Bulls

Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

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Who is better? Alviti or Bailey?

As a junior, quarterback Matt Alviti led Maine South to the Class 8A championship.

As a senior, quarterback Aaron Bailey led Bolingbrook to the Class 8A championship.

Alviti is a better passer.

Bailey is a better runner.

Alviti is smarter.

Bailey is bigger, faster and a better all-around athlete.

Alviti is committed to Northwestern.

Bailey is committed to Illinois.

Both run a spread offense.

Who is better? Who will have a better college career?

"It's like comparing apples and oranges," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network. "The one who will excel is the one who gets a chance to play at his own pace, who is able to utilize his talents more."

For example, will Northwestern allow Alviti to be Alviti? Will Illinois allow Bailey to be Bailey.

"Remember Juice Williams at Illinois?" Lemming said. "He had the strongest arm in the country. Williams played right away but he wasn't ready. He had a rocket for an arm but he didn't improve over four years because he was put into the fire too early. There was always pressure to perform. He wasn't fully developed when he was thrown into the fire. He was asked to do to much too early."

Lemming also reminds that Williams came out of Chicago Vocational at the same time that the more highly touted Demetrius Jones came out of Morgan Park. Jones was 6-foot-4 with great potential. He needed time to develop as a passer in a pro-style offense but, like Williams, he had no patience. He committed to Notre Dame but wanted to play right away. He transferred to Cincinnati and was switched to linebacker, then transferred to Division II Central State and became a wide receiver and tight end. He is still hoping to play in the NFL.

"Alviti already is a passer," Lemming said. "But the best thing for any freshman quarterback is to red-shirt and get acclimated to the program and the campus, not thrown into the mix right away.

"But sometimes egos get in the way. Some kids want to start right away. Peyton Manning was ready. But not too many others are. They need a year or two to develop. Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the mix at Ohio State because he insisted on it and he never got better. But Cam Newton was given time to develop."

Maine South offensive coordinator Charlie Bliss said Alviti is the best passer he has produced in nearly 20 years, better than John Schnake, Tony Wnek, Shawn Kain, Sean Price, Tyler Knight, Charlie Goro and Tyler Benz.

Schnake led Maine South to a state championship in 1995. Price set several state passing records. Price and Goro were All-Staters. But none of them stood out at the college level.

Illinois has never been known as a state that produces outstanding high school quarterbacks. In the last 50 years, dating to Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke and Alex Agase and George Connor and Dave Butz and Mike Kenn and Clay Matthews, it has built a reputation for developing offensive linemen and linebackers.

Oh, there have been some gifted running backs along the way...Red Grange, Tony Canadeo, Buddy Young, Johnny Karras, Jim Grabowski, Billy Marek, Mike Alstott and Rashard Mendenhall to name a few. And who can forget Pete Pihos, Fritz Pollard and Kellen Winslow, all NFL Hall of Famers?

But quarterback? Otto Graham was the gold standard, of course, one of the best of all time.

Some of the best were Wheaton North's Chuck Long, a three-time All-Big 10 selection at Iowa who was runnerup to Bo Jackson for the 1985 Heisman Trophy and has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame; Mount Carmel's Donovan McNabb; and Mike Tomczak, who went from Thornton Fractional North to Ohio State to the Chicago Bears. Ironically, Tomczak edged Long for Player of the Year recognition in the Chicago area in 1980.

Some had good college careers...Tim Brasic, Brett Basanez, Kent Graham, Mark Carlson, Rich Weiss. Others disappeared...Ken Ferguson, Jeff Stewart, Jeff Lesniewicz, Tim Lavery, Mark Floersch, Jordan Tassio, Brad Bower, Quincy Woods, Mike Kerrigan, Corey and Casey Paus, Russ Rein, Jim Bennett.

Finally, Sean Payton, who was an All-Chicago Area quarterback at Naperville Central in 1981, might not have gone on to stardom as a college and professional athlete. But he has done very well as head coach of the New Orleans Saints in the NFL.

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

Four observations: Bulls rout Atlanta Hawks in much-needed get-right game

The Bulls picked up a valuable get-right win in a 136-102 blowout of the Atlanta Hawks. Observations from a game the Bulls had to win, and did handily:

The bench provided a spark (again)

Bulls starters not named Zach LaVine got off to a sluggish start in this one. At the 3:14 mark of the first, the Hawks led 29-21 and were shooting a scalding 13-for-18 (72.2%) from the field (3-for-6 from 3-point range). LaVine had 12 of the Bulls’ 21 points.

The hosts ended the period ahead 37-33, buoyed by a 16-4 run by a bench unit of Coby White, Ryan Arcidiacono, Denzel Valentine, Thad Young, and Daniel Gafford. Valentine hit four floaters over that stretch, Gafford had a resounding block, White had a strong and-one take over Alex Len and Thad Young tallied five points, for good measure. 

Bench runs have become commonplace for this Bulls team, even in the midst of a three-game losing streak. This one carried over into the second quarter, which the Bulls won 29-19, holding Atlanta to 6-for-21 (28.6%) shooting, 2-for-10 (20%) from three. They didn't look back from there.

Young finished the first half with nine points, four rebounds, and two assists. White had a flashy night — tallying 19 points. Valentine and Gafford connected on a handful of alley-oops (which has quickly become a tradition).

Zach LaVine bounced back

LaVine — averaging 20 points on 33.3% shooting during the team’s three-game losing streak — was ripe for a breakout, and this Hawks team (29th in the NBA in defensive rating) presented an opportunity to bounce back. He took advantage.

As mentioned, LaVine carried the Bulls offense early: he had 18 first-half points on 7-for-9 shooting. Embedded in that line were a few highlight-reel dunks that awoke the United Center:

He tacked on a cool 17 (!) in the third quarter before coming out with the game out of reach for the Hawks. LaVine finished the night leading all scorers with 35 points and shot a staggering 7-for-7 from 3-point range. When he’s on, it’s too much fun, and he dazzled in this one. 

In a favorable matchup, the defense kept rolling

Coming into this game, we knew the Bulls defense, theoretically, matched up well with Atlanta’s offense plan of attack. For the most part, that bore out, in practice.

Kris Dunn was outstanding in containing Trae Young tonight, hounding him off of every screen (where he was usually aided by a hedge from the big in coverage) and staying attached even in instances when Young was able to penetrate.

Young didn’t score until the 11:07 mark in the second quarter and finished the night with 15 points on 4-for-14 shooting (1-for-6 from three) and seven turnovers. This is the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA we’re talking about here. He did rack up 13 assists (six in the first quarter) — and some were very, very pretty — but most of those came in transition. In the halfcourt, the Bulls’ set defense effectively bottled him up.

The Hawks, as a team, committed 23 turnovers on the night, which the Bulls were able to convert into 15 points. Atlanta is an inferior opponent, yes, but it was a strong showing, nonetheless.

Blowouts are fun

This one was a little too close for comfort early on but ended in a rout. The Bulls simply outclassed the Hawks, winning statistical categories this team has often been overmatched in, from rebounds (42-40) to points in the paint (78-42), to blocks (7-4), to the 3-point battle. Lauri Markkanen even utilized garbage time to turn a fine stat line into a good one: he had 10 points in the fourth quarter, finishing the game with 22 points on 8-for-9 shooting. 

So, you know what? Rest your brain with some of the best clips of the night. You’ve earned it:

 

 

 

 

The Bulls can push questions about fourth-quarter stagnation, cold shooting streaks, and crowded rotations until this weekend. This was a solid overall performance.

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Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

Bears tap into Utah's defense in latest 3-round NFL mock draft

The 2019 college football regular season is over, which means the 2020 NFL draft season is right around the corner. Underclassmen are declaring by the day, all-star rosters are filling out and, of course, mock drafts are being published.

The really unique thing about the Bears in 2019 is how fluid their likely NFL draft needs have been. A few weeks ago, quarterback would've topped the list. Now? Not so much. Tight end, a position that's been non-existent in Chicago's offense all year, suddenly has two players (J.P. Holtz and Jesper Horsted) who've garnered some excitement.

Seasons like this year make trying to pinpoint which direction GM Ryan Pace will go in April's draft extremely challenging. According to the Draft Wire's latest three-round mock draft, the Bears will grab help for the secondary and offensive line in Round 2.

Their first selection (as of the start of Week 15) comes at No. 45 overall from the Raiders. Chicago uses that pick on Utah cornerback, Jaylon Johnson.

It's hard to argue this projection. The Bears may have a bigger need at cornerback by the time the draft rolls around than they do right now if they decide it's time to part ways with veteran starter Prince Amukamara. Chicago needs to make some difficult salary-cap decisions this offseason, and moving on from Amukamara would free up roughly $9 million in cap space. 

Johnson (6-0, 190) will be part of the second wave of cornerbacks to get drafted this year. He isn't a first-round talent, and barring an elite showing at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine, he should be available in the middle portion of the second round.

The Bears land offensive line help at No. 50 overall in this mock draft via Tennessee's Trey Smith.

A former five-star recruit, Smith's talent is undeniable. It's first-round worthy. His medicals, however, are not.

After dealing with blood clots in his lungs in 2018, Smith returned to action this season and was once again a dominant force. He projects as an interior player in the NFL and would be an ideal target for a Bears team that needs to add more talent at guard in their effort to replace longtime starter, Kyle Long.

Smith's medical history is likely to push him into Day 3, however, at which point he'll qualify as one of this year's best value selections.