Pistons' Villanueva recalls early days of Deng, Noah


Pistons' Villanueva recalls early days of Deng, Noah

AUBURN HILLS, MICH.Long before Luol Deng and Joakim Noah were NBA players, Pistons forward Charlie Villaneuva knew them as his prep-school roommate and a ballboy at a high school All-American camp, respectively.
Villanueva, a native of Queens, N.Y., attended New Jerseys Blair Academy and teamed up with Deng in a frontcourt featuring two of the best prep prospects in the nation. The dynamic duo almost attended college together, at Big Ten power Indiana, but instead opted to separate, as Deng went to Duke for a season and Villanueva attended Connecticut for two years before declaring for the NBA Draft.
In fact, they faced off in the 2005 NCAA Final FourVillaneuvas UConn team, which also featured former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, beat Deng and Duke, en route to a national championshipin a matchup they fantasized about while in high school. Prior to Friday nights Bulls-Pistons game at The Palace at Auburn Hills, Villanueva told that he wasnt surprised by his former roommates professional success.
Deng was a tremendous player, in high school and now. you could just tell how good he was and how good a feel for the game he had. Playing against him in the Final Four in college was an amazing feeling because we actually talked about that. Actually playing against him was amazing. But seeing play throughout his years in the league, hes been getting better every year and Im not surprised at all that hes an All-Star, and Id be surprised if hes not an All-Star this year as well, he said. We used to go at each other every time. We got each other better and off the court, he was my roommate. Sharing stories, him being from Londonand Sudanand me being from New York, it was just two different worlds.
Villanueva watched Noah, who played for the same AAU program, develop from afar. As has been well-chronicled, Noahs growth spurt, which transformed him from a guard into a talented, if unorthodox big man, sparked his college recruiting interest and as time has gone on, Villanuevas fellow New Yorker has evolved into one of the top centers in the game, something the Pistons forward believes strongly.
Jo, I remember him when he was a little kid. It was amazing. He used to come to ABCD camp back in the day in Jersey and watch all of us play, the New York guys and then, one summer, I just saw him grow and what hes become is amazing, he recalled. Id say hes one of the best centers in the league. Hes definitely a name you have to consider."

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

USA Today

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Thursday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.

Howard can't get too comfortable in his first-team role. He's a few bad series from Cohen unseating him as the starter and becoming the most valuable weapon in Nagy's offense. The first-year coach is already having trouble hiding his excitement over Cohen, an emotion that will only grow once training camp gets underway.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.