Preps Talk

Great Falls Win Pioneer League Title

Great Falls Win Pioneer League Title

Thursday Sept. 15, 2011
Posted: 10:40 p.m.
WHITE SOXGreat Falls Rookie
The Great Falls battery proved to have too much life for Ogden Thursday night at Centene Stadium. With Pioneer League pitcher of the year Blair Walters on the mound and catcher Kevan Smith, the leagues hottest hitter behind the plate, the Voyagers cruised by the Raptors, 7-1, to claim their second championship in four seasons.

The win also marked the 13th time Great Falls has won a Pioneer League crown since the circuit became a short-season league in 1964. The Voyagers, much as they have all season, rode Walters to pick up the win. He scattered four hits over six innings, striking out seven and allowing a run. It was his second win of the post-season, allowing him to finish 11-0 after the Sox grabbed him from The University of Hawaii in the 11th round of this years draft.

Smith, whom Chicago selected in the seventh round from The University of Pittsburgh in this years draft, had three hits to finish with a .478 batting average and a league-leading 11 hits in the playoffs. This after finishing the season on a 15-game hitting streak during which he hit .528.

Walters and Smith had help, though. David Hrbek drove in pair while Marty Medina and Mike Earley each had RBIs. Chris Devenski and Cody Winiarski pitched shutout ball over three innings, striking out four and allowing a pair of hits.
CUBSTennessee AA
Ollie Lintons RBI single in the bottom of the 11th gave Mobile a 1-0 victory over Tennessee Thursday night at Hank Aaron Stadium. The BayBears also grabbed a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Southern League championship series, which will resume Saturday night at Smokies Park.

Ryan Wheeler led off the 11th with a single but it appeared as if he would be stranded after Rafael Dolis retired the next two batters. But Matt Davidson singled, moving Wheeler to second and Linton followed with a ground single to right.

Dolis, the fourth Smokies pitcher, allowed four hits in 1 23 innings. Brooks Raley started, allowing one hit while striking out five over six innings.

Tennessee, which hasnt scored in 15 innings, managed only six hits but also drew six walks. The Smokies were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. Blake Lalli had a pair of doubles for Tennessee.

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

aj-henning.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

Lincoln-Way East 4 star ranked running back AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) today gave the University of Michigan his verbal commitment.

"At the end of the day Michigan was just the best overall for me," Henning said. "Michigan has stuck with me in this process for a long time including when I was injured and never backed off. Michigan also recruited me but also  got to know my family well which really made a strong impression on me."

Henning, who narrowed down his final list of schools to Michigan. Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State new that Michigan was his school after his recent official visit. 

"When I made my official visit to Michigan is when I knew that I found my school. I was able to just get a great feel for the coaches and the guys on the team on my official visits. I just felt that I will be a great fit at Michigan socially, athletically, academically and that I really fit in well with the guys on the team. After my official visit I knew that Michigan was the place I needed to be."

Henning, who ended up selecting Michigan over scholarship offers from 33 FBS schools  is bit thrilled and relived to have announced his college choice.

"It's definitely a relief, but just being able to be recruited and offered scholarships from 33 different schools is a true blessing. I'm just glad I found a home in Michigan."

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

bulls.png
AP

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.


PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.