Fire

CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

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CSN's Top 20 Basketball Rankings

By Joe Collins & Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

1 Simeon (15-0)

Results: Defeated Brooks 95-61, Morgan Park 57-44

This Week: Monday vs. Findlay Prep NV (at Springfield, MA), Wednesday vs. Urban Prep, Friday vs. CVCA and Saturday vs. Southwind TN (at Memphis, TN)

Hoops Talk: The Wolverines can put a lock on their elite national status with a win against an equally distinguished Findlay Prep team with seven D-1 prospects.
2 Proviso East (14-0)

Results: Defeated Willowbrook 78-37

This Week: Thursday at Downers Grove South, Saturday at Leyden

Hoops Talk: The tilt against Downers South should go a long way in deciding the fate of the West Suburban Gold conference.

3 Curie (13-1)

Results: Defeated King 88-43

This Week: Monday vs. North Chicago (at MLK Shootout), Tuesday vs. Lindblom, Thursday at Dunbar

Hoops Talk: Look for a lot of offense in Mondays game against North Chicago, who features Illinois State-bound Aaron Simpson.

4 Warren (12-2)

Results: Defeated Libertyville 72-53 and Lakes 77-47

This Week: Friday at Lake Zurich, Saturday vs. Downers Grove South (at Sears Centre)

Hoops Talk: Nathan Booth, Darius Paul and the Blue Devils dont miss a beat after a two-week stretch of without games.

5 Andrew (13-0)

Results: Defeated Lincoln-Way East 61-46, Thornridge 66-50 and Illiana Christian 59-34

This Week: Friday at Thornwood

Hoops Talk: Adekoya brothers get most of the headlines, but credit is also due for players like Glorind Lisha, Alex Zappavigna and Tyler Hook.

6 Plainfield East (13-0)

Results: Defeated Romeoville 75-41

This Week: Tuesday vs. Naperville Central, Friday at Plainfield South, Saturday vs. Larkin (at Railway Classic Shootout)

Hoops Talk: 6-9 Brian Bennett is a perfect complement to talented guards Jawan Straughter and Dee Brown.

7 Elgin (13-1)

Results: Defeated Larkin 59-52 (OT), Streamwood 64-37

This Week: Friday vs. Geneva, Saturday vs. Huntley (at Sears Centre)

Hoops Talk: 11 straight wins and 1,000 career points for Kory Brown. Arie Williams came was clutch in the extra session against Larkin.

8 Bogan (17-1)

Results: Defeated Corliss 99-38, Brooks 101-60 and St. Francis 76-58

This Week: Wednesday at Morgan Park, Friday vs. Harlan

Hoops Talk: The Bengals are averaging over 93 points per game in their last four contests. Devonte Smith and DeVaughn Johnson continue to dominate.

9 De La Salle (13-2)

Results: Defeated Brooks 58-46 and Gordon Tech 68-40

This Week: Friday vs. St. Ignatius

Hoops Talk: Alex Foster, Alvin Ellis and Gavin Schilling continue their solid run. Fridays game should be a battle.

10 Downers Grove South (13-2)

Results: Defeated Fremd 66-55, Leyden 67-57 and Glenbard North 66-60

This Week: Thursday vs. Proviso East, Saturday vs. Warren (at Sears Centre)

Hoops Talk: Jerron Wilbut hit five threes en route to a career-high 33 points against Glenbard North. The Mustangs now face a grueling week of competition.

11 New Trier (13-2)

Results: Defeated Maine South 41-39

This Week: Monday vs. Buffalo Grove, Friday at Niles West, Saturday vs. Taft

Hoops Talk: Connor Boehms clutch play down the stretch and Reid Bermans layup with 1.6 seconds to go saves the day for the Trevians against South.

12 Huntley (12-1)
Results: Defeated Crystal Lake South 43-33 and Prairie Ridge 63-29

This Week: Wednesday vs. Jacobs, Saturday vs. Elgin (at Sears Centre)

Hoops Talk: Saturdays performance against Elgin could vault the Red Raiders into special company in Chicagoland prep hoops. They cant overlook Jacobs, though.

13 Bloom (14-2)

Results: Defeated Crete-Monee 43-38

This Week: Monday vs. Sandburg (MLK Day of HoopsJoliet Central), Friday at Kankakee

Hoops Talk: An emphatic statement win on Friday night against C-M, as the Blazing Trojans have now regained their balance after two tough losses.
14 Hillcrest (13-3)

Results: Defeated Eisenhower 86-62

This Week: Wednesday at Richards, Friday at Bremen

Hoops Talk: The Hawks are away from the nest for their next four games. Their next home game is January 27th against T.F. South.

15 Whitney Young (8-5)

Results: Defeated Raby 78-60 and Farragut 47-43

This Week: Wednesday vs. Marshall, Friday at North Lawndale

Hoops Talk: Three straight 3s in the fourth (one by Gabe Snider and two by Scott Kingsley) helped jump-start the Dolphins at Farragut. Jahlil Okafor hits GW layup.
16 St. Ignatius (13-2)

Results: Defeated St. Joseph 57-53 and Farragut 54-37

This Week: Friday at De La Salle, Saturday vs. Brooks (CPS Shootout)

Hoops Talk: Brian Howard helped save the Wolfpack at St. Joseph. They trailed by 13 at halftime and took the lead for good with 1:42 to play.

17 Metea Valley (15-1)
Results: Lost to Waubonsie Valley 62-61 (OT); Defeated St. Charles North 70-54

This Week: Monday vs. Rich Central (MLK Day of HoopsJoliet Central), Friday at East Aurora

Hoops Talk: The Mustangs 28-2 run in the first quarter against North helped erase the sting of Wednesdays defeat.

18 Marshall (16-4)

Results: Defeated Crane 57-54 and Aurora Central 80-54

This Week: Wednesday at Whitney Young

Hoops Talk: Dont look now, but the Commandos are the only undefeated team in conference play in the mighty Red West.

19 Notre Dame (14-4)

Results: Defeated Brother Rice 63-44, Loyola 50-45 and Nazareth 65-54

This Week: Friday vs. St. Patrick

Hoops Talk: Here come the Donsthree straight wins going into Fridays rivalry tilt vs. the Shamrocks. Junior Matt Mooney has played well.
20 Mundelein (17-3)

Results: Defeated Stevenson 59-51 and Antioch 51-39

This Week: Friday at Lake Forest

Hoops Talk: Junior guard Robert Knar leads the Mustangs into the Top 20 for the first time. Circle January 28th on your calendar: Mundelein at 4 Warren.
Looming & Lurking: Dunbar, Harlan, Crane, Farragut, Waubonsie Valley, Naperville North, West Aurora, Glenbrook North, Foreman, Herscher, St. Viator, Lemont, Homewood-Flossmoor, Seton, St. Rita, Joliet West, Rich South, North Chicago, Hope Academy.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

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@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.