Bears

Young captures Class 4A title

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Young captures Class 4A title

By Phil Brozynski
YourSeason.com
NORMAL, Ill. Linnae Harper isnt the most outspoken player on the Young basketball team. The 5-foot-7 junior lets her actions do the talking.Harper spoke volumes Saturday.Harper had 14 points and 14 rebounds, Janee Thompson had 12 points and five assists and sophomore Taylor Brame added 10 points to lead Young to a 63-51 victory over Edwardsville in the IHSA Class 4A state championship game at Redbird Arena.Young became the first big school team to complete an unbeaten season since Peoria Richwoods went 38-0 in 2005, and Harper was a big part of it. She outrebounded Edwardsville by herself 11-10 in the first half as the Dolphins raced to a 34-12 lead.I think size-wise shes probably the best rebounder in the country, Young coach Corry Irvin said. She has a knack for the ball that you cant teach. Her rebounding has always been huge.Harper had to contend with Edwardsvilles 6-4 Leigh Kesper and 6-2 Emmonnie Henderson, but beat the Tigers towering duo to the ball time after time. No. 32 (Henderson) is very big, so we just tried to work around it and try to find advantage on defense, Harper said. Its just experience and working hard.This means a lot, Ive been at Whitney Young three years and to get a state championship means a lot. Im really happy and blessed to have the team I did.Harpers work on the boards helped Young dart out of the gate. The Dolphins took a 16-6 lead after eight minutes thanks to a three-pointer from the corner by Alexis Lloyd, baskets by 6-foot-6 sophomore Khaalia Hillsman, freshman Tanita Allen and Thompson and three free throws by Brame.The Dolphins continued their relentless push in the second quarter. Lloyds jumper in the lane made it 28-10 with 3:06 remaining, and her rebound of Harpers miss extended the lead to 32-12. Sydney Snower put the final touches on the first half with a short fade in the lane. About the only thing Edwardsville fans had to cheer about in the first half was a vicious pick set by Henderson on Lloyd midway through the second quarter. But Henderson picked up her third foul moments later and finished the first half with just two points and four rebounds.Young led by 23 points at 50-27 on a three-pointer by Jasmine Ogunjimi with 6:56 remaining in the fourth quarter before Edwardsville closed on a 24-13 run. But it was too little too late.We had a letdown, Irvin said. We lost focus for a little bit in the second half. Its tough to keep them focused when you have a lead like that.If Young began celebrating too early, it was a fault easily forgiven.I think its great, Irvin said. Im sure its going to go down in history. I think this is probably one of the best teams in Illinois history. Its good for the program. Its good for the school. Im really proud of the girls and everything theyve done this year.Lloyd and Allen each finished with nine points for Young. Ashia Jones led Edwardsville (34-2) with 18 points and Henderson finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.Im proud that we didnt quit, Edwardsville coach Lori Blade said. It would have been awfully easy to. What they did to us in the first half is what weve done to everybody all year. We knew it was going to be tough coming in. Theyre awfully talented, well-coached and a great program.

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

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USA TODAY

With Leonard Floyd going on injured reserve, will the Bears have a pressing need at outside linebacker in 2018?

The Bears placed Leonard Floyd on injured reserve Thursday morning, ending the second-year outside linebacker’s season following a knee injury suffered Sunday against the Detroit Lions. The Bears haven’t revealed the full extent of Floyd’s injury, but coach John Fox did confirm this week the 2016 first-round pick didn’t tear his ACL. 

That’s potentially good news for Floyd’s recovery timetable, even if he won’t return in 2017. The Bears can probably hope to have Floyd back for, at the least, training camp next year, if not possibly OTAs in six months, thought that’s more speculative than concrete. 

Still, with Floyd on injured reserve, the Bears’ current outside linebacker depth chart consists of two veterans (Pernell McPhee and Sam Acho) and two practice squad signees (Isaiah Irving and Howard Jones). These final six games of the 2017 season could serve as auditions for all four players for roles on the 2018 Bears. 

If every team needs at least three good pass rushers, the Bears can count on Akiem Hicks and Floyd for 2018, provided Floyd comes back healthy. But who’s the third?

The Bears could save about $7.5 million in cap space if they release McPhee in 2018; if they were to cut ties with Willie Young, who’s on injured reserve right now as well, it would provide $4.5 million in cap relief. McPhee will be 29 in December, while Young will turn 33 next September. 

The Bears won’t necessarily need the cap relief next year, and could certainly decide to keep both players, who’ve shown they’re still productive when healthy. But even if both players are back, the Bears may need to add another outside linebacker via free agency of the draft — remember, the team could’ve began the season with Floyd, Young, McPhee, Acho and Lamarr Houston as their outside linebackers; an injury Houston suffered in the fourth preseason game ended his time in Chicago. 

Needs at wide receiver and cornerback are pressing, but outside linebacker may need to be in that same conversation. If the Bears have a top-10 pick for the fourth consecutive year, plus some cap space, they perhaps could have the ability to address all three needs in March and April. 

That may be looking a little too far into the future, though. The best-case for the Bears is McPhee finishes the season strong and Irving and/or Jones shows something in the opportunities they receive in these final six games (Jones, for what it’s worth, had five sacks as a rookie with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015). But the worst-case — and perhaps the most realistic — is that the Bears go into the offseason needing to fill at least one pass-rushing spot. 

The fight for which national team Bastian Schweinsteiger's kid will play for is on

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USA TODAY

The fight for which national team Bastian Schweinsteiger's kid will play for is on

Whenever a famous couple in the world of soccer has a child, there are always jokes about what national teams the kid could play for.

The latest such addition to the gossip columns is the announcement from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ana Ivanovic that they are expecting a child.

Ivanovic, a former tennis pro who won the 2008 French Open champion, announced the news on Twitter with a sponsor-heavy photo.

Schweinsteiger, who played with the Fire this past season, also took to Twitter to share a photo and the news.

Schweinsteiger's future with the Fire remains unclear, but him and Ivanovic seemed to be happy living in Chicago, making various appearances at sporting events in the city. If he returns and the child is born in Chicago, does that mean we could one day see a Schweinsteiger repping the U.S. national team in 20-something years? Maybe the men's team won't be a national embarrassment by then, but then again, if it's a girl she'd be able to pick between the only multiple-time World Cup winning nations (U.S. and Germany).

Perhaps the child would take after Ivanovic and hit volleys with a racket instead of a foot, or maybe he or she will not take after the professional athlete parents.

In all seriousness, congratulations to both Schweinsteiger and Ivanovic.