By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Derrick Rose’s knees are about as stable as your turkey’s. Jay Cutler’s lower extremities aren’t a whole lot sturdier. With one combined Big Ten victory, the Illinois and Northwestern football teams have no leg to stand on this weekend. And both the Cubs and the White Sox?
Well, they could use arms.
Along with just about everything else.
Here on Thanksgiving Day, our local sports teams don’t exactly have a great body of work. And, to be honest, it’s difficult to find much to be thankful for. But as I prepare to leave for my honeymoon “Down Under” in Australia on Friday – something for which I’m very thankful – I’m going to give it a shot anyway.
I’m thankful for Derrick Rose
Yes, I’m thankful for D-Rose. While a second major knee injury in as many years is indeed a tragic blow both for the Chicago Bulls and their homegrown superstar, I am thankful that I got the chance to see Rose play in person before his body began to fail him.
Most memorably, I recall seeing Rose when he was a 15-year-old sophomore at Simeon High School competing in the Pontiac Holiday Tournament. During that game, Rose was awfully raw (he had eight turnovers), but he also showed just how ridiculously athletic he was.
In fact, his first step off the dribble was the quickest that I’d ever seen in person – at any level. And I’ll never forget the two-handed fast break dunk that he threw down over a helpless defender at full-speed in game. So breathtaking was the athletic feat that the entire crowd inside the Pontiac High gym gasped audibly in unison.
While I’m not holding my breath, I’d be incredibly thankful to see Rose someday return to that same form with the Bulls – and actually stay healthy.
I’m thankful for transfers
With the defection of committed recruit Quentin Snider and the rejection of potential recruit Cliff Alexander throwing a wet blanket on the start to the Illini basketball season, I’m thankful that transfers have helped dry Illinois fans’ tears of frustration.
So far, Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice has looked like everything that John Groce hoped he would be – especially on Tuesday night when his game-high 25 points lifted Illinois to a 61-59 victory at UNLV.
Meanwhile, Illinois State transfer Jon Ekey appears to potentially be the long-range bomber that this Illini team so desperately needs.
And not to be forgotten, fellow transfers Ahmad Starks (Oregon State), Darius Paul (Western Michigan) and Aaron Cosby (Seton Hall) – all currently sitting out this season – will very much soften the blow from this month’s recruiting losses by packing some serious offensive punch in 2014-15.
I’m thankful for Jordan Lynch
I’m thankful that in these dark ages of Big Ten football for Illinois and Northwestern that NIU’s Superman has been around to save the day – and the state’s pigskin reputation.
But can Lynch please get some Heisman Trophy love?
After all, he’s not just the best football player in the Land of Lincoln this year, he’s arguably the best to come through the state in years. Lynch was never better than he was on Tuesday night when he broke his own FBS record for a QB by romping for 321 rushing yards in undefeated NIU’s win over Western Michigan.
According to ESPN Stats, with 1,755 rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs this season, Lynch has more of both than Alabama’s Heisman Trophy winning running back Mark Ingram did in 2009.
With the win over WMU, Lynch finished his career as a starter without a loss at Huskie Stadium also became just the fifth FBS quarterback to run for at least 4,000 yards and pass for at least 5,000.
It’s unlikely that Lynch will win the Heisman, but those are indeed Heisman numbers. And at the very least, he deserves to be invited to the awards ceremony.
I’m thankful for the Blackhawks
No matter how dark things might be with our other teams, we can always be thankful for them, right?
I’m thankful for a New Year
Thankfully, 2014 just can’t be as grueling for the local sports scene (besides, of course, the Blackhawks) and its star athletes as 2013 was.
At least I don’t think so.
Then again, I had better be careful about what I’m thankful for.