Preps Talk

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

The Starting Five: Bulls vs. Timberwolves

Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Posted: 12:51 p.m.
By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Coming off the disappointing home loss to Philadelphia, Thibodeau talked about the need for the Bulls to start games with more energy and get back to their usual defensive mentality, something they had gotten away from even in the two wins before the 76ers came to town. Just the readiness to start. We had gone through a long stretch of playing pretty well and then we had the two blowout wins and I think our edge wasnt the same coming out. it starts with our defense. When our defense isnt up to parwe thought were going to come in and were going to outscore peoplethats not good for us, said Thibodeau. We have to tighten things up defensively. When we defend and we rebound, we usually play well. So, that was the biggest concernallowing teams to get going and once they get going, theyre much harder to slow downso weve got to try to make it harder on teams to start the game.

2. Thibodeau didnt take the bait when asked about the Heats shocking loss to the Cavaliersin LeBron James second trip back to ClevelandTuesday night, which helped the Bulls increase their first-place Eastern Conference lead and put Miami a half-game behind Boston. Everybody has their own things that they have to worry about and I think its another example that any team is capable of beating you, and so, for us, our readiness to play is critical and we have to correct it, said Thibodeau. But you see it all the time. You see it in every sport and you have to be ready to play.

3. Thibodeau also discussed the fantastic season Timberwolves All-Star power forward Kevin Lovethe third-year player is questionable for Wednesdays gameis having, which has already included a 30-point, 30-rebound game and a historic 53-game double-double streak. The year that hes had has been unbelievable. You average 20 points and 15 rebounds in this league, that says a lot. It also says a lot about him, how hes improved from year to year, to where he is now. Hes a guy that plays hard all the time, you can see that he continues to improve as he goes forward, explained Thibodeau. I had an opportunity to watch Love and his own star, Derrick Rose with Team USA and I think those guys benefited a lot from that experience. The way they practiced and the way they performed as a team, I thought, really helped all of those guys. It was an extremely well-coached team, they had great veteran leadership in Billups and I think all those guys benefited from that. And of course, the team success. It gave them a head start on the season. They came into training camp in great shape, great rhythm and it was all good for them.

4. Rose, who was in the same highly-touted high school class as Love, talked about his friendship with the Timberwolves star and his impressions of his development. To play in this league, youve got to have confidence and his confidence is very high right now. Every night, hes doing a great job being consistent, rebounding, shooting the ball better from the three, just being a leader. You can just see when hes on the court, theres a big difference, observed Rose. Rose and Love have been friends ever since high school, I always played against him: AAU, college. Being out in L.A., just always with us working out in Los Angeles with trainer Rob McClanaghan, eating brunch with him, dinner with him, Team USA. Im always around him. Im real good friends with his dad former NBA player Stan Love, too. Continued Rose: The way he works, man. You should see how hard he goes. Like when we work out, we dont do any big-man drills. We do all guard stuff with me and Russ Oklahoma City Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook, Loves college teammate at UCLA. You probably dont think about that, but its amazing how hard he works.

5. Dont forget to follow me on Twitter at @CSNBullsInsider.

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

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NBC Sports Chicago

Breaking: LW East AJ Henning to Michigan

Lincoln-Way East 4 star ranked running back AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) today gave the University of Michigan his verbal commitment.

"At the end of the day Michigan was just the best overall for me," Henning said. "Michigan has stuck with me in this process for a long time including when I was injured and never backed off. Michigan also recruited me but also  got to know my family well which really made a strong impression on me."

Henning, who narrowed down his final list of schools to Michigan. Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State new that Michigan was his school after his recent official visit. 

"When I made my official visit to Michigan is when I knew that I found my school. I was able to just get a great feel for the coaches and the guys on the team on my official visits. I just felt that I will be a great fit at Michigan socially, athletically, academically and that I really fit in well with the guys on the team. After my official visit I knew that Michigan was the place I needed to be."

Henning, who ended up selecting Michigan over scholarship offers from 33 FBS schools  is bit thrilled and relived to have announced his college choice.

"It's definitely a relief, but just being able to be recruited and offered scholarships from 33 different schools is a true blessing. I'm just glad I found a home in Michigan."

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

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AP

The 1995-1998 Bulls belong on the list of 10 greatest lineups in NBA history

Listen, Tom. We like you. A lot. You do incredible work and you give us shoutouts. But we had to read through your latest piece, “Ranking the 10 greatest lineups in NBA history,” a few times before realizing you had a massive omission.

We present the following: The 1995-1998 Chicago Bulls.


PG: Ron Harper
SG: Michael Jordan
SF: Scottie Pippen
PF: Toni Kukoc
C: Dennis Rodman

Total All-Star appearances: 23
MVP Players: 1
DPOY Players: 2
Finals MVP Players: 1
Titles won together: 3

We thank you for mentioning Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen in your piece. They were pretty good, we agree. We’ll dig a little deeper on those two to begin our argument. From 1995 to 1998, Jordan averaged 29.6 points on 48% shooting, 6.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 steals. He also didn’t miss a game, playing in 304 of a possible 304 games. He was also named league MVP twice and Finals MVP all three years. Pippen wasn’t too shabby a sidekick, averaging 19.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists in that three-year span.

These guys were all-time greats, but you might have forgotten that they weren’t alone.

All Dennis Rodman did in this three-season span was lead the league in rebounding all three years (15.3 per game). He wasn’t the same All-Star talent that he was in his Detroit days – also a two-time Defensive Player of the Year – and his San Antonio stint but he was still critical to the Bulls’ success. The Worm had a little bit of Draymond Green in him, not afraid to take on any defensive assignment to allow the Bulls a little more versatility. He got assignments of Shawn Kemp and Karl Malone in the Finals.

Kukoc is where we bend the rules a bit, but we hope you’ll allow it (mostly because our argument turns to dust if we need to talk about Luc Longley). Kukoc was the 1996 Sixth Man of the Year (hey, you said they could be closing lineups, too) and was a model of consistency in those three seasons. He averaged 13.2 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists and gave the Bulls another ball handler and distributor, as well as versatile defense. He’s at times the forgotten gem of the Jerry Krause era, and he’s more than just a funny story from the Dream Team era.

The Bulls had their Iguodala, too. Ron Harper averaged a modest 7.7 points and 2.7 assists in these three seasons with the Bulls. But he also did it with a 14.9% usage rate. That was lower than Bill Wennington’s usage rate of 17.0% in that same span! Let’s not forget that Harper had averaged 19.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists in eight seasons with the Cavaliers and Clippers before signing with the Jordan-less Bulls. He would have had a much larger and more effective role had Jordan not returned (we’re glad he did). In 1998, Harper also had the pleasure of guarding Gary Payton and John Stockton in the Bulls’ three Finals victories. Have you had enough of the Iggy comparisons yet?

So there it is. Five incredible players to put together three remarkable championship seasons that included the Greatest Team in the History of Basketball (our capitalization intended). Feel free to update your story as needed.