Bears

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 (26-1)

Results: Defeated Orr 61-51, Curie 53-49 and De La Salle 59-51

This Week: No games scheduled.

Hoops Talk: Public League championship? Check. High-profile win at the City-Suburban Showdown? Check. IHSA championship?
2 Proviso East (24-0)

Results: Defeated Leyden 93-48, Downers Grove South 65-62 and Warren 73-66

This Week: Wednesday vs. Oak Park-River Forest, Saturday at Marquette University HS

Hoops Talk: Simeon might be the number one team, but the Pirates might as well be 1A. East jumped out to an 11-2 run over No. 4 Warren and never looked back.

3 Curie (24-2)

Results: Defeated Bogan 50-47; Lost to Simeon 53-49

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Devin Foster scored 19 points against Simeon but Cliff Alexander was very quiet, scoring only four points. Curie will still be a force in the IHSA.

4 Warren (21-3)

Results: Defeated Lake Zurich 60-38, Libertyville 81-42; Lost to Proviso East 73-66

This Week: Wednesday at North Chicago

Hoops Talk: The Blue Devils need to bounce back for Wednesdays North Suburban Championship against Illinois State-bound Aaron Simpson and North Chicago.

5 Plainfield East (24-1)

Results: Defeated St. Charles East 79-69 and Plainfield South 64-45

This Week: Thursday at Oswego East

Hoops Talk: The Bengals, behind Dee Brown, Brian Bennett and Jawan Straughter, help bring East their first conference championship in any sport.

6 Andrew (21-1)

Results: Defeated Sandburg 53-43 and Thornridge 58-31

This Week: Tuesday vs. Thornwood, Thursday vs. Lincoln-Way West

Hoops Talk: 21 wins, most in school history, is nice. But Tuesdays game, which will decide the Southwest Suburban-Red, would be the biggest win of the year.
7 Bogan (23-3)

Results: Lost to Curie 50-47

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Bengals will be one of the toughest outs in the IHSA playoffs. Devonte Smith and Devaughn Johnson are two of the top players in the city.

8 Huntley (24-2)

Results: Defeated Jacobs 57-45, Cary-Grove 50-30 and Barrington 38-31

This Week: Friday vs. Grayslake Central

Hoops Talk: The Red Raiders, Fox Valley-Valley champs, have a star in Amanze Egekeze, but theyre also one of the best defending teams in the area.

9 Downers Grove South (19-5)

Results: Lost to Proviso East 65-62

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: Jamall Millison and Jerron Wilbut had great games, but Proviso Easts starting five proved to be too much on Friday night.

10 Elgin (21-3)

Results: Defeated Immaculate Conception 41-40 and Streamwood 67-28

This Week: Tuesday vs. Geneva

Hoops Talk: Kory Brown hit the game-winning free throw with two seconds left against I-C. Saturdays win over Streamwood marked five straight wins for Elgin.

11 Hillcrest (21-4)

Results: Defeated Tinley Park 67-55 and T.F. South 68-46

This Week: Friday at Lemont

Hoops Talk: Jalen Loving blocked six shots against T.F. South. A win Friday would give the Hawks the South Suburban-Blue conference title.

12 St. Ignatius (20-4)

Results: Defeated Loyola; Lost to Notre Dame 45-44

This Week: Wednesday at De La Salle, Friday vs. Mount Carmel

Hoops Talk: The mid-week battle at 35th & Michigan will go a long way in determining the Catholic North champ. Iggy would be in great shape with a win.

13 Bloom (23-3)
Results: Defeated Crete-Monee 57-49 and Thornton 58-47

This Week: Friday vs. Kankakee

Hoops Talk: Lejavius Johnson and Donald Moore led the Blazing Trojans this week. Bloom can claim the Southland title with a win Friday.

14 Orr (19-4)

Results: Lost to Simeon 61-51

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Spartans put together some nice runs against Simeon. Marquise Pryor, Deshawn King and company are looking forward to the state playoffs.

15 Marshall (20-7)

Results: No games played

This Week: No games scheduled

Hoops Talk: The Commandos made it downstate four of the last five seasons. A late-season surge could help make that five out of six.

16 New Trier (20-5)

Results: Defeated Maine South 63-58 and St. Rita 59-41

This Week: Tuesday at Niles North

Hoops Talk: Connor Boehm was a force this week, racking up 23 points against Maine South and 16 more (along with 11 rebounds) against St. Rita.

17 West Aurora (21-4)

Results: Defeated Naperville North 64-53 and West Chicago 57-42

This Week: Wednesday at Glenbard East

Hoops Talk: Juwan Starks lit up Naperville North early and often Friday,and his efforts put the Blackhawks in a position to claim a share of the DVC title.

18 De La Salle (15-6)

Results: Defeated Hales 57-38; Lost to Simeon 59-51

This Week: Wednesday vs. St. Ignatius

Hoops Talk: The Meteors could not recover from a 22-6 opening run by Simeon. On a positive note, Alvin Ellis returned this week after an ankle sprain.

19 Seton (22-4)

Results: Defeated Hope Academy 97-75 and St. Francis de Sales 89-66

This Week: IHSA Class 2A Regionals

Hoops Talk: The Sting rang up six threes in a 35-point third quarter against Hope Academy.

20 Lemont (22-2)

Results: Defeated T.F. South 59-55 and Reavis 63-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. Glenbard South, Friday vs. Hillcrest

Hoops Talk: Can Juozas Balciunas and the Indians give the Hawks a run? A win would give them a share of the South Suburban-Blue.

Looming & Lurking: St. Rita, Hope Academy, Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, St Viator, Oak Park-River Forest, Herscher, Immaculate Conception, York, Marist, St. Joseph

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.