Is Derrick Rose Happy? Bulls Can’t Take That For Granted

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Chicago is filled with all sorts of civic treasures.

Down south, there’s the Museum of Science & Industry. Up north, there’s Wrigley Field. To the east, there’s Navy Pier. And over on the West Side?

Well, there’s Derrick Rose, of course.

With foundations buried deep in the Chicago tundra (or moored beneath Lake Michigan in the case of Navy Pier), most of our local gems aren’t going anywhere as long as we maintain them. However, I do have to say that I’m starting to worry about the long-term stability of D-Rose.

No, not because of his knee. That should be fine as long as the Bulls – and Bulls fans – are patient with their superstar’s recovery. Rather, what I’m more concerned about regarding Chicago’s favorite son is whether he’s truly happy playing basketball for his hometown team – and if he will remain content enough to stick around the Windy City for his entire career.

Because it seems all of Chicago pretty much just assumes that he will.

But like a sunny day in February, Derrick Rose isn’t something that Chicago should ever take for granted. Because, no matter his birthplace, the Bulls still need to do all they can to ensure that home is indeed where Rose’s heart is, lest they – and the city’s hoops fans – potentially suffer the consequences.

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NU Smarts? Replacing Bill Carmody With Chris Collins

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) Jim Phillips expected more from Northwestern this season.

I’m not sure why. But he did.

“The program is going to be better. Bill has assured me of that,” NU’s athletic director vowed last spring while announcing head basketball coach Bill Carmody would return for a 13th season despite his Wildcats having missed the NCAA Tournament yet again.

No matter Carmody’s assurances, things aren’t better in Evanston with the team 13-15 overall and caught up in an ugly five-game losing streak. In fact, they’re worse. And as a result, it’s high time for Phillips to assure Northwestern’s fan base that he actually cares about winning.

He needs to cut the cord with Bill Carmody. Then, if NU’s AD is as smart as NU’s student body, he’ll make every effort to replace him with Duke associate head coach Chris Collins, a prodigal North Shore son who would fit Evanston like a winter glove.

During his lengthy tenure at NU, Carmody has compiled a meager overall record of 191-201 (.487 winning percentage) and a Big Ten record that’s even worse at 69-145 (.322). He has led NU to four consecutive NIT appearances, admirably lifting the Wildcats from abysmal to mediocre. But he also has zero NCAA Tourney appearances, proving he’s not the guy to take Northwestern to the next level.

After all, if Carmody was, he surely would have done it by now.

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For Bulls’ Rose To Truly Rise, He Still Needs Help

My Wisch List column from the Feb. 23 editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee) and The Times (Ottawa)


By Dave Wischnowsky

Eighteen years ago next month, Michael Jordan announced his return to the Chicago Bulls in the quickest – and briefest – way possible circa 1995. He sent out a fax that simply read: “I’m back.”

Perhaps when Derrick Rose finally makes his return to the court – whenever that might be – he’ll inform us in an even quicker and briefer manner more befitting of 2013.

Maybe he’ll tweet: “I’M BCK.”

The how and when of Rose declaring his NBA comeback following rehab for his torn ACL, however, isn’t at all as important as who the 24-year-old is when he dons a Bulls uniform again. Because, while a rose is a rose is a rose, Derrick won’t really be Derrick unless he’s 100 percent – or perhaps even 10 percent better than that.

“I’m not coming back until I’m 110 percent,’’ Rose told USA Today on Feb. 13. ‘‘Who knows when that can be? It can be within a couple of weeks. It could be next year. It could be any day. It could be any time. It’s just that I’m not coming back until I’m ready.’’

And he shouldn’t, no matter how badly Bulls fans might want to see Chicago’s favorite point guard “See Red” again. But in addition to caution, there’s another good reason why Rose shouldn’t try to rush back for the remainder of the 2012-13 season: The Bulls aren’t a true championship contender this year.


Sold-Out BTT Shows Chicago Should Stay In Mix

This past Saturday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) In 2006, when Indianapolis beat out Chicago for exclusive rights to host the Big Ten men’s basketball tournament from 2008-12, conference commissioner Jim Delany expressed his hope that a fixed location would help boost attendance for his league’s hoops extravaganza.

“We’d like to have all sessions sold out all the time,” Delany told the Chicago Tribune at the time.

Well, that’s finally happened – but in Chicago, not in Indy.

On Thursday, the Big Ten announced that for the first time in the conference tournament’s 16-year history, its four-day event – scheduled for March 14-17 at the United Center – has sold out in advance. The original batch of tickets, which went on sale in October, was gobbled up by the end of January. A limited number of additional tickets went on sale on Feb. 1 and they’re now all gone, too.

This year marks the tournament’s first appearance in Chicago since 2007, and I think the ticket sales prove that the Big Ten should continue bringing it back. Keeping it strictly in Indianapolis just doesn’t make sense.

And, hey, I like Indy. I really do. It offers a compact downtown. It has convenient hotels. And Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Lucas Oil Stadium are within easy walking distance from both. It serves as a strong host for both the Big Ten basketball tournament and football championship game and I think Indianapolis deserves to keep having both come to town.

But not exclusively.

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Kankakee Co. Makes $500K Move To Keep Bears At ONU

Today’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) With the Chicago Bears entering the final year of their contract with Olivet Nazarene University, the summer of 2013 could be the last that the team spends in Bourbonnais for its annual training camp.

But it won’t be if tourism officials in Kankakee County have any say about it. And they likely do.

On Wednesday, speaking for the area’s collective desire to keep the Bears around, the Kankakee County Convention & Visitors Bureau board made its voice as loud and clear as a fan at Soldier Field. According to the Daily Journal in Kankakee, the board voted unanimously to approve a $500,000 commitment to fund upgrades to the team’s summer training complex.

“This is great news for the community,” ONU director of university relations Gary Griffin told the Daily Journal in Kankakee on Wednesday. “This is the first step toward saving the Chicago Bears’ training camp.”

While the small print regarding the timeline of the payment still needs to be hammered out, the Daily Journal reports that the hope among local officials is that the funding will help keep the Bears at ONU for at least eight more years.

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My Orange Krush Adventure To Evanston

Tuesday’s column from CBS Chicago

Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman

EVANSTON (CBS) They say you can’t go home again.

Turns out, though, you can go back to college.

I can prove it. After all, this past weekend, I spent 13 blissful hours being 19 years old again in spite of the fact that, ahem, I’m only three months shy of my 37th birthday.

For that refreshing dip into the Fountain of Youth, I can thank 150 of my new friends in the Orange Krush, the University of Illinois’ famous student basketball cheering section that’s become infamous throughout the Big Ten for hijacking the opposition’s stadiums.

In recent years, the Krush has invaded the basketball arenas at Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Ohio State and Iowa. On Sunday night, Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena was the latest to get Krushed. And I was along for the entertaining daylong adventure.

About a month ago, McKennon Biers, a U. of I. junior and the current president of the Orange Krush, shot me an email with an invitation to join the students on their annual “sneak attack” road trip. This year’s destination, the message whispered, will be Evanston.

I agreed to tag along and was sworn to secrecy since the Krush’s annual ploy involves adopting a cover story to purchase a block of tickets (this year, they posed as “State Farm interns”) and disguising themselves in the opposing school’s colors (purple for Northwestern). At tipoff, the Krush members peel off their rivals’ T-shirts to reveal the orange underneath and announce their presence.

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Saying cheese, Chicago-style

This weekend’s Wisch List newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)


By Dave Wischnowsky

In Chicago, the cheese stands alone.

No, really. It actually does.

You can find it by itself inside an unassuming brick warehouse on a nondescript street across from a lonely field in the industrialized South Side neighborhood Back of the Yards, which once served as Chicago’s meat-packing district and looks like it still could.

So alone is the cheese, in fact, that I actually drove past it – twice – while seeking it out last weekend. But once I did find it, I also discovered something else. The cheese doesn’t simply stand alone.

It also stands out.

The Great American Cheese Collection Warehouse, tucked away at 4727 S. Talman St., is a little-known Chicago gem that’s described by the dining website as “the city’s best under-the-radar source for hard-to-find, small-batch artisan cheeses.”

And with no exterior signage, it’s also just hard to find.


Does College Football Need A 13-Game Regular Season?

Saturday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) College football seems to just keep getting bigger.

So, is it time for its regular season to grow, too?

On Monday, Big Ten coaches and athletic directors met in Chicago to discuss the latest twists and turns of the conference. Afterward, commissioner Jim Delany indicated to reporters that the league has decided on a new twist: It won’t be sticking with the status quo of eight Big Ten football games much longer.

“The thinking is we like to play each other, and those are not hollow words,” Delany told the Chicago Tribune. “We are getting larger, and we want to bind the conference together.”

Reportedly, the Big Ten – which will grow to 14 members with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland in 2014 – is debating only whether to bind together further by increasing its annual slate of league games to nine or 10. A decision is expected this spring.

Now, the move to nine conference games isn’t a complicated choice. After all, the Pac-12 and Big 12 already play that many, and the Big Ten has previously discussed doing it.

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Spreading The Sports Love (And Hate) On Valentine’s Day

Thursday’s column from

(CBS) It’s the city of Love (Bob) and the city of Roses (Derrick & Family). It’s the city of heart taps (Sammy’s) and the city of kisses (Sammy’s … again). It’s the city of passions (ever seen Cubs fans?) and the city of swoons (ever seen the Cubs?).

And here on Valentine’s Day, Chicago is the city whose sports teams we still hold dear – even when they play like they’re frozen in headlights. So, in lieu of a Hallmark card for Feb. 14, I’m going to provide Chicago – and the Land of Lincoln – with a list of a few of the things that I currently love about our local sports scene.

But, hey, I’d hardly be a Windy City sports writer if I didn’t also crack open a bottle of whine and tell you what I currently hate as well, right? And, with that, it’s on with the ode.

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NCAA Tourney-Bound? Illini Basketball Still Has Work To Do

Tuesday’s column from CBS Chicago

(CBS) On Monday morning, a Facebook friend posted a status asking where people thought Illinois will be seeded in the NCAA Tournament. His guess: as a No. 8 seed.

Later in the day, a co-worker told me his buddy, an Illinois alum, sent him a text on Sunday night after the Illini rallied to beat Minnesota on the road. The message breathlessly read: “We’re in!”

Meanwhile, my own friend also shot me a text after that big Illinois victory over the Gophers, asking the question: “Tournament?”

My answer: “Keep winning.”

Contrary to this pre-March Madness that’s suddenly sweeping through the Land of Lincoln following the giddy, four-day whirlwind during which Illinois upset both No. 1 Indiana and No. 18 Minnesota, the Fighting Illini are not yet in the NCAA Tournament.

In fact, at 4-7 in the Big Ten, they’re still not even close.

But it is true that the Illini can now see a tourney bid from here – as long as they don’t get caught looking ahead to it.

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