Bears

York's Cohn reaches another level

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York's Cohn reaches another level

It's a wonder what a 47-point game can do for your resume. Before York's David Cohn scored 47 points against Hinsdale Central on Jan. 27, the 6-foot-2 junior guard had received scholarship offers from Illinois State, Colorado State. Valparaiso, Illinois-Chicago, Wright State and Drake.

In a 75-64 victory over Hinsdale Central, Cohn established a school single-game scoring record by accounting for his team's first 26 points, converting seven of eight three-point attempts and making 13 of 17 shots from the field and 14 of 17 free throws.

"I have seen 50-point games but not on jump shots," said York coach Tom Kleinschmidt, a former two-time All-Stater at Gordon Tech who was an All-American at DePaul. "I have never seen a shooting display like that."

Cohn, who averages 20 points per game, never expected it.

"In the pre-game warm-ups, it was brutal. I don't think I made a shot. I air-balled one. I thought to myself: 'Oh, this will be one of those nights.' I didn't take my first shot until two or three minutes into the game. It went in, from the top of the key. OK, I said to myself, when you make the first shot it is kind of comforting.

"Then I made three more threes in the first quarter. From there on, I was in a zone. In the spring, I scored 63 points in a game. I had 13 or 14 threes. But I felt I was in more of a zone against Hinsdale Central. There was more defense being played. There was more tension on me. But I still got the shots to fall."

All of a sudden, major Division I programs are expressing interest...Stanford, Penn State, Oregon, Nebraska. Look for others to dial his number. With another year to improve and get exposure, Cohn figures to command the attention of more and more Division I coaches.

But Cohn is trying to keep a level head about all of this. "It's flattering. It's nice to know that schools pay attention. But it won't change anything about me. In the end, I'll find my place in college basketball. I don't necessarily want to play at the highest level. I want to play where I can get the best of both worlds, academics and basketball, where it feels right, a program I can make an impact in, where I can play as a freshman," he said.

However, he admits Stanford "would be a great place to play." And he admits that Notre Dame, which hasn't expressed any interest yet, is his "dream school." Several family members have attended Notre Dame and the Irish have been David's favorite college for football and basketball.

"If they offered, that would be an immediate decision for me," he said. "I watch every game on TV. I know every play they run.

"Opportunity has knocked. It's pretty crazy what one game can do. It's great that they think so much of me. But colleges look for consistency. If my shooting stroke stays consistent, hopefully I'll have other games like that and we'll keep winning. All this means is I have more options to weigh when I make a final decision."

York and Cohn are on a hot streak as they look ahead to the Class 4A sectional at Schaumburg. The Dukes are 18-7 but have won 13 games in a row after trouncing Glenbard West 68-41 last Friday. They'll meet Oak Park on Tuesday in a West Suburban Silver showdown. This weekend, they'll play Downers Grove North and St. Charles North.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn scored 29 points and had five assists. After starting 5-7, York has been overpowering in recent games, winning by margins of 18, 25, 15, 20, 13, 11, 21, 16, 9 and 27 points.

"We weren't going to give up from the start. We just had to come together as a team," Cohn said. "Early, no one was on the same page. There was a lack of communication. We wanted to do our own thing. We thought we were better than we were. But no one panicked when we were 5-7. No one even got negative. The light bulb came on for every single one of us. Each player began to make plays. Everyone filled their roles."

It finally dawned on Kleinschmidt what was wrong. The first-year coach was hired in June and didn't have time to implement his system. He was starting two sophomores, a junior and two seniors who played a total of 15 minutes all of last year. And they had to play nine games on the road during a 10-game stretch. His game plan was in desperate need of an overhaul.

"I knew I had some talent. I had some pieces but they were unproven pieces," Kleinschmidt said. "Cohn was Robin to Will Sullivan's Batman last year. He had to learn that he has a target on his back, that opponents will double and triple team him.

"I had to change my system in midstream. I found out we can press some teams. I found out we can't pressure. I had to see what I had, what worked and what didn't. We tried to run but we turned the ball over too much. We had to play different defenses. We had to change the tempo. I'm learning more about the kids and the staff and the school every day.

"I didn't panic. I stuck with the people I had. I knew they could play but they were inexperienced. And I learned something about myself, too. I learned about patience. My wife says I'm not the most patient person. As a player, you had control. You went out and did it. But you can't do it as a coach. I can put them in position but they have to execute."

Early on, the Dukes were doing lots of reps in practice but not getting positive results in games. Now, according to Kleinschmidt, they are at the stage that they are getting so many reps in practice and games that it is becoming a habit. Nobody complains after going through one of Kleinschmidt's three-hour workouts.

"It took them a while to get ready for basketball after getting their heads kicked in. We lost to Hinsdale Central by 33, Oak Park by 19 and West Aurora by 25. After that, a lot of kids would have quit. But these kids were ready to fight. They weren't ready to pack it in."

York isn't a one-man team, of course. Kleinschmidt has trouble spelling his point guard's last name but he acknowledges that 5-foot-10 senior Jake Rzeszutko (11 ppg, 4 assists) is a three-sport athlete "who is as tough as nails."

He also counts on 6-foot-7 sophomore Frankie Toohey (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 5-foot-11 senior Matt DiFrancesca (11 ppg, 4 rpg), 6-foot-4 sophomore Chris Klos (6 ppg, 6 rpg), 6-foot-5 senior Mike Despinich and 6-foot-7 junior Justin Kurash.

Against Glenbard West, Cohn got plenty of support. DiFrancesca had 12 points and five assists, Rzeszutko had 10 points and four assists and Despinich had 10 points and five rebounds.

"I wouldn't want anything more for my first team," Kleinschmidt said. "It will keep me coaching. I thoroughly enjoy it. If I had started 5-7 in high school, there would have been a lot of finger-pointing. Nobody likes to lose. But these kids are competitors. They don't quit."

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Rob Gronkowski 'highly unlikely' to play Sunday against the Bears

Sunday's game against Tom Brady and the Patriots will be a tough test for the Bears, but it looks like they're going to receive a big break.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski didn't travel with the Patriots to Chicago and is "highly unlikely" to play Sunday.

Avoiding Gronkowski, who is one of Brady's favorite targets, would be a huge break for the Bears' defense. In six games this season, the tight end has 26 receptions for 405 yards and a touchdown; in 14 games last season, Gronkowski had 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdowns.

Gronkowski has not officially been ruled out yet, though time is running out for the Patriots to make a decision.

Meanwhile, Khalil Mack appears set to play Sunday despite dealing with an ankle injury. Between having Mack on the field and Gronkowski off of it, good news keeps coming for the Bears' defense.

Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

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Final thoughts: Cody Parkey quickly moves on from missed game-winning kick

There’s, probably, only one position in sports that can match the you-had-one-job scrutiny of a placekicker attempting a critical field goal late in a football game. As in: If you make the kick, it was expected; if you miss it, well, you didn’t do the one thing you were brought on to do. 

The comparison here is a closer in baseball. The expectation is whoever is called upon with a one-to-three-run lead in the ninth inning will convert the save and win his team the game. 

But when a closer blows a save and is in the spotlight during baseball’s regular season, there’s always a game the next day or, at worst, in two days. The immediacy and pace of a Major League Baseball team’s schedule lends itself to closers having to “flush” a bad outing and move on to the next one, since it might be tomorrow. 

For Bears kicker Cody Parkey, though, he’s had to wait a week until he gets his next “meaningful” chance at making a field goal after missing a game-winning 53-yard attempt last weekend against the Miami Dolphins. But moving on from a critical missed kick has never, and is not, a problem for the fifth-year veteran. 

“(It takes) five minutes,” Parkey said. “You kick the ball, and if it doesn’t go in you’re not going to sit there and cry on the field, you’re going to continue to move on with your life. I don’t think there’s really much to it other than knowing you’re going to have to kick another one sometime throughout the season, next game, in the next week, you never know. You stay ready so you’ll be ready for the next week.”

Not allowing those missed kicks to fester is an important trait for a placekicker to possess. What helps Parkey quickly work through his misses is focusing on having a good week of kicking in practice, and also an even-keel mindset that’s been instilled in him since a young age. 

“I think I’ve always been pretty mellow,” Parkey said. “At a young age, my coaches told me never let the highs get to high, never let the lows get too low. And I’ve kind of taken that to heart. If I miss a game winner, make a game winner, I’m going to have the same demeanor. I’m just going to be super chill and knowing it’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun, we’re supposed to go out there and try our best. I put in a lot of work and I try my best on the field.”

That’s something, too, that special teams coach Chris Tabor sees in Parkey. 

“He's always been like that,” Tabor said. “He hit a good ball, his line was just off. In his career going in he was 7-of-8 over 50 yards. I'll be honest with you, I thought he was going to make it. And next time we have that situation, I know he will make it.” 

Age is just a number

Sunday will mark the 6th time in Tom Brady’s career that the 41-year-old has faced a head coach younger than him, but the first time it’ll be a coach other than Miami’s Adam Gase (who’s 40). Brady is 3-2 against Gase’s Dophins. 

Matt Nagy, meanwhile, is also 40. Brady just missed playing Kyle Shanahan (38) and Sean McVay (32), facing the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams in 2016, a year before both those youthful coaches were hired. 

Meanwhile, the youngest player on the Bears — 21-year-old Roquan Smith — was three years old when Brady made his unassuming NFL debut on Nov. 23, 2000. 

They said it

A couple of amusing one-liners out of Halas Hall this week…

Nagy, when it was brought to his attention that Mitch Trubisky (105.6) has a better passer rating than Brady (98.2), chuckled: “You want to say that one more time?” 

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, when asked if he’d ever heard of “Baby Gronk” Adam Shaheen: “(long pause)… Sometimes.”