Bears

High School Lites Preview: Basketball is back

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High School Lites Preview: Basketball is back

The road to Peoria starts here.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago is your home for high school basketball coverage. Every Friday night at 10:30, High School Lites will bring you scores and highlights from the Chicagoland hardwoods. We'll also have in-depth feature stories and take a look back down Memory Lane in our Flashback segment.

This week, we catch up with former college basketball standout Tom Kleinschmidt. The former DePaul and Gordon Tech star is now the head Duke on the sidelines at York. How has he adjusted to high school coaching? Our Gail Fischer has the story.

Here is a snapshot of each Friday night game Comcast SportsNet will be covering this week on High School Lites:

Andrew at Thornton, 6:30 p.m.

Is this the year that Andrew finally busts through? The Thunderbolts (3-0) have a pair of brothers that could make waves come playoff time: Jawad Adekoya (6-3 Sr. F) and his younger brother Jubril (6-5, Jr. F). Thornton (0-3) will contend in the Southwest Suburban Red, but they face learning curves after losing eight seniors from last years team.

Reavis at Hillcrest, 6:30 p.m.

The visiting Rams (2-2) might have their hands full in Country Club Hills Friday night. But will Hillcrest be looking ahead to Saturdays clash with top-ranked Simeon? The Hawks (3-1) are loaded in the frontcourt, with Jayone Troutman (F) and Jalen Loving (F) leading the way for coach Don Houstons crew.

Joliet West at Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:00 p.m.

The 3-1 Tigers could end up pushing H-F for tops in the Southwest Suburban Blue conference. Center Marlon Johnson is the go to guy for West. Can they hang with a Vikings team considered to be one of the best in Chicagoland? H-F (3-1) is loaded, with football-turned-basketball star Tim Williams (F) leading the way.

St. Rita at De La Salle, 7:30 p.m.

Circle this game as the best matchup of the night. De La Salle (4-0) lost guard Jaylon Tate to Simeon, but the Meteors have more than enough gas in the tank with 6-9 Gavin Schilling, a transfer from Germany, being a true difference-maker. Same applies for Tony Hicks (G) and A.J. Avery (F) for the Mustangs (1-0), who opened their season with a win over Lake Forest Academy.
Huntley at Carmel, 7:30 p.m.

The Red Raiders (3-0) went 25-5 last season and could do some damage in March. Forward Amanze Egekeze and Guard Troy Miller are the go-to guys on offense. Huntley has already beaten Harper, St. Francis de Sales and Dundee Crown. Carmel (2-2) might face an uphill battle, but they can counter with Brandon Motzel at forward.

Lake Forest at Mundelein, 7:30 p.m.

Warren and Zion-Benton are the front-runners for a hotly-contested North Suburban Lake conference crown, but dont overlook the Scouts and Mustangs. Forward Thomas Durrett has provided a spark for Lake Forest (3-1) while Mundelein (5-0) has shot out of the gate with wins over, among others, Brooks. Keep an eye on junior guard Robert Knar.

We will also catch up with CSN's Muscle Milk Team of the Week, the Broncos of Montini High School. Quarterback John Rhode, wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp and company reflect on their third consecutive state championship. Will a four-peat be in the cards? Well also show you celebrations from other football state champions, including Bolingbrook and Prairie Ridge.

High School Lites streams live every Friday at 10:30pm on CSNChicago.com.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well by leaving comments below.

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

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USA TODAY

Akiem Hicks reveals what makes him so good against the run

Akiem Hicks finally earned the recognition he deserved in 2018 with his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and playing on the NFL’s No. 1 defense provided the national attention he should have received in his first two years with the Bears.

He’s a solid interior pass rusher, but where he dominates is in run defense, leading the NFL in run stops last season according to Pro Football Focus.

When Hicks beats an offensive lineman at the line of scrimmage to make a big tackle in the backfield, it’s a work of art, and he revealed the secret to those flashy plays on NFL Game Pass.

He broke down the film of a play against the Green Bay Packers where he beats center Corey Linsley because he knew right guard Jordan McCray was going to pull to the left.

“I read it before the snap happens. I know that McCray is going to pull just based off his stance,” Hicks said. “I know his stance for every play that he’s going to do. I’m going to be at least 75 percent right.”

Hicks looks at how much weight an offensive lineman is putting on his hand, how far apart his legs are and how much bend is in his hips.

“If you do your due-diligence as a defensive lineman and prepare like a professional during the week, you’re going to know,” Hicks said.

Any little deviation from a normal stance is an indicator to Hicks of what the play is going to be, and that pre-snap knowledge keeps him a step ahead of the blocker in front of him.

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Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

Bulls finally getting with the times, putting together versatile roster

Position-less basketball is the hot new buzzword in NBA circles, but it's also an important one.

Consider what the 2016-17 Bulls rolled out the same year the Golden State Warriors Death Lineup'd their way to an NBA title. Led by the Three Alphas of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler, here's how the minutes shook out, per Basketball Reference.

Rondo played 100% of his minutes at point guard despite having played 42% of his minutes at shooting guard the year earlier for the Kings (a year in which he shot 36.5% from deep). Wade played 84% of his minutes at shooting guard. The following seasons, the last two of his career, he played 31% at point guard, 54% at shooting guard and 15% at small forward.

Butler played 93% of his minutes at small forward. The next two seasons, in Minnesota and Philadelphia, his minutes were split up at 45% shooting guard, 48% small forward and 7% power forward.

Taj Gibson played 96% of his minutes at power forward and Robin Lopez played 100% of his minutes at center. Nikola Mirotic played 88% of his minutes at power forward. Over the last two seasons, he's played 74% of his minutes at power forward and 23% at center (and 3% at small forward).

Sensing a theme here?

While the NBA zigged toward position-less basketball, the Bulls...didn't do anything. They had traditional roles, had little depth that allowed them to tinker with lineups despite that being the best way to utilize Fred Hoiberg's philosophies, and they failed. Yes, they led 2-0 on the Celtics in the first round of the postseason. No, that didn't make that entire season any less of a mess.

Fast forward two years and one rebuild later, and the Bulls enter Year 3 of the post-Jimmy Buckets era with some serious versatility.

The latest signal that this franchise is ready to move forward came on Thursday when the Bulls drafted North Carolina guard Coby White. He's not a traditional point guard, and the Bulls don't want him to be. In fact, the Bulls' entire offseason feels like it could be more about finding the right players instead of the right positional needs.

"John (Paxson) and I have had great conversations about our team during the year, at the end of the season, about what we thought we needed, where we thought we needed to go, and today is a product of that, of those meetings, those discussions, and his view," Jim Boylen said Monday. "We talked about positional size a lot, we talked about speed, quickness, athleticism. Those are the things we thought we needed with the group of guys we had, to add to them. Whether it’s vertical spacing, speed, making defenses chase people over, all those kinds of things, we discussed. And as we went into the draft process we were hoping to find players to help us with that. Thankfully we have."

Of White specifically, Boylen said the Bulls won't "put him in this box where he just has to play this way," Boylen added. For the first time arguably since Nate Robinson in 2013, the Bulls have a legitimate shooting threat at point guard. What's more, the 6-foot-5 White can play off the ball and spot up for perimeter jumpers, something that makes Zach LaVine more valuable and the offense more versatile.

The Bulls are finally looking to look like a versatile group. Otto Porter's defensive ability will give the Bulls the option of playing small, something that prior to his arrival just meant Chandler Hutchison getting abused in the post. Lauri Markkanen is a work-in-progress as a center, though his limited minutes and skill set give optimism that it's something he can do in spurts going forward. LaVine was never going to take on a full-time point guard role, but he was more than comfortable with the ball in his hands acting as an offensive initiator last season, maybe Kris Dunn, LaVine and White all share the floor together.

We could even see second-round pick Daniel Gafford and Wendell Carter Jr. together in massive frontline spurts if the opposition calls for it. That's more fantasy than reality, but having the option is something they didn't have in the past.

The next step is free agency. With the Bulls, in theory, having starters at all five positions - White could move to the bench if Paxson goes after a veteran free agent - the Bulls can again get versatile and hone in on particular skill sets instead of simply trying to round out the depth chart. It doesn't feel like the Bulls will make a major splash - either giving Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon a gigantic offer sheet or finding room to sign Brooklyn's D'Angelo Russell - but they'll be aggressive with their more than $22 million in cap space. They need point guard depth, more shooters on the wing and a locker room presence (Cris Felicio is a month younger than Otto Porter, the oldest player on the Bulls).

"We have a very good idea of what we want. But we’re going to have to wait until the 30th to go at it. But we know we need to add some veterans," Paxson said. "Definitely, we’re looking for a couple of veteran guys that fit well with this young group – be pros, show these guys every day what it means to be a professional. Most guys that last a long time in this league, they last because they’ve been pros. They take care of themselves, they’ve played well, they’ve done all the right things. And that’s always best example for young players.”

The roster is far from a finished product. Injuries aside, the Bulls still won just 22 games a year ago, don't have max cap space, and White isn't Zion Williamson.

There's work to do. But for the first time during the rebuild, the Bulls are going to have options. The roster is beginning to look like what a group of NBA players in 2019 should look like. The Bulls are getting versatile, and it's an important step forward.