Blackhawks

Spring Break!

Spring Break!

Friday, April 9, 2010
9:03 AM
I used to love those words. They meant a break from the grind and time to have fun, wherever you could find it. Now as a father of three young children, it means daddy has to entertain the youngsters while theyre at home. Dont get me wrong, I live for that, but this is quite the sports week, and its hard for me to keep up with everything while Im chasing the rug-rats, especially when they have the added advantage of the extra sugar provided by the Easter Bunny. No worries. Ill caffeinate heavily (Diet Dew!) and keep the CrackBerry close at hand. (Not my first rodeo!) In between getting them ANOTHER snack, and cleaning up the house AGAIN, I was able to catch a few things, and, of course, I have an opinion.

TIGER TIME: The story like no other, gets all of the attention. How can you not watch? Im fascinated by it all. This story comes at you from so many different directions. As it goes along I keep asking myself one question: No one knew about this before? I really find that hard to believe. Honestly! How can he have been so brazen in his behavior and not one person, press, players or otherwise, not been on to it? Then again, maybe their behaviors were not too far off from his. I find it also hard to believe that hes the first golfer to ever have strayed, but hes taking the heat for all of them. It makes me wonder who the hypocrites are among the players and press. (Conspiracy theorist to the end!) One whom I guess is not is Augusta National chairman Billy Payne. Ouch! Hes obviously one person who can let Tiger have it and not fear his wrath. I think Payne hit the nail on the head with his comments. Consider it tough love.

I also find amusing the fact that everyone is discounting Tigers chances. As I said two weeks ago in my segment with Kap on Chicago Tribune Live, this was the perfect place for him to come back. The course is PERFECTLY suited to his game and the environment will provide the most controlled externals that he has to deal with.

My feeling has always been that Tiger has a chip on his shoulder and plays better when he gets angry. The other consideration would be that he was put on this earth to golf. Its what he does and he does it better than anyone any of us has ever watched. That fact has not changed. Being able to be on the course he loves with a chance to express himself in the way he knows best is his best way to move forward.

Watching his press conference was very revealing and finally a chance to see him unscripted. For me it was finally a time when I could see his humanity and really feel that he recognizes how he has wronged and hurt so many.

But the real point here is forgiveness. As far as is family goes, thats between them and I hope that they can come to a place that they can live with. But for me, and any fan of golf, Tiger stepping up and asking for our understanding is more than we can ask for. Like anyone else I just want to get back to the way it was. Unfortunately, as Mr. Payne reminded us, that wont be the case. Still, Im one to realize that I, and anyone that I might root for, are not perfect. Anyone should be afforded a second chance. Its whats done with it that should be the focus now, because there are no thirds.

BUTLER BLUES: I still feel like this was one of the best NCAA tournaments Ive ever watched in spite of its ending. All those twists and turns and the villain win anyway! It was the opposite of a Hollywood ending. Kind of like the movie Miracle having the Russians winning.

I wanted that Hoosiers ending where the small school wins at the end. But, you cant beat Goliath when you shot 35 from the floor. Early on, when the kid with the bad mustache went around another Duke defender, only to miss a short shot or layup, announcer Clark Kellogg (Whom I like very much, the anti-Packer. Did you see his game of P.O.T.U.S. against the Commander in Chief? That Obama is one cool cat!) opined that, At least he was getting open looks. Thats not the object of the game. You need to score the ball! Butler missed way too many gimmes. Unfortunately, when they look back they will realize this, only adding to their pain. I found it ironic that the night before that I watched the second half of Villanovas victory over double-digit favorite Georgetown in the 1985 National Title game. One of the biggest upsets ever. It was a half that Nova missed ONE shot, and slayed Goliath by two points.

MORE MASTERS, PLEASE!: Its this time of year that I wish for one thing and one thing only: The ability to watch play on Augusta National on every hole. Slowly, over the years, the curtain has been drawn back and weve seen more and more of the course on TV. What I want is more! Especially in a Major, I love being able to watch EVERY shot that the leaders take on Saturday and Sunday, every stroke on the canvas to complete the picture. They cant use the ratings as an excuse, because the more they show, the more we watch! I had to kick the kids of the computer on a cold and wet Thursday so that I could watch the Masters Extra online before the TV broadcast started. Another case of tough love, but totally avoidable if they would just put it on TV earlier so I can hide in the man-cave and watch all I want. Did the hamburger industry suffer when the started selling double cheeseburgers? No! They sold more!

BUEHRLE MAN: Mark Buehrle is one charmed dude. So many good things go on around him and because of him: No-nonsense, get the job done and then the odd World Series win or no-hitter. Whatever it takes, he gets it done. His play in the Opener was one for the ages, like we should be surprised. Mercy!

BACK TO THE KIDS: Time to give up the computer, but before I go a couple of questions: Nervous yet about the Cubs? Not as nervous about the Hawks? Why do people at the bar snicker at me when I talk about the Bulls playoff push?

Blakchawks Talk Podcast: What should the Blackhawks be asking for this holiday season?

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USA TODAY

Blakchawks Talk Podcast: What should the Blackhawks be asking for this holiday season?

On the latest Hawks Talk podcast, Pat Boyle, Steve Konroyd and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss Corey Crawford's concussion, Henri Jokiharju leaving the team to play in World Juniors, how the Blackhawks defensemen stack up, and what gift do the Blackhawks need this holiday season?

01:30 Corey Crawford's concussion

04:00 You can't use Crawford's injury as an excuse this season

06:10 Hawks able to get a look at Collin Delia

07:00 Henri Jokiharju to play for Finland in World Juniors

10:30 Erik Gustafsson's potential

14:00 Strome and Kane playing on the same line

17:00 What have the guys seen from Dylan Sikura

21:30 Tough back to back games at Dallas and Colorado

24:30 Guys give their holiday gift to the Blackhawks

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Nets rebuilding starts to gain momentum ahead of showdown with Bulls

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USA TODAY

Nets rebuilding starts to gain momentum ahead of showdown with Bulls

After years of being handcuffed by the ill-fated Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce trade that cost the Nets’ franchise several prime lottery picks, Brooklyn is starting to come out of the abyss under energetic young coach Kenny Atkinson.

The Nets’ front office was able to absorb the contracts of veteran players like DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur for draft considerations, while also picking up former #2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell by taking on the massive contract of Timofey Mozgov from the Lakers. In addition, they also traded veterans Thaddeus Young and Bojan Bogdanovic for 1st rounders that became starters Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen.

Under Atkinson’s direction, the Nets have bought into a culture of hard work and unselfish play. They improved from 20 to 28 wins a year ago, and are currently within striking distance of the final playoff spot in the East.

LeVert is currently sidelined after dislocating his right ankle in a scary fall in early November, but he should return at some point this season. At the time of his injury, LeVert was leading the Nets in scoring at 18.4 points per game while shooting nearly 48% from the field, looking like a candidate for a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team. In his absence, the Nets have gone with a share the wealth approach, with Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Allen and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all scoring in double figures.

Dinwiddie is the name that should be familiar to Bulls’ fans. He was with the team during training camp in 2016, but let go when the Bulls acquired Michael Carter-Williams in a deal with Milwaukee. Since that time, Dinwiddie has fully recovered from an ACL injury he suffered in college and emerged as a top candidate for the NBA’s 6th man award, averaging 17.2 points and 5 assists per game while shooting almost 48% from the field. Hindsight is always 20-20, but Dinwiddie would certainly look good in the Bulls’ backcourt right now.

Still, the most exciting thing for Nets’ fans right now is the team’s salary cap situation. Thanks to all the moves made by General Manager Sean Marks, Brooklyn could have the ability to offer 2 max contracts in 2019 free agency. Whether Marks will be able to get a meeting with any of the big names like Durant, Leonard, Irving, Butler and Thompson is still to be determined, but at least there’s finally some hope for a turnaround in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, the Bulls have sunk to 7-24  and have been the league’s least efficient offensive team since Jim Boylen took over as head coach. Boylen wants his shorthanded team to play at a more deliberate tempo in direct contrast to the current pace-and-space trend that’s taken over the league. With leading scorer Zach LaVine out because of injury and Jabari Parker inactive while the front office tries to work out a trade, the Bulls are painfully short on offensive options and need to rely on an improved defense to stay competitive in games.

Like Brooklyn, the Bulls figure to have cap space this summer to pursue free agents, but they’ll need to show improvement and stability over the final 51 games to make their sales pitch effective.

As for Wednesday’s game, here’s what the Bulls need to do to have a chance for a home court win.

1.   FAST BREAK POINTS.  We know Boylen wants to put the brakes on the Bulls’ transition game, but the Nets come to town after hosting the Lakers Tuesday night which means there could be a few players on the court with tired legs. When the Bulls force a turnover, they need to look for an easy scoring opportunity before the defense sets up. Oklahoma City had a 27-9 advantage in fast break points on Monday.

2.   MARKKANEN IN THE POST.  The 7 foot forward was extremely effective in the 2nd half of the come-from-behind win in San Antonio by isolating against smaller defenders for drives and step-back jumpers. Markkanen will have a height advantage against Brooklyn’s smaller frontcourt, and he should be able to shoot over the top of Hollis-Jefferson, another former Arizona Wildcat.

3.   SHUT DOWN SPENCER.  Dinwiddie has been in celebration mode this week after signing a brand new 3 year, 34 million dollar contract extension. Still, Dinwiddie gets pretty serious in talking about the 2 NBA teams that gave up on him (Pistons and Bulls) knowing that all he needed was time to fully recover from a serious knee injury. The 25 year old guard has been providing instant offense off the bench for Brooklyn, and you can bet he’ll have the green light when he enters the game at the United Center.

We hope you’ll join Kendall Gill, Kelly Crull and me for Bulls Pregame Live at 6:30 Wednesday on NBC Sports Chicago and the My Teams by NBC Sports app. After the game goes final, flip back to NBC Sports Chicago for Jim Boylen’s media session and player reaction from the locker room on Bulls Postgame Live, followed by Bulls Outsiders.