Bulls

Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013

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Adekoya seeks better finish in 2013

36-22.

Jubril Adekoya doesn't have to be reminded. He knows what 36-22 means. It was the final score of Andrew's loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 4A sectional semifinal last year.

Adekoya and his teammates were experiencing the most successful basketball season since the Tinley Park school opened in 1977. They won 15 of their first 17 games, won their first conference title in 35 years and were ranked among the top 10 teams in the Chicago area.

Then they met Homewood-Flossmoor in the sectional semifinal.

"That was ugly. Quite honestly, I don't try to remember it," Adekoya said. "We weren't prepared to play. We weren't excited to play. It wasn't a good day for us as a team."

Adekoya scored no points in the first half and shot 0-for-4. He managed 14 points in the second half but it was too little, too late. Andrew converted only 11.9 percent (5-for-42) of its shots. The Thunderbolts finished with a 23-5 record.

"When the buzzer went off, I realized that was it, no practice tomorrow," Akekoya said. "It was tough for a lot of guys but it was reality. I didn't handle it great. I was frustrated at myself. What could I have done to help my team? It was my worst game of the season. We ran out of gas. People who were ready to play weren't knocking down shots or doing what they usually do. I was frustrated, double-teamed. I couldn't get the ball."

So much for 2011-12. Adekoya, a 6-foot-6 junior whom coach Mike O'Halloran describes as only the third Division I player in 35 years to come out of Andrew, returns with one other starter, guard Glorind Lisha. He knows it will be difficult to improve on last year's record but he is determined to finish the 2012-13 season on a winning note.

"After the buzzer went off (at the conclusion of the H-F game), I just began to think about this year," Adekoya said. "I had a sick feeling in my stomach. I don't ever want to feel that again. Mentally, I'm preparing for next season and I haven't even started summer workouts yet. I'm motivated a whole lot.

"With so many losses (three starters, four of the top six players), my role will have to triple. I averaged 16 points and 12 rebounds last season. For total effectiveness, I must continue to rebound and score more points, probably over 20 per game. I feel I have to get more selfish to help my team next season. My task in every game also will be to defend the other team's best player. I have to step up in every aspect of the game and become a better leader."

Meanwhile, Adekoya is eager to prove he is one of the top prospects in a class that recruiting analysts project as perhaps the best crop of talent produced in the Chicago area since 1979.

He has scholarship offers from Loyola, St. Louis, Northern Illinois, Pennsylvania, Western Illinois, Akron and Toledo. He has interest from Illinois, Tennessee, Oregon State, DePaul, Northwestern, Illinois-Chicago, Detroit, Ball State, Indiana State, Creighton, Drake, Ohio, Wichita State and Illinois State. As he gains more exposure and becomes more dominant, more offers can be expected.

His dream school is Oregon. "Since I was young, it started with the colors (green and yellow). I fell I love with the jersey and the colors. I fell in love with Oregon, watching them on TV when I was growing up. Now I follow them. I feel it would be fun to play in the Pac-12 Conference. It would be cool to play on the West Coast, to play against UCLA. It would be awesome if (Oregon) showed me some attention. I'd be super excited about
that," he said.

He has no favorites at the moment. He is just enjoying the recruiting process. He wants to play wherever he can fit in best and play right away. He thinks a large college would be cool but if he can't help the team right away, he might prefer a smaller school that would provide a better fit. Location doesn't figure in the equation. He figures his decision will come down to how he fits in with the coaches and players and if he feels comfortable on the campus.

Adekoya admits he felt comfortable midway through last season and was ready to commit. But more schools began to contact him as he played better. So now he believes he will wait until after the 2012-13 season. He isn't in a hurry. He figures he will get better and more schools will become aware of him.

"Hopefully, more schools will offer me," he said. "I want to be patient and hope the decision will be easier to make. I know there will be somebody who wants me to go there as bad as I want to be there and feels I can play at a high level."

Meanwhile, he is improving his skills and showcasing them this summer while playing with Mean Streets on the AAU circuit. "I'm improving my guard skills. Last year, I was one-dimensional, on the block or inside. I overpowered smaller people last year. But my outside shot and dribbling and ball-handling have improved. I hope recruiters see I am more comfortable on the perimeter," he said.

"I have improved a lot. My guard skills and perimeter game have shot up since last year. I was constricted in high school because I was the biggest guy on the team. For Mean Streets, I'm playing all over. For college, some have talked about strong forward, some wing, some say both positions. I feel I am a mismatch for a lot of people. I have size but also quickness and I can play on the perimeter. My skills are there but my goal always is to get better.

"As far as next season, I feel stuff will fall into place. I want to be the best leader I can be on and off the floor. And I want to play everywhere on the floor. I hope to continue to rebound as well as I did last year but I want to improve my assists. I should be involved in almost everything we do...score, set screens, pass, rebound, defend."

And erase the memory of 36-22.

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

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USA Today

With revamped roster, Bulls begin quest for playoffs on road vs. Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. --- On April 28, 2017, the Celtics ended the Bulls’ lone season of what Rajon Rondo brilliantly called “The Three Alphas,” closing out the first-round playoff series in six games.

As the Bulls begin their 54th season in franchise history Wednesday in Charlotte, N.C., only Denzel Valentine and Cristiano Felicio remain from that roster.

When John Paxson first succeeded Jerry Krause in April 2003, he took two years to similarly flip the roster, keeping only Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry.

This makeover was Paxson’s doing, beginning with the June 2017 trade of Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. His last complete overhaul produced 10 playoff appearances in 11 seasons, albeit with only five series victories in that span.

Wednesday night begins the quest for sustained success.

“We have revamped this roster in a big way and a way in that we can look at this team and we see real talent,” Paxson said back on the team’s media day in late September. “We see a versatile roster. We see depth on this roster. We see some leadership on this roster which we haven’t had.

“And because of that our goals this year are really simple. First and foremost, we want to compete at a high, high level. And when you compete at a high level, you have an ability to be a playoff-caliber team. And we set that as a goal. (Coach) Jim (Boylen) talks about it. He’s not afraid of it. And our guys through their work have shown us that they want to make that commitment. So we feel good about that.”

There’s plenty to feel good about during a preseason. That’s when each team’s regular-season record is unblemished. The tests start for real against the Hornets, followed by Friday’s visit to Memphis.

Four of the Bulls’ first five games are on the road but all are against teams that didn’t qualify for the playoffs last season. Saturday’s home opener is against the defending NBA champion Raptors, who defeated the Pelicans in overtime Tuesday night in their first game since Kawhi Leonard left for the Clippers.

Plenty has to go right for the Bulls to make the jump from 22 victories to the playoffs. Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen need to step towards stardom. Tomas Satoransky and Thad Young need to continue being the low-maintenance complementary pieces they've shown to be during their careers. Otto Porter Jr. and Wendell Carter Jr. need to stay healthy. Coby White and Kris Dunn need to contribute off the bench.

Still, the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference playoff picture is wide open. The Bulls know this. It’s why Boylen indeed gave voice to the goal on that same September media day.

“Our goals for the season are to make the playoffs,” Boylen said then. “And every day to prepare like we’re a playoff team. Every day to work like we’re a playoff-bound team. I’m excited for that. I think that’s the only way to do it. There’s no way that we were going to stand up here and say, ‘Hey, I hope we can win 10 more games or we hope we can be better.’ We want to get to the mountain top.’’

The games count for real starting Wednesday. It’s time to start climbing.

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

Source: Cubs set to hire David Ross as new manager

According to David Kaplan, the Cubs have made their decision on a new manager. And to no surprise, they've landed on David Ross.

Ross was widely speculated as the heir apparent to Joe Maddon and that's exactly how the situation has played out. The team also interviewed current bench coach Mark Loretta, first-base coach Will Venable and former Cubs player and Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Ross retired after the 2016 season and has spent the last three seasons working in a special assistant role in Theo Epstein's front office while also serving as an MLB analyst/broadcaster for ESPN. He has not coached or managed at any level. 

During his two years as a player with the Cubs, Ross was an integral part of changing the culture inside the clubhouse and is revered as a legendary leader to all the young players that came up and helped end the 108-year championship drought. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant affectionately dubbed him "Grandpa Rossy" and he rode that popularity on the shoulders of his teammates in a Rudy-esque celebration after Game 7 and then a stint on "Dancing with the Stars." Every time he is shown on the video board at Wrigley Field, it elicits a deafening cheer from Cubs fans.

Even three years since he last donned the uniform, Ross' impact remains and the Cubs have been searching for the type of clubhouse leadership he provided. Earlier this season, Javy Baez brought up Ross unprompted, mentioning advice from his former teammate that he still thinks about on a daily basis.

The question was never really if and more about when Ross was going to get a chance to manage the Cubs in the future. Just last fall, he was brought up as a potential option to replace Brandon Hyde as Maddon's bench coach, but Ross still wanted to spend time with family in retirement and wasn't yet ready to commit to the grind of a long season. 

Still, Epstein mentioned at the GM Meetings last November that he and the front office were pushing Ross to be around the team more in 2019. GM Jed Hoyer followed that up at the Winter Meetings in December talking about how much of an impact Ross has on these players and the level of trust that's already inherent within this group.

Apparently, Ross is now willing and able to put in the 7-to-8 month time commitment to step in as the Cubs' new manager. When it was officially announced Maddon would not be returning, Ross was on ESPN's Baseball Tonight and expressed interest in the job and Epstein confirmed the next day Ross was on the team's list of managerial candidates.

Epstein mentioned he would prefer hiring a manager with big-league experience and the main theme of his end-of-season press conference was all about change, not hanging their hats on 2016 and climbing out of the "winner's trap." But they still opted for Ross as the organization's new field general.

"I always have greater comfort level hiring for roles in which the person has done the role before, especially with manager," Epstein said on the final day of September. "I think there are ways for that to be overcome. There’s a lot of different ways to get experience in this game. Beliefs, skills, personal attributes, those can outweigh a lack of experience, but experience certainly helps.

“David Ross has a lot of great things going for him, I would say. His connection to the players on this team, and especially his connection to the 2016 team, are not necessarily assets that distinguish him. Those are not necessarily things that are gonna be important to us.

“I think Rossy is a really attractive candidate, and he’s gonna be evaluated on the merits, what he can bring to the table as a major league manager given his skills, given his experiences, given his world-view, given what he knows about winning, all those things.”

We now know how that evaluation process has played out.

The question now becomes — how would the Cubs players handle Ross as a manager, moving from friend and teammate to boss? 

We'll find out in the coming months.