Bulls

Quenneville to go against former teammate, Tippett

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Quenneville to go against former teammate, Tippett

GLENDALE, Ariz.-- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Phoenix coach Dave Tippett ran their respective team practices on Wednesday; two teams, directed by two of the best in the business.Watching them dictate practices and then pile up victories, its like the two were born to be coaches. And for the two longtime friends, their coaching integration basically began when they were players.Quenneville and Tippett have been tremendously successful as NHL coaches. And Tippett, who was teammates with Quenneville for six seasons in Hartford, said the groundwork was unexpectedly laid when they were with the Whalers.I remember, just before the game, four or five of us players would be in front of a chalkboard talking about how we were going to penalty kill that night, said Tippett, who has more than 400 victories and has led the Coyotes to three consecutive playoff appearances and their first division title in franchise history.A lot was left up to the players on how to go about things. We all came through an era where you figured out the game instead of someone presenting it to you.That explains a lot of the success for Tippett and Quenneville, who has two Stanley Cups one as an assistant coach and has won more games than any other active NHL coach. And it also explains the bond between those two and several other Whalers from that time span, who are also coaching: Kevin Dineen has the Florida Panthers in the playoffs this year.
Ulf Samuelsson, who was Tippetts assistant the past two seasons, is coaching the Swedish National Team.
John Anderson, former Atlanta Thrashers coach, is one of Tippetts assistants.
Not bad for one team.Quenneville and Tippett are very similar coaches: both intense, both will make changes to spark their teams and, well, both used to sport healthy mustaches. Tippett shaved his when he became coach of the Dallas Stars in the early 2000s.And both were as intense as players as they are now as coaches.He was one of the all-time most competitive guys I ever met, Quenneville said of Tippett. He was one of those guys who immediately fit in with the (Hartford) team and we valued how competitive he was. I cant talk to how intense he is as a coach, but nobody was more intense than him as a player.Tippett said Joel was a very smart player. He was one of those guys who used all the assets he had and maximized his talent. He wasnt the fastest skater, but he sure played the game smart.And the competition will be at the forefront during this series. The nice ties between the coaches will probably go something like this: Hey, good to see you. Family good? Good. Same here. Well, talk to you after the series is over.Thatll probably be along the lines of it, yep, Tippett said with a laugh.Quenneville agreed.I congratulated him (on getting into the playoffs), knowing he was one of five (possible opponents) at the time, Quenneville said, smiling.The friendship will always be there for the two. The chumminess takes a seat for now. The two coaches with a combined 1000-plus victories have more pressing matters.

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen celebrates 21st birthday with a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie First Team

Lauri Markkanen’s celebration for his 21st birthday coincided with another major honor, being selected to the All-Rookie First team.

Markkanen received 76 of 100 possible first-team votes to join Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons, Boston’s Jayson Tatum and the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma on the first team. Mitchell and Simmons were unanimous selections and Tatum was one vote short of joining Mitchell and Simmons.

Markkanen, acquired on draft night in the package of players for Jimmy Butler, showed he was far more advanced than many expected. His 15.2 points per game ranked third among rookies and his 7.5 rebounds were first.

Markkanen was a constant in a topsy-turvy season for the Bulls, scoring 30-plus twice and hitting the 25-point plateau another three times. As a perfect fit in Fred Hoiberg’s offensive system, Markkanen had eight games where he hit four triples or more, including a game in New York where he drilled eight 3-pointers against the Knicks.

Only 15 rookies have hit more than 140 triples in NBA history, with Markkanen accomplishing the feat in 68 games—he was joined by Mitchell and Kuzma from this year’s star-studded class.

As the season progressed and Markkanen took hold of the power forward position, the Bulls began maneuvering personnel around him, trading disgruntled forward Nikola Mirotic and making a concerted effort to put Bobby Portis at center to pair Portis with Markkanen as a spread-shooting duo.

As the most impressive rookie the Bulls have employed since Derrick Rose, he’s also the first rookie since Taj Gibson in 2010 to make All-Rookie First Team.

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.