Blackhawks

CSN Top 20 IHSA basketball rankings

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CSN Top 20 IHSA basketball rankings

1 Simeon (1-0)
PrepsTalk: Jabari Parker and the Wolverines will now be road warriors. They travel to Dallas to take on Prestonwood High School (Thursday) and then the Penny Hardaway Classic in Memphis (Saturday).

2 - Whitney Young (1-0)
PrepsTalk: The Dolphins will play four Chicago teams in eight daysat Douglass (Wednesday), vs. Westinghouse (Friday), at Powerhourse (next Monday) and then vs. Orr (next Wednesday).

3 - Morgan Park (3-0)
PrepsTalk: Josh Cunningham tallied 14 points and eight rebounds as the Mustangs cruise to a 76-43 win over Hales Sunday. Morgan Park now faces Larry Hawkins HS (Wednesday) and CVCA (Friday).

4 - Homewood-Flossmoor (7-0)
PrepsTalk: The Vikings struggled late, but managed to notch a key victory Sunday against Curie at the Team Rose Shootout. Marius Hill scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

5 Benet (6-1)
PrepsTalk: Itll be a challenging week for Sean OMara, Pat McInerney and company. They will face Plainfield North, Lincoln-Way North and Lockport at the Plainfield North tournament.

6 - Marian Catholic (7-1)
PrepsTalk: Marian already has eye-catching wins over Hillcrest, Lanphier and Joliet West. Tyler Ulis has been solid so far this season. The Spartans travel to Nazareth for an ESCC game on Friday.

7 - Notre Dame (8-1)
PrepsTalk: Matt Mooney hit four three pointers (20 points overall) as Notre Dame beat Crane 61-48 on Saturday. The Dons travel to Leo this Saturday.

8 - Proviso East (4-2)
PrepsTalk: The Pirates get back on the winning track, defeating Leyden 84-65 on Saturday. Sterling Brown scored 22 points. Branden Jenkins added another 16. East hosts Addison Trail Friday.

9 - North Chicago (4-2)
PrepsTalk: Providence-St. Mel proved they are for real Sunday, taking down high-flying North Chicago 78-63. JaVairius Amos-Mays paced the Warhawks with 19 points.

10 - St. Joseph (5-2)
PrepsTalk: Loren Horton scored 14 points, Paul Turner and AJ Patty also played key roles as the Chargers get a key Catholic League victory over De La Salle Friday, 62-52.

11 Seton (5-4)
PrepsTalk: Alex Foster scored 16 points with nine rebounds; Mark Weems tallied 17 points as the Sting beat St. Francis-St. Mary (Ohio) 48-45 on Saturday.

12 Hillcrest (5-2)
PrepsTalk: Back-to-back games for the Hawks this week, as they host Oak Lawn Friday then travel to Thornton the following night. The Proviso West Tourney is also on the horizon.

13 Fenwick (5-1)
PrepsTalk: The Friars defeated St. Francis de Sales Friday night, 61-44. Luke Lattner had 18 points. Thomas Planek added 10 points and 12 rebounds for Fenwick, who will travel to Brother Rice Friday.

14. Neuqua Valley (8-0)
PrepsTalk: The Wildcats have stormed out of the gate with an 8-0 start, the latest victory a 48-38 win over Lake Park. They now hit the road for two games this week: Bartlett (Thursday) and South Elgin (Saturday).

15 - St. Rita (5-2)
PrepsTalk: Have the Mustangs bounced back from some early-season jitters? A huge second half from Dominique Matthews and Victor Law was the difference in a 59-50 victory over Hyde Park Sunday.

16 - St. Charles East (5-1)
PrepsTalk: The Saints forced 20 turnovers in handing Geneva their first loss, 55-39 Friday night. More Upstate Eight play for East, as they host Metea Valley (Thursday) and go to Batavia (Saturday).

17 - West Aurora (5-1)
PrepsTalk: The Blackhawks ended Fridays game at Naperville Central on an 8-0 run as they pulled away to a 63-53 victory. Jontrell Walker had a game-high 24 points. West hosts Glenbard North Friday.

18 - Zion-Benton (7-1)
PrepsTalk: The Zee-Bees, off to a 7-1 start, got a nice victory Saturday at Lake Forest. Forward Milik Yarbrough paved the way, scoring 23 points in a 53-50 victory.

19 York (6-1)
PrepsTalk: Colorado State-bound guard David Cohn was impressive against Lyons, leading all scorers with 17 points. Up next for the Dukes: a tilt with fellow West Suburban Silver foe Glenbard West.

20 - St. Ignatius (5-0)
PrepsTalk: The Wolfpack already have a marquee win on their resume (at St. Rita). But the schedule doesnt get any easier with Seton Academy and Benet on the horizon.

Looming and Lurking: Andrew, Montini, Foreman, Maine South, St. Benedict, Providence-St. Mel, Morton, Westinghouse, Geneva, St. Viator, Lemont, Oswego, Marist, Joliet West, Lake Forest, De La Salle, Orr, Bolingbrook, Glenbard East.

Be sure to follow @JoeCSN and @PrepsTalkCSN for prep basketball coverage.

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

The Cubs are in a way better spot than they were a year ago

ST. LOUIS — It's night and day watching the 2018 Cubs compared to the 2017 version.

Even with the injury to Javy Baez Sunday night, the Cubs are in a way better spot now than they were a year ago.

On June 17 of last season, the Cubs sat at 33-34 with a run differential of just +6.

They looked flat more often than not. "Hangover" was the word thrown around most and it was true — the Cubs really did have a World Series hangover.

They admit that freely and it's also totally understandable. Not only did they win one of the most mentally and physically draining World Series in history, but they also ended a 108-year championship drought and the weight of that accomplishment was simply staggering. 

The 2018 iteration of the Cubs are completely different. 

Even though they didn't finish off the sweep of their division rivals in St. Louis Sunday night, they're still only a half-game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central and for the best record in the league. A +95 run differential paced the NL and sat behind only the Houston Astros (+157), Boston Red Sox (+102) and New York Yankees (+98) in the AL.

Through 67 games, the Cubs sat at 40-27, 13 games above .500 compared to a game below .500 at the same point last summer.

What's been the main difference?

"Energy," Joe Maddon said simply. "Coming off the World Series, it was really hard to get us kickstarted. It was just different. I thought the fatigue generated from the previous two years, playing that deeply into the year. A lot of young guys on the team last year.

"We just could not get it kickstarted. This year, came out of camp with a fresher attitude. Not like we've been killing it to this point; we've been doing a lot better, but I didn't even realize that's the difference between last year and this year.

"If anything, I would just pinpoint it on energy."

Of course the physical component is easy to see. The Cubs played past Halloweeen in 2016 and then had so many demands for street namings and talk shows and TV appearances and Disney World and on and on. That would leave anybody exhausted with such a shortened offseason.

There's also the mental component. The Cubs came into 2018 with a chip on their shoulder after running into a wall in the NLCS last fall against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They have a renewed focus and intensity.

But there's still plenty of room for more. The Cubs aren't happy with the best record and run differential in the NL. They know they still haven't fully hit their stride yet, even amidst a 24-13 stretch over the last five weeks.

"I think we've been pretty consistent," Jon Lester said. "We've had some ups and downs on both sides of the ball as far as pitching and hitting. But the biggest thing is our bullpen and our defense has been pretty solid all year.

"That's kept us in those games. When we do lose — you're gonna have the anomalies every once in a while and get blown out — we're in every single game. It's all we can do. Keep grinding it out.

"Our offense will be fine. Our defense and the back end of our bullpen has done an unbelievable job of keeping us in these games. And if we contribute as a starting five, even better. 

"You have the games where our guys get feeling sexy about themselves and score some runs. That's where the snowball effect and we get on that little bit of a run. I feel like we've been on a few runs, it just hasn't been an extended period of time. I don't have any concerns as far as inside this clubhouse."

Lester hit the nail on the head. The Cubs sit at this point with only 1 win from Yu Darvish, Tyler Chatwood struggling with command and low power numbers from several guys including Kris Bryant.

Throw in the fact that Joe Maddon's Cubs teams always seem to get into a groove in August and September when they're fresher and "friskier" than the rest of the league and this team is currently in very good shape for the remainder of the year. 

If they can get 3 wins away from the World Series after going 33-34, the sky should be the limit for a 2018 squad that's in a much better position 67 games in.