GROBBER’S MONDAY RANTS—Nov 30,2009

MINNEAPOLIS—***Do the Bears STILL think they are in the playoff chase? Minnesota just toyed with them up here Sunday. And these two play again at Soldier Field in a few weeks!

***They were so awful,that they were held to just two lousy yards offense in the second half of this debacle. Now it turns out that in a Yahoo Sports interiview,Brian Urlacher ripped Jay Cutler and called Kyle Orton a winner, no doubt a shot at Cutler.

***Next week the awful St.Louis Rams are at Soldier Field,and one of two things will happen.A)The Bears win as excepted-causing a few of them to spew BS about them still being a factor, or B)They somehow lose,which would be an even larger embarrassment than the brutal losses to Cincinnati and Arizona.

***Reports claim that Charlie Weis has already cleaned out his desk after Notre Dame lost to Stanford Saturday night. The 6-6 Irish do NOT deserve to go to a Bowl,but don’t be surprised if they get an invite. The Bowl bids come out this coming weekend.

***All of a sudden,things are looking surprisingly good for local College hoops teams. NORTHWESTERN won the Chicago Invitational Challenge at the UIC Pavilion over the weekend with wins over Notre Dame and Iowa State, DE PAUL and LOYOLA are both off to 4-1 starts and ILLINOIS STATE is 6-0. BRADLEY stunned ILLINOIS in the third place game of the Las Vegas Invitational.

***Now that the Blackhawks are done with their Circus Trip(4-1-1)they return to the United Center Tuesday night to host Columbus. The Bulls finished the western part of their own Circus trip(1-4)but still have Monday night’s game with the Bucks at the Bradley Center.

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BEARS FALL TO 4-7, NO MATCH FOR VIKES

MINNEAPOLIS—The Bears now have lost four in a row and six of seven after getting soundly whipped 36-10 by the playoff bound Minnesota Vikings in the Metrodome Sunday. Brett Favre,facing the Bears as a Viking for the first time,threw for a season high 392 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second quarter,and Jay Cutler was limited to 147 yards and 1 TD pass while getting intercepted twice.The Bears only had TWO net yards in the 2nd half.
The Vikings marched with ease on the opening drive of the game from their own 20, but on a first and five from the Bears 27, Adrian Peterson was stuffed behind the line by Hunter Hillenmeyer and coughed up the ball,which Alex Brown recovered at the 35,but the Bears(4-7) went ‘three and out’ and Brad Maynard punted to the Minnesota 27,each team then turned in a three downs and out. The Vikings(10-1) net turned in their longest drive of the season, 96 yards in 13 plays,the longest of which was a 26 yard Favre to former Bear Bernard Berrian pass to the Bear six yard line. On a play in which Favre was threw an uncatchable pass well in front of Visanthe Shiancoe, Al Afalava was flagged for a horrible pass interference which put the ball at the 1, but on the final play of the first quarter, Favre was sacked at the 15 by Afalava. On the first snap of the second period however, Farve rolled right and found rookie Percy Harvin who made a leaping catch at the front of the end zone. The Bears did answer as Cutler found his rhythm, hitting Greg Olsen three times, and Devin Hromashodu to put the ball at the Vikes 24. and on the net play Cutler tossed a rain bow,right on the money that Johnny Knox caught in the far back of the end zone to tie the game. One more Minnesota was able to drive thanks mostly to a season(and career)high 35 fun on an end around by Harvin that put the ball on the Bears 45. Then from the 10, Chester Taylor ran around the right side and dove past the pile on to make it 14-7. Knox returned the next kickoff to the 31,but fumbled on the way down and and ball went right into the hands of Heath Farwell of Minnesota. Lovie Smith challenged the fumble all on the field, but the call withstood.The Bears stopped that drive(minus 3 yards) on three downs and Ryan Longwell kicked a 52 yard field goal.The Bears had two last shots in the half but Cutler had passes picked off by Cedric Griffin and Jared Allen.Favre than completed a 32 yarder to Sidney Rice at the Bears 2 and one play later,he threw his third TD pass of the quarter, to Shiancoe with :17 left and it was 24-7 ¬†at halftime.
Knox returned the second half kickoff 77 yards to the Minnesota 8,but the Bears went backwards with a false start and a five yard sack by Pat Williams making the drive -12 yards. Robbie Gould kicked a 38 yard field goal.The Vikings used plenty of clock and got those three points back on a Longwell 37 yarder with 7:45 left in the third to make it 27-10.Peterson put the icing on this rout with a 5 yard TD run that came with 6:35 left,but the extra point was missed when the snap from center got away.

NOTES—The Vikings put former Illini Scott Studwell into their ‘Ring Of Honor’…..Cutler was 18-23 for his 147 passing yards and a passer rating of 71.6……Favre was 32-48 for his 392 yards and three TD’s. His passer rating was 112.5…..The Vikes Peterson was limited to 85 rushing yards on 25 carries,but he had 1 TD.

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Hawks Circus trip ends with shootout loss in LA

LOS ANGELES—All season long, the Los Angeles Kings have been making the kind of strides that befit a team with playoff aspirations. A solid defensive effort against the high-scoring Blackhawks was another significant step.Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson scored in the first two rounds of a shootout and Jonathan Quick stopped both Hawk attempts, leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory Saturday night. Quick finished with a season-high 32 saves, and Wayne Simmonds scored early in the second period. The Kings spent the final 1:02 of overtime killing off a hooking penalty against Drew Doughty and then went to work against former Los Angeles goalie Cristobal Huet. Kopitar faked Huet to his left before sliding the puck between his legs, then Johnson made an identical move before flipping the puck over Huet’s glove. Quick stopped Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at the other end. Michael Handzus was off serving a holding-the-stick penalty when Toews tied it with 13:04 left in regulation. Quick stopped Kane’s wrist shot from the top of the right circle, but Toews beat Matt Greene to the rebound.The Blackhawks finished their annual circus trip 4-1-1, their best showing since 1990-91 (5-1-0).Simmonds got his eighth of the season at 2:41 of the second period. He carried the puck along the right boards, left a drop pass for Handzus, headed toward the net, got a perfect return pass from Handzus at the edge of the crease and beat Huet with a backhander between the pads.Simmonds has scored the Kings’ first or only goal in three consecutive games, including Thursday’s 4-1 loss at Vancouver. He nearly won it with three minutes left in overtime, when his 20-foot wrist shot got a piece of Huet’s glove and trickled just wide of the right post.The Blakhawks came in averaging the fewest shots on net allowed (24.2) and Los Angeles had the second-fewest (26.3). The Kings, who had a season-low 18 shots on net against Huet in a 4-1 loss that started Chicago’s winning streak, had 22 this time.
NOTES—John Madden lost all nine faceoffs he took during the first two periods and 13 of 17 overall. He had won 48.9 percent of his faceoffs entering the game…..Toews, who led the Hawks last season with 34 goals, has three in his last 10 games after missing the previous six because of a concussion…..The Hawks had won eight straight before losing 3-0 at Anaheim on Friday night. The Blackhawks haven’t been shut out in consecutive games since a three-game stretch in October 2006…..The Kings and Blackhawks don’t meet again until March, when they play twice in a span of nine days to conclude the regular-season series….Huet’s last season with Los Angeles was 2003-04. Since then, 12 different goalies have played for the Kings

NORTHWESTERN WINS CHICAGO CHALLENGE, FIRST TOURNEY TITLE IN 16 YEARS.

Northwestern,playing without its top player Kevin Cobel and top shooter Jeff Ryan, nonetheless pulled off a surprise with its first Holiday Tournament Championship in 16 years. The Wildcats won the fourth annual Chicago Invitational Challenge at the UIC Pavilion with upset wins over #23 Notre Dame and Iowa State, both previously unbeaten. John Shurna was the Tournament MVP with 23 in the Title Game-17 in the first half. The Cats won the game 67-65 despite red hot three point shooting by the Cyclones Lucca Staiger and Jamie Vanderbeken. NU also was able to absorb 18 points and 9 rebounds from Iowa State pro prospect Craig Brackins. NU trailed 39-34 at the half and fell behind 43-34 early in the second half,but fought back to tie it at 51 all on a three pointer by Juice Thompson with 10:55 left. After Iowa State went back in front for the final time 53-51, Alex Marcotulio drilled a home run to put NU(5-1)in front for good. It was 56-55 when Drew Crawford took a Shurna feed for a lay up,and after a ‘stop’, Davide Curletti hit his own 3-ball to make it 61-55. The Cyclones closed to within 63-61 on a long ball by Staiger, but four clutch free throws by Jeremy Nash clinched it. In addition to Shurnas 23, Thompson added 16 and Nash 10. All three were on the All-Tournament team.

NOTES—Notre Dame took third place with a 64-52 win over St.Louis. Luke Harangody scored 18 and pulled down 9 rebounds while also being named to the All-Tournament team…..The Cats last Holiday Tournament Title was in 1993-94,the Hatter Classic in De land,Florida with wins over Northeastern and Rider.

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BU upsets Illini,DePaul,Loyola,ISU all win, SIU beats UIC

LAS VEGAS—Andrew Warren listened to his coach and helped the Braves pull the upset.Warren scored 16 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 30 seconds left, to lift Bradley to a 72-68 win over Illinois on Saturday night.Warren’s basket from the left arc put the Braves up 68-66. Bradley, which had five players in double figures, ended on an 11-2 run and went 3-1 in the Invitational.Chris Roberts had 13 points for the Braves (4-2). Will Egolf, Taylor Brown, and Sam Maniscalco all had 12 points apiece. Egolf had nine rebounds, while Brown had seven.Maniscalco, who made two free throws with 2 seconds left to seal it, had five assists and two steals.Mike Davis led the Illini (4-2) with 17 points and eight rebounds. Illinois finished the tournament a disappointing 2-2, and lost the last two games in Las Vegas on consecutive days. Utah upset the Illini 70-68 on Friday night.Mike Tisdale had 12 points and eight rebounds for Illinois while Demetri McCamey added 10 points and four assists.
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ROSEMONT—Will Walker scored 20 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 44.7 seconds left in overtime Saturday, leading DePaul to a 68-66 victory over Detroit.Eric Wallace added a career-high 16 points for DePaul (4-1), which has defeated Detroit in 12 of the teams’ last 13 meetings.Thomas Kennedy scored 17 points and Chase Simon 16 for the Titans (4-2). They made it 63-all on Simon’s 3-pointer with 1:17 to play as coach Ray McCallum was screaming that the shot clock was about to expire.Walker then dribbled out most of the clock before making his long 3-pointer for a 66-63 lead.After Detroit’s Xavier Keeling made one of two free throws and DePaul’s Tony Freeland missed two foul shots, Simon misfired on a 3-pointer.
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Walt Gibler’s 14 points and nine rebounds led Loyola to an 81-42 victory over St. Ambrose on Saturday.Gibler’s point total was a game high, and his rebound statistic tied teammate Andy Polka. The Ramblers (4-1) also got 13 points from Terrance Hill and 11 apiece from Marcus Thomas and Geoff McCammon.Mike Kennedy led St. Ambrose (4-3) with 11 points, and Chris Donnelly had 10.St. Ambrose, an NAIA school from Davenport, Iowa, held its last lead at 12-11 with a little more than 7 minutes gone. Loyola led 35-18 at intermission and by as many as 41 points late in the game.
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NORMAL—Dinma Odiakosa scored a career-high 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds Saturday night to lead Illinois State to a 93-53 victory over Southeast Missouri in the Basketball Travelers Classic.The game was tied at 20 before the Redbirds (5-0) closed the half on a 13-4 run. They opened up a 33-point lead midway through the second half, shooting 75 percent from the floor after halftime and finishing the game at 60 percent.Osiris Eldridge also scored 19 points for ISU. Three other Redbirds had career highs, as Tony Lewis scored 15 points, Austin Hill 13 and Jackie Carmichael 10.Anthony Allison scored 13 points to lead Southeast Missouri (1-5). The Redhawks shot 39 percent from the field in the game.
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CARBONDALE—Carlton Fay scored a career-high 23 points and Southern Illinois used a 19-0 second-half run to defeat UIC 74-64 on Saturday night.Eleven of Fay’s points came during the Salukis’ hot stretch. Fay’s night included 5 3-pointers.Kevin Dillard added 17 points and Nick Evans 12 for Southern Illinois (3-1). Dillard also had five steals and five rebounds.The starting backcourt dominated the scoring for the Flames (1-3), as Zavion Neeley scored a game-high 24 points and Robo Kreps added 19. Jeremy Buttell contributed 12.The Salukis led 26-23 at the break.Kreps drilled a 3-pointer with 12:07 to play that pushed the Flames ahead 42-40. But SIU answered immediately with a 3-pointer by Tony Freeman, starting the 19-0 run that did not end until Neeley nailed a free throw with 7:27 remaining.

Irish lose shootout to Stanford in what may be Weis’s finale

STANFORD—Toby Gerhart turned what could be Charlie Weis’ final game as Notre Dame coach into his own Heisman Trophy infomercial.Gerhart ran for 205 yards and three scores, threw an 18-yard touchdown pass and scored the game-winning touchdown with 59 seconds left to help Stanford hand Weis and the Fighting Irish a fourth straight loss to end the regular season, 45-38 Saturday night.On a night when Jimmy Clausen and Golden Tate put on an aerial show for the Irish (6-6) in a showcase for Weis’ offense, it was Gerhart who won the game for Stanford (8-4) and possibly earned a trip to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist in two weeks.He threw his touchdown pass to Ryan Whalen on fourth-and-4 to help the Cardinal tie the game early in the fourth quarter and then won it with his 4-yard run in the final minute.

NU stuns #23 Irish in Chicago Classic, face Iowa State for Title

It’s been 25 years since Northwestern and Notre Dame have met in mens hoops,and for the Wildcats,its been worth the wait.The Cats used a tough zone defense which the Irish had trouble with all night and they controled the tempo on ND enough and pulled away late for a 72-58 upset in the 4th annual Chicago Invitational Challenge at the UIC Pavlion.With key starters Kevin Cobel and Jeff Ryan both gone for the season with injuries,the Cats had several pick up the slack. John Shurna scored a career-high 25 points and Alex Marcotullio nailed two key 3-pointers as the Wildcats upset No. 23 Notre Dame. Juice Thompson added 20 points. ND All-Americn Luke Harangody tried to keep his team in it as he was double and triple teamed all night,yet he led the Irish with 21. NU held Notre Dame to 32 percent for the game and guard Ben Hansbrough was 1 for 10 and 0 for 7 on 3-point attempts. He entered the game shooting 59 percent from the floor and 67 percent from behind the arc. Hansbrough’s brother Tyler was the National Player of the year for North Carolina last year. Northwestern built a 12-point lead in the second half before the Irish (5-1) rallied. They were within one when Marcotullio sank a 3-pointer. When Notre Dame chopped it to 58-56, Marcotullio hit another 3-pointer with two minutes left. Marcotullio finished with 13 points for the Wildcats.NU led 30-27 at the half.Northwestern (4-1) will play Iowa State in the Championship Saturday night,also at UIC. The Cyclones (6-0) beat Saint Louis 65-54 on Friday night.

NOTES—This was the first meeting between NU & ND in the City limits of Chicago since they met at Chiago Stadium in 1970-71….The last neutral court game between the two teams was March 17,1983 in the first round of the NIT which NU won at the Rosemont Horizon in John Paxsons final game for the Irish…..In the consolation braket during the afternoon, Liberty defeated Mississippi Valley State 72-53 and Tennessee State beat Kennesaw State 73-67.Liberty became the second team named ‘Flames to play in the home of the UIC Flames…..Previous Chicago Classic Champs were Illinois,Xavier,and Dayton with the first three tourneys held at Sears Centre in Hoffan Estates.

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Hawks streak ends near Disneyland at 8

ANAHEIM—Good teams have been bringing out the best in the Anaheim Ducks. The Blackhawks certainly did Friday.Teemu Selanne had two power-play goals, defenseman Nick Boynton also scored with the man advantage and Jean-Sebastien Giguere had his first shutout of the season, leading the Ducks to a 3-0 victory that snapped the Hawks eight-game winning streak.Giguere made 28 saves in his 32nd career shutout, continually frustrating a high-powered offense that outscored its opponents 34-13 during the streak – which fell one game short of tying the franchise record set last December.The Blackhawks, who tied a club record with three short-handed goals Wednesday night in a 7-2 win at San Jose, came in with the NHL’s best goals-against average (2.13) and the league’s second-best penalty-killing percentage (85.5). But the Ducks scored on three consecutive power plays after the Hawks killed off the first one.Selanne converted Corey Perry’s pass through the crease 42 seconds before the first intermission while Duncan Keith was serving a slashing penalty. The assist extended Perry’s point streak to 17 games, tying the club record Selanne set during the 1998-99 season.The Ducks went back on the power play at 5:53 of the second period, when Brent Sopel was sent off for hooking moments after Giguere made a big save against Andrew Ladd. Selanne made it 2-0 with just 3 seconds left on the penalty, knocking in a rebound for his 14th goal this season after Huet stopped Ryan Getzlaf’s short backhander from a sharp angle.Boynton made it 3-0 at 10:26 of the second with his first goal of the season, beating Cristobal Huet through a screen with a one-timer from 50 feet while Dustin Byfuglien was off for goalie interference.The Blackhawks, who started the day two points behind San Jose for the league’s best record, were shut out for only the second time this season. The victory was Anaheim’s third in a row, marking Giguere’s first three-game winning streak since last December.

NOTES—

Anaheim is 9 for 20 on the power play over its last five games, after going 2 for 18 in the previous four contests…..The Ducks are 8-2-4 on the day after Thanksgiving, and 4-1-0 against the Blackhawks under those circumstances – including a 1-0 win last year when Jonas Hiller made 26 saves and Getzlaf scored against Huet…..The Hawks conclude the six-game circus trip Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings, the team Huet made his NHL debut with in February 2003.

Illini blow 16 point lead,lose at buzzer to Utah in Vegas

LAS VEGAS—Shawn Glover banked home a runner in the lane at the buzzer and Utah rallied from a 16-point halftime deficit to beat No. 20 Illinois 60-58 in the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational on Friday night. The officials reviewed the basket and counted it after Glover barely got off his close-in shot in time. Jay Watkins hit Glover on an outlet after rebounding missed a jumper by Demetri McCamey with four seconds left. McCamey led Illinois with 19 points and seven rebounds and teammate Mike Tisdale added 18 points. Luka Drca led Utah second-half charge with 14 of his 16 points. Watkins added 12 points and Glover had five.Utah now plays Oklahoma State in the championship game Saturday night.In the second half, the Utes shot 16 for 23 after going 7 of 29 in the first half.The Illini went on an 18-2 run in the first half and led 32-16 at halftime.But the Utes showed life to start the second half, taking their first lead on Glover’s free throw with 4:53 left at 51-50. After that there were four lead changes and four ties before Glover won it.This was the first time the teams have met since 1983.Illinois won the Las Vegas Invitational in 2001 and 2004, when the tournament was played at a local high school gym, which sat around 2,000.

Illini no match for Pike, Cinci offense/NIU outscored by C.Mich

CINCINNATI—Tony Pike returned from an injury to his non-throwing arm and had a record day Friday, passing for six touchdowns in a 49-36 victory over Illinois that left fifth-ranked Cincinnati unbeaten and back to full strength. The senior quarterback started for the first time since Oct. 15 and broke the school record for touchdown passes. Two of them went to Mardy Gilyard, who also ran back a kickoff for a score.Cincinnati (11-0) remained one of six unbeaten Bowl Subdivision teams. The Bearcats finish their regular season next weekend in Pittsburgh, aiming for their second consecutive Big East title. The Illini (3-8) couldn’t handle a spread offense that’s different from anything they would see in the Big Ten. Cincinnati had 35 points in the first half alone.

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MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) -Dan LeFevour threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns in the final home game of his record-setting career, leading Central Michigan to a 45-31 victory against Northern Illinois on Friday.The Chippewas (10-2, 8-0 Mid-American Conference), who wrapped up the MAC West title last week, head to the conference championship game to face Ohio University at Ford Field in Detroit next Friday. CMU finished unbeaten in conference play for the first time in school history.Bryan Anderson caught three passes for Central Michigan to set an NCAA all-divisions record with at least one reception in 52 straight games. The previous record of 51 was held by Tauren Henderson of Texas Tech and Michael Larkin of Miami of Ohio.Bryan Schroeder rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries for Central Michigan and also had a 13-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass from LeFevour in the first quarter to open the scoring.After exchanging field goals, Central Michigan extended its lead over the Huskies (7-5, 5-3) to 17-3 when LeFevour found Kito Poblah for a 16-yard touchdown pass.LeFevour, who in his four seasons as a starter at CMU has rewritten the school record book, finished 27 of 41 in his final game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.NIU scored its first touchdown of the game with 5:12 left in the first half when Landon Cox scored on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Chandler Harnish to cut the score to 17-10.