Bears

Simeon keeps marching on

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Simeon keeps marching on

By Patrick Z. McGavin
YourSeason.com
To a player Simeon was not going to get caught looking ahead. Marist certainly earned the Wolverines attention after posting stunning victories over Public League powers Curie and Bogan.The RedHawks hopes were dashed by a 19-1 Simeon second-quarter run that catapulted the two-time defending Class 4A champions past Marist 65-44 Friday in the Class 4A Argo Sectional Friday night before a standing-room-only crowd exceeding 2,400.No. 1 Simeon advances to the Chicago State Supersectional Tuesday against Evanston.Junior sharpshooter Kendrick Nunn drilled two three-pointers and scored 11 points during the second-quarter burst that propelled the Wolverines to a commanding 36-17 lead at the break.Nunn finished with 16 points.Feeding off its boisterous crowd, Marist (26-6) drilled its first two three-point attempts and enjoyed separate four-point leads in the early going. They weathered one early Simeon run after sophomore Nic Weishar (12 points, six rebounds) nailed a three-pointer that pulled Marist within 17-16 with 6:03 to play in the second quarter.Marist never scored again from the field during the first half. The Wolverines (30-1) harassed Marist to miss seven of its eight field-goal attempts and forced six turnovers in the second quarter. Nunn added a conventional three-point play and star Jabari Parker punctuated the run with a thundering dunk.It was a lot of everything, Marist coach Gene Nolan said about the scoring drought.This is probably the best defensive team Ive had since Ive been coaching, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. The team with Derrick (Rose) was great with pressure but this team can play so many different styles: man, zone, pressure.Simeon registered eight blocks and seven steals. Steve Taylor (nine points) recorded 11 rebounds and four blocked shots. Emerging junior Kendall Pollard contributed seven points and six rebounds.Smiths point about his teams defensively versatility was driven home with a vengeance during the second quarter. Theyre so long and theyre so athletic and so difficult to score on, Nolan said. Because we didnt shoot well, it hurt us defensively there because we werent efficient on offense, and they were able to score off rebounds and turnovers.After Parker opened the fourth quarter with a gorgeous step-back jumper that equaled the games largest lead at 51-29, Marist came alive and shocked the Wolverines with a 10-0 run.Smith refused to call time out and his players responded. Jelani Neely ended the run with a drive in traffic with 5:03 to play. Parker, who scored seven of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, drilled turnaround jumper in the lane.Weve prided ourselves on our defense, but also the fact that you cant key on one person against us, Smith said. Jabari did his thing, Kendrick and Steve Taylor, but Jelani also was huge for us. Give a lot of credit to Marist. That coach did a great job, and this time of year its not about who has the most talent but who wants it the most. We really wanted this game tonight.Marist shot 7-for-22 on three-pointers. Senior guard Tyler Oden scored a team-best 15 points.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should the Bears let Mitch Trubisky throw more?

Adam Jahns (Chicago Sun-Times), Ben Finfer (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Cornette (The U/ESPN 1000) join Kap on the panel. Justin Turner hits a walk-off 3-run HR off of John Lackey to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the NLCS. So why was Lackey even in the game? How much blame should Joe Maddon get for the loss?

The Bears run the ball over and over and over again to beat the Ravens in overtime, but should they have let Mitch Trubisky throw the ball more?

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Dry humping and second-guessing: Joe Maddon defends his Game 2 bullpen decisions

Joe Maddon has no easy decisions.

With the way his tattered bullpen has pitched this postseason, there's a very real possibility that any guy he calls on to pitch is the "wrong" guy or the right guy in the "wrong" spot.

For everybody wanting Maddon to ride Wade Davis as a workhorse this fall — something the Cubs skipper has already done just to get to this NLCS — remember how much flak he took for overusing Aroldis Chapman a year ago at this time.

Davis also hasn't been superhuman this postseason, allowing a pair of runs (including a homer) and seven baserunners in 4.1 playoff innings, good for a 4.15 ERA and 1.62 WHIP.

So when Maddon sat in the dugout late Sunday evening watching helplessly as John Lackey served up a walk-off homer to Tormund Giantsbane Justin Turner, the "Madd Scientist" immediately found himself in the crosshairs of Cubs fans and the media.

The first question he fielded in his postgame press conference was about not using Davis and there were several follow-ups. That and the offensive futility is about all anybody wanted to talk about after the Cubs fell down 0-2 in the NLCS.

Maddon explained Davis was available only in a save situation due to workload issues — the Cubs closer was in uncharted territory Thursday night/Friday morning, throwing the most pitches (44) and innings (2.1) he's thrown since Aug. 24, 2013 when he was still working as a starter. That's a span of 1,511 days.

"Wade knew that going into the game, it was going to be with the say," Maddon said. "We caught the lead, he's in the game. So whatever the narrative was, it's really a false narrative. He was not coming into that game until we grabbed the lead. He was not going to pitch more than three outs. That's it."

How does Maddon respond to his second-guessers?

"Doesn't matter," Maddon said. "First of all, social media, the moment I start worrying about that, I really need to retire. Second of all, that was all predetermined [Sunday] night again."

Davis also has a recent history of arm troubles (he was on the disabled list twice in 2016 for a forearm issue) and also saw his workload jump in September just to help the Cubs get to the postseason. In the final month of the regular season, Davis threw 237 pitches, 42 more than he threw in any other month of 2017. The last time he topped 200 pitches in any month was May 2015.

TV cameras showed Davis throwing in the Cubs bullpen alongside Lackey at one point in the ninth inning, leading to surprise by a huge faction of the (*looks around and whispers*) social media fanbase when the game broadcast resumed after commercials and the pitching change was to bring Lackey — not Davis — into the game.

"Wade was not warming up to come in that game," Maddon said. "Wade was probably just testing his arm at that point. We had talked about it before the game — up and in. 

"For those that aren't involved in Major League Baseball and professional baseball in general, when a guy's throwing too much, it's very important to not dry hump him, as the saying goes. Get him up and put him back down and bring him back in later. So I wasn't going to do that."

(Wow, really was not expecting to hear or write the phrase "dry hump" regarding this story.)

Maddon insists health is not the problem with Davis.

"Yes [he's healthy]. Oh yeah," Maddon said. "Listen, this guy just did yeoman kind of work — I love that word — in Washington and was not prepared to go more than three outs. I don't understand why that's difficult to understand.

"And furthermore, you have to also understand it wasn't the last game of the year or the second to last game. It was about winning eight more games. All these things are factors."

Maddon has a point. This isn't a Buck Showalter case where the Baltimore Orioles manager failed to use his best reliever — Zach Britton — in a non-save situation in a winner-take-all American League wild card game because he wanted the closer to be ready for a save.

The Cubs went down in a game that was tied 1-1 with their best reliever failing to get in the game even though he hadn't pitched in the last two days. 

But Davis can't cover every inning in relief, especially when the Cubs' two starters (Jose Quintana and Jon Lester) lasted just 9.2 innings against the Dodgers, leaving the Cubs bullpen to account for the other 8+ innings somehow.

The rest of the Cubs bullpen has to step up, too, which they did before the ninth inning of Game 2.

Still, Maddon couldn't resist getting one more defensive shot in before putting the matter to bed:

"I really hope you all understand that social media doesn't count at all," he said. "Twitter doesn't count at all. And really, as sportswriters, you should do a better job than relying on Twitter to write a story, quite frankly."

Well then.