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

Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Just how important is special teams in the NHL?

Of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason, 14 clubs had at least one special teams unit that was ranked in the top half of the league and 12 teams had at least one unit ranked in the top 10.

The Blackhawks finished the season with the 15th-ranked power play and 31st-ranked penalty kill. The Blackhawks' 72.7 percent kill rate is the lowest the league has seen in 30 years.

“The penalty kill is something that clearly has to be better," GM Stan Bowman said. "That was a big disappointment this year, no question about that. So we have to devote some resources to that. Some of it might be players, if we get some players that have that kind of experience or have a history. Part of it is tactically can we find ways to be better. We have a lot of time now to study it and put a lot of our focus on that.”

Jeremy Colliton did not rule out getting external help to improve the PK.

“We’re going to look at everything, for sure," he said. "We’re going to look at obviously tactically and we’re going to look at the personnel and how we’re using guys and try to put them in the best situation we can. And maybe that’s new, different guys who weren’t getting the opportunity. Or maybe that’s someone from outside.”

The Blackhawks did manage to fix their power play issues this past season. When Colliton became head coach on Nov. 6, the Blackhawks power play was near the bottom of the league. By December, the man advantage was dead last, cashing in on fewer than 12 percent of their power plays.

Colliton made Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson his top power play unit and from Dec. 20 till the end of February they were the league's best unit, converting on 35.2 percent of their power plays.  

Gustafsson’s addition to the power play was a major factor in the unit's improvement.

"A big part of our power play progression and transformation from being at the bottom to being in the top group," Bowman said of Gustafsson. "I was really pleased with that and we're going to need him next year for sure.”

If the Blackhawks penalty kill can make strides like the power play did, Colliton’s crew will likely be playing at this time next season.

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ICYMI: David Bote with another walk-off; White Sox battle in Detroit

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USA TODAY

ICYMI: David Bote with another walk-off; White Sox battle in Detroit

David Bote had another walk-off hit to give the Cubs a series win against the Diamondbacks while the White Sox lost two out of three in Detroit. Here are some of the Chicago sports stories you may have missed from the weekend.

Cubs

After beating the Diamondbacks in the series opener on Friday, the Cubs were shut out on Saturday. With the game not really being worth talking about, plenty of other news came out that day. For one, Kris Bryant's bat will play a big role on how well the Cubs do in 2019. Is he pointed in the right direction? Similarly, Yu Darvish is still searching for his best, although he says he's still on the cusp.

Brandon Morrow got shut down after suffering a set back as works his way back from injury. The news is better regarding Jon Lester. Lester is part of a number of reinforcements coming back to the Cubs pitching staff.

As for Sunday's game, David Bote did it again. Another walk-off hit for the third baseman. It was also a rare good start from Tyler Chatwood.

White Sox

The baseball world is still reacting to Tim Anderson's bat flip and the ensuing suspensions, but the team went out to Detroit for a series. The White Sox evened the series on Friday, with Yoan Moncada again playing a starring role.

After Saturday's game was rained out, the Tigers took the rubber game on Sunday.

In the minors, prospects Zack Burdi and Luis Alexander Basabe are set to start rehab stints on Monday while the hot-hitting Luis Robert is day-to-day.