Blackhawks

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins and Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (26-1)

Results: No games played last week
This Week: Tuesday vs. Oak Lawn or Argo (4A Oak Lawn Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Argo sectional is loaded this year. Teams include Simeon, Bogan, Brother Rice, Curie, De La Salle, Marist, St. Rita and Whitney Young.

2 Proviso East (26-0)

Results: Defeated Oak Park-River Forest 63-48 and Marquette, WI 72-52
This Week: Tuesday vs. Wheaton North or Hoffman Estates (4A Proviso East Regional)
Hoops Talk: If the Pirates are victorious Tuesday, they would play either Glenbard North or Glenbard East in Maywood on Friday.

3 Curie (24-2)
Results: No games played last week
This Week: Tuesday vs. Reavis or Kennedy (4A Marist Regional)
Hoops Talk: Cliff Alexander, Devin Foster and company are thinking state. The Argo Sectional might as well be a state tournament (see above).
4 Warren (22-3)

Results: Defeated North Chicago 84-80
This Week: Wednesday vs. Hersey or Buffalo Grove (4A Stevenson Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Blue Devils soar into the playoffs after Wednesdays North Suburban conference championship. Darius Paul: 28 points, 16 rebounds.

5 Plainfield East (25-1)

Results: Defeated Oswego East 74-46
This Week: Tuesday vs. Wheaton Warrenville South or Plainfield North (4A Neuqua Valley Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Bengals, top seed in the East Aurora Sectional, could make some noise. Senior Brian Bennett (26 points, 15 rebounds vs. OE) is a force.

6 Bogan (24-3)

Results: Defeated Dunbar 76-61
This Week: Tuesday vs. Mt. Carmel or Juarez (4A Mt. Carmel Regional)
Hoops Talk: It could be an entertaining regional final on Friday nightif Bogan and De La Salle win their games this week.

7 Andrew (22-2)

Results: Lost to Thornwood 57-55; Defeated Lincoln-Way West 49-42
This Week: Tuesday vs. Lincoln-Way Central or Eisenhower (4A Andrew Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Thunderbolts will shoot for their first regional championship since the 1989-90 season.

8 Elgin (23-3)

Results: Defeated Geneva 43-30 and Metea Valley 59-50
This Week: Tuesday vs. South Elgin or Streamwood (4A St. Charles North Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Maroons are back-to-back Upstate Valley champs for the first time since 1987, but Kory Brown and company are thinking bigger.

9 Downers Grove South (19-5)

Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Oswego East or Romeoville (4A Downers Grove South Regional)
Hoops Talk: If the Mustangs win Tuesday, they would play the Hinsdale Central-Waubonsie Valley winner on Friday night.
10 Huntley (24-3)

Results: Lost to Grayslake Central 52-47
This Week: Tuesday vs. Rockford Jefferson or DeKalb (4A Huntley Regional)
Hoops Talk: The loss to G-C in the Fox Valley title game is a blip on an otherwise impressive season. Auburn and Elgin could be lurking at sectionals.

11 Bloom (24-3)

Results: Defeated Kankakee 70-28
This Week: Tuesday vs. Joliet Central or T.F. North (4A Joliet Central Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Blazing Trojans won the Southland conference on Friday. They could end up facing fellow Southland foe Crete-Monee in sectionals.

12 Lemont (24-2)

Results: Defeated Glenbard South 63-50 and Hillcrest 58-57
This Week: Tuesday vs. Corliss or Bremen (3A Providence Regional)
Hoops Talk: Talk about entering the playoffs on a high note. The win over Hillcrest gave the Indians a share of the conference title (first since 1991).

13 Hillcrest (21-5)

Results: Lost to Lemont 58-57
This Week: Tuesday vs. Evergreen Park or Joliet Catholic (3A Evergreen Park regional)
Hoops Talk: The Hawks couldnt hold a 12-point lead against Lemont. Jayone Troutman and company will still be a tough draw in the playoffs.

14 St. Ignatius (21-5)

Results: Lost to De La Salle 56-48; Defeated Mount Carmel 66-39
This Week: Tuesday vs. Noble Street CharterComer or Hope (3A St. Ignatius Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Wolfpack have a few injuries, but a relatively tame sectional - at least on paper -- could help them out.

15 Orr (19-4)
Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Noble Street CharterC. Bulls or Clark (3A Wheaton Academy Regional)
Hoops Talk: The Spartans, along with North Lawndale, Marshall and Farragut are all in the Glenbard South Sectional.

16 Marshall (20-7)

Results: No games played
This Week: Tuesday vs. Montini or Clemente (3A Marshall Regional)
Hoops Talk: Home court advantage should come in handy for the Commandos, who could end up playing rival North Lawndale in the regional final.

17 New Trier (21-5)

Results: Defeated Niles North 93-84 OT
This Week: Tuesday vs. Niles West or Amundsen (4A Niles West Regional)
Hoops Talk: Connor Boehm tallied 32 points and 14 rebounds in a wild victory over Niles North. NT gets the top seed at the Glenbrook South Sectional.

18 De La Salle (16-6)

Results: Defeated St. Ignatius 56-48
This Week: Tuesday vs. Kenwood (4A Mt. Carmel Regional)
Hoops Talk: De La Salle has battled injuries this season, the latest is with Gavin Schilling (ankle sprain). Alvin Ellis and Alex Foster will lead the Meteors.

19 Seton (25-4)

Results: Defeated University 72-64 2-OT and Hales 62-55
This Week: Wednesday vs. Herscher (2A Herscher Sectional)
Hoops Talk: The Sting escape a huge upset in the semis. They respond with a win over the defending state champs and now face a 26-win Herscher team.

20 Thornwood (20-6)

Results: Defeated Andrew 57-55 and Thornton 61-58
This Week: Tuesday vs. T.F. South (4A Homewood-Flossmoor Regional)
Hoops Talk: Huge week for the Thunderbirds, knocking off first place Andrew and then beating rival Thornton to capture the SW Suburban-Red title.

Looming & Lurking: Hope Academy, St. Rita, Whitney Young, Metea Valley, Farragut, Mundelein, North Chicago, Riverside-Brookfield, St. Viator, Oak Park-River Forest, Herscher, York, Marist, St. Joseph, Crete-Monee, Grayslake Central, Yorkville, Homewood-Flossmoor, St. Patrick, Ridgewood, Grant, Niles North

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

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USA TODAY

Do the Blackhawks have room to sign John Tavares?

The NHL Draft is over. Farm systems have been restocked and now the focus has shifted to free agency, where the fun is just beginning.

The biggest fish on the market is John Tavares, a franchise-changing center in the heart of his prime. For a little bit, it seemed like the loyal New York Islanders captain was ready to move on after they took another step back by missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

But then Lou Lamiorello became available and was snatched up by Long Island. His first order of business was relieving GM Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight of their duties, the first real sign that significant changes were coming. The next was securing Barry Trotz as head coach after he couldn't agree to terms on an extension with the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

For the first time in a while, there appears to be structure in the front office and coaching staff.

Yet, Tavares has remained committed to visiting with reportedly five teams in Los Angeles during the free agent negotiating window that opened Sunday. And he's absolutely earned that right. San Jose and Toronto are believed to be two of the teams. The rest is unclear.

When asked by NBC Sports Chicago's Pat Boyle at the end of the draft on Saturday, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman wouldn't confirm nor deny that they were one of the teams scheduled to meet with Tavares.

"I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, right?" Bowman said with a smile.

Whether or not they are, could the Blackhawks realistically even make it work?

They actually have the cap space to do it. Or at least they can make room without shuffling too many cards.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have $9.225 million in open cap space to fill out six roster spots. If you can find a trade partner for Marian Hossa's contract, that creates an extra $5.275 million, which brings the total up to $14.5 million. That's without subtracting any real bodies from the roster. 

Tavares is likely to command in the $10 million range for average annual value over the next seven years, and the latter part is key. While it would certainly be challenging to have three players eating up at least $10 million each in cap space — with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews at $10.5 million — they could make it work in the short term.

But signing Tavares to a seven-year deal would probably get in the way of the Blackhawks' longer-term goals, which includes re-signing Alex DeBrincat and Nick Schmaltz when their entry-level deals expire and even Vinnie Hinostroza when his new two-year contract ends.

Are the Blackhawks willing to risk that?

For Tavares, maybe. But Toews is 30, Kane is 29 and Tavares will be 28 by the time this upcoming season starts. At some point, an infusion of youth would be required to remain competitive for the long term.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.