Bulls

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling White Sox superstar Jose Abreu's return to Cuba

CSN to air brand new documentary special chronicling White Sox superstar Jose Abreu's return to Cuba

“Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships” premieres Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT -- Exclusively on Comcast SportsNet

Chicago, IL (January 20, 2016) – Following up its recent special on Chicago Cubs manager Joe’s Maddon return home to Hazleton, PA, Comcast SportsNet will provide viewers with yet another brand new documentary entitled Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships, a half-hour Comcast SportsNet Original Production profiling Major League Baseball’s first goodwill trip to Cuba in over 16 years…featuring Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s first return visit to his beloved home country in over two years.  Going Home: Jose Abreu premieres Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT exclusively on Comcast SportsNet, immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live.”  CSN will also re-air this documentary special on Wednesday, January 27 at 7:00 PM and again on Friday, January 29 at 9:30 PM, which coincides with the opening night of SoxFest 2016 and Abreu’s 29th birthday. 

Hosted by Comcast SportsNet anchor/reporter Siera Santos and produced by Comcast SportsNet’s Senior Producer of Original Content Ryan McGuffey, Going Home: Jose Abreu takes viewers on Abreu’s emotional journey home as he not only becomes reunited with beloved family members, but also with an adoring fan base whose pride of the White Sox superstar continues to grow each and every day.  For three days back in December, Comcast SportsNet was the only television outlet in the Midwest to capture this groundbreaking MLB tour that had a primary goal of improving relations between the U.S. and Cuba, along with providing underprivileged children and their families with an opportunity to meet Abreu and other Cuban-born MLB heroes, along with a number of additional MLB stars and legends who took part in this very special moment in baseball history.

Among the highlights from Going Home include Abreu’s emotional, candid discussion about seeing his young son for the first time in over two years, along with a special interview with a Cuban teenager, who has neurological paralysis, and his mother who both discuss how meaningful Abreu and this MLB goodwill tour is to their lives, plus – this documentary will provide coverage of the instructional clinics that took place with MLB players and the many aspiring young ballplayers…and a special charity event at a Catholic church where the Cuban children performed a heartwarming Christmas concert for everyone involved in the goodwill tour.

“This was a tremendous opportunity for us to be a part of such a special moment in MLB history,” said Kevin Cross, Senior Director of News & Original Content for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.  “Viewers who may not know a lot about Jose Abreu will be given the chance to learn more about this very determined man, while at the same time taking in the sights and sounds of the country that he holds so dearly.”

In addition to the exclusive, up-close-and-personal interviews with Abreu, Going Home also includes interviews with numerous individuals who were a part of the MLB goodwill trip to Cuba including Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Dave Winfield,MLBPA president/former MLB star Tony Clark, and former White Sox shortstop/current San Diego Padres infielder Alexei Ramirez among others.      

From a digital standpoint, fans will be able to watch Going Home: Jose Abreu in its entirety on CSNChicago.com immediately following the documentary’s Jan. 26 on-air debut.  CSNChicago.com will also provide additional “web-exclusive” content from Going Home as well.  Plus - Comcast SportsNet is urging fans to share their thoughts and commentary on social media by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #CSNGoingHome during the documentary special as the network’s main Twitter handle (@CSNChicago) will be retweeting a number of fan tweets leading up to and during the Jan. 26 premiere.

Please note the following quotes from the Comcast SportsNet Original Production of Going Home: Jose Abreu presented by the Kowalis Family of Dealerships,debuting Tuesday, January 26 at 9:30 PM CT:

JOSE ABREU on his decision to defect from Cuba in 2013: “It's really hard, the story is really hard…it was the decision we made, it was the right decision.  And believe me, we have to thank god for getting us, putting us on the right path. It was really hard to leave all my family that I have here…my son, grandma, aunts.

In general, many people thought that when I made the decision, they never thought I would come back to see them.  With the grace of god, I am seeing them thanks to the Major Leagues and the Players Association for filling a space where I had a dark void in my heart.  They opened the door for me…giving me joy in a moment that I didn't have before.”

JOSE ABREU on reuniting with his son for the first time since defecting from Cuba: “I had the opportunity to see my son.  I was really happy, really happy…he is an accomplished child.  When I saw him, I began to cry.  I began to cry and it was really difficult.  All he did was give me kisses and kisses and kisses.”

JOSE ABREU on the importance of this MLB goodwill tour: “What we are doing is a historic.  This is something that has brought us tears many times.  From the first moment that we found out the news that we were going to be doing these things in this country, believe me, it's so important.”

JOSE ABREU on being a member of the Chicago White Sox:  “I have to give so much thanks to the fans of Chicago and the White Sox.  I have to be so grateful because if it weren't for them, we wouldn't be even talking about this subject.  There are no words for how grateful I am for what they did for me, that they gave me the opportunity, they gave my family the opportunity to live the life they always deserved...and all the things that made Jose Dariel Abreu the person I am today.”

JOE TORRE on his impressions of Jose Abreu: “Watching Jose Abreu, he’s got a quiet dignity about himself.  When you see him so giving to fans and youngsters, it shows you that he understands the responsibility part of being someone famous.  He appreciates the adulation and yet, he’s one of the people to me that you can’t teach that, it has to come from within.  His being humble already started when he joined the White Sox, which translates into being unselfish and, when you’re unselfish, you’re going to be a good team player.  He’s going to be the center of a very special team.” 

Bulls have makings of a real team as game week begins

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USA TODAY

Bulls have makings of a real team as game week begins

The next time the Bulls take the floor – Wednesday night in Charlotte – they’ll be playing for keeps, looking to make good on their verbalized goal of making the postseason for the first time in three seasons. They’re lofty goals for a team that won just 22 games a season ago, but they put the finishing touches on a promising preseason in their 111-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that has them feeling confident in what’s ahead.

True, it came against a Hawks team playing a rare back-to-back (with both games on the road) and one that was resting John Collins, but the Bulls once again shared the ball, played with urgency and continued their 2019 style in a game they led the final 38 minutes.

Coach Jim Boylen treated the game as a dress rehearsal for the season opener against the Hornets in six days, solidifying his 10-man rotation and getting significant contributions from both units. With star power in Zach LaVine and (hopefully) Lauri Markkanen, a supporting cast that’s buying in and a few promising youngsters, the next stage of the Bulls rebuild is shaping up nicely.

“I thought each guy had moments,” Boylen said after the game. “I thought we did a good job of getting the ball to the open people or the hot man…That’s what good teams do. They find the guy that’s got it rolling. They keep it rolling as long as they can. And then we pick each other up when maybe a group or section of the game where we’re struggling. I’m happy for that.”

It once again began with Zach LaVine, who finished a terrific preseason with 23 points on 11 shots in just 25 minutes. He was a model of efficiency – he didn’t attempt a midrange shot – and finished his four-game preseason stretch with 93 points in 96 minutes, shooting 32 of 54 (59.2%) and making 14 of 25 3-point attempts (56.0%). Every completed rebuild needs a player like how LaVine is playing right now. It should be an All-Star season for the 25-year-old.

Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter were quiet in the preseason but there’s not much to read in to about their performances. Wendell Carter Jr. shook off a couple injury scares and put together his best performance of his limited preseason, finishing with 8 points and 8 rebounds and drawing some praise from Boylen for his off-ball intangibles. He should be full-go in five days when the Bulls begin playing for keeps.

Thaddeus Young and Tomas Satoransky did exactly what they’ve done their entire careers: They were quiet but effective, with the latter forming a solid tandem with any frontcourt player he appeared with, and the latter grabbing the starting point-guard reins.

The second unit remains a question mark, but it will enter the regular season with some serious momentum. Despite being officially demoted to the second unit just days earlier, Kris Dunn again drew praise from Boylen for his effort and energy that sparked the Bulls in the second quarter.

“I thought Kris Dunn’s energy off the bench changed the game,” Boylen said. “He got us going. His effort, his energy, his focus was great. Some nights we’re gonna be in mud, we’re gonna be a little sluggish. And he’s been practicing really hard and I was really proud of what he did in that moment to kind of get us going. I’m happy for him.”

Dunn may be able to stay on the floor thanks to the scoring prowess that rookie Coby White is showing. The seventh overall pick scored a game-high 29 points and made 6 of 8 3-pointers. That 3-for-30 effort in the Las Vegas Summer League feels like forever ago, and for a bench that lacks much scoring, White’s ability to do just that becomes even more significant. His last three preseason games: 23.6 points in 25.3 minutes. He had just one assist, but the Bulls will take that scoring and shooting right now.

Boylen called his stretch of triples in the third quarter “as good as we’ve seen in this building in a while.”

Luke Kornet has won the backup job over Daniel Gafford, while Ryan Arcidiacono (and presumably Chandler Hutchison when he returns from a hamstring injury) is ahead of Denzel Valentine, who Boylen said needs to “stay ready” despite not being in the 10-man rotation. The bench is the Bulls’ weakest spot, but even Boylen admitted they’re starting to get a little rhythm together.

The caveat, of course, is that it was just preseason. Everything changes when the games start counting. On the one hand, the Bulls’ first five opponents include one projected playoff team (Toronto), On the other hand, four of those first five games are on the road. What worked in preseason isn’t guaranteed to work in the regular season. But for what the Bulls could have proved in the preseason – that they’re forming a team with specific roles and players buying into them – they did to a T, and it should make for a promising Year 3 of a rebuild.

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Bulls' Coby White buries poor summer league with stellar preseason

Bulls' Coby White buries poor summer league with stellar preseason

Given that he scored 23 points in just shy of 25 minutes, it makes sense that Zach LaVine most efficiently summarized Coby White as the Bulls’ preseason concluded with Thursday’s victory over the Hawks.

“He’s going to be special,” LaVine said. “He knows it. We know it.”

It certainly looked that way as White overwhelmed the Hawks with 29 points on 10-for-14 shooting, including six 3-pointers. It should be noted the Hawks were finishing three games in four nights and didn’t play their regulars heavy minutes.

But the way White approaches each game, it may not matter.

“I think he’s had one of the best rookie camps I’ve seen,” LaVine said. “We know he can shoot and score but the way he has handled himself, he has been aggressive and playing his game. He can shoot, space the floor and score. It’s going to help us so much.

“You can put him in anywhere. He’s going to get the job done. He’s fearless, not scared of anything, not scared of the moment. I talk to him all the time and say, ‘Keep going.’”

Given his work ethic, it sounds like White will. His late-night shooting sessions at the Advocate Center with his older brother, Will, who played Division II college hoops, already have drawn notice throughout the organization.

“What he does is he works,” coach Jim Boylen said. “He hasn’t missed any practice time. He’s in the facility at night. When I’m in there at 8 p.m., he’s in there shooting with his brother, Will, after practice. He puts the extra time in. He cares.”

This approach is why White so easily buried his nightmarish 3-for-30 3-point shooting from NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Granted, this is still preseason. But by averaging 19.2 points on 45.5 percent shooting, including 43.2 percent 3-point shooting, White looks ready to roll come regular-season time.

“I knew he was going to come into this league and do exactly what he’s doing now,” Wendell Carter Jr. said.

Keep in mind that it’s not easy for a Duke product to compliment a North Carolina one.

White is taking it all in stride.

“It’s satisfying, but I still can’t lose that hunger to get better and continue to grind,” he said. “It’s only going to get harder.

“I knew it was a process. I just got drafted. I’m playing against NBA players. Everything’s not going to be perfect. You’re going to face a lot of adversity your rookie year. It started for me at summer league. As long as I just keep being me, which is staying in the gym and getting reps and control what I can control, everything will work itself out."