Bulls

Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

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Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

As a junior, quarterback Matt Alviti led Maine South to the Class 8A championship.

As a senior, quarterback Aaron Bailey led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship.

Alviti is a better passer.

Bailey is a better runner.

Alviti is smarter.

Bailey is bigger, faster and a better all-around athlete.

Alviti is committed to Northwestern.

Bailey is committed to Illinois.

Both run a spread offense.

Who is better? Who will have a better college career?

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. "The one who will excel is the one who gets a chance to play at his own pace, who is able to utilize his talents more."

For example, will Northwestern allow Alviti to be Alviti? Will Illinois allow Bailey to be Bailey.

"Remember Juice Williams at Illinois?" Lemming said. "He had the strongest arm in the country. Williams played right away but he wasn't ready. He had a rocket for an arm but he didn't improve over four years because he was put into the fire too early. There was always pressure to perform. He wasn't fully developed when he was thrown into the fire. He was asked to do to much too early."

Lemming also reminds that Williams came out of Chicago Vocational at the same time that the more highly touted Demetrius Jones came out of Morgan Park. Jones was 6-foot-4 with great potential. He needed time to develop as a passer in a pro-style offense but, like Williams, he had no patience. He committed to Notre Dame but wanted to play right away. He transferred to Cincinnati and was switched to linebacker, then transferred to Division II Central State and became a wide receiver and tight end. He is still hoping to play in the NFL.

"Alviti already is a passer," Lemming said. "But the best thing for any freshman quarterback is to red-shirt and get acclimated to the program and the campus, not thrown into the mix right away.

"But sometimes egos get in the way. Some kids want to start right away. Peyton Manning was ready. But not too many others are. They need a year or two to develop. Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the mix at Ohio State because he insisted on it and he never got better. But Cam Newton was given time to develop."

Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss said Alviti is the best passer he has produced in nearly 20 years, better than John Schnake, Tony Wnek, Shawn Kain, Sean Price, Tyler Knight, Charlie Goro and Tyler Benz.

Schnake led Maine South to a state championship in 1995. Price set several state passing records. Price and Goro were All-Staters. But none of them stood out at the college level.

Illinois has never been known as a state that produces outstanding high school quarterbacks. In the last 50 years, dating to Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke and Alex Agase and George Connor and Dave Butz and Mike Kenn and Clay Matthews, it has built a reputation for developing offensive linemen and linebackers.

Oh, there have been some gifted running backs along the way...Red Grange, Tony Canadeo, Buddy Young, Johnny Karras, Jim Grabowski, Billy Marek, Mike Alstott and Rashard Mendenhall to name a few. And who can forget Pete Pihos, Fritz Pollard and Kellen Winslow, all NFL Hall of Famers?

But quarterback? Otto Graham was the gold standard, of course, one of the best of all time.

Some of the best were Wheaton North's Chuck Long, a three-time All-Big 10 selection at Iowa who was runnerup to Bo Jackson for the 1985 Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; Mount Carmel's Donovan McNabb; and Mike Tomczak, who went from Thornton Fractional North to Ohio State to the Chicago Bears. Ironically, Tomczak edged Long for Player of the Year recognition in the Chicago area in 1980.

Some had good college careers...Tim Brasic, Brett Basanez, Kent Graham, Mark Carlson, Rich Weiss. Others disappeared...Ken Ferguson, Jeff Stewart, Jeff Lesniewicz, Tim Lavery, Mark Floersch, Jordan Tassio, Brad Bower, Quincy Woods, Mike Kerrigan, Corey and Casey Paus, Russ Rein, Jim Bennett.

Finally, Sean Payton, who was an All-Chicago Area quarterback at Naperville Central in 1981, might not have gone on to stardom as a college and professional athlete. But he has done very well as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Will Kris Dunn build off career night?

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, Mark Schanowski, Kendall Gill, and Kevin Anderson react to a breakout game from Kris Dunn against the Hornets Friday night. They’ll discuss his development and how it impacts rookie Lauri Markkanen. Plus just how long will both the Wolves and Bulls be judged on the Jimmy Butler trade? Is Dwight Howard a hall of famer? And a new era in Philly with Simmons and Embiid. That and more on this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast.

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Observations from Bulls-Hornets: Kris Dunn, a sigh of relief and hack-a-who?

Kris Dunn did it: You can’t play that position without an edge, without some form of “basketball killer” in you. Kris Dunn showed at the very least, he has that in his DNA in his best game as a Bull with a career-high 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Leave it to Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg to point out a forgotten stat: one turnover in 26 minutes.

“That’s the biggest thing I’m proud of,” Dunn said. “Everyone knows I’ve had a lot of careless turnovers in the season. It’s one thing I’ll take credit for.”

Dunn scored 13 with six assists in the fourth quarter alone as the Bulls outscored the Hornets 40-28 for the comeback victory. More than anything, it was his competitive spirit and aggressiveness that stood out. Kemba Walker stood across the way and gave Dunn—and the Bulls—every bit of 47 points.

“He tested my conditioning, for sure,” Dunn admitted. “He’s a great player. He’s been in the league for so long. It was good to go out there and compete with him.”

It could’ve went a different way had Walker not been bothered by Lauri Markkanen’s challenge at the rim, blowing a layup that would’ve given the Hornets the lead back with seconds remaining but he missed it and the narrative changed at least for a night.

And when teams are talking about learning experiences, it’s good to have them in a win every now and again. Markkanen’s challenge at the rim followed by his closing free throws right after, along with a quietly effective 16 points and seven rebounds, proved huge on this night.

Dunn finally having a confidence booster was imperative.

Dunn scored but it wasn’t an easy 20 or a smooth 20. It was an attacking 20, a necessary 20. He did hit some elbow jumpers, especially in the fourth as the defense laid off him.

But his biggest basket was a slithering drive to the rim for a layup with 2:24 left, because he attacked and was under control.

“That’s huge growth for Kris,” Hoiberg said. “He made the right play darn near every time he had the ball in his hands. Rose up with confidence, knocked down huge shots. Defensively got them going, got steals.”

What a relief: Nobody wanted to say it, but it bore out on the floor, the sheer desperation the Bulls played with.

Coming in with a five-game losing streak and headed out west to for four games in the next week, they were staring in the face of a possible double-digit losing streak to end November.

Confidence was sparse after three bad losses, and it’s a dangerous time for a team that will struggle to win games all season.

The United Center crowd got into it, particularly late when the Bulls began climbing back into contention to start the fourth quarter. The fans wanted this win too, even with the eyes being on a larger prize coming in mid-2018.

The relief was written all over Hoiberg’s usually-stress ridden face and he even cracked a couple jokes that weren’t aimed in his direction, as self-deprecation is normally his escape of choice.

“It is important but I asked the guys: is it hard to play with that type of effort? When you play with that type of energy and effort and swagger, it’s fun,” Hoiberg said. “When you play low energy and hang your head, it’s a drag. It’s hard to play at this level with that mentality.”

Starting change: Justin Holiday returned after his quick leave with his wife delivering a baby girl recently and his game-high 27 points showed he missed the Bulls as much as they missed his shooting, hitting four triples and going 10 for 15 from the field.

“Guys were serious about getting their jobs done,” Holiday said. “It was a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness. That’s how we have to play every night for our team to do well.”

Denzel Valentine, although he didn’t want to say it, wants to be a starter. Hoiberg chose Quincy Pondexter over him recently and then made the change Friday to insert Valentine for more scoring.

Valentine scored 18 with six assists and five rebounds in 32 minutes of run—and with those two starting as scoring options, the Bulls surpassed that seven-point first-quarter mark really early and scored 26 overall.

He hit a big triple in the fourth with 2:49 left to give the Bulls a 110-109 lead on a set play the Bulls actually executed between Valentine, Dunn as a setup man and Robin Lopez as a screen to pop Valentine open.

If he continues to hit 3-pointers at a 40 percent clip, especially with the way the Bulls have struggled to start games, he’ll have the right to feel he belongs in the first five.

“It’s definitely more confidence,” Valentine said. “You feel you’re an NBA starter, you get to go in and feel it out for a second and bring some energy to start the game.”

He didn’t mince words about starting, with a little honesty saying, “I think it’s huge being a starter.”

When asked if he felt validated by his performance and the result being a high-scoring win, it was just as telling.

“I think I deserve…I think I deserved a starting role,” Valentine said. “At the same time it’s different combinations, different people that need to be on the floor at certain times, so if he feels like I don’t need to start, I won’t start. But I feel very comfortable starting as well.”

Hack-a-Dwight: It could be Hack-a-Dwight, hack-a-Drummond, hack-a-Wilt or Shaq or Charles Shackleford.

The Bulls went to it and Howard went two of four from the line but it took a little rhythm from the Hornets and probably slowed Kemba Walker down just enough before he got cooking in the last 90 seconds and almost pulled a win out of his keister.

But…

I hate it. Get it out of the game completely.