Cubs

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (30-1)

Results: Defeated Whitney Young 52-42 and Marist 65-44

This Week: Tuesday vs. Evanston (4A Chicago State Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: Kendrick Nunn ignited a 19-1 second quarter against Cinderella Marist. The Wolverines are three wins away from a three-peat.

More Simeon: Check out webisode 14 of DRIVE: Simeon Hoops

2 Proviso East (30-0)

Results: Defeated Lake Park 73-52 and Schaumburg 78-39

This Week: Tuesday vs. West Aurora (4A Hinsdale Central Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: The Pirates have defeated their playoff opponents by an average margin of 22 points. Sterling Brown scored 18 against Schaumburg.

3 Warren (26-3)

Results: Defeated Lake Forest 51-35 and Mundelein 87-52

This Week: Tuesday vs. Rockford-Auburn (4A NIU Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: Two sectional games, two victories against fellow North Suburban-Lake foes. Now, a date with standout guard Fred Van Vleet and Auburn.

4 Bloom (28-3)

Results: Defeated Thornton 44-24 and Homewood-Flossmoor 43-32

This Week: Tuesday vs. Edwardsville (4A ISU Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: It pays to hit free throws. Donald Moore scored 18 of his 20 points from the charity stripe in the win against Homewood-Flossmoor.

5 Hillcrest (25-5)

Results: Defeated Providence 66-46 and Morgan Park 59-48

This Week: Tuesday vs. DuSable (3A Joliet Central Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: The Hawks, looking for their second state title in three years, had four players in double-figures against Morgan Park.

6 Marshall (24-7)

Results: Defeated St. Joseph 58-52 and St. Francis 45-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. North Chicago (3A Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: Milton Doyle and Korbin McClain both contributed with big games against St. Francis as the Commandos survived the upset scare.

7 North Chicago (23-6)

Results: Defeated Grayslake Central 77-62 and Lakes 69-59

This Week: Tuesday vs. Marshall (3A Hoffman Estates Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: ISU recruit Aaron Simpson tallied 27 points against Lakes; North Chicago won their fourth sectional title in five years.

8 West Aurora (25-5)

Results: Defeated Plainfield East 58-53 OT and Metea Valley 69-61

This Week: Tuesday vs. Proviso East (4A Hinsdale Central Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: The Blackhawks, backed by Jontrell Walkers 22 points and 18 more from Juwan Starks, shot 55 from the field against Metea Valley.

9 Plainfield East (27-2)

Results: Lost to West Aurora 58-53 OT

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: The Bengals could not hold a 12-point lead against the Blackhawks. Still, 27 wins for a new kid (school) on the block is more than impressive.
10 Marist (26-6)

Results: Defeated Bogan 67-63; Lost to Simeon 65-44

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: Kudos to Maristtwo upsets over ranked foes (Curie & Bogan); the Curie win -- thanks to a spirited play-by-play guy -- vaulted them into the national spotlight.

11 Bogan (26-4)

Results: Lost to Marist 67-63

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: DeVaughn Johnson had 25 points against Marist, but the Bengals could not hold a 15 point lead with three minutes to go.

12 Elgin (26-4)

Results: Defeated McHenry 43-34; Lost to Rockford-Auburn 67-56

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: Kory Brown was stellar against Auburn (20 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks). But Fred Van Vleet (32 points) was too much.
13 Evanston (21-10)

Results: Defeated New Trier 65-49 and Niles North 62-42

This Week: Tuesday vs. Simeon (4A Chicago State Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: No team has enjoyed a better late season surge like the Wildkits. But can they play giant-killers against Jabari Parker and company?

14 Downers Grove South (23-6)

Results: Lost to Metea Valley 60-51

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: A nice season for the Mustangs, but replacing Jerron Wilbut, Jamall Millison, Kevin Honn and Greg Garro will be a challenge.
15 Huntley (26-4)

Results: Lost to Rockford-Auburn 62-48

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: The Red Raiders lose to Auburn in the sectional championship for the second straight year.

16 Curie (25-3)

Results: No games played

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: Malcolm Hill-Bey and Devin Foster will not be there, but watch Cliff Alexander and Marcellus Davis next season.
17 Andrew (24-3)

Results: Lost to Homewood-Flossmoor 36-22

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: The T-Bolts did not score for the first 10 minutes of the game against H-F. Andrew will reload with forward Jubril Adekoya in 2012-13.

18 Seton (27-5)

Results: Lost to Breese Central 57-47 and Rockford Lutheran 55-51

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: The Sting pick up fourth place honors at state. Guards Mark Weems, Jr. and Kamal Shasi will be some of the key contributors next season.

19 Whitney Young (16-10)

Results: Lost To Simeon 52-42

This Week: Season Over

Hoops Talk: Sophomore Miles Leonard scored a team-high 13 points against Simeon. Hell be part of a dominant lineup in Chicago hoops next year.

20 Du Sable (16-9)

Results: Defeated St. Ignatius 51-44 and Dunbar 57-55

This Week: Tuesday vs. Hillcrest (3A Joliet Central Super-Sectional)

Hoops Talk: The Panthers won their first sectional championship in school history. Chris Galbreath and Evance Gayles reached double-figures against Dunbar.
Looming & Lurking: St. Ignatius, Metea Valley, New Trier, St. Joseph, Wheaton St. Francis, Mundelein, St. Viator, Oak Park, Homewood-Flossmoor, Niles North, De La Salle, North Shore Country Day, Dunbar, Aurora Central Catholic, Providence-St. Mel, Lakes, Grayslake Central, Ridgewood, Orr, De La Salle, Farragut, Yorkville.

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

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USA TODAY

Ben Zobrist breaks down how Dodgers pitching has made Cubs offense disappear

Ben Zobrist didn’t look for any deeper meaning in Kyle Schwarber’s first-inning homer off Yu Darvish on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, or hope that one swing could change the entire momentum of this National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Zobrist knows what it takes to win in October, the Cubs identifying him as the missing piece to their lineup after he helped transform the 2015 Kansas City Royals into a championship team, and then getting a World Series MVP return on their $56 million investment.

That “Schwarbomb” turned out to be fool’s gold, the only run the Cubs would score in front of a quiet, low-energy crowd of 41,871, the defending champs one more loss away from golfing/hunting/fishing/signing autographs at memorabilia shows.

“That was great to get a homer, but I’d rather see some hits strung together,” Zobrist said after a sloppy 6-1 loss, standing at his locker for almost 10 minutes, answering questions in the underground clubhouse. “I’d like to see a couple doubles together, a few singles, three or four hits in an inning. We just haven’t done that.

“That’s what makes rallies. They’ve stayed away from those kinds of innings. That’s why they’re ahead right now.”

Darvish – Jake Arrieta’s replacement in the 2018 rotation? – canceled out the two singles he allowed in the first inning by getting two of his seven strikeouts and answering some of the questions about how he would respond to all the pressure in October.

Darvish – a trade-deadline acquisition that had echoes of Theo Epstein’s “If not now, when?” explanation for last year’s Aroldis Chapman trade – walked one of the 25 batters he faced and pitched into the seventh inning before handing the game over to a lights-out bullpen.

“There’s nothing that we didn’t see beforehand on video,” Zobrist said. “It’s just a matter of we need him to make more mistakes, and we got to take advantage of those mistakes when he makes them.

“When he got to 3-2 counts, he wasn’t throwing a heater. He was throwing the cutter, and it’s a tough pitch to hit. You have to sit on it, and even then it’s got good movement to it. He kept us off-balance.”

Forward-thinking manager Dave Roberts is at the controls of a Los Angeles bullpen that can match up against right- and left-handed hitters, target locations, unleash upper-90s velocity, execute the elevated fastball that messes with eye levels and lean on All-Star closer Kenley Jansen for multiple innings.

The Dodger relievers essentially put together a no-hitter that lasted nine-plus innings across Games 1, 2 and 3. Together, they have pitched 10.2 scoreless innings, facing 36 batters and allowing two hits and a walk and hitting Anthony Rizzo with a pitch.

“They kept the ball on the edges and kept us off-balance,” Zobrist said. “They’re not throwing the pitch in the middle of the plate when we need them to. They’re keeping it on the edges and those are hard (to hit). When you got guys with good stuff on the mound, you need them to make some mistakes for you, or at least start walking some guys.

“When they’ve gotten in those situations with a three-ball count, they’re still making the pitch when they need to. They’re not walking many guys – and we are.

“That’s why they’re up 3-nothing.”

Zobrist (4-for-23 this postseason) is now more of a part-time player/defensive replacement, no longer the switch-hitting force who dropped the bunt at Dodger Stadium that helped end the 21-inning scoreless streak during last year’s NLCS.

Zobrist insisted the Cubs are still all there mentally, not checked out after a grueling first round against the Washington Nationals and a brutal walk-off loss in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. He owns two World Series rings and one has the Cubs logo and this inscription: “We Never Quit.”

“We keep it loose all the time,” Zobrist said. “We know what’s at stake. And we don’t shy away from it. We look forward to the challenge ahead. It would be a great story for us to be able to come back in this series and win this series.

“We make adjustments, we take advantage of mistakes and we come out with a victory tomorrow. That’s what we have to do.”

Winter is coming for Cubs team that looks checked out of 2017

Winter is coming for Cubs team that looks checked out of 2017

Kyle Schwarber took a Babe Ruth swing on Tuesday night at Wrigley Field, posed for a moment and dropped the bat out of his follow through, watching that Yu Darvish pitch soar 408 feet out toward the left-center field bleachers.

Those carefree Cubs relievers shown on the video board – wait, was that John Lackey bouncing around? – danced in the bullpen in the first inning. This is exactly what the Cubs wanted: Grab an early lead? Check. Get one of their big boys going? Check. Energize the crowd of 41,871? Check.

That sense of momentum lasted less than the time it takes to buy a beer or go to the bathroom at Wrigley Field, because the Los Angeles Dodgers look like the unstoppable force this October.

Now Wade Davis may never pitch in this National League Championship Series and Wednesday night could be Jake Arrieta’s final start in a Cubs uniform. Winter is coming after a 6-1 loss left the defending World Series champs looking mentally checked out of 2017.

The Cubs played AC/DC and Motley Crue in their underground clubhouse and answered questions about why they believe they can match the 2004 Boston Red Sox who took down the New York Yankee Evil Empire, becoming the only team to come back from an 0-3 deficit since the LCS expanded to a seven-game format in 1985.

But Kris Bryant’s glassy look and bloodshot eyes told a different story, the reigning NL MVP admitting how “draining” those five games felt against the Washington Nationals in Round 1.

“But you kind of expect that around this time when games mean a lot,” Bryant said. “It takes a lot of energy to get ready for these games, and at the end, you feel wiped out. It’s expected.”

But no one could have predicted this lack of buzz in Wrigleyville, which felt less than a lot of midweek games during the regular season. A silence fell over the old ballpark when Andre Ethier – who has three homers across the last two seasons combined – lined a Kyle Hendricks pitch off the video board in right field to lead off the second inning.

Hendricks – who has made 10 postseason starts across the last three years and kept the Dodgers completely off-balance last October on the night the Cubs clinched their first NL pennant in 71 years – watched in the third inning as Chris Taylor crushed another home-run ball that bounced off the roof of the batter’s eye in center field.

“I wouldn’t say we’re running out of gas,” shortstop Addison Russell said. “Every time we step on the field, I feel like we have a pretty good chance of winning. We’re going to come into the clubhouse tomorrow positive and just ready to strap it on.”

The Dodgers will be out for beer and champagne on Wednesday night and the chance to kick back and watch the Yankees and Houston Astros expend all their energy in the ALCS.

Dodger manager Dave Roberts – who pushed all the right bullpen buttons in Games 1 and 2 (eight no-hit/scoreless innings combined) – toyed with the Cubs by letting Darvish hit against struggling reliever Carl Edwards Jr. with a two-run lead and two outs and the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

Darvish showed bunt on all four pitches – and drew a four-pitch walk and slammed his bat to the ground in celebration. The fans booed after Edwards struck out Taylor on three pitches to end the inning.

“We were there just as much as any other game,” said Ben Zobrist, last year’s World Series MVP. “Mentally, there was no letdown. Physically, there was no letdown. It was just a matter of them capitalizing on some mistakes that we made. That’s part of the game. And they didn’t make a lot of mistakes.

“They played better baseball than us tonight. That’s why they got the W.”

The Cubs committed two errors in Game 3 and then had a National-style meltdown in the eighth inning, from Zobrist misjudging the flyball to right field that dropped in front of him, to Mike Montgomery throwing a wild pitch, to catcher Willson Contreras getting crossed up on a swinging strike three, his glove nowhere near Montgomery’s 92.7-mph fastball, which crashed into his right arm and ricocheted into the visiting dugout.

A three-run game became 6-1 – and head for the exits and then the offseason. There was Albert Almora Jr. in the ninth inning, driving a ball into the ivy in left field and sprinting right into lead runner Alex Avila at third base, bailed out only because Kike Hernandez waved his hand to signal a ground-rule double.

At least that made All-Star closer Kenley Jansen work the last three outs, accumulated stress that might benefit the Yankees or Astros more than the Cubs.

“They are done,” an NL scout wrote in a text message. “You can see it in their faces.”