Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last season, the Chicago Bulls experienced a dramatically positive growth spurt. A team that actually lost at home to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the early part of the season grew together and gelled enough to qualify for the postseason. And in those playoffs, they gave the defending World Champion Boston Celtics all they could handle in a physical seven-game series that featured more overtime sessions than any other series in NBA history. It was probably the most exciting playoff series that the professional hardwood has ever seen, but a first round exit is still a first round exit, so 2008-09 was not exactly the most memorable season in Bulls history. But after building some positive momentum last season, what will the Bulls do with it now?
Their sophomore Head Coach Vinny Del Negro is as good a clue as any. Here are some of the highlights of what he’s told the media this preseason
About taking it to the next level…
“The 2nd half of last year I think we started to come into our own a little bit, kind of me feeling the guys out, them feeling me out how we’re gonna play. Now there’s a familiarity…now we just have to improve, you have to put the work in on the practice court and hopefully execute in games.”
On how little you can read into the Bulls 5-2 preseason record…
“Every time you’re keeping score, you always want to win, but sometimes there’s a lot of young players out there and that usually dictates some mistakes and the flow of the game can get changed a little bit when you’re trying to conserve some guys’ minutes, so the rotations aren’t down and that throws guys into different positions sometimes.”
On Tyrus Thomas, and his convalescence…
“He needs to get back in shape, he’s been out a little bit, and get the flow back offensively, defensively, be our shot blocker back there, and make open 15 footers. If he runs the court with his athleticism and gets after it defensively, it’ll give us a big boost. He knows what he needs to do, he just needs to go out and do it consistently.”
On improving the team’s much maligned defense…
“We have to find a way to get stops at key times, but also we need to rebound better defensively. Some times we’re getting key stops, but not getting that basketball, hopefully with a little more size the rebounding numbers will get better.”
The subject on everyone’s mind, the health of Derrick Rose…
“He needs to get back. It is a day-to-day thing. He’s been doing some running and he’s been on the bike. We may have him in shooting drills, but not full-contact drills…It is possible he will not be ready for the opener against San Antonio. I hope he practices tomorrow but it is really day-to-day.
Season tips off October 29th.
See more of Paul M. Banks’ sports-writing at:
-the site he founded The Sports Bank.net
-NBA analysis at Walter Football.com
-“Patrick Kane Chronicles” at Buffalo Sports Daily