Preps Talk

Bulls past All-Star snubs, on to Warriors

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Bulls past All-Star snubs, on to Warriors

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2010
10:31 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

SAN FRANCISCOWith the second-best record in the East, it would seem that the Bulls would get rewarded with at least one player--either Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, to go along with starter Derrick Rose--when the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday night. When they learned that they were shut out, they predictably downplayed the situation.

"It's unfortunate for our guys. I thought Luol and Carlos were deserving, but (Joakim Noah) was on that path until he got hurt. But Im not really concerned about stuff like that because that stuff, you really have no control over," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau prior to the team's Friday morning practice at the swank Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco. "In our eyes, theyre All-Stars and I think whats important is what their teammates think and what their coaches think, and we feel theyre All-Stars. But in the grand scheme of things, what were doing with our team, thats whats important."

"In some cases, I think its politicalwhatever it isits like the Hall of Fame," he continued. "You cant get caught up in it. Again, its what each individual thinks."

Deng admitted he was disappointment, citing the facts that some All-Star reserves have missed significant time--similar to Boozer, whose numbers compare favorably to others who were honored--and of the conference's so-called elite teams (Atlanta, not considered an upper-echelon team, had two players selected), the Bulls were the only squad with a lone All-Star.

"I wish I would have made it, to go there, represent the team with the record that we have and everything, but at the same time, its weird to me that we only have one. But then again, I think all I can do is kind of put it past me. I really think Im a step ahead of where I was last year, so my main thing is to keep going forward. I am disappointed, but theres nothing you can do about it," said Deng. "Im kind of surprised at that because I really feel as a team, we went through a lot with injuries. We had Carlos missing, Joakim missing and I feel like other teams had injuries, but some of those guys that were hurt made it. So, Im kind of surprised that we didnt get rewarded for how well weve done as a team. We do have Derrick and Derrick deserves to be a starter and everything, but were 20 games above .500."

Deng also implied the snubs could be a motivating factor, but the Bulls' team-oriented goals would take precedent over individual honors.

"I dont know if were a one All-Star kind of team. I think we have more than that. I think if Jo was healthy, he would be in it. If Boozer played more games, he would be in it. Im a step ahead of where I was last year. As a team, were somewhere where we want to be," he remarked. "It kind of shows that were not there yet or the respect is not there yet. Weve got to be hungry for that."

As for Boozer, he acknowledged that his training-camp injury limited his odds and therefore, he lowered his expectations, although he felt Deng should have received the accolade.

"Im not disappointed. I didnt think I was going to make it because I didnt play enough games, but I really wish Luol would have made it. I thought he was very deserving, he played every game this season, having a monster year for us and I was really hoping that hed make his first All-Star team," said the two-time Western Conference All-Star.

"Im sure its going to motivate the hell out of him. Hes already motivated, but itll to motivate him even more. We have a lot to prove. Were a team thats still trying to go out there and find our respect from everybody else," Boozer added. "Its an All-Star Game. I didnt come here for All-Star Games, I came here for championships. Ive been an All-Star a few times, but I want to win some rings. For me, Im not concerned with what everybody else thinks about us."

Added Thibodeau: "What you do on a winning team is important. Coaches tend to put more stock in that."

"Luol has been great all season. I think Carlos has been great since hes been back. I do think that him missing the early part probably hurt him, but if Carlos plays the whole season, in my opinion, hes definitely on the team. Same thing with JoJo got off to a great start, got hurtthose things you dont have control over," he concluded. " How well our team does is important and I think, as we go forward, the more we win, the more people will get recognized."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

43 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Vincent Holmes, Andy Schindel, Chris Lewis, Justin Harris and Mark Thomas

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A IHSA state football playoff field, defeated Springfield and then lost to Normal West in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Leyden
Sept. 6 vs St Francis
Sept. 13 @ Reavis
Sept. 20 @ Evergreen Park
Sept. 27 @ Eisenhower
Oct. 4 vs Oak Lawn
Oct. 11 @ Lemont
Oct. 18 vs Richards
Oct. 25 vs Argo

Biggest storyline: Coach Rone’s first season was a success. Can the Astros make another state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: LB Matthew Hightower (Sr.), WR/DB Jalen Smith (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros welcome back six returning starters back on defense, but they will feature nearly an entire starting offense with very limited experience.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach John Rone was able to get the Astros into the  playoffs in his first season in charge of the Shepard program. It was also the fourth straight playoff appearance for the school. The Astros always have plenty on hand in the skills department. But the defense may need to carry a talented —but younger— offense. If the pieces can gel, they can challenge for another IHSA state playoff appearance.

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

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AP

Kyle Ryan's emergence is coming at exactly the right time for Cubs

With the MLB trade deadline two weeks away, bullpen help figures to be on the Cubs' wish list.

But thanks in part to Kyle Ryan's emergence, the Cubs don't absolutely need that reliever to be left-handed (though it would probably be ideal).

The Cubs began the week with three southpaws in their bullpen, but at some point this weekend, Ryan may be the lone lefty remaining. Mike Montgomery was traded to the Royals late Monday night and with Carl Edwards Jr. progressing in his rehab (he threw again Tuesday), he might take Randy Rosario's spot in a couple days. 

The Cubs like Edwards against lefties and they also feel confident in Pedro Strop against either handed hitter when he's on. But Ryan has worked his way into Joe Maddon's Circle of Trust and is currently the only lefty residing there.

That's not to say the Cubs don't need another reliable southpaw in the 'pen, but Ryan looks like he's going to get some big outs for this team down the stretch.

"He's done a great job for us since he's been here," Jon Lester said of Ryan last month. "I don't think he gets enough credit for what he's been able to do."

Ryan impressed the Cubs with his work as a multi-inning reliever in Triple-A last season and turned heads again in camp this spring. Still, Rosario made the Opening Day roster over him, though Ryan got called up on the team's season-opening road trip and made his first appearance on April 6.

Since then, he's been a mainstay while Montgomery battled injury and ineffectiveness, Rosario and Tim Collins have bounced between Triple-A Iowa and Chicago and veteran Xavier Cedeno's time off the injured list was short-lived.

Ryan looked to be finding his way throughout his first month in the bullpen, but after his infamous "freeze" moment against the Marlins, he endured some struggles (7 runs allowed on 12 hits in 7 innings from May 8 through June 1).

He's righted the ship since then, permitting only 1 run over his last 17 appearances (14 innings) and lowering his season ERA to 3.21 to go along with a 1.31 WHIP and 33 strikeouts in 33.2 innings.

A big part of that recent success can be tied to Ryan's increased improvement against left-handed hitters. 

Lefties hit .344 with a .405 on-base percentage off Ryan through June 5. But since then, Ryan has surrendered only 3 hits — all singles — and zero walks to the 19 left-handed hitters he's faced (.158 AVG).

He credits part of that turnaround to working on a changeup, which he thinks has helped lock in the "feel" of all his other pitches as well as his mechanics. 

As he works to add a new pitch to his repertoire, Ryan has leaned on Cubs bullpen coach Lester Strode and pitching coach Tommy Hottovy for assistance, while also picking the brains of veterans like Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks and Brad Brach who have all thrown changeups for quite a while.

But even with all that work, he still hasn't resorted to using the changeup much in games. The pitch is so foreign that it's still being picked up as a sinker, including on the Wrigley Field video board Sunday when he threw one in his inning of work.

"Eventually, I'm gonna find the changeup and it's gonna be a comfortable, confident pitch," Ryan said. "But I do think it's gotten me behind all the rest of my pitches and it's maybe a little bit better feel for everything. It's gonna stay where it is for a while. I'm gonna keep trying."

Ryan said one of the things he likes about the changeup is that it can eventually be a nice weapon because it "goes in the opposite direction" of all his other pitches.

We'll see if the new pitch can ever become a factor for the 27-year-old. But if it's helped lock in his other pitches, that's great news for the Cubs, especially as they look to fortify their bullpen this month.