Bulls

New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has low-key opening in Summer League

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New Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg has low-key opening in Summer League

He wasn’t jumping around, instead keeping his behind glued to his seat for most of the game, all while Fred Hoiberg gave firm direction in the Bulls’ Summer League opener.

The comparisons to Tom Thibodeau’s hoarse-voiced barking from start to finish, be it Summer League or the playoffs, will always come to mind. It’s easy and convenient.

But he seemed pretty comfortable in his own skin in coaching for the first time in the NBA, albeit an exhibition setting without the traditional NBA rules. Heck, he knew he wasn’t at Iowa State anymore before tip off.

“What are you trying to get at? It was fun,” said Hoiberg playfully while being asked about the differences in coaching pros from college kids. “In college you have a pregame meal with your team. Here you’re on your own.”

[MORE SUMMER LEAGUE: Portis impresses in Summer League opener]

So he went with a couple of the Bulls assistants and went over some things, a subtle alteration but one he’ll get used to before long, as he was more delegator than dictator in his first experience.

“A lot. I’ve got a guy in Jim Boylan who’s got so much experience,” Hoiberg said. “He’s great. Mike Wilhelm, Randy Brown, Pete Myers, they’ve been phenomenal.”

Once the game started, things like defensive three seconds, the handchecking rules and how teams can advance the ball after timeouts are a few of the things he’s had to re-familiarize himself with, having spent the last five years in the college ranks.

Players have spent plenty of time in the Advocate Center since Hoiberg’s hiring, as Jimmy Butler said he anticipates getting some film from Hoiberg on how he’ll be maximized early next month.

[SHOP: Buy a Bobby Portis jersey]

And for the players who are on the Summer League roster, he’s run them through a quick camp in preparation. Tony Snell and E’Twaun Moore aren’t on the roster, but went through the 3-day camp to establish some continuity and get familiar with the man who’ll be coaching them this season and beyond.

“It’s a great opportunity to get them familiar with what we’re trying to do and hopefully we can get better,” Hoiberg said.

Hoiberg got the early start on re-establishing Doug McDermott’s confidence in Year 2, and putting rookie Bobby Portis in positions where Portis wouldn’t take his foot off the gas by placing him on No. 1 pick Karl-Anthony Towns in the opener.

Portis scored 23 while McDermott scored 20 with five rebounds in 31 minutes, moving without the ball and having his share of offense run through him.

“I think it’s huge,” Hoiberg said. “He was great in our minicamp, I think he hit 10 of 15 threes. When he’s open out there, you’re surprised it doesn’t go in. I think that’s who the kid’s always been and coming out here and re-establishing that is huge.”

As for his team’s performance, Hoiberg was pleased with the defense and overall concentration.

“I thought we came out with great effort,” Hoiberg said. “I thought in the second half we came out with great ball pressure. I liked our pace.”

But like just about every coach at every level, he’ll find something to harp on before Sunday’s game.

“There’s a lot of improvements to be made,” Hoiberg said. “We’re gonna watch the film with these guys tomorrow and hopefully play better.”

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

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AP

Wendell Carter Jr. survives gauntlet of centers to begin career

Don't tell Wendell Carter Jr. the center position is a dying breed.

The 19-year-old rookie hasn't exactly been able to ease into the NBA, finding himself up against a handful of All-Stars and powerful frontcourts just five days into his career.

It culminated Monday night with a date against Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan, and once again the seventh overall pick held his own. It was much of the same as it was against Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Detroit's Andre Drummond last week (and Nikola Jokic in the preseason finale): some good, some bad, plenty of poise and zero backing down. The NBA is unforgiving, but this could very well be the toughest stretch Carter faces all season.

"He’s playing against top level centers now," Fred Hoiberg said before Monday's game. "It’s a great experience for him. He’s going to learn and get better and he plays within himself, we will continue to look for him to be more aggressive."

He was as aggressive as the Bulls have seen him against Jordan and the Mavericks. He blew by the 20 and 18 minutes he played in the first two games of the year, totalling 32 minutes. His final line won't tell the story - 4 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists and a block - of a Carter who defended well at the rim, picking and choosing his spots on when to attack shots and when to simply use his verticality.

He wasn't credited for a block but he contested a Jordan dunk that turned into a Bobby Portis dunk on the other end. Plus-minus isn't always a good indicator of a player's worth, but Carter was a +5 in a 14-point Bulls loss. He even attempted a corner 3-pointer early in the shot clock, showing no hesitation. Carter's had his moments, but it's also apparent he's got a 19-year-old body going up against veterans each night. That'll come with time in the weight room. For now the experience is 

"I appreciate the fact I’m able to play against these very talented bigs early in my career," Carter said after the loss to the Pistons. "What I need to work on is I have to get stronger; that’s the first thing I recognize; just being up against the best. I love the competition. It’s always a great feeling going against the best."

What the Bulls are finding out is they have a player mature beyond his years. As he progresses he'll continue to get more difficult assignments. He had his rookie moment late in Monday's loss, committing a turnover in the backcourt after the Bulls had cut the deficit to five with 35 seconds left. The fouls are also an issue, as Carter has committed 10 in three games (after committing 17 in five preseason games).

That doesn't necessarily seem important for a Lottery-bound team, but considering the continued struggles of Robin Lopez (and Cristiano Felicio is entirely out of the rotation) it is. Lopez had 2 points and 1 rebound in 10 minutes while committing five personal fouls. In three games he has 11 personal fouls and 11 points, and also has more turnovers (five) than rebounds (four). If the Bulls are going to compete until Lauri Markkanen returns, Carter will need to hover around the 32 minutes he played Monday.

He'll get a much easier test on Wednesday when the Charlotte Hornets arrive in town. Cody Zeller doesn't exactly have the credentials of a Jokic or Embiid, meaning Carter may have a little more room to work. 

The Bulls know they have something in Carter. It'll be abother month until they can deploy him alongside Markkanen, but if the first three games are any indication, Carter won't have any problems matching up with some of the league's best.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Moral victory for the Bears?

David Schuster, Adam Jahns and Patrick Finley join Kap on the panel.

0:00- Dave Wannstedt joins the panel to discuss the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots? Was it a moral victory? Is Matt Nagy crazy to say Mitch Trubisky didn’t play that bad?

13:00- Joe Girardi pulls his name out of the Reds managerial search and Jon Heyman reports that industry sources believe he might wait to see if there’s an opening in Chicago. What are the chances that he replaces Joe Maddon?

14:30- Adam Amin joins Kap to preview the Bulls/Mavericks game and discuss the lack of defense in the NBA.