Bulls

Peyton Manning to visit the Titans

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Peyton Manning to visit the Titans

From Comcast SportsNet
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A person familiar with the situation says the Tennessee Titans will be visiting with four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning in his search for a new team. ESPN.com first reported Titans coach Mike Munchak will meet with Manning after a session with Miami coach Joe Philbin. The person spoke to The Associated Press Monday about Manning's meeting with the Titans on the condition of anonymity because the location and time of that meeting remains confidential. Titans owner Bud Adams made it known Sunday he will do whatever it takes to sign Manning to get back to the playoffs and win his team's first Super Bowl. Adams told The Tennessean he had talked to Manning's agent, Tom Condon, asking for a visit with the quarterback. Manning has plenty of connections to Tennessee. He starred at the University of Tennessee, leading to his first name becoming a popular choice for newborns in this state. His wife is from Memphis, and Manning already knows the Titans' facility a bit, having practiced against Tennessee a few years ago when the Colts came to town for some joint practices. Munchak also was a teammate of Archie Manning in 1982 and briefly in 1983 with the then-Houston Oilers. Munchak just hired Dennis Polian -- son of former Colts general manager Bill Polian -- as his assistant. But the biggest key is Adams, the 89-year-old billionaire who wants back in the playoffs. His Titans have been only twice since 2004 with both trips in 2007 and 2008 lasting only one game each. A meeting with Manning could come in Houston where Adams still lives after relocating his Oilers to Tennessee in 1997. "I want Manning," Adams told The Tennessean. "I'd love to see him in Titan blue after watching him so many years with the Colts. ... I want him. I am ready to do what it takes to get him aboard, and I think he'd be the guy to get us into the playoffs." The Titans already have veteran Matt Hasselbeck, signed to a three-year contract last July, and Jake Locker picked with the No. 8 overall selection in the 2011 draft. But Hasselbeck is due 5.5 million in salary this year after getting a chunk of his deal last season. So far, Manning has met only with the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals. He was expected to be heading back to Florida, but did not show at the Dolphins' headquarters Monday despite reports he would meet with the team. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross arrived at the team complex at midmorning, and several players -- including quarterback Chad Henne -- showed up around the same time to work out. Henne is a free agent and not expected back this season. A media stakeout at the complex began when a local TV station camera crew arrived at 4 a.m. Half a dozen TV cameras and a handful of reporters eventually gathered across the street. They weren't allowed on the team's property, but a Dolphins official brought out water, pizza and napkins. Curious motorists occasionally pulled up to ask for an update. Manning spent nearly 6 hours at the Arizona Cardinals' headquarters and training facility on Sunday in meetings designed to lure the superstar to the desert. The session followed a meeting of nearly six hours Manning had at the Broncos' facility in Denver on Friday night. The two sessions were evidence that, for the time being at least, Arizona and Denver appear to be the top two contenders.

Re-focused Zach LaVine primed to bounce back: ‘I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for’

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USA TODAY

Re-focused Zach LaVine primed to bounce back: ‘I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for’

Healthy in October for the first time in three seasons, Zach LaVine entered training camp as the $78 million man looking to justify one of the summer’s largest deals that many criticized.

And just a few days into camp, the spotlight homed in on him further when the Bulls lost Lauri Markkanen to an elbow injury.

LaVine responded to both challenges, putting together a preseason performance that not even the most optimistic expectations could have included.

In just 22.3 minutes he averaged 17.8 points on 52 percent shooting, made 44 percent of his triples and got to the free throw line a team best 4.8 times per game. In short, he looked much more like the potential franchise-building piece the Bulls believed they were acquiring 19 months ago.

“I’m my hardest critic, so there’s nothing on the outside that I haven’t told myself of where I want to be at. You want to tell the doubters on the outside I told you so, but it’s mostly coming from a place where I want to prove to myself what all this hard work is for.’’

The fifth-year shooting guard was fluid, attacked in a variety of ways and looked like part of the offense, something that at times was non-existent during last year’s injury-riddled comeback season. Taking shots in rhythm, attacking the rim instead of settling for contested jumpers, running the floor. LaVine looked a lot like the player who shot 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep before the ACL injury in 2017.

“I think I found a good rhythm and then just keep that going into the regular season. I think last year still, I was trying to catch my rhythm with the games I played,” LaVine said Monday at the Advocate Center. “I’d play two good games and two bad games. I felt like that up and down was a little bit with the consistency of not playing. Now that I’m back fully I think that’s where I should be.”

The offensive uptick is a sight for sore eyes, especially with Markkanen on the mend. But where LaVine can quiet his harshest critics – including himself – is on the defensive end.

It’s just a five-game sample size, but LaVine’s individual defensive rating of 97.3 was better than the team’s overall 100.2 rating. A year ago, LaVine’s defensive rating was 113.9, the worst on the team, and worse than the team’s overall 110.4 mark. They’re baby steps, but steps nonetheless for a player who knows what the book says about him on that end of the floor.

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” he said. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

The preseason is one hurdle cleared, but they get much taller and difficult to get over when Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers come around. No matter who starts in the frontcourt – Fred Hoiberg isn’t ready to announce Bobby Portis and Wendell Carter Jr. yet – or if the Bulls get good Jabari Parker instead of preseason Jabari Parker, all eyes will be on LaVine.

It’s the contract. It’s being the centerpiece of the Jimmy Butle trade. It’s how well he played before the injury and how dominant he looked in the preseason. He’s off to a good start and knows now is this time to build on it.

“There are a lot of things you want to reach and get better at every year, and I put a lot of work into this offseason,” he said. “I have a lot of things to prove and want to get better at, and yeah, I feel like it’s just motivation for yourself when you want to accomplish things.’’

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday. 

Week 9 is “Bubble Week” for many teams fighting to stay on the right side of the postseason bubble. Who moves on? Whose bubble will burst? Will Wauconda advance to the playoffs after finishing 2-7 last year? Or will Grant end their season on a winning note? Schaumburg and Fremd both stand at 4-4. The winner goes to the postseason. The winner stays home for November. Zion-Benton hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2003. A win over Libertyville gets them there. But for the Wildcats, this ‘is’ their playoff game. Who wins in the North Suburban conference? We’ll send our cameras to one of the following:

Grant at Wauconda, 7:15 p.m.

Schaumburg at Fremd, 7:30 p.m.

Libertyville at Zion-Benton, 7:30 p.m.

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.