Bulls

Former Irish Standout Gets His Shot with Bulls

Former Irish Standout Gets His Shot with Bulls

Sunday, April 11, 2010
3:31 P.M.

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

When the Chicago Bulls waived veteran center Jerome James, they signed forward Rob Kurz for the remainder of the regular season. Kurz, who played collegiately at Notre Dame, is a 6-foot-9 forward that brings a dimension to the Bulls that dont presently havea stretch four, or a power forward that makes his living shooting the ball from the outside and stretching out the defense.

Im thrilled about this opportunity, said Kurz. Im really excited to be part of the Bulls and Im grateful to have this chance.

Im obviously a three-point shooter and with Derrick Rose and the other shooters theyve got, I can space the floor and draw another power forwardwd away from the basket, continued Kurz, who played for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (where fellow Bulls reserve Joe Alexander also had a stint earlier this season) of the NBAs Developmental League this season. The way the game is changing, theres a lot of stretch fours in the league and I feel like I can match up with them. From that standpoint, I feel like I can be of value to any offense.

Kurz, a native of the Philadelphia area, is already familiar with two of his new teammatesHakim Warrick and Flip Murrayas all three made the summer-league rounds in their hometown and worked on the their game in the offseason under the same coach, John Hardnett, who has helped numerous players from the city.

Flip and Hakim Warrick are both from Philly, so I see them in the summer and worked out with them since I was younger, said Kurz, whose D-League season ended last Friday.

Rob is one of those kids that throughout his whole basketball career, he was doubted and people felt he would never make it. He was always the first one in the gym and the last one out of the gym. He always put in extra hard work, always knew he could make it, said Hardnett, who also worked with former Bull John Salmons. Hes one of those ballplayers who can play forever because he has the intelligence factor.

Regardless of what occurs between now and the end of the Bulls season, the reality for Kurz is he is likely auditioning for an NBA jobwhether its with Chicago or another team; last season, he enjoyed a stint with Golden State that included extended minutes and even starting several gamesand he knows that with the teams current situation, playing time is likely to be scant.

I think its a good opportunity for me and they can take a look at me for the rest of the season. Hopefully I can be there in the summer working out, said Kurz, whose coach in Fort Wayne was former DePaul coach Joey Meyer. They can get a chance to see me work every day and see my work ethic, get an extended look and see if they want to keep me around.

I understand that theyre in a playoff race, continued Kurz, who worked out for the Boston Celtics on Thursday. Id love to help the team any way that I canwhether thats in practice or a game, Ill do anything they ask.

Going forward, I feel that I can help an NBA team. HopefullyI can show them that I can be an important part of the team.

While Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro doesnt necessarily plan to throw Kurz into the fire immediately and allow him to prove his worth, he does recognize the former Fighting Irishs standouts potential long-term value to Chicago.

He shoots the ball and well get him on our summer-league team. Obviously theres not a lot of practice leftwe have to focus in our games right now, Del Negro told CSNChicago.com. Well take a look at him as we move forward.

Our basketball front-office people liked what he was doing in the D-League, so they gave him an opportunity and got him up there.

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

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USA TODAY

Bulls announce substitute broadcasters for first five Neil Funk-less games

If you haven't heard, Neil Funk is cutting 20 road games from his 2018-19 Bulls' play-by-play schedule.

Friday, the Bulls announced that Adam Amin, Andy Demetra and Kyle Draper will fill in for Funk for the first five of those games.

Amin, a play-by-play commentator for ESPN, will games on Oct. 22 against the Mavericks and Nov. 14 against the Celtics. He grew up in Addison, resides in Chicago and also does play-by-play for Bears preseason games.

Demetra is from Oak Brook and currently is the play-by-play broadcaster for Georgia Tech basketball and football. He will call games on Oct. 26 against the Hornets and Oct. 27 against the Hawks. He has previous play-by-play experience with the SEC Network, Pac-12 Network and Fox Sports South.

Draper will call the Bulls' Nov. 7 game against the Pelicans. He is the Celtics' pregame and postgame host for NBC Sports Boston and an occasional play-by-play annoucer and sideline reporter for the Celtics.

The Bulls said they will continue providing updates on substitute broadcasters as they are scheduled.

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

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USA TODAY

Pistons have the look of a playoff team in wide open East

Finishing 9th in the Eastern Conference last season cost Stan Van Gundy his job as Pistons head coach and President of Basketball Operations. Van Gundy was replaced on the bench by 2017-18 Coach of the Year Dwane Casey, who was fired after the Raptors were swept by Cleveland in the conference semi-finals.

Casey’s job in Detroit is to find a way to develop the young players on the roster while getting the team to the playoffs. He has a pair of All-Star caliber players in the front court, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, along with highly-paid, erratic point guard Reggie Jackson.

Griffin has battled injuries in recent seasons, but Van Gundy decided to roll the dice at mid-season a year ago by trading Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley AND a 1st round pick to the Clippers for the former slam dunk champion in a desperate bid to save his job. The trade didn’t work out for Van Gundy, but it’s possible Griffin could enjoy a resurgence in Detroit this season.

The 29-year-old power forward scored 26 points, pulled down eight rebounds and dished out six assists in the Pistons’ 103-100 win over Brooklyn on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Drummond had a monster game with 24 points and 20 rebounds. As Bulls fans know all too well, Drummond has made the 20 rebound game commonplace when facing Fred Hoiberg’s squad in recent years.

As for Jackson, a severely sprained right ankle limited him to just 45 games last season, probably costing Detroit a chance to make the playoffs. The 8th year pro is lightning quick, with the ability to disrupt defenses by getting into the paint and challenging bigger defenders at the rim. Jackson scored 19 points in the season opener against Brooklyn, and he’ll be a problem for the Bulls Saturday night, especially if Kris Dunn is unavailable.

Casey is still trying to figure out how to use the rest of the roster Van Gundy built, with recent 1st round pick Henry Ellenson and former rotation player Jon Leuer getting DNP-CD’s against the Nets. Meanwhile, two other expected rotation players, small forward Stanley Johnson and swingman Reggie Bullock missed the opener because of injuries.

That left second year guard Luke Kennard and 2018 2nd round draft pick Bruce Brown as the other starters in game one, something that’s unlikely to continue once everyone’s healthy.

So, how do the Bulls even their record at 1-1 on Saturday? Here are my three keys:

1. Keep Drummond and Griffin off the offensive boards. This is much easier said than done. Drummond in particular is relentless going after missed shots, and his bulk will cause problems for 19 year old rookie Wendell Carter Jr. Hoiberg hinted at possible line-up changes on Friday morning, which could include starting veteran Robin Lopez at center to battle Drummond inside. Griffin has turned into more of a jump shooter now and doesn’t have the multiple jump capability that characterized his early seasons in the NBA, but he’s still a threat to create 2nd shot opportunities.

2. Close out on three-point shooters. Of all the defensive issues for the Bulls in Philadelphia on Thursday, losing touch with shooters in transition was probably the most troublesome. Robert Covington seemed to be open at the three-point line throughout the game, and Bulls players struggled to handle cross-match situations. Kennard had one of the best games of his rookie season against the Bulls, and Jackson, Ish Smith and Langston Galloway are all capable of heating up from long distance.

3. Attack Detroit’s interior defense. The Bulls were at their best offensively in the first quarter against Philadelphia when they drove to the basket to set up easy scoring chances. Zach LaVine was getting to the rim at will in scoring 15 of his 30 points in the opening 12 minutes, and his penetration also set up Bobby Portis for open looks from the three-point line. Hopefully, Dunn will return to stabilize the point guard position and give the Bulls' first unit another shot creator so they can sustain their pace and scoring potential over four quarters.

Saturday’s home opener is definitely winnable against a Detroit team still finding its way under a new coaching staff. Better effort and attention to detail on the defensive end along with a fast-paced, drive and kick offensive attack should make for an exciting opening night at the United Center.

Make sure to join Kendall Gill, Will Perdue, Kelly Crull and me for a special one hour edition of Bulls Pre-Game Live at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago and the new My Teams app, followed by the play by play call with Neil Funk and Stacey King at 7 p.m. And, stay tuned after the final buzzer for reaction and analysis on an expanded edition of Bulls Postgame Live.