Cubs

Simeon tops Young in Class 4A semifinal

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Simeon tops Young in Class 4A semifinal

By Michael O'Brien
YourSeason.com
The old gym at Argo was packed to the rafters, a full house with a hundred or so fans standing and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sitting courtside. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Ilinois coach Bruce Weber were in the stands.Young vs. Simeon is supposed to be about high-level talent-thats what brings out the heavy hitters. But Tuesday in Summit it was a regular high school basketball player, Simeon senior Reggie Norris, who changed the games momentum and helped the Wolverines to a 52-42 win over Young in a Class 4A sectional semifinal.Norris came off the bench in the first half, but he started the second. The 6-0 senior turned up the heat on Youngs backcourt and triggered the games decisive run.We wanted the defensive pressure, Simeon coach Robert Smith said. He had a lot of high energy plays. Hes used to being out there and handling those moments.Norris drained a three with 6:37 to play in the third quarter that put Simeon ahead 27-26 and igniting a 12-0 run. The Wolverines did not relinquish the lead again.Reggie Norris waited his turn, Smith said. Sometimes guys have to do that here. Hes going to be huge for us from here on out.Jabari Parker led the way for the Wolverines (29-1) with 18 points and six rebounds. Kendrick Nunn added 11 and Steve Taylor finished with three points and eight rebounds. Taylor had his hands full with the Dolphins 6-10 big Jahlil Okafor, 6-10 Tommy Hamilton Jr. and 6-8 Jermaine Morgan.I think Steve Taylor did a great job, Smith said. Okafor is a great player. Once again Taylor stepped up for us.Okafor finished with nine points and seven rebounds, but did not score in the second half.We just kept the ball out of his hands, Smith said. You cant stop him, you just have to try and keep him from getting it.Sophomore Miles Reynolds led Young (16-10) with 13 points and Paul White scored seven.The third quarter hurt us, Young coach Tyrone Slaughter said. We fell apart and they are the type of team that will take advantage of any slip up. Im proud of our effort, we battled to the end.

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

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USA TODAY

Is Joe Maddon covering for Wade Davis? Where do Cubs go from here?

Is Cubs manager Joe Maddon taking the heat and covering for Wade Davis while the All-Star closer deals with atypical soreness in his right arm?

“No, no,” Maddon said Tuesday when asked if Davis felt anything unusual that lingered into the National League Championship Series after last week’s all-out effort eliminated the Washington Nationals from the divisional round.

The Los Angeles Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven bullpen battle without Davis throwing a single pitch, the backlash from Cubs fans, Twitter and the national media again putting Maddon on the defensive, the year after he got second-guessed for pushing Aroldis Chapman so hard during the World Series.

This NLCS truly is a bizarro world, with Maddon comparing the Buster Posey Rule to the Chicago soda tax, getting so little benefit of the doubt – the Cubs really did beat the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 – and working the baseball term “dry-hump” into one answer during Monday’s Wrigley Field press conference.

Maddon said he would have to check first with Davis – who would have almost five full days in between relief appearances – if the Cubs need a four- or five-out save in Game 3.

“Nevertheless, I always check,” Maddon said. “I can’t just assume that.”

Maddon’s Game 2 calculus on Sunday night at Dodger Stadium – sticking with lefty reliever Brian Duensing in a 1-1 game to start the ninth inning and then bringing in John Lackey to serve up the walk-off, three-run homer to Justin Turner – made you wonder if Davis was still dragging after ending Washington’s season and traveling on the overnight cross-country flight that got diverted to New Mexico for about five hours when Jose Quintana’s wife experienced a panic attack.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” Maddon said. “Physically, 44 pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. But also the seven outs and what it meant and the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac, there was a lot of non-rest going on right there, so it was harder to recover.

“So, no, he was fine for the last game, but we set up the parameters before the game.”

Maddon is sticking with his story, that he would only deploy Davis in a save situation and not use him for one out against Turner (1.115 career postseason OPS) or have him totally warm up without the guarantee of getting him into the game.

“To put Wade in that position would be wrong on my part,” Maddon said. “We had already talked about the circumstances, so my loyalty there lies with Wade, or my decision-making lies with Wade, nobody else.

“That was a heavy day for him (in Washington). Going into the last game in L.A., like I talked about, we talked about one inning only, and not to get up and not put him in the game.

“If you get him up and sit him down, then you have no idea what it’s going to look like. My responsibility is to him, also, and to the players, so I told him that before the game, so I had to stick with our decision.”

Before finalizing the Jorge Soler trade at the winter meetings, the Kansas City Royals took the unusual step of allowing the Cubs to meet with Davis at his home in New York’s Hudson Valley and go through a physical exam. The Cubs wanted reassurances after Davis spent parts of last season on the disabled list with a forearm strain and a flexor strain.

The Cubs wondered if “dry-humping” had contributed to those injuries, and tried to stay conservative with Davis during his free-agent year, watching him convert his first 32 save chances and using him for three-plus outs only three times during the regular season, all in mid-to-late September.

“If you look at the numbers this year, I thought going into the playoffs his usage has been really good,” Maddon said. “Minimal, in a sense. We didn’t get him up hardly at all where we didn’t utilize him.

“He just wasn’t set up for it the other day. So honestly, I think he’s in really good shape right now, actually. I don’t think he could have gone those seven outs the other day if he had been overly dried up during the course of the season. He felt good. But that was above and beyond, and that wasn’t part of the game plan the other night.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Ben Zobrist shares his leadoff approach

Sports Talk Live is on location at the Brickhouse Tavern at Wrigley Field to get you set for Game 3 of the NLCS. David Haugh (Chicago Tribune), Jesse Rogers (ESPNChicago.com) and Bob Nightengale (USA Today) join Kap on the panel. 

Plus, Ben Zobrist and Curtis Granderson drop by to talk about the big matchup.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: