Positives balance out negatives in Bulls' win


Positives balance out negatives in Bulls' win

CLEVELAND The Bulls 10th consecutive victory over the Central Division rival Cavaliers wasnt flawless. But after an emotional loss to Indiana at home Tuesday, its exactly what they needed.

I thought the first quarter was huge, getting off to a quick start, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. The part of the game that I thought we probably could have done a lot better in was the end of the second quarter, but other than that, we had a really good rhythm going, I thought we had a good pace going, I thought the defense was very good and were still striving to be a 48-minute team. We know that theres a lot of things we have to improve upon.

Luol Deng added: Weve been trying to do that all year. It takes time. I think were getting there. The game last night, I thought we played great not towards the end, we could have made better plays but it takes a while. But hopefully, well get there. Well just keep striving for it and when you lose, its hard to see the good stuff youre doing. Now, when you win, its easier to recognize it.

All these new guys are going to get better. Theyre new to the system and weve still got a lot of games. As long as guys keep getting better, thats what its really about.

Joakim Noah explained it even more succinctly: Our coach is Tom Thibodeau, so youve got to stay focused.

Overall, I think we came with good energy tonight. It was a good win for us, he continued. They played very hard, theyre a hard-playing team, they rebound the ball real well and every game we play, every game we win is hard-fought. Marco played great for us tonight and we need that. We needed everybody to step up.

With the way Marco Belinelli played, as well as Noah and Deng both having excellent outings, it was easy to overlook Kirk Hinrichs night. But the point guard was quietly solid, playing great defense, he forcing Cavaliers counterpart Jeremy Pargo, starting in place of injured Cleveland star Kyrie Irving, into 3-of-12 shooting. Pargo, a Chicago native and the younger brother of former Bull Jannero got a technical foul late in the game for getting into verbally with Deng and Noah after throwing a ball, whether intentionally or not, into the face of Belinelli.

Hinrich also had a nice evening offensively, who scored 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, including a big individual spurt to close out the third quarter as the Cavaliers were rallying, and added eight assists and two steals.

I thought Hinrich running the team was outstanding, Thibodeau said of the veteran. Terrific. Every night, his defense sets the tone for our team and he kept us organized. Thats huge. Thats what a point guard does.

On the downside, however, was Noah getting a technical foul his fifth on the season, tied for the league lead early in the fourth quarter, much to Thibodeaus displeasure.

Not only Jo, our team. We cant afford fourth-quarter technicals, just cant, Thibodeau said. Its too hard to make up, so weve got to clean that up and I know its an emotional game, hes an emotional player, but weve got to control the emotions, particularly late and theres an appropriate way to make your point to an official. Thats something, as a team, we have to learn.

Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame


Why coming to the Bears was the right opportunity for Harry Hiestand to leave Notre Dame

There wasn’t a single game Harry Hiestand coached while at Notre Dame — 77 in total — in which he didn’t have a future top-20 pick starting at left tackle. 

Zack Martin (16th overall, 2014) was followed by Ronnie Stanley (6th overall, 2016), who gave way to Mike McGlinchey (9th overall, 2018). Hiestand also developed Quenton Nelson, who went on to be the highest interior offensive lineman drafted (6th overall, 2018) since 1986. Nelson and McGlinchey became the first pair of college offensive line teammates to be drafted in the first 10 picks since 1991, when Tennessee had tackles Charles McRae and Antone Davis go seventh and eighth. 

“It wasn’t surprising because the kind of guys they are, they absolutely did everything the right way, the way they took care of themselves, the way they trained, the teammates that they are and were,” Hiestand said. “They just did it all the way you wanted them to do it. So it was. It was a good moment.”

Hiestand said he had a sense of pride after seeing his two former players be drafted so high, even if he wasn't able to re-unite with either of them. The Bears, of course, didn’t have a chance to draft Nelson, and had conviction on using the eighth overall pick on linebacker Roquan Smith (as well as having tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie in place for the 2018 season). 

Anecdotally, one former Notre Dame player said (maybe half-jokingly) that Nelson and McGlinchey were fighting each other to see who could get drafted by the Bears to play with Hiestand again.

“There’s nobody that I’ve been around in this game that’s more passionate about what he does,” McGlinchey, now with the San Francisco 49ers, said of Hiestand at Notre Dame’s pro day in March. “There’s really only two things that are important to him, and that’s his family and then his offensive linemen. There’s a lot to be said for that. 

“In this game, everybody’s always trying to work an angle to up their own career — he doesn’t want to do anything but coach O-line, and that’s what really sticks out to us as players. He cares for us like we’re his own. Obviously he coaches extremely hard and is very demanding of his players, which I loved — he pushed me to be the player that I am.

“I’m standing in front of all you guys because of Harry Hiestand. But the amount of passion and care that he has not only for his job but his teaching abilities and his players is what sets him apart.”

Hiestand could’ve stayed as long as he wanted at Notre Dame, presumably, given how much success he had recruiting and developing players there. But six years at one spot is a long time for a position coach, especially at the college level, where the grind of recruiting is so vital to the success of a program. It’s also not like every one of the blue-chip prospects Hiestand recruited to South Bend panned out, either. 

So Hiestand knew he wanted to get back to the NFL after coaching with the Bears under Lovie Smith from 2005-2009. It’s a new challenge for him now, not only to develop second-round pick James Daniels but to continue the growth of Cody Whitehair and Leno while getting the most out of Kyle Long, Massie and the rest of the group (back during his first stint with the Bears, Hiestand had the luxury of coaching experienced, more ready-made offensive lines). 

As one of the more highly-regarded offensive line coaches in the country, though, Hiestand could’ve jumped back into the NFL whenever, and nearly wherever, he wanted. And for him, coming back to the Bears was the perfect fit. 

“That’s an awesome, awesome place, a great franchise,” Hiestand said. “It was something, I always wanted to go back, I didn’t know where I would get the opportunity. So I’m just very fortunate it just happened to be back at the same place that I was before. There are a lot of things that are different but there’s also a lot that’s the same. 

“But it’s one of the — it is the greatest organization. Historically, this is where it all began, and being part of it — and the other thing, and I told those guys when I got here, when we get it done here, you guys are going to see this city like you’ve never seen it. And I remember that. That’s what we’re after.” 

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

USA Today

On a scale of 1-10, Tarik Cohen says his dangerous level is 12

Don't be fooled by Tarik Cohen's height. He has towering confidence and he's setting up to have a big role in coach Matt Nagy's offense in 2018.

“On a scale of 1-10, the dangerous level is probably 12,” Cohen said Thursday at Halas Hall about the impact he can have in the Bears' new system. “Because in backyard football, it’s really anything goes, and it’s really whoever gets tired first, that’s who’s going to lose. I’m running around pretty good out here, so I feel like I’m doing a good job.”

Cohen proved last season he can thrive in space. He made an impact as a runner, receiver and return man and will have a chance at an even bigger workload this fall, assuming he can handle it.

With Jordan Howard established as the starting running back, Cohen knows his touches will come in a variety of ways.

“It might not necessarily be rushes,” he said. “But it’s going to be all over the field, and that’s what I like to do. Any way I can get the ball or make a play for my team, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”

Cohen averaged 4.3 yards-per-carry as a rookie and led all NFL running backs in the percentage of carries that went for at least 15 yards. He's a big play waiting to happen.

Howard can't get too comfortable in his first-team role. He's a few bad series from Cohen unseating him as the starter and becoming the most valuable weapon in Nagy's offense. The first-year coach is already having trouble hiding his excitement over Cohen, an emotion that will only grow once training camp gets underway.