Blackhawks

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Pistons

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Pistons

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
5:00 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

DETROITBulls television analyst Stacey King will not be in attendance at Sundays game against the Pistons, after the death of his mother, Lois Jean King, Saturday evening. She was 75. Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington will join play-by-play man Neil Funk in Kings absence, while Chuck Swirsky will handle radio duties alone Sunday. CSNChicago.com expresses its condolences.

1. In the wake of Derrick Roses three free-throw attemptsdespite repeatedly getting hitSaturday against the Knicks, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau discussed the All-Star point guards lack of whistles going to the hole prior to Sundays game. We want him to get to the line more and we dont want him to not drive because hes not getting the calls. We want him to continue to attack and hes got to drive with force, which he does. I think he drives with speed and when he gets hit, he should be getting the calls. The one thing that he doesnt do is he doesnt exaggerate contact and sometimes in this league, thats what you have to do. Thats probably something that he can work on, butI dont want him to change anything that hes doing. I think a big part of who he is and what makes him so special is when hes attacking in transition. When hes coming at you with a head of steam, I want him to get to the rim as quickly as he can and then make his decision at the rim. I think as time goes on, he will get more and more calls, said Thibodeau. Hes got a great way about him. His demeanor is excellent and hes very respectful of the officials. I think at the appropriate time, he has to make his points to the officials, which I think hes getting better at. Sometimes its hard because of his speed, quickness and strength because its happening so quick, sometimes its not being recognized. But I think, in time, hell get calls.

2. Pistons center Ben Wallace talked about Chicago, his former team, before Sundays game. I think they made a lot of good changes. They got a lot of good pieces with the addition of Carlos Boozer, Brewer. Those guys know how to play and theyve been playing in a structured system where they got a lot of discipline, and you can tell it definitely helps that team out. When they get Joakim back, I only think theyre going to get that much better, Wallace told CSNChicago.com.

3. Wallace also discussed former teammate Luol Deng with CSNChicago.com. Lus a true professional. It doesnt matter what you say, what situation you put him in, you know hes going to find a way to make the best out of the situation. He got criticized when I was there, he still catches some criticism right now, but all he does is go out there and play hard and thats all you can ask, said Wallace. Sometimes, people find somebody they can pick on and thats all they do. But hes always been a professional. He just goes out, plays hard, plays his game, plays within himself and makes the most out of his opportunities.

4. Injured Bulls center Joakim Noah was mentored by Wallace upon entering the NBA, and Big Ben expressed pride in his former protgs development. Joakims not one of those guys whos happy to be out there. Hes out there making a difference. You could see the upside as a rookie. He had that drive, he had that hunger and he had that potential. Now, hes developed into a contender in this league. If he continues to play like that, hes going to be an All-Star in this league.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Patrick Kane hits milestone, but Blackhawks get blown out by Islanders

Probably not the way the Blackhawks wanted to start their second half of the season.

After a five-day break, the Blackhawks suffered a brutal 7-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the United Center. This coming after a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on home ice last Sunday.

"It was a game we had to win," Quenneville said after Saturday's loss. "Disappointing in a lot of ways."

The Blackhawks needed both goaltenders to get through 60 minutes. Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass combined for 39 saves on 46 shots.

On the offensive side of things, Patrick Kane hit a milestone.

The 29-year-old had two goals and an assist and recorded his 800th career point, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to reach 800 points.

The Blackhawks are now 22-18-6 on the season with 50 points and rank last in the Central Division, five points behind the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks' schedule doesn't get any easier when the Tampa Bay Lightning — the league-leader in points — come to town on Monday.

See what Quenneville and Kane had to say about Saturday's loss in the video above.

One MLB executive thinks Kyle Schwarber can emerge as Cubs' best hitter in 2018

One MLB executive thinks Kyle Schwarber can emerge as Cubs' best hitter in 2018

When the 2017 season ended, Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber looked in the mirror and didn't like what he saw.

He was stocky, slower than he wanted to be and he had just finished a very difficult season that saw him spend time back in the minor leagues at Triple-A after he struggled mightily through the first three months of the season.

Schwarber still put up solid power numbers despite his overall struggles. He slammed 30 home runs, putting him among the Top 15 hitters in the National League and among the Top 35 in all of baseball. But, Schwarber was honest with himself. He knew he could achieve so much more if he was in better shape and improved his mobility, his overall approach at the plate and his defense.

Schwarber was drafted by the Cubs out of Indiana University as a catcher. However, many scouts around baseball had serious doubts about his ability to catch at the big league level. The Cubs were in love with Schwarber the person and Schwarber the overall hitter and felt they would give him a chance to prove he could catch for them. If he couldn't, then they believed he could play left field adequately enough to keep his powerful bat in the lineup.

However, a serious knee injury early in the 2016 season knocked Schwarber out of action for six months and his return to the Cubs in time to assist in their World Series run raised expectations for a tremendous 2017 season. In fact, the expectations for Schwarber were wildly unrealistic when the team broke camp last spring. Manager Joe Maddon had Schwarber in the everyday lineup batting leadoff and playing left field.

But Schwarber's offseason after the World Series consisted of more rehab on his still-healing injured left knee. That kept him from working on his outfield play, his approach at the plate and his overall baseball training. 

Add in all of the opportunities and commitments that come with winning a World Series and it doesn't take much detective work to understand why Schwarber struggled so much when the 2017 season began. This offseason, though, has been radically different. A season-ending meeting with Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer led to a decision to take weight off of Schwarber's frame. It also included a decision to change his training program so that he improved his quickness, lateral movement and his overall baseball skills.

"I took two weeks off after the season ended and then I went to work," Schwarber said. "We put a plan together to take weight off and to improve my quickness. I have my meals delivered and I feel great. My baseball work combined with a lot of strength and conditioning has me in the best shape that I have ever been in."

Schwarber disagrees with the pundits who felt manager Maddon's decision to put him in the leadoff spot in the Cubs' loaded lineup contributed to his struggles.

"I have no problem hitting wherever Joe wants to put me," Schwarber said. "I didn't feel any more pressure because I was batting leadoff. I just needed to get back to training for a baseball season as opposed to rehabbing from my knee injury. I'm probably 20-25 pounds lighter and I'm ready to get back to Arizona with the boys and to get ready for the season."

Many around the game were shocked when the Cubs drafted Schwarber with the No. 4 overall selection in the 2014 MLB Draft, but a rival executive who was not surprised by the pick believes that Schwarber can indeed return to the form that made him such a feared hitter during his rookie season as well as his excellent postseason resume.

"Everyone who doubted this kid may end up way off on their evaluation because he is a great hitter and now that he is almost two years removed from his knee injury," the executive said. "He knows what playing at the major-league level is all about I expect him to be a real force in the Cubs lineup.

"Theo and Jed do not want to trade this kid and they are going to give him every opportunity to succeed. I think he has a chance to be as good a hitter as they have in their order."

Watch the full 1-on-1 interview with Kyle Schwarber Sunday night on NBC Sports Chicago.