Marist stuns No. 3 Curie


Marist stuns No. 3 Curie

By Tim O'Brien
Marists Lexus Williams smiled and showed no signs of stopping.On this night, the junior guard had good reason.Williams three-pointer with two seconds left from the wing in Fridays 4A Marist Regional Final lifted the host RedHawks to the most improbable of comebacks in a 63-62 thriller over Curie.We just wanted to stay aggressive coming out of the half, Williams said. It worked out for us offensively and defensively. (Curie) double-teamed L.J. (McIntosh) who found Nic (Weishar), and he found me.Tyler Oden (20 points), McIntosh (15), Weishar (11) and Williams (10) paced Marist (25-5) who won its first regional title since 2007. The win was the teams ninth in a row. The RedHawks will play Bogan Wednesday at the Argo sectional.Having led 50-45 early in the fourth, Marist saw a furious Curie comeback turn the tide. The Condors went up five points at 62-57 with 50 seconds remaining when Malcom Hill-Bey split two free throws.McIntosh drilled a three-pointer from the wing to cut the deficit to two, and after Hill-Bey missed the front end of a one-and-one, the RedHawks had their chance.With the clock winding down, Weishar drove from the top of the key after receiving a pass from McIntosh. Weishar found Williams on the wing, the junior guard hitting a contested three that proved to be the game winner.Curies Devin Foster (17 points) missed a running 35-foot three-pointer at the buzzer after a timeout.For Marist, Oden drilled five three-pointers, including three in the second quarter as the RedHawks came back from an early deficit.We put in the hard work each day in practice, Oden said. When were down, we cant get down. We have to come together as a team. For me, Ill do whatever it takes to help the team.Cliff Alexander (17 points, 13 rebounds) and Hill-Bey (18 points, six assists) contributed for Curie (25-3). The loss was the first for the Condors against a team other than Simeon this season.Marist came up and hit shots, Curie coach Michael Oliver said. If we hit free throws, we probably win, but that wasnt the whole game. We ran into a buzzsaw.

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.

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

Smith was drafted 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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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.”