Bears

High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

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High School Lites: Weekly Hoops Preview

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011
Posted 10:30 p.m.

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

Comcast SportsNet is your number one source for high school sports in Chicagoland. This Fridays edition of High School Lites will feature three epic matchups: Hales-De La Salle, Proviso East-Downers Grove South and the city championship between Brooks and Whitney Young. We will also preview Saturdays City-Suburban Showdown at the UIC Pavilion, which features 1 Simeon taking on 2 Benet. Also, David Kaplan tells us about one suburban girls basketball coach who hasnt let cancer get in the way of her achievements on the court. Here is a snapshot of each game that we will cover Friday night. All rankings courtesy of YourSeason.com:

Rich South @ Bloom, 6:30pm

High-flying Depaul recruit Macari Brooks is one of the reasons Rich South (14-7, 5-4) could go deeper in the playoffs than most teams. He contributed 22 points and eight rebounds in the Stars 48-43 win over Thornwood on Tuesday. Bloom (14-8, 7-1) will need to contain Brooks if they want to win Friday night. He did not play in the previous Bloom-Rich South battle on January 14th, which was won by Bloom (43-26). LeJavious Jackson and Donald Moore steer the ship for the Blazing Trojans.

(9) Whitney Young vs. (5) Brooks, 7:00pm (Chicago Public League Championship at Chicago State)

Quite frankly, it wasnt the championship game most people were expecting earlier in the week. But dont blame Whitney Young, who absolutely earned the right to be there by shocking top-ranked Simeon 64-50 in Wednesdays public league semifinal. The 9th ranked Dolphins (17-9) are led by Ohio State-bound Sam Thompson. Brooks (21-3) advanced by beating Curie in the other semifinal on Wednesday, 63-60. Mike Powell and Keith Gray figure to do the heavy lifting for the Eagles.

(16) Hillcrest @ Lemont, 7:00pm

Hillcrest (17-6, 10-0) is putting together another quality season under coach Don Houston. The Hawks, 3A state champs last season, feature guards Julius Brown and LeBarron Hull. They contributed to a nice 75-49 win over T.F. South Tuesday night. Lemont (8-15, 3-8) has had a rough go of it recently but played a solid game Tuesday against a tough Stagg team, leading early before fading late in the fourth quarter. Evan Bridewell will get a lot of looks for the Indians.

Glenbard North @ West Aurora, 7:30pm

If theres one thing going for the visiting Panthers (9-13, 4-7), its momentum. Their 57-34 victory over Hoffman Estates Tuesday could facilitate a late-season push towards the upper half of the DuPage Valley conference. Thats where West Aurora (13-9, 8-3) is right now. This could be another entertaining game between GBN and WA, if their last contest serves as a blueprint. West Aurora escaped with a 55-54 victory back on January 8th. The Blackhawks Juwan Starks was the go-to guy in the previous meeting. He scored 17 points in the win.
Wheaton Academy @ Aurora Christian, 7:30pm
Keep an eye on Wheaton Academy come playoff time. The Warriors (23-1, 9-0) are on cruise control and already racked up two wins earlier this week (Guerin and Montini). They feature 6-9 center Luke Johnson and also have two 6-6 forwards on the roster. Aurora Christian (11-15, 6-3) have quality junior guards in Nick Marema and Dean Danos, a transfer from Oak Lawns Richards High School. Wes Korals game-winning bucket sealed a 55-52 victory by Wheaton Academy the last time the two teams met.

(12) Proviso East @ (11) Downers Grove South, 7:30pm

Talk about a nasty 1-2 punch. Proviso East (19-3, 9-1) gets the 11th ranked Mustangs in enemy territory Friday night and then has to turn around and face 18th ranked Lyons in the City-Suburban Showdown the following night. Sterling Brown, Keith Carter and company will be looking for revenge on DGS after falling to them 60-48 on January 21st. The Mustangs (21-3, 9-1) have quality scorers in Jerron Wilbut, Jamall Millison and 6-8 center Ziggy Riauka.

(6) Hales Franciscan @ (3) De La Salle, 7:30pm

If youre Hales, even if you contain Illinois-bound forward Mike Shaw, you still have a plethora of DLS stars to deal withAlex Foster and Dre Henley just to name a few. The good news for Hales (21-3, 8-1) is that they have one of the best brotherly love combinations aroundin Aaron and Aaric Armstead. They are exceptional talents. Shaw scored 22 points the last time these two teams hooked up --at Hales-- helping De La Salle (18-2, 8-1) to a 68-65 win. Hales Dominique Walls and the De La Salles Jaylon Tate could prove to be the x-factor in this one.

Fremd @ Conant, 7:30pm

The Mid-Suburban West title chase is arguably the best (or at least, the most intriguing) conference battle in the state. Fremd, Conant, Barrington and Schaumburg are all tied at 6-3 with one conference game remaining. Each of them can advance to the conference championship game on Wednesday. Fremd (16-8, 6-3) gets there by beating Conant Friday night, plus losses by Barrington and Schaumburg. Conant (16-7, 6-3) is in with a win over Fremd and a Barrington loss. Note: Schaumburg hosts Palatine Friday, while Barrington Hosts Hoffman Estates.

Prospect @ Buffalo Grove, 7:30pm

Now heres where it gets fun. The Mid-Suburban East could ALSO end up in a four-way tie if Buffalo Grove beats Prospect Friday night, Rolling Meadows beats Wheeling and Hersey beats Elk Grove. Prospect (15-7, 7-2) does own the peace-of-mind advantage though, because they would hold all the tiebreakers when the dust settles. Prospect took a 67-59 decision over Buffalo Grove (16-8. 6-3) in Mount Prospect on January 15th. Terry Redding scored 24 points and added 15 rebounds for the Knights in the win.

(25) Riverside-Brookfield @ Illiana Christian, 7:30pm

The 25th-ranked Bulldogs are the newcomers to the Super 25 rankings this week (18-4, 10-0). They have won six straight and wrapped up their 10th consecutive conference title last weekend with a win over Glenbard South. R-B also beat Farragut earlier in the season. They have consistent shooters from the outside and have a dominant center, 6-9 senior Alex Dziagwa. Illiana Christian (11-11, 4-6)

Check us out this Friday night after the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets. High School Lites streams live at CSNChicago.com.

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith helps shear a sheep at Bears community event

Roquan Smith has more sheared sheep than tackles on his stat sheet as a pro football player.

Smith and several other Bears rookies participated in a hands-on community event at Lambs Farm in Libertyville, Illinois on Monday where he assisted farm staff with the sheep's grooming. Smith said it was a first for him despite growing up around animals. 

"It's like on the norm for me though, playing linebacker you're in the trenches," Smith said of the experience.

"Shaving a sheep, I never really envisioned myself doing something like that," Smith said via ChicagoBears.com. "I was around animals [growing up], but it was more so cows and goats here and there and dogs and cats. I've petted a sheep before, but never actually flipped one and shaved one."

Bears rookies got up close and personal with more than just sheep.

Smith was selected with the eighth overall pick in April's draft and will assume a starting role opposite Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker this season. Here's to hoping he can wrangle opposing ball-carriers like a sheep waiting to be sheared.

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

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USA Today Sports Images

The Bears' defense is ahead of its offense, but Matt Nagy doesn't see that as a problem

Asking players about how the defense is “ahead” of the offense is a yearly right of passage during OTAs, sort of like how every baseball team has about half its players saying they’re in the best shape of their life during spring training. So that Vic Fangio’s defense is ahead of Matt Nagy’s offense right now isn’t surprising, and it's certainly not concerning. 

But Nagy is also working to install his offense right now during OTAs to build a foundation for training camp. So does the defense — the core of which is returning with plenty of experience in Fangio’s system — being ahead of the offense hurt those efforts?

“It’s actually good for us because we’re getting an experienced defense,” Nagy said. “My message to the team on the offensive side is just be patient and don’t get frustrated. They understand that they’re going to play a little bit faster than us right now. We’ll have some growing pains, but we’ll get back to square one in training camp.”

We’ll have a chance to hear from the Bears’ offensive players following Wednesday’s practice, but for now, the guys on Fangio’s defense have come away impressed with that Nagy’s offense can be. 

“The offense is a lot … just very tough,” cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “They’re moving well. They’re faster. They’re throwing a lot of different looks at us and that’s just Nagy’s offense. If I was a receiver I would love to play in this offense, just because you get to do so many different things and you get so many different plays. It just looks fun over there.”

“They’re moving together, and I like to see that,” linebacker Danny Trevathan said. “We’re not a bad defense. They’re practicing against us, so they’re getting better every day, and vice versa. It’s a daily grind. It’s going to be tough, but those guys, they got the right pieces. I like what I see out there. When somebody makes a play, they’re gone. Everybody can run over there. It’s the right fit for Mitch, it’s the right fit for the receivers, the running backs.”

Still, for all the praise above, the defense is “winning” more, at least as much as it can without the pads on. But the offense is still having some flashes, even as it collectively learns the terminology, concepts and formations used by Nagy. 

And that leads to a competitive atmosphere at Halas Hall, led by the Bears’ new head coach. 

“He’s an offensive coach and last year coach (John) Fox, I couldn’t really talk stuff to (him) because he’s a defensive coach and it’s like Nagy’s offense so if I get a pick or something, I mean, I like to talk stuff to him,” Amukamara said. “He’ll say something like ‘we’re coming at you 2-0.’ Stuff like that. That just brings out the competition and you always want that in your head coach.”