Preps Talk

Thibodeau on verge of being fastest to 100 wins

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Thibodeau on verge of being fastest to 100 wins

ORLANDOTom Thibodeau might not celebrate the fact that hes on the verge of being the NBA head coach who won 100 games the fastest to start a career, but his peers certainly recognize the feat.

Its a great accomplishment and I think it speaks to the job hes done. Look, theres a lot of great coaches and a lot of people have done great jobs, both last year and this year, but nobodynobodyhas done a better job than Tom has and probably doing a better job this year than a year ago. With all the injuries and everything else, they just keep rolling along, Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy said before Mondays game.

I said to my assistants the other day, They can probably have all five starters out and still beat everybody. It just seems like they win, no matter what and I think it just speaks toand obviously their players deserve a lot of credit, but so does hebut to me, theyre the best team in the league. As far as a team collectively playing together, being unselfish, being committed, all those things, doing what it takes to win, theyre the best team. So, being the fastest to 100, I dont think you need the accomplishment to know the great job that hes doing, but I think its a great honor for him.

Countered Thibodeau, who would break Avery Johnsons record: It doesnt mean anything, other than I want to win. I want to beat Orlando. Thats the only thing that matters. All that other stuff is meaningless.

With stuff like that, its more of a reflection of the team and the organization. We have a good team, we have good players, great management, great ownership, continued last seasons NBA Coach of the Year, who entered Monday with a career record of 99-30.

The respect from your peers, I think, is important, but I think all that stuff, whether its praise or criticism, it shouldnt affect you. You really only answer to yourself and only you know whether putting everything you have into something, and once you do that, you should be fine with everything and I am. I love the group that we have, I think they work hard every day, they give you everything that they have and if were doing the right things, the results will be positive.

Records aside, Thibodeau does appreciate the fact that his team is blessed with remarkable chemistry, which has allowed them to endure a litany of injuries, including stretches without reigning league MVP Derrick Rose.

I think Chuck Daly had this line. It was a great line about chemistry. He said something along the lines of, I dont know how you get it, but when you have it, you know it and when you have it, dont do anything to mess it up either, so I think theres a lot of truth to that, he said. Were fortunate. We have great guys, we have high character, they all play for each other, they play to win and I think it fits well for us.

Chimed in Van Gundy: They just beat Philly and Miami without Derrick Rose, so you certainly cant expect anything other than a great opponent out there tonight. Theyve played very well without him, they just really have. Those point guards have done a great job, Watson and Lucas. Theyre obviously different. Theyre not the attackers he is, but they can both shoot the hell out of the ball. They can make plays off pick-and-rolls and Boozers been tremendous, so has Deng and theyre running more catch-and-shoot plays for Kyle Korver. They find their way around it and they base their game about what they do at the defensive end anyway. Their defense, I think, more than anything is based around Deng and their bigs, their frontline guys, and so, their defense doesnt really suffer.

Theyre the No. 2 offensive team in the league and the No. 2 defensive team in the league. You see those numbers and you say, championship contender. Were the No. 11 defensive team in the league. That says mediocre, he quipped. Im talking basketball character, guys who are unselfish, willing to play roles, not worried about how many shots they get, guys who can come in not having played a lot and come in and be ready and help a team win, like a John Lucas is doing now for Chicago, like a Jimmy Butler is doing. To me, those are the great teams. Not necessarily record-wise, but those are the great teams and thats what chemistry is all about. I thought we had it that year and I certainly see it in the Bulls, and I think thats why theyve been able to overcome injuries.

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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NBC

91 Days to Kickoff: Warren

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Why Mitch Trubisky's biggest weakness won't preclude him from success in 2018

As the Bears set their foundation for training camp during OTAs this month, one part of that is beginning to identify each player’s strengths and weaknesses on which to build in Bourbonnais. 

Designing an offense to Mitch Trubisky’s strengths was one of the reasons why Ryan Pace hired Matt Nagy, who then hired Mark Helfrich to be his offensive coordinator. Easy is the wrong word — but it wouldn’t have made sense for the Bears to not build an offense around their second-picked quarterback. 

But as Nagy and Helfrich are installing that offense during OTAs and, next month, veteran minicamp, they’re also learning what Trubisky’s weaknesses are. And the one Helfrich pointed to, in a way, is a positive. 

“Experience,” Helfrich said. “I think it’s 100 percent experience and just reps, and that’s kind of what I was talking about was knowing why something happened. As a quarterback, he might take the perfect drop and be looking at the right guy in your progression, and that guy runs the wrong route or the left guard busts or something. The defense does something different or wrong, even. And trusting that is just a matter of putting rep on top of rep on top of rep and being confident.”

It'd be a concern if the Bears thought Trubisky lacked the necessary talent to be great, or had a lacking work ethic or bad attitude. Experience isn't something he can control, in a way. 

This isn’t anything new for Trubisky. His lack of experience at North Carolina — he only started 13 games there — was the biggest ding to his draft stock a year ago; while he started a dozen games for the Bears in 2017, the offense was simple and conservative, designed to minimize risk for Trubisky (and, to be fair, a sub-optimal group of weapons around him). 

But even if Trubisky started all 16 games in an innovative, aggressive offense last year, he’d still be experiencing plenty of things for the first time. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made this point back in September that still resonates now with regard to Trubisky:

“I think it takes a few years until you can really get that title of understanding being great or even good, because you see so many looks,” Roethlisberger said. “In Year 2 and 3, you’re still seeing looks and can act like a rookie.”

So the challenge for Nagy and Helfrich is to build an offense that accentuates Trubisky’s strengths while managing his lack of experience. For what it’s worth, the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles succeeded in those efforts last year with Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, respectively. 

For Helfrich, though, one of Trubisky’s strengths — his leadership qualities — are already helping mitigate his need for more experience. 

“He’s still in the mode of learning and doing things out here,” Helfrich said. “We might have run one play 10 times against 10 different defenses, you know? And so his response to every one of those 10 things is brand new. And so, you see his reaction to some of those is good. Some of those things you want to improve upon and then keep your chest up and lead because we need that.”