Bears

Bulls past All-Star snubs, on to Warriors

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Bulls past All-Star snubs, on to Warriors

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2010
10:31 a.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

SAN FRANCISCOWith the second-best record in the East, it would seem that the Bulls would get rewarded with at least one player--either Luol Deng or Carlos Boozer, to go along with starter Derrick Rose--when the All-Star reserves were announced Thursday night. When they learned that they were shut out, they predictably downplayed the situation.

"It's unfortunate for our guys. I thought Luol and Carlos were deserving, but (Joakim Noah) was on that path until he got hurt. But Im not really concerned about stuff like that because that stuff, you really have no control over," said Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau prior to the team's Friday morning practice at the swank Olympic Club in downtown San Francisco. "In our eyes, theyre All-Stars and I think whats important is what their teammates think and what their coaches think, and we feel theyre All-Stars. But in the grand scheme of things, what were doing with our team, thats whats important."

"In some cases, I think its politicalwhatever it isits like the Hall of Fame," he continued. "You cant get caught up in it. Again, its what each individual thinks."

Deng admitted he was disappointment, citing the facts that some All-Star reserves have missed significant time--similar to Boozer, whose numbers compare favorably to others who were honored--and of the conference's so-called elite teams (Atlanta, not considered an upper-echelon team, had two players selected), the Bulls were the only squad with a lone All-Star.

"I wish I would have made it, to go there, represent the team with the record that we have and everything, but at the same time, its weird to me that we only have one. But then again, I think all I can do is kind of put it past me. I really think Im a step ahead of where I was last year, so my main thing is to keep going forward. I am disappointed, but theres nothing you can do about it," said Deng. "Im kind of surprised at that because I really feel as a team, we went through a lot with injuries. We had Carlos missing, Joakim missing and I feel like other teams had injuries, but some of those guys that were hurt made it. So, Im kind of surprised that we didnt get rewarded for how well weve done as a team. We do have Derrick and Derrick deserves to be a starter and everything, but were 20 games above .500."

Deng also implied the snubs could be a motivating factor, but the Bulls' team-oriented goals would take precedent over individual honors.

"I dont know if were a one All-Star kind of team. I think we have more than that. I think if Jo was healthy, he would be in it. If Boozer played more games, he would be in it. Im a step ahead of where I was last year. As a team, were somewhere where we want to be," he remarked. "It kind of shows that were not there yet or the respect is not there yet. Weve got to be hungry for that."

As for Boozer, he acknowledged that his training-camp injury limited his odds and therefore, he lowered his expectations, although he felt Deng should have received the accolade.

"Im not disappointed. I didnt think I was going to make it because I didnt play enough games, but I really wish Luol would have made it. I thought he was very deserving, he played every game this season, having a monster year for us and I was really hoping that hed make his first All-Star team," said the two-time Western Conference All-Star.

"Im sure its going to motivate the hell out of him. Hes already motivated, but itll to motivate him even more. We have a lot to prove. Were a team thats still trying to go out there and find our respect from everybody else," Boozer added. "Its an All-Star Game. I didnt come here for All-Star Games, I came here for championships. Ive been an All-Star a few times, but I want to win some rings. For me, Im not concerned with what everybody else thinks about us."

Added Thibodeau: "What you do on a winning team is important. Coaches tend to put more stock in that."

"Luol has been great all season. I think Carlos has been great since hes been back. I do think that him missing the early part probably hurt him, but if Carlos plays the whole season, in my opinion, hes definitely on the team. Same thing with JoJo got off to a great start, got hurtthose things you dont have control over," he concluded. " How well our team does is important and I think, as we go forward, the more we win, the more people will get recognized."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How hot is John Fox's seat?

Seth Gruen (Bleacher Report/”Big Ten Unfiltered” podcast), Chris Emma (670TheScore.com) and Matt Zahn (CBS 2) join Kap on the panel. If the Bears lose badly to the Lions, should Sunday be John Fox’s last game? 

Plus Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill joins the panel to talk Bulls as well as the Niko/Portis cold war.

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

Collecting some final thoughts on if Tarik Cohen isn't getting enough snaps for the Bears

John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:

“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries. 

“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”

There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard. 

“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”

There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations. 

But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field. 

“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”

There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that. 

This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else. 

So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.