Starting Five: Bulls at Rockets

Starting Five: Bulls at Rockets

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 20102:29 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1) Brad Miller acknowledged Houstons injury issues, as well as the teams reputation for role players stepping up even when short of bodies.

It is what it is," he said. "That situation is a little bit of whatever. People always say Houstons always blessed with injuries at some point and I had mine. They said welcome to the team when I turned my ankle. It just seems like the curse of this team, but guys keep stepping up.

Youve got Kyle Lowry at point instead of Aaron Brooks, that changes the team -- Im not saying good or bad, just changes the team. With Yao not out there, it changes the team. So weve just got to be ready to play, like, 20 different styles with all the different lineups that we throw out there.

2) Ishmael Smith, an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest (where the rookie played with Bulls forward James Johnson) isnt putting up gaudy numbers, but has opened some eyes with his game-changing speed in the absence of Brooks, the former Most Improved Player.

It has been an adjustment, the difference from college to the NBA ... its been going well so far," Smith, who earned a spot on the team by virtue of a strong summer-league performance in Las Vegas, told CSNChicago.com after Tuesdays shootaround. "Im just trying to work hard and continue to work on the things I need to work on and get better at the things I guess Im pretty good at.

You never hope injuries happen to anybody and we all hope Aaron comes back with a speedy recovery because were going to need him, but Im just trying to hold the fort, do it whatever it takes to get wins while Im out there and not do anything too crazy.

3) Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is regarded as a key to Yao Mings early NBA development, as he spent countless hours with the center working on his game. Therefore, he better than anybody understands how the Rockets attack changes with the All-Star out of the lineup.

Yao has missed -- unfortunately for him and their team -- games, so I think they have gotten used to playing without him. I think the hardest thing for them at the start is readjusting, where Yao was only playing half the game because they were playing two different styles, said Thibodeau before Tuesdays shootaround. When you have a primary low-post scorer like Yao, it does kind of change the way you play. So now their bigs are up higher -- more in the high-post area -- so it sets up their cutting game, and theyre a great cutting team. Youve got to concentrate on your body position because the low blocks, at times, are not going to be occupied. If you dont have good body position, theyre going to get back cuts and layups, and you cant allow that.

4) With a seven-game road trip and eight newcomers on the team, the Bulls are using their off time spent together as an opportunity to bond.

People have video-game systems. I gave Taj my traveling Xbox. Its like a TV and an Xbox in a suitcase, so we could be playing that -- playing Call of Duty, whatever -- but somehow weve got to get closer, said Derrick Rose after Tuesdays shootaround.

Its going to be good," added Luol Deng. "At the end of the two weeks, well get tired of each other, but its really good for the team, spending a lot of time together.

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

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

President Obama on Joe Maddon: 'Not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy'

As one of the cooler presidents ever, President Obama knows cool when he sees it.

The president talked about numerous members of the Cubs during the team's visit to the White House on Monday, but he only offered the "cool" label to manager Joe Maddon, who most folks can agree is probably the coolest person to ever manage the Cubs.

"Let's face it, there are not a lot of coaches or managers who are as cool as this guy. Look how he looks right now," Obama said, pointing out Maddon's non-traditional suit. "That's cool."

The president also praised Maddon's unique style, with his themed road trips and visits from zoo animals, as well as his on-field prowess, throwing in a joke about something the skipper couldn't control during the World Series.

"He's got a lot tricks to motivate. But he's also a master of tactics and knows how to make the right move at the right time: when to pinch hit, when to pinch run, when to make it rain in Game 7 of the World Series. It was masterful."

Maybe President Obama really does admire Maddon's style. Or maybe he's just extending his bromance with Vice President Biden to other famous Joes.

Check out the video above for more from the president.

At Cubs' White House visit, President Obama touts Michelle Obama's Cubs fandom, shouts out Jose Cardenal

At Cubs' White House visit, President Obama touts Michelle Obama's Cubs fandom, shouts out Jose Cardenal

Unlike her husband, Michelle Obama hasn't made a big deal out of her baseball fandom over the past eight years.

But as President Obama mentioned while he honored the World Series champion Cubs on Monday at the White House, it turns out the First Lady is a pretty big Cubs fan and watching the Cubs win the World Series meant an awful lot to her.

"It is no secret that there's a certain South Side team that has my loyalty," the president said. "So I can't claim that I have the same visceral joy of some in this White House. But FLOTUS is a lifelong Cubs fan, and I will tell you ... in the eight years that I've been here, we've hosted at least 50 teams. Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, you name it. Michelle has never come to a single event celebrating a champion until today. She came and shook hands and met with every one of these members of the Cubs organization and told a story about what it meant for her to be able to see them win. She remembers coming home from school, and her dad would be watching a Cubs game, and the bond and the family, the meaning that the Cubs had for her in terms of connecting with her father and why it meant so much to her. And I almost choked up listening to it. And it spoke, I think, to how people feel about this organization and that it's been passed on generation after generation. It's more than just sports."

And one ex-Cub even got a special invite to the White House so the First Lady could meet her all-time favorite player. That was former pitcher Jose Cardenal, once famous for his large afro. According to President Obama, his wife used to try and wear her hat over her afro just like Cardenal did.

So while President Obama was presented with a lifetime pass to Wrigley Field, perhaps it's Michelle who will get more use out of it.

Check out more from the president in the video above.