Showdown: Mustangs rally to beat Rock Island


Showdown: Mustangs rally to beat Rock Island

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011
10:56 p.m.

By Steve Tucker

Morgan Park coach Nick Irvin had Saturdays matchup with Rock Island on his mind since the game was announced.

In a battle of Class 3A powers, the Mustangs rallied from an early deficit and hung on to beat Rock Island 57-54 before a full house in the City-Suburban Showdown Saturday at the UIC Pavilion.

This was a game I really looked forward to, Irvin said. I think that we played good for 26 minutes after a bad start, we picked it up and played hard. I think were good right now and our guards, Markee Williams Billy Garrett Jr. and Jerome Brown played great.

The No. 4 Mustangs (16-6) built a 52-43 lead with just over two minutes to play before Rock Island battled back with a 9-2 run to get within 54-52 with 42.4 seconds to play. After Russell Smith made two free throws for Morgan Park, Romal Davis got loose inside to get the Rocks back within two.

Morgan Park missed 3 of 4 free throws in the last 26.7 seconds, but Wayne Blackshear (18 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks) made one, and also had a huge block at the basket and Stanford-bound Chasson Randle (13 points, eight rebounds), who became the third player from the Western Big 6 to score 2,000 career points on Friday night, missed from half court as time expired.

This was a big game and I wanted to do whatever I could for the team, Blackshear said. We wanted to come our aggressive and we did.

Garrett scored 12 for the Mustangs while Denzel McCauley led Rock Island with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

We did what we wanted to do, but had too many silly turnovers, Rocks coach Thom Sigel said. We kind of thought, win, lose or draw, wed know more by playing this game.

After Morgan Park took an early 8-6 lead on a Blackshear jam, the Rocks, which had a 10-game winning streak snapped, closed the first quarter with a 10-4 run as Keith Keesy scored four including a layup at the buzzer that made it 16-12 Rock Island.

After the Mustangs got even at 16 on a free throw by Blackshear, the Rocks went on a 12-2 tear to go up 30-20 after a three-pointer by Randle. But Morgan Park closed with an 8-1 tear that included back-to-back three-pointers from Brown and Williams to get within 31-28 at the break.

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7


Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career


Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.