Bulls

Westinghouse basketball is back

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Westinghouse basketball is back

You remember Westinghouse. The one-time West Side candy factory was a state and national power for 30 years, from the day Mark Aguirre transferred from Austin in 1976 to the day the old school closed in 2007. Now there are signs that Westinghouse is back.

The old school on West Franklin Boulevard in Garfield Park produced such coaches as Frank Lollino, Roy Condotti, Frank Griseto, Chris Head and Quitman Dillard and sent four players to the NBA--Aguirre, Eddie Johnson, Hersey Hawkins and Kiwane Garris.

Others starred in college and went on to play professionally overseas, including Skip Dillard, Bernard Randolph, Michael Jenkins, Melvin Bradley, Larry Roby, Wayne Montgomery, Len Moffett, David Greer, Mark Miller, Damion Dantzler, Jimmy Sanders, Jamaal Brown, Jamarcus Ellis, Darius Glover, Martell Bailey and Cedrick Banks.

In those years, Westinghouse battled Marshall, Crane, Manley, Farragut, Simeon, King, Phillips, Collins, Carver and Morgan Park for supremacy in the Chicago Public League. The Warriors won a state championship in 2002, finished second in 2000 and third in 1981, 1992 and 1996.
   
Last year, after returning to the Red-West for the first time since the school was reconstituted, Westinghouse was 16-9 and lost to Marshall in the regional. With all 15 varsity players returning, fourth-year coach Garland Williams had high expectations for 2012-13.

"We expect to do well this season. We want to be in the top spot in the Red-West. We are mentally prepared to play the good teams," Williams said. "We remind our kids every day about the rich tradition of Westinghouse basketball. They see the trophies and banners in the gym. We ask alumni to come back to talk to the kids."

Westinghouse got off to a good start, beating Galesburg, East Moline and Bartonville Limestone at Thanksgiving. With games against Marshall and Whitney Young this week and Orr and North Lawndale next week, the Warriors hoped to make a statement.

On Wednesday, they won their seventh game in a row by edging Marshall 60-58 as Dewan White scored with 2.4 seconds to play. White, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored 13 of his season-high 19 points in the second half to hold off a furious rally by Marshall, which rallied from a 15-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to tie at 58 with 10 seconds remaining.

On Friday, Westinghouse will try to make another statement when it challenges Whitney Young and Jahlil Okafor.

The lineup features White (14 ppg), 6-foot-1 senior point guard Ricky Battles (18 ppg), 6-foot senior Darius Mason (10 ppg), 6-foot-6 senior Darrell Gant (10 ppg) and 6-foot-1, senior Ramone Taylor (8 ppg). Battles and Mason each scored nine points against Marshall, Gant had 10 points and eight rebounds and junior guard DeQuanis Jackson scored 10.

"We don't have great size so the key to our success is to play defense, create turnovers and score points off our defense," Williams said.

A graduate of Flower Vocational, the 42-year-old Williams learned a lot about the Red-West while hanging out with his pals, Marshall coach Henry Cotton and former Westinghouse coach Chris Head. He coached at Flower before it closed, then assisted Vince Carter at Von Steuben and coached at Raby before being hired at Westinghouse.

Dewan White also knew a lot about Westinghouse and the Red-West before he enrolled. His father and mother are graduates. His father competed in football and track. His mother participated in basketball, track, volleyball and swimming. But he preferred baseball.

"My first passion was baseball. I wanted to be the next Sammy Sosa or Paul Konerko," young Dewan said. "But then I started playing basketball and saw my basketball skills were better than baseball."

As an eighth grader, he played on an AAU team coached by Proviso East's Donnie Boyce that went to the national finals. "I realized that's what I wanted to do in high school," he said.

He already knew about Westinghouse's tradition. His father took him to games as a second and third grader. He saw Chris Head's state championship team in 2002 and Quitman Dillard's 28-4 teams in 2004 and 2005. He played on Head's Illinois Hawks AAU team in the summer.

"We came up to the Red-West for the first time last year. We wanted to show we could compete," White said. "The Sun-Times picked us to finish last in the conference. We had to get used to tougher competition. It was a maturing process. We knew we could play but we had to think the game, not make crucial mistakes in the clutch.

"We have been together since freshman, since the first practice. We have a lot of chemistry. We are more mature than last year. We know what is expected of us. We know each other's games. This is a big statement for us this week, a great opportunity to see how good we are. This is what we have been waiting for since our freshman year."

White and his teammates also are looking forward to competing in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. They'll meet Downers Grove South in an opening round game on Dec. 22.

"I've been going to Proviso West with my father since third grade," White said. "Morton won when I was in eighth grade. I saw Jon Scheyer score 52 points against Proviso West. It's one of the best tournaments in the nation."

But Westinghouse has a target on its back, like the teams of yesteryear with Aguirre, Johnson, Hawkins, Garris and Banks.

"No one noticed us when we started. We were 33-1 as freshmen but nobody noticed because we were in the Metro Green Division," White said. "As sophomores, we were 18-5 and finished second in the Blue Division. People started to notice.

"We improved over the summer. We got to the final four in the summer league tournament. We lost to Curie by eight points in the semifinals. We showed we can play against the big names."

Now they still have some showing to do.

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

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USA TODAY

Does Rodney Hood make sense for the Bulls?

New York Times veteran NBA writer Marc Stein tweeted late Friday that multiple teams were interested in fourth-year swingman Rodney Hood.

We know that the Jazz are one of the rumored teams interested in embattled forward Niko Mirotic and while it wouldn’t seem to make sense on the surface, Rodney Hood could be a good fit for the Bulls.

Hood will be a restricted free agent this summer and the Bulls would retain the rights to match any offer if they felt like the former Duke Blue Devil was the right piece to join the new core of Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn.

There is one complication in a potential Mirotic for Hood deal; the salaries don’t quite match. Utah would need to send another player like Alec Burks to Chicago in the deal. The Bulls would have to be OK taking on Burks’ $11.5 million salary for the 2018-19 season and his cap hit in free agency. Good news though, the free agent class this summer is very thin at small forward, the main position the Bulls have a need for.

Another road block, the Bulls are set to max out LaVine this July, and they may be wary on tying up a good part of their cap space for the next four years on two players.

Acquiring Hood hurts the ‘tank’ but you’d have a three-month audition of a 25-year old shooter that on paper would seem to work with the current rotation. If the Bulls felt like Hood wasn’t a good fit, let him walk in free agency. They would then keep their cap space intact for the 2019 super free agent class.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks return to action against Islanders

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the New York Islanders tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Erik Gustafsson's season debut.

The Blackhawks recalled one of their top defensive prospects on Jan. 9 but haven't been able to get him some game action yet. All signs point to that changing tonight.

He skated on a pairing with Brent Seabrook during Friday's practice, and was even placed on the second power play unit during special teams drills. Joel Quenneville was excited about the possibility of finally getting Gustafsson into the lineup.

"Good option, good opportunity," Quenneville said. "We’re not for sure but certainly he’s been around, he’s eager to go. I look forward to seeing what he can do."

2. Anthony Duclair's promotion.

He hasn't been in Chicago for very long but Duclair is quickly working his way up the lineup. The newly-acquired Blackhawk registered an assist in his team debut last Friday in a 2-1 victory over Winnipeg, and was put on a power play unit as well.

On Friday, Duclair was promoted to the top line with Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews and continued getting reps on the second power-play unit. Let's see if the 22-year-old can take advantage of that opportunity in a top-six role.

3. Mathew Barzal.

Three rookies will be named finalists for the Calder Trophy at the end of the season. Barzal is a lock to be one of them.

He not only leads all rookies with 48 points, but he ranks 15th in the entire league in the scoring race and is the only first-year player averaging at least a point per game. 

The 20-year-old center has been sensational and he already has two five-point games in his young professional career. To put that into perspective, Patrick Kane recorded his first NHL five-point effort two weeks ago against the Ottawa Senators.