Blackhawks

Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

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Mustangs net share of suburban conference title

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
10:36 p.m.

By Matt Le Cren
YourSeason.com

Downers South center Ziggy Riauka knew his team could beat Proviso East, but he didnt think it was capable of blowing out the Pirates.

But thats exactly what the host Mustangs did Friday night, sprinting out to a big early lead en route to a 60-48 victory that clinched a share of the West Suburban Conference Gold Division championship. It is the first time Downers South (22-3, 10-1) has beaten Proviso East twice in the same season.

It means a lot, Riauka said. Last year we got blown out both times, so this is a good game for us. We hit a lot of good three-point shots that were open and some that were not open but we were still able to hit them. So we got off to a good start and thats what mattered.

The 6-8 Riauka, who finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, swished a three-pointer that triggered an 18-3 run that gave the Mustangs a 27-9 lead in the second quarter. Downers South, which has won 14 straight, hit six consecutive shots at one point, including treys from three different players on three consecutive possessions.

I started off pretty bad, Riauka said. I couldnt catch the ball or hit a layup, so I just took a three-pointer and it went in, maybe by accident.

It was no accident that South dominated the game, extending its lead to as much as 40-18 in the third quarter. The Mustangs, who beat the Pirates (19-4, 9-2) by an identical score on Jan. 21, take pride in their defense and allowed just 13 points in the first half, including four in the second quarter despite playing the last six minutes without star Jerron Wilbut, who was in foul trouble. Riaukas defense inside was a big factor.

Zig has done a lot of good things for us, Wilbut said. Hes a man down there in the post. He got off to a little rocky start but he got it together and made the right passes and the right plays.

Proviso East made five straight steals and scored the last eight points of the third quarter to pull within 44-32. The Pirates made 5 of 6 three-point tries in the period.

But Riauka helped stop the bleeding by breaking the press and assisting on baskets by Jamaal Millison and Kevin Honn. Then, after a jumper by Proviso Easts Sterling Brown made it 52-41 with 3:08 left in the fourth quarter, Danielius Jurgutis scored on a reverse layup off a no-look pass from Wilbut.

The Pirates cut it to 56-46 with 1:26 remaining, but Jurgutis and Wilbut answered with layups for the Mustangs, who shot 23 of 44 from the floor and 9 of 12 from the line and outrebounded Proviso 32-22. We knew they were going to have a lot of runs and we just played through it, Riauka said. We didnt give up.

Wilbut led a balanced attack with 16 points and six rebounds, while Millison added 12 points, six boards and three assists and Jurgutis tallied 10 points, four assists and four steals. Honn chipped in nine points and seven boards.

Proviso East is a really good basketball team, known for their defense and their relentless scoring, Wilbut said. Just to be in that kind of war with them and beat them is a blessing. Thats what we work hard for every day in the gym.

Brown scored 17 points to lead the Pirates, whose only losses in the past 14 games have been to Downers. Guards Keith Carter and Paris Lee added 10 and eight points, respectively, but the pair combined for just two points in the first half when the Pirates made only 6 of 25 shots.

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

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USA TODAY

Corey Crawford expects to make season debut for Blackhawks on Thursday vs. Arizona

The wait is almost over.

After missing nearly 10 months with a concussion, Corey Crawford said he expects to start on Thursday when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center. An official decision will come following the team's morning skate.

"It feels good to be back to myself," Crawford said. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling clear. ... It was a pretty long process. But I think the most important thing was not to rush anything. When I finally was out, it got to a point where I wasn’t in shape to play and it was time to rest and it’s unfortunate it took a lot longer than I would’ve liked. 

"It’s been long, but finally, just to get back and be practicing with the team has meant a lot. It’s good to get to this point now when you’re really close to playing. Practices have been great, been getting timing a little bit more and getting up to speed and reading shots and all that, so it'll be nice to finally get in one."

Crawford's last appearance in an NHL game was Dec. 23, 2017 against the New Jersey Devils when he allowed three goals on seven shots in 13:22 of action before getting pulled. So of course, emotions will naturally be running high, especially in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm sure I'll be a little anxious getting into it," Crawford said. "Some nerves. But we'll see. We'll wait until the morning, but I'm definitely excited I can tell you that."

It's obviously terrific news for the Blackhawks, who have picked up eight out of a possible 10 points to start the season and are getting their two-time Stanley Cup winning goalie back between the pipes. It's been a long time coming, and Crawford is coming back into a healthy situation where the Blackhawks are in a good spot in the standings.

"It's great news, I'm sure it'll be exciting for him exciting for our team, exciting for our fans and the organization as well," Patrick Kane said. "It’s probably a good situation all around. Cam [Ward] has done a great job of playing in the net so far. Crow is really good in practice right now, so I’m sure he’s itching to get back, too. We’ve had a good start here. It’s something we want to keep going, and I’m sure him coming back on home ice, in front of our crowd, will be a fun one for him and for our team."

There's no doubting how important Crawford is the team and organization. While there may be a little bit of rust early on, the Blackhawks are expecting him to look like his old self.

"He means a lot to the team," Quenneville said. "We felt last year was a good example of how important he was and how well he was playing for us, as well. We’ve gotten off to a decent start and he was a big factor in it. We know that goaltending is such a big part of the team and your success a lot of nights depends on him and his consistency’s always been in place.

"But he looks good in the net. He’s been off for a long, long time. Is there rust? Do we expect rust? I think the way he’s competing and practicing and finding pucks, he looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. So we’re looking forward to him getting in there and getting comfortable and how he’s feeling going forward will dictate a lot of the decisions about him going back in."

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

Bill Belichick scoffs at Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison

All of the good graces Bill Belichick may have won on Tuesday afternoon -- when he compared the Bears' offense to Kansas City's -- are officially gone. 

Today, when talking to reporters, a Khalil Mack-Lawrence Taylor comparison came up. Belichick, who coached LT as the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator in the 1980s, was NOT having it: 

"Wait a minute, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor now. I’m not putting anybody in (LT’s) class. Put everybody down below that. With a lot of respect to a lot of good players, we’re talking about Lawrence Taylor."

A bit harsh, Bill. 

For what it's worth, here's Khalil Mack's 2018 projection, assuming his latest ankle injury doesn't make him miss time: 

20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries

That's .5 sacks less and four INTS, 16 FFs and 4 recoveries more than LT had in his 1986 MVP season. And yeah, maybe "they didn't record tackles/fumbles in 1986" and "16 forced fumbles would not only blow the current record (10) out of the water but is just plain unrealistic" but whatever, we're just sayin'. 

UPDATE: shocker, LT agrees: