White Sox

Bulls need to follow the yellow brick road

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Bulls need to follow the yellow brick road

It's not enough that the Bulls are losing in the playoffs to a bad team. It's insulting, in fact. Especially when Coach Tom Thibodeau still insists on saying "we have more than enough to win" after Friday night's Game 3 loss to the Sixers.

But, to add another devastating injury to the mix is utterly disheartening.

Joakim Noah left the game in the third quarter with a sprained left ankle. He tried to return to game action and played briefly but hobbled so badly it was brutal to watch. It will go down as either the gutsiest moment of the playoffs or the dumbest move ever as he risked further injury to the ankle.

It's just the latest blow to the Bulls who have dealt with one bad injury after another this season. If Derrick Rose is the soul of the team, Noah is it's heart. Now, down 2-1 in the series, the Bulls resemble characters from the "Wizard of Oz."

The entire team seems to be looking for courage and heart to somehow fight their way back in this series. But they don't need to go all the way to Oz. Maybe they need only look to the other end of the floor. The Sixers seem to have stolen much of the strength and will to win that have been a familiar part of the Bulls modus operandi, but seems to have completely disappeared.

Thibodeau is the brains behind the team. The Wizard has nothing on Thibs who won Coach of the Year honors last season and finished runner-up in the voting this year. Why, then, didn't he know better than to put Noah back in the game, and why can't he find the right rotation in the fourth quarter to close it out?

Nobody wants to be Dorothy here. Nobody wants to go home after Round 1.

With this latest collapse and the injury to Noah, I can't help but think there's a wicked witch out there messing with the Bulls' playoff hopes. Like Glinda advises in 'Oz, you have to find it within yourself to get what you want. The Bulls need to dig deep now, follow the yellow brick road or risk staying on this path that leads them nowhere.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Chuck Garfien on Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox

SportsTalk Live is at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. David Haugh, Charlie Roumeliotis and Scott King join Kap on the panel.

0:00 - The Blackhawks look to get back in the win column with the Lightning in town.

5:00 - Chuck Garfien joins Kap to talk about Yasmani Grandal signing with the White Sox. How much will this help the Sox sign more free agents? Plus the panel discusses how much this improves Willson Contreras' trade value as the Cubs reportedly shop him.

17:00 - Chase Daniel said Mitch Trubisky looked great in practice. Will that translate to the game on Sunday?

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

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ADAM MILLER

Morgan Park's Adam Miller another program-changing recruit for Illinois

Illinois and head coach Brad Underwood landed their most important recruiting target for the second time in three seasons on Thursday night.

Morgan Park senior guard Adam Miller became the latest Mustang guard to commit to the Illini and Underwood when the preseason co-favorite for Player of the Year announced his decision during a public press conference at the Jordan Brand store on State Street.

A consensus top-40 national prospect in the Class of 2020, Miller's commitment to Illinois gives the program another highly-regarded in-state prospect. Just two years earlier, at the very same Jordan store and under very similar circumstances, Morgan Park guard Ayo Dosunmu announced his college decision to go to Illinois -- a commitment that changed local recruiting momentum at Illinois during Underwood's first full season.  

Although Miller's commitment shares similarities to Dosunmu's, Miller's pledge is also slightly different from his former high school teammate. Any program can win one major recruiting war over the big boys. By doing it twice in three years, it's a major signal that Underwood and Illinois are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to local recruiting. Landing Miller's commitment in a hotly-contested race over his other finalists of Arizona and Louisville, Miller's announcement on Thursday signifies that Illinois and Underwood are ready annually to compete with national powerhouse programs when it comes to keeping local talent at home.

While former Illinois coaches like Bruce Weber and John Groce failed to consistently keep, and develop, top in-state talents late in their tenures, Miller's commitment is a significant indication that Underwood and his staff are making positive recruiting inroads at home that could continue to last.

The term "pipeline" has become cliche in the recruiting world. But it certainly can't hurt Illinois to be continually involved with Morgan Park's best players. The Mustangs continue to churn out Division I prospects every single season. And Morgan Park has another high-major junior -- guard Brandon Weston -- waiting in the wings that Illinois is already recruiting. 

Illinois will certainly need to spread its recruiting efforts more throughout the Chicagoland area to maintain recruiting stability of top in-state talents. Grabbing a top-50 player in two out of three classes -- particularly in a basketball-crazy hotbed like Chicago -- is significant.

During his junior season, Miller took the city by storm as he was the state's most dominant scorer. The lefty averaged 28.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game -- putting up multiple 40-point games and looking virtually unstoppable during certain stretches of play. Even as opposing defenses threw exotic zones and double-teams his way, it didn't do much to slow Miller down. 

Miller already faced a tough set of local expectations entering the 2019-20 season. Morgan Park returns a loaded, nationally-ranked team. There's a baseline expectation for Miller to replicate his stellar junior season. Those local expectations now become enormous since Miller is staying home and going to Illinois. 

Now that Miller's commitment is under his belt, he can focus on pushing Morgan Park to a potential city and state title as the preseason's No. 1 team in the area. Illinois can focus its recruiting efforts on getting additional reinforcements for Miller and his fellow 2020 recruits. And by the time Miller reaches Champaign next season, Illinois is optimistic that they'll be a consistent NCAA tournament presence once again.