Bulls

Campana has big opportunity to play small ball

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Campana has big opportunity to play small ball

CINCINNATI The Cubs dont know exactly where Tony Campana fits into the plans, but theyre willing to find out. And its not like many in the clubhouse have guarantees anymore.

Thats part of the reason why Theo Epsteins front office paid the Boston Red Sox to take on Marlon Byrd and create an opening in center field.

The Cubs are going to make top prospect Brett Jackson earn his promotion and improve his two-strike approach, base-running angles and overall game at Triple-A Iowa.

Its an awesome opportunity for me, Campana said. Bretts a good player down there and everybody knows hes going to be up here when hes ready. But until that comes, hopefully I can be here and prove that I deserve to be here.

Campana was back home at Great American Ball Park before Tuesdays game against the Reds was rained out. Almost a year ago, the old administration promoted Campana, and he instantly became a feel-good story for the local media.

The University of Cincinnati graduate had overcome Hodgkins lymphoma as a kid and was all set to make his big-league debut on May 17, 2011.

The night before, then-manager Mike Quade had seen enough sloppy play and addressed the team in a closed-door meeting. The Cubs responded by committing four errors and giving up seven unearned runs in a 7-5 loss to the Reds. In between, the team announced that Andrew Cashner was being shut down after an MRI revealed right shoulder inflammation.

Thrown into the middle of a team that was unraveling Quade called it pretty damn close to rock bottom Campana made an immediate impact.

Campana entered the game as a pinch-runner and scored, and hit an RBI double in his first major-league at-bat. He may fit in even better now with a new coaching staff that values aggressive running and preaches the idea of capturing bases.

That kind of speed, you cant teach it, manager Dale Sveum said. You cant do anything about it. Sometimes its indefensible. If you do worry about it, then sometimes it gets you in trouble.

Campana, who will turn 26 later this month, is listed at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds. He has game-changing speed, and questions about how high his ceiling will be.

As long as he hits, he can be an everyday player, Sveum said. As long as he can get on base, hes going to be an impact-type guy with that kind of speed. Hes just got to be able to hit and get his bunts down and do the things hes doing right now on an everyday basis.

Hes going to get an opportunity here for a little while.

Campana disrupted Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who likes to work fast, with machine-like efficiency. Campana didnt have to hit the ball out of the infield and went 2-for-5 with a stolen base and two runs scored in Fridays 5-1 victory.

When he gets on first, as a pitcher, you have to change, said Paul Maholm, the winning pitcher that night. You cant have big leg kicks. Hes going to take off and thats a positive in having a guy like that. Thats like having Ichiro or Michael Bourn or one of those guys that can change a game once they get on base.

Campana reached base six times and scored six runs during the four-game series in Philadelphia over the weekend. Since being recalled from Iowa, hes hitting .370 (10-for-27) with two walks and seven stolen bases in his last seven games.

Tonys just been an amazing spark to our lineup, utility man Joe Mather said.

When will it burn out? The Cubs want to see what theyve got in Campana, who didnt earn a job out of spring training. Jacksons coming fast, but this is Campanas big opportunity to play small-ball.

I knew I was going to be back, Campana said. I didnt do well in spring training. I didnt hit enough. I knew I didnt really deserve to split with the team. But I knew that I would get at-bats every day down there in Triple-A and get my swing back.

And I have something that people can use a little bit.

Three observations: Bulls come up short against Bucks — again

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USA Today

Three observations: Bulls come up short against Bucks — again

For the second time in less than a week, the Bulls played the Bucks close, but came up just short — this time falling 115-101 at the United Center. Three observations from a soul-crushing loss:

Daniel Gafford: Free man

If I dumped all the expletives I have written in my notebook about Daniel Gafford from this game, you’d never read another article under this byline.

So, while I catch my breath, here are the hits:

 

 

 

Gafford ended the game a -4 in 20 minutes, but it’s hard to overstate the impact he had on a particularly electric Bulls bench in this one. He was every bit the gumptious, brick-bodied big that Jim Boylen billed him as, and so much more. Every second without the ball in his hands on offense, his feet were moving — setting screens and leveraging rebounding position. In the air, every shot, pass or lob within five feet of him seemed to find his hands, and then — rather violently — the bottom of the net.

At one point, en route to his team-leading 16 first-half points, a fan behind me exclaimed: “Him and Giannis are going at it!” In reference to… Daniel Gafford. What a night.

Gafford ended his stellar NBA debut with 21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks and approximately 2.716 million hearts stolen, on 10-of-12 shooting.

The three-guard lineup provides a spark

At the very beginning of the season, Boylen’s utilizing of a three-guard lineup (Kris Dunn-Coby White-Ryan Arcidiacono) was widely panned. Tonight, that group — with contributions from Thaddeus Young and a combination of Wendell Carter and Daniel Gafford at the center spot — proved their mettle. 

In the first half, that lineup catalyzed a 20-8 run that pulled the Bulls from down nine with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter to up two with 8:05 to go in the second. In the fourth quarter, a torrid stretch by Arcidiacono and White vaulted the Bulls from down 98-90 to up 99-98 in a matter of 66 seconds, sending the UC in a frenzy not seen in quite a while.

The Bucks pulled away from that point on, but this lineup showed something tonight — so much so that Boylen closed with White and Arcidiacono both on the floor along with Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. (Stunningly absent was Tomas Satoransky, who logged only 18 minutes tonight after coming out of the gate aggressive, offensively.)

Arcidiacono was on every loose ball in sight. White was a blur in transition and coming off screens and dribble handoffs. Combined, they shot 7-of-11 from long distance. Maybe Boylen is on to something.

Bulls melt down the stretch

The Bucks finished the game on a 17-2 run after that aforementioned White-Arcidiacono blitz. For most of the game, the Bulls were able to hang around despite being out-shot from three and on the wrong end of a 35-14 free throw disparity, but their energy waned late in the game. Despite miraculously out-rebounding the Bucks 50-48, out-scoring them in the paint 50-46 and competing defensively throughout, the Bulls couldn’t buy a bucket down the stretch (they failed to score a field goal in the final six minutes), and it ultimately cost them.

The blame is shared in this one. Lauri Markkanen and Zach LaVine combined to shoot 6-of-28 from the floor (only 0-of-4 in the fourth) and were largely outplayed by the bench unit. 

In a performance reminiscent of last Thursday’s in Milwaukee, the Bulls appeared to everything necessary to win on Monday. But they didn’t. Now, with a record of 4-10, the heat is on.

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Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

Tarik Cohen was Bears' best offensive player vs. Rams

The Chicago Bears offense was uninspiring once again Sunday night in the team's 17-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. While they could've had another six points had kicker Eddy Pineiro connected on two early-game field goals, it still wouldn't have been enough to win the most important game of the season.

After 11 weeks (10 games), the Bears rank 28th in points per game with 16.9. To put their brutal season in perspective, the New York Jets, who've been atrocious this year, are averaging 16.4 points per game.

Essentially, Matt Nagy has coached Chicago's offense as effectively as Adam Gase has coached the Jets'. 

Still, it's worth acknowledging strong individual performances in the midst of an overall letdown, and in Week 11's loss to the Rams, it was running back Tarik Cohen who stood tallest among his Bears' offensive teammates.

Cohen posted Chicago's highest Pro Football Focus grade on offense with a 74.3. He logged 45 snaps, 10 more than David Montgomery, and was effective when he touched the ball. He totaled 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 touches en route to being the Bears' most effective running back against a tough Rams defensive front. Montgomery managed just 31 yards on 14 carries.

Cohen hasn't had the kind of season that was expected from his role as a do-it-all offensive weapon; he's way behind his normal pace of production as both a runner and receiver. Cohen had 99 carries for 444 yards and three touchdowns to go along with 71 catches for 725 yards and five scores in 2018. He's on pace for just 186 rushing yards and 402 receiving yards this season.

Still, Sunday night's effort was a step in the right direction for him and a sign that he may continue to get more touches as the season comes to a close.