Sun staff writers take the temperature of sports in Naperville, Chicago and beyond.

July 2008 Archives

Because Naperville North alumnus Chris Brown has missed practice with back spasms, the Houston Texans auditioned four running backs on Thursday and signed former Bronco Mike Bell.

Brown has missed four days of practice and counting. He jogged on Thursday, but may not return until Monday. Until then, Mike Bell is taking the reps with Ahman Green, Chris Taylor, Darius Walker and rookie Steve Slaton.

"He looked a lot faster than everyone else to begin with but then he got tired," coach Gary Kubiak said. "So we've got to get him going. It was an easy call for us because he knows what we're doing. He could walk out here today and work. He's got some talent. There's an opportunity for him as we get Chris healthy, and we'll see how it goes."

Cantigny Golf in Wheaton recently opened its brand-new Golf Academy, a facility dedicated to improving all aspects of one's game. It allows customers to get fitted for clubs, get their mental approach squared away, set up and exercise regimen and gain access to professional instruction, all under one roof.

LeFevour looms large

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ncf_lefevour1_200.jpg Central Michigan unveiled a new, gigantic billboard of quarterback Dan LeFevour on Tuesday in Detroit. The former Benet star is now, unquestionably, the face of the program and really, the face of the Mid-American Conference.

LeFevour's success at CMU has thrown his name into the mix as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate this season. Chris Huston, the author of widely respected Heismanpundit blog, thinks LeFevour is a "legitimate darkhorse" for this season, but that he's being promoted for a serious 2009 run. The 60-foot high and 30-foot wide version of LeFevour is plastered on the back of the scoreboard at Comerica Park. The sign faces Ford's Field. LeFevour made a few brief comments about the billboard to ESPN's Graham Watson.

I think the billboard is very telling - the MAC and CMU plan to push LeFevour and a billboard in downtown Detroit will help make him more of a household name. If he's more of a household name, he has even more of a chance of becoming the first non-BCS player to win a Heisman, especially if he has another killer season like the last two. What do you think?

Ryno's Return

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Ryne Sandberg was a 21-year-old September call-up with the Philadelphia Phillies when he traveled to Chicago in 1981 for his first game at Wrigley Field.

"Once I stepped foot (on) the field," the Peoria Chiefs manager recalled Tuesday, "I was in awe of the whole situation."

The Cape

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The Cape Cod League is about making adjustments, to a new environment and a different level of competition. Hitters can't pad their stats on middle relievers or back-of-the-rotation starters, and pitchers can't work around a lineup the same way they might in college. Everything isn't supposed to run smoothly.

Drew Crawford continued to turn heads at the 17U AAU Super Showcase, helping his Illinois Wolves to a runner-up finish.

Drew Crawford (Naperville Central) continued his strong play during the July Evaluation Period with another hot shooting effort from the floor for the Warriors, but it was not enough against an equally loaded Athletes First team.

The reigning Naperville Sun Player of the Year made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points the 67-62 loss to Athletes First (Oklahoma City). In the semifinals, Crawford led the team with 20 points.

It's clutch time

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By D.J. Wanberg
The Cubs and White Sox enter series on Monday that could make or break their seasons. Some might say that's overstating the situation but I don't think so.
Any time you travel for a four-game series against the team that's closest to you in the standings, it's a big deal.
A sweep by the Cubs against the Brewers (I'm not saying that will happen) or at least winning the series followed by beating up Pittsburgh next weekend at Wrigley Field would have the Cubs sitting well going into a home-game heavy August.
And believe me, this team needs to pad its win total as much as it can before the mostly road-game month of September rolls around.
The key for the Cubs is to realize that reliever Jeff Samardzija, the lastest Cubs idol, can't pitch every day. His arm will fall off. The rest of the bullpen has to step up or the brakes will be put on the Cubs' season.
As for the White Sox, a good showing against the Twins and playing against the Royals next weekend like the White Sox are capable of would put the team in great shape going into a long homestand.
And like the Cubs, the White Sox have to learn that you can't always outslug your way to victory. Every now and then,, winning 2-1 games instead of losing them is a lot more fun.

Naperville native Mary DeScenza is the top seed in both the 100 and 200-meter butterfly for the U.S. Open, which begins on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

The Rosary graduate is entered in seven events, including the 100 and 200 freestyle, the 100 and 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley.

DeScenza will have company in the 200 IM as Naperville Central alumni Kelly McNichols and Amy Prestinario are both competing in that race. For McNichols, a junior at Georgia, and Prestinario, an incoming freshman at Notre Dame, the U.S. Open serves as a qualifier for the 2009 World University Games.

The top finisher in each event who is a full-time university student is guaranteed an all-expenses paid trip to Belgrade, Serbia next July. Visit Serbia, we have a high level of confidence that will be our country's name when you arrive!

McNichols will also swim the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 100 and 200 free.

Benet junior McKinzie Schulz finished second on Tuesday in the girls intermediate 2,000-meter Steeplechase at the USATF Junior Olympics in Omaha, Neb.

Her time of 7:12.77 is faster than the old meet record. The only problem for Schulz was that Colorado runner Eleanor Fulton set a national record of 6:56.97 to win the race.

Of course, success in the steeplechase is nothing new for Schulz.

With the Naperville Parks District Swim Conference age 15-18 City Championships in the books, Olympic Trials swimmer Kelly McNichols remains the only swimmer with multiple city records.

The Naperville Central grad and Georgia junior has the girls records for the 100-yard freestyle, the 100 individual medley, the 50 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke. She owns four of the six records.

None of her standards were even remotely challenged on Friday night.

By now you've seen the fight with Candace Parker, posted it to at least one of your social networking sites and formed an opinion on how much street cred these girls should get.

But have you looked at the suspensions? They make no sense.

The U15 Chicago Fire Juniors and U18 Eclipse Select both need to fill up the net on Friday morning in order to advance to the championship round at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships.

Just about anything can happen in the final game for U17 Eclipse Select (1-1), and the team featuring Neuqua Valley's Heather Marik, Naperville North's Haley Krentz and Waubonsie Valley's Claire Hanold will make it through. A loss to Slammers FC (0-2) would make it tough, but even with a loss, U17 Eclipse Select can move on if the Dallas Texans lose or draw.

Defending national champion Baltimore Casa Mia Bays 93, the leader in Pool B, awaits the Fire Juniors (1-0-1). Not only do the Casa Mia Bays (2-0) have a two-point lead over the Fire Juniors, but the five-time Maryland state champs are up six in goal differential over the team with Naperville residents Peter Beasley, Jacob Brindle, Joe Carlson, Sean Mogan, Omel Perchatsch and Carson Swafford.

With the news that there were two positive steroids tests out of 10,000 high school athletes in the first year of a $6 million drug-testing program in Texas, are you still in favor of the drug-testing program the IHSA approved this spring?

Now, $6 million is a lot of money. I'm sure that even in Texas, that kind of scratch can go a long way. I won't rail against it as a waste of time, or a waste of money as at least one Lone Star politico has.

A critic, Republican state Sen. Dan Patrick, said the initiative is a "feel good" program that is not acting as a deterrent and should be abolished.

In some ways, I agree with Sen. Patrick. But when he says the money should be spent for teen alchohol prevention, he loses me. There isn't enough money in the world -- not even all the money we borrow from China -- to stop kids from drinking.

If a couple hundred kids tested positive for steroids, I'm sure Sen. Patrick would be on the other side of the issue talking up family values and whatnot, and it's too bad he's not because I'm a huge fan of whatnot.

I wrote in March that the IHSA program has its flaws. I also think it's worth it if it only catches the stupid, because the stupid are certainly in line for some help.

As we wait for the WNBA to hand out punishments today for the altercation on Tuesday night that involved Naperville Central graduate Candace Parker altering her pristine image, Los Angeles Times columnist Helene Elliott said the fight could be a positive event for the league and women's sports.

Essentially, Elliott wrote that this will alter the way sports fans view women in sports.

Tuesday wasn't a dark day for the WNBA. It should signal the dawn of an era in which female athletes are appreciated for being competitive and fiery. No apologies necessary.

I tend to agree with Ellliott that the controversy is good for the WNBA for a few reasons. The No. 1 reason is publicity. The second reason is it involved Candace Parker, who is essentially the same thing as the WNBA at this point.

When Parker quickly stood up and fought back when Plenette Pierson (a name nobody knew until then and we will soon forget) dealt the play, what we saw was the WNBA standing up for itself.

Now that you've read the stories and seen the video, what sort of punishment do you think Candace Parker deserves for her role in Tuesday's WNBA fight?

Should she be suspended for 1 game, 2 games or even more?

Should the U.S. Olympic team get involved and suspend her for any games in Beijing?

Was she targeted by the Shock and deserves to get off scot-free?

Fluid cash flow

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The Duramed Futures Tour isn't exactly paved with gold, but Wheaton native Jenna Pearson is hoping it leads to bigger and better things in the LPGA Tour.

The 22-year-old has made $3,570 on the tour in 2008, ranking her 83rd on the money list. She doesn't exactly have a lot of leeway for spending it, either. She drives to all the tournaments, which span the eastern half of the United States. Pearson does save money by staying with host families when she can, but a good percentage of her winnings go to people who buy $1,000 "shares" in her. It's how she manages to get from place to place, and the money her investors give her is repaid with her winnings.

For more on the tour and how Pearson is faring at this weekend's USI Championship in New Hampshire, click here.

Candace Parker, the WNBA's shining star tried to give a Detroit Shock player a shiner on Tuesday night in a scuffle that ended with three players, including Parker, ejected.

Parker was one of three players ejected along with Detroit assistant coach Rick Mahorn after an ugly scuffle with 4.6 seconds left in Los Angeles' 84-81 victory.

"To be honest, I don't recall exactly what happened," said Parker, who led Los Angeles with 21 points. "I'll have to watch the tape."

The Associated Press saw it this way.

The skirmish started moments after Parker and Detroit's Cheryl Ford had to be separated after Ford fouled Parker.

On the next possession, Parker got tangled up with Detroit's Plenette Pierson and fell to the ground. As she was getting up, Pierson intentionally ran into her, setting off the melee.

Parker threw a punch at Pierson before being tackled by Detroit's Deanna Nolan. Players and coaches from both teams joined in, and Mahorn knocked Lisa Leslie to the court at one point.

By D.J. Wanberg
I returned from vacation today and one of the stops I made was to visit my sister who lives in the small town of Superior, Nebraska which is located in the southern part of the state just a few miles from the Kansas border.

One day we played golf at the Superior Country Club which has a nine-hole course with a water hazard on every hole.

I hadn't played in a couple of years and I discovered one thing. My brain hurts my golf game. When I turned it off, I made putts, I put chip shots on the greens and my drives put balls in orbit as we played the best ball format.

When thoughts crept into my mind, my drives and fairway shots could be measured with a yard stick. My putts and chip shots went great lengths across the greens into the rough.

My performance has renewed my interest in golf and I would like to play more. But if you see me on a course, don't ask me anything complicated. My brain will be in my golf bag.

Well, that headline takes a bit of liberty with this article posted at the AOL FanHouse on Tuesday. But the article did discuss how the running back position would shake out for the Houston Texans during training camp.

A few weeks ago, our own Brad Engel pondered the same topic and passed along what the Houston Chronicle had to say, which was that Ahman Green, Naperville North graduate Chris Brown and rookie Steve Slaton would be 1, 2 and 3 on the depth chart.

This is what AOL's Stephanie Stradley had to say about Brown and his chances for extended playing time this season with the Texans.

Chris Brown: Oft injured free agent running back, formerly of the Titans.

Pros: Only back on the roster with experience but not too much experience. Nice size for a Bronco-style back and had nice success running in the same zone blocking system in college at Colorado.

Cons: Oft injured free agent running back.

About a month ago, Naperville Central graduate Kyle Kaminska had a rough go of it when he allowed 12 runs on 13 hits. Since then, Kaminska has been dealing well for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

He struck out eight over five innings on Saturday, allowing two runs on four hits, including a home run to the first batter he faced.

On July 5, the right-hander had a career-high nine strikeouts for the Class A affilliate of the Florida Marlins. He struck out five without a walk on July 10, although he did allow 10 hits. On July 15, he struck out four without a walk to go with four hits and one earned run.

All told, Kaminska has held South Atlantic League hitters to seven earned runs over his last 22 1/3 innings.
That works out to an ERA of 2.82 in his last four starts.

Neuqua Valley graduate Chris Derrick missed the Nike Outdoor Nationals just as he missed the IHSA Class AA state finals because of illness, but news editor Steve Underwood posted an article that wonders what would have happened if the Stanford-bound Derrick did run at NON.

Underwood posits the scenario of Derrick facing California star German Fernandez and Indiana standout Mike Fout in the 5,000 meters.

The easy thing to wonder is what if Derrick had made it to the line for the NON 2-mile vs. Fernandez, instead of watching from the sidelines as DyeStat's newest reporter? Could a healthy Derrick - with that 13:55 5k at Arcadia and what seemed like a routine 8:48 3200 not long after - have stayed with German in Greensboro?

Thanks to his strong showing at the Nike Peach Jam Tournament, Naperville Central senior Drew Crawford is getting more notice from Division I basketball programs.

Crawford came up big for the Warriors throughout the Peach Jam Tournament including a 22-point, 9-rebound effort in a quarterfinals loss to California Supreme.

For an account of how the final seconds of that loss went down, check here.

The reigning Sun Player of the Year now has Drake, Rice, Wagner and Loyola on his trail, according to According to, UIC has also offered a scholarship to Crawford.

Neuqua Valley senior Alexa Gaul made three saves today to help the U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team to a 6-0 victory over Costa Rica in the opening match of the 2008 CONCACAF Under-17 Women's Championship at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad.

The U.S. faces El Salvador at 3 p.m. Sunday as pool play continues.

Enter the Dragons

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DuPage Dragons vice president of baseball operations Tim Connelly said Thursday that he has already started assembling next year's team.

We mentioned a while back that an ESPY was just about the only award on the planet that Candace Parker had not won. Not any more.

The Naperville Central graduate won two ESPYs on Wednesday night. It will probably be the last time that David Beckham lets himself be photographed with Candace. Man, even Tom Crusie thinks Becks looks short in that photo.

In a completely unrelated note, Dime gave us a look at the shoes Candace will wear in the Olympics.

Waubonsie Valley golfer Ryan Russell has his sights set on a lot more than reducing his handicap on the course. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to provide homeless children with birthday gifts.He's always looking for help of the monetary variety, and he puts himself and his charity, Birthday Presence, out there on YouTube. Check out his video at this site.

That's what Mars Blackmon would tell Michael Phelps if the two were paired in a commercial for Speedo's LZR Racer.

A lot of world records have been set in that suit, 46 according to the Speedo Web site, and it has spawned lawsuits. TYR, a competitor that Naperville native Mary DeScenza endorses, has filed suit against Speedo, former TYR swimmer Erik Vendt and USA swimming head coach Mark Schubert. On Thursday, Vendt filed a countersuit.

Both Naperville Central graduate Kelly McNichols and Neuqua Valley graduate Melissa Marik wore the LZR Racer at the Olympic Trials last week.

The Heat Index asked them if they liked the suit and what it means for their sport.

you -- the City of Naperville -- to get involved with the camp next year.

Naperville North alumnus Chris Brown, a running back for the Houston Texans, needed help to make the vision for this weekend's camp at Calvary Church in Naperville possible. He got it from the City of Aurora and elsewhere -- see other sponsors here Camp Brochure.pdf -- but not from his hometown.

With this long list of schools in attendance at the Chicago Summer Classic, Neuqua Valley guard Rahjan Muhammad has played well in the 17U bracket, according to tournament sponsor

Wayne Simon (16-U Illinois Wolves) - Really quick! Really crafty! The 16-U Wolves played up in the 17-U bracket and Simon continues to boost his recruiting stock. Simon, and his Wolves backcourt mate Rahjan Muhammad (Neuqua Valley), are both very quietly enjoying super-strong runs on the travel team circuit with their fearless play against opposing guards.

Waubonsie Valley's Jelani Johnson helped his squad, the RBS All-Stars, win in double overtime on Friday, showing those rascally Iowa Barnstormers a thing or two.

Everyone has a different depth chart for the Houston Texans running back position. doesn't even list Chris Brown, the Naperville North alumnus who joined the team on March 13. Neither does the Texans team Web site. That's OK, we'll give everyone until the start of training camp to update their lists.

Want the real scoop?

Two local soccer players -- Alexa Gaul and Casey Short -- were picking up some national notice this week for U.S. Soccer.

Gaul, a senior goalie who attends Neuqua Valley and plays club soccer for Eclipse Select, learned earlier this week she was named to the U.S. U-17 Women's National Team, which competes in the CONCACAF U-17 Women's Championship beginning next Friday in Trinidad and Tobago.

If the U.S. places in the top three there, the team qualifies for the first U-17 World Cup, which begins in late October in New Zealand.

Because of her commitment to U.S. national camps and to Eclipse, high school soccer fans haven't seen Gaul suiting up for the Wildcats. She said Thursday she's considering changing that next spring. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Naperville Central graduate Casey Short helped the U.S. U-18 Women's National Team to a sweep during its recent European tour. Short, who leaves for Florida State in early August, didn't factor in the scoring during two games against the host Denmark U-19 team on June 30 and July 2, and one against the England U-19 team in France on July 3.

Work with someone long enough, like Eric Johnson and Alex Evans have at Tamarack Golf Club in Naperville, and you're bound to have crazy stories. Johnson, the general manager, and Evans, who heads up golf operations at the course, both look back on this mishap from January 2006 and laugh.

With the prospect of spending three days in Philly in a few weeks as the grand prize, the Illinois Water Polo High School Summer League will hold its inaugural championship tournaments this weekend at Fenwick High School.

Well, that's half right. Only the boys champion will advance to the AWP State Series Challenge, which will be held in Philadelphia July 25-27. Sorry, girls, maybe next year.

League director Richard Marsh told The Heat Index on Wednesday that finding a national event for the IWP girls champion is a priority of the league.

"We couldn't get the commitment this year," Marsh said. "I know that's going to be a big push for next year, certainly from our side and also from the American Water Polo side, too."

Seeing Red

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The Brewers and Cubs took over the National League Central's high-rent district this week with their acquisitions of CC Sabathia and Rich Harden.

Jerry Hairston Jr. will enter free agency at season's end, but he appreciates the young nucleus his Reds possess. And he respects Cincinnati president of baseball operations/general manager Walt Jocketty, the architect who helped build St. Louis into a World Series champion in 2006.

"We understand where Milwaukee's at and where Chicago's at," Hairston said. "And hey, you know, I don't worry about what Milwaukee's doin'. I don't worry about what Chicago's doin'. I worry about what the Reds are doin', you know, and I like where we're at."

The Naperville North graduate had to leave about 19 tickets at Wrigley Field on Tuesday night, and received a day off Wednesday. After batting .261 with a .336 on-base percentage in 114 games for the Cubs in 2005, he was traded to Texas in May 2006.

Hairston remains close with Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, and has been reunited in Cincinnati with former Cubs manager Dusty Baker.

"It's unfortunate, Dusty really got a bad rap here. It's just one of those things's amazing," Hairston said. "Dusty didn't have that payroll over there - let's get that straight. They're extremely talented over there (and) they kind of stacked that team, you know, Dusty didn't have that over there. The team they did have, everybody was always injured.

"It just didn't work out."

That may not be the correct comparison, but cross country, like boxing, is a sport and Rocky, like The Long Green Line, is a movie.

The documentary about the cross country program at York High School and coach Joe Newton was not sent to The Heat Index for review. But a press release did find its way into our inbox.

Following York during the 2005 season, which ended in the program's 25th state title, the film sets out to show why more than 200 kids who have no chance of running in a varsity event still practice with the team. Again, we haven't seen the film, but we think it has something to do with Joe Newton.

The Long Green Line will premiere at the York Theatre in Elmhurst on Aug. 16.

Naperville North graduate Colleen Ward will begin her college volleyball career this fall at the University of Florida, and according to, she is part of the nation's top recruiting class.

The Web site released its Top College Recruiting Classes of 2008 list on Tuesday. Unless you are a registered user at the site, you will have to take our word for it.

In addition to The Sun's 2007 player of the year, Florida signed up Ward's Sports Performance teammate Kelly Murphy of Joliet Catholic, who was the Gatorade national player of the year.

Ward, a hard-working, powerful attacker ... could vie for a starting spot on the outside.

Strange fact that probably means nothing: None of the six players that signed with the Gators are from Florida. There are two players from Illinois, two from Colorado, one from Georgia and one from California.

No deal

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The Brewers are betting big on CC Sabathia, and the 290-pound pitcher's impact will be felt on the North Side of Chicago, where the Cubs suddenly find themselves in the National League's most compelling division. Of all the potential ramifications to this trade, here's one that rippled to Aurora and Waubonsie Valley. Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports:

In the past few days, according to a source with knowledge of the talks between the Indians and Red Sox, Cleveland did not come down from its request of one package headlined by right-hander Michael Bowden, the other featuring the Sox' best position-player prospects, including Lars Anderson, Jed Lowrie and Josh Reddick.

IAN KROL ALL-AMERICAN.jpgIan Krol's future just got a lot clearer or a lot muddier. Either way, it's looking pretty good for the All-American left-hander from Neuqua Valley.

I'm coming clean

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By D.J. Wanberg
The big sports news in today's edition of The Sun was not only the Cubs winning a series against the Cardinals and the White Sox going 8-2 on their homestand, but the All-Star game selections.

Seven Cubs were picked and two from the White Sox on Sunday.

Now not all selections for the game come via fan votes. And most of the Amercian League and National League selections were worthy.

But I don't give 100 percent credibility to a process that allowed me to grab as many ballots as I could get as a kid at Wrigley Field or then Comiskey Park and vote for players who were my favorites -- even though other players were having much better years and deserved to be in the game..

Pitch, rinse, repeat

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By D.J. Wanberg
I saw something encouraging during Sunday's 7-1 Cubs' win over the Cardinals. I know it's just one game and it's happened before this season, but if the Cubs can do this on a regular basis it will go a long way in keeping the season on the right track..

Kerry Wood stunk the joint out on Saturday, blowing a lead as the Cubs lost 5-4. He sat on the bench on Sunday, getting a day off to decompress.

Sean Marshall pitched a solid six innings with Neal Cotts, Carlos Marmol and Bob Howry each pitching an inning in relief to wrap up a victory.

The middle relievers came through and the closer was able to get some rest. The team didn't rely on the same one or two pitchers to put a lock on the victory.

The Cubs need to make this a in and game out.

Mackenzie Caquatto had to pull out of her first Olympic Trials because of a hamstring injury two weeks ago in Philly, but when it comes to college, the Naperville gymnast could be heading to Gainesville in a couple years.

Caquatto told The Heat Index on Thursday that she has received interest from 15 schools and emphasized that she is still listening to all of them, but at this point, she is favoring the University of Florida.

The opportunity to compete in the Southeastern Conference, along with the obvious benefits of living in the Sunshine State are appealing to Caquatto, who will be a junior this fall at Naperville Central.

Exhausting details

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Think you can hang with Tiger Woods' workout and practice schedule, even on two good knees? Hank Haney, Woods' swing coach, let us in on what Tiger's life is like away from the cameras:

The Sports Performance 18 Elite team won the Junior Volleyball Directors Association national chamionship on Monday in Louisville, Ky., to complete what coach Rick Butler believes is the first undefeated season in the 18 Open division.

Naperville North graduates Colleen Ward and Christine Wu, along with North seniors Julie Chin and Nrithya Sundararaman will now be able to say they went 83-0. Including last season, Sports Performance has a 120-match winning streak.

"We were all saying together, 'Just push out for 25 points because this is the last game we'll all be playing together.," Wu said. "It just hit us that ... we have one game left and we just want it to end well."

By D.J. Wanberg
Yes, I'm enjoying summer and enjoying a baseball season that doesn't have me holding my nose.

But as a Blackhawks fan, I'm thinking about October and yesterday quickened the pace.

All the Blackhawks did was get the most sought-after defenseman of the free-agent pool in Brian Campbell and sign a top-notch goaltender. Add that to what they already have and you have a squad that not only will make the playoffs this upcoming season, but stay a while.

The signing of goalie Cristobal Huet was interesting. To me It means the team isn't confident that Nikolai Khabibulin will ever show the consistency that attracted the Hawks to sign him.

It also means that the front office doesn't consider Corey Crawford, who has been described as the team's goalie of the future, ready yet to unpack permanently at the United Center.

And I still don't understand the signing of Finnish goaltender Antti Niemi which happened in early May.

But I guess you can never have enough goaltenders.

As we all know, Candace Parker needs a storage unit to house all the awards and honors the Naperville Central graduate has picked up over the years. I would have linked to her bio on the Los Angeles Sparks team Website, but it is strangely devoid of content.

But she hasn't won an ESPY. Yes, the promotional device has eluded Candace Parker. She must be steamed.

But fear not, Candace will get her chance to set things straight. She was named one of the four candidates for Female Athlete of the Year on Tuesday along with IRL driver Danica Patrick, golfer Lorena Ochoa and skier Lindsey Vonn.

Again, it was a bit surprising to see nothing about the ESPY nomination on the Sparks team Website. There was statistical information -- Candace is averaging 17.2 points and 9.4 rebounds -- and game stories, but nothing about the ESPYs.

It's almost like the award isn't important.

This may be nothing. It could be false. But the chatter on a Houston Texans message board (via AOL Fanhouse via Pro Football Talk) is that former Bears running back Cedric Benson could be joining the Texans.

That would mean extra competition for Naperville North graduate Chris Brown, Ahman Green and company. Competition is a good thing, however, Cedric Benson has not shown in his pro career that it is a favorite thing of his.

Brown, who signed a free-agent deal with Houston this spring, will be in Naperville next week to conduct a free football camp at Calvary Church. By then we should know if this rumor proves to be accurate.



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Sun staff writers take the temperature of sports in Naperville, Chicago and beyond.