Bears

Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

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Hamilton's eventual return in Thibodeau's hands

OKLAHOMA CITYAnother Bulls game, another game-time decision for Rip Hamilton, another DNP-CD. For those not versed in NBA jargon, the acronym stands for Did Not Play-Coachs Decision, and Hamiltons current situation might be the definition of it.

The veteran shooting guard has worked his way back from his right-shoulder injury and has been a full participant in team practices and shootarounds for the past week, yet he hasnt played. Contrary to popular belief, that decision isnt Hamiltons.

Whatever he wants. I know its one of those things where we dont really know the effect of getting hits. We did some three-on-three, but I told him Im comfortable with whatever he wants to do, if we need to get out there and shoot more or take a couple more hits, said Hamilton after Sundays loss to the Thunder. We take it a day at a time. We dont look at it being next week. Hopefully its next game, so well see.

Saturday day we did a little bit more, so its a little sore, but its a good sore. It wasnt a bad sore, he continued. My mindset is if I can shoot, I can play. Thats always been my mindset. If I can run up the court, Im cool to play. I was a little stubborn the first time, so I leave it up to Coach to put me out there when its time.

By he and Coach, Hamilton is referring to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. As much as Thibodeau wants to win regular-season games and have his full roster available to play, it appears that the reigning NBA Coach of the Year is more concerned with going into the playoffs healthy.

Well see tomorrow. Hes feeling pretty good, but I just want to make sure. I think we have to play this smart, Thibodeau said about Hamilton. Hes doing fine. Im the one. Hes raring to go, hes chomping at the bit.

But when it comes to Hamiltons partner in the Bulls starting backcourt, All-Star point guard Derrick Rose, thats another situation altogether.

Thibodeau was typically dismissive when asked about how much Roses absence affected the Bulls in Sundays atypical blowout defeatDerricks a great player, he said. Obviously wed prefer to have him, but we have more than enough.but Rose himself, while weary of questions about his recovery from a strained right groin, did exhibit a hint of concern about his immediate future this season.

Its the same thing every thing every day. Just trying to improve, running a little bit more and lifting weights, so if anything, I should be stronger than ever, the reigning league MVP said. Its up to me, so yeah, I think I am returning before the end of the regular season.

The most Im doing is lifting weights and stretching, trying to loosen up the scar tissue, he continued. My injury definitely is worse than he thought initially. Missing this amount of games definitely hurts, but if anything, Im hoping thats a blessing in disguise. The only positive thing I can look at is Im getting my rest.

At the same time, the 23-year-old remains confident that when he does return, the Bulls wont miss a beat.

Its going to take me a minute to get my rhythm back. Hopefully it takes me a game. That would be great, but well have to see, he said. Im not worried at all. Weve been together for a while now to now each others games. Me being out, just watching everybody, I know everybodys tendencies now, just being on the bench for this long and I think that we shouldnt have any problems.

Roses absence didnt mean the Thunder, led by peers and friends Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, took any pity on the Bulls Sunday.

We know its going to be tough for those guys without Derrick, but theyve been playing very well without him, winning some big games and we couldnt take them lightly, said Durant. John Lucas has been having a great run when Derrick Rose has been hurt, C.J. Watson, as well, so we just didnt want to take those guys for granted and we wanted to come out there and play as hard as we can, and see what happens.

Added Westbrook: It was tough. I know Derrick, if he was healthy, he would definitely come out and compete and wed definitely talk some trash in the summertime.

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

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USA TODAY

Looking deeper to understand how John Fox still commands Bears trust through bad times

I’ve always placed great stock in the drama tenet, “Action is character.” What an actor/person does in significant part defines their character, or lack of same.

Conversely, in some situations, what someone doesn’t do can be equally defining or revealing. A couple of those involving the Bears are worth noting, because they suggest things about John Fox and and his staff, and perhaps a bit of what players think of them.

Nothing stunning, just a case of when you pull the camera back for a little wider angle, a broader picture forms out of seemingly separate or isolated incidents. Fox has never lost his teams through three generally miserable seasons, those teams consistently played hard through bad times. A handful of specific situations offer some insight into perhaps why:

The Cohen conundrum

Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains came in for scalding criticism for their recent seeming under-utilization of running back Tarik Cohen. The closest either came to laying out the real reason was a reference to concerns about the rookie’s pass-protection capabilities, no small issue against Green Bay and coordinator Dom Capers’ blitz proclivities; coaches want to see Mitch Trubisky wearing a Bears uniform, not Clay Matthews.

Cohen may be the Bears’ leading receiver, but if a back can’t present the viable option of pass protection, the offense is limited even more than it already is anyway with a rookie quarterback.

Come forward a week: Overlooked in the aftermath of the loss to Detroit, in which Cohen was not part of the hurry-up offense driving for a winning or tying score, was the fact that Cohen simply didn’t know the plays well enough in that situation. Fox didn’t say so. Neither did Loggains.

Cohen did.

Asked afterwards what he wasn’t solid with, Cohen owned it: "Probably the hurry-up plays at those positions. I know certain plays at those positions, but to open up the whole playbook with me, I’ll have to learn all of those plays.”

Should he have been up to a faster speed in week 10? That’s another discussion. But like it or not, his coaches were not going to be the ones to out him.

The Howard hassle

Jordan Howard finished 2016 second to only Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott in rushing yardage. He began the year inactive for game one and lightly used in games two and three. The reason Loggains gave from the podium was that coaches didn’t really know what they had in Howard.

Yes. They did. But Loggains didn’t cite Howard for not being in shape to carry the load the offense needed. Neither did Fox.

Howard did.

“I should’ve been in better shape,” Howard said at the outset of training camp last July. “I should’ve been playing earlier if I would’ve handled what I had to do.”

Some very effective coaches have used public embarrassment for motivation; Mike Ditka assessed that he wasn’t sure Donnell Woolford could cover anybody, and Buddy Ryan summarized that “No. 55 [Otis Wilson] killed us,” for instance.

Fox and his staff don’t do that and they’ve have taken the heat for their players, which does frustrate those tasked with accurately reporting sometimes hard information.

Medical restraint

Fox’s tenure has been awash in major injuries to pivotal players. He has made points in his locker room by shielding those players and their issues whether outsiders like it or not.

That started back with Kevin White and the infamous stress fracture that Fox was accused of knowing about and lying that he didn’t. The real situation was that medical opinions (and the Bears had gotten a bunch) were divided to the point where the Bears opted against surgery until it was conclusive that the shadow on an x-ray was indeed a fracture. Fox refused to call the injury a stress fracture with the doctors so divided, and he was pilloried for it. But not in his locker room.

The organization very much needed Pro Bowl lineman Kyle Long this season for an offense that certainly wasn’t going to live on the arm of Mike Glennon. Long was testy and combative during training camp, and “honestly I’ve been champing at the bit to get back,” he conceded, “but they’ve done a good job of pulling the reins a little bit and making sure that I understand that it’s a long season.”

Small things, not necessarily connected, but as Fox’s third season winds down, what his team shows will factor into decisions on his future. The Bears right now, after the Green Bay and Detroit losses effectively ended the “hope” part of their season, are entering that dreary phase of a year when effort will be critiqued as critically as performance.

The on-field results now will say something about character, Fox’s own and the collective one he has worked to instill since January 2015.

How to watch and/or stream the IHSA football state finals this weekend

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How to watch and/or stream the IHSA football state finals this weekend

It's Thanksgiving weekend, which among other things, means the IHSA football state finals are taking place.

NBC Sports Chicago has live coverage of the finals of all eight classes and is streaming every telecast, including surrounding pre/postgame coverage, to be made available to authenticated subscribers on NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive and via the NBC Sports app.

Check out the action taking place in Huskie Stadium in DeKalb, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday with the Class 1A final and concluding Saturday night with the Class 8A final and a special recap edition of High School Lites following the final game. Highlights from each of the games will be available on our website throughout the weekend.

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.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago is also available on numerous digital streaming services including DIRECTV NOW, Hulu, fuboTV, Sling TV, CenturyLink Stream, PlayStation Vue, and YouTube TV.  For a full list of carriers and more information about NBC Sports Chicago’s live streaming service, viewers are urged to visit nbcsportschicago.com/live-faq.

Here is the full schedule for the weekend's games and broadcast coverage:

Friday, November 24

LIVE NOW: Class 1A: LENA-WINSLOW (Lena) [13-0] vs. TUSCOLA [13-0]

1:00 PM – Class 2A: GIBSON CITY-MELVIN-SIBLEY (Gibson City) [13-0] vs. MAROA-FORSYTH (Maroa) [12-1]

4:00 PM – Class 3A: IC CATHOLIC (Elmhurst) [12-1] vs. PLEASANT PLAINS [10-3]

7:00 PM – Class 4A: MORRIS [11-2] vs. ROCHESTER [13-0] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

Saturday, November 25

10:00 AM – Class 5A: PHILLIPS (Chicago) [13-0] vs. DUNLAP [13-0]

1:00 PM – Class 6A: PRAIRIE RIDGE (Crystal Lake) [13-0] vs. NAZARETH ACADEMY (LaGrange Park) [12-1]

4:00 PM – Class 7A: BATAVIA [12-1] vs. LAKE ZURICH [13-0] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

7:00 PM – Class 8A: LINCOLN-WAY East (Frankfort) [13-0] vs. LOYOLA ACADEMY (Wilmette) [12-1] (NOTE: This game will air on NBC Sports Chicago+; please visit our CHANNEL FINDER for the exact channel location in your area)

Further information is available at this link. Edgy Tim previewed each of the eight games here and has players to watch for the weekend.