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Lee's layup gives Pirates Western Suburban Gold title

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Lee's layup gives Pirates Western Suburban Gold title

By Matt Le Cren
YourSeason.com

Proviso East couldnt have scripted a more exciting ending to its Senior Night.The No. 2 Pirates captured the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship Friday by edging defending champion Downers South 65-62 in Maywood.Guard Paris Lee scored the clinching layup with one second left in front of a host of alumni that included Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.It feels real good, Lee said. Last year they beat us, so this year we had to come redeem ourselves.Lee scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half, including seven of the Pirates last eight. His two free throws with 18.3 seconds left put Proviso East (23-0, 12-0) up 63-59.Jamall Millison then drilled a three-pointer from 25 feet with :09 remaining for Downers South (20-5, 10-2), which was out of timeouts. But before the Mustangs could foul, Proviso East forward Sterling Brown found Lee with a long pass and Lee beat the defense down the floor for his layup.I did a jab to the inbounder and I broke and Sterling threw a good baseball pass to me and I finished the layup, Lee said. Its an honor to score important points. I feel if I go play Division I basketball Im going to have a lot of games like this so this just prepares me.Proviso East hasnt been known for playing smart basketball in recent years, but Browns heads-up play was the difference.I looked for Lee, said Brown, whose offensive rebound of a missed free throw led to Lees last free throws. I see we was up by one but I still wanted to get the ball out because close to the basket they all had pressure defense.I saw Paris leak out so I just threw it. I had faith that he was going to get it and make the layup and I just threw it for him and he did it.The 6-4 Brown often gets overlooked by the media spotlight that gets trained on Lee and fellow guards Keith Carter and Paris Burns, but his play kept the Pirates in the game in the first half. Brown tallied nine of his 13 points in the opening half, including an inside hoop that pulled the hosts within 30-25 at intermission after the Mustangs had used a 9-0 run to take a 30-21 lead.They can have all the press, Brown said. I just want to win. Thats all I come out here to do is just win.The Pirates have done nothing but win this season and werent concerned about trailing the Mustangs, who had won seven straight.Coach Donnie Boyce didnt let us panic, Lee said. He told us to keep our heads and we live for games like that.Downers Grove South did a great job, Boyce said. I felt in the first half we gambled a little too much and we left ourselves vulnerable in the middle and they did a great job of attacking us.It was the first game all year where we had our backs against the wall the majority of the game and I liked the way our guys responded. They never panicked. They kept composure and part of that goes to the experience of Keith Carter.Carter had 15 points, including a pair of foul shots that put the Pirates ahead to stay, 53-51, with 3:19 left, and added five rebounds, four assists and two steals. Burns tallied 10 points and Treshaun Carroll had nine points and 11 rebounds for Proviso East, which hosts Oak Park on Wednesday in the inaugural WSC championship game.Theyre a really tough team, said senior guard Jerron Wilbut, who led Downers South with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Theyve got so many weapons on offense. I think that whats good about them is the really just dont give up. They play hard all the way down the stretch. They dont care who you are.Millison finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, while Danny Spinuzza chipped in 13 points and Kevin Honn seven points and seven rebounds for the Mustangs, who could meet Proviso East again in the Class 4A Hinsdale Central Supersectional.We played hard. We just came up on the short end, Wilbut said. The emotions were flying in the locker room but we can only just look forward.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed. 

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

Shaquille Harrison could improve the efficiency of Bulls bottom five defense

The Phoenix Suns released guard Shaquille Harrison last week, and although it is not a move that will send shockwaves through the league, the Bulls picking up Harrison could be the exact type of move to help solve what ails them.

At 6-foot, 4-inches and with a long wingspan, Harrison would step in and likely be at least the second-best perimeter defender on the team behind Kris Dunn. And he is the type of player, when combined with a talent like Wendell Carter Jr. and/or Dunn, could help form the type of lineup that could have a transformative effect on the overall team defense.

Last season Harrison had a defensive rating of 109, this despite the fact that the Sun—as a team—had a defensive rating of 113.51, over four points worse than when Harrison was on the floor.

His best skill is his ability to “get skinny” around a screener, meaning that on defense, Harrison is adept at angling his body to get around players trying to screen him off his man:


The Bulls need more players who show Harrison’s effort level when navigating screens on defense, not just because it will make life easier on their rim protectors, but because they also need to make sure they continue adding players who lead by example on that end of the floor. A team as young as the Bulls needs to collect young talent who pride themselves on defense, and Harrison fits the part.

When it comes to offense, Harrison doesn’t have the most impressive profile, but his play on that end of the floor is similar to former Bull David Nwaba. Harrison is not even an average 3-point shooter  (23.1 percent from 3-point range), but he makes up for it in other ways.

His rebounding is an area of strength, and fitting in with his preference to bring physicality to his matchup, he is adept at getting to the free throw line.

Last year Harrison’s 30.6 percent free throw attempt rate would’ve been a top-five mark on the Bulls. But his low usage rate (18 percent) will likely be lower in Chicago, so the free throw numbers may fall. But with so many score-first players on the roster, Harrison will still be able to crash the glass against the many guards who forget to box out their man.

Offensive rebounding will be less of a focus for a Bulls team that wants to preach getting back on transition defense, but Harrison gives Fred Hoiberg a special player that can do both. Harrison will run back on defense to help create the “shell” that the best teams create to cut off easy forays to the rim, and then when his team gets the ball back and is on the fastbreak, he brings value as the “trailer” (trailing man on a fastbreak) even without shooting ability:

This signing could end up being a big one for the Bulls, however small it may seem now.

Around the league, more and more teams are starting to invest resources in multiple ball-handler offenses that negate the differences between point guard and shooting guard, making versatile back court defenders a must.

This will be evident when the Bulls take on the Dallas Mavericks in game No. 3 of the regular season, as Rick Carlisle's Mavericks feature Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic in an explosive offense that doesn't have a defined "lead" guard.

The Bulls will continue to attempt to curtail offense with a high-scoring back court duo when they take on the Charlotte Hornets in a back-to-back on October 26 and 27. If Harrison is worked into the rotation by then, expect to see Harrison and Dunn on the floor together to match up with Doncic and Smith respectively, but have the flexibility to switch defensive assignments on the fly. If Chicago's perimeter defense starts to offer significantly more resistance, it will allow quicker improvement from Carter and the rest of the Bulls bigs on the interior.

With Zach LaVine currently in the top-five in the NBA in points per game, Dunn returning and Lauri Markkanen getting healthy, the Bulls front office is slowly approaching the point where their team has enough players who are considered possible focal points of an offense.

To become a championship contender, you need to have that one player who is unequivocally a superstar capable of a heavy workload, and only time will tell if the Bulls already have that player or need to acquire him. But the other important factor in building a championship roster is having the elite-level role players who do the little things that make life easier for their teammates in all phases of the game, and Shaq Harrison is excellent prospect who fits that exact mold.