Preps Talk

Thunder coach Brooks talks Thibs, Bulls


Thunder coach Brooks talks Thibs, Bulls

OKLAHOMA CITYThunder head coach Scott Brooks is very familiar with his counterpart on the opposing sideline, Tom Thibodeau. During his playing career, Brooks, a longtime journeyman NBA backup point guard, played for teams on which Thibodeau was an assistant in Minnesota and New York.

His work ethic is at a high level. His basketball knowledge and passion for the game is really good. He works and works. He puts in a lot of time, cares about what he does and his team, Brooks said before his team faced Thibodeaus Sunday afternoon. Im glad he got a chance. It took him 20 years to get this opportunity but its well deserved and hes going to be doing it for a lot more years.

Then, Brooks elaborated, opining on Thibodeaus famous singlemindedness.

I mean, the guy has no life. Even when he was young as an assistant, he never wanted to go out to dinner with me. He had things to do, the Thunder coach quipped. Hes boring. He just wants to coach basketball.

Brooks also discussed the Bulls success this season.

Theyre willing defenders. They have a lot of pride in what they do. Their bigs protect the paint, theyre a great rebounding team and they just come at you on both ends, Brooks explained. Offensively, they play hard and they go through screens harder than any team in the league. They set great screens. Theyre a good team. Their record proves that.

Theyre the best team in the league. They do a lot of great things at both ends of the floor, he continued. Chicago always brings the best out of you because they play so hard at both ends. If you dont match that, then youre not going to look good against them. You cant have an off day and win.

Thibodeau and Brooks are both former NBA Coaches of the Year and if Brooks superstar player, Kevin Durant, continues playing the way he has this season, the pair will have something else in common: Coaching league MVP winners.

You could probably mark the conversation down for the next decade or so. The guy is only going to get better. Hes a worker. I love what hes about. I dont talk to him about it. Hes never mentioned it to me. Hes about winning. If youre one of the better players and youre winning the way were winning, hes always going to be in consideration and thats the thing about Kevin, Brooks said of Durant. He scores and hes scoring this year efficiently, not taking a lot of shots to get his points, gets to the free-throw line at a good rate and hes passing the ball better, hes rebounding better. Hes doing a lot of things better for us and were winning games.

Stagg's Kyle Neputy leads through action during offseason

Stagg's Kyle Neputy leads through action during offseason

While many athletes talk about leadership and the importance of being a leader, others let their actions do the talking. One of them is Stagg senior quarterback Kyle Neputy (6-foot-4, 234 pounds).

Neputy, who is signed and will play this fall at Cornell, participated in last year's annual Franklin Middle School Charity Dodgeball tournament. The tournament had such a positive impact on Neputy and his fellow Charger teammates that they decided to rally together and support a worthwhile cause for a second straight year. 

I had a chance to catch up with the Kyle Neputy at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School. 

Neputy shares why he and his Stagg teammates decided to support the event. He also had a chance to reflect on making the move to Cornell later this year.

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

Life was a lot different last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs

For the first time in a decade, the Blackhawks officially will not be in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night at the United Center, the Blackhawks will be sitting at home mid-April instead of looking to add to their trophy case.

Exactly 366 days before, the Blackhawks actually became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff berth, also the result of a game against the Avs:

The last time the Blackhawks missed the playoffs, Denis Savard was the coach and Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were just 19 years old in the midst of their rookie seasons.

The next year, Joel Quenneville took over as coach after four games and led the Blackhawks all the way to the Conference Finals.

Of course, the following year (2009-10 season) brought the first of three Stanley Cups.

For perspective on how incredible this stretch has been for the Blackhawks, here's how the other professional Chicago sports teams spent 2008:

—The Bears finished 9-7 in Matt Forte's rookie year (he's since retired) with Kyle Orton as the starting quarterback and Lovie Smith as head coach.

—The Cubs led the National League in runs scored en route to a 97-win regular season...before falling flat against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Lou Piniella was still the manager and Theo Epstein was still three years away from coming to Chicago.

—The Bulls found some incredible luck, pulling the No. 1 overall pick and selecting Chicago native Derrick Rose. He helped the Bulls to a 41-41 season as a rookie under coach Vinny Del Negro.

—The White Sox lost to Joe Maddon and the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS after winning the AL Central under manager Ozzie Guillen. Carlos Quentin enjoyed a breakout season (36 HR, 100 RBI) while Gavin Floyd won 17 games. 

The Blackhawks still have eight games left before the 2017-18 season ends April 7.