Cubs

Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Starting Five: Bulls at Lakers

Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010
5:18 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Bulls power forward Taj Gibson expects to play in tonights game against the Lakers after aggravating a foot injury Sunday and missing the teams practices that day and Monday. I think I should be able to playWe worked on it all morning, the last couple hours, the day before, said Gibson, who claims he was told by doctors that he couldnt further aggravate the injury by playing. Im feeling a lot better. Once they figured out what it was, that helped it heal faster. When they saw the MRI, did the check-up to make sure I was okay, they said he should treat the injury with some ice and stim electronic stimulation.

Continued Gibson, who said the injury was unrelated to the plantar fasciitis that troubled him since last season: Even if Im a little down, when the game comes, everything just changes. Im looking forward to trying to play; looking forward to playing, actuallyIm just happy that there werent any tears or anything. When we were looking at the film, they the doctors were all shaky-faced; their faces were all screwed-up. Its just a little aggravation. Thibodeau chimed in, He said hes feeling a lot better today, so its encouragingWe didnt think it was anything major, but we were cautionary Mondaygoing to the doctor, see how he feels tonight before the gameand if hes ready to go, he goes.

2. Reserve forward Brian Scalabrine, another USC product, expressed much stronger sentiments about practicing at his rival school. Ill tell you what: I dont have good nights here. I feel like we should have went to SC the University of Southern California, his alma mater or even maybe the Staples Center at shootaround, but I can come in this gym UCLAs Student Activity Center. I dont really have any hatred toward this place right here. I mean, I have some hatred of Pauley Pavilion, UCLAs home gym. Listen, Im not going to hide it: I hate UCLA; thats just the way it is. I like USC, I hate UCLA. I want them to lose, I want USC to win, said Scalabrine before shootaround.

We battled, but Im not like the guys nowadays that have friends and stuff like that at other places. When we were there, we hated UCLA; I wanted them to lose every game. I dont know how they felt about us, but thats just how it is. Added Scalabrine: I played one time in the vaunted summer pickup games at UCLA. They argue too much. Magic Johnson, manhe cheats. You cant ever get any games going. I come to work; I dont come to argue. I could argue at home if I wantbut top-notch runs here.

Scalabrine also opined about the Bulls opponent tonight and whether they were an improved team with the additions of free agents Matt Barnes and Steve Blake, the improvement of Shannon Brown and Kobe Bryants hot start. I think theyre a better team, but for thema team like thatthey won a championship; you dont know how all that is going to work in June. It might work in June. All sights point to them maybe working in June, but you just never know, said Scalabrine.

You never know. In 08, we Boston won the championship and the next year, K.G. Kevin Garnett has the knee thing and we were out in the second round vs. Orlando. You never know whats going to happen. We thought we were poised to win that championship, just like we thought we were poised to win last years championship. I dont think you never know how thats going to play out. Especially in the playoffs, I think the cream rises to the top, and clearly they have guys that have performed at that level and have done well, but the other guys have stuff to prove.

3. After Sundays practice at the Staples Center, Derrick Rose discussed the underrated Lamar Odom, his teammate from the FIBA World Championships gold medal-winning USA Basketball squad. Hes Odom a good dude. Works hard, loves the game, really helpful to his teamhes going to eat offensively. Rebounds, tip-ins, push the ball up the floor. If theres an advantage, hes going to drive the ball, get to the line. Hes going to ball when hes on the floor, said Rose.

When youve got a guy thats been playing the power forward spot for numerous years and you put on a team USA Basketball where hes got to play centerhe started for us at center, so he had to stick Luis Scola and all the other great European centers over thereso that was kind of weird and he took that challenge. Rose went on to talk about Odoms intense pregame preparation. You could just tell Odom was a champion by the way he prepared for the games. He does a whole body workout before a game. I call it a prison workout. Hell be in the locker, the coach will be talking and hell do million little workoutspush-ups, sit-ups. Everybody was laughing like, Man, here he goes with his workout. Put his towel down and do a whole bunch of workouts. But the way he prepares for games in unbelievable. Thats why hes where hes at right now.

Rose also noted his alma mater, Chicagos Simeon Career Academy, being ranked as the preseason top team in the city and No. 10 nationally, with speculation the perennial prep powerhouse could be better than his back-to-back state championship squads. Theyve Simeon got a chance to do it. Theyve got a lot of young talent, good coaching staff there and it would be great if they could have another team like that his own team, said Rose.

4. Thibodeau talked about his history with Bryant after Sundays practice, which goes back to the superstars days as a high school phenom at Lower Merion High School in suburban Philadelphia. He was so driven. He was a high school kid and when he had a day off from school, and hed be in the gym from eight in the morning until eight at night. He was trying to play against the pros and watch everything, lift weights. You know his talent. In high school, when he was playing against pros, he looked like he belonged with them. You knew he was going to be special, but I think his drive is what he really separates him.

When you combine that drive and his intelligence with his talent, hes top of the line, recalled Thibodeau, who joked that his knowledge of Bryants game hasnt helped me very much. His dad former NBA player Joe Jellybean Bryant was coaching at La Salle and John Lucas was the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers. They had known each other for a long time and we were practicing at St. Joes St. Josephs University. In Philly, everyone was around. High school players, college players, you had prosthey were all in the same gymbut you could just tell. The way he would study everything was amazing for a high school kid.
5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: