Blackhawks

Seton beats Brother Rice in conference play

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Seton beats Brother Rice in conference play

By Tony Baranek
YourSeason.com

Mark Weems Jr. was uncharacteristically quiet during the first three quarters of Setons 61-48 Catholic League South victory over host Brother Rice.The Stings leading scorer had as many fouls as points two.Things would change.Hes a closer, Seton coach Brandon Thomas said. That guy scores in a lot of different ways. He can shoot the three, he can get to the cup and he can make free throws.Weems did it all, except for hitting a three, anyway, finishing with 16 fourth-quarter points as the Sting (16-3, 7-0) thwarted a stunning comeback by the Crusaders. J.R. Tolliver added another 18 markers for the winners.Brother Rice (11-8, 5-2) was paced by Alex Majewski (18 points) and Ray Rubio (eight).What looked like a cruise for Seton turned into a wild ride before all was said and done.Brother Rice, which went into the night having made at least one three-pointer in 259 straight games, went 0-for-5 in the first half.Seton, meanwhile, dominated in most phases, including the ridiculous.With 0.4 left in the half, Damian Evans stood at the top of the three-point circle as Kamal Shasi tossed the inbounds pass. In one motion, Evans leaped, caressed the ball every so briefly, then launched what would be a swish.Up 29-18 at halftime, Seton would go on to build a 38-21 advantage early in the third. Then, Brother Rice finally exploded.A layup by Garrett ONeill got it started. Rubio hit a three, the Crusaders first, with 3:30 showing. After Jim Barista connected from beyond the arc with 43.9 seconds left in the period, it was a 40-40 proposition.Our defense wasnt there anymore, Thomas said. And we shot a lot of jump shots in that quarter. Tolliver, we were having success going to him, and all of a sudden we didnt want to go to him anymore.They never did go to Tolliver again, but it didnt matter. Trailing 42-40 at the start of the fourth period, it became the Weems show.The 6-foot-2 junior brought the Sting back into a tie with a short jumper from the side, and followed it with a running bank-in. Shortly after, he drove for a three-point play.Tolliver was 4-of-4 from the field and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line in the final eight minutes.

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

Blackhawks trade Artem Anisimov to Senators for Zack Smith

The Blackhawks are spending the next week focusing on their prospects at development camp, but GM Stan Bowman took care of some housekeeping items on the big club on Tuesday when he traded forward Artem Anisimov to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zack Smith.

Anisimov had two years left on his contract that carries a $4.55 million cap hit, but his modified no-trade clause was removed on July 1, which opened up more trade possibilities. He was also owed a $2 million signing bonus when the new calendar year opened and his actual salary over the next two years dropped to $5 million total, giving a rebuilding team like the Senators a chance to add a depth forward for a lower price.

Couple that with the fact Anisimov's role with the Blackhawks has diminished over the years and you can see why this traded was made from Chicago's point of view.

"First off, Arty was a great Blackhawk," Bowman said on Tuesday. "We wish him well. I think stylistically they play different games. Both veterans, both have played in the league for a long time. I think Zack brings a different skill set to the table, something that we probably need a little bit more of. He certainly plays with a competitive side to him, plays with an edge. He's had some years in the past where he's scored a lot but I think the thing we like about his game is the versatility and you notice him. He's tough to play against out there."

Smith compiled 28 points (nine goals, 19 assists) in 70 games for the Senators last season, and served as the alternate captain during the 2017-18 campaign. He's known to be a power forward, can play a heavy game and has experience playing center or wing. He's also expected to play a role on the penalty kill, an area the Blackhawks have been looking to address all summer long.

"It would definitely be one of the [areas] I consider my stronger points of the game," Smith said on a conference call. "I take a lot of pride in it. I enjoy it, playing against top lines and killing penalties. I think I've improved on that, especially over the last couple years. Talking to Stan and Jeremy [Colliton] this morning, they said the same thing, we want to be more responsible defensively and that's why we brought you in. I'm more than happy to accept that role and help them in any way possible."

The 31-year-old Smith has two years left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $3.25 million. With the trade, the Blackhawks opened up $1.3 million in cap space, which gives them some financial breathing room to make transactions throughout the season and potentially re-sign Brendan Perlini, who remains an unsigned restricted free agent.

"I think that was part of the deal as well," Bowman said." A benefit. We do save a little bit on the cap. We still have a little bit of work to do there, but we're looking better now than we were yesterday."

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Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

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USA Today

Pro Football Focus: Bears have NFL’s best run defense entering 2019

Pro Football Focus doesn’t seem to expect much regression for the Bears defense, at least when it comes to run defense.

PFF analyst Mike Renner ranked every team’s ability to stop the ground game, heading into 2019, and Chicago remains on top.

The team retained its entire front seven, top-to-bottom, with the exception of Sam Acho, who spent most of last season on injured reserve anyway.

One of the biggest keys, in Renner’s analysis, is Akiem Hicks, who was among Pro Football Focus’ top performers in the running game.

“The former Saint is proving himself one of the best free agent additions in recent memory,” Renner wrote. “His 13.3 run-stop percentage was the second-highest figure of any interior defender in the NFL last season.”

The Bears allowed the fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns of any defense last season, and the 3.8 yards per attempt they gave up was fourth best.

With the whole gang back together for 2019, the team is in a great spot to run it back under Chuck Pagano.