Blackhawks

Bulls look to rebound in the Rose Garden

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Bulls look to rebound in the Rose Garden

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011
4:30 p.m.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

PORTLANDWith Bulls losses being few and far between this season, sometimes the smallest bump in the roadremember the gloom and doom after the two-game road losing streak last month to lesser lights New Jersey and Philadelphia?causes a great deal of consternation. When it comes to All-Star point guard Derrick Rose being off his game for an eveninghe recorded nine assists in Chicagos 101-90 defeat at the hands of the Warriors in Oakland Saturdayirrational implications that the Bulls are headed for a nose dive and subsequent crash landing become that much more magnified.

Derricks not going to play great in 82 straight games, quipped Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau prior to the teams morning shootaround at the Rose Garden, where they will face the Trail Blazers Monday night. Thats the reality of it. He wasnt at his best, but still, the guy scored 14 points, he had 10 assists.

For an ordinary player, not such a bad gameminus the turnovers, an aspect of Roses game he takes personally. But such an uncharacteristic outing for the superstar muddled the explanation of why it occurred in the first place.

Thats my first time ever seeing three people. Usually, its two, but last time they brought a third person over, explained Rose when asked about Golden States trapping defense, jibing with what he told reporters after Saturdays game. It seemed like I was Carmelo Anthony or something, or Kobe Bryant.

It was weird. I think I found the open person, looking at film and I think that we went over what were going to do about it. We will see how the Trail Blazers play us tonight. If they play us that way, I think weve got an answer for it, he continued. Of course it bothered me that night, but we play another game tonight to redeem ourselves.

I never was able to get into the game. In the beginning, a couple of plays. Never got that feeling.

Thibodeaus view of his stars subpar performance slightly differed.

Really, Golden State did nothing that we havent seen before and when you study what happened, most of his turnovers came in transition and on isolation plays. The double team or the trap, hes seen that all year, said the coach. In the third quarter, when theyre up 12, no ones talking about, What are they doing to Derrick? Most of his turnovers were mishandles in transition when you study the tape.

Regardless, when asked specifically Rose wouldnt let one poor game lead to a downward spiral and how the team in general would rebound, Rose and Thibodeau were on the same page.

Just do the opposite of what I did the last gamethats the biggest thingso turnovers, definitely that and just staying aggressive, said the point guard. I think that our defense is going to have to lead us tonight, if anything, because offensively, I think were all right, but our defense wasnt there that game. It seemed like we were trying to outscore them instead of stopping them and that was hurting us.

Recounted Thibodeau: In the fourth quarter, thats when we struggled. When Derrick went out of the game, we had a hard time. Thats when they got their cushion. And I liked a lot of the shots that we got off the pick-and-rollthats how we got the 12-point lead in the third quarterwhen you study the plays that Derrick and Carlos Boozer made off the pick-and-roll, thats how we got the lead.

The thing that concerned me more than anything else was we went into the game and our defense wasnt what it should have been, so when we had the 12-point lead and we missed some open shotsKeith Bogans had a wide-open three, which is his shot, from the cornerwe had no floor balance, they come down and get a two-on-onefast break, Thibodeau continued. What we do have control over is getting back in transition on the raise of the shot, protecting our basket. We couldnt count on our defense when we needed it the most, which is the fourth quarter; we gave up 28 points.

If we have our normal defense from the start of the game, that should carry us through, which we didnt have. So, Im more concerned about how we approached that game from a defensive standpoint than from an offensive standpoint. We shot 47 percent. Thats the big concern; the 31 points that they got in transition.

As far as Mondays opponent, Portland, both player and coach understand it will be a different ballgame than the frenetic, run-and-gun style the Warriors sucked the Bulls into Saturday.

I think that were used to this game, instead of the Golden State game, where it was up and down, up and down. I think that were used to pushing it sometimes, stopping, slowing it down, going into high-low, space outa game like that, Rose remarked. They almost do the same. Pick-and-roll, sometimes throw it into Aldridge, everybody spaces. Its like an isolationa lot of late isolationbut well see how tonight goes.

Thibodeau added: This team, theyve got a lot and Trail Blazers head coach Nate McMillan has done a great job with them. Theyve had a number of injuries throughout the season and hes kept them together, and theyre a tough team to play.

Despite Portlands winning record, injuries have historically plagued them and this seasons been no exception. Not only has it been another wasted campaign for former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, but fellow centers Marcus Camby and Joel Pryzbilla (now back in the lineup) have also gone down, not to mention star guard Brandon Roy.

Somehow though, the Blazers have managed to pick up the pieces, with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge emerging as a go-to scorer in Roys absence, with free-agent acquisition Wesley Matthewslike Bulls Boozer, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, Matthews is a Utah expatriate; the second-year swingmans contract raised eyebrows in the summer, but he seems like a bargain these daysalso stepping up on the perimeter with veteran floor general Andre Miller, French small forward Nicolas Batum and formerly disgruntled Spanish reserve sharpshooter Rudy Fernandez, once considered a potential Bulls trade target.

Aldridge is having a monster season. Since Roys been out, hes over 25 points a game and he can do it a number of different ways. Hes got a terrific post-up game and hes very good facing the basket, said Thibodeau. His touch away from the basket18 feetis automatic, so you have to close to him like youre closing to a guard and hes very confident down there.

Sometimes I think the thing that gets overlooked with this team is Andre Miller. I think Andre Miller does a great job of running a team and he also has the ability to make you pay for every body-position mistake that you make. When theyre running their catch-and-shoot plays, hes very good at finding the screeners insidetheyre very good at slipping screenshes one of the best lob passers in the game, hes an underrated shooter from 17 feet and hes a terrific post-up player, he continued. Matthews is having a terrific season, Fernandez is really coming on, so they can hurt you with the three, Batum has been very, very good for them.

Added Rose: I know its hard for them right now, where a guy Roy that was scoring what, 20-something points is gone. Aldridge is taking over and hes doing a great job.

Were missing Joakim Noah right now, theyre missing a key player.

So when impatience about Noahs return from injuryslated for after the All-Star breaksets in and despair about a lone off night (after six consecutive wins) against an unorthodox-styled squad rises to the surface, keep in mind that things could be a lot tougher, but still manageable. Ask the Blazers.

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.

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

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NBC Sports Chicago

Patrick Sharp hitting his stride in Year 2 as broadcaster

The NHL’s best players competing against each other will be a familiar sight for Patrick Sharp, who will work his first All-Star Game as a broadcaster this weekend in St. Louis. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ with the Blackhawks was the MVP of 2011’s All-Star contest with a goal and two assists. 

Less than two years after hanging up his skates, Sharp's transition from player to television analyst has been as seamless as everyone expected. In addition to the look and the experience, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist has been a student of his new game behind the scenes.

"I feel a little more settled," said Sharp, who can be seen Friday and Saturday on NBC Sports and NBC covering the NHL All-Star festivities. "Just trying to improve and get better at the job. It's just like playing in the NHL, the first year you ask a lot of questions and you learn as much as you can from the people that have done it before you and that are really good at it. Going into Year 2, nothing really changes; you just want to continue to get better. 

"I love following hockey and watching games; it makes the job a little bit easier. I don't think I'll ever get fully comfortable on television, but it's been fun and a good transition for me from playing the game." 

The 38-year-old’s bountiful in-depth insight during game broadcasts has come as no surprise to those who know him.

"Sharpie looks like he's really found a career," said Patrick Kane, who often shoots his former teammate a text after catching him on TV. "He does a really good job and he's easy to listen to. He knows who he's talking about, he has really good information. 

"It almost to me sounds like you're just talking to him, like me just having a conversation with him about hockey. He does a really good job of explaining the information and I think he's done pretty well at it."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews regularly watches his former alternate captain’s commentary as well.

"I think the way he studied the game, the way he understood the game, he obviously has a lot of passion for it," Toews said of Sharp as a player. "I think it's great that our sport has someone like him with his talent level and his career so soon after his playing days to go out there and talk about it and relate some things to the fans that a lot of people, even myself, wouldn't even recognize.

"He does a great job. I think he's more than poised up there too.”

The fact that the former Hawks forward looks like he’d have no trouble skating in today’s NHL adds to his on-air presentation.

“He's still pretty jacked, I'm assuming,” Alex DeBrincat said. “He hasn't gained any weight. You'd assume after your career you'd let go a little bit, but doesn't look like he has.”

“The thing about Sharpie was he was always one of the top-five guys in fitness testing, he was always in great shape,” Kane said. “He was strong, a powerful skater, had a good shot, was able to shoot it pretty good.

"It felt like he could still play. It was just kind of like the opportunity and if he wanted to travel, move his family; so, I wouldn't have been surprised if he kept playing and was successful too.” 

Some of Sharp’s former teammates knew the transition was inevitable.

“Guys that wanted to chirp and make fun of him said he couldn't get there soon enough, he loves the camera,” Toews said with a chuckle. 

Others saw a different path for No. 10. 

“I don't know if we really expected him to do that to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I thought maybe he'd be trying to get in with the team somewhere whether it was scouting or trying to get into the front office. I could see him doing that even to this day. 

“Maybe that's a stepping stone for him maybe in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the front office at some point because I think he's pretty good at scouting players and knowing a lot about the league too.” 

For Sharp, nothing can compare to the rush of playing in front of a sold-out United Center crowd, but the feeling right before going live on the air comes close. 

“I love it,” the Winnipeg native said. “It's very similar [to playing]. I love having the earpiece in and hearing our producer tell us that we're on in '10 ... 9 ... 8 . . .' Hearing the countdown kind of gives you that adrenaline feeling, the butterflies that you used to get as a player right before the first shift of a game. 

“I kind of miss that stress and anxiety of being a player and putting pressure on myself. I can't really think of too many other things in the game that bring that to us, so this is maybe a close second.”

Despite another career in the game, the four-time 30-plus goal-scorer with the Hawks still goes through what a lot of players do after they exit the ice. 

“The struggles of hanging up the skates and then trying to figure out what's next, I kind of went through that myself, still going through it,” Sharp said. “I miss the game every day. 

“I love being a part of NBC, but there's nothing that's going to replace being a professional hockey player and that's something that I did my entire adult life. I'm thankful that I've got an opportunity to continue working and be in the game, but at the same time I've had struggles just like every other former player. I want to keep my mind occupied and try to fill that void of playing hockey as best I can.”

Sharp joins NBC Sports’ national broadcast team every other week for a Tuesday or Wednesday game during the regular season. He’s frequently an analyst for Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago and come the postseason he’ll be on the national broadcasts full-time.

Whether he’s on TV in Chicago or nationally, Sharp prepares the same way.

“I think when I do more prep, that's when I struggle on the air,” he said. “I feel like I do enough prep just by being the same hockey guy that I've been my entire life. I watch the games, I stay involved, I talk to some players that are still playing that are friends of mine. 

“I don't look at it as doing research and preparation; I just love the game and love being around it and watching different players and teams play. I feel like when I fill my head with stats and things that I want to say on the air, it never comes out quite the way I want it to. So my approach now is just stay on top of the league as best I can and let's go out there on TV and just have a conversation and talk some hockey.”

Patrick had plenty of opportunities to talk hockey and get in front of the camera while with the Blackhawks, which made the transition that much easier.

“I think playing for the Blackhawks all those years we had so many opportunities to do different things with the media. Whether it was those Winter Classic games, we had the cameras following us around every year it seemed for a month of the season; training camp was always answering questions and making up videos,” Sharp said.

“The preparation that I got with the Blackhawks, being a Blackhawk player, it prepared me for life in the media post-hockey. My last game was on a Saturday and I took the week and I had an opportunity to come in and talk with NBC on the following Monday and I did it and I'm glad I did because it's been a fun experience and I like working with that team at NBC.”

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Discussing 2020 White Sox expectations

SportsTalk Live is on location at McCormick Place to preview SoxFest 2020. Chuck Garfien and David Haugh join David Kaplan on the panel.

0:00 - White Sox manager Rick Renteria joins the guys to talk about the team's big offseason and the expectations for the 2020 season. He also talks about how the team with handle Michael Kopech (4:00) and what Dallas Keuchel brings to the rotation. (6:00) Plus, he explains how guys who turned the corner in 2019 like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada can stay hot in 2020. (15:00)

17:00 - Steve Stone joins the guys to explain how the White Sox rebuild is going according to plan despite not landing one of the top free agents this winter. Plus, he updates his Twitter follower battle with Jason Benetti (23:00) and talks about how he would handle Michael Kopech's return. (25:30)

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: