Bulls hope to regain swagger against Rockets

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Bulls hope to regain swagger against Rockets

HOUSTONA dominant defense. A nightly advantage on the glass.

A bench that not only maintained, but extended leads on a consistent basisor, in the case that the starters were behind, often took control of the game. Chemistry that led to teammates recognizing the hot hand and when they didnt have it going themselves, making timely plays that didnt involve scoring.

The aforementioned traits were all hallmarks of the Bulls the last two seasons and while they may eventually reappear, in the present, theyre largely absent. It goes without saying that in sidelined superstar Derrick Roses absence, the squad doesnt have that one, dynamic, game-changing equalizer to rescue them, but that didnt stop past editions of the Bulls from being successful in their blue-collar, hard-nosed fashion.

The departure of the Bench Mob has been perhaps overly discussed, but while the reputations of their individual abilities is now more myth than factit must be remembered that upon Tom Thibodeaus arrival over two years ago, the Bulls bench wasnt exactly mythologized and to be honest, the group was regarded as a bit flawed and underwhelming before they hit their stridethe spirit of the departed reserves, including holdover Taj Gibson, is what made them special. But throughout the young campaign, that nightly passion, determination and most significantly, defensive focus, have dwindled.

Its more the process. I want us doing the right things and so, every game, you evaluate the things that you think are necessary to win and for us, its always the same. Its the defense, the rebounding, the inside-out, the low turnovers, the sharing the ball, Thibodeau explained before the teams Tuesday afternoon practice at the Toyota Center, where his team will take on the Rockets, one of his many former employers, Wednesday evening.

When you evaluate are you doing things correctly, you can sometimes do things correctly and they opponents can make shots. The problem is, when youre not doing things correctly, to understand the difference and make the necessary corrections, so you can improve and right now, theyre a number of things were doing, and some things were doing well.

We started off the season not challenging shots as well as I would like. I think were covering the three-point line better, but our turnovers, putting opponents into the open floor has hurt us, particularly on the road, so thats something that we have to change, and then we have to play for 48 minutes. Right now, theres some good sequences, some bad sequences, but we have to be more consistent, continued the coach, who noted that well see how it unfolds, when asked specifically if there would be changes to his rotation.

The second quarter has been an area we have to clean up. Offensively, were starting the games strongly. Were inside-out, were shooting a good percentage, were scoring. But the tone of the game is not a defensive tone and then in the second quarter, were being hurt in a lot of different areas, mainly the turnovers. So, thats something that we have to get corrected and then, were in a hole and we usually make a run to come back, but thats difficult to overcome, particularly on the road, when youre fighting a double-digit deficit.

Against the Rockets, a similarly spiraling team and losers of three consecutive outings after a fast start to the season, the Bulls will look to bounce back before returning to the Midwestthey will fly back to Chicago after Wednesdays game, then play Saturday in Milwaukee to conclude their annual Circus Trippreferably with a record over the .500 mark. It wont necessarily easy, however, as reeling Houston does possess talent, as Jeremy Lin, last seasons phenom, combines with early-season blockbuster acquisition James Harden for an explosive backcourt, and former Bulls backup Omer Asik anchors one of the NBAs youngest team in the middle.

Harden is a great player, so he keeps a lot of pressure on you. Its his ability to shoot, his ability to put it on the floor and then, of course, his ability to draw fouls. Then, you combine him with Lin in the backcourt, very dynamic and then, they run the floor extremely well. They play with energy, they shoot a lot of threes, Thibodeau said. Chandler Parsons is one of the most underrated players in the league. Hes really coming on strongly and so is Patrick Patterson.

We know that defensive transition and covering the line will be critical.

So will getting back their old swagger.

Recruiting news and notes: Solorio's Patterson adds Northwestern offer

Recruiting news and notes: Solorio's Patterson adds Northwestern offer

Solorio junior quarterback Quincy Patterson (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) added his fifth scholarship offer on Monday from Northwestern. Patterson, a three-star recruit, also took in the Wildcats' game last Saturday against Nebraska.

"Northwestern is a beautiful school and has anything that a student-athlete can really ask for," Patterson said. "Northwestern has a great coaching staff and an extremely high graduation rate. Both of those factors are very important to me and my family. It means a lot to me that Northwestern is so strong academically plus having great coaches. Northwestern offered me as a super-back recruit."

Patterson now has offers from Northwestern along with Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico and Penn State.

Brother Rice senior running back Xazavian Valladay (6-feet, 190 pounds) has set up his first official visit.

"I'm planning to go out to make an official visit to Wyoming on October 8," Valladay said. "I'm still in touch with Wyoming along with Western Illinois, Ball State, Central Michigan plus Eastern Illinois and Youngstown State. I want to get out and see some schools in person before I make a college decision."

Valladay currently has scholarship offers from Wyoming and Western Illinois.

Palatine senior quarterback Zach Oles (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) is off to another great this season for the Pirates, and Oles has been drawing steady recruiting interest this fall.

"I've been in touch with schools like Butler, Dayton plus North Dakota State, NIU, Princeton along with several (other) Ivy League schools," Oles said. "I'm going to visit Dayton on October 8 and then I'm planning to go visit a game at Butler on October 22."

Does Oles have a time frame for making a college decision? "I'm not in any hurry to make a college choice. My focus right now is on my team and my season. I also want to take a few official visits after the season."

Peoria senior defensive tackle Kendrick Green (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) made his first official visit this past weekend to Minnesota.

"It (Minnesota) was awesome," Green, a three-star recruit, said. "They (Minnesota) are definitely on top now."

Green, who named the Gophers along with Syracuse and Central Florida as his top schools, is also planning to visit both Syracuse and UCF before making his college choice.

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