Bertrands big night garners national attention

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Bertrands big night garners national attention

For a brief moment in time, Joseph Bertrand the quiet, 6' 6' guard from Sterling, Illinois had the nation in awe.

For a brief moment on Wednesday night, Joseph Bertrand was trending nationally on Twitter.

Bertrand exploded midway through the second half of Illinois clash with Georgia Tech in the ACCBig Ten Challenge. He created a 10-0 run on his own that vaulted Illinois to the lead and an eventual, 75-62 win.

After the game, Bertrand did not emote much and stayed quiet during the press conference. Though he stepped up for his team on Wednesday night, he let those around him step up and brag.

Joe always competes, Illinois coach John Groce said. Until you get to know him he comes off as a quiet guy, but he has big time energy. I very rarely watch practice or game film and say Bertrands not competing. Tonight he competed.

Joes work ethic speaks for itself. He comes to the gym everyday and plays hard, senior Brandon Paul said. He wanted to extend his game in the offseason and hes done that with help from coaches.

The redshirt junior really extended his play against Georgia Tech. He tied for the team lead in scoring with 15 and added three rebounds, an assist and a steal for Illinois.

His most spectacular moment came at the tail end of his 10-0 run, when he hit an off-balance shot while being fouled. Paul said the shot is a common practice occurrence for Bertrand, but he was glad to see it happen on a national stage.

That loop-de-loop, ridiculous play youll probably see on Sportscenter, he said.

So far this season Bertrand has been one of the first off the bench, but has yet to start. In the Illinis last few games, he has elevated his status to something like a super sub.

Against Chaminade, in the Maui Invitational semifinal, Bertrand scored 14 and grabbed six rebounds. He matched that rebounding total last Sunday, against Gardner-Webb, and put up another 13 points to help his team win a squeaker.

Bertrand credits his improvement to offseason conditioning under the new coaches. Specifically, the 11,000 free throws Groce & Co. asked players to make during summer workouts.

That really helped my shooting and skill developmentreally helped my confidence, Bertrand said. Im looking to shoot a lot more threes this year. I was driving a lot last year and Im doing both this year.

The change has been obvious, and Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory added his praise for the juniors improvement.

Obviously hes spent a lot of time working on his perimeter shooting, he said. You can see the package he brings to the table, thats really starting to develop.

Whether Bertrand remains Illinois super sub or begins to get some starting minutes, Groce is overjoyed to have him as a part of a group of upperclassmen that has been outstanding in the early stages of the season.

Im the luckiest guy in the world because Ive got older guys who care about the game, care about the team, the Illini coach said.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks clash with Wild tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Road warriors.

The Blackhawks have won six straight games away from the United Center, and are looking to make it a seventh in Minnesota tonight. They've scored the game's first goal in four of those wins, and in the other two, overcame 1-0 deficits to beat Dallas 5-3 and Edmonton 5-1, the latter of which they scored five unanswered goals.

2. Corey Crawford vs. Devan Dubnyk.

Crawford hasn't quite been the same since undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Dec. 3, but he turned in probably his best outing since then in the Blackhawks' last meeting against Minnesota on Feb. 8 when he stopped 35 of 38 shots in a 4-3 overtime win. He essentially stole two points, and prevented the Wild from picking up the extra one. Across from him tonight will be Dubnyk, who leads the league in wins (32), goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.934).

3. Jonathan Toews on fire.

After a tough offensive drought earlier in the season that lasted longer than expected, the Blackhawks captain has six goals and 10 assists in his last 12 games, and upped his point total to 37, which now ranks fifth on the team. In the last meeting against Minnesota two weeks ago, Toews had a three-point night and scored the game winner in overtime. 

4. Mikael Granlund among league's most underrated players.

File Granlund under the category of players who don't get enough attention. He has 17 goals and 36 assists in 58 games this season, and his 53 points is tied with Jeff Carter and Artemi Panarin for 13th in the NHL's scoring race. The next highest point total on the Wild is Eric Staal with 45, an eight-point gap between him and Granlund. The 24-year-old forward registered his first career hat trick earlier this month, and also had a 12-game point streak just two weeks ago.

5. Ryan Hartman's closing in on 15 goals.

In Saturday's 3-1 loss to Edmonton, Hartman defended his teammate by fighting an Oilers defenseman that was practically twice his size. He called it a "no-brainer" to stick up for Tanner Kero and did well in the scrap, but it led to an Oilers power play and 10-minute misconduct which didn't do the Blackhawks any favors. He responded in a great way Sunday by scoring the game's first goal that helped his team win 5-1 in Buffalo. The next goal he scores will be No. 15, which would give the Blackhawks six 15-plus goal scorers on the year. They had only four a season ago.

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