Thibodeau: Noah understands benching


Thibodeau: Noah understands benching

DEERFIELD, ILL.Joakim Noah wasnt in the Bulls locker room when the media entered after the teams overtime loss Saturday to Memphis, he wasnt available to reporters after Mondays shootaround at the Berto Center and he, like many players, has a personal policy of not talking to the media before games, so his take on Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeaus decision to bench him for the final 23 minutes of the defeat to the Grizzlies will have to wait.

Thibodeau, as he did after in his postgame press conference, professed that theres no controversy brewing when asked about the situation Monday.

Just a coachs decision. We were struggling, we were behind. The group that got in there got us back in it. It was more the way that unit was rolling. I just felt we were so flat, that group was either going to win the game or lose the game for us, he explained. They were the ones that overcame a big deficit and thats usually the case. In the first half, I always go back with the starters. In the second half, if were struggling, its going to be the group thats going well. Thats the way it is.

Noah understands. Hes been around and the team has to come first. Thats the most important thing. That happens. Its not a big deal, the coach added. Hes responded well since Ive been here, so I always expect that. I expect the best out of him.

Although Thibodeaus explanation holds water because of the ultimately-failed comeback of the quintet on the floorstarters Carlos Boozer and Jimmy Butler, who played in place of the injured Luol Deng, as well as reserves Taj Gibson, Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinsonit did raise eyebrows when he inserted backup center Nazr Mohammed, who hadnt previously played Saturday, into the contest after Gibson fouled out in overtime.

Now, while Noah appeared animated when taken out of Saturdays game, thats nothing new to observers, as the high-energy center always wants to be on the court. Gibson insisted that the teams closeness and belief in Thibodeau should quell any speculation that Noah would harbor any resentment.

Not really because we just look at Jo and Jos calling out plays, calling out different stuff, and we just keep playing. We understand that Coach knows what hes doing and when Coach puts guys in, weve got to keep rolling with whoevers out there on the court, so if Jos not out there, eventually hes going to come in. but unfortunately, Saturday night, he wasnt able to come back. But its a new game, new style of play, big game tonight, so weve got to focus on tonights game, Gibson said. If youre doing well, Thibodeau is going to let you play. Hes not going to take you out. If youre doing your job, hes going to let you rock out. Its all about just helping the team. Thats the way Thibs coaches. Its all about winning.

Noah wasnt edgy at all at Mondays shootaround. We had a great walk-through this morning. We were talking, laughing like we always do, running through plays. Thibs was calling out plays. I thought it was a great walk-through for him and our team, he continued. Disagreements between coaches and players happen all year long, but were like a family here. Weve been together almost three years, going on four, so guys just put that in the back of our heads. We understand that we have a goal, one goal, to win games and challenge for a championship. Its a long season. Things are going to happen, heads are going to get butted, but we all love each other and we all know its for the best of the team, and were men, and one thing about men, you have to just let stuff go and this team, we let stuff go and get ready for the next game.

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.

Morning Update: Blackhawks fall to Jackets; Cubs look to close out Dodgers in NLCS

Morning Update: Blackhawks fall to Jackets; Cubs look to close out Dodgers in NLCS

Complete Cubs-Dodgers NLCS Game 6 coverage on CSN

IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show Saturday on CSN

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

Clayton Kershaw stands between Cubs and World Series: ‘To be the best, you got to beat the best’

For Bears QB Jay Cutler, an unwanted second chance – audition? – presents itself

White Sox: Chris Getz's new player development role is to carry out 'vision of the scouts'

How game-changing Kyle Hendricks deal came together for Cubs team on brink of World Series

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

Week 8 Big Ten previews: After last week's clash, Badgers, Buckeyes hit the road

High School Lites Football Roundup: Week 9