DePaul extends A.D. Ponsetto through 2017


DePaul extends A.D. Ponsetto through 2017

DePaul has extended the contract of athletics director Jean Lenti Ponsetto through 2017, the university announced Tuesday. That is an additional five years added onto her current contract.

"Jean Lenti Ponsetto is among the most respected athletics directors in the United States," DePaul President Fr. Dennis H. Holtschneider said in a statement. "The NCAA, the Big East and other athletic conferences turn to her constantly for advice and counsel. ESPN, CBS and other networks turn to her to understand developments in collegiate athletics and recently she received the Trailblazer Award by NACWAA from her peers."

After representing the Blue Demons as a student-athlete, coach and administrator, Ponsetto became the athletics director on July 1, 2002. She is currently in her 38th years as a member of the athletics department.

In addition to helping the Blue Demons find numerous athletic achievements during her tenure, Ponsetto has led fundraising efforts that have raised over 13 million and created mroe than 25 endowed scholarships -- amounts that each rank as the highest for any athletics director in DePaul history.

Over her 10 years leading the DePaul athletic department, 14 of the 15 athletic programs have represented the school in NCAA championships. This includes: 10 straight NCAA appearances by the women's basketball team featuring two Sweet Sixteen appearances, two trips to the Women's softball College World Series, men's soccer's initial trip to the NCAA Tournament after winning the BIG EAST Conference regular season title, women's soccer's first NCAA appearance after winning a conference championship in 2003 and women's tennis earning its first berth to the NCAA Championship in 2010.

During her reign, 1,200 student-athletes have been named to conference academic honor rolls. Among the 15 universities in the Big East Conference, the Blue Demons led the way academically with a league-best five teams claiming the Big East Team Academic Excellence Award in each of the last two years. DePaul posted the top GPA in women's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, softball and women's tennis to earn the 2010-11 Big East academic honor prior to women's basketball, men's golf, men's soccer, men's tennis and women's tennis in 2011-12. In the last four academic years, DePaul has had 21 programs earn the Big East Team Academic Excellence Award with a department-best seven teams in 2008-09.

Ponsetto was named one of the top 100 most influential women in Chicago by the Chicago Sun-Times (ranked No. 2 in the sports category behind Bears owner Virginia McCaskey) in 2004. She is a member of DePaul's Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame in 2007.

Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)


Scouting the Cubs' competition: The Braves are coming (but not yet)

The expectations couldn't be any higher for the 2018 Chicago Cubs. 

It's 2016 all over again. The goal isn't just a trip to the playoffs or another NL pennant. It's World Series or bust for this group of North Siders.

With that, let's take a look at all of the teams that could stand in the way of the Cubs getting back to the Fall Classic:

Atlanta Braves

2017 record: 72-90, 3rd place in NL East

Offseason additions: Preston Tucker, Charlie Culberson, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Peter Moylan, Chase Whitley, Grant Dayton, Chris Stewart, Anibal Sanchez

Offseason departures: Matt Kemp, R.A. Dickey, Jason Motte, Matt Adams

X-factor: Ozzie Albies

One of the youngest players in the league, Albies just turned 21 in January. He carries with him the pedigree of the game's No. 11 overall prospect entering last season and got his first taste of big-league life toward the end of 2017.

He hit well, posting a .286 average and .810 OPS while showing an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and providing some pop and speed.

Assuming he can avoid any sophomore slump and take another step forward, the Braves could actually surprise some people this year. But without Albies providing Ender Inciarte and Freddie Freeman some lineup support until a certain phenom gets to town, it's hard to see Atlanta contending.

Projected lineup

1. Ender Inciarte - CF
2. Ozzie Albies - 2B
3. Freddie Freeman - 1B
4. Tyler Flowers - C
5. Nick Markakis - RF
6. Preston Tucker - LF
7. Dansby Swanson - SS
8. Rio Ruiz - 3B

Projected rotation

1. Julio Teheran
2. Mike Foltynewicz
3. Brandon McCarthy
4. Sean Newcomb
5. Scott Kazmir


The Braves are coming, you guys. 

Maybe not now, but they'll be here soon enough.

2018 will feature growing pains for a young group of up-and-comers including the aforementioned Albies, plus Tucker (a powerful outfielder acquired from the Astros), Swanson (the 2015 No. 1 overall pick who's since fallen on tough times) and Newcomb.

Oh and there's some guy named Ronald Acuna coming up next. You may have heard of him.

The 20-year-old phenom has absolutely torn the cover off the ball everywhere he's gone the last 14 or so months and we'll see the game's No. 1 overall prospect in the big leagues in mid-April, God willing.

Once Acuna does come, it adds another level to a lineup that frankly comes up a bit short right now, even with Freeman (one of the best hitters in baseball) and Inciarte (one of the game's most underrated players). 

The Braves have a solid bullpen, plenty of rotation depth and a decent bench. It wouldn't be shocking to see them challenge for the second wild card spot, but true contention will probably come in 2019 for this bunch.

Prediction: 3rd in NL West, no playoffs

Complete opposition research

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves

Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season


Podcast: Eddie O discusses what went wrong for Blackhawks this season

Eddie Olczyk joins Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Jamal Mayers to discuss what went wrong for the Blackhawks this season, and what changes could happen this summer to get the team back into the postseason.

Listen to the entire HawksTalk Podcast here: