Cubs

Was Jon Scheyer exploited?

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Was Jon Scheyer exploited?

In the wake of Jon Scheyer's decision to pursue his professional basketball career in Israel, a longtime scout, coach and observer charges that Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski "betrayed" Scheyer and didn't give him an opportunity to reach his full potential in college.

Don Konopacz describes Scheyer as "a microcosm of almost all white players today regardless of height" and blames the NCAA for installing a very short three-point line "because white players weren't having much impact in the NCAA tournament and the cheating for black athlete was getting out of hand.

"This way, the short three-pointers more than offset the dunks and drives to the basket of the more athletic players. The NCAA did this to help white players have an impact on the game but at the same time it ruined the future of a lot of great white players who could have reached their potential and easily made it to the NBA."

Players like Scheyer, who wasn't selected in the NBA draft after his senior season, a rarity for an ACC Player of the Year. Why? Scheyer was a better player coming out of high school than he was coming out of Duke. He was never coached to his full potential," Konopacz insisted.

"The NBA is a league for guards and small forwards. Scheyer is a guard and the guards have to guard on defense first of all. Most guards in the NBA can create their own shot, penetrate and make the defense rotate, which leaves a player open. Scheyer doesn't have those aspects in his game.

"When Krzyzewski moved Scheyer from two-guard to point-guard, it was because he couldn't create space for himself to get his shot off or drive to the basket. At the point, Scheyer brought the ball up, passed to another perimeter payer and went off to the side of the three-point line to wait for someone else to kick the ball to him so he could get his shot off. He didn't have point skills."

But Krzyzewski said Scheyer was one of his favorite players. "Any day with Jon Scheyer was a good day," Coach K. told Sports Illustrated.

But did he feel guilty that he hadn't developed Scheyer to his full potential?

After Scheyer's sophomore season, Konopacz informed other coaches and critics that Scheyer wouldn't be the "next Jerry West" as some had envisioned. In fact, Konopacz claimed Scheyer wouldn't even measure up to former Lyons star Jeff Hornacek, who walked on at Iowa State and later had a successful 14-year career in the NBA. "I predicted Scheyer would struggle to make the NBA," he said.

"I believe players like Hornacek, Chris Mullin and Mark Price became NBA All-Stars because they played without a short three-point line on the court. Instead, today's players lack complete games. Big men should get film of Dan Issel and Jack Sikma, who were great insideoutside players they could learn from. How about Kevin McHale with his 'up and under' moves that complemented his shooting? A lot of these kids today are just like a one-crop economy.

They seem to do only one thing in basketball when more is needed to be successful."

It is argued that the Scheyers of this world are having parameters set on their games. Coaches are not coaching them so they improve and reach their potential. Instead, coaches only think about winning at any cost and, if they win, they can get a better coaching position and more money.

"They dont seem to care that the players they left behind are only a fraction of what they should be," the scout said. "I blame these coaches for betraying players like Scheyer and not coaching them in order to reach their potential."

Konopacz insists, as do many old-time coaches, that the game was better was better prior to the introduction of the three-point shot, when set plays and X's and O's were more than scribblings on a chalkboard, before the word 'athleticism' became a buzzword.

"I wish we could go back to the pre-1972 era when there was only one state championship game in Illinois. That probably isn't possible," he said.
"But let's at least eliminate that extremely short line that seems to divide the court between shooters and rebounders.

"Let's get back to basics such as give-and-goes, back doors, mid-range jump shot and pick-and-rolls, to a time when centers and power forwards established themselves down in the blocks with a variety of moves. Remember when Mark Aguirre would muscle his way in the blocks and take that feathery turn-around jumper or went up and under while laying the ball off the glass?

"Don't you miss the great moves and action around the basket? The whole object of the game was to get the ball as close to the basket as possible for the easiest possible shot. The team that did that most frequently would probably win the game. Coaches played chess matches to master the art of getting the highest percentage shots.

"I also miss players developing skills in order to have a complete game. Let's have coaches start coaching players to reach their potential again. I can understand when a player doesn't work hard enough to reach his potential but I can't understand when a player isn't coached and given the chance to reach his potential. They asked Jon Scheyer to do one thing--shoot--and the rest of his game got rusty."

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

Cubs not working on Anthony Rizzo contract extension this winter

For all the talks of possible contract extensions involving Cubs this offseason, first baseman Anthony Rizzo's name has been mentioned less than other core players.

Well, that's because the Cubs haven't approached Rizzo with an extension, according to ESPN's Jesse Rogers

"The Cubs have informed us that they will not be offering Anthony an extension at this time," Marc Pollack, Rizzo's agent, told Rogers.

Rizzo was seen as a logical candidate to get a new deal this winter. He's the face of the franchise and one of the team's most valuable players on the field and in the clubhouse. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn't comment on specifics, but he said Tuesday the organization is having extension talks with current players.

"We always take the position of not commenting on extensions, but are we having those discussions? Yes," Hoyer said at the Winter Meetings. "People focus so much on trades and free agent signings at these meetings, but all the agents are under the same roofs, also, and allows us to have those kinds of discussions. I'm not gonna specify who or what, but yeah certainly those conversations are ongoing."

If Rizzo isn't part of those discussions, shortstop Javier Báez is left as the most likely Cub to get extended this offseason. Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras have been involved in incessant trade rumors, and according to Rogers, the Cubs haven't approached Kyle Schwarber with a new contract, to this point.

Rizzo is signed through 2020 and the Cubs have a team option on him for 2021 worth $16.5 million. But the Cubs will likely go into next season not knowing if Rizzo will be around after 2021, complicating the long-term picture of the franchise.

Pollack added that Rizzo is open to being a Cub for life, for what it's worth. 

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Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

Mercy! Hawk Harrelson wins Ford Frick Award and joins the Hall of Fame

SAN DIEGO -- The Hawk is in the Hall.

Legendary White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson was announced as the winner of the Ford Frick Award on Wednesday, sending one of the most colorful characters in baseball history to Cooperstown forever.

Harrelson spent decades behind the mic for the White Sox, never leaving any doubt over how much passion he had for the South Siders. His love for the White Sox and the game in general shone through with every word he uttered, with so many of those words becoming part of baseball’s lexicon.

Be it iconic catchphrases like “You can put it on the board, yes!” and “He gone!” or memorable moments such as “You gotta be bleepin’ me!” and “Under the circumstances, that was the best catch I have ever seen!” everyone in Chicago has a favorite Hawk call. For multiple generations of fans, he was as closely associated with the franchise as anyone.

The Ford Frick Award honors excellence in broadcasting, and while his detractors might label him too much of a homer, there was never an attempt to mask that fact. Hawk’s broadcasts were for White Sox fans, and he accomplished what few broadcasters can claim to accomplish today: Watching his games was like watching the game at the bar, with fellow fans getting all riled up over every play.

There’s a great line from a baseball film that goes, “Baseball’s a game; games are supposed to be fun.” Hawk made games just that: fun. Whether he was going crazy over a White Sox win, his voice cracking while proclaiming that “our kids just will not quit,” or he was seething in anger, decrying one of the men in blue as “a disgrace to the umpiring profession,” he provided a level of entertainment that made games more enjoyable.

For many, being a White Sox fan includes adopting “Hawkisms” -- be they greatest hits or deep cuts -- as part of your daily routine. “Don’t stop now, boys” and “we need help” can be equally enjoyable rallying cries. And they all stem from the Hawk. He’s not just a man. He’s a language all his own.

That’s a Hall-of-Fame impact.

And now he’s been rewarded with this honor, a place in Cooperstown among the greats. For this writer, “deserving” to be a part of the Hall of Fame means being such an integral part of the game that you cannot tell the story of baseball without the person in question. You cannot tell the story of the game without slipping into a Hawk impression. You wouldn’t want to. It’s simply too much fun.

Mercy.

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