Blackhawks

Energetic Robinson tones down flash, remains effective

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Energetic Robinson tones down flash, remains effective

Something unexpected became very evident as the Bulls' preseason progressed: Nate Robinson, despite his reputation as a flashy, shoot-first point guard, has the discipline to not only control the tempo, make plays for his teammates and take care of the basketball, but the diminutive scorer also possesses the capacity to not let the aforementioned traits limit him from doing what he does best. In Friday's win over the rival Pacers--a term that Carlos Boozer, for one, slightly objects to, saying "rivalry's a strong word," when characterizing the divisional battles the Bulls have had with Indiana, seen by many as the Central Division favorites this season--on the campus of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., Robinson scored an efficient 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting, dished out eight assists and perhaps most importantly, notched only one turnover while playing starter's minutes in place of the injured Kirk Hinrich.

"I had that one, but as a team, I think were taking care of the ball. Throughout the game, nobodys going to go perfect with no turnoversa whole team, Ive never seen a game like thatbut its something that weve got to get better at, taking care of the ball. Trying to stay under 13, but keep being aggressive, as weve been doing," the irrepressible Seattle native said. "For me, I just try not to make the home-run play all the time. I just make the right play. Just pass, move, cut. The pass is there, hopefully they make the shot. If they dont, you live with it, get back on defense."

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau concurred: "We want 13 or less and so, the last two games have been very good. Making the simple plays, the balls moving, bodies are moving, good spacing. If we can sustain our spacing, we should be able to take care of the ball."

Robinson, who first crossed paths with Thibodeau when both were employed by the Boston Celtics, had an idea of what he was in for when he signed with the Bulls. However, it was reinforced during voluntary workouts in the offseason and throughout training camp--particularly after his off-the-backboard fast-break alley-oop to swingman Jimmy Butler was closely scrutinized by the basketball-purist coach--that Robinson would have to tone down some of his crowd-pleasing ways in order to properly execute Thibodeau's system, without losing too much of what's made him successful in his well-traveled NBA career.

"We run it so much in practiceIve got to say it again: Coach is big on repetitionso we run the plays over and over. He drills it in our head about running the play, getting guys in their sets where theyre supposed to be and I think we do a great job in the course of the game," Robinson explained. "Im here to fill in. Guys go down, Ill be ready. Starting, off the bench. My role, I know, is off the bench. Thats what Ive been doing my whole career and Im happy with it."

"When basketballs fun, it becomes easy, so Friday was fun. We had a great time out there," he added. "We just had fun, it flowed, everything was good. There were some mistakes that we made out there offensively, but overall, it was like kids in the playground, hanging out, having fun."

Fun to Thibodeau is winning via his five basic tenets (inside-out offense, unselfish play, strong rebounding, a commitment to defense and low turnovers), but Robinson's definition also involves playing with boundless energy, which, when properly harnessed, has proven to be effective. Already very popular among his new teammates off the court, the University of Washington product has earned their respect on the floor

"Nate plays high energy. He picks up 94 feet. Offensively, he pushes the ball every time. Its great for us because weve got some great athletes, great finishers, so if we run in transition, put the pressure on the defense trying to get layups and dunks, then we can always pull it back out and execute our offense in the half-court. He does a great job of pushing the rock. You saw his stat line was phenomenal tonight," Carlos Boozer said. "He plays with a lot of confidence, man. Its a big deal. I think as we get healthy, when we get everybody back, hes going to be monumental for our second group."

Directly next to Robinson in proximity in the Bulls' locker room is center Joakim Noah, previously the team's undisputed champion in terms of bringing electricity to the court. But the locker-room neighbors are now battling for the crown.

"I hope so. I dont know. Joakim says no, so I guess Ive got to do a better job," Robinson responded to the question of just how much energy he plays with, before moving on to a query about a comparison with his teammate, who is more than a foot taller than him "Him? Nah, Ive got way more energy than Joakim. Im taking that title, so he better move to the back of the bus."

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Change of plans? Adam Boqvist could start season with Blackhawks

That was quick. 

Hours after we wrote how Adam Boqvist has been flying under the radar this training camp because his NHL timeline could still be 2-3 years away — something even he admitted after the Blackhawks drafted him No. 8 overall in June — he put on a strong showing in his second preseason game on Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings playing on the top pairing and leading the team in ice time (22:15). 

His offensive skill is evident. So is his general skating ability. What really stood out was how he defended, particularly a 1-on-1 rush against the speedy Andreas Athanasiou.

This is the play that got Blackhawks fans excited. This is a player who has the ability to speed up his timeline if he takes advantage of this next year of development, which won’t begin in London on Friday after coach Joel Quenneville told reporters following Thursday’s contest that his debut with the Knights in the OHL is being put on hold because they want a longer look at him.

In fact, Quenneville didn’t rule out the possibility of Boqvist making the Blackhawks straight out of camp.

"I think as we've gone through camp and see him play through the games, we're watching him," Quenneville said. "We've been pleased with him. It's almost like, when you come to camp, we want to watch these guys. They make those decisions for us with how they play and it's been a positive one."

But that doesn’t mean he’d necessarily stick around for the full season.

Because he’s 18 years of age, Boqvist is eligible to play in up to nine games before getting sent to his respective junior team without burning the first year of his entry-level deal. He’s a slide candidate next year as well. It’s what the Blackhawks did with Ryan Hartman, who appeared in five games in 2014-15 and three games in 2015-16 before securing a full-time spot in 2016-17. That's the likely scenario if it were to reach that point.

It's hard to imagine the Blackhawks breaking in each of their top-two defensive prospects in Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist at the same time. And for Boqvist, you certainly don't want to waste any years of his entry-level contract when he could be using that time to truly develop so he could hit the ground running when he does enter the league on a full-time basis.

Perhaps the back injury to Connor Murphy, who is expected to be out until December, allowed the Blackhawks to view Boqvist's situation in a wider lense. Or maybe this was the plan all along.

Regardless, the Blackhawks may get a glimpse of the future quicker than they thought and it’s added a little excitement to training camp and the anticipation of Opening Day.

 

Melisa Reidy, Addison Russell's ex-wife, shares disturbing story of abuse

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USA TODAY

Melisa Reidy, Addison Russell's ex-wife, shares disturbing story of abuse

Melisa Reidy, the ex-wife of Cubs shortstop Addison Russell, posted a blog late Thursday night detailing years of enduring physical, emotional and psychological abuse.

The post can be read here, and much of it is pretty difficult to stomach.

The couple split up in June 2017 after Melisa posted a now-deleted Instagram photo alleging infidelity. A friend of Melisa's commented on the Instagram post that there had also been physical abuse during the relationship.

MLB caught wind of the deleted comment and opened an investigation of Russell under its then-new domestic violence protocol.

The Cubs sent Russell home during the investigation but he was never suspended by Major League Baseball.

Reidy opted not to speak with Major League Baseball as part of the investigation.

Before Russell returned to the Cubs he spoke with reporters and denied after the allegations.

“Any allegation I have abused my wife is false and hurtful,” Russell said in June 2017. “For the well-being of my family, I’ll have no further comment.”

Russell has struggled at the plate each of the last two seasons. Following a breakout campaign in 2016 in which he hit 21 homers and had 95 RBIs, he compiled a .722 OPS in 2017 and is down to .657 in 130 games this season.

Stay with NBCSportsChicago.com throughout the day for more details on this story.