Hinrich a game-time decision for 'Circus Trip' opener


Hinrich a game-time decision for 'Circus Trip' opener

PHOENIXKirk Hinrich was one of the first players on the floor at U.S. Airways Arena for the Bulls morning shootaround and immediately began shooting with an assistant coach, conveniently avoiding the small group of media who had traveled from Chicago. However, while the veteran point guard didnt talk about his status for Wednesday evenings game against the Suns, Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, in his typically cautious fashion, expressed optimism that he would be in the lineup.

Well see. Hes feeling better. Well see what he can do, a surprisingly jovial Thibodeau said.He was a lot better yesterday and well see after this morning and then tonight, warming up.

I know hes feeling a lot better, so we have to let him get out there. He did some out there yesterday and feels a lot better today, he continued. Its always a game-time decision. A lot can happen between shootaround and the game. A guy gets treatment. You never know.

Obviously Nate will be the backup, Kirk will start and Marquis is there and ready. As I mentioned before, each day he comes in, hes working hard, hes improving and were not afraid to use him. Hes a good player.

A person familiar with the situation said he expects Hinrich to suit up Wednesday, a sentiment Hinrich was unwilling to fully commit tothough he was dealt to Washington just prior to Thibodeaus hiring, the floor generals habit of not disclosing personal information is very similar to the coachsafter Tuesday afternoons practice at the Berto Center, the teams final session before departing for the current five-game road trip.

Im feeling better, so Im just happy with the progress and Ill just keep trying to get better. I guess just how I move. Between now and Wednesday, I just have to do as much treatment as I can, and at some point, I have to really push it, test it, to see how I feel, Hinrich explained, noting that the Bulls mostly reviewed film Tuesday, though they were engaged in some light shooting and drill work when media availability began. Its come down over the last couple days. Originally, after I had to leave the Minnesota game, I was pretty bummed out. It just wasnt trending good. I dont want to be in and out of the lineup. I want to be in the lineup, stay in the lineup and my focus right now is to figure out the root of my problem, and whats causing these issues and take care of them, and stay on top of them.

My focus is just trying to figure out whats causing all my muscular problems and just go from there.

Hinrich, an understated type, also discussed the benefits of the team-building experience that occurs on extended road trips, as well as expressing confidence in the play of rookie Marquis Teague, who played solid basketball down the stretch of Monday nights home loss to the Celtics.

I think were all excited to get out on the road. On the road, its just us. Were all weve got. We dont have the fans, everything like that behind us, so its kind of a fun experience. So, well get out there, hopefully play some really good basketball, he said. Teague did really good. Hes a very talented player, very good athlete, long arms, good shooter. I try to sometimes step back and think what it would be like if I was 19. He did great. I try not to overwhelm him. I want him to know that if he has any questions, Im here for him, but more than anything, help him by example.

Thibodeau, as usual, broke down the strengths of his teams opponent, Phoenix, a rebuilding squad that has some offensive firepower.

Theyre versatile, theyre quick, they get the ball up the floor quickly, they can get into multiple pick-and-rolls, the skill set of their players. Dudleys a terrific basketball player. Dragic puts a lot of pressure off the dribble. Beasley, he can play the three, the four, hes inside, hes outside, hes off the dribble. Scola is very clever, you have to be discipline, shot-fake discipline, he knows how to score. Gortat is one of the most underrated big guys in the league. So, theyre a very good team, they have excellent shot-blocking. If they turn you over, now theyre in the open floor. That puts a lot of pressure on you. We just have to be ready from the start of the game, he said. There will be many pick-and-rolls in this game and often times, its not the initial pick-and-roll, its the second or third one on the same play, where theres the constant re-picking, so you have to have the discipline to, if you defend the first one well, you have to defend the second one, the third one. So, it has to be a multiple-effort mentality and everybody has to stay tied together. So, if we do that, we take care of the ball, the paint, then react out, well be okay.

When asked about the recent playing time of shooting guard Rip Hamilton, the coach revealed that due to the veterans injury-plagued campaign last season, hes being careful about the starters minutes.

I think Rips done fine and Im trying to monitor his minutes also right now, and the big thing for him and for us is his health, so thats what Im concerned with most and obviously, if we have to extend our defense, that changes things, too. But I think Rip has done well, Thibodeau explained. Hes fine. I just want to make sure it remains that way.

Of course, were monitoring that Hinrichs playing time, as well, just because of whats happened so far, but well see.

Griffins hope to avoid 'sick feeling' going forward after blowout loss to Bradley

Griffins hope to avoid 'sick feeling' going forward after blowout loss to Bradley

Not all losses are created equal.

When Lincoln-Way East suffered a 35-30 defeat in Week 3 to Homewood-Flossmoor, the Griffins took positives away from the loss. They had held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, battled back from adversity in the second half and had a chance to win the game in the final minute. Even that loss in retrospect appeared acceptable – if there ever was an acceptable loss – as the Vikings are currently 8-0 and in their other seven wins have outscored their opponents by an average of 38 points.

By Week 3 the Griffins were still acclimating to the unique situation of playing at game speed with a host of Lincoln-Way North students who had transferred in the offseason. They had a defense made up almost entirely of first-year starters, and the offense was still rotating quarterbacks Jake Arthur and Max Shafer to figure out how to maximize their talent. By many standards the Griffins went toe-to-toe for 48 minutes with a team also considered to be a favorite for a state title.

The same couldn’t be said for the Griffins’ effort last Friday night in Bradley.

An esteemed program with a 2005 state title and 16 consecutive playoff appearances to their resume, it isn’t often the Griffins are embarrassed on Friday night. But those were the words head coach Rob Zvonar used in his postgame speech to the team following their 38-21 loss to the undefeated Boilermakers.

“We chose to play the game,” Zvonar began. “Which means you play it to the greatest of your ability and you honor each other, God, everybody by your play. And we didn’t do that tonight.”

There were plenty of reasons the Griffins suffered their second loss of the season. That is came in such blowout fashion was the bigger surprise. The Boilermakers found the end zone on their first two possessions, rallying behind a raucous home crowd hoping to see their team go 8-0 for the first time in school history.

The Griffins defense, which had allowed 27 points the previous three weeks combined, were on their heels as the Boilermakers used misdirection and a few trick plays to set up the short touchdown runs.

The Griffins offense moved down the field on their fourth possession, moving inside the Boilermakers red zone looking to get on the board. But Iowa commit Camron Harrell stepped in front of a Griffins screen pass on 4th down and returned it 89 yards for a score. On the final play of the first quarter, with the Griffins moving again, Damien Williams read a route and picked off Jake Arthur, returning it 53 yards for a score to give the Boilermakers a shocking 28-0 lead after 12 minutes.

After a spirited halftime speech from Zvonar, the Griffins came out firing in the second half, scoring on a touchdown run from Nigel Muhammad and a Jeremy Nelson 27-yard reception from Arthur. But the Boilermakers weathered the storm each time Lincoln-Way East attempted a comeback. The Griffins only got as close as 14 points late in the fourth quarter.

“I think we came into this game not ready,” said Muhammad, who finished with 164 yards on 24 carries. “But we’re all a team and we all accept this loss together.”

Added senior Jack Carroll, who finished with a team-high nine tackles: “We have this sick feeling in our stomach right now but the best thing is (next) Friday we can come back and get it out of our stomach. If we lose again in the playoffs then we’ll have that sick feeling in our stomach for the rest of our lives.”

That’s now the reality for the Griffins, and a silver lining if there ever could be one for such a blowout loss. With the playoffs a mere week away – the Griffins defeated Lockport on Friday to finish the regular season 7-2 – the feeling each of them felt getting on the bus back to Frankfort will linger with them and act as a reminder of how quickly things can slip away.

“We’re trying to put this behind us,” said Max Shafer. “We’re going to try to get hot and make a run in the playoffs.”

In a loaded 8A class, the Griffins’ two regular-season losses have already knocked them down in the seeding process. While any loss before Week 9 means little in the long run – the Griffins locked up a playoff berth weeks ago – it also means a more difficult road to Champaign. But that’s the reality for Zvonar’s group, and whether it’s a defense playing faster or an offense avoiding costly mistakes, the Griffins are running out of time to right the ship.

But Zvonar believes such a loss as the team suffered last Friday night can act as the catalyst to doing just that. The Griffins have established themselves as one of the state’s premier programs, and that means not riding the highs too high, and not breaking apart when the lows come. Last Friday night was as low as Zvonar had seen any of his 16 teams, but the silver lining occurred in that his squad now knows what it has to do to avoid it when it’s win or go home.

“What we also think is that the program is built on a solid foundation, so when you take a little hit like that you battle back and you go back to what you believe in and what you know can be successful. And that’s fundamentals and keeping things simple, and the kids have bounced back and they’re not acceptable to them what occurred to them, so very proud of their effort and the way they’re working.

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