Fire

Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

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Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
10:36 p.m.

By Matt Le Cren
YourSeason.com

Downers South center Ziggy Riauka knew his team could beat Proviso East, but he didnt think it was capable of blowing out the Pirates.

But thats exactly what the host Mustangs did Friday night, sprinting out to a big early lead en route to a 60-48 victory that clinched a share of the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship. It is the first time Downers South (22-3, 10-1) has beaten Proviso East twice in the same season.

It means a lot, Riauka said. Last year we got blown out both times, so this is a good game for us. We hit a lot of good three-point shots that were open and some that were not open but we were still able to hit them. So we got off to a good start and thats what mattered.

The 6-8 Riauka, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, swished a three-pointer that triggered an 18-3 run that gave the Mustangs a 27-9 lead in the second quarter. Downers South, which has won 14 straight, hit six consecutive shots at one point, including treys from three different players on three consecutive possessions.

I started off pretty bad, Riauka said. I couldnt catch the ball or hit a layup, so I just took a three-pointer and it went in, maybe by accident.

It was no accident that South dominated the game, extending its lead to as much as 40-18 in the third quarter. The Mustangs, who beat the Pirates (19-4, 9-2) by an identical score on Jan. 21, take pride in their defense and allowed just 13 points in the first half, including four in the second quarter despite playing the last six minutes without star Jerron Wilbut, who was in foul trouble. Riaukas defense inside was a big factor.

Zig has done a lot of good things for us, Wilbut said. Hes a man down there in the post. He got off to a little rocky start but he got it together and made the right passes and the right plays.

Proviso East made five straight steals and scored the last eight points of the third quarter to pull within 44-32. The Pirates made 5 of 6 three-point tries in the period.

But Riauka helped stop the bleeding by breaking the press and assisting on baskets by Jamaal Millison and Kevin Honn. Then, after a jumper by Proviso Easts Sterling Brown made it 52-41 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Danielius Jurgutis scored on a reverse layup off a no-look pass from Wilbut.

The Pirates cut it to 56-46 with 1:26 remaining, but Jurgutis and Wilbut answered with layups for the Mustangs, who shot 23 of 44 from the floor and 9 of 12 from the line and outrebounded Proviso 32-22. We knew they were going to have a lot of runs and we just played through it, Riauka said. We didnt give up.

Wilbut led a balanced attack with 16 points and six rebounds, while Millison added 12 points, six boards and three assists and Jurgutis tallied 10 points, four assists and four steals. Honn chipped in nine points and seven boards.

Proviso East is a really good basketball team, known for their defense and their relentless scoring, Wilbut said. Just to be in that kind of war with them and beat them is a blessing. Thats what we work hard for every day in the gym.

Brown scored 17 points to lead the Pirates, whose only losses in the past 14 games have been to Downers. Guards Keith Carter and Paris Lee added 10 and eight points, respectively, but the pair combined for just two points in the first half when the Pirates made only 6 of 25 shots.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

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AP

There are 600,000 reasons you won't hear Gar, Pax or Hoiberg discuss losing

The Bulls made headlines on Tuesday when VP John Paxson announced that David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne would be entering the rotation, thus continuing the youth movement in Chicago.

On the surface the moves make sense. The 24-year-old Nwaba, the 25-year-old Felicio and the 23-year-old Cameron Payne will be replacing 28-year-old Justin Holiday, 29-year-old Robin Lopez and 25-year-old Jerian Grant. The Bulls want to see what they have in these younger players who haven't played much; they already know what they have in Lopez and Holiday, and Grant (like the other two) is under contract through next year.

OK, got that? Here's why they're making the move: they're sitting 8th in the NBA Lottery standings and really want to move into the top-5 to give themselves a chance at what should be a loaded front-end of the draft class. It's pretty obvious, and anyone who tells you otherwise is either named Gar Forman, John Paxson or Fred Hoiberg.

And here's why: On Wednesday Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined a whopping $600,000 by the NBA for comments he made on a podcast regarding tanking. The Mavericks are currently 18-40, the third worst record in the NBA. This comes a season after they finished 33-49, netting them the No. 9 pick that turned into talented point guard Dennis Smith Jr.

So when Cuban was asked about the best interests of his Dallas team, which touts young talent but clearly isn't headed for the postseason in 2018, he said this on the House Call with Dr. J Podcast:

"I'm probably not supposed to say this, but, like, I just had dinner with a bunch of our guys the other night, and here we are, you know, we weren't competing for the playoffs. I was like, 'Look, losing is our best option. [Commissioner] Adam [Silver] would hate hearing that, but I at least sat down and I explained it to them. And I explained what our plans were going to be this summer, that we're not going to tank again. This was, like, a year-and-a-half tanking, and that was too brutal for me. But being transparent, I think that's the key to being kind of a players owner and having stability."

Cuban isn't wrong, and the Mavericks sure as hell aren't the only team tanking. But to come right now and admit that losing is the team's best option wasn't, as Cuban predicted, going to sit well with the league office.

Commissioner Adam Silver sent out a memo with the fine that said Cuban's comments "which concerned his perspective on the team's competitive success this season" were "detrimental to the NBA."

So while the Bulls are going about their business in trying to lose as many games down the stretch as possible, don't expect anyone to admit it's the reason behind their personnel moves. There are 600,000 reasons why.