Bulls

Jennings prepared for matchup with Rose

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Jennings prepared for matchup with Rose

MILWAUKEE Brandon Jennings has known Derrick Rose since their high school days, when Rose was the top-rated point guard a year ahead of Jennings, who held the same status in his own class. The two have had some memorable battles, including when Rose led his Simeon Career Academy team to an upset over Jennings No. 1-ranked Oak Hill Academy squad in Jennings junior season.

While Jennings hasnt come out on top much when matched against Rose on the NBA level, his familiarity with the leagues reigning MVP does allow him to provide some insight into facing off with the Chicago native.

With him, youve got to double him early. Youve got to get the ball out of his hands early in the game and just try to make the other guys make plays for their team, Jennings said after the Bucks Wednesday-morning shootaround at the Bradley Center. A lot of guards dont like to try to go back at him, but at the same time, scorers dont like for other people to go at them also, so I think its important that I just stay aggressive and stay on the attack.

It doesnt help matters that a large Chicago contingent made the relatively short trip to Milwaukee to support the Bulls, something that makes Jennings believe that it will be important for the Bucks to get off to a quick start.

Hes one of the best point guards in the NBA, the reigning MVP. Its going to be a great atmosphere in here tonight, especially with the Bulls coming in town. Were just trying to get the win, said Jennings. Ive played in bigger, crazier environments than that, especially playing in Europe. It should be fun. Chicagos not so far away, so a lot of Chicago fans come out to Milwaukee. It should be a crazy atmosphere.

Its going to be real important, just for the fact that theyre bringing down their crowd. Its going to be loud in there and weve been struggling with this team a lot, but right now, I think the team has an uptick and hopefully we can show it tonight, he continued. Its going to take 48 minutes for us to contain the Bulls. Theyre a great team, No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference right now, so its not going to be easy. Were going to have total focus for 48 minutes.

For Roses part, while he frequently acknowledges that opposing point guards are all coming at me, he looks at the Central Division showdown from a team perspective.

Milwaukee, theyre playing great right now, won some big games and playing good basketball, competing every night, he said. Its going to be hard going down there and competing against them.

Added Joakim Noah: Milwaukees going to be tough. Every NBA team is tough and we know that weve got to have the right mindset.

If we come with the right mindset, well have a better chance of winning, so we know that well be focused. Were on a mission right now and we have a lot of fans up there, as well, so were always excited to go out there and play.

Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau was complimentary of both Jennings and the Bucks, who have struggled with injuries to center Andrew Bogut, as a whole.

Each year hes gotten a lot better. I think over the last three games, hes averaging over 30 points a game. Theyve had misfortune and theyve had Bogut being out.
The team is built around Bogut and Jennings, and so, youre missing a significant part, but that being said, this team plays extremely hard, theyre in every game and theyve had some great wins this year, theyre very dangerous, theyre a well-balanced team, they share the ball, they play hard defensively and they have some tough matchups because they have a number of guys who can put it on the floor, he explained.

Although the Bucks wouldnt make the postseason if the playoffs started today, Jennings feels they have a chance to make a push.

Were three or four games out of the playoff race, so hopefully we can get this one tonight and get the Knicks on Friday, he said. That eighth spot is right there. Hopefully the Knicks can keep losing because they did make their run before the All-Star break, so hopefully this is our time to make our run and try to get between the seventh and eighth spot.

One of the more active players during the lockout the third-year point guard, who gained recognition as a rookie for scoring 55 points in a game, played in exhibition games from Washington, D.C., to his hometown of Los Angeles although Jennings missed making the All-Star Game, he believes his active offseason is playing off, despite the Bucks struggles.

"All of it did, man. I think just staying busy and showing that I love the game of basketball, no matter what. Just playing for free, playing for fun and just going to parks, 24-Hour Fitnesses, anything to just try to get hoop in. It was just great for me, said Jennings. I didnt take too much time off. I might have took like a month off, but after that, I just got back going and stayed in the gym the whole time.

Just being more aggressive on the offensive end and also making sure it carries over to the defensive end, and just trying to give the team a spark and just attacking the basket more, he continued. Its been an up-and-down season because of the lockout. No training camp, were just coming in and out, not a lot of practices, guys getting hurt, so its been tough and all the games thats just been on us, back-to-back.

Nick Nurse confident in Jim Boylen, Bulls: 'He'll be a good leader for them'

Nick Nurse confident in Jim Boylen, Bulls: 'He'll be a good leader for them'

Toronto Raptors head coach and lifelong Cubs fan Nick Nurse was in Chicago on Friday to throw out the 1st pitch and sing the 7th inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

It was a major moment for Nurse—who grew up in Carroll, Iowa and played college basketball at the University of Northern Iowa—to be able to talk with Cubs manager Joe Maddon. Maddon actually started his pro baseball career as a catcher for the Quad Cities Angles, based out of Davenport, Iowa, in 1976.

Nurse stated that Maddon is a huge inspiration to him and was clearly overjoyed to speak with someone he considers an excellent leader. Nurse's Chicago trip would not have been complete without a little NBA talk and he had no problem discussing his faith in colleague and Bulls head coach Jim Boylen.

"Well, first of all, Jimmy Boylen, the head coach, is a good friend of mine and he is a hell of a coach."

Nurse went on to joke about not wanting the Bulls to do "too well" of course, as the two teams will see each other four times next season and will both be battling for a potential postseason berth in a new-look, wide-open Eastern Conference. The Raptors, of course, will be looking to make another deep playoff run despite the loss of NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard. The Bulls will be looking to at least have a competitive season after finishing with a whopping 60 losses in 2018-19, their first 60-loss season since 2002. 

But when discussing the future outlook of the Bulls, Nurse was confident in the direction of the franchise and Boylen's presence as a strong headman for the team is a major reason why. 

"Everything rises and falls with leadership and...he'll be a good leader for them."

Anthony Davis speaks on the Chicago hoops scene at Nike Rise Camp: 'We are the Mecca of Basketball'

Anthony Davis speaks on the Chicago hoops scene at Nike Rise Camp: 'We are the Mecca of Basketball'

On Friday afternoon the Nike Rise Camp took place at Kenwood High School and it was hosted by new Lakers star and Chicago native Anthony Davis.

Davis is excited to be able to help the Chicago youth with camps like Nike Rise, especially the much younger generations. The Nike Rise Camp is for kids ages 8-17 and focuses on skill development, drills, game programming, and various workshops. 

Davis stated that while he went to many of the illustrious basketball camps—like Pangos, Five-Star, Nike's individual player camps, etc.—he hadn't been to any basketball training camps at such a young age.

These kids are amazing, y'know, they're fun to hang around, they listen, they wanna learn. [There's] some good talent upstairs.....The future is definitely bright for all these young kids so I'm excited to come back and just give them my knowledge and my experience and spend that time with them."

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When asked to describe the relationship Chicago has with basketball, Davis made sure to laud the toughness of the Chicago hoops scene.

"It's basketball in any condition, y'know you gonna find a way to play...their love for the game right now is tremendous...No matter if it's hot, it's freezing cold in the gym, outside it's raining, whatever."

By any means necessary, we wanna play the game.

-Anthony Davis on the mindset of Chicago basketball

On a summer day with 90+ degree weather, the Kenwood Academy gym was even hotter inside but that didn't stop the coaches and trainees from getting in a great workout. 

Davis minced no words when letting the world know how he feels about Chicago hoops, "In Chicago, it means a lot more to us because we are a basketball city and we are the Mecca of Basketball and you can quote me on that."