Bears

Mark Weems goes off as Seton tops Hales

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Mark Weems goes off as Seton tops Hales

By Patrick Z. McGavin
Yourseason.com

The state tournament is a different beast. Even the courts take on a magnified importance.

Seton coach Brandon Thomas played a shorter rotation than usual. It meant Mark Weems Jr. had an even greater role than normal. Weems responded in grand style.

The 6-2 junior guard scored a career-high 30 points that powered the Sting to a 62-55 victory over defending state champion Hales in a U-High Class 2A regional final at the University of Chicago Friday night.

We normally play a much deeper bench, but we press a lot, and playing on the bigger floor, we did not press, especially the kind of trapping defense we normally play, Thomas said. Mark usually plays about 19, 20 minutes a game. Tonight, he played 30 or 31.

Winner of five consecutive regional crowns, Seton (25-4) advances to play Herscher at the Tigers own sectional Wednesday night.

Thomas does not permit his players to talk to the media. Weems game spoke volumes.

The game often turned on a scintillating battle between top Catholic League guards, Weems and Hales 6-5 star Eddie Alcantara (23 points, nine rebounds, four steals, three assists).

Weems scored 16 points in the first half and Seton built an early 11-point lead in the second quarter. Alcantara responded by scoring 13 points in the first half. He nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key that pulled the Spartans (11-18) within 28-24 at the break.

Thomas is a protg of Hales coach Gary London. Weems outburst surprised London.

We knew he was a big part of what they do, but I knew he was capable of making shots, but not that many, London said.

Senior forward J.R. Tolliver added 11 points for the Sting. Junior guard Kamal Shasi contributed eight points and senior guard Jordan Foster scored seven.

Alcantara scored on a beautiful baseline drive and floater over 6-9 Russell Robinson Jr. that pulled the Spartans within 46-43. Weems, who scored nine points in the fourth quarter, put the game away with a three-point play off a Hales turnover that capped a 7-0 Seton run with 2:57 remaining.

Hales junior guard Shaquon Alexander hit four three-pointers in the second half in scoring 14 points for the Spartans. Senior forward Willie Allen scored eight points.

Hales converted just 3-11 from the free throw line in the second half.

Weve struggled with our free throw shooting the whole year, London said. Weve had some games where we got up to 80 percent, but you just cant shoot free throws like we did tonight, especially in the state playoffs.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.