Cubs

Farmby provides spark for Evanston

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Farmby provides spark for Evanston

Last December, when Evanston coach Mike Ellis was talking about the players who had helped to fashion an early 7-0 record, he didn't mention Terrell Farmby. Now Ellis has plenty to say about the 6-foot-1 senior.

Farmby quit the program at Christmas time during his junior year. He was frustrated over lack of playing time. And he didn't buy into the philosophy of his new coach, who had come from Peoria Richwoods with a reputation for being a disciplinarian. "He had lessons to learn about discipline," Ellis said about the youngster.

But Farmby apparently regretted his decision. He came back for team tryouts last fall and made the 15-man roster. He started the season on the bench but got some playing time in each game and finally broke into the starting lineup against New Trier in February. He has been a fixture ever since, averaging five points per game.

"We brought him back and gave him a fresh start," Ellis said. "He is on his second strike. We never promised anything. He knew he had to walk a tight line and he has done it. He has done all we asked. He has been a solid influence on defense, one of our more vocal leaders. We needed to reward him for pushing his teammates in practice."

Farmby scored 16 points, Josh Irving had 17 and Jordan Perrin contributed 12 as fifth-seeded Evanston upset top-seeded New Trier 65-49 in a sectional semifinal on Tuesday night at Glenbrook South in Glenview. The Wildkits (20-10) will meet Niles North in Friday night's championship game.

After starting 7-0, Evanston experienced some bumpy experiences during a rugged conference schedule. Back-to-back losses to Waukegan and Maine South in late January provided a much-needed wakeup call. The starting lineup was overhauled with two new additions. The Wildkits have won five of their last six games, including two victories over arch-rival New Trier.

Irving, a 5-foot-11 senior, has been the team's leading scorer from the outset. He was averaging 19 points per game in the early going but now is averaging 14 as other players have stepped up. Evanston's only all-conference performer, he scored 16 points in Evanston's 51-48 victory over Niles Notre Dame in the regional final.

Other starters are Farmby, 6-foot-3 senior Leonard Garron (8 ppg, 6 rpg), 5-foot-7 senior point guard Jordan Perrin (7 ppg, 3 assists) and 6-foot-6 senior Matt Munro (5 ppg, 7 rpg). Munro has come off the bench to replace 6-foot-9 senior Randy Ollie, who was injured.

"At this time of year, it doesn't matter who you beat, it's just if you get another practice the next day," Ellis said. "We don't have anyone who was nominated for All-Area or All-Anything. But beating New Trier, a team with three all-conference players while we have only one, speaks volumes for our team."

Ellis still is trying to build a program at a school that knows something about tradition. Evanston won a state title under Jack Burmaster in 1968, was second in 1984 under Herb Williams, was fourth in 2004 under Paul Pryma and third in 2008 under Bobby Locke. Last year's team, Ellis' first, started 12-2 but finished 18-10.

"At times, I felt we were turning the corner," Ellis said. "It didn't seem like we were completely focused. I was reassured that it takes time to build relationships and trust and culture. It can't be done overnight, especially when I came in and first met the players on Oct. 5."

But now Ellis has had more time to put his program in place and the players are responding. "It's like raising kids. As a parent, you're trying to mold kids and teach them and form good habits. This team is cohesive and unselfish. There is more team play than last year. This is a great opportunity for these kids to model this year for future teams," he said.

"When we were playing .500 ball in January, they still believed in each other and weren't going to settle for anything else. They have a desire to get better at practice. To me, they have all stepped up and played to their strengths, not doing what they aren't capable of doing, playing smart basketball, listening to the coaches, buying into what we say."

Who are the keys to Evanston's success? Who are the difference-makers? Who has been the leader in the Wildkits' recent surge? Who does Ellis count on in the fourth quarter?

"It depends on what day of the week you call me," Ellis said. "No one dominates. It could be a different guy every day. They key is these kids are willing to get better each and every day in the gym.

"What has made a difference is the work ethic of the kids. They haven't settled for being complacent. They don't hang their hats on one or two games. We wanted to emphasize three points in the foundation of our program--playing hard, playing smart and playing together--and that's what they are doing."

Kris Bryant jumping at thunder during a rain delay is pure comedy

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WGN

Kris Bryant jumping at thunder during a rain delay is pure comedy

The Cubs-Braves game on Wednesday got delayed due to a thunderstorm that blew through Chicago.

It made for a pretty scene with a pink and orange sky during sunset that made way to rain clouds, thunder and lightning. Fox Sports South captured the footage of the Wrigley sky and then caught Kris Bryant jumping and then running in the dugout at the sound of thunder.

Even former MVPs can be scared of thunder.

 

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Cubs will need more than Craig Kimbrel to completely change fortunes

Cubs will need more than Craig Kimbrel to completely change fortunes

Cubs fans are understandably excited Craig Kimbrel is ready to make his debut with the team later this week.

He's a future Hall of Fame closer who is still in the midst of his prime and could very well be a shutdown reliever for the entire second half of the season.

But while the bullpen was a clear weakness of this team during tough times earlier in the season, the Cubs haven't slogged out to a 12-12 record in June because their back-end relievers have been blowing late leads.

So how much of a direct impact will Kimbrel have on the team's success? We don't know for sure, but let's look back at every loss this month and see if he would've been able to change the outcome in any ballgame:

June 1 — Cardinals 7, Cubs 4

Kimbrel probably wouldn't have pitched in a game that featured a three-hour rain delay, as Tyler Chatwood gave up 3 runs in the sixth inning in relief of Jose Quintana and the Cubs never even tied the game again.

June 2 — Cardinals 2, Cubs 1 

This was at least a close game, but the Cubs actually trailed 2-0 heading to the top of the ninth inning, when they mounted a comeback against the St. Louis bullpen that fell just short. Either way, it's almost assuredly not a game Kimbrel would have even made it into.

June 6 — Rockies 3, Cubs 1

Quintana gave up all 3 runs before the seventh inning ended and the Cubs offense could do nothing against a rookie making his first MLB start (Peter Lambert).

June 10 — Rockies 6, Cubs 5

Here's one where having Kimbrel could've had an indirect impact. The Cubs never had a save situation, but they did lose the game because the bullpen gave up solo runs in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings. If Kimbrel is in the 'pen, the trickle down effect comes into play, which means Joe Maddon has more options at his disposal — including Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop earlier in the game. However, it was Cishek that was saddled with the loss by allowing a run in the eighth inning. The only way it would've set up any differently with Kimbrel is if the Cubs used Cishek in the seventh inning and slotted Strop in for the eighth, and the result may have been different. So we'll say Kimbrel could've had an impact on this one, albeit indirectly.

June 11 — Rockies 10, Cubs 3

When you're losing 9-1 going into the seventh inning, what does it matter who your closer is?

June 13 — Dodgers 7, Cubs 3

This one was all about the Dodgers being good and Jon Lester struggling and had nothing to do with the bullpen. The Cubs mounted a 3-0 lead, but their ace gave it all back and then some — allowing 3 homers and 6 runs over 5 innings. The bullpen would not have done much in this game.

June 14 — Dodgers 5, Cubs 3

Rinse and repeat. The Cubs once again jumped out to an early lead, but starting pitching couldn't hold it as Kyle Hendricks was touched up for 5 runs in 4.1 innings in his final appearance before hitting the injured list. The Cubs bullpen actually pitched admirably in the contest, throwing 3.2 shutout innings against a very good lineup.

June 16 — Dodgers 3, Cubs 2

It's certainly possible this one would've been different if Kimbrel were around. With something of a limited bullpen and Brandon Kintzler already pitching earlier in the contest, Cishek was forced to throw multiple innings and gave up the winning run in the eighth — his second inning of work — to break a 2-2 tie. Again, Kimbrel likely would not have been pitching in that spot, but if he was around and available, maybe Maddon could've gone with Strop or somebody else instead of utilizing Cishek for a second inning.

June 18 — White Sox 3, Cubs 1

Ahh, the Eloy Game. Also a game that it's very possible we would've seen Kimbrel, but you can't really fault Maddon with how this one played out. Cubs had a fresh bullpen coming off a rare off-day and watched Cole Hamels throw a gem, allowing just 1 run in 7 innings. Kintzler pitched a scoreless eighth inning in a tie ballgame and then Maddon called on Strop to throw the ninth inning — when Eloy Jimenez had his signature moment. Maybe Maddon would've gone to Kimbrel to pitch the top of the ninth inning, but you can't really lament losing when one of your best relievers is pitching late in a tie game and it doesn't work out.

June 21 — Mets 5, Cubs 4

Cubs jumped out to a 4-3 lead on Addison Russell's 2-run homer, but Yu Darvish couldn't hold it, giving the lead right back the following inning. The Cubs then lost the game when embattled reliever Brad Brach came into a 4-4 tie and gave up a single that eventually came around to score the winning run. Maybe Kimbrel's presence would've changed that outcome, as it could've been another reliever in the game besides Brach, but the Cubs still didn't hit much (Darvish accounted for half their runs) and it was a couple of groundball basehits that led to the winning run scoring, so it's not like Brach and Mike Montgomery got lit up.

June 22 — Mets 10, Cubs 2

This was a clunker of a game that was over well before either team's bullpen figured into things.

June 25 — Braves 3, Cubs 2

Hard to win many games scoring only 2 runs. Maybe Montgomery would not have been pitching in the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead if Kimbrel were around, but the Cubs also needed/wanted some length after Adbert Alzolay's 4.2-inning start and Montgomery had retired five of the six batters he faced before allowing the game-winning homer. 

So in total, we're looking at maybe three games this month in which Kimbrel could've played a role and potentially changed the outcome for the Cubs. But even those three games are a stretch — who knows if they would've still lost each one of those contests anyways.

This serves as just another reminder that Kimbrel isn't the Cubs' savior. While he will be a very nice piece in the bullpen and help create a positive trickle down effect on the pitching staff, he can't do anything to impact the Cubs' offense or starting pitching and those are the biggest issues plaguing the team at the moment.