Blackhawks

Rolling Meadows' Milas has reason to smile

Rolling Meadows' Milas has reason to smile

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
Posted: 11:17 a.m.

By Taylor Bell
CSNChicago.com

Jack Milas smiles too much. Maybe it is because he is examining his awesome passing statistics. Or the Rolling Meadows quarterback knows he has another year to get even better and he hasn't been sacked by a linebacker as mean as Dick Butkus.

"I always smile. I'm just a happy person. I just like to have fun," Milas said. "I have several goals this season -- complete 70 percent of my passes, lead the area in touchdown passes and yards passing, be the No. 1 quarterback in the area, be a leader, don't get down like I did last year, have fun and keep smiling."

The 6-foot-2, 192-pound junior has good reason to smile. He is one of the most prolific and accurate and productive passers in the state. In four games, he has completed 68 percent (108 of 160) of his passes for 1,261 yards and 15 touchdowns for a 3-1 team that hopes to contend in the Mid-Suburban East Conference.

Milas is on pace to become only the fifth player in state history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season. In his opener, he passed for 493 yards, 13th on the all-time single-game list. He was 33-of-59 in that game, then was 16-of-20 for 294 yards and four touchdowns in a little over a half in last Friday's 53-7 rout of Hoffman Estates. He'll test Wheeling Friday night at homecoming.

"He is as accurate as any quarterback I've been around," said coach Matt Mishler. "It's too early to compare him to (former Prospect star) Miles Osei, the most accurate high school quarterback I have seen. But Jack is right there. He has all the throws. He has swagger. He understands the game. He is a Division I prospect and there isn't a lot he can't do with a ball."

Rolling Meadows' spread offense, which averages 37.7 points per game, is effective because Milas has two exceptionally talented receivers in Artie Checchin and Ryan Gunderson, who operate on one side, while Tyler Bobowski and John Burkiewicz or Jacob Grant line up on the other side.

"It's four-wide-and-let-it-fly. We pass the ball to set up our run," Milas said. "That's why Missouri is my dream school. They run a spread offense and I want to be in an offense that throws the ball. I like what they do. It is like our spread. They don't run much. They rely heavily on the quarterback."

Until four weeks ago, nobody knew anything about Milas. Neither he nor Rolling Meadows commanded any respect. The Mustangs were picked to finish last in their division. Milas was a defensive end as an eighth grader, then decided to try out for quarterback as a freshman. As a sophomore, he started the last five games for a 4-5 team, then suffered an arm injury.

So nobody expected very much from Rolling Meadows this season -- except Mishler, Milas and the folks in Rolling Meadows.

"I expected (Milas) to be what he has been this year," said Mishler, who was the offensive coordinator last season. "I'm not surprised by what he has done. He always has had arm strength and accuracy. I knew he could get better. If he can function like this with the line in front of him, the sky is the limit."

Milas isn't surprised, either. "The players and coaches knew we would be good. We returned every skilled player and a lot of defensive players. We just had to put it together. Last year, nobody was like a team. Now we have great leadership. Our team always hangs out together. Now I have a lot of fun completing passes," he said.

To improve his footwork and ability to read defenses, he attended Jeff Christensen's quarterback camp. He didn't like defense and wanted to be a quarterback. As a pitcher and third baseman on the baseball team, he knew he had a strong arm. And he played quarterback in pickup football games.

"I love football. It's my favorite sport, what I want to pursue in college," said Miles, a versatile athlete who also plays basketball.

"Baseball is fun but it doesn't have the same feel as football. Football is a team sport, intense, with highs and lows. But the highs are great. I want to go somewhere where I have a chance to play in college at the highest level I can."

Milas credits Christensen and Rolling Meadows offensive coordinator Steve Kolodziej for sharpening his skills and teammate Checchin for helping to change his attitude and approach to the 2011 season.

"I learned to be a leader, to make all the throws, how to warm up, proper footwork," he said about working with Christensen. "And Artie always tells me that I was too uptight as a sophomore, that I didn't feel as if I belonged on the varsity. Now he tells me to have fun."

He hopes college recruiters who haven't heard about him will look at his film against York, to check out what he describes as "my most memorable throw."

"It was fourth down and 15 and we never had run a slot post play before," Milas explained. "I threw a 20-yarder to Gunderson on a post across the middle. He cleared the linebacker and got to the one-yard-line for first down. We scored and won the game. It showed my accuracy, knowing what the coverage was and what I had there.

"Nobody knew who I was four weeks ago. Now I am making progress and doing everything I can to be recruited. I hope people will notice me. I hurt my arm in baseball and took two months off from throwing. So I plan to work harder in the off-season. I can be twice as good as I am."

Crawford comes up big for 250th win

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AP

Crawford comes up big for 250th win

Corey Crawford captured a coveted goalie milestone with another solid performance in a 2-1 shootout victory for the Blackhawks on Friday in New Jersey. The Hawks (12-12-5) beat the Atlantic division-leading Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Boston with Robin Lehner in net on Thursday before playing the Devils, last in the Metropolitan, Friday with Crawford starting. 

"It's important to try to climb back up in the standings," Crawford said following the game. "We had a few tough games, it seems like it's been pretty streaky the first quarter of the season, but when we're playing well I think we're pretty tough to beat. We just got to try to find that game as much as possible. 

"But that was obviously a big win to start it and against one of the best teams in the league (the Bruins) and having a big lead too, going late into the third period, and then a team that's a little bit lower in the standings (the Devils), but you still have to come out hard and play, no games are easy. It was pretty competitive out there but it's nice to find a way to win." 

The two-time Stanley Cup champ saved 29 of 30 shots through overtime, including a Miles Wood breakaway with 11 seconds remaining in the second period and the game tied 1-1. He also stopped three of five New Jersey Devils shooters including Taylor Hall and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes in the shootout. 

Crawford became the 59th goalie in NHL history to record 250 wins. The 34-year-old is one of 13 active NHL goalies and just the third Hawks netminder to reach the milestone.

Crawford is 250-149-52 in 464 games with the Blackhawks and has 26 shutouts. 

Bulls provide more head-scratching moments down stretch of winnable game

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USA Today

Bulls provide more head-scratching moments down stretch of winnable game

The Warriors still have a dynasty when they play the Bulls. Forty percent of their victories are against coach Steve Kerr’s former employer.

And with a chance to win three games for the first time since February of last season, the Bulls came up small in the big moments yet again.

They failed to score a field goal the final 3 minutes, 35 seconds of a head-scratching 100-98 loss to the Warriors, managing just 15 points while getting outscored by eight in the final period.

On a night Zach LaVine did plenty right, the uber-confident guard made an unconventional decision at the end. With the Bulls down two, he waved off a Wendell Carter Jr. screen and went for the win, missing a 3-pointer that he rose to take with 3.3 seconds left.

Both LaVine and coach Jim Boylen offered plausible explanations for the isolation, saying they didn’t want perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Draymond Green switching on to LaVine in a pick-and-roll. However, Boylen did concede “the timing of it maybe could be better” since most teams try to give themselves a chance at a tip-in or putback off a miss in those situations.

A defiantly confident LaVine didn’t even concede that. The Warriors’ first contact with the eventually secured defensive rebound came with 0.6 left on the clock.

“I just wish I made it,” LaVine said when asked if he would’ve liked to take the shot earlier. “I think I got a good look at it. I’ll take it again. I think I’ll make it too.”

Boylen defended LaVine through several questions about the shot.

“I like the fact that the ball is in Zach’s hands. I believe in Zach at the end of the game. He can make that shot. He has made it before,” Boylen said. “The timing of it maybe could be better. It’s a rhythm thing. It’s how you feel. He has done a good job of that. I believe in him in that situation. And [Friday night] it just didn’t go down.”

The missed shot obscured LaVine’s positives. While he did have five turnovers, he had early assists without trying to force offense, not scoring until 1:27 left in the first half.

Then came one of those patented LaVine scoring outbursts. He scored 21 of his 22 points in 7:39 and finished with six assists and six rebounds.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to give them another possession. I was either going to take it to the hoop and try to get fouled or go for the game,” LaVine said of the final sequence. “It was supposed to be me and Lauri in the pick-and-roll but Draymond was being that guy to switch and I didn’t want to deal with him in the pick-and-roll. I rejected it. I looked at the clock and it was three seconds I think. I had a good look. I thought it was good.”

The final points of the game came on a Green alley-oop to Glenn Robinson III for a dunk with 63 seconds left. The Bulls blitzed D’Angelo Russell, who slipped a pass to Green through the double team.

“That’s what we felt was the best situation for us,” Boylen said. “Get the ball out of DLo’s hands and make someone else make a play.”

Dunn posted his league-high eighth game with three or more steals and had been hounding Russell all game, helping limit him to seven points.

Boylen used a five-man substitution — don’t worry; four of the incoming players were starters — with 8:32 left and the Bulls up four. Coby White and Denzel Valentine had been rolling, which is why Boylen fielded a question about his decision.

“I just wanted to get my starters back in the game and close the game out,” Boylen said.

Boylen drew criticism in the home collapse against the Lakers for not bringing his starters back. Ultimately, most coaches live and die with their starters. And they’re the ones who coughed up the four-point lead.

Valentine actually even got ejected from the bench 42 seconds later for drawing his second technical foul.

“I had it rolling, but Coach made a sub. I wish I would’ve been available. I watched the fourth and I think I could’ve been useful the rest of the fourth,” Valentine said. “I just have to learn from these types of things and just move on.”

Valentine said it’s the first time he has been ejected from a game in any sport at any level. He drew his first technical foul in a double-technical situation while jawing with Omari Spellman. An animated Valentine scored in double figures for just his second time this season and is clearly relishing reappearing in the rotation.

“Two hard teams playing basketball, and it got a little carried away,” Valentine said. “My passion has been taken to the next level because I was out for a year. I literally live for basketball. This is what I love to do.”

Boylen adamantly pointed to progress with ball movement, and cited work ethic in practice and care factor for why he believes longer stretches of consistency will follow.

The painful fourth quarter offered a counter argument. In those moments, the Bulls looked like a young team that doesn't know how to close out games.

“I think we beat ourselves,” LaVine said.

He wouldn’t get much argument there.

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