Hoops, hockey and new Bears

March 25, 2013

It was oh-so close for the only Illinois men’s team in the NCAA tourney last night. The #7 Fighting Illini was eliminated by #2 University of Miami 63-59 in their NCAA tournament game Sunday night. With a 55-54 Illinois lead with 1:24 left, Hurricane guard Shane Larkin, hit a three pointer that gave Miami the lead for good. Larkin, son of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, originally committed to DePaul. Illini senior guard Brandon Paul finished his career with a team-high 18 points.

It was one and done for DePaul’s women in the NCAA tournament last night. The 10th seed Lady Demons lost 73-56 to #7 Oklahoma State in Durham, North Carolina.

Every time you feel like writing the Bulls off, especially with all the injuries, they make a comeback. It almost has the feel of a boxer on its last legs, bloodied and tired but not going down. On Saturday, they took down the Eastern Conference #2 seed Indiana 87-84 at the United Center. It was the Bulls first win against the Pacers this year. Besides Derrick Rose and Richard Hamilton sitting out Joakim Noah was missing this weekend with his sore foot.

On Sunday, the Bulls beat the Wolves in Minnesota 104-97, Marco Bellini joined the injured group with a strained abdomen.  Jimmy Butler got the start for Bellini against the Wolves  

How the Bulls were able to come out ahead with all the injuries is a testament to their dogged efforts to try to stay relevant. Kirk Hinrich is back, with limited minutes, and Taj Gibson is also playing as he nurses his sore knee. It just seemed like the Bulls were going to go down for the count.

They’ll have to keep on fighting, especially this week. After a two-day rest, the NBA’s heavyweight champion Miami Heat will be in town. They have only won 26 straight games, and if Miami wins tonight in Orlando, the Bulls will be next up to try to stop that streak. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the challenger could knock them out, despite a depleted roster? What a circus it is going to be at the United Center. The only thing that would amp it up more is a Derrick Rose return. Expect those rumors to make the rounds.

Before the Heat steamroll into the UC, the ice will the stage tonight and tomorrow for the Blackhawks. The defending champion LA Kings are in town for the Hawks after a three-day rest. Marion Hossa remains sidelined.

After yesterday’s practice, players savored the rest. Viktor Stalberg said it was nice to not think about hockey, and Nick Leddy is enjoying a visitor, his mom. Leddy is getting some home cooking with salmon as his favorite main course. There will be plenty of home cooking for the Hawks, since they play ten of their next fourteen at the United Center.

One week from today, we can add another to the sports menu...Baseball's Opening Day. Now if only the weather will cooperate.

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