Caravan put on a clinic; rout Seton

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Caravan put on a clinic; rout Seton

Friday, Feb. 11, 2011
11:00 p.m.

By Pat DiSabato
YourSeason.com

Before the start of every game, Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty stresses to his players to go out and do what they do best.

That is, share the basketball.

The No. 23 Caravan put on a clinic on distributing the rock Friday night against Seton. Four different players reached double digits in scoring as host Mount Carmel eased to a 78-51 victory in a Catholic League South contest.

Alex Austin earned leading scorer honors, finishing with 22 points, including four three-pointers. Illinois-bound Tracy Abrams followed with 19, while Wyn Bradley and Malcolm Hill-Bey contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively for the Caravan (18-5, 8-1).

The win was No. 697 in Flahertys outstanding career.

We dont want to be a one-man team, even as good as Tracy is, Flaherty said. We played hard tonight.

Thats about the only positive Flaherty had to say about his teams performance.

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and most of the near-capacity crowd had to come away impressed, even the Seton fans who made the trek from South Holland.

No sooner had the Stings Chris Coulter (14 points) nail a three-pointer for a quick 3-2 lead, Mount Carmel countered with an 8-0 run to take a 10-3 advantage. Abrams converted a three-point play and Austin hit his first bomb from beyond the arc to ignite the run.

The Caravan would establish a double-digit advantage for the remainder of the evening. It led 42-26 at the half.

That didnt satisfy Flaherty, who saw room for improvement everywhere.

We were sloppy and our shot selection was a little carefree, he said. We got lazy in the second half and didnt get out to guard their shooters. We didnt play as well as we could.

Mount Carmel converted 30 of 55 field-goal attempts, including 8-of-18 shots from three-point land. Seton struggled, finishing 15-of-42 from the field. The Sting (17-7, 6-3) was a solid 7-of-18 from beyond the stripe, with Coulter drilling four treys and Kamal Shasi (13 points) two.

But the Sting never could establish an inside game. Russell Robinson, a 6-foot-8 junior, was held to six points.

We played pretty good, Abrams said. But we have to do a better job of finishing and cutting down on our mistakes.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

Morning Update: Bulls beat Spurs in Pau Gasol's return to Chicago

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