Defense the key to sticking in Bulls’ rotation


Oct 22

As the Bulls’ eight-game preseason comes to an end, Coach Tom Thibodeau has decisions to make. With the roster down to 13 players after the team requested waivers on John Lucas III, Roger Powell and Kyle Weaver on Thursday, another cut will be made over the weekend in terms of determining the regular season playing rotation.

With one starter, Joakim Noah, out of action on Friday due to flu-like symptoms, Thibodeau inserted Omir Asik into the starting lineup and all but confirmed Asik would be among those in the aforementioned rotation, expected to be nine players on most nights.

“Each and every game, I think he’s done better and better,” Thibodeau said of Asik. “He’s figuring out how the game is being called and he’s adjusting. We’ve got to keep him out of foul trouble. His size at the rim is a big factor and of course the rebounding.

“We haven’t rebounded the ball as well as we’d like, [but] he’s the one guy that has,” Thibodeau continued. “He’s up, he’s in traffic, he’s pursuing. He keeps going after every rebound. The more we can get him out there and keep getting him experience, the better it is for us.”

Assuming Asik is part of that second unit, he may be called upon to shoulder the burden of rebounding when Noah and Carlos Boozer, once he’s back from injury, are getting a break from the action. But Thibodeau said he didn’t want to rely on Noah and Boozer for rebounding. Rather, he envisions the Bulls as a “five-man rebounding team.”

In other words, the Bulls’ backcourt will be expected to assist the frontcourt when it comes to cleaning the glass. Thibodeau praised Derrick Rose and his effort in that area in the team’s last game, a 110-103 victory over the Raptors. Rose recorded eight rebounds to go with 20 points and nine assists.

“When he rebounds and busts out with it, it’s a great fast break. It’s very difficult to stop,” said Thibodeau of Rose. “The more guard rebounding we can do, the quicker we can get out and push the pace of the game.”

As for Rose and his position, he and C.J. Watson are the only pure point guards remaining on the roster following Thursday’s transactions. If the Bulls are considering adding a player prior to the regular season, Thibodeau didn’t tip his hand.

“We wanted to open up some roster space,” he said. “We’re going to continue to take a look at guys. We feel good about Derrick and C.J. at the point, and we also think we can put Ronnie [Brewer] there at times, too.”

With the regular season opener in Oklahoma City just five days away, Thibodeau talked about the team’s goals as the final exhibition game neared.

“We just want to keep building,” said Thibodeau. “We’re striving to become more of a 48-minute team. Our starters will get more starters-type minutes in this game. After tonight, we’ll make some decisions on our rotation.”

Audio—Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s pregame comments (10.22.10):

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