The Starting Five: Bulls v. Hawks

The Starting Five: Bulls v. Hawks

Wednesday, March 2, 2011Posted: 4:10 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

1. Kirk Hinrich, who was dealt from the Wizards to the Hawks at the trade deadline, talked about being back on a playoff team. Its a great feeling. It was getting to be a very long year there in D.C. The organization was great to me, everybody was great, but to be coming to a talented team like this in the middle of the playoff hunt is very exciting," Hinrich, who told reporters he will play Wednesday, despite nursing a calf injury, said after Hawks shootaround. Im definitely excited to get a chance to play with these guys. After going against them all those years, I know the talent that they have and how high of a ceiling they have as a group, so Im just excited to be a part of it and help in any way that I can. Hinrich said he wasnt expecting to be traded, but the fiery competitors reaction was understandably positive. The day that it happened, I was hearing all the rumors, so that was basically when I opened my mind up to the possibility that it might happen, said Hinrich. I was very excitedit was kind of like having a new life.

2. Derrick Rose discussed the matchup with Hinrich, his former backcourt partner. It should be fun. It should feel like any other game, like when he was in Washington. He was playing the same way, playing aggressive, playing the same way he normally plays and thats wellI know that I will be better after this game. Every game you play against a good defender like that, youre going to get better because youve got to get prepared for it and I just cant wait. Hes somebody that when I came into the league, he took me under his wing, said Rose. Its going to be hard. Were playing against a good team. Earlier when we played him, his team wasnt as good as this team, so tonight, I think the atmospheres going to be crazy and both teams are going to be out there playing very hard. Hinrich spoke highly of Roses progress and the challenge of defending him. Its a nightmare. With his strength and athleticism, it definitely has to be a team effort, for sure, said Hinrich. Watching him, you still shake your head at times. Its unbelievable, the way that hes playing. As for playing his former team in his first home game with his new team, Hinrich was upbeat. Im excited. Theyve got a very good team and theyre playing really well right now, so it should be a good challenge for us. Its always a big game when you have a long road trip and you come back home, so were definitely up for the challenge tonight, said Hinrich. Its a little different, I guess, just because I have really good relationships with all those guys, but other than that, its another game and Im still trying to get acclimated here, so Im just trying to focus on that.

3. Luol Deng told CSNChicago.com that he believes that Hawks will gradually improve with Hinrich running the show. I think theyll improve a lot, said Deng. I dont know how quick they will improve, but I think Kirkespecially defensivelywill bring them more energy. While some observers focus on the Bulls flying under the radar, the steady Hawks have been a consistent playoff team in the East for the past few seasons, although last springs second-round flameout at the hands of Orlando dampened preseason expectations, given they returned virtually the same team. People get tired of seeing the same thing. I think thats what it is. I think we just had a tough season last year, so all of a sudden, we turned it around and were the team. The Hawks have been doing it for a few years now, so people are kind of like, Well, in the playoffs, theyre going to do the same thing, so they dont give them the props, Deng opined to CSNChicago.com. Theyre making changes and theyre a different team. As for us, if we keep doing the same thing for a few years, its going to be the same thing. People just get tired and always want something new.

4. Joakim Noah discussed facing his former teammate Hinrich. Kirk obviously knows a lot of our personnel very well, said Noah. Kirky is also a very competitive player, somebody who will always come ready to play against the Chicago Bulls, I think. Noah also spoke about matching up with former college teammate and Hawks center Al Horford, with whom he won two collegiate national championships at the University of Florida. I think this is an important game tonight and just being able to go up against him is exciting. Hes a very competitive guy, Im a competitive guy and its an important game for us. Were trying to grab the No. 1 seed and we have a lot of work to do. We havent played them yet and its going to be exciting to play the Hawks tonight, said Noah. I think Als a big piece of the Hawks are trying to do and just being here for the last couple days, Ive realized how much love he gets out here. Its very, very well deserved. Hes somebody whos very professional and comes with that workmanlike attitude every day. Hes somebody who wants to win very badly. Horford shared his own opinion on the matchup. It was a little weird, the first few years facing him in the NBA. We havent faced them at all this year. Its different. You play with a guy for such a long time. We have to get prepared for this game like any other game, said Horford, who added there was no question Noah would make it to the next level when they were at Florida. Its hard when you play with a guy on your same side and you know each others game, so you know its going to be different, but we know weve got to go out there and do our jobs. Horford believes Hinrich will be a positive addition to the Hawks. I think he helps a lot, said Horford. He brings toughness and hes a leader out there. Thats one of the things that we need.

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

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

Cubs offense mostly quiet as bullpen blows late lead

The Cubs offense had a quiet Saturday afternoon just 24 hours after putting 12 runs on the board against the Seattle Mariners in Game 1.

The Cubs only recorded three hits in their 4-1 loss to the Mariners on Saturday at Wrigley Field. 

The story for most of the game was Mariners pitcher Wade Miley, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before it was broken up by Kris Bryant.

It was the second time this week the Cubs allowed a no-hitter through at least five innings.

White Sox pitcher Anthony Ranaudo took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Wednesday before the Cubs poured it on and finished the game with eight runs.

Lost in the no-hitter was Jake Arrieta, who had one of the best outings of the season. Arrieta finished the game allowing two runs on two hits and three walks, striking out four in seven innings.

After a scoreless six innings of play, the Cubs drew first blood in the seventh. Dexter Fowler opened with a leadoff walk. Bryant broke up the no-hitter with a single. Following a Ben Zobrist bunt that advanced the runners, Javier Baez hit a grounder to third. Fowler tried to score and was thrown out at the plate. But after a second look, Joe Maddon challenged the call and it was reversed, giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

A couple batters later, Miley attempted to pick off Baez — who reached on a fielder’s choice — but Bryant stole home in the process. First baseman Adam Lind quickly relayed the throw over to catcher Mike Zunino, and Bryant appeared to slide under the tag. After being ruled safe, the Mariners won a challenge of their own and the call was overturned.

In the eighth, the Mariners responded. Arrieta walked the first two batters and was relieved by Hector Rondon, who retired both batters he faced. Aroldis Chapman entered the game to try to get the final out of the inning. That happened, but not before the Mariners added three runs. A double by Leonys Martin scored two. Martin later stole third and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-1.

The Mariners added another run in the ninth.

Slugger Anthony Rizzo didn't start, getting a day off to rest, but he came in to pinch hit for Chapman in the eighth, striking out. Willson Contreras started at first in Rizzo's place.

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

For Willie Young, Bears contract extension more than just a simple business transaction

BOURBONNAIS — Sometimes football is just a business. Sometimes it’s that and a lot more.

For Willie Young, the business side was taken care of late Friday night when the Bears added two years to his contract, projecting him as a Bear through the 2018 season.

The emotional side was still being taken care of on Saturday, when a former seventh-round draft choice was able to step back and realize what effectively a third NFL contract means to someone who was passed over time after time in the draft and never expected to be much.

“I’m slightly speechless right now but excited,” said Young, someone rarely at a loss for words.

“It means a lot,” Young said after a long pause, reflecting on how seventh-round picks rarely even make teams. “All the teams that passed me over ... My big thing is who I am and what the name on my back stands for.”

[MORE: Bears sign Willie Young to two-year contract extension]

Young was able to call his family and give them the news, “We’re going to be in Chicago a little while longer.”

Just as his entry into the league was shaky, his tenure in Chicago was seldom secure before this weekend.

When Young signed with the Bears in the 2014 offseason, leaving the Detroit Lions, he did so assuming that he was coming in as a starting defensive end. That changed when the Bears landed Jared Allen to position opposite Lamarr Houston. That season ended nevertheless with Young leading the Bears in sacks (10) before suffering a torn Achilles late in the season.

Allen was traded away last season, giving Young a job opportunity as he was coming back from Achilles surgery. Trouble was, the defense Young was returning to had changed completely, and Young was now a linebacker, now with coverage responsibilities and playing in situations.

Despite that second major change from what he’d expected, Young still managed 6.5 sacks, second on the Bears. That, combined with his work through the offseason to date, convinced the Bears that he was more of a fit than even he perhaps thought once upon a time.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016 season, Bears fans!

The result was a two-year contract extension agreed to late Friday night and added to the final year (2016) Young had from his initial Bears contract which locked him up only through the end of this season.

“It feels good to reward somebody that’s worked as hard as he’s worked and overcome the injury last year, and the leader that he is out there mentoring our younger players,” said GM Ryan Pace. “I feel really good about it. It’s good for our locker room, it’s good for our team.”

Where he once struggled to fit in – and was not reluctant to say so – Young now is securely ensconced as one of the starting outside linebackers in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. When the Bears go to a 4-3 in nickel situations, Young lines up as the defensive end he had been for his career.

“There’s not a big difference [between 3-4 linebacker and 4-3 end],” said coach John Fox. “I think that [‘don’t call me a linebacker!’] was a little tongue-in-cheek. Some guys up to a point have had their hand on the ground, it’s a little bit of an adjustment. But there’s way more carryover They are involved in coverage a little bit more but I think he’s adapted to it quite nicely actually.”

Coach K, on Chicago welcoming back Tom Thibodeau: 'I'm proud of my city for doing that'

Coach K, on Chicago welcoming back Tom Thibodeau: 'I'm proud of my city for doing that'

Tom Thibodeau made his long-awaited return to the United Center on Friday, and the reception he received from the Chicago crowd pleased USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Thibodeau, who's been an assistant with USA Basketball since 2013, was the first coach introduced before the team's matchup against Venezuela and received considerable applause from the sellout crowd. It was Thibodeau's first visit back to Chicago in a coaching capacity since he was fired as the Bulls head coach following the 2014-15 season.

Both Krzyzewski and Jimmy Butler, who spoke at the podium following USA's 80-45 victory, were asked about the reaction from the crowd. Krzyzewski, a Chicago native, took the question and fired off a 90-second response about how the warm reception was warranted and how pleased he was to hear it.

He even joked that he and assistants Jim Boeheim and Monty Williams paid 5,000 fans to cheer when Thibodeau, now the head coach of the Timberwolves, was introduced.

"(Chicago's) an amazing sports town, loves its athletes and its coaches, and they should love Tom. Tom brought great basketball (to Chicago) when it was not going well," Krzyzewski said. "And then really injury-wise...especially with Derrick (Rose), if he had been healthy there could have been another (NBA championship) banner or two here. And the fans realize that."

Thibodeau arrived in Chicago in 2010, coaching a Bulls team that had advanced to the playoffs the previous season for the first time since 1998. He coached the Bulls to a 255-139 record in five seasons and won 23 playoff games. His team advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, the same year the Bulls won 62 games and Thibodeau was named NBA Coach of the Year.

[MORE: Why Jimmy Butler wanted Dwyane Wade to sign with the Bulls]

In that five-year span Rose, who was named the league's youngest MVP in 2011, missed 213 of a possible 394 games, and the team dealt with myriad injuries to key players in Jimmy Butler, Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol. Irreconcilable differences within the front office led to Thibodaeu's dismissal, but Thibodeau said Thursday that he was grateful for the eperiences he had during this time in Chicago.

And Krzyzewski reiterated how pleased he was that the fans understood the successes Thibodeau acheived.

"He’s the best, as far as preparation and team player and whatever, and the fans appreciate that," Krzyzewski said. "It was great. I love the fact that my town gave the guy who gave them his heart and soul for the number of years he’s been here and acknowledged that. That’s a great thing. I’m proud of my city for doing that."