Defense should be a point of Bulls' emphasis with practice time

Defense should be a point of Bulls' emphasis with practice time

Defense always seems to be a work in progress for the Bulls, and it’ll be a point of emphasis over the next three days of practice and six-day stretch between preseason games before a back-to-back set starting Friday.

Giving up 115 and then 105 points to the fast-paced Indiana Pacers would appear like this is the same toothless outfit it turned into in the second half of last season, but Fred Hoiberg said he saw improvement in the two preseason games last week.

“We were much better in our second game against Indiana than we were in the first,” he said. “They really exposed us in transition that first game, which maybe was good for us. You have to go back and watch it, simulate some of the things they were doing in practice and try to get better.”

Part of that could’ve been the absence of All-Star Paul George, who didn’t play in Saturday’s win at the United Center.

With Hoiberg saying he believes the Bulls have a shot at being a good defensive team, they certainly have the ability to turn opponents over and get out on the break for easy baskets, but at times Saturday they went for the steal and left themselves vulnerable for easy feedings inside.

“We still have a lot of room to grow in defensive transition but we took a step in the right direction,” he said. “I thought our overall intensity was really good. And that’s where it has to start with this group. If we have that type of urgency, that type of discipline -- we didn’t have as many gambles.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Taj Gibson, the Bulls’ best defender this side of Jimmy Butler, is still exercising patience with the early returns considering there’s so many new players having to digest the system and learn each other.

“Young guys are still learning, we got new faces,” Gibson said. “It's still fun because everybody is competing. I can deal with the mistakes as long as guys are busting their tail on defense and flying around.”

Having another perimeter defender to aid Butler and save his body on some nights wouldn’t hurt. If anyone fits that bill, it would be Tony Snell, but he tweaked an ankle in Monday’s practice and sat out the last 30 minutes.

On the day Denzel Valentine emerged back onto the floor, getting some shots up after turning his ankle in the first preseason game, Snell goes out with an ankle ailment of his own.

But both instances are minor, as Valentine could be back to action next week and hopefully for Snell, he’ll have the same fate.

“He did a good job battling Giannis (Antetokounmpo, Bucks forward) in that first game when Jimmy only played in the first half,” Hoiberg said. “Tony understands our defensive schemes. He is going to stay in front of the ball. He’s going to get into his gap. Our big thing is becoming a good team defensive unit and have that trust behind the ball, especially the way we’re playing ball screens this year. I thought we were better the other night. We have to continue to improve and hopefully it gets to where it needs to be on Opening Night.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls


Bulls Talk Podcast: Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and draft impact on the Bulls

Mark Schanowski is joined by Will Perdue and Mark Strotman to preview the NBA draft.

0:50       Reaction to Anthony Davis trade and expectations for the Lakers

3:20       What’s next for the Lakers?

4:15       Is the ‘3-star’ approach the right way to win a title?

6:55       Were Bulls even close to trading Zach LaVine? Would a trade for Ball have been a positive?

10:45    On the best type of point guard to pair with LaVine and rumors on Darius Garland

14:08    Would Coby White be a good fit for the Bulls?

16:55    On the potential wings available at 7

18:50    Perdue on Reddish upside

19:35    Concern over the ‘low-motor’ red flag with Reddish, are Bulls able to take a risk?

22:30    On finding a point guard in free agency

24:10    Predictions for Bulls at 7

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast


Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement


Kirk Hinrich sent U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland into basketball retirement

U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland used to be a basketball star. Then he ran into Kirk Hinrich.

Woodland, who won the 119th U.S. Open Championship on Sunday at Pebble Beach, shared a story about how he transitioned from basketball to golf.

Woodland was attending Washburn University in Kansas, and as a freshman in 2002 he and the Ichabods played the Kansas Jayhawks in an exhibition game.

It was during that game - a 101-66 Kansas victory - that Woodland said he realized he wasn't going to make it as a hooper.

"That decision got forced on me,” Woodland told reporters after his U.S. Open victory. "I had to guard Kirk Hinrich, and I realized, I’m going to have to do something else."

No one can blame Woodland for feeling that way. That Jayhawks team went on to win 30 games and, behind Hinrich and Nick Collison, advanced to the national championship game where they lost to freshman star Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse.

Hinrich went on to become the 7th overall pick in the historic 2003 NBA Draft and played 13 NBA seasons with the Bulls, Hawks and Wizards.

Woodland, ironically, transferred to the University of Kansas as a sophomore and joined the golf team. The rest is history for the major championship winner.