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Penn St. report on Sandusky due out Thursday

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Penn St. report on Sandusky due out Thursday

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- The team brought in by Penn State to investigate how the university handled molestation accusations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky will release its highly anticipated report Thursday, with the school's reputation and future direction hanging in the balance. The university trustees who paid for the probe, led by former FBI agent and federal judge Louis Freeh, will pore through it Thursday to see what it says about university employees, recommendations for policy changes and even their own knowledge about rumors Sandusky had abused children on campus. Penn State alumni, college football fans and the family of Sandusky's former boss Joe Paterno will look to see if it sheds new light on Paterno's actions, particularly after a graduate assistant complained to him in 2001 about Sandusky showering in a team locker room with a boy. School administrators Gary Schultz and Tim Curley, awaiting trial on charges they lied to the Sandusky grand jury and didn't properly report child abuse, will find out whether Freeh's investigators uncovered anything that might help -- or hurt -- their criminal defense. And former Penn State president Graham Spanier, who has not been charged with any crime, could discover whether emails or other records disclose more about his role. Lawyers for the young men who testified against Sandusky, and others planning civil lawsuits, will be reading the report closely for what it might mean regarding litigation. "I'm going to be looking for what we believe will be full and complete disclosure," said Harrisburg lawyer Ben Andreozzi, who represents the young man described as Victim 4 in court records. "It's going to be convenient for the university to release certain information but to hold back on some of the details concerning potential information that could expose them to liability." Andreozzi said he also represents four other young men and is evaluating their potential civil claims related to the Sandusky scandal. In announcing that the report will go online at 9 a.m. Thursday, Freeh took pains to say no one outside his team will get copies beforehand, including the trustees. Investigators will hold a news conference that morning in Philadelphia. That day, trustees will start a two-day meeting in Scranton where they can respond to the report. A spokesman for the trustees said Wednesday the board held an informational conference call Thursday night, hours after Freeh announced the timing of the report's release. David La Torre declined to discuss the call further when asked to confirm an ESPN report the trustees discussed how they would respond to the report. "I think we'll find that this thing revolves so tightly around coach Paterno, and I would hope the Freeh report is much broader than that and addresses the university as a whole -- and how this culture was handled or mishandled correctly -- and comes to some closure on that," trustee Ryan McCombie said Tuesday. "The people who loved Joe Paterno will still love him when this is over," McCombie said. "The people who disliked him may feel they have ammunition to continue to dislike him." Paterno died of cancer in January, but his family issued a statement late Tuesday saying leaks have made them question the fairness of the Freeh group's process. They defended the Hall of Fame coach, saying he did not know Sandusky was a child molester and did not prevent a proper investigation. Sandusky, 68, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse last month and awaits sentencing. Prosecutors described how Sandusky culled the most vulnerable children from his charity for at-risk youth and used gifts and his access to Penn State facilities to abuse them over a 15-year span. The Paterno family took aim at a February 2001 email by Curley, recently reported by CNN, saying he had a change of heart about reporting the shower incident to authorities after speaking with Paterno. Penn State has disclosed that Freeh's probe turned up emails among top officials that have been given to prosecutors. "When the facts come out, it will be clear that Joe Paterno never gave Tim Curley any instructions to protect Sandusky or limit any investigation of his actions," the Paterno family's statement read. Spanier's lawyers on Tuesday broke a months-long silence to deny suggestions that he participated in a cover-up with the image of Penn State and its powerful and lucrative football program at stake. They said Spanier was never informed that Sandusky may have been abusing children. "At no time in the more than 16 years of his presidency at Penn State was Dr. Spanier told of an incident involving Jerry Sandusky that described child abuse, sexual misconduct or criminality of any kind, and he reiterated that during his interview with Louis Freeh and his colleagues," said attorneys Peter Vaira and Elizabeth Ainslie. Spanier's comments last week to the Freeh group echoed his testimony before a state grand jury that neither Curley nor Schultz informed him of the sexual nature of what graduate assistant Mike McQueary saw. CNN reported an email showed Spanier was "supportive" of a decision by Curley and Schultz not to report the incident. Spanier warned, however, that they might "become vulnerable for not having reported it," CNN said. Spanier's lawyers said the emails were "distorting the public record and creating a false picture." Both Spanier and Paterno were ousted by school trustees a few days after Sandusky's arrest in November. Michael Boni, who represents the young man called Victim 1, who testified against Sandusky, said the Freeh report will "help inform" the direction of civil litigation. "Maybe what's been leaked out is most of it, I have no idea," he said. "I certainly hope not." Tom Kline, an attorney for Victim 5, said he is particularly interested in the circumstances surrounding Sandusky's retirement in 1999, a year after a woman triggered a university police investigation by complaining Sandusky had showered with her son. Sandusky was not charged at the time, but was convicted of charges related to that incident last month. "We already know that Penn State knew enough by February of 2001 to have stopped Sandusky dead in his tracks, which would have prevented the assault on my client six months later," Kline said. Lawyers for Curley and Schultz, meanwhile, are expected to participate in a closed-door conference call on Wednesday afternoon with the attorney general's office and Judge Todd Hoover, who is presiding over their case in Harrisburg. Curley, on leave as athletic director, and Schultz, retired as vice president for business and finance, could learn when they will stand trial. Freeh and his team of lawyers and former law enforcement officials interviewed more than 400 people, asking questions that went beyond Sandusky and the child sex-abuse scandal and into the relationship between football program and the university administration. Freeh said in November that he would not interfere with the state's criminal probe but promised to conduct his review in "a thorough, fair, comprehensive manner, leaving no stone unturned, and without any fear or favor." In January, trustees adopted interim recommendations from Freeh, including changes to policies for programs involving minors, reporting of allegations of abuse; and athletic department security. The NCAA is reviewing how Penn State exerted "institutional control" in relation to the Sandusky matter, and whether university officials complied with policies that pertain to honesty and ethical conduct. The NCAA could open a more formal investigation that may expose Penn State to sanctions.

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

It's Bobby's World in Bulls' lottery-improving loss to 76ers

The final 25 games was supposed to be all about the development of the Bulls’ recent acquisitions and securing a record worthy of one of the last three envelopes at the NBA Draft Lottery.

Only Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn seemed to matter, with Cameron Payne and Cristiano Felicio being the perfect window dressing for development as opposed to just saying a team is tanking.

But Bobby Portis is making a case that he isn’t to be forgotten in the big picture, that his worth is more than just being a punchline to the jokes that followed his incident with Nikola Mirotic.

The only thing Portis didn’t do right in the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers was missing a point blank shot that would’ve given the Bulls an improbable and unwanted win, and it would’ve given him 40 points.

Instead he had to settle for a career-high 38 as Joel Embiid was bearing down on Portis when he caught a diagonal pass from Dunn with 1.1 seconds left, having the shorter T.J. McConnell on him and taking a power dribble to gather himself.

“If I could go back I would’ve just went up the first time off the glass like I always do,” Portis said. “We just have to try to close out games better.”

Embiid showed he’s worth all the trouble with his health problems, scoring 30 with 13 rebounds and five rebounds while Ben Simmons put up 32 with 11 assists and seven rebounds as the 76ers improved to 31-25, good enough for seventh place in the East.

In a game that featured remarkable resolve from a purposely undermanned Bulls team as they sat Robin Lopez and Justin Holiday, they put themselves in position to win after trailing by 18 early. After leading by five courtesy of a LaVine walk-down triple with 1:02 left, they made a couple critical errors that allowed the 76ers to steal a game the Bulls won’t mind them taking at the end of 82.

Denzel Valentine’s inbounds pass with 5.9 seconds left was intended for LaVine, but Embiid stepped in front for a steal as they were in position to make it a free-throw game the rest of the way.

Similar to the Bulls’ unlikely win over the Orlando Magic before the All-Star break, they returned the favor as 76ers rookie Ben Simmons made free throws after the steal to give the visitors a one-point lead, setting the stage for the final play.

If learning lessons is what the last 100 quarters of basketball is supposed to be about, the Bulls got a big-time lesson in a game that ultimately means nothing.

“These are learning opportunities for our team,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “I couldn’t be happier, the way we went out and competed. We dug ourselves an 18-point hold and (fought) our way back—have complete control of the game.”

Control was wrestled from the 76ers by Portis’ able and quick hands. Taking more of a scoring posture since Mirotic’s departure, Portis has never been shy about being aggressive.

But now he’s being encouraged in that department, playing a big part in the Bulls’ tying their franchise record of 18 triples with six of his own, scoring 21 in the first half and not backing down one step from the massive Embiid.

“I kind of struggled from (three) in the last six, seven games,” said Portis, who didn’t take much time off during the All-Star break. “I think I’ve shown this entire year, trying to stay consistent and be a spark off the bench.”

Counting the last two games before the break, Portis has been on the best scoring binge of his career—cementing his place in the league when just a few months ago, many were questioning if the Bulls should’ve actually picked up his player option following the Mirotic incident.

His 25.0 points in the last three, along with scoring in double figures for seven straight games are career-bests. With every flex, every energetic plea to the crowd and resourceful score underneath the rim, Portis is becoming a player the Bulls can’t afford to plan without.

The stage was set for a Portis breakout shortly after the incident, when he was serving his suspension to start the season. When the Bulls traveled to Miami and Orlando, he flew on his own to Orlando for dinner with his mentor, former NBA veteran and Magic assistant coach Corliss Williamson.

Williamson, a player who was not to be trifled with during his career, told Portis essentially, “this too shall pass”.

“Just play your game,” Williamson told NBCSportsChicago.com recently. “Don’t put any pressure on yourself about what’s gonna happen after this year. What’s got him here is hard work, how hard he plays in the game. He continues to do that, he’ll be successful.”

Portis recalled the dinner where he was finally able to confide and unleash after weeks of frustration. Calling Williamson a father figure dating back to their Arkansas roots, where Portis played on Williamson’s AAU teams in middle school, Portis put his trust in him and came back reinvigorated.

“We talked for hours about the whole situation,” Portis told NBCSportsChicago.com “He told me when I come back to come 10 times harder. When people play this game and play the right way, they forget about the other stuff. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Scoring 38 tends to remake a narrative.

“Bobby just continues to improve,” Hoiberg said. “He’s a confident kid that goes out and plays with a ton of swagger and toughness. You need that, to go out and play with that type of effort. He’s tenacious on the glass. He’s getting the crowd into the game.”

When speaking of Portis, Hoiberg’s face went from flush to beaming, knowing how far Portis has come in his three years—being a player who wouldn’t take 3-pointers with confidence to now unleashing them whenever a defender’s feet shows the slightest hint of leaning back.

No hesitation.

“Regardless if I’m making shots, I try to leave it all out on the floor,” Portis said. “It felt good making shots, being able to help the team. I wanted the win tonight.”

Portis helped make up for the Bulls not getting their usual production from Dunn, who struggled guarding the bigger Simmons and Lauri Markkanen, who missed all five of his 3-pointers and made just one field goal in 32 minutes.

“You can put he and Lauri together,” Hoiberg said. “It gives you two guys that can stretch the floor and space it, two guys that can rebound, two that can put it on the floor. It’s exciting to think about when Kris gets his rhythm back.”

And now, Williamson’s words have proven to be prophetic for his pupil, because if the Bulls aren’t seeing Portis as a key part of their future, there’s about 25 other teams who’ll be lining up for his services this summer.

“I told him don’t even worry about it,” Williamson said. “Let your game speak for itself. People who really know you, know what type of person you are. You start producing people will forget about it and love you for what you do on the court.”

His game is talking, even if the Bulls’ loss was one they’d rather have taken in silence.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Projecting the Bulls’ future

In the latest edition of the Bulls Talk Podcast, Mark Schanowski, Will Perdue and Kendall Gill recap the Bulls’ 116-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, look at the continued growth of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn, and discuss if Bobby Portis is part of the Bulls’ long term future.

They also check in on LeBron James and the new-look Cleveland Cavaliers, discuss whether or not the Golden State Warriors can make another title run and the latest on the status of San Antonio Spurs guard Kawhi Leonard. The guys also discuss how Oklahoma guard Trae Young could look in a Bulls uniform if he’s available for them in the draft.

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.