Bulls

York's Cohn adjusts to coaching changes

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York's Cohn adjusts to coaching changes

York basketball star David Cohn has played for four head coaches in four years. And the coach who recruited him to attend Colorado State now is coaching at Nebraska. Maybe the 6-foot-2 senior point guard should change his brand of deodorant or mouthwash.
In the merry-go-round that has been York's basketball program in recent years, Cohn has played for Roy Biancalana, Dominic Cannon, Tom Kleinschmidt and now Vince Doran, who was at Hinsdale South for 10 years before making the move to the Elmhurst school.
"It definitely has been a difficult adjustment," Cohn said. "In theory, you want to have the same coach for four years in high school. You know each other, you know their tendencies, you know what to do when he yells at you. Biancalana and Kleinschmidt were 180 degrees, very different coaching styles.
"I have played four different offenses in four years. Biancalana was an in-your-face coach, Cannon was laid back and Kleinschmidt was a little bit of both. Doran is in-your-face, too. Their personalities are different. But it has worked. You have to have good relationships with all of your coaches."
Doran may be the toughest of all. From the moment he was hired last summer, he took Cohn aside and challenged him to play better defense as a senior. The common perception of Cohn was he was a scorer but didn't play at the other end of the floor.
Cohn wanted to prove his critics wrong.
"(Doran) said he wants more out of me. He went out of his way to let me know I have to take control, be the captain. He invested time to let me know what I have to do and set an example for the other players. He has been the most challenging coach I have had--but in a good way," Cohn said.
"He is on me about my off-the-ball defense. He praised me, saying I am the best on-the-ball defender but the worst off-the-ball defender. I have to get better on defense. I don't think my off-the-ball defense is as bad as he thinks it is. But sometimes I watch too much. I need to dominate the game on offense and defense. That's what I have been striving for this year."
Cohn has been effective. He is averaging 18 points per game and has led York to a 12-3 record. After losing back-to-back games to Hinsdale Central and Naperville North, the Dukes have won their last five in a row, capping the streak with a 30-29 victory over Conant in the championship game of the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic at York.
They will return to regular-season competition against Downers Grove North on Friday, then meet Downers Grove South on Saturday in the Downers Grove North Shootout. On Jan. 18, York will meet Oak Park in a duel for first place in the West Suburban Silver Conference race.
"This is the best team I have been on," Cohn said. "Our two 6-foot-8 guys are more developed. We have more talent. Our inside presence this year is huge. We can go as far as our chemistry and our defensive mentality take us. Winning our holiday tournament showed how mentally prepared we can be to play against any style of offense."
Cohn is surrounded by 6-foot-8 senior Justin Kurash (8 ppg, 8 rpg), 6-foot-8 junior Frank Toohey (9 ppg, 9 rpg), 6-foot-2 junior Charlie Rose (7 ppg) and 6-foot-2 junior Stanley Roberts (5 ppg). Two 6-foot-3 juniors, Jack Heinle and Chris Klos, are reliable contributors off the bench.
In his first season at York, Doran hopes to make history. The Dukes haven't won a conference championship or a regional title since 2006. Last year's team was 20-9 but lost to Lake Park in the regional final. Cohn hasn't hoisted a regional trophy in the last three years.
"A great foundation was laid by Biancalana, Cannon and Kleinschmidt," Doran said. "It was a smooth transition for me. We had a good nucleus of talent coming back. The pieces were in place to have a winning program. I knew Cohn was a great player. He is very athletic and smart, a player who comes around every so often. He is difficult to stop once he gets a full head of steam going.
"But it isn't a one-man show. We have a lot of people who can hurt you. We're off to a good start. I'm looking forward to the second half of the season. However, we have a lot of room to improve on offense. We are very good on defense but we haven't shot the ball as well as we can. We need more flow on the offensive end. If we do that, we will be tough to stop."
Cohn isn't concerned. He is confident that the shots will begin falling sooner than later. And while he admits he used to be lethargic on defense and took some plays off when he shouldn't have, he insists he is playing harder on both ends of the floor this season and isn't taking any plays off.
York has converted only 25 percent of its three-point shots to date, Cohn only 35 percent compared to 45 percent a year ago. But not to worry.
"Our defense is the best we have had. I know in a month from now our shots will start falling and we'll start clicking and that's when we will be dangerous," Cohn said.
Meanwhile, Cohn remains firmly committed to Colorado State even though the coach who recruited him, Tim Miles, has moved to Nebraska. Coaching changes are the nature of the business but Cohn admits he thought it had more to do with college and the NBA rather than high school. Still, when Miles left Colorado State, Cohn didn't panic.
"I think all changes will be good down the road. You hope it won't happen in college but you anticipate it might happen," Cohn said. "I had no thought of de-committing from Colorado State when Miles left.
"I had a good relationship with assistant coach Niko Medved. He told me that Miles might be leaving. He stayed at Colorado State with new coach Larry Eustachy. I met the new coach in June. I liked him. He has a great track record and he is very enthusiastic. So I decided to stay.
"How do you adjust to coaching changes? You can't get overwhelmed. You must be mentally tough. Do what the coach asks, bust your butt 247 and everything will be all right. It has worked. I trust them and they trust me. I couldn't have adjusted so well if they hadn't adjusted to me. I couldn't have been luckier."

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

Options if the Bulls trade down: Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura

On draft night, there is a decent possibility that the Bulls front office looks at their draft board and collectively decide that they can get a player with No. 7 pick value later in the first round. They could be inclined to feel this way more than in most years due to the 2019 draft class being such a toss up after the top three picks. If the Bulls traded down in the draft, I am assuming they would be netting a valuable future first-round pick, likely with some minimal protections. In this series, we will be looking at prospects the Bulls could take should they trade down in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Rui Hachimura per The Stepien:

71 percent at the rim

44.2 percent on short midrange

47.6 percent on long midrange

52.1 percent on NBA 3s (12/23)

Boylen talked a ton this season about “toughness” being a key tenet of the new Bulls culture moving forward. The idea of that “toughness” didn’t translate on the court heavily, though the Bulls did improve slightly in rebound rate under Boylen.

From the time for Boylen took over, the Bulls ranked 14th in defensive rebound rate and 25th in total rebound rate, up from 16th and 28th respectively under Hoiberg. Those numbers are a bit of smoke-and-mirrors with all the factors at play this past (weird) Bulls season.

But Boylen did have a much heavier focus on generating points inside first, with the team ranking third in the league in points in the paint per game during his tenure. Rui Hachimura fits in extremely well with the idea of the Bulls punishing teams inside with low-post scoring depth, resulting in open looks on the perimeter.

Hachimura stands 6-feet-8-inches tall, 230 lbs., with a 7-foot-2-inch wingspan. He is a very physical player and utilizes his wingspan incredibly well in traffic. Hachimura posted a 17.4 percent defensive rebound rate over his three-years at Gonzaga. I mentioned above how Hachimura embraces contact and his career average of 7.5 free throw attempts per 40 minutes helps showcase his ability to be a wrecking ball in the paint.

He has the potential to excel as a small-ball center with the right personnel surrounding him. The fact that he can grab a defensive board and initiate the fastbreak makes him an even more valuable prospect. But when you consider that lineups with he and Markkanen as the two bigs on the floor would have five capable ball-handlers, the idea of Rui in Chicago becomes even more enticing.

Overall, Hachimura is a great prospect with a solid skill set that should allow him to be a decent scorer from day one, it all just depends on how much of an opportunity he gets.

The Bulls--as John Paxson has reiterated many, many times now--feel comfortable with the starters they have at the two, three, four and five positions, with point guard being their main area of weakness. While the Bulls don’t necessarily need another big, they do need to add productive players who are young. With Boylen’s emphasis on having multiple ball-handlers, driving the ball and points in the paint, Hachimura would be a logical selection, though No. 7 overall could be a bit of a reach for the 21-year old big.

His defense definitely has a long way to go--as with most NBA draft prospects--but Hachimura’s situation is unique since he literally had a language barrier to overcome when he first got to Gonzaga in 2017. The belief right now is that Hachimura is in a comfortable spot right now in terms of both speaking and understanding English, as reporting from Sam Vecine of the The Athletic (LINK is behind a paywall) and others has backed up.

With that being said, the Japanese forward still makes too many mistakes on the defensive end of the floor to be a surefire top 10 pick.

He is at his core an offensive-minded player, and as a result has not exactly developed much in the way of defensive intensity over the years. Hachimura averaged 0.6 steals per game and 0.5 blocks per game for his NCAA career.

For comparison’s sake, his steal and block rates are almost identical to Marvin Bagley III during his time at Duke. Bagley had a highly productive rookie season with the Kings--landing a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First-Team--but the Kings defense was still four points worse when he was on the floor per cleaningtheglass.com ($).

Despite having similar measurements to Bagley, I don’t believe that Hachimura posses quite the level of athleticism that Bagley does, making his path to becoming an above average defender that much harder.

Ultimately, if Hachimura’s awesome shooting numbers from NBA 3-point range (41.7 percent) on a small sample size (36 attempts) aren’t smoke-and-mirrors, he will greatly outplay his draft position. Hachimura shot 52.1 percent on his NBA range 3-pointers and also has a career 74.6 percent free throw percentage. Whether he was diving to the rim on pick-and-rolls with Lauri spacing the floor, or playing in a high/low offense with another big on the bench unit, there is a clear path to Hachimura being effective in Chicago. It would just take a ton of patience from the Bulls new-look coaching staff.

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

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USA TODAY

White Sox prospect Nick Madrigal leads the minors in strikeout rate, but it’s not translating to hits

When the White Sox drafted Nick Madrigal with the fourth overall pick in last June’s draft he was known as an elite contact hitter who could play good defense on the infield.

In nearly a year in the minors, that has mostly held true, but not exactly according to plan. Madrigal raced through three levels of the minors in 2018 and hit .303 in 43 games between those three stops. He only had five strikeouts.

This season has not gone as smoothly. Madrigal is hitting .261 for Single-A Winston-Salem, but he still isn’t striking out much at all. In fact, according to a write-up on Milb.com, Madrigal leads of all minor league baseball with a 3.3 percent strikeout rate.

“Madrigal has plus speed, and that should lead to more hits as his sample increases, but he'll have to hit a lot more to provide value from his specific profile,” Sam Dykstra wrote.

So what’s with Madrigal not hitting for higher average? How can a batter strikeout so rarely and not find more hits?

White Sox director of amateur scouting Nick Hostetler, one of the key decision makers in drafting Madrigal, talked about Madrigal’s progress on an episode of the White Sox Talk podcast earlier this week.

“The one thing he’s still doing is making contact,” Hostetler said. “So that is what we expected. We expected that out of him. I’m not sure he was probably expecting the streaks. I think he’s dealt with a lot of streaks in his offensive game this year. I think he had one stretch that was 0-for-16 or 17 and he came back with a couple hits. So he’s been a little streaky this year. But I think he’s starting to learn. He’s starting to develop. He’s had one home run. He’s starting to hit some doubles, but he’s starting to learn to get the ball in the air a little bit. He’s learning how teams are shifting him, how they’re playing him.”

The shifts Hostetler referred to are another interesting part of Madrigal’s unusual profile. He is actually going to opposite field more than pulling the ball down left field and opposing defenses are playing him accordingly. That could be one reason to explain why Madrigal isn’t getting more hits out of all the balls he is putting in play.

He is showing a bit more power this year as opposed to last year (11 extra base hits vs. 7 in only 10 more plate appearances). His spray charts for 2018 and 2019 show he is pulling the ball more than he used to, a sign that he is adjusting.

2018 spray chart:

2019 spray chart:

Note that Madrigal has more balls resulting in hits getting pulled down the left field side than he had last year. As defenses are shifting him to hit the ball to opposite field, as Hostetler noted, this will be a key part of his development.

He is showing progress in other areas. He is drawing more walks (14 this season vs. 7 last year) and is showing off his speed with 12 stolen bases.

Hostetler isn’t pushing the panic button on Madrigal.

“This is part of development,” Hostetler said. “Unfortunately the new wave we’re in everybody thinks ‘well, they’re a college guy and he’s drafted so high he needs to hit like this and go right away and be there in a year.’ Some guys just take a little bit.

“The one thing I’ll say is the defense has been exactly what we thought it would be. It’s Gold Glove caliber defense and he’s making contact. As long as he keeps making contact, keep fielding those balls like he is, he’ll figure out the rest.”

 

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