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Monday March 3, 2008
A find mess: Pettitte, Clemens, Bonds, McNamee, Congress BY D.K. Wilson
So, Andy Pettitte gets the kid gloves treatment: my gaaawd, he’s a veritable hero because he kinda, sorta came clean-over time... we think. Roger the ‘Roid Dodger Clemens might not even be indicted. Dang it, there’s just not enough evidence. Oh really? Well, there’s that little thing of the physical evidence turned over by Brian McNamee to BALCO superhero Jeff Novitzky over one month ago that more than likely has already been tested; and the results are probably privately known. But all we hear is it’s a “he said-he said” case at this point. Oh really? What’s up with the former Clemens nanny who placed Clemens at Jose Canseco’s home just like McNamee said? That was, after all, the point Clemens’ lawyer Rusty Hardin chose to hone in on to disprove McNamee’s veracity. But I bet by the time the feds get back around to her she’ll speak less English than Sammy Sosa in front of a 2005 Congressional inquisition. What’s up with Laura Pettitte? She didn’t misremember. But hold on just a Texas-by-way-of-Connecticut minute. This is the same Roger Clemens who built a horsehoe pit for his favorite Yankee Texan at his White House away from the White House. This is the same fella who pranced around the halls of the Capitol just days before he was to testify in front of Congress and the nation with his ties to Tom DeLay’s snake oil salesman of an attorney, “Dusty” Rusty Hardin. The only thing left to wonder from that visit to many a Republican oaken-walled office is whether junior staffers or pages had to clean the slug slime trail left by the greatest right-handed steroid injector in the history of Major League Baseball and his Lone Star State lawyer. And if the syringes and the gauze swatches infused with butt blood don’t somehow turn up with Clemens’ DNA written all over them, the feds have every right to check Clemens’ taxes-right? He was said to have paid Brian McNamee about $125,000 per off-season to train him. And the money for Clemens’ steroids and HGH more than likely didn’t come from McNamee’s pocket. So that would leave Roger the Dodger and Andy Pettitte as the only two culprits to pay for the illegal booty; not that booty, the “other” booty-like pirate’s... oh, never mind. Unless. Debbie did Dallas-or Houston, and the PEDs were bought with her cash. That she received. From. Ummm. Being Roger Clemens’. Wife. But whoever paid, surely there was no sales tax on that stash. I mean, damn, somebody has to go down for leaving a crimp in the tax payer’s pockets courtesy of the Henry Waxman and Tom Davis-led House Committee on Oversight and Reform, y’know? Speaking of somebody going down, this investigation was said to have been fashioned after a good-old federales drug bust. But in drug busts investigators follow the money trail. Sure, they’ll watch some local multi-millionaire junkies, go bust ‘em and very publicly drag ‘em through the muck. They’ll get the name of junkies’ dealer-Brian McNamee-and go bust him. They’ll tell McNamee that unless he gives up the names of the people above him, the feds will rip him to shreds. They’ll tell him the junkies they caught in the clubhouse snitched on him and gave him up, and are willing to testify against him in front of Congress. The feds tell him if he doesn’t give up what they want he’ll do five to seven years real easy-and not in one of those country club fed pens, either. But the kind of fed pen where they traditionally keep Republican up-and-comers who traffic in little boys and girls and transport them from state to state until they reach the White House, er, the nation’s Capital. After they get what they want from one dealer-McNamee-the feds cast their net wider. They look at other clubhouses across the country, start dragging in more multi-millionaire junkies from those ghetto clubhouses; start making more and more and more addicts and low-level dealers-Kirk Radomski-sing, or else. Pretty soon the investigators are tracking the “stuff ” toward its source. Before they know it they catch these addicts in all
Andy Altenburger/Icon SMI
26 AUG 2007: New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens (22) - left and New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte (46) - right during the Detroit Tigers 5-4 win over the New York Yankees at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.
types of ghetto, corner locker rooms and clubhouses, and they see the light. Checks are passed to cover expenses-Miguel Tejada. Money is laundered to cover tracks-Marion Jones, Steve Riddick. And in the midst of all the busts, all the multi-millionaire addicts running for cover in lawyer’s offices like roaches to dark corners after a kitchen light gets flicked on, the feds get the name of a distributor. Signature Compounding Pharmacy Signature is seemingly innocuous drug store in North Orlando, not too far from Disney World and Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex; in Florida, the home of the Big Yankee Texan’s little brother. Yet it is the well-spring from which most crooked physicians-and dentists-that participated in writing a massive number of illegal prescriptions for PEDs, some of which were provided through the Internet, more of which were called in by phone, and the rest were due to actual in-office visits. The pharmacy pulled in nearly $40 million in sales last year, including about $10 million in New York in the past two years Signature is number one in the food chain. It is the Ace of Spades in the PED terrorist deck. Its structure is like that of any major crime organization. When the feds raid Signature they find it is mostly made up of people who are relatives. In Orlando in February 2007 they arrested: Naomi Loomis, 33, of Windermere, Florida, founder and co-CEO of Signature Compounding Pharmacy; her husband, Robert “Stan” Loomis, 55, co-CEO; Kenneth “Mike” Loomis, 59, of Orlando, head compounding pharmacist and Stan Loomis’ brother; and Kirk Calvert, 37, of Winter Park, director of business development for the pharmacy. The pharmacy was a tight organization-a Mafia, of sorts. It was familia. Names of multi-millionaire PED abusers came from the worlds of Hollywood, bodybuilding, professional wrestling, the NFL and MLB. Doctors, business owners, and other pharmacies were busted in Florida, New York, Texas, Alabama and Pennsylvania. This is what federal investigators needed to make this drug case viable and not give the public more fuel for believing that the Waxman-Davis hearings were nothing more than a veil thrown up to disguise the fact that, in this tenuous economy in which we live, Congress just voted to give itself yet another raise. But the Signature bust happened in February 2007 and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearings were held just a sniff over a week ago. This chronology reveals the problems with the events that began before the Sig-
nature bust almost exactly one year ago. It also reveals a basic fallacy in the most recent hearings as well as the initial House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearings in March of 2005. Since September 3, 2003, when the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO) was busted paramilitary style, Congress has had the ammunition to hold all of professional sports to the fire; to hold on-going hearings
in the interest of “the kids.” The names that came out of the BALCO raid cut a wide swath across the world of sports: from baseball-Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Benito Santiago, Jeremy Giambi, Bobby Estalella, Armando Rios; from track and field-John McEwen, shot putters Kevin Toth and C.J. Hunter, sprinters Dwain Chambers, Please see WILSON on Page 13
Publisher, lead photographer & Editor in Chief Warren Wimmer Contributing Writers Tom Alexander (founding publisher) Glenn Anderson Andrea Beaver Dustin Beutin Bert Beiswanger Jesse Brasher Charlie Danoff Dustin Michael Harris Eli Kaberon Jon Kerr Matt Kolsky Brian Livingston Phil Meyers Nicole McClain Lloyd Poast Amar Rehal D.K. Wilson Dennis Wierzbicki Contributing Photographers Roger Cook Michael DiNovo Michael Proebsting Dennis Wierzbicki PUBLISHED BY: The Chicago Sports Review The Chicago Sports Review is published weekly and can be found at Chicagoland White Hens & 7-Elevens The Chicago Sports Review is not responsible for display advertisement, advertising articles and their contents. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. For questions or comments contact: THE CHICAGO SPORTS REVIEW 13520 St. Mary Circle, Orland Park, IL 60462 708.403.3285 office | 708.774.4464 cell | 708.460.8949 fax To read more great sports articles visit chicagosportsreview.com
Monday March 3, 2008
Illini fans avenged for freshman’s recruting faupaux
By Jon Kerr
s I surveyed the wagering board at the MGM Grand sports book, my eyes stopped at one game on the
boardIndiana -1.5 Illinois I uttered my 1st thought to my co-worker John, who was accompanying me on this Vegas “business” trip, “The Illini are dogs at home! What?” But when ESPN flashed the starting lineups on the screen, it struck me like a Cirque De Soleil billboard. These are not your older brother’s Illini. Where have you gone, Deron Williams? The presence of freshman Eric Gordon wearing the red and white rather than orange and blue cemented the reality for me and the Illinois-heavy group I was traveling with. “That’s the kid who was supposed to go to Champaign, but ended up in Bloomington, right?” one guy asked. Yes, and it’s safe to say Illinois fans did not forget. As we all grabbed seats in front of the 121 screens (you could even catch my Uncle Buzz’s 60 and over Y league game in Irvine, CA on one of the smaller sets), we watched the game unfold. What we saw was a Fighting Illini team everyone recognized - running, trapping, hustling, leading by 12 at one point. This Gordon kid looked every bit the diaper dandy he is- playing tentatively, obviously impacted by the not-so-good natured taunts from the crowd, some of whom behaved like jilted classmates. You can argue the chants of “traitor, traitor” and “liar, liar” from the student body at Assembly Hall were a bit strong, considering Gordon is less than a year removed from his prom night. I mean, come on, Gordon is not the only 18-year-old athlete to renege on an oral commitment, right? But the confrontational tone of the student body illuminates the frustration Illinois fans have with the
program under 5th year coach Bruce Weber. Weber’s predecessor, Bill Self, didn’t lose recruits like Gordon. He cultivated a recruiting base in Illinois- signing players such as Dee Brown, Roger Powell, Luther Head, James Augustine and the aforementioned Williams. These players made up the core of the 2004-05 national runner-up squad that was coached by Weber. All of them played high school ball in Illinois. All of them made it to the NBA. All were recruited by Self. The tipping point for Weber in the eyes of Illini Nation may have been 3 years ago when he failed to sign Jon Scheyer, the allstate point guard from Glenbrook North who shunned Champaign to play for Coach K at Duke. This despite the fact Weber’s brother was Scheyer’s high school coach. That’s the same Scheyer who I saw hitting 3’s all over the court the night before for the Blue Devils as they beat hated rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The state of the Illinois program under Weber is such that they can’t lose an impact player the quality of Gordon. Few can. If Gordon were taking classes in Champaign instead of Bloomington, there’s a good chance Illinois’s record would be 9-2 in the Big Ten instead of 2-9, which they were after the Hoosiers pulled out an 83-79 win in overtime. This largely in part to Gordon’s 19 points. When this reality is played out in front of their eyes, you can’t condone the Illinois’ fans behavior, but you understand it. After the game, I get up to buy a round of cocktails for my traveling party. As I reached for my wallet, it felt a bit light. This considering the $8 price tag for a bottled beer. But my salvation- out of my pocket fell a betting slip. As I leaned over to pick it up, one guy yelled“Kerr, have you got enough cash?” I wasn’t sure until I read the slip. It said I had taken the Hoosiers minus the 1 and a half. Cha-ching! As I went to the window to collect my winnings, I was reminded of a Las Vegas absolute. Always bet with your head.
AJ Mast/Icon SMI
Indiana guard Eric Gordon (23) as the Indiana Hoosiers played the Illinois Illini in a college basketball game in Champaign, Ill. Indiana won 83-79.
Ten teams peaking at the right time BY Eli Kaberon
he calendar says that February is the shortest month of the year, as it ends two or three days before each of the other 11 months. But in college basketball, February is a long and winding road beating up teams on their march to March. Conference play is in full swing, injuries and suspensions are common and the unexpected upset is always right around the corner. February is also the month where the elite teams separate themselves from the rest of the pack and transform into serious title contenders before tournament time. In fact, the last six national champions were a combined 33-11 during February in the seasons they ended up cutting down the nets, and seven of those losses came from the Florida squads of the past two years. Big wins are even bigger because they can provide momentum while a tough loss hurts more than usual for the opposite reason. Coaches and players have to be on their A-game from opening tap to the final buzzer, because one bad game in the year’s second month can leave a team on the bubble during the third So which schools in February 2008 are stepping up their games in preparation of the greatest sporting event of the year-March Madness? Here are ten teams that are peaking right now, hoping to cement their place in the field of 65 and get themselves ready for a hopeful six-game win streak to end the season (teams listed in al-
phabetical order). BYU – Outside of UCLA and Kansas, the Cougars of Brigham Young University might be the best team west of the Mississippi River. While there might be some argument of that in cities like Palo Alto and Austin, BYU has a very strong case. The leaders of the Mountain West Conference are 20-5 with wins over Louisville and UNLV, including a current eight game win-streak. BYU has three players averaging 13 or more points, led by center Trent Plaisted, who puts up 16 points and almost nine rebounds a game. An eight seed in last year’s tournament, BYU fell to Xavier by two points in the opening round. Expect the Cougars to be seeded higher and travel deeper into March in 2008. Connecticut – It’s hard to say a school that has won two National Titles since 1999 is playing under the radar, but that’s exactly what the Huskies have done this year. UConn has won ten consecutive games, is a half game out of first place in the loaded Big East conference and is doing this while dealing with the suspensions to two of their best players. Yet nobody seems to be talking about them. Guards Jerome Dyson and Doug Wiggins both sat out multiple games for a violation of team rules, but the Huskies just continue to win. Point guard A.J. Price has played like an All-American in 2008, averaging 15 points, six assists and four rebounds a game while leading the team in minutes played. Hasheem Thabeet, the
team’s 7’3” center, has also become a force, posting over ten points, seven rebounds and four blocks per contest. Kansas – No surprise here, considering the Rock Chalk Jayhawks have been to 36 NCAA tournaments, fourth most in the history of the game. Coach Bill Self ’s team is 24-2 and has as much talent as any other squad in the land. Led by big men Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson as well as guards Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers, these Jayhawks have outstanding depth. Those four-as well as the four other KU players who average double-digit minutes a game-perfectly run Self ’s high-low offense, giving opponents so many different offensive looks that its almost impossible to prepare for. Kansas has a recent history of falling in March, but if any team can break that streak, it is this one. Louisville – In the debut pre-season poll of the season, the Cardinals were ranked sixth in the country. Six weeks later and the ‘Ville was nowhere to be found in the rankings. That’s what happens when a team loses three games before mid-December and apparently loses their center, David Padgett, for the season after breaking his kneecap in mid-November (he has since returned). But somehow coach Rick Pitino got his team to turn it around. The Cards have now won nine of their last ten games, with the only defeat being a two-point loss at Connecticut. They are also sitting in first place in the Big East, since they have the same record
as Georgetown but they beat the Hoyas on Feb. 9 (they meet again, in Washington D.C. on March 8). If a team can go from being great to poor back to being great all in one season, it is Louisville. Memphis – Considering they are the only team in the land to not lose a game all season, it would be stating the obvious to mention that the Tigers are playing well at the moment. With the backcourt of junior shooting guard Chris Douglas-Roberts and freshman point Derrick Rose averaging over 30 points combined per game, it is almost impossible for opponents to contain Memphis’ dribble-drive attack. And on defense, the Tigers play a ferocious man-to-man, giving their opponents almost no clear looks at the basket. The website kenpom.com. which computes various college basketball statistics, reports that Memphis has the number one defensive efficiency in the country with the score of 80.6. That means that UM gives up roughly 81 points for every 100 defensive possessions. (For comparison, the national average is 101.8 by Nichols State) Taking out the Tigers will be no easy task for any opponent come March. Purdue – In 2007, when the Boilermakers had first-team All Big Ten forward Carl Landry, they still finished just a game over .500 in conference and advanced only to round two of the NCAA’s. So this year, after Landry graduated, many guessed that Please see KABRON on page 16
Monday March 3, 2008
Brooks Robinson and fantasy campers stand tall at home plate for the the first game of the week in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson takes a cut during fantasy baseball camp Friday Feb 1, 2008 in Ft. Myers, Fla.
couple of weeks ago a photographer friend of mine asked if I would help him shoot a baseball fantasy camp being held in Ft. Myers, Fla., After weighing 80 degrees and sunny with non-compensated labor against 10 degrees and cloudy and the Blackhawks being on the road and spring training not started, I said, “Why not?” Using my free flight coupon acquired on a bad Southwest flight, I again boarded the kerosene queen. My pal picked me up at the airport Sunday afternoon, after he had shot the morning tryouts. Yep, the old timers pick the teams via scouting reports from previous years and a rookie morning tryout. That night at the opening banquet, ex-major leaguer Gary “Sarge” Matthews introduced the various team managers who in turn an-
nounced their teams. I was amazed at the group that assembled. One man, Jim Chivers, 23, was attending as a rookie with his future father-in-law and two future brothers-in-law. Laurie, a veteran of 15 of these camps, led the campers in “Take me out to the Ballgame” The beverages of choice flowed, and a case of the first-liar-doesnot-have-a-chance stories started. Steve Lyons worked the crowd while drinking his beverage of choice, “free Rum and Coke.” Good nights were said and dreams of playing on a major league spring training field danced in all the campers’ heads. We arrived at the clubhouse at 8 am, campers surrounding the camp director getting field assignments and starting times. I have Continued on Page 4
Monday March 3 , 2008
A fantasy camper tries to make a tag at the plate during a Pro-Am game Friday Feb. 1, 2008 at the Lee County Sports Complex in Ft. Myers Fla.
Former major leaguer Steve Lyons makes a play.
Former major leaguer Jim Corsi delivers a pitch.
Continued from Page 3
never witnessed so much expanded UnderArmor and bad spandex. The facility provides major league trainers, who, after the first game, were getting a real work out. The smell of Ben Gay and Biofreeze penetrated the air. No shame here, guys, most of those who should have thrown in the towel did not. Balls in the air at 9 am to start the camp. The director yelled, and the sound of metal spikes on cement reminded me of my high school baseball days. Trying to round up two teams, managers and coaches turned out to more than what I bargained for. That job accomplished, I suggested we line up on the base paths like opening day at the Cell. Hall of Fame third baseman, Brooks Robinson took center stage standing at home plate. The home plate umpire yelled, “Play ball” and so the action starts. Now I have a very badly damaged right shoulder and could not throw a ball 50 feet, but hey, neither could these guys who claim to be in good shape. Pitches bouncing to home plate, passed balls and wild pitches abound. I witnessed better ball while watching my 8-year-old grandson playing little league in Lockport this past summer. The day was not without excitement; an unidentified player drew an intentional walk to load the bases, and young Chivers fulfilled his
Fantasy games included lighter moments.
fantasy by going yard with the bases loaded to win the Gonads first playoff game. As the week went on the caliber of play got much better and the bond of the players on each team equaled what I experienced during my time in Vietnam. All was well in camper land. On Wednesday, all bets were off and the race for the playoffs was on. The two teams with the best record were slated to play on Saturday morning for camp bragging rights. Friday afternoon a Pro-Am game was scheduled with the rookies taking on the managers and coaches. Brooks Robinson played second base and turned two double plays. Steve Lyons made several good plays at short and gave one of the campers a shaving cream pie to the face. All in good fun. But trust me, when these ex-players start throwing leather, they still have zip on the ball. So should any one have a dream to play on a field of dreams, go for it. You will get your money’s worth.\ After reflecting on my week and getting back to reality as I am writing this the wind chill is 20 below. I really enjoyed my non-participation in a baseball fantasy camp, while honing my photographic skills. My 62-year-old bucket list now includes, NASCAR Camp, Private Pilot Ticket and Baseball Fantasy Camp.
Monday March 3, 2008
Bulls Early Struggles, Deadline Trade Could Fuel Second Half Surge By Adam Barone
The Bulls were expected by some to be a championship contender this season, but found themselves at a rather pitiful mark of 21-31 at the All-Star break. With just under 30 games left to play, all is far from lost. At the break Bulls were just 1.5 games behind a seventh-place tie between New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Atlanta. A big trade and increased playing time for young players due to injuries to the starters could prove to be just the fire this team needed lit under its collective ass. Just before the trade deadline the Bulls finally managed to unload Ben Wallace, his crazy afro, his pathetic free-throw percentage, and all of the awful “shots” he fires in the general direction of the rim. When the Bulls signed him they expected thathe would rebound and block shots, not provide comic relief and more possession time for the opposing team. They shipped him and Joe Smith to Cleveland in a three team deal that also saw Adrian Griffin (oh no) go to Seattle. In the deal the Bulls received guards Larry Hughes and Shannon Brown, and forwards Drew Gooden and Cedric Simmons from Cleveland. “We are all very much aware that this season has not advanced as we anticipated. With that said, we will continue to evaluate and reshape our roster where necessary, until we can get to where we want to be as a team,” said John Paxson, Bulls’ Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations on the team’s official website. “This particular trade gives us the opportunity to solidify a couple of positions, as well as provide our team with some much needed scoring.”
And they get rid of Ben Wallace. Maybe the Cavs can figure out why he stands six inches behind the free throw line and falls backward when he shoots. Paxson also said that this deal was made to give the team’s young players a chance to develop. Joakim Noah, Tyrus Thomas, Aaron Gray and Thabo Sefolosha should benefit greatly from increased playing time. Maybe with more minutes Thomas will realize that there’s a difference between taking the ball and running as fast as you can at the basket, trying to dunk it no matter who’s in the way and “basketball.” Larry Hughes is 29 and has career averages of 15.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Those numbers are down some this season, mostly because he gets hurt approximately every ten minutes. Drew Gooden is only 26 years old and has averaged 12.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in his six year career. He can actually make free-throws as well, averaging 71.6%. Shannon Brown and Cedric Simmons will likely be in charge of making sure that the Bulls’ bench doesn’t get up and run away. Youth and the lack of focus (Ben Gordon) that led to the firing of head coach Scott Skiles are partly to blame for the slow start. Injuries to Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Ben Gordon, however, have made it close to impossible for this team to actually be any good. Interim head coach Jim Boylan pointed out that the team he inherited from Skiles is inexperienced and doesn’t have a perennial All-Star player to rely on. The only player on the team with any NBA Finals experience was Ben Wallace. That being the case, the minor injuries to key players could be a blessing in disguise. Also, while Ben Gordon is injured he can’t keep shooting it while spinning around,
hurling himself into the Luv-a-Bulls. Maybe someone else will get to shoot. The Bulls played 10 of their last 12 games before the break without Deng and Gordon—their top two scorers. This presented the perfect opportunity for the team to build confidence and depth by getting guys like Chris Duhon, Thabo Sefolosha, and Joakim Noah more playing time. In the month leading up to the break, Sefolosha started 17 games, averaging over 33 minutes per game, along with 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. Unfortunately for him, Ben Gordon will return soon, and now Larry Hughes will probably steal even more of his playing time. Rookie Joakim Noah is averaging 9.3 rebounds in three starts this season and is now the lone crazy-haired Bull. He has four double-digit rebound games this season. Duhon has struggled with his shooting all season, but has been good for 5.7 assists per game in his 18 starts. Tyrus Thomas has managed 4.3 rebounds in just over 16 minutes per contest. Aaron Gray has played less than 10 minutes per game. Both should see more time after the trade. Clearly confidence and focus are keys to the team’s success, as the Bulls are 18-7 when leading at halftime on the season, compared to 3-24 when trailing at the half. The return of Deng, Gordon, and Hinrich along with the addition of Hughes and Gooden should bring the depth and confidence this team will need to make a playoff run. In the past three seasons the Bulls are 59-33 after the All-Start break following disappointing starts in each of those years. They’ve advanced to the playoffs all three of those seasons.
Analyzing the Bulls recent trade, effect on rest of season by
Thursday’s deadline three-way trade by John Paxson may well go down one day as the move that saved his legacy as GM of the Chicago Bulls. Doing the impossible and trading what is easily one of the NBA’s worst current contracts, allows Paxson to finally move on from the most egregious error of his tenure. As many have said, losing Wallace is addition by subtraction, and so long as the Bulls didn’t get Vin Baker back in a trade for him, they would instantly become a better team as soon as he left. What they did actually yield in the deal that also saw Joe Smith and Adrian Griffin leave town was considerably better than Vin Baker: Shannon Brown, Cedric Simmons, Larry Hughes and Drew Gooden. Somehow, Paxson managed to find somebody stupid enough to give him more talented, younger and cheaper players in exchange for Wallace. Thank god the Matt Millen of the NBA, Danny Ferry does his based solely on the whims of LeBron James. The move is a huge positive for Chicago and a astronomical negative for the Cavs. Some may say, especially after Sunday night where the Cavs were victorious, while the Bulls lost their debut with the new players that Cleveland “won” the deal. I’ll say it now and remember you heard it here first: if the Cleveland faces the Bulls in the playoffs, the Bulls will win the series. Now that that’s established, I’ll examine the skills of the new players the Bulls brought in and try to see how they’ll fit with the current roster. In his comments Friday (A), Paxson harped on how the biggest thing about the move was giving more time for the Bulls young big men. If you watched the past two games, you’ve noticed just how talented the pair of Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah are. They will only get better with more minutes as the Bulls make their playoff run this year and into the future. More importantly, though, moving Wallace, Smith and Griff means all the Bulls veteran “leaders” are gone. The younger
Bulls are more talented than this trio and any success this team has today or tomorrow is dependant solely on its youthful core. It is time for them to take responsibility for the team’s success into their own hands. Shannon Brown Contract: 20007/08 $1,044,120 The Proviso East graduate returns to Chicagoland amid little fanfare. He was included in the deal only essentially to make the salaries equal out, and anything the Bulls get from him will be a bonus. Given the backlog at the guard position, and his expiring contract at the end of this year, doing anything in a Bulls uniform seems unlikely. Just in case, though here’s what the excellent folks at DraftExpress.com (1) were saying about Shannon before the Cavs picked him 25th overall in the 2006 draft, Strengths: “Brown is one of the most explosive athletes in this draft, possessing good length, huge hands and excellent strength to make an impact off an NBA bench. His first step is terrific, and he finishes with reckless abandon thanks to his impressive strength, body control, tenacity and outstanding vertical leap. He’s worked very hard on his shooting range to the point that he shot 39% from behind the arc as a junior. As a passer, Brown shows good awareness and is very much adept at finding the open man. He puts a lot of pride into his ability to get in right in his matchup’s grill and dictate where he wants to lead them. His intangibles are solid as he’s been praised for being highly coachable and an outstanding citizen both on and off the court.” Weaknesses: “At 6-3, Brown is certainly stuck between NBA positions. He has a shooting guard’s mentality, but has the size of many NBA point guards. His in-between game is underutilized, as he either explodes past his man on his way to the hoop or pulls up for a 3pointer, but rarely utilizes the mid-range. He
needs to work on creating space to operate offensively beyond just using his outstanding athleticism. Brown has been inconsistent throughout his college career, looking outstanding one night and then silent the next. He lacks the polish on both ends of the floor to truly utilize his excellent physical gifts on a nightly basis.” In a year and a half with Cleveland,
Brown’s only played 420 minutes in the NBA. So, needless to say he didn’t do much to impress coach Mike Brown during his time there. Just about the last thing the Bulls need is another undersized shooting guard who can’t play the point. If there’s a rash of injuries Please see DANOFF on page 15
Monday March 3, 2008
Off-season transactions favorable for White Sox fans
s I look down at the desktop temperature icon, it reads ten degrees. For the end of February, that is pretty cold. Warm days are far away, especially living in Chicago. One warm thought that occurs in my mind is the start of the baseball season. With less than two months away from Opening Day, teams are reporting to Spring Training. It just so happens they are all in warmer climates as opposed to the blustery conditions outside my window. The Chicago White Sox had one of their most embarrassing seasons since 1989 last year. Coming off of a 90 win season in 2006 to finishing fourth with 90 losses in the crucial American League Central last season, the Sox have something to prove and lots of questions that need to be answered. During the off season, General Manager Ken Williams promised to go after the big prospects. What happened was a slap in the face for the organization not only from Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand, but the Detroit Tigers for snatching away Miguel Cabrera and also getting Dontrelle Willis in the deal. However, the Sox did acquire speedy SS Orlando Cabrera from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for back-to-back 18-game winner Jon Garland. A former Gold Glove winner, Cabrera brings stability to an error prone middle infield. The Sox also picked up OF Nick Swisher from Oakland for three young prospects. The switch-hitting Swisher brings power and speed to the line-up that has powerful but slow combination of Thome, Konerko, and Dye. But there are still questions as to how the pitching staff will fair. Last season the bullpen posted the worst collective team ERA since 1957. The Sox went out and got two solid middle relievers in Octavio Dotel and Scott Linebrink while hoping for rebound seasons from Mike MacDougal and Matt Thornton. These pitchers will help build a bridge for Bobby Jenks, who has posted back-to-back 40 save seasons in his first two years in the league.
Who will be in the pitching rotation? Mark Buehrle, Javier Vazquez, and John Danks, and Jose Contreras look to be the starters for 2008. The rotation is not set because there is no definite fifth starter. Gavin Floyd will probably get the spot but needs to work on his confidence. He had an ERA of 5.27 and was 1-5 in 16 games. Contreras had a terrible year at 10-17 with an ERA of 5.57. The Sox have the confidence in Contreras and figure that he will bounce back from a disappointing last season. Vazquez
Sox 2008 Spring Training Schedule Day Date
Opponent Site Time
Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
COLORADO Colorado Arizona Arizona ARIZONA (ss) Arizona (ss) Kansas City LA ANGELS Colorado TEXAS ARIZONA (ss) LA Angels (ss) SF San Diego SEATTLE Texas COLORADO OFF OAKLAND CUBS Arizona Milwaukee SAN DIEGO COLORADO LA Dodgers San Francisco Cubs KANSAS CITY Seattle Colorado MILWAUKEE ARIZONA
Feb. 27 Feb. 28 Feb. 29 March 1 March 2 March 2 March 3 March 4 March 5 March 6 March 7 March 7 March 8 March 9 March 10 March 11 March 12 March 13 March 14 March 15 March 16 March 17 March 18 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22 March 23 March 24 March 25 March 26 March 27
Former Athletics first baseman Nick Swisher doubles off Tampa Bay Devil Ray P Casey Fossum in this May 4, 2007 file photo. Swisher was acquired by the White Sox in the off season.
ELECTRIC PARK Hi Corbett Field Electric Park Electric Park ELECTRIC PARK Hermosillo, Mexico Surprise ELECTRIC PARK Hi Corbett Field ELECTRIC PARK ELECTRIC PARK Tempe ELECTRIC PARK Peoria ELECTRIC PARK Surprise ELECTRIC PARK
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 3:05 p.m. TBA 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. TBA 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
ELECTRIC PARK ELECTRIC PARK Tuscon Electric Park Maryvale ELECTRIC PARK ELECTRIC PARK Phoenix Scottsdale Mesa ELECTRIC PARK Peoria Hi Corbett Field ELECTRIC PARK ELECTRIC PARK
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. TBA 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. TBA 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
All games are Central Standard Time. Dates and times subject to change. Home dates in BOLD. (ss) – split squad game
had a stellar year going 15-8 with an ERA 3.74. Vazquez was the strikeout leader (213) and innings pitched (216 2/3). Then there is the question of who will start at third base. Joe Crede is returning from his back surgery and says he is healthy. Josh Fields took over the position and was successful. The rumors keep swirling about Crede being traded because of contract negotiations. Williams has stated that Crede and agent Scott Boras turned down a contract extension during the off season. Crede
denies that stating he was never offered the amount of years or money or anything to even turn it down. But if Crede proves that he is healthy during spring training, then he might be dealt. Fields is versatile for the Sox because if Crede does stay put then there is an open position in LF because of the departure of injury-prone Scott Posednik. What will the outfield look like for the Sox? They did pick up Swisher and Carlos Quentin in the off season. Jerry Owens was
Please see MCCLAIN on page 13
Bulls/Sox Training Academy launches Pitching Unviversity Program to reduce risk of injury and improve performance in young Players CHICAGO – The Bulls/Sox Training Academy and the Institute for Sports Medicine at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago today announced the launch of White Sox Pitching University, a program that utilizes the latest in biomechanical technology to give young athletes the tools to stay healthy and reach peak athletic performance. Pitching University employs the use of a unique biomechanical analysis program at Children’s Memorial Hospital – the only of its kind in the Midwest. Pitchers 10 years of age and older are eligible to enroll in the program, which provides a full analysis of muscle strength, flexibility and range of motion. The analysis involves outfitting a young pitcher with body-markers and videotaping throwing sequences with several video cameras, which allows experts to map joint motions in three dimensions. The markers and cameras allow the pitching motion to be broken down to specific movements. The Pitching University analysis is used to develop a detailed report by a group of experts that includes: Dr. Cynthia LaBella, Medical Director for the Institute for Sports Medi-
cine and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and Larry Monroe, White Sox advisor to the baseball department and author of “Best-Kept Secrets of Major League Pitching.” The team is rounded out by a physical therapist, kinesiologist and biomedical engineer. The experts’ report serves as a blueprint for Bulls/Sox Training Academy staff on how the pitcher can reduce his injury risk and improve performance. As part of the Pitching University program, the pitcher also receives a DVD that includes a skeletal movie of their throwing motion. After reviewing the report and DVD, the pitcher visits the Training Academy for a 30-minute consultation and eight pitching lessons by trained instructors. The instructors guide the pitcher based on the specific recommendations in the individual’s report. “Now more often than ever, young athletes are plagued with pitching injuries,” said Tim Rappe, president of the Bulls/Sox Training Academy. “White Sox Pitching University utilizes the latest technology, along with recommendations of an expert staff, to identify problem areas and determine a course of correction. This will hopefully lead to more injury-free and positive careers.” For more information about enrollment in White Sox Pitching University, contact the Bulls/Sox Training Academy at (630) PLAYBALL (752-9225) or visit www.bullssoxacademy.com.
Colorado Avalanche right wing Marek Svatos (left) and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith battle for possession of the puck in the Blackhawksâ€™ zone. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the ColoradoAvalanche 2-1 in front of a record crowd of 21,715 at the United Center in Chicago Sunday Feb. 17, 2008.
Avalanche center Tyler Arnason and Blackhawks center Robert Lang face off in the Blackhawks zone during play at the United Center in Chicago Sunday Feb. 17, 2008.
Blackhawks left wing Rene Bourque (12) tries to gain possession of the puck against Colorado defenseman Jordan Leopold. At right: linesmen Andy McElman gets in between Blackhawks defenseman Brent Sopel and Avalanche defenseman Jeff Finger (6) to prevent a fight.
Blackhawks defenseman James Wisniewski takes Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod off the puck behind the Blackhawks net Sunday Feb. 17, 2008. Chicago won the game 2-1.
February17, 2008 Blackhawks 2 Avalanche 1
Warren Wimmer Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) chases down Avalanche center T.J. Hensick (37) behind the net during play. of play.
Monday March 3, 2008
Hawks Goalies red hot in midst February blues By Charlie Danoff
eading into the ’07 – ’08 season, the Chicago Blackhawks had a lot of question marks: Are Kane and Toews ready to compete as rookies? Can they survive with their inexperienced defensive core? Is Dennis Savard ready to be a full-time NHL head coach? The position with the least amount of questions was goaltender, and the pair of Patrick Lalime and Nikolai Khabibulin have proven their value all season long, and particularly as the temperature has dropped outside in February. For the season as a whole, the 35 year old Khabibulin hasn’t been playing at the peak level of his career, that was ’98 – ’99 in Phoenix, where he had a .923 save percentage, 2.13 GAA, and 8 shutouts. He has, however; been putting up his best numbers since coming to the Windy City, with a .906 save percentage and a 2.67 GAA in 41 games. It might be too far to call Khabibulin’s overall stay in Chicago a disappointment, as the teams, and in particular defenseman in front of him were pretty poor the past two years. This year, with a better team and a slightly more experienced (while still young) defensive core, his numbers have gotten more in line with his career averages. Similarly, Lalime is not having the best season of his career; that came in ’02 – ’03 as an Ottawa Senator, where in 67 games, he had a .914 save percentage, a 2.16 GAA and 8 shutouts. That year, he and Marvin the Martian took a trip to the All-Star game, for the first time of Patrick’s career. Marvin still accompanies Patrick every time he steps on the ice; with the ‘Hawks, he now wears an Indian headdress on the front of Lalime’s goalie mask to intimidate opposing scorers. Even if it doesn’t do that, it at least makes him popular with kindergarteners, which is really every pro athlete’s dream. Over the entire ’07 – ’08 campaign, Lalime has played in 21 games backing up Nikolai, while posting a lower GAA of 2.49 and a slightly higher save percentage of .908.
Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin makes a save in this file photo during a game at the United Center in Chicago Dec. 30,2007.
It has been an important year for Patrick, as he’s returned to the form he head as a legit #1 goalie in Ottawa, after losing it the past two years in St. Louis and Chicago. In February, the pair have teamed together to allow a goal or less in four of the ‘Hawks nine games so far. Khabibulin even posted the season’s first shutout on February 20th against the Minnesota Wild, stopping all 38 of their shots as he guided the Hawks
to a win. For the month, the pair have combined to post a 1.889 GAA, and .959 save percentage. If they played like that over the course of the entire season, they could win the William M. Jennings Trophy. As it stands now, they are playing their best hockey exactly when the ‘Hawks need them most. With 22 games left, the Chica-
go is only 8 points out of the playoffs. Considering what people expected of this team heading into the year, the season’s already been a success. If their pair of veteran goalies continue their red hot play amidst Chicago’s winter blues, the franchise could see its first return to the postseason dance since the early days of this millennium, all the way back in 200102.
Hawk convention scheduled for Summer Hull, Mikita, Esposito, Tall, Savard, Toews and Kanne head inaugural event Former Blackhawks greats and Hall of Famers Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito along with General Manager Dale Tallon, current Chicago Blackhawks Head Coach Denis Savard and young stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane will headline a weekend of fun at the First Annual Chicago Blackhawks Convention. Many of the current Blackhawks players and several other alumni members will also be on hand throughout the weekend. “This is a great opportunity for our fans to celebrate their allegiance to their team,” said Blackhawks President John McDonough. “It also gives our players a chance to better understand the tremendous support we have from Blackhawks fans. This is another building block in the resurgence of the Blackhawks franchise.” McDonough added, “One of our goals was to market our franchise twelve months a year. The Blackhawks convention is a great vehicle for us to do that while appealing to Blackhawks fans from all eras. With the combination of current players and alumni members, we feel that there is something for everyone from the long-time fans to the more recent fans of our team.” Chicago native and current Blackhawks and national television analyst Eddie Olczyk has been named Honorary Chairman of the
inaugural Blackhawks Convention. “I am thrilled and honored to be a part of this great event,” said Olczyk. “I look forward to a great weekend with Blackhawks fans along with current players and members of the Blackhawk Alumni.” Blackhawks General Manager Dale Tallon will also be on hand and will take part in a question and answer session regarding hockey operations. The inaugural Chicago Blackhawks Convention will take place in downtown Chicago, July 18-20, 2008. The “puck drops” Friday at 5:00 p.m. with Opening Ceremonies at the Hilton Chicago (720 S. Michigan Avenue). The convention will continue on Saturday (9:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) and Sunday (9:00 p.m. – noon) and the festivities will include: •Autograph and photo sessions with current and former Blackhawks •Q&A sessions with current and former Blackhawks, Business and Hockey Management, and Broadcasters •Coaches and Hockey Operations Staff detailing their strategy for bringing the Stanley Cup to Chicago •Exhibits and interactive games •A live HawkCast (podcast) taping Join current and former Blackhawks in this celebration as we look forward to the upcoming 2008-2009 season while reminiscing
of storied seasons past. Blackhawks legends Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Tony Esposito, Denis Savard, and other favorite alumni will recount their days in the Chicago Stadium while young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will be joined by fellow teammates to share their experiences on and off the ice, from the days of playing on backyard rinks and ponds to the ultimate thrill of competing in the NHL! Chicago Blackhawks Convention Passes for the weekend are available at $50.00 each while supplies last and can be purchased beginning on Thursday, February 21st at 1:00 p.m. at the United Center Box Office, chicagoblackhawks.com, at Blackhawks home games beginning on February 27th, or by calling TicketMaster at (312) 559-1212. Limit eight (8) tickets per customer. Children ages 5 and under are not required to have a pass. Fans staying at the Hilton Chicago for the Chicago Blackhawks Convention will receive two complimentary passes with each night stay and the opportunity to purchase up to four additional passes at $25.00 each. Contact the Hilton Chicago at 1-877-865-5320 for your reservation before rooms sell out! Player appearances and schedule are subject to change. Additional Blackhawks Convention details will be posted at chicagoblackhawks.com as they become available.
Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is shown in this file photo during a game against the Red Wings in Chicago.
Seabrook gets extension General Manager Dale Tallon announced that the Blackhawks have extended the contract of Brent Seabrook for three years. “Seabrook is a big part of our team and one of our team leaders. He is going to be a major part of our success for many years to come.” “I’m excited about continuing my career with the Blackhawks,” said Seabrook. “I love the city of Chicago and really enjoy playing for our great fans.” Seabrook, 22, was the Blackhawks’ 1st round pick (14th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. This season, he has appeared in 58 games with 7 goals and 12 assists for 19 points with 52 penalty minutes and a +12 rating. In his NHL career, Seabrook has played in 208 games with 16 goals and 59 assists for 75 points and 216 penalty minutes.
Monday March 3, 2008
Kelvin Sampson’s world today Dan Dakich.
BY D.K. Wilson
“Failed to comply with sanctions imposed
“Exceeded NCAA limits ...” “Acted contrary to the NCAA principles of ethical conduct ...” “Failed to deport himself in accordance with the generally recognized high standard of honesty ...” “Engaged in an impermissible recruiting contact ...” After a one week “internal investigation” of the above charges, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie announced that Kelvin Sampson and the school will agree to a $750,000 buyout of the coach’s contract, that Sampson will resign and that Athletic Director Rick Greenspan cosigned on that decision. Meantime, it is being said that a redacted name within the NCAA’s charges against Sampson is none other than fantastic freshman guard Eric Gordon. This is the world Kelvin Sampson lives in today. The reaction of the team, led by D.J. White, was to throw their support behind Sampson and to say they will not play if assistant Dan Dakich is named as the interim head coach. In fact, some of the team skipped practice today: D.J. White and five other Indiana University basketball players were not at practice this afternoon at Assembly Hall. Earlier, a person close to the team said players threatened to boycott Saturday’s game at Northwestern if something happened to coach Kelvin Sampson. The source said players will follow White’s lead on whether to play. White, Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee were not at practice. After Greenspan met with the players last night and today, guess who will be the interim head coach?
Stomach tight? About the Sampson situation, this is where the focus won’t be. The focus won’t be on the fact that the 577 “phone violations” at the University of Oklahoma were committed over a four-year period. The focus won’t be on the fact that Sampson’s entire coaching staff was involved in making the calls. The focus won’t be on the fact that when the most recent charges against Sampson came to light in October of last year and that the IU compliance committee found Sampson to be in violation of his probation, but A.D. Rick Greenspan docked him a $500,000 raise he was promised anyway, mainly for appearances sake. There won’t be focus on the knowing that we’re discussing about 12 alleged phone violations against Sampson this time. Nor will you hear Sampson’s side of the story, that he received phone calls at his home and thought they were direct calls from players, but were third-party calls originating from the athletic department and/or his assistant’s offices. Twelve alleged violations. And what is contended is whether or not Sampson orchestrated these calls or whether he is innocent.
The focus won’t be on the fact that the 577 “phone violations” at the University of Oklahoma were committed over a four-year period.
Are you queasy yet? The immediate thought here is this: Bob Knight was fired as IU basketball coach because his personality was flawed. He won games, won national championships, won Big Ten titles, graduated students and was never involved in any illegal activity, that we know of, at least.
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But he was fired because he brow-beat players. Then Knight’s assistant Mike Davis took over the team. The players loved him - heck, he recruited most of them. He was involved in no NCAA violations. However, he did not win Big Ten titles, national championships, nor, in booster’s eyes did he win enough games. So Mike Davis left, not like his predecessor because he won but brow-beat players, but he left because what he did was liked by his players but did not win enough games.
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Stomach beginning to churn? Now Kelvin Sampson has accepted a buyout and resigned. Sampson won games. He recruited well. Sampson and his wife were revered by the players. But because of about 12 phone calls that the IU compliance department - and Greenspan didn’t find cause enough to fire Sampson, when the NCAA came back months later and accused Sampson of lying, Greenspan rushed to ensure that Sampson was forced to resign. If he hadn’t resigned, Kelvin Sampson would more than likely have been suspended for the season and then fired. Is the feeling up in your throat? From the results of the most recent Indiana-Greenspan “investigation,” we can only assume that had the charges against been serious enough, he would have been fired some four months ago. From the result of this most recent go-around, we can only assume that something changed for the university not to come to the same conclusion it did in October of 2007. Let’s not ask questions. Instead let’s break this series of incidents down to their lowest common denominators. For results to change so drastically, the NCAA found out something illegal according to NCAA rules that the IU compliance office failed to unearth. If Sampson was not forced to resign or fired, the university would have been charged with the mortal NCAA sin of “lack of institutional control.” This charge would have meant athletic department-wide sanctions for the university and lots of people who were recently in the IU athletic department out on the tiles scuffling for jobs. And the first person to go would have been ------------- present athletic director Rick Greenspan. We can surmise, then, that Greenspan orchestrated every move of the one-week look into the 12 phone calls. Because of the abruptness with which the 180-degree turn in attitude toward Sampson occurred and from the litany of “self-imposed sanctions” enacted by other colleges and universities when faced with the dreaded lack of institutional control collar, we can gather that the NCAA is wise to Indiana’s game. Since this is the case, the NCAA must know that Greenspan is hiding something or covering for some one or some people within his department; perhaps even for himself. By all rights we should expect the NCAA to announce sometime very soon that the Indiana University athletic department is under a separate investigation for obstructing their examination of the Sampson affair. However, as we can see from the Oklahoma case with Sampson and a case at Fresno State University involving one of Sampson’s ex-assistants, this is not the case. Rather than engage in the obvious probe into what
lies behind this university obfuscation, the NCAA magically, as if hypnotized, turns and walks away, handing out minor penalties that amount to nothing on their way out the door. This is not possible unless the goal of any investigation is to single out one character or set of characters rather than set examples for Division I schools by handing down a prescribed set of punishments for actions of the sort allegedly engaged in by Sampson and Indiana. By now, if you need to remove yourself and seek a toilet, I understand. If we tally all the missteps and oddities within the set of incidents from last year to this, we are left with some scary propositions. We know that the Indiana University compliance office is either incompetent or it was trying to hide information that would have exposed Sampson as a liar in 2007. Or. There was nothing wrong with Sampson’s actions as they relate to telephone usage and communicating with recruits. No matter which end we come up with, the person signing off on all those outcomes is Rick Greenspan. This makes it especially conspicuous and specious that it was Greenspan who ran the latest, rushed one week “investigation” into the phone calls. We know that members of the Indiana University basketball program have serious problems with the treatment of their now former head coach, Kelvin Sampson. We know that these problems were so serious that, despite their gaudy 22-4 record, some players are willing to sit out tomorrow’s game against Northwestern and perhaps sit out the remainder of the season in protest. We know that Greenspan wanted from the beginning to replace Sampson with former IU player, Dan Dakich. However, this is the move that has sent these protesting players over the top. There is something or there are some things that the players know about Dakich that would lead them to take such an extraordinary stance. Greenspan met with the players - and six of the 13 members of the Hoosiers basketball team failed to show up for practice today. It stands to follow that this is not an arbitrary position being taken by the players and that their relationship with Dakich is acrimonious - and has been for some time. It is important, then, to know the root of this acrimony. If the acrimony is on-court and dealing with coaching methods, the problems are points of contention that can be resolved. However, since the players sat out practice after their meetings with Greenspan, there are more than likely off-court considerations that the players have taken into account, and it is those considerations that weighed heaviest in their decision to distance themselves from the team. These are the players who were recruited by and played for Mike Davis. Some of them, including D.J. White considered transferring when Davis was fired. But when Sampson was hired they stayed at IU. When Davis left top recruit Eric Gordon switched allegiances from Indiana to the University of Illinois, but when Sampson was hired he signed a letter of intent with and went to Indiana to play for Sampson. All of the players other than White were recruited by Sampson. All are black. All said they would practice and play if Ray assistant coach McCallum was named as the interim head coach. McCallum is black. Greenspan named Dakich. Dakich is white. It is being said on television sports media outlets and in print that the players in question are young and impressionable and do
Plese see WILSON on page 16
Monday March 3, 2008
What could have been: Making sense of Mark Prior’s potential
By Brian Livingston
admit I am a fan of sports radio. Sometimes it can be a bit tiresome, but other times thought-provoking and the latter was my reaction when I flipped on the radio twice in the same day only to be hit with the same topic-how do Cubs fans feel about Mark Prior? I was fighting my urge to call in (I never call these shows, who has the time?), but just my reaching for the cell phone confirmed the emotion ran deep. I was conflicted. Imagine that, a Cubs fan conflicted. That’s like saying Britney Spears has dependency issues. I attended Prior’s first start as a Cub on May 22, 2002. My friend Jayson and I bought tickets from a scalper and went to witness this baseball event. That’s what I remember feeling as I sat down and sipped my first taste of stale Old Style. Sort of like the first time I went to a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Boy did the Wonder Kid deliver. He struck out 10 defenseless Pittsburgh Pirates; he threw hard, he threw with control and he was only 21. He was unhittable, but infinitely watchable. I never saw Sandy Koufax pitch, but my dad and mom did. They tell me how he threw a one-hit shutout at Dodger Stadium once in less than and hour and a half. Best pitcher they ever saw. I felt like I was watching a young, righthanded Koufax. Fast-forward to 2008. Coming off shoulder surgery, Prior says he pitched pain-free in his first spring training workout. It’s a quote we are all too familiar with here in Chicago. The only quote we had gotten more tired of was “Rex is our quarterback.” Only this time, Prior says it in a San Diego Padres
uniform. You see, the Cubs made a business decision in the off-season. They decided not to offer Prior a contract. He was free to sign anywhere he wanted. He chose San Diego, his hometown. So, that’s it. He’s gone. Nothing is going to bring him back. This happened a few months ago. So, why was this a popular topic on sports radio the other day? Why can’t I, along with other Cub fans, just get over this? Prior gave us no reason to like him. His infamous autograph signing appearance at a Chicagoarea store in 2004 was a public relations disaster. He was eventually sued and lost. He was a bit churlish with the media, always giving off an air of superiority. I never got the sense he didn’t have time for the press, it was more of an issue with attitude. There was a certain California coolness about his demeanor, which made Chicagoans feel distant from him, as if he would rather be somewhere else. This is the opposite of Kerry Wood, who Cub fans accept as one of their own. The difference? Wood has gone out of his way to embrace his inner Cub. To fans, he’s Woody. He’s one of us. As I grapple with these issues, I finally come to a moment of clarity regarding Prior. Why is it so hard to let go of this supremely talented, injury-prone, unlikable jerk? Because of how I felt that day on May 22, 2002. We finally had our Koufax. Our Gibson. Our Clemens. It was as if Mark Prior was pitching in the backyards of every Cub fan watching the game that night. How were we lucky enough to get this guy? It’s about time, we all thought. Now he’s gone.
I felt like I was watching a young, right-handed Koufax.
A hot start for the Cubs T
he Cubs caught a break and it’s quickly from the get go. The Brewers now the sound of the knife cutting into have an average rotation after Sheets and Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo’s left the Cubs can match them, however, they knee, repairing torn cartilage caused during still have questions marks at 4 and 5. The a throwing session. He’s expected to miss 4 Cubs come up a little short with the Brewweeks. Early reports say it was minor and ers offensively head to head, but they are Gallardo’s walking around already. He’s gosignificantly better then most teams in the ing to be 22 this year so a speedy recovery National League. A strong start will give seems likely from the young phenom. The them a shot of confidence that can carry the Brewers, though, have depth with seven rest of their season which is important to a starters gunning for five team that has the pressure spots so they can be cautious of 100 years of failure conwith their prize. There would stantly being flagged in their be no reason to rush him faces like the white towel of back and would want him defeat. completely healthy for the The Cubs poor start last rest of the year. Also, he will year had them buried 8 ½ need time to prepare his megames back in late June. The chanics and condition himCubs crawled to .500 while self in minor league rehab. Milwaukee played lousy, He should be back by mid or letting the Cubs back into late April. the race. It wasn’t until late The Cubs open April August the Cubs started with 16 home games and 10 playing better and won the road games. They play 2 windivision with a mere 85 ning teams from last year at games. 85 games will not home for 7 of those games: win the division this year Brewers and Mets. On the and considering the teams road, they play 5 games in the East and West, won’t by against +.500 teams: Rockwin the wild card either. It’s Amar Rehal ies and Phillies. Not to be imperative they get off to a overly generous but being an strong start to set the tone objective writer, it’s possible for the rest of the year. The the Cubs could split on the Brewers are deeper, more road and win 11 of 16 at home, giving them experienced and hungry from last year’s failan overall record of 16 – 10 to start the first ure. The highest they’ve finished since 1982 month of the baseball season. It’s very pos(gotta love those Harvey’s Wallbangers) is sible they gel unexpectedly and start off with second place twice and no play time in the 17 or 18 wins. promise of red October. Yeah, the Cubs want Why is this significant? With the loss it but so do the Brewers. of Yovani for almost a month and the Cubs The Cubs strong start will give them a strong start, they can position themselves Please see REHAL on page 14
Cubbies in Review
Former Cubs pitcher, Mark Prior, who is now with San Diego rehabs in the Cubs bullpen at Wrigley Field in Chicago in this 2005 file photo.
Cubs 2008 Spring Training Schedule Day Date Thursday Feb. 28 Friday Feb. 29 Saturday March 1 Sunday March 2 Monday March 3 Tuesday March 4 Wednesday March 5 Thursday March 6 Friday March 7
Opponent Site Time San Francisco Scottsdale 2:05 p.m. San Francisco Mesa 2:05 p.m. LA Angels Tempe 2:05 p.m. San Francisco Mesa 2:05 p.m. Seattle Peoria 2:05 p.m. Milwaukee Mesa 2:05 p.m. Arizona Tucson 2:05 p.m. Oakland Phoenix 2:05 p.m. Seattle Mesa 2:05 p.m.
Saturday Saturday Sunday Monday
March 8 March 8 March 9 March 10
Arizona (ss) Oakland (ss) Kansas City Milwaukee
Mesa Phoenix Surprise Maryvale
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
March 11 March 12 March 13 March 14 March 15 March 16 March 17 March 18 March 19 March 19 March 20 March 21 March 22
Oakland Texas San Diego LA Angels White Sox LA Angels OFF DAY Kansas City Oakland (ss) San Francisco(ss) Colorado Colorado White Sox
Mesa Surprise Mesa Mesa Tucson Mesa
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
Mesa Mesa Scottsdale Mesa Tucson Mesa
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
March 23 March 24 March 25 March 26 March 27
San Diego Texas San Francisco LA Angels Milwaukee
Peoria Mesa Scottsdale Tempe Mesa
2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m. 2:05 p.m.
Friday March 28 Saturday March 29 p.m.
Las Vegas 9:15 p.m Las Vegas 3:05
All games are Central Standard Time. Dates and times subject to change. Home dates in BOLD. (ss) – split squad game
Monday March 3, 2008
No hibernation for Cubs fans before 2008 season begins in Spring.
By Brian Livingston
t’s that time of year again. The Super Bowl is over and the dust has settled on another NFL season. This can only mean one thing… Cub’s baseball is right around the corner. Pitchers and catchers report on the 14 of February. There is no better time of year then when player’s report to spring training. All the players come out of hibernation ready to prepare for the 162 game grind. The Cubs first spring training is on February 28 when the Cubs visit the San Francisco Giants in Scottsdale, AZ. The Cubs first spring training home game will be on February 29 at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ against the Giants. Other notable games this spring include the Cubs renewing their rivalry with the Brewers at HoHoKam on March 4, 27and the Cubs will also take on the Brewers at Maryvale Park on March 10. It will be a rematch of 2007 NLDS when the Cubs take on the Diamondbacks on March 5 at Electric Park in Tucson, AZ. The Cubs will take on the D-Backs at home on March 8. The cross-town rivalry is picked up on March 15 and 22 when the Cubs play the White Sox. The season ended too early in the mind of most Cub fans sending them into a hibernate state. Incase you’ve been under a
rock since October here is an update on the deals that Cubs have made this off-season. Unlike last off-season Jim Hendry wasn’t as busy as some expected him to be. However, this doesn’t mean Hendry stood pat with the club as is. Almost similar to the ’06 off-season when Hendry went out and signed his number one free agent target Alfonso Soriano, this off-season was no different. Hendry signed Japanese free agent outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Fukudome brings a left-handed bat and will play right-field. Hendry also added depth to the pitching rotation. A familiar face was brought to the North-side of town. Righty Jon Lieber will return to the Cubs and bolster the back end of the rotation as a fourth or fifth starter. Lieber is the last 20 game winner for Cubs. A total of 20 non-roster players have been invited to spring training. Some notable names include right-hander and former White Sox reliever Shingo Takatsu, right handed reliever Chad Fox, Catcher JD Closser and Koyie Hill who was with the club last season. The Cubs will have 14 games televised this spring, six on Comcast, nine on WGN and one on ESPN 2. The first game will be televised on Comcast on March 1. They will also have nine games aired on WGN radio 720 AM.
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A look past the spin of performance enhancers WILSON continued from Page 2
Marion Jones, Tim Montgomery, Raymond J. Smith and Kelli White, middle-distance runner Regina Jacobs; from boxing-Shane Mosley; from cycling-Tammy Thomas; from football-Bill Romanowski, Tyrone Wheatley, Barrett Robbins, Chris Cooper and Dana Stubblefield. At that moment had the government stepped in and said enough is enough, we need to use these athletes and their PED abuse to as a foundation to explore disturbing trends that have been overlooked in America, sports and the nation might look different today. The sentiment that fans are tired of hearing about PEDs would have taken place in 2005. Members of the press awakening to the fact that meaningful conversation needs to occur if we are to wrap our heads around PED abuse, explore their use, and suggest solutions to these issues would probably be done by now. Had Bud Selig, Roger Goodell, and the heads of all sporting leagues whose athletes are actively involved in PED abuse and use been forced to testify and been forced to become solution oriented, we would be in a much different place today. We might have a much better idea about steroid use in the MLB-sanctioned Dominican Republic camps, where it is now a shadow rumor that more players than we will ever know are injecting steroids as teenagers in order to enhance their bodies and enhance their opportunities to make it to the United States with a MLB contract in hand. Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and anyone else mentioned in the Mitchell Report would have testified years ago. Would Barry Bonds’ pending perjury trial carry the same weight under this scenario or would it be such an afterthought that the case would have little or no meaning? Dr. Norman Fost’s peer-reviewed study
that condemns steroid use by males before age 25 and women of any age, would have come to the fore, more studies would have been conducted-HGH studies, additional steroid studies, even studies of the exact nature of “the cream” and “the clear” would have been conducted. A muted sports issue would be a national health and wellness issue. And the world might look a bit different than it does now. We might more deeply understand the culture of “cheating”, not only in sports, but in the general public. Are we asking for societal competition where there should be cooperation, societal cooperation where there should be competition? If not, what then? But as it stands, we’re years behind where we could be and should be. We know that Bud Selig, the owners, Donald Fehr and the players dragged their feet until they were forced under threat of long-term or permanent Congressional oversight to act. We know the commissioners of every other league turned away and pretended that PEDs did not exist, until they were threatened like Selig. We know the media is generally still mired in day-to-day titillation when addressing the issue of PEDs instead of, as a bloc, looking to move the conversation to a mature place. We know we continue to struggle with the basics of how to perceive athletes who might have or who admitted to using PEDs. And the kids? One thing we can surmise is that “the kids” were not of primary interest to Waxman, Davis, and their peers. We know that the issue of performanceenhancing drugs has devolved into a “made for spin” television and news print event. We’re getting the nagging feeling that we might have had our heartstrings pulled and our notions of morality manipulated And we have, once again, been hoodwinked.... Damn.
If elements click Sox can compete for Central MCCLAIN continued from page 7
solid in center field last season. Jermaine Dye will return to right field and hopes to provide the same offense to the line-up as he did in the second half of last year. If Owens gets a spot in the line-up, then he would move to center and Swisher would go to left. Owens might also be considered to be the lead off hitter because of his speed. In fact, Owens led all Major League rookies last season with 32 stolen bases. But Swisher is secure enough to play center if that is what is in store. The final question is whether the Sox can compete in the AL Central. Cleveland was one game away from the World Series last season. Detroit went to the World Series in 2006. We all remember what happened in 2005. Cleveland has all of its players returning. However, the Tribe and star pitcher C.C. Sabathia have ended contract talks until after the 2008 season. It may potentially
affect his play or he might want to increase his market value for upcoming free agency. Detroit gained power and speed in their line-up from Miguel Cabrera. The Minnesota Twins traded away the Sox killer pitcher Johan Santana to the New York Mets. The Kansas City Royals showed signs of life toward the end of the season with a last place battle with the Sox. So, can the Sox compete? Yes they can. How? That is the question that needs to be answered throughout the year. If everything clicks like it did in 2005, then the Sox have a shot at second place. If the bullpen fails, the hitters slump, and the starting rotation has a sub par year again, then we are looking at another battle between Kansas City and the Sox. The players are now warming up in 60 degree weather. My desktop temperature icon now read seven degrees.
Dugout, bullpen, bleacher box seats on sale March 14 CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs announced 2008 single-game tickets for the dugout, bullpen and Bud Light bleacher box seats will go on sale Friday, March 14 at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available exclusively on www.cubs.com, only on a single-game basis. The sale of the new bullpen box seats being added between the home dugout and the left field bullpen is forthcoming. Other individual game tickets for the 2008 regular season will go on sale this Friday, Feb. 22. The dugout box seats run from the edge of the Cubs dugout to the visitors’ dugout
Dugout Box Right Field Bullpen Box Bud Light Bleacher Box
while the bullpen box seats run at the end of the visitors’ dugout to the right field bullpen. The 252 bleacher box seats are located in the first rows of the right field section of the Bud Light bleachers, near the foul pole. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase up to six Dugout, Bullpen or Bleacher Box tickets. A virtual waiting room will be used for all Internet orders. The virtual waiting room will begin accepting customers at 9:30 a.m. on March 14. At 10:00 a.m., customers will be randomly selected from the virtual waiting room to begin purchasing tickets. Pricing for these individual tickets:
select ticket prices
Value Games $100 $80 $34
Regular Games Prime Games $175 $160 $56
$300 $220 $68
Monday March 3, 2008
Chicago Fire Announce 2008 MLS Schedule BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – The Chicago Fire, in conjunction with Major League Soccer, today unveiled their 2008 regular season schedule and national television broadcast information. The Fire are slated to appear in a total of 21 national television broadcasts throughout their 11th season of MLS play. For a second consecutive year, every Fire game will be televised, either through national or regional broadcasts, or on MLSnet.com. The “Men in Red” will begin MLS play on the road against Real Salt Lake at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah on March 29, at 5:00 p.m. CT. The Fire return to Bridgeview for their home opener at Toyota Park as the squad hosts 2007 MLS Cup finalist New England Revolution on Thursday, April 3 (7:30 p.m. CT kickoff ) for the first of their six ESPN2 MLS Primetime Thursday broadcasts. The ESPN2 MLS Primetime broadcast will begin at 7:00 p.m. CT and include a half-hour pregame show. The Fire will play their first-ever match against the 2008 MLS expansion San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, April 12 (3:30 p.m. CT) at McAfee Stadium in Oakland, Calif. The star studded Los Angeles Galaxy will again play in Chicago on Thursday, Sept. 25 (8:00 p.m. CT) in a much anticipated game that will also be televised on ESPN2. Branching across multiple programming platforms, the “Men in Red” will appear on national broadcast partners ESPN2 (six games), Fox Soccer Channel (four games), TeleFutura (seven games), and HDNet (four games) throughout the season. The Fire will
release their 2008 regional television schedule, as well as international coverage of matches at a later date. In addition to the 30-game MLS regular season schedule, the Fire will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and a number of international exhibition matches that will be announced as the season progresses. Season ticket packages for the Fire’s third season at Toyota Park are available now and can be purchased by calling 1-888-MLSFIRE or by visiting the Toyota Park Ticket Office, located at 7000 S. Harlem Ave., between business hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. CT. Chicago Fire Soccer is proud to announce that Full Season Ticket prices in all seating areas will remain at their 2007 prices, with Supporters packages starting at special $200 limited time rate. The Fire has also put Half Season (10 events) and Flex Plan (20 ticket vouchers) packages on sale at their 2007 prices. Fans are encouraged to check the seating chart in the Ticket section of www.chicago-fire.com. Single-game tickets for 2007 Fire matches at Toyota Park, with the exception of the Fire’s Sept. 25 home match against the Galaxy, will go on sale through the Toyota Park Ticket Office and Ticketmaster outlets beginning Monday, March 6 at 10:00 a.m. CT. Tickets for the Fire versus Galaxy contest are currently available for purchase only via Chicago Fire Season Ticket plans – including Full Season, Half Season and Flex Plan packages – and Group Ticket packages. For more information, please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
Chicago Fire 2007 MLS Schedule Sat. Thurs. Sat. Sun. Sat. Sat. Thurs. Sat. Sun. Sat. Sun. Thurs. Sat. Sat. Sat. Sat. Sun. Sat. Sun. Sat. Thurs. Sun. Sat. Sun. Sun. Sat. Sun. Sun. Sat. Thurs. Thurs.- Sun. Thurs.- Sun. Thurs.- Sun. Sun.
March 29 at Real Salt Lake April 3 vs. New England Revolution April 12 at San Jose Earthquakes April 20 vs. Kansas City Wizards April 26 vs. Colorado Rapids May 3 at New England Revolution May 8 at D.C. United May 17 vs. Houston Dynamo May 25 at New York Red Bulls June 7 vs. D.C. United June 15 at FC Dallas June 19 at Club Deportivo Chivas USA June 28 vs. San Jose Earthquakes July 5 at Columbus Crew July 12 vs. Toronto FC July 19 vs. Real Salt Lake July 27 at Kansas City Wizards Aug. 2 vs. Club Deportivo Chivas USA Aug 9 at New England Revolution Aug. 16 vs. D.C. United Aug. 21 at Los Angeles Galaxy Aug. 31 at Houston Dynamo Sept. 6 vs. New York Red Bulls Sept. 14 at Colorado Rapids Sept. 21 vs. FC Dallas Sept. 25 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy Oct. 5 at Kansas City Wizards Oct. 12 vs. Columbus Crew Oct. 18 at Toronto FC Oct. 23 vs. New York Red Bulls Oct. 30- Conference Semis 1 Nov. 2 Nov. 6- Conference Semis 2 Nov. 9 Nov. 13- Conference Championship Nov. 16 Nov. 23 MLS Cup 2008
5:00 7:30 ESPN2 3:30 2:00 TeleFutura 7:30 HDNet 6:30 6:30 ESPN2 7:30 2:00 TeleFutura 7:30 FSC/FSE 2:00 TeleFutura 9:30 ESPN2 7:30 7:00 7:30 FSC/FSE 7:30 7:00 7:30 HDNet 6:30 HDNet 7:30 9:30 ESPN2 6:00 7:30 FSC/FSE 2:00 TeleFutura 2:00 TeleFutura 8:00 ESPN2 2:00 TeleFutura 2:00 TeleFutura 2:30 HDNet 8:00 ESPN2 TBD TBC TBD 2:30
(all times CT)
Spring Training Prediction: Curses aside Cubs can compete REHAL continued from page 13
cushion to iron out their concerns. They can determine who can be their 4th and 5th starters, letting the merry go around of Dempster, Lieber, Gallagher and Marshall each pitch with a long leash. They also need to figure out who can be their reliable lefty reliever in the bullpen because Cotts and Eyre may not bring it. To help the team get off to a good start, three key players must produce: Carols Zambrano, Kosuke Fukudome and Geovany Soto. After Zambrano’s yo yo season of last year, setting the tone in April would do wonders not only for his confidence for the rest of the season, but bolster the entire rotation’s confidence as well. It would unload the pressure from Hill and Lilly to carry the team for stretches like last year and let the
So if the stars align properly, the earth rotates on its axis and they’re no snow outs in April, the Cubs can propel themselves quickly from the rest of the pack. Cubs figure out their fourth and fifth spots. Zambrano is capable of putting it altogether, with a fresh frame of mind, a strong offense and defense to support him and stifling bullpen as well. The biggest key to the Cub’s offense is Fukudome. The walks and hits will
Nascar 2008: It is upon us by
What a story, Jr wins his career second Bud Shootout, his first racing for Hendrick Motor Sports. While smoking “Smoke” to take the checkered flag at Daytona. DEI must be wondering where did we go wrong, the fair haired son has left the building. Maybe his leaving will let Dale Jr grow into his own, and really get out from under the shadow of Dale Earnhardt Sr. As in other sports; a change of scenery is good for the soul. While DEI is soul searching, the # 88 car will flourish. Maybe the King of Beers should have followed. Kind of hard I would say for Kasey Kahne driving a Dodge that finished in 10th place to de-throne Dale Jr. While making nice-nice with Jeff Gor-
don, Casey Mears and Jimmie Johnson, Dale Sr is probably looking down and smiling, as junior, Just like Sinatra is saying “I’ll Do It My Way” This photographer/writer although not a total gear head, has gained immense respect for this sport. While photographing NASCAR, Winston and Nextel, Craftsman Truck and the Busch Series for the past 6 years, I have grown to respect these athletes’. Oh yes they are, they lift, press and practice just like the NFL, NBA, PGA and MLB athletes do. For those of you who have not tried it yet, get to your closest track, listed a www. nascar.com, kick back and enjoy a beverage of your choice and let the smell of racing fuel and burning rubber permeate your clothing. Trust me you will like it.
be there, but he will need to generate some power to keep teams honest, preventing them from pitching around Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez. He is the only significant left handed bat in the lineup and will hit either 3rd or 5th. If he fails, it will have a
terrible trickle down effect for the rest of the offense, but if he can pop 20 or 25 HR’s, watch out. Also, if Soto can prove his torrid season of last year was no fluke and resemble something of .280, 15 – 20 HR’s, he can provide punch and balance at the bottom of the order. Teams would have to pitch 1 – 8 with no significant weakness, making their lineup a force in the National League. So if the stars align properly, the earth rotates on its axis and they’re no snow outs in April, the Cubs can propel themselves quickly from the rest of the pack. Gallardo’s injury is a nice break but the Cubs now need to make their own breaks, taking advantage of most teams early season slumber and roar into May with a winning record. If they can ride the golden arm of Zambrano, Fukudome’s bat onto Sheffield, then the rest will fall into place.
Monday March 3, 2008
Trade ends Wallace era; could save Paxon’s legacy DANOFF continued from page 6
he may see some time, but odds are against him doing anything meaningful in a Bulls uniform. Welcome home buddy! Cedric Simmons Contract: 2007/08 $1,629,120 2008/09 $1,742,760 2009/10 $2,671,651 (Team Option) 2010/11 $3,734,968 (Qualifying Offer) Like Brown, Simmons hasn’t seen too much burn in his first two seasons in the NBA. Big men do usually take longer to develop, however; and he came out as a sophomore, after not really playing his freshman year. Given how little he’s played and his youth, there’s a solid chance he could really improve going forward. Given I’ve somehow missed his career 604 minutes of action, I’ll turn again to DraftExpress.com (2) to get the lowdown on Cedric. His profile was considerably longer than Brown’s so check out the link if you want more details, here I’ll quote briefly from his outlook, “Simmons is in good shape for this draft, as his combination of strengths (height, length, frame, athleticism, tenacity, attitude, budding skills, upside) is extremely rare, while his weaknesses are, for the most part, highly improvable. ... He projects as a power forward, but can certainly steal some minutes at center due to his length and athleticism in today’s small-ball infatuated NBA, particularly once he adds weight to his terrific frame.” There is certainly room in the Bulls frontcourt for a cheap, defensive-oriented rebounding big man. If he works hard for the rest of this year and this off-season, there’s no reason he couldn’t become a regular off the bench for the Bulls going forward. Of course, he could also not improve and disappear from the NBA quite quickly. Either way, it’s always nice when you can get someone like this with high potential and low risk as a throw-in in a trade. Larry Hughes, aka “Smooth” (a) Contract: 2007/08 $12,000,084 2009/10 $12,827,676 2010/11 $13,655,268
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Since coming to the NBA in 1998 after starring at his hometown college of St. Louis University, where he averaged 20.9 PPG, 5.1 RPG and 2.1 SPG as a freshman, Hughes has had an up and down career. He couldn’t find a way to mesh with then 76ers star Allen Iverson, and was traded halfway through his second year to the Golden State Warriors. In an interesting piece of career symmetry, this first trade of his career was a threeteam deal, also featuring the Chicago Bulls. GM at the time Jerry Krause refused to take Hughes back, preferring instead a 2000 first round pick from the Warriors. The pick was used on Jamal Crawford. At least, this time in a three-way trade, we got Hughes. In two and a half years with Golden State, Hughes did nothing particularly noteworthy; though he play point guard relatively competently for a period. Being able to at least fill in at the point is a real nice aspect to have for a 6-5 scoring 2 guard. It speaks to Larry’s all-around game. He signed with Washington in the 2002 off-season, and his third year there was the best of his career. His PER was 21.6, which is at an All-Star level (c). His jack-of-alltrades game was on full display, as he averaged 22 PPG, 4.7 APG, 6.3 RPG and lead the league with 2.9 SPG. He even made the All-Defense first team. It was that performance which caused the idiot Danny Ferry to vastly overpay for him. He didn’t meshed with LeBron during his Cleveland tenure, and his numbers never equaled those he put up as a 26 year old for the Wizards. Though, again starting as a PG he was good enough to support LeBron on their over hyped run to the NBA Finals. This year in particular was a rough one for Hughes, as many of his numbers are the lowest of his career. He’s never been noted as a particularly good shooter, but and his FG percentage of .377 shows that. He was injured early on, which has been a chronic problem for him, as he’s only played a full 82 games once. It should be noted, though, after finally returning to full strength he had been playing really well his last ten games with the Cavs. His averages were 4.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.1 SPG and 19.9 PPG. His field goal percentage also got more in line with the rest of the career and returned to a respectable 43.1%.
How he fits in with the Bulls this season and going forward remains to be seen. While he will unquestionably be overpaid for his tenure, I think he will be a solid addition that will fit in well with what the Bulls want to accomplish. In Sunday night’s ESPN telecast, sideline reporter Lisa Saunders revealed a surprisingly valuable insight (for a sideline reporter, who’re almost always useless) she gained in an interview with Smooth. He complained that he never fit in with the role Cleveland coach Mike Brown asked of him: to be a spot up shooter. He said he’s more of a scorer who moves without the ball and within a flowing offensive system. That’s exactly the kind of offense the Bulls try to run. His defensive skills will also be much appreciated, as the Bulls have been looking for a big defensive guard since they’ve returned to the playoffs. Of course, they found the answer to that problem in January with Thabo Sefolosha, but there’s still room for Hughes. Many pundits have been commenting on how his arrival means the definite end of Ben Gordon’s tenure. Paxson shot down that idea Friday, and I don’t think he was lying. Given Larry’s defensive talent and ability to play point for stretches, he actually could play with Big Ben. Against the Rockets, Jim Boylan put the two on the floor together for stretches and they played well off each other. Gordon is a better scorer than Larry, while Hughes does everything else better. Actually, if Larry’s arrival spells the end for any Bulls guard, it’s more likely Thabo whose game is similar to Hughes’, but not quite at his level, yet. Player movement aside, the Bulls guard who will suffer most from the move will be Chris Duhon. He got a DNP-CD Sunday night and that figures to be the norm. If I had my druthers, I’d start Du, as he remains the best pure point guard the Bulls have and the only guy who can really run an NBA offense. With him as the general, the Bulls always score better. At the end of the day, given his contract Paxson would probably prefer to move Hughes this off-season if he could. For the rest of this campaign, I think Larry will fit in real well with the Bulls and be a big part of them returning to the postseason.
Either way, Gooden is a gigantic upgrade over both Smith and Wallace and will help the Bulls on both ends of the floor.
Drew Gooden, aka The Truth (*he claims this was his before Pierce), The Big Drizzle Contract: 2007/08 $6,400,000 2009/10 $7,100,000 Gooden played his college ball at the University of Kansas with Kirk Hinrich. His third and final year with the Jayhawks, he a double-double, with 19.8 PPG and 11.4 RPG. That was good enough to get him drafted by the best GM of all time, “The Logo,” Jerry West. For one reason or another Gooden failed to live up to West’s expectations, and he was traded to Orlando midway through his rookie year. So far in his career, that’s really been the truth about “The Truth,” not living up to his potential. Whether it was in Memphis, Orlando, or eventually Cleveland, his career averages of 12.0 PPG and 7.9 RPG are not the kind of numbers expected from a #4 overall pick. That aside, the player Drew Gooden is today, especially at his overly reasonable salary, is exactly what the Bulls have been looking for all season. He’s a proven scorer with his back to the basket, which nobody else on the roster is, save Aaron Gray. Unlike Gray, however; Gooden’s overall game is good enough to warrant extended minutes. As he gets more comfortable with his teammates, the entire scope of the Bulls offense will change. The flashes of a dynamic inside-outside game we’ve seen with Gray will become the norm. No longer will the Bulls jump shooters have to work especially hard to get good looks. If defenses play too hard on them, they can dish it inside for an easy score by the Big Drizzle. Once defenders start collapsing on Drew, he’s a good enough passer to hit Hinirch, Gordon or Deng for open jumpers. And, even if they were still all shooting as bad as they were at the beginning of the year (they aren’t, thank God) they would make more shots if they were open, as opposed to having a man in their face. For some reason, opposing defenses didn’t really feel it was necessary to guard Ben Wallace. Also keep in mind, that even if Gooden never lives up to his draft number, another bust, a #1 overall bust, in fact, Joe Smith, was pretty solid for Chicago this year before he got traded. I don’t know if Gooden will start or not. If he does, I hope it’s at the center position, as Tyrus deserves to start and is much better as a starter. Either way, Gooden is a gigantic upgrade over both Smith and Wallace and will help the Bulls on both ends of the floor.
The luck, talent and equipment that is NASCAR Making sense of Junior’s finish at Daytona as season begins By Andrea Beaver
The 2008 Daytona 500 is in the history books. Ryan Newman won the race by being consistent, staying out of trouble and by being the recipient of a much needed push from his teammate Kurt Busch at the end of the race. Many people thought that Dale Earnhardt Jr. would win the 50th running of the 500. He finished 9th. Does that mean his day was a failure? If you are a consistent observer of stock car racing you know that it is equal parts of luck, talent and good equipment. Jeff Gor-
don had an equipment failure in his suspension. Jimmie Johnson had a less than perfect pit stop that put him behind and then he was involved in a spin towards the end of the race. Casey Mears slapped the wall hard and that took him out of contention after running fairly well all day. That put all three of Dale Jr.’s teammates out of the race or out of reach to help push him forward. But again was it a failure? All the pundants and prognosticators will spend at least the next week, when the NASCAR circuit arrives at California Speedway, trying to put their spin on Junior’s results. Some will repeatedly remind everyone that he won the short sprint races but couldn’t win the actual races. I for one see everything that transpired for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Daytona these last two weeks as nothing but success. Let’s face it. When you start working at a new job do you have immediate chemistry with your co-workers? Does everything go perfectly?
No. You learn and you grow as you go. And you take those lessons you are learning to become better at what you do. Dale Junior did just that. For most of the race he ran consistently no lower than the top 10. He took a car that obviously did not have the horsepower to run with the Toyotas and stuck with them lap after lap with no help because his teammates were not available. Junior got up on the wheel and drove a car that sometimes looked too loose to stay on the track. He learned what his new team’s equipment could do for him and he did the very best he could with it. Was it a failure? Like I said before many will analyze and dissect Junior’s performance and draw their own conclusions. Maybe it will take his first points paying win before they call Dale Jr.’s performance a success. But I for one see the results of this Daytona 500 as not only a success for Junior but just the beginning of what looks to be a great season for the 88 team.
Monday March 3, 2008
Top-ranked Tennessee at the top of their game in time for tourney KABRON continued from page 3
Purdue would return to the Big Ten basement. But behind freshman guards E’Twaun Moore and Robbie Hummel, the Boilers have risen to the top of the conference, holding a half-game lead over Indiana and Wisconsin. Hummel has been especially spectacular lately, scoring 24 points and pulling down 11 boards in the teams Feb. 12 upset of Michigan State after dropping 21 points three days earlier in another win, this time at Wisconsin. Purdue has the looks of a squad who goes unnoticed until they suddenly appear in the Elite Eight. South Alabama – The Jaguars of South Alabama are in a tight race with Western Kentucky for first place in the Sun Belt Conference, with both schools entering their February 21 contest at 21-5. South Alabama has a run and gun offense, putting up over 78 points a game, the best in the conference. They are led by guard Demetric Bennett, a player who comes up big when it matters most. In the Jaguars’ biggest win of the season-a Dec. 15 upset of Mississippi StateBennett dropped 39 points, going 14 of 17 from the field and five of seven from the free-throw line. In two other games against big-conference teams, three-point losses to both Ole Miss and Vanderbilt, the guard scored an average of 27 points. Even if they don’t win the Sun Belt, South Alabama still might be able to make it to the big dance with an at-large bid. Tennessee – Wait a second, what in the name of Peerless Price is going on here? I thought Tennessee was a football school. Well, it was until coach Bruce Pearl moved to Knoxville. He brought a full-court press defense and a run-and-gun offense that has been almost impossible for SEC competition to defend. This years Vols squad is ranked second in the country with a record of 23-2, including wins over Xavier, Gonzaga and Ohio State. Their offense is one of the nation’s best, scoring close to 81 points a game, led by All-American shooting guard Chris Lofton. This Saturday they have a matchup with Memphis, which will put the top two teams in the country on the same court for the first time all season. If they win that, you could see Tennessee as the number one overall team heading into March. Texas – Just like nobody would have ever guessed that the Giants would win the Super Bowl after the retirement of Tiki Barber, there weren’t many folks out there who predicted that the Longhorns would do better after Kevin Durant left for the NBA. Yet UT is ranked in the top ten, has won more than 20 games and posts the best trio of victories in the country, with wins over Tennessee (ranked #2 in the land), Kansas
Anthony J Causi/Icon SMI
University of Tennessee’s Chris Lofton dribbles past a defender during the first half of play against Butler at Madison Square Gardnin in New York Nov. 26, 2007.
(#4) and UCLA (#6). Point guard D.J. Augustin is one of the best floor leaders in the country, leading Texas in scoring and assists as well as being second in steals. The ‘Horns may not have the star power they possessed a year ago, but they might just have a better all around team. Xavier – Last season, the Musketeers were
oh-so close to pulling the first shocking upset of the NCAA Tournament. They had number one seed Ohio State on the ropes in the second round, and only a 35-foot threepointer by Buckeye Ron Lewis pushed the game into overtime, with OSU eventually pulling out a 78-71 win. This year, expect Xavier to be playing deeper into March. Currently ranked tenth in the country, the
X-Men have defeated Indiana and Kansas State in the non-conference and are 10-1 in the Atlantic Ten Conference. With incredible balance-six Musketeers average ten or more points a game but none scores more than 12.2-it is very difficult to contain their offense. And with suburb quickness, there are very few teams that match up with them on D.
Coach’s departure leaves more questions than answers WILSON continued from page 11
not know what they do: (By the way, don’t be angry with the players. They’re young, they’re emotional, and their desire to show loyalty to the man who recruited them is noble, if misguided. Eventually, they will understand that if Sampson really cared that much about them, he wouldn’t have jeopardized their futures by breaking the rules). But let these same players get caught up in some sort of receiving illegal gifts scheme and watch and read how quickly these “misguided” young men are perceived as greedy and slick and knowing the way the world works and ‘how they knew what they were doing all the time.’ Dry heaves are to be expected. Of course there is no smoking gun that race is involved in the decisions made by
Greenspan and IU ‘s Australian president, Michael McRobbie. But. The footprints of race and moves made with race in mind. It is no accident that nine of the top 10 Hoosier players, statistically, are black. It was no accident that Davis was reviled by the overwhelmingly white “Hoosier Nation.” It was no accident that every white former IU player who had head coaching experience was being considered for the position after Davis was gone. And it was no accident that the sentiment of Hoosier Nation was that the hiring of Sampson over a coach who “understands
how important Indiana basketball is to ‘the people’ of Indiana,” was a mistake. Now, thanks to this “scandal” involving about 12 phone calls of questionable origin, Indiana University has its white, former IU player as head coach. We know Rick Greenspan acted far too quickly for there to be an adequate re-investigating of the charges levied at Sampson. We know this week was spent figuring out the best method to relieve Sampson of his duties. So, in fact, there was no investigation. And we know not even this obvious lie has piqued the interest or registered on the
We will never know if Sampson was truly guilty or innocent.
B.S. radar of the NCAA’s investigative arm to find out exactly what role Greenspan played in Sampson’s demise. We will never know if Sampson was truly guilty or innocent. We will never know why the players are protesting and do not want to play for Dakich (though, in the end, they probably will play out the string, for themselves, if nothing else); why White, a senior, led the protest of these players recruited by Sampson. We will never know why the NCAA chose now, rather than after the season to levy the charges at Sampson. We will never know how, of all the names redacted from the NCAA report, the only one that can be discerned is allegedly that of Eric Gordon’s. What we do know is that somebody is owed something - and the NCAA offices are just down the road in Indianapolis.