Cubs

Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

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Which teams were left out of Big Dance?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Washington and Seton Hall were hoping to get sent anywhere for the NCAA tournament. Instead, they wound up at home with No. 1 seeds in the NIT. Tennessee and Arizona also received top seeds Sunday night for the 75th NIT, which begins Tuesday and concludes with the March 29 championship game at Madison Square Garden. Drexel, snubbed by the NCAA selection committee, got a No. 3 seed and will host Central Florida in the first round. Other notable teams in the 32-team field are Miami, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Nevada, Northwestern and Oral Roberts. Drexel (27-6) and Oral Roberts (27-6) had the most wins among teams not chosen for the 68-team NCAA tournament. Oral Roberts is seeded fourth in the NIT and will play No. 5 seed Nevada in the first round. Washington finished atop the Pac-12 standings, but became the first team to win a regular-season title in a power conference and miss the NCAA tournament. The Huskies (21-10) lost at UCLA in their regular-season finale and then to Oregon State 86-84 in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 tournament. "We had control of the situation and we lost it," Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. Arizona reached the Pac-12 title game, but lost to Colorado 53-51. The Wildcats (23-11) will host Bucknell (24-9) in the NIT on Wednesday. "I want to fight and get these guys as far as we can," Arizona coach Sean Miller said. "If that's New York City in the Final Four of the NIT, great. But it has everything to do with trying to have a magical season to win as many games and compete for championships. I think we all know our next loss will be our last." Nine teams from the Big East received NCAA bids. Seton Hall, seeded 10th in the conference tournament, was left out. Next up, the Pirates (20-12) host America East regular-season champion Stony Brook (22-9) on Tuesday night. Washington plays at home the same night against Texas-Arlington (24-8), the Southland Conference regular-season champion. Oral Roberts, Nevada and Drexel also were among the 11 teams to qualify automatically for the NIT because they won their regular-season conference crowns. Drexel won 19 games in a row before losing to Virginia Commonwealth in the Colonial Athletic Association title game. But a low RPI (in the 60s) and weak strength of schedule number (220s) kept the Dragons out of the NCAA tournament again -- they haven't made it since 1996. "My big thing has always been here at Drexel, I can't get nobody to play me at home," coach Bruiser Flint said. But that's where the Dragons will be Wednesday night when they face sixth-seeded UCF (22-10). Drexel, in the NIT for the first time since 2007, is a sparkling 13-0 at home. The NIT field includes 24 teams with at least 20 wins and five schools from the Atlantic 10 Conference. One of them is Dayton, the 2010 NIT champion. Washington and Arizona are joined by two other teams from the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford. Both received a No. 3 seed. Northwestern, still seeking its first NCAA tournament invitation, is headed to its fourth straight NIT. The fourth-seeded Wildcats (18-13) will host No. 5 seed Akron (22-11) in the first round Tuesday night. The Zips entered the Mid-American Conference tournament with the top seed and lost 64-63 to Ohio in a wild final. 'One thing that hasn't happened here, I don't think there's ever been a postseason champion in basketball, and so we're going to play to win a championship," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. Wichita State beat Alabama in last year's NIT championship game.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: