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'Three Amigos' are IBCA Hall of Fame inductees

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'Three Amigos' are IBCA Hall of Fame inductees

The Illinois Basketball Coaches Association's Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2013 will include former Simeon stars Ben Wilson and Nick Anderson, Dusty Bensko of Pleasant Plains, Michelle Hasheider of Okawville, Terri Zemaitis of Downers Grove South, Carver's Ken Maxey and Proviso East's famed Three Amigos--Donnie Boyce, Michael Finley and Sherell Ford.

Although the IBCA's Hall of Fame has been moved to Danville, the organization's annual Hall of Fame induction banquet will continue to be conducted at Braden Auditorium on Illinois State's campus in Normal. The 2013 event will be Saturday, April 27.

As a junior, Wilson led Simeon to the 1984 Class AA state championship. A few months later, he was acclaimed the No. 1 player in the nation after participating in the Nike camp. On the eve of Simeon's first game of the 1984-85 season, he was shot to death by a gang member outside his school.

Anderson was a two-time All-Chicago Area selection at Prosser, then decided to transfer to Simeon as a junior so he could play with Wilson. As a senior, he was named Illinois' Mr. Basketball and went on to outstanding careers at Illinois and the NBA.

Bensko was one of the best all-around athletes in state history. In an unprecedented achievement, he led Pleasant Plains to the Class A state titles in basketball and baseball as a junior in 2000. He was named to USA Today's All-America team. He scored 2,488 points in his basketball career.

Hasheider was Illinois' Ms. Basketball in 1994, was a two-time All-Stater, scored 2,026 points in her career and led Okawville to the Class A championship in 1994 and second place in 1993.

Zemaitis was a two-time All-Stater who led Downers Grove South to a 27-5 record and the Class AA quarterfinals in 1994. She also was one of the nation's leading volleyball players and later starred on Penn State's NCAA championship team.

Maxey was the backcourt leader of the Carver team that won the 1963 Class AA championship, beating Centralia in one of the most dramatic finishes in state tournament history. He went on to play with Carver legend Cazzie Russell at Michigan.

Boyce, Finley and Ford led Proviso East to the Class AA title in 1991. Ford was the Chicago area's Player of the Year and was a standout at Illinois-Chicago. Finley went on to outstanding careers at Wisconsin and the NBA. Boyce, who played at Colorado, currently is the head coach at Proviso East.

The annual Buzzy O'Connor Award for contributions to basketball will be presented to Jim Harrington, former coach at Weber and Elgin. Harrington was inducted into the IBCA Hall of Famein 2001. His son, Sean, a 1999 Elgin graduate and the school's all-time leading scorer, was inducted in 2011.

Here are other inductees in the class of 2013:

Players: Wilson; Anderson; Bensko; Hasheider; Zemaitis; Boyce; Finley; Ford; Ashley Berggren, Barrington; Justin Brock, Liberty; Greg Cruse, Goreville; Roland Duke, Dundee; Larry Gorman, Oak Forest; John Guderjan, Mid-County; Gary Jackson, Blue Mound; Sean Knox, North Greene; Kelly Miller, Lake Park; Ron Rigoni, Danville; Reggie Rose, Hubbard; Jordan Roth, Pleasant Plains; Daryl Schaffeld, Fremd; Ed Schumacher, Vocational; Corinne Vossel, Hersey; Shawn Watts, Thornton; Sarah Weiss, Libertyville.

Coaches: Bob Barnett, Hampshire; Jack Blickensderfer, Meridian; Sara Kinney, Chillicothe; Mike Miller, Rockton Hononegah; Scott Olson, Rock Falls.

Career Coaches: Scott Buzard, Glenview Springman; Dennis Cromer, Bensenville Fenton; Gary Harlacher, Geneseo; Mike Kiss, Geneseo; Greg Rigoni, Hickory Creek; Jerry Schmitt, Minonk Fieldcrest; Mike Schnable, Oswego; Ken Wildhaber, Highland; Matt Yarcho, Morton.

Teams: Glenbrook North boys 2005; Seneca boys, 2006; Carrollton girls, 2001; Carrollton girls, 2002; Buffalo Grove girls, 2000.

Officials: Terry Andrews, Bridgeport; Mark Cladis, Chicago Heights; David Collins, Bethalto; Julie Colwell, Lincolnwood; David Hancock, Orion; Dave Hasley, Abingdon; Dave King, St. Charles; Jim McKenna, Chicago.

Media: Scott Busboom, Decatur; Don Hamilton, Jacksonville; Tom Kelly, Encino, Calif.; Randy List, Centralia; Don Werntz, Freeport.

According to Chuck Rolinski, longtime executive directortreasurer of the IBCA and one of its co-founders, the Danville area Convention and Visitors Bureau is in charge of securing a permanent home for the IBCA's Hall of Fame.

Executive director Jeanne Cooke has made a decision to put the IBCA's Hall of Fame plaques and memorabilia in the Convention Center. It will have its own entrance with 4,000 square feet of space. An architect has been hired and remodeling of the space will begin in the near future.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

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USA TODAY

For one writer, Hall of Fame semifinalist selection of Brian Urlacher closes a career circle

The news on Tuesday wasn’t really any sort of surprise: Brian Urlacher being selected as a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. Some of the immediate thoughts were, however, for one writer who covered Brian from the day he was drafted on through the unpleasant end of his 13-year career as a Bear.

Good thoughts, though. Definitely good.

The first was a flashback, to a Tuesday in late August 2000 when the ninth-overall pick of the draft, who’d been anointed the starting strong-side linebacker by coach Dick Jauron on draft day, was benched.

It happened up at Halas Hall when Urlacher all of a sudden wasn’t running with the 1’s. Rosie Colvin was in Urlacher’s spot with the starters and would be for a few games into the 2000 season. I caught up with Brian before he walked, in a daze, into Halas Hall after practice and asked about what I’d just seen.

"I'm unhappy with the way I'm playing and I'm sure they are, too," Urlacher said. "I don't think I've been playing very well so that's probably the cause for it right there. I just don't have any technique. I need to work on my technique, hands and feet mostly. I've got to get those down, figure out what I'm doing. I know the defense pretty good now, just don't know how to use my hands and feet."

Urlacher, an All-American safety at New Mexico but MVP of the Senior Bowl in his first game at middle linebacker, had been starting at strong side, over the tight end, because coaches considered it a simpler position for Urlacher to master. But he was not always correctly aligned before the snap, did not use his hands against blockers effectively and occasionally led with his head on tackles. His benching cost him the chance to be the first Bears rookie linebacker since Dick Butkus to start an Opening Day.

It also was the first time in his football life that Urlacher could remember being demoted.

"It's not a good feeling," he said. "I definitely don't like getting demoted but I know why I am. I just have to get better."

Coaches understood what they were really attempting, subsequently acknowledged privately that the SLB experiment was a mistake. While the strong-side slot may have been simpler than the other two principally because of coverage duties, "we're trying to force-feed the kid an elephant," then-defensive coordinator Greg Blache said.

"So you see him gag and what do you do? You give him the Heimlich maneuver, you take some of it out of his mouth, try to chop it up into smaller pieces. He's going to devour it and be a great football player. But he wouldn't be if we choked him to death."

Urlacher didn’t choke and eventually became the starter, not outside, but at middle linebacker when Barry Minter was injured week two at Tampa Bay.

We sometimes don’t fully know the import or significance at the time we’re witnessing something. Urlacher stepping in at middle linebacker was not one of those times – you knew, watching him pick up four tackles in basically just the fourth quarter of a 41-0 blowout by the Bucs.

That was the beginning. Over the years came moments like Urlacher scooping up a Michael Vick fumble in the 2001 Atlanta game and going 90 yards with Vick giving chase but not catching him. Lots of those kinds of moments.

And then cutting to the ending, in 2013, when he and the organization came to an acrimonious parting after GM Phil Emery managed to alienate the face of the franchise both with the one-year contract offer and the way it was handled. Butkus had a nasty separation at the end of his Bears years, too, and Bill George finished his career as a Los Angeles Ram after creating the middle linebacker position as a Bear. Maybe that’s just how Bears and some of their linebackers wind up their relationships.

In any case, while there is no cheering in the pressbox, the hope here is that Brian goes into the Hall in a class with Ray Lewis in their first years of eligibility. Somehow that just seems like it all should close out for that confused kid from New Mexico who lost his first job out of college, but responded to that by becoming one of the all-time greats in his sport.