suburban Blue battle on the eve of the playoffs. Lemont (17-8, 9-3) has picked up three straight wins entering this one. T.F. North (11-9, 9-3) is trying to build some momentum after recent close losses to Hillcrest and T.F. South.

Carmel at No. 10 Benet, 7:30 p.m. -- The ESCC closes out its season with this one. Benet (22-4, 7-1) is coming off a nice road win at Marian Catholic earlier this week. Carmel (17-10, 4-4) knocked off Joliet Catholic during the week as they've been a dangerous team in the ESCC. 

Class 2A Boys Basketball Regional Championships

Leo vs. Marshall, 6 p.m. -- The Lions are the favorites but the Commandos are the host of this regional title game. Leo (20-5, 8-0) has a 13-game winning streak as they won the Catholic League White. Marshall (8-17, 4-5) struggled in the win column but they were a competitive 4-5 in a very deep Public League Red-South. 

Uplift vs. Northridge, 7 p.m. -- This should be an interesting battle as Uplift is playing on the road at Northridge. Uplift (17-9, 6-3) has played an extremely competitive schedule that includes a recent close loss to No. 1 Simeon as Kansas commit Markese Jacobs and senior forward Toraze Dobbs are one of the best combinations in the Class 2A field. Northridge (22-5, 12-0) went unbeaten in the Independent School League this season as they're riding a 13-game winning streak.

Class 1A Boys Basketball Regional Championships 

Aurora Christian vs. Harvest Christian, 7 p.m. -- These two teams play for the third time this season in what should be an interesting regional title game. Aurora Christian (23-1, 10-0) is the host as they only lost to Winnebago this season. The Eagles beat Harvest Christian twice in a six-day span in December. Harvest Christian (18-8, 8-2) finished third in the Northeastern Athletic as they played the second game within two points. 

Class 1A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Okaw Valley vs. Stockton, 11 a.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Okaw Valley (29-5) is making its first state appearance after winning its first regional title in school history. Stockton (31-2) finished under .500 last season (13-15) and had an amazing turnaround that includes a current 15-game winning streak. 

Lebanon vs. Schlarman, 12:45 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- These two teams have combined for two losses this season as this should be a good one. Lebanon (31-1) just won its first sectional title in school history as they've now moved on to state. Schlarman (31-1) is led by junior Anaya Peoples, a Notre Dame commit and five-star prospect in the Class of 2019. 

Class 2A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Harlan vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two red-hot teams play in the first semifinal in Class 2A. Harlan (25-6) is riding a 12-game winning streak as this is its first appearance at state for girls basketball. Eureka (28-3) has a 19-game winning streak as they make their first state appearance since 1988.

Marshall vs. Teutopolis, 7:15 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two storied programs in the state match up in this one. Marshall (20-7) will be making its 21st state appearance as head coach Dorothy Gaters is one of the most storied coaches in Illinois. Teutopolis is making its 17th appearance at state as the Lady Shoes (28-6) seek their first title since 1995.