5 Questions with...CSN's Mark Schanowski


5 Questions with...CSN's Mark Schanowski

By Jeff Nuich

CSN Chicago Senior Director of Contributor

December 30, 2009

Want to know more about your favorite Chicago media celebrities? has your fix as we put the citys most popular personalities on the spot with a probing, yet fun weekly feature entitled 5 Questions with...

Every Wednesday exclusively on, its our turn to grill the local media and other local VIPs with five random sports and non-sports related questions that will definitely be of interest to old and new fans alike.

This weeka true veteran of the Chicago sports beat for two decadeshes covered numerous memorable local sporting events over the years and plans to keep it going for many more years to comeyou can catch him weeknights at 6:30, 10:00 and 10:30 PM with partner Pat Boyle on Comcast SportsNets SportsNitehere are 5 Questions withMARK SCHANOWSKI!
BIO: Chicago sports broadcasting veteran Mark Schanowski joined Comcast SportsNet in 2006 as the primary co-anchor on SportsNite, along with hosting the network's Bulls studio coverage on Bulls Pre-Game Live as well as Bulls Post Game Live following all CSN Bulls telecasts this season. Schanowski, a standout local sportscaster with over 20 years of experience, came to Comcast SportsNet from NBC 5 in Chicago, where he has served as a sports anchor since August of 1998. At NBC5, he also anchored "NBC5 Sports Sunday" and hosted the network's prepostgame coverage for its Chicago Bears preseason telecasts. Prior to joining NBC5, Schanowski anchoredproduced weekend sportscasts and was a weekday general assignment sports reporter at ABC 7 in Chicago from 1990 to 1998. Schanowski graduated with a degree in mass communicationsradio and television from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

1) Mark, the Bulls are unfortunately off to a rough start this season, but, in fairness, they also had a rough start last season and still managed to get into the playoffs and provide fans with one of the most thrilling seven-game NBA Playoffs series in recent memoryagainst the defending champion Celtics no less. In your opinion, what do they specifically need to do to get back on track once again?

Schanowski: Good health and better outside shooting. The Bulls rank near the bottom of the league right now in points per game, field goal shooting percentage and three point shooting percentage. No one could have imagined how great the loss of Ben Gordon in free agency would impact the Bulls' offense. Gordon was the one player who could consistently hit three-point shots and get to the foul line during the final minutes of close games. With Gordon now in Detroit, opposing defenses are collapsing in the lane to stop Derrick Rose's drives to the basket and just daring John Salmons, Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng to shoot from the outside. So far, the strategy has worked perfectly, with the Bulls' perimeter players all having a tough time with their shots so far this season.

The other issue has been injuries. Because the Bulls are only carrying 13 players on the roster, they really couldn't afford to lose one of their rotation players to injuries. So, as bad luck would have it, Tyrus Thomas broke his arm in a weight-training accident during the second week of the season, and missed about seven weeks total (nice to see his solid return last week vs. New Orleans). Then, Kirk Hinrich, who's the glue guy off the bench, sprained his left thumb badly in a practice in Utah on the day before Thanksgiving, and he's finally playing effectively once again. One of the strengths of this team was supposed to be a deep and talented bench, but with Thomas, Hinrich and Jannero Pargo hurting, the coaches were left with Brad Miller, James Johnson and 39-year-old Lindsey Hunter off the bench, and that really killed them during the Circus road trip and in some of the games immediately after they returned from the West Coast.

With Thomas recent return to action, and Hinrich close to 100 percent again, the Bulls should be able to take advantage of a more favorable schedule over the next few weeks and move closer to the .500 mark. And, in the Eastern Conference, a .500 record should be good enough to make the playoffs again. The one thing you shouldn't look for is a major trade. The Bulls' front office wants to preserve salary cap room to bid on the free agent class of 2010, which includes LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, Carlos Boozer and Joe Johnson. The Bulls probably won't make any trades unless it involves adding another expiring contract for a veteran player like Salmons or Hinrich.

2) February 26, 2009 will go down as one of the saddest days in Chicago sports history with the passing of two legendary Bulls giants: Johnny Red Kerr and Norm Van Lier. As someone who knew Red very well over the years and as Norms on-air partner on Comcast SportsNet and personal friend, what did these two individuals mean to you personally and what did they mean to the growth and development of the NBA?

Schanowski: Red and Norm represented everything that was good about Chicago Bulls basketball. They cared deeply about the team, and tirelessly gave of their free time to promote the organization and basketball in general. Red was the first coach in franchise history, and always looked on the team like a proud father. He was encouraging and passionate, cheering the Bulls on through their six championships, and always looking for a way to find something positive even in the rebuilding years that followed the Jordan Dynasty. Norm was as fiery as a broadcaster as he was on the court, never giving an inch, and demanding accountability when things went wrong. But Norm also loved the Bulls, and took great pride in his playing career and in his association with the team as an expert analyst and ambassador.

I had so much fun working with Norm for almost four full seasons on the Bulls pre and post-game shows. He told me so many entertaining stories about his time as an NBA player, but I also got to know Norm as a loving father, who cared deeply about helping others. People who only saw Norm on television have no idea what a caring and compassionate man he was, and how much he enjoyed the friendships he made through the years as a broadcaster.

Red should be in the Hall of Fame for his contributions as a player, coach and broadcaster. Younger fans have no idea what a great player Red was during the early years of the NBA, and how he battled Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain as one of the top centers in the league. Red also was a generous man, who always was willing to offer a kind word to co-workers, colleagues and Bulls' fans. I can't even begin to tell you how much those two are missed.

3) Rattle em off Markwhat would be your Top 5 biggest local sports stories of 2009 and, a follow-up question, name 5 local sports predictions for 2010?

Top 5 biggest local sports of 2009:

1. Bears trade for Jay Cutler, who suffers through a terrible first season in Chicago

2. Mark Buehrle pitches a perfect game vs. Tampa Bay

3. Blackhawks host Winter Classic game at Wrigley Field and make an impressive playoff run before losing in the Western Conference Finals

4. Bulls take defending NBA champion Boston Celtics to 7 games in a classic opening round seriesDerrick Rose wins NBA Rookie of the Year award

5. Cubs run of division titles ends at twoMilton Bradley's run-ins with media and fans lead to trade to Seattle

Predictions for 2010:

1. Bears fire Lovie Smith after 2009 season

2. Bulls sign Carlos Boozer after missing out on LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh

3. White Sox win A.L. Central Championship

4. Blackhawks reach Stanley Cup Finals, but lose to Washington

5. Cubs struggle again, Piniella retires at season's end

4) Rumor has it you have a really impressive singing voiceis that true and will we ever get a chance to hear it? It would make a great feature piece on SportsNite!

Schanowski: My singing voice is only average. It would hardly be worth a SportsNite feature. Maybe you can catch me sometime at a "Karaoke Night" around the city.

5) Tell us one thing about your SportsNite partner Pat Boyle that you most admire and the one thing that makes him kind of annoying? NOTE: the same question was posed to Boyle about you in last weeks 5 Questions with!

Schanowski: Pat is at his best when the spotlight is shining brightly. I had the pleasure of traveling with Pat and several other members of our SportsNite team to cover the Super Bowl in '07 (hard to believe the Bears were so good just a few years ago!). Anyway, the work load was incredible, but Pat never missed a beat, and he cranked out a series of excellent specials with very little prep time, and performed flawlessly. Pat has the ability to block out distractions and problems and focus on the job at hand, and that's what makes him the consummate professional.

I know you're looking for something juicy on the other side of the equation, but I've got nothing. That's probably why we have so much fun doing SportsNite every night.

Thanks again for inviting me to be a part of the "5 Questions with" series, and Happy Holidays to all!

Schanowski LINKS:

Comcast SportsNetSportsNite page

Schanowskis Beyond the Arc blog on

George Halas ranked 37th in the Bears' Top 100


George Halas ranked 37th in the Bears' Top 100

Leading into the Bears' 100th anniversary season, they've been releasing parts of a list ranking the top 100 players in franchise history. The players were ranked by a two person panel consisting of Hall of Fame writers Don Pierson and Dan Pompei for the Chicago Bears Centennial Scrapbook.

Here is the list:

26.  Ed Healey
27.  Olin Kreutz
28.  Lance Briggs
29.  Rick Casares
30.  Gary Fencik
31.  Charles Tillman
32.  Paddy Driscoll
33.  George Trafton
34.  Matt Forte
35.  George Musso
36.  Red Grange
37.  George S. Halas
38.  Link Lyman
39.  Harlon Hill
40.  Ken Kavanaugh
41.  Neal Anderson
42.  Richie Petitbon
43.  Wilber Marshall
44.  Johnny Morris
45.  Otis Wilson
46.  Doug Buffone
47.  Dave Duerson
48.  Fred Williams
49.  Ray Bray
50.  Mark Bortz

Perhaps the most shocking name on this portion of the list is the legendary George S. Halas ranked at 37. Halas was the founder, owner, and head coach for the Bears, and the Bears' uniforms bear his initials and his name adorns the practice facility. 

And it is not Halas' son, because the press release very clearly states it is the "founder of the Chicago Bears, George S. Halas."

But one could presume the panel focused strictly on Halas' on-field contributions for this player ranking and had the unenviable task of trying to separate his off the field, broader contributions to the Bears and the NFL.

This segment of the list includes "17 who contributed to a Bears championship (Bortz, Bray, Casares, Driscoll, Duerson, Fencik, Grange, Halas, Kavanaugh, Lyman, Marshall, Morris, Musso, Petitbon, Trafton, Williams and Wilson), seven Hall of Famers (Driscoll, Grange, Halas, Healey, Lyman, Musso and Trafton), 17 All-Pros (Briggs, Casares, Driscoll, Duerson, Fencik, Grange, Healey, Hill, Kavanaugh, Kreutz, Lyman, Marshall, Morris, Petitbon, Tillman, Trafton and Wilson), 16 Pro Bowlers (Anderson, Bortz, Bray, Briggs, Duerson, Fencik, Forte, Hill, Kreutz, Marshall, Morris, Musso, Petitbon, Tillman, Williams and Wilson)."

Also, it looks like Olin Kreutz, who came in at 27th, is going to riot.

But at least he isn't Jay Cutler, who was ranked behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.

The top 25 will be announced on Thursday.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

Every move the Bulls make should be geared toward the summer of 2021


Every move the Bulls make should be geared toward the summer of 2021

The rebuilding Bulls continue to search for windows to contend, and one slammed in their face last Tuesday when they failed to move up in the NBA Draft Lottery and a chance to draft Duke’s Zion Williamson. Lost in the chaos of that evening – three teams moved up, pushing the Bulls back to No. 7 – was the reality that every effort and decision the front office and coaching staff makes should be geared toward looking for that next window.

And that next opportunity to begin building a contender in the LeBron James-less Eastern Conference will open back up in the summer of 2021.

VP John Paxson said all the right things in the wake of the team dealing for Otto Porter Jr. in February, that the two-way wing would fill a need, bring veteran leadership to a terribly inexperienced locker room and give the Bulls a talented player for the next two-plus seasons. The Bulls did their free agent bidding four months early, knowing that the Kyries, the Durants and the Leonards of the world weren’t going to join a team that eventually won 22 games a year after going 27-55.

But Porter also lined up perfectly with that all-important timeline. He’ll make more than $55 million the next two seasons, which is fine considering the Bulls weren’t going to be players in free agency until then. The Bulls will get to see what it’s like to play with a talented perimeter small forward, and core pieces in Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen can only get better with him in the lineup.

He’ll also be a free agent in July 2021. That’s the same time Cristiano Felicio’s four-year, $32 million deal runs out – yes, it’s tough to see the Bulls being able to move his contract at any point before then. Our own Kevin Anderson, renowned Bulls capologist, crunched some numbers on what the Bulls’ salary cap could look like on July 1, 2021.

A few things to point out before getting to the chart. The NBA hasn’t projected a salary cap for 2021 so we factored in an increase of $4 million, putting the estimated cap at $120 million. The Bulls will draft seventh in 2019, and for this hypothetical scenario included draft picks in 2020 (15th) and 2021 (20th) to their cap. Don’t get bogged down in the numbers or the slots the Bulls are picking. They’re just fillers. Including cap hits, the Bulls could have $63 million heading into free agency in 2021.

We’ll let you Google the names of unrestricted free agents in 2021 – and, yes, they’re pretty big names – but the point here is that the Bulls will have a much more enticing offer for prospective free agents when that summer rolls around. The current state of the roster doesn’t scream “come join us!” But by the time the Bulls sit down at the table of a tier one free agent in 2021, they’ll have:

- a 23-year-old Lauri Markkanen entering his fifth NBA season
- a 25-year-old Zach LaVine entering his eighth NBA season
- a 22-year-old Wendell Carter entering his fourth NBA season
- Lottery picks from 2019, 2020 and potentially 2021

They’ll have guys like Chandler Hutchison and perhaps a few holdovers from the current roster, but the above is the core that could entice a max player to, at the very least, consider Chicago.

The key for the Bulls over the next two seasons is to protect as much cap space as possible and add veterans that can help this young core grow. Three- and four-year deals should be off the table unless the Bulls are positive that player can be part of the next wave. Stopgaps are nice on paper and fill short-term needs, but the Bulls need to be looking long-term in every move they make. If a free agent deal signed the next two offseasons is going to spill into 2022 or later, it had better be a significant piece. That seems unlikely to happen, meaning the Bulls should target one- and two-year deals. Again, it's not what you want to hear but it's what needs to happen.

In terms of veterans, think Brooklyn signing Ed Davis, Philadelphia signing Amir Johnson and Atlanta signing Vince Carter (and the Kings doing so the previous year). None of those acquisitions produced much as far as on-court numbers were concerned, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any young talent on those teams who aren’t happy to have had them in the locker room.

It’s not a direct comparison, but the Bulls could follow the Brooklyn Nets’ model to get there. Brooklyn unearthed talent in players like Caris LeVert (20th overall), Jarrett Allen (22nd overall), Spencer Dinwiddie (G-League) and Joe Harris (two years, $16 million). That Nets team also took on the salaries of DeMarre Carroll and Kenneth Faried at a time when they weren’t contending to acquire draft assets that turned into significant pieces; the Nets took Rodions Kurucs with the second round pick included in the Faried deal, and they’ll have the 27th overall pick in this year’s draft thanks to the Faried deal.

The Nets also found their All-Star in D’Angelo Russell after acquiring him from the Lakers. Again, it’s not a perfect comparison, but LaVine could be the Russell of the Nets’ rebuild. Brooklyn went from 20 wins to 28 wins to 42 wins in large part because of his play. Russell could be on the way out if the Nets want to be in play for a max player – think Irving or Durant – this offseason, but if he yielded them a winning team that free agents are now interested in when they wouldn’t have been two years ago, that trade was a success for Brooklyn (they could also unload Allen Crabbe’s $18.5 million salary to be in play for two max players, and past assets to attach to that potential trade make it possible).

The Bulls should be looking for similar plays. They need to improve in the short-term but can do so in a way that leads to 2021. It’s not what fans want to hear after 27- and 22-win seasons, but short-term solutions make you a 41-win Pistons team without much real hope to actually contend.

The Bulls have identified three core players in Markkanen, LaVine and Carter, in addition to the draft picks they’ll have over the next three classes before free agency begins in 2021. Every move from them until now should be with that in mind, when the window opens next.