Bears

York's Cohn reaches another level

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York's Cohn reaches another level

It's a wonder what a 47-point game can do for your resume. Before York's David Cohn scored 47 points against Hinsdale Central on Jan. 27, the 6-foot-2 junior guard had received scholarship offers from Illinois State, Colorado State. Valparaiso, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State and Drake.

In a 75-64 victory over Hinsdale Central, Cohn established a school single-game scoring record by accounting for his team's first 26 points, converting seven of eight three-point attempts and making 13 of 17 shots from the field and 14 of 17 free throws.

"I have seen 50-point games but not on jump shots," said York coach Tom Kleinschmidt, a former two-time All-Stater at Gordon Tech who was an All-American at DePaul. "I have never seen a shooting display like that."

Cohn, who averages 20 points per game, never expected it.

"In the pre-game warm-ups, it was brutal. I don't think I made a shot. I air-balled one. I thought to myself: 'Oh, this will be one of those nights.' I didn't take my first shot until two or three minutes into the game. It went in, from the top of the key. OK, I said to myself, when you make the first shot it is kind of comforting.

"Then I made three more threes in the first quarter. From there on, I was in a zone. In the spring, I scored 63 points in a game. I had 13 or 14 threes. But I felt I was in more of a zone against Hinsdale Central. There was more defense being played. There was more tension on me. But I still got the shots to fall."

All of a sudden, major Division I programs are expressing interest...Stanford, Penn State, Oregon, Nebraska. Look for others to dial his number. With another year to improve and get exposure, Cohn figures to command the attention of more and more Division I coaches.

But Cohn is trying to keep a level head about all of this. "It's flattering. It's nice to know that schools pay attention. But it won't change anything about me. In the end, I'll find my place in college basketball. I don't necessarily want to play at the highest level. I want to play where I can get the best of both worlds, academics and basketball, where it feels right, a program I can make an impact in, where I can play as a freshman," he said.

However, he admits Stanford "would be a great place to play." And he admits that Notre Dame, which hasn't expressed any interest yet, is his "dream school." Several family members have attended Notre Dame and the Irish have been David's favorite college for football and basketball.

"If they offered, that would be an immediate decision for me," he said. "I watch every game on TV. I know every play they run.

"Opportunity has knocked. It's pretty crazy what one game can do. It's great that they think so much of me. But colleges look for consistency. If my shooting stroke stays consistent, hopefully I'll have other games like that and we'll keep winning. All this means is I have more options to weigh when I make a final decision."

York and Cohn are on a hot streak as they look ahead to the Class 4A sectional at Schaumburg. The Dukes are 18-7 but have won 13 games in a row after trouncing Glenbard West 68-41 last Friday. They'll meet Oak Park on Tuesday in a West Suburban Silver showdown. This weekend, they'll play Downers Grove North and St. Charles North.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn scored 29 points and had five assists. After starting 5-7, York has been overpowering in recent games, winning by margins of 18, 25, 15, 20, 13, 11, 21, 16, 9 and 27 points.

"We weren't going to give up from the start. We just had to come together as a team," Cohn said. "Early, no one was on the same page. There was a lack of communication. We wanted to do our own thing. We thought we were better than we were. But no one panicked when we were 5-7. No one even got negative. The light bulb came on for every single one of us. Each player began to make plays. Everyone filled their roles."

It finally dawned on Kleinschmidt what was wrong. The first-year coach was hired in June and didn't have time to implement his system. He was starting two sophomores, a junior and two seniors who played a total of 15 minutes all of last year. And they had to play nine games on the road during a 10-game stretch. His game plan was in desperate need of an overhaul.

"I knew I had some talent. I had some pieces but they were unproven pieces," Kleinschmidt said. "Cohn was Robin to Will Sullivan's Batman last year. He had to learn that he has a target on his back, that opponents will double and triple team him.

"I had to change my system in midstream. I found out we can press some teams. I found out we can't pressure. I had to see what I had, what worked and what didn't. We tried to run but we turned the ball over too much. We had to play different defenses. We had to change the tempo. I'm learning more about the kids and the staff and the school every day.

"I didn't panic. I stuck with the people I had. I knew they could play but they were inexperienced. And I learned something about myself, too. I learned about patience. My wife says I'm not the most patient person. As a player, you had control. You went out and did it. But you can't do it as a coach. I can put them in position but they have to execute."

Early on, the Dukes were doing lots of reps in practice but not getting positive results in games. Now, according to Kleinschmidt, they are at the stage that they are getting so many reps in practice and games that it is becoming a habit. Nobody complains after going through one of Kleinschmidt's three-hour workouts.

"It took them a while to get ready for basketball after getting their heads kicked in. We lost to Hinsdale Central by 33, Oak Park by 19 and West Aurora by 25. After that, a lot of kids would have quit. But these kids were ready to fight. They weren't ready to pack it in."

York isn't a one-man team, of course. Kleinschmidt has trouble spelling his point guard's last name but he acknowledges that 5-foot-10 senior Jake Rzeszutko (11 ppg, 4 assists) is a three-sport athlete "who is as tough as nails."

He also counts on 6-foot-7 sophomore Frankie Toohey (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 5-foot-11 senior Matt DiFrancesca (11 ppg, 4 rpg), 6-foot-4 sophomore Chris Klos (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 6-foot-5 senior Mike Despinich and 6-foot-7 junior Justin Kurash.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn got plenty of support. DiFrancesca had 12 points and five assists, Rzeszutko had 10 points and four assists and Despinich had 10 points and five rebounds.

"I wouldn't want anything more for my first team," Kleinschmidt said. "It will keep me coaching. I thoroughly enjoy it. If I had started 5-7 in high school, there would have been a lot of finger-pointing. Nobody likes to lose. But these kids are competitors. They don't quit."

Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

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USA TODAY

Unfinished Bears job a 'bitter pill' for John Fox, but the legacy lies beyond just the W-L record

When John Fox succeeded Marc Trestman in 2015, neither he nor the Bears were looking at the situation and Fox as any sort of “bridge” hire – a de facto interim coach tasked with winning, but just as importantly, developing and getting a team turned around and headed in a right direction.

The heart of the matter is always winning, but in the overall, the mission statement also includes leaving the place better than you found it. Fox did that, which is very clearly the sentiment upstairs at Halas Hall as the Bears move on from Fox to Matt Nagy.

“It would’ve been nice to see it through,” Fox said to NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s kind of a bitter pill but you sort things out and move forward.

“I do think it’s closer than people think. We inherited a mess... but I felt we were on the brink at the end. I think that [Halas Hall] building is definitely different; they feel it. I do think that it was a positive.”

(Fox is probably not done coaching at some point, but that’s for another time, another story, and anyway, it’s his tale to tell when he feels like it. Or doesn’t.)

One measure of the Bears change effected: Virtually the entire Trestman staff, with the exceptions of receivers coach Mike Groh and linebackers coach Clint Hurtt, was jettisoned along with Trestman. By contrast, Nagy has retained not only virtually the entire Fox defensive staff under coordinator Vic Fangio, but also arguably the single most important non-coordinator offensive coach by virtue of position responsibility – Dave Ragone, the hands-on mentor of quarterback Mitch Trubisky.

Obvious but extremely difficult decisions are coming, as to shedding personnel and contracts – Josh Sitton, Pernell McPhee, Willie Young being among the most difficult because of tangible intangibles that no organization wants to lose.

“Bridge” results

Fox was never intended as a bridge coach but the results point to that function having been served. To exactly what end remains to play out under Nagy and the quarterback whom Ragone and Fox’s handling began developing.

Rick Renteria was one of those “bridge” guys for the Cubs, intended to be part of pulling out of or at least arresting the slide into the Mike Quade-Dale Sveum abyss, and leaving something for Joe Maddon. The late Vince Lombardi effectively served as that, at age 56 and for an unforeseen one-year for a Washington Redskins organization that’d gone 13 years without a winning season before Lombardi’s 1969 and needed a radical reversal. The culture change was realized over the next decade under George Allen and Jack Pardee, much of the success coming with the same players with whom Washington had languished before the culture change.

The Bears were in that state after the two years of Trestman and the three years of GM Phil Emery, certain of whose character-lite veteran player acquisitions (Martellus Bennett, Brandon Marshall) and high-character launchings (Brian Urlacher) had left a palpable pall over Halas Hall. A Fox goal was to eradicate that, which insiders in Lake Forest say privately was accomplished even amid the catastrophic crush of three straight seasons of 10 or more losses, and with injuries at historic levels.

What happens next is in the hands of Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, after a third John Fox franchise turnaround failed to materialize. Or did it? Because much of the core, from Trubisky through the defensive makeover, came on Fox’s watch, like him or not.

“You wish some things would’ve happened differently obviously,” Fox said, “but there was a lot positive that happened.”

Blackhawks ban four ejected fans from future home games

Blackhawks ban four ejected fans from future home games

The Blackhawks have banned the four fans — who were ejected from Saturday's game against the Washington Capitals for their racist remarks towards Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly — from future home games.

On Monday, a Blackhawks spokesperson released this statement:

We have contacted the select individuals involved in the incident on Saturday to notify them that they are no longer welcome at our home games. Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks also wanted to remind fans that they can alert security at the United Center by texting the following to 69050: UCASSIST <SPACE> followed by the seating section, row and a brief description of the issue.