Bears

IBCA to conduct history meeting

600388.png

IBCA to conduct history meeting

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association will conduct a historical meeting at Redbird Arena in Bloomington at noon on Monday, Jan. 2 for the purpose of gathering information and memorabilia for the IBCA's new Hall of Fame Museum in Danville.

According to Bruce Firchau, a member of the IBCA's board of directors and chairman for the Hall of Fame Museum, the purpose of hosting and inviting basketball historians and media to this meeting "is to share our excitement with the media and historians, to acknowledge their expertise and to ask for their assistance in sharing their knowledge and ideas."

At the meeting, Firchau said the IBCA will communicate its goals, visions and themes to make the Hall of Fame Museum an exciting, interactive, historical site to visit. The IBCA's Hall of Fame Museum, scheduled to open in 2013, will be located in the David S. Palmer Arena at 100 West Main Street in downtown Danville.

"Our goal is to establish a connection between the media and historians throughout the state and the museum," said Firchau, who also is head basketball coach at Westminster Christian High School in Elgin. "This will provide a platform to share storied knowledge of Illinois basketball in perpetuity with the thousands of visitors that will make the pilgrimage to the museum in Danville."

I couldn't help but think of all of the wonderful voices that have been silenced in recent years -- Harry Fitzhugh, Vergil Fletcher, Dike Eddleman, Bobby Joe Mason, Gene Cross, Sam Miranda, Don Schnake, Walt Moore, Ken Barnes, Larry Hawkins, Lee Umbles, Jim Brown, Red Mottlow, Bill Chesbrough, Luther Bedford, Bob Hambric, Frank Lollino, Billy Harris, Sherrill Hanks, Jerry Leggett, John Thiel, Jake Fendley, Arthur Hicks, Ken "Preacher" McBride, Deacon Davis, Johnny "Red" Kerr.

I had a glorious opportunity to interview most of them while researching my book, "Sweet Charlie, Dike, Cazzie, and Bobby Joe: High School Basketball In Illinois," published by University of Illinois Press. But now they are gone. What a shame we don't have their voices on tape.

But here are some voices that could give today's generation of high school basketball players and coaches and future generations a wonderful and comprehensive education into the way it was, how it got to be the way it is and the movers and shakers who did it:

1940s: Johnny Orr, Ron Bontemps, Taylorville: Ted Beach, Rod Fletcher, Champaign; Dick Foley, Paris; Max Hooper, Mount Vernon.

1950s: Ted Caiazza, La Grange; Sweet Charlie Brown, Du Sable; Paul and Phil Judson, Bill Schulz, Hebron; Nolden Gentry, West Rockford; Mannie Jackson, Governor Vaughn, Edwardsville; John Tidwell, Herrin; Terry Bethel, Thom Jackson, Collinsville; Tom Cole, Springfield; George Wilson, Marshall, Dave Downey, Canton; Bill Small, West Aurora; Chico Vaughn, Tamms.

1960s: Cazzie Russell, Carver; Bogie Redmon, Fred Riddle, Rodger Bohnenstiehl, Dennis Pace, Tom Parker, Collinsville; Dave Golden, Pekin; LaMarr Thomas, Thornton; Rich Falk, Galva; Jerry Sloan, Jim Burns, McLeansboro; Don Freeman, Madison; Rich Bradshaw, Marshall; Eugene Ford, Crane; Dale Kelley, Galesburg; Terry Gamber, Mount Vernon; Dave Scholz, Decatur.

1970s: Rickey Green, John Robinson, Hirsch; Quinn Buckner, Thornridge; Audie Matthews, Bloom; Joe Ponsetto, Glenn "Doc" Rivers, Proviso East; Levi Cobb, Morgan Park; Pete Boesen, Jeff Baker, Maine South; Isiah Thomas, St.
Joseph; Mark Aguirre, Eddie Johnson, Westinghouse; Sonny Parker, Farragut; Ronnie Lester, Dunbar; Bo Ellis, Parker; Jay Shidler, Lawrenceville.

1980s: Russell Cross, Manley; Bruce Douglas, Michael Payne, Quincy; Marcus Liberty, Levertis Robinson, King; Nick Anderson, Deon Thomas, Simeon; Melvin McCants, Jamie Farr, Mount Carmel; Ed Horton, Springfield Lanphier; Walter Downing, Providence; Marty Simmons, Lawrenceville; Brian Sloan, McLeansboro; Eric Anderson, St. Francis de Sales.

1990s: Sergio McClain, Marcus Griffin, Howard Nathan, Peoria Manual; Antwaan Randle El, Melvin Ely, Thornton; Quentin Richardson, Whitney Young; Kevin Garnett, Ronnie Fields, Farragut; Rashard Griffith, King; Jerry Gee, St. Martin de Porres; Antoine Walker, Mount Carmel; Chris Collins, Glenbrook North; Mike Robinson, Peoria Richwoods; A.J. Guyton, Peoria Central.

The Chicago Catholic League, which didn't join the Illinois High School Association until 1974-75, is frequently overlooked in the discussion. But old-timers recall how intense the PublicCatholic championship games at old Chicago Stadium were and how many great players the Catholic League produced over the years.

Shelly Stark, a keen observer of Chicago basketball since 1950, rates Sweet Charlie Brown and Paxton Lumpkin of Du Sable, Clarence Wardlaw of Crane, Jamie Brandon of King and Abe Booker of Wells as the top five Public League players he has seen, rating them ahead of Cazzie Russell, Tommy Hawkins, George Wilson and Billy Harris.

Stark also rates Arthur Hicks of St. Elizabeth, Jack Stephens and Greg Carney of Mount Carmel, Tony Parker of Leo and Sam Puckett of Hales Franciscan as the top five Catholic Leaguers he has seen, rating them ahead of LaRue Martin, Kevin Boyle, Steve Krafcisin, Lloyd Walton, Jerry Gee, Antoine Walker and Eric Anderson.

Firchau has a "wish list" of memorabilia he is looking for to fill the new museum--old pictures, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, recordings of school songs, basketball programs and scorebooks and media guides, trophies, uniforms and warm-ups, old shoes, autographed basketballs, letter jackets, cheerleading and mascot uniforms, pennants, even old lockers and scoreboards and players' benches.

And if anyone knows how to get their hands on the huge cutout of the state of Illinois with lights for the participating towns that used to hang on the wall in old Huff Gym...well, contact ilhoopshall.com or call (217)
442-3865 or e-mail Firchau at firchau@sbcglobal.net.

When the IBCA was organized in 1971, the vision of founders Chuck Rolinski of Toluca and Sherrill Hanks of Quincy was to have a permanent building to display and tell the rich history of all levels of basketball played in Illinois.

The new Hall of Fame museum will combine videos, exhibits, photographs and memorabilia and also will honor the players, coaches, officials, teams, media and others who have impacted the game.

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 Bears position grades: Inside Linebacker

2017 grade: B+

Level of need: Low

Decisions to be made on: Christian Jones (free agent), John Timu (free agent), Jonathan Anderson (free agent); Jerrell Freeman has reportedly been cut

Possible free agent targets: Demario Davis, Preston Brown, Anthony Hitchens, Avery Williamson, Navorro Bowman, Derrick Johnson

How the Bears rate Nick Kwiatkoski will be the key to figuring out what this unit will look like in 2018. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio thought Kwiatkoski finished last season strong, but strong enough to rely on him in 2018 as the starter next to Danny Trevathan?

The thing with the Bears’ inside linebackers, though: Trevathan makes whoever is playing next to him better. The problem is Trevathan hasn’t been able to stay on the field — he missed time in 2017 with a calf injury and a one-game suspension, and missed half of 2016 after rupturing his Achilles’. Trevathan hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2013, so durability is an issue for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

So that leads to this question: Do the Bears need to find someone in free agency, regardless of how they value Kwiatkoski, who’s also missed time due to injuries in his first two years in the league?

Free agency could provide a few options. Demario Davis had a career high 97 tackles for the New York Jets last year and has never missed a game as a pro. Preston Brown had some decent production in Buffalo and also hasn’t missed a game since being drafted in 2014. Avery Williamson may not be a world-beater but has only missed one game in his four years in the NFL.

The Bears could also opt for someone who fits more of a rotational mold, like Dallas’ Anthony Hitchens, or try to lure a veteran linebacker like Navorro Bowman (who played for Vic Fangio in San Francisco) or Derrick Johnson (who Matt Nagy knows from his Kansas City days) to play next to Trevathan and/or Kwiatkoski.

The Bears could opt to keep the status quo and re-sign Christian Jones and John Timu for depth, and enter 2018 with Kwiatkoski and Trevathan as the team’s starters (Jerrell Freeman, who suffered a season-ending injury and then was hit with his second PED suspension in as many years, was cut on Tuesday). Signing a starting-caliber free agent isn’t out of the question, either, but there is a third option for the Bears if they appear to stand pat in free agency: Draft an inside linebacker in April. If that’s the route they go, Georgia’s Roquan Smith could be the guy. But again, those more pressing needs at other positions could mean the Bears don’t burn a first-round pick on an inside linebacker.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

2-21_senators_matchup_nhl_chi_blank.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?