Loving leads Hillcrest past TF North

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Loving leads Hillcrest past TF North

By Matthew Bruce
YourSeason.com

T.F. North scored the first bucket of the game. Hillcrest took over from there.Jalen Loving totaled 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No. 21 Hawks, who never were threatened and cruised to a 74-41 blowout Friday night in the South Suburban Blue crossover in Country Club Hills.Jovan Mooring started the dominance for Hillcrest, which has won eight of its past nine games. The 6-foot-1 junior guard sparked a 15-0 run when he knocked down a three-pointer while falling down from 23 feet out midway through the first quarter. Two possessions later, Mooring brought the ball up the court and swished one from a foot deeper to give the Hawks (17-4, 9-0) a 12-2 lead.Point guard Kyle Oden followed suit, knocking down a pair of treys. By the end of the frame Hillcrest led 23-9. Oden netted another three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give the Hawks a 36-12 lead at the break. Mooring and Oden both finished with three treys.T.F. North, which had 25 turnovers, could not figure out the Hawks halfcourt trap. T.F. North scored just three points in the second quarter.I keep saying this: Im excited about the way we play defense. We just need to make sure we execute on offense, Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. Overall, Im pretty happy with the effort.Loving was a killer down low for Hillcrest, connecting on 11 of 14 shots from the field. Nicholas Wood was the lone T.F. North player to finish in double figures, scoring 10 points. Loving, Mooring (14 points) and Oden (13) combined for 52 of the Hawks points.Any given night, any of the starting five can give us a whole lot, Houston said. If one person isnt having the greatest game, someone else can come in and give us a good game. So Im not surprised when any one of those guys step up.

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah posts Instagram picture wearing Knicks hat

Joakim Noah doesn't have time for "unnamed league sources."

The former Bulls center posted a picture to his Instagram account on Friday afternoon of himself wearing a New York Knicks hat, indicating he has signed with the team as a free agent.

Jah bless

A photo posted by Joakim Noah (@stickity13) on

Indications since last night, when free agency began, were that Noah, who spent 10 seasons in Chicago, was going to sign with his hometown Knicks.

Last week the Bulls dealt Derrick Rose to the Knicks in a five-player deal. Noah and Rose have been teammates since Rose came into the league in 2008.

Blackhawks place David Rundblad on buyout waivers

Blackhawks place David Rundblad on buyout waivers

David Rundblad’s time with the Blackhawks looks to be all but over.

The Blackhawks placed Rundblad on buyout waivers, as first reported by Pierre LeBrun, on Friday. Rundblad was set to make $1.05 million this season; with buyout waivers, the Blackhawks would take a cap hit of $133,333 this season and $183,333 next season.

General manager Stan Bowman said Rundblad is looking for opportunity elsewhere.

“I think he’s looking to maybe pursue other opportunities, whether in the NHL or Europe, I can’t speak for him,” Bowman said. “He’s still a young guy and he wants to get back to playing a lot of hockey and that’s why he wanted to go to Europe mid-season. We were willing to honor that request. We’ll let him find a spot where he knows he’ll be a regular player every day.”

Rundblad was never an every-day player for the Blackhawks. While he had some offensive upside, Rundblad struggled defensively. Last season he played nine regular-season games with the Blackhawks and 10 with the Rockford IceHogs. He also spent a portion of last season with the ZSC Lions (Switzerland) before returning to the Blackhawks organization.

“He has a bright future. We wish him well. But it’s hard as a guy trying to establish yourself in the NHL if you don’t play a lot of minutes,” Bowman said. “But I think we’ll see David back in the NHL in a few years. I think he wants to find a better fit where he’ll play a lot.”

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

He’s back: Blackhawks sign Brian Campbell

For Brian Campbell, it was pretty simple.

He wanted to come back to Chicago. He makes his offseason home here, wants to continue to raise his young family here and is incredibly familiar with the team here. All it was going to take was a decent, not decadent, salary.

Campbell got that, and now he’s back to try and win another Stanley Cup.

Campbell signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2 million with the Blackhawks not long after the NHL free agency window opened on Friday. For Campbell, the chance to come back to Chicago was too tempting and worth turning down other, more lucrative offers.

“It’s where my heart is, where I want to play,” said Campbell via conference call. “The last time when I was a free agent, money played a factor. This time it was about what was best for me and my family. I have two young daughters; one is going into preschool. I’ve been welcomed into the neighborhood I live in. It’s just where I wanted to be, where my heart was. It just makes our life perfect. We’re ecstatic about being here.”

It’s a good, affordable deal, just like the one the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to entering the 2014-15 season. Unlike with Richards, there shouldn’t be much adjustment time for Campbell. While the Blackhawks’ roster has changed plenty since Campbell was traded, the core is still fairly intact.

General manager Stan Bowman said at the draft last weekend that he wouldn’t rule out getting a veteran defenseman. Now he has Campbell back in the fold and it didn’t take long to convince him to return.

“The fact it came together so quickly, seemed it was a place Brian wanted to be,” Bowman said. “No question that Brian had a tremendous season this past year and several good years, leading up to this year. I’m sure he had other opportunities. Speaks to what person Brian is. He’s a winner. He believes in our organization and our chances last year. Nice to know he wants to be part of what we’re doing in Chicago. Familiarity with the coach and some players here. We’re excited he chose Chicago.”

Campbell’s return helps a defense that missed Johnny Oduya last season. Whether or not he plays as big a role as he did in Florida, or even in his first stint with Chicago, remains to be seen but Campbell believes he can still be a top-minute guy. His durability has been proven; the 37-year-old Campbell has played in every regular-season game with the Florida Panthers since he joined them in the 2011-12 season.

“I have a lot left in the tank,” Campbell said. “There are no egos here for me. It’s doing what’s best to win. I know how old I am but I definitely don’t feel that old. I led the Panthers in minutes last season but I’m definitely fine with less minutes as well. Whatever they want I’m more than happy to contribute.”

With the Campbell deal done the Blackhawks have around $3.2 million in cap space, per generalfanager.com. The Blackhawks may not do a whole lot else regarding free agency. Bowman said the Blackhawks could get a “role-type player,” but getting Campbell was their top priority.

The Blackhawks needed to bolster their defense. Campbell wanted to come “home.” It worked out. Now to see if Campbell is once again the defenseman the Blackhawks need.

“I call Chicago home. My wife grew up here and we’re excited to raise our two daughters here,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t be happier to play for my hometown team now.”