Bears

Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

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Predicting the East and West All-Star rosters

In a few hours this will be moot, but with Thursday evening's announcement of the NBA All-Star Game reserves, below are CSNChicago.com's picks.
Keep in mind, these aren't predictions, just this writer's opinion on which players are deserving of the honor.
Eastern Conference reserves
Chris Bosh, Miami: Due to playing alongside East starters LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Bosh often gets overlooked, but is an important piece on the defending-champion Miami, again the conference's top team.
Tyson Chandler, New York: The league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year has helped transform New York into a more defensive-oriented squad, while also contributing as an efficient offensive option.
Luol Deng, Chicago: Deng's recent injury might give coaches an excuse not to select him, but his consistency as a go-to scorer and workhorse is a huge reason Chicago is in the upper echelon of the East's standings.
Paul George, Indiana: The athletic swingman is experiencing a breakout season on both sides of the ball, picking up the slack from the sidelined Danny Granger as Indiana's alpha dog.
Jrue Holiday, Philadelphia: Although Philadelphia has struggled as of late, Holiday has emerged as one of the league's top-tier point guards.
Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee: Jennings is the best player on a surprisingly successful Milwaukee team, which has thrived under interim head coach Jim Boylan thus far.
Joakim Noah, Chicago: Observers have taken notice of Noah's offensive development, ability to handle a heavier workload and defensive presence, all of which have been integral to Chicago's early-season success.
Alternates
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn: It's tough to keep a Brooklyn player off the initial roster, but although the center has had a solid season, with fans voting in an undeserving Kevin Garnett as a starter, Lopez likely gets the short end of the stick.
Josh Smith, Atlanta: The combination of Atlanta's current slump and the versatile forward's recent one-game suspension could be the tie-breaker in ensuring he's snubbed for yet another year.
Snubs
Carlos Boozer, Chicago: The much-maligned power forward has been dominant in January, but his superb stretch likely occurred too late to send him to Houston next month.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland: The second-year point guard is already an elite player at his position, but in addition to a chunk of games missed due to various injuries, Cleveland's dismal record is too much to ignore.
Western Conference reserves
LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland: Portland has cooled off as of late, but the underrated Aldridge has established himself as one of the league's best power forwards.
Tim Duncan, San Antonio: Aside from the flashback season Duncan's having, the future Hall of Famer is showing that he's still one of the premier big men in the league on a nightly basis.
James Harden, Houston: Harden has proven that he's worthy of all the fuss that occurred when he was traded to Houston at the beginning of the regular season, earning the right to represent the host city as one of the game's top scorers.
David Lee, Golden State: The Warriors have had a resurgence that's heavily based on improved defense and while Lee will never be regarded as a great player on that side of the ball, he's come to be viewed as a blue-collar type and the player most responsible for the squad's turnaround.
Tony Parker, San Antonio: Parker continues to quietly be the best player for an aging San Antonio team, as well as one of the league's top-five floor generals.
Zach Randolph, Memphis: Now healthy after missing most of last season due to injury, Randolph's blend of hard-nosed low-post scoring and dominance on the boards symbolizes Memphis' approach.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City: Playing in the shadow of three-time defending scoring champion Kevin Durant, the point guard is almost equally responsible for Oklahoma City maintaining its high standard of play after Harden's departure.
Alternates
Stephen Curry, Golden State: The oft-injured point guard is finally healthy, but as much as the sharpshooter has been praised for his impact on his team's turnaround, it would be hard to put two Warriors on the roster.
Marc Gasol, Memphis: In a similar situation, it would seem that only one of Gasol and Randolph will make the trip to Houston, and while the true center is clearly one of the best at a dying position, Randolph's elite rebounding gives him the edge.
Snubs
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles: The early-season favorite for the league's Sixth Man of the Year is also his team's leading scorer, but his defensive shortcomings and the Clippers' array of weapons takes away from his influence on their success.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City: Ibaka's impact on the defensive end has never been questioned, but while his improvement as a scorer has been remarkable, in a conference loaded with excellent big men, it would be hard to justify his selection.

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.