Noah comes out on top in matchup vs. Varejao

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Noah comes out on top in matchup vs. Varejao

CLEVELANDPrior to Wednesday nights win over the Cavaliers, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke in glowing terms about Cleveland center Anderson Varejao, the leagues leading rebounder on the young NBA regular season.Varejao is playing off the charts. Those rebounding numbers are staggering. I think over the last five games, its 19 rebounds a game, 18 points, so hes scoring, too. Its not just the rebounds. Scoring, playmaking, toughness, just doing so many different things. Jos going to have his hands full, but not just Jo. Thats the responsibility of the entire team. Hes very active. Hes going to make you pay for mistakes. If his guy goes to help, youve got to make sure youre sinking to the body and hes relentless. He never stops going and those are the type of guys who always rebound big. Just like a shooter gets into rhythm, he gets into rhythm and the more you go, the more you get and hes proving that, he gushed.
An underrated aspect of Varejaos game is his playmaking. He can really pass the ball. Hes clever. He can go from a dribble handoff to a pass and follow. He can slip screens. You can tell hes been around. He has all the tricks.Of course, Thibodeau has a very similar playerdown to their eclectic hairstylesin Joakim Noah, a premier rebounder, top-notch defender, underrated passer and probably a superior offensive talent to his Brazilian counterpart in Cleveland. When the two players, likely vying with each other for a spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star teamalthough a familiar face in Chicago, former Bull and current Knicks center Tyson Chandler, the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, also has an excellent chance and plays for a team with a better record at the momentmatched up Wednesday, not only did Noahs Bulls come out on top, he equaled Varejao in rebounding at 15 boards apiece, blocked two shots to the Cavs centers zero and outscored his opponent, 13-11, holding Clevelands man in the middle to 4-of-16 shooting from the field.Afterwards, Thibodeau didnt exactly change his tunehes not the type of coach to downgrade an opposing teams playerbut while he showed Varejao a lot of respect, he also gave Noah credit for a job well done, though making sure to put the teams performance first.Its a great matchup, but its more what the teams are doing, so its not a one-on-one game and I thought Jo, overall, his defense was good, his rebounding was good, the playmaking was good and thats the big thing, he said. You tip your hat to Varejao. The guy never takes a possession off, relentless and the thing is, even though he didnt shoot the ball particularly well, (he) never changed his demeanor or the way he was competing. He keeps going, he never stops. Ive got a lot of respect for the way he plays.Noah echoed the coachs sentiments about the matchup: Tough player. He rebounds the ball real well. Hes a hard-playing dude. Got to give credit where credit is due. Varejao is a great player.Do I like playing against him? No, he continued. I dont like playing against him. Every time the ball goes up, hes always going to the glass, he never takes a play off. Hes just a hard-playing dude, good dude, too. I really respect him on and off the court. His brothers Sandro, who played at West Virginia in the 90s a friend of mine. Brazilians are usually pretty cool people.

AP Preps boys basketball poll: Week 13

AP Preps boys basketball poll: Week 13

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters.

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Edwardsville (8) 25-1 97 2
2 Bolingbrook (1) 23-1 75 1
3 Simeon 24-3 71 4
4 Evanston Township 23-3 66 T8
5 Fremd (1) 25-0 65 5
6 Curie 23-3 50 3
7 Wheaton Warrenville South 26-1 39 7
8 Whitney Young 20-7 27 6
9 Joliet West 22-3 21 10
10 East Moline United 22-6 9 NR

Others receiving votes: Rockford Boylan 7, East St. Louis 7, Geneva 6, Willowbrook 4, Algonquin (Jacobs) 2, Lincoln Way East 2, Lisle (Benet Academy) 1, Danville 1.

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Morgan Park (6) 19-6 94 1
2 Fenwick (2) 23-4 90 2
3 Springfield Lanphier (2) 21-3 84 3
4 Bloomington 20-4 67 4
5 North Lawndale 20-6 58 5
6 Benton 27-2 43 6
7 Effingham 23-3 35 8
8 Washington 21-5 30 9
9 Breese Central 23-4 14 7
10 Bogan 16-7 12 10

Others receiving votes: Springfield Southeast 11, Cahokia 6, Farragut 3, Burlington Central 2, Aurora Central Catholic 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Quincy Notre Dame (7) 24-2 104 1
2 Chicago Uplift (2) 21-5 96 2
3 Orr (2) 16-5 93 3
4 Teutopolis 25-3 78 4
5 Alton Marquette 26-3 59 5
6 Pinckneyville 26-2 38 8
7 Tremont 23-3 34 6
8 Rockridge 19-5 31 10
9 Mt. Carmel 22-4 18 7
10 Pittsfield 24-2 14 NR

Other receiving votes: DePaul College Prep 9, Illini Bluffs 6, Pleasant Plains 5, Eldorado 5, Waterloo Gibault 3, Hoopeston 3, Sterling Newman 3, Petersburg PORTA 3, Williamsville 2, Chicago-University 1.

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Colfax Ridgeview (7) 26-1 96 1
2 Okawville (2) 26-3 91 2
3 Chicago Hope Academy 23-4 71 4
4 Quest Academy (1) 25-4 67 3
5 Newark 23-3 57 5
6 Annawan 27-3 50 7
7 East Dubuque 27-2 45 6
8 DePue 24-3 27 9
9 Harvest Christian Academy 23-4 20 10
10 Effingham St. Anthony 23-5 9 8

Others receiving votes: Patoka 5, Nokomis 4, Freeport (Aquin) 3, Crab Orchard 2, Mendon Unity 2, Elverado 1.

Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

Cubs: Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon finally make peace

MESA, Ariz. – Over red wine, Miguel Montero and Joe Maddon ended their cold war on Monday night, dining at Andreoli Italian Grocer and vowing to work together as the Cubs try to defend their World Series title.  
 
The Montero-Maddon dynamic had been one of the awkward, lingering storylines in a feel-good camp after the veteran catcher questioned the star manager's communication skills and in-game decisions during a WMVP-AM 1000 interview – on the same day as the championship parade and Grant Park rally.

"I got a lot off my chest," Montero said Tuesday. "I care so much for the game. I care so much for the team. I'm here to win. And it's hard when you have that (weight) on your shoulders.
 
"I've never been a cancer (anywhere) that I played for all these years. And I'm not planning to be one of those guys."
 
Maddon requested the dinner meeting – quality assurance coach/ex-player Henry Blanco joined the peace summit as a neutral third party – while Montero picked the Scottsdale restaurant and suggested posting a photo of them toasting drinks on his Twitter account.  
 
"I want to let the people know that it's going to be a great year," Montero said.  

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Montero said he slept so much better that night and showed up for work at the Sloan Park complex the next morning with a new energy level. Montero, a two-time All-Star, stressed that he understands his role as a $14 million backup and a mentor to young catcher Willson Contreras. Montero offered to continue helping police the clubhouse – in exchange for Maddon keeping him more in the loop.   
 
"Whatever it takes me to help him," Montero said. "I was true with him when I said: ‘If you feel Willson needs a break and it's (Clayton) Kershaw pitching for the other team, put me in, I'm fine.'
 
"That's my job and I accept it. Just count on me for whatever. If we need to send a message out there to the players, I'm here for you, too. I can help you on that.
 
"If I do something that you don't like, just let me know. Just chew me out, whatever, I don't care. I'll take it like a man. It was a great time."
 
Montero had already told reporters that his comments on the radio weren't simply complaining about his own individual situation. Montero also spoke up for teammates frustrated by a perceived lack of communication and uncertainty over roles, though those behind-the-scenes issues appear to be cooling for now.
 
"We have a special team," Montero said. "We have a legitimate chance to win another championship. So in order to do that, we need to be together here. And I think we are now – and we're going to stay that way."