Bulls

McQuade follows Aurora Christian's QB legacy

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McQuade follows Aurora Christian's QB legacy

For two years, coach Don Beebe has been touting who he perceives as the next great quarterback at Aurora Christian, the multi-talented youngster who will follow in the footsteps of Jordan Roberts, Nate Peterson and Anthony Maddie, who rank 1-2-5 in state history for touchdown passes in a career.

Beebe, who once caught passes from Hall of Famer Jim Kelly for the Buffalo Bills, knows a quarterback when he sees one. And before the 2012 season began, he felt 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore Austin Bray would be his starting quarterback.

But he forgot to tell Ryan McQuade.

"Going into the summer, I was going to start Bray. He will be a good one," Beebe said. "He was the starter. Then we competed in a 7-on-7 tournament with Kaneland, Batavia and Neuqua Valley and Ryan lit it up from a leadership standpoint. Then we went to a national 7-on-7 tournament in Arkansas and finished third out of 32 teams and Ryan lit it up again. We knew he would be our quarterback this year. As he progressed, I knew he would have a big year."

Truth be told, Beebe had to be nudged a little. McQuade is Beebe's nephew. No, he didnt ask his mother (Beebe's sister) to intercede in his behalf. Instead, he walked into the coach's office and boldly announced that he wanted a shot at the starting quarterback position.

"I started at outside linebacker on last year's state championship team but my heart is at quarterback," McQuade said. "I knew I was slated to be the backup as a senior when the summer began. I told him I wanted a shot at quarterback. He said Austin has been there and is slated to be the starter.
I said: 'I'll put a lot of time and effort into it and we'll see at the end of the summer.' It worked out good."

"Ryan is an intriguing story. He sat behind (All-Stater) Anthony Maddie for the last two years. It is neat to see him have such a great season because he wanted to play quarterback so much last year but couldn't because of Maddie. But this year we never missed a beat at the quarterback position."

McQuade, a 6-foot-4, 206-pound senior, has completed 192 of 331 passes for 2,973 yards and 42 touchdowns for a 12-1 team that will meet Tolono Unity in the Class 3A championship on Friday in Champaign. He was 12-of-21 for 167 yards and four touchdowns in last Saturday's 41-7 semifinal rout of Sterling Newman.

"This team is better than last year. We're playing well, firing on all cylinders," Beebe said. "This is the best defense I've coached in nine years, 11 players who can all play, no weaknesses. In some ways, this also is our best offense. Never before have we had great passing and running games together. Our kicking game is great. And this is the best coaching staff I've had."

One of Beebe's assistants is Bryan Wells, a former dean of students at Neuqua Valley who was fired as head football coach after last season. Wells left the Naperville school to become principal at Aurora Christian. He also is Beebe's special teams coach.

McQuade has found his niche, throwing to wide receivers Chad Beebe and Cory Windle and handing off to Brandon Mayes and Joel Bouganon, who have combined to rush for more than 2,000 yards.

"Honestly, I'm a team guy," McQuade said. "As long as we're winning, that's all I care about. It's a blast playing for my uncle. We have a great mixture. Opponents can't key on one thing. My goals were to pass for 2,500 yards and 30-35 touchdowns. I surpassed all that. But I care about winning and the team the most."

He felt confident in his ability to be the starting quarterback because he knew Beebe was looking for a vocal leader. "That's what he looks for in a quarterback--a true leader. I've worked hard for this. I know the history of the quarterbacks at this school. All I wanted to do is make a name for myself, be confident in my abilities and perform well. I believe I have done that," McQuade said.

What is the scouting report on Tolono Unity? Last year, Aurora Christian crushed Tolono Unity 50-26 in the semifinals. Unity returns quarterback Justin Deters and two Division I recruits, wide receiver Micah Johnson and linebacker Mitch Negangard.

"They know us and we know them from last year's film," Beebe said. "They are the best team we have faced in the playoff. Whoever turns the ball over the least will win the game."

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.