Preps Talk

Bulls bounce back, top Timberwolves


Bulls bounce back, top Timberwolves

After Thursdays disappointing home loss at the hands of Oklahoma City, the Bulls (4-2) took out their frustrations on Saturdays visitor to the United Center, the Timberwolves (4-2). While the 87-80 victory was by no means an offensive clinic, the Bulls blend of defense (Minnesota shot 38.8 percent from the floor), scoring from unexpected sources (the reserve back court of Nate Robinson and Marco Belinelli scored 17 and 11 points off the bench, respectively) and perseverance (starting point guard Kirk Hinrich was injured during the contest) were significant factors in the win.
Led by the energetic play of the boisterous Joakim Noah (17 points, seven rebounds, four blocked shots), who showcased his improved offensive repertoire by sandwiching a 15-foot jumper between two dunks, the Bulls took a slim lead in the early stages of the contest.
The battle between Noah and rugged Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic (18 points, eight rebounds) was a study in contrasts, but with Minnesota missing veteran Brandon Roythe shooting guard sat out the contest with soreness in his right knee; the visitors were already missing young stars Ricky Rubio and All-Star Kevin Love, also due to injurythe hosts theoretically had their guests outmanned.
Luol Dengs (16 points, seven rebounds, four assists) strong start to the season also continued, manifesting itself in some early offense, as did his running mate on the wing, Rip Hamilton, who was aggressive from the outset.
But behind Pekovicwhose job became easier after Noah exited with a left-knee laceration, though he would returnand his 10 points in the frame, the Timberwolves kept things close and at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Bulls held a narrow 20-19 advantage.
At the beginning of the second period, the Bulls seemingly couldnt get anything, as there were several frustrating in-and-out misses, which Minnesota capitalized upon in the close-knit affair. However, Robinson (18 points) single-handedly picked up the energy inside the United Centera steal and fast-break layup, then a contested three-pointer gave him a personal 5-0 runto take back the lead for the home team and provide them with some breathing room, along with support from fellow reserve Taj Gibson (eight points, eight rebounds) and Noah, who returned to the contest.
But just as quickly, Robinson had a spate of turnovers that allowed Minnesota to get back into the game, prompting a Bulls timeout, after which the visitors continued to make their push and eventually regained the lead. At the intermission, the Bulls trailed, 41-40, and Hinrich leaving the game late in the half with a strained right hip didnt help matters.
After the break, the Bulls emphasized their transition game, but even pushing the tempo baskets were hard to come by, aside from the virtuoso contributions of Robinson, who started the third quarter in place of the injured Hinrich, and continued to be the Bulls offensive catalyst. Minnesota responded with an outside-shooting barrage, keyed by the starting back court of Luke Ridnour and Chase Budinger, and despite the Hamilton and Noah increasing their offensive productivity, the contest remained close.
While the flow of the Bulls offense left something to be desired, Robinson was effective as a scorer and eventually, the likes of Noah, Hamilton and Deng also got in the mix. At the end of the period, rookie Marquis Teague was inserted into the contest and promptly scored the first regular-season points of his young NBA careerimmediately followed by committing a foul with 0.3 seconds remaining in the quartergiving the Bulls a 63-59 lead heading into the final stanza.
Belinelli (11 points, 3-of-4 three-point shooting), considered a mild disappointment early in his tenure with the Bulls, knocked down a trio of triples early in the period, living up to his billing as a sharpshooter and inspiring both a subdued United Center audience and his teammates. Noah, for instance, was a major presence on defense, blocking a pair of Timberwolves shots in a single possession, while Deng, in a subtly fierce battle with the similarly versatile Andrei Kirilenko (11 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists), found ways to score in transition and on the offensive glass.
As the Bulls defense clamped down to make scoring a premium, the hosts maintained a comfortable winning margin as the game entered its stretch run, with interior shot-blocking of Noah and Gibson being major deterrents to Minnesotas attack and timely scoring ensuring no last-minute comeback would be made, despite the Timberwolves valiant efforts. As usual, it wasnt prettyand through the three games in the preseason and regular slate these two teams has played, it rarely has beenbut for the Bulls, it got the job done, through both unconventional and expected measures.

30 Days to Kickoff: Maine West


30 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

School: Maine West

Head coach: Jason Kradman

Assistant Coaches: Steve Piha, Mike Smith, Russ Swenson, Dan Wilson, Mike O'Brill, Matt Boswell, Tony Manicke, Ryan Willett, Trent Greco, Rashad Daviston, Joe Duszynski

How they fared in 2016: 4-5 (2-3 Central Suburban North Conference), missed the 2016 IHSA state playoff field

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

August 25th vs Streamwood

September 1st @ Larkin

September 8th vs Buffalo Grove

September 15th @ Wheeling

September 22nd @ Glenbrook North

September 29th vs Maine East

October 6th @ Vernon Hills

October 13th @ Highland Park

October 20th vs Deerfield

Biggest storyline: Can Maine West become playoff eligible in 2017?

Names to watch this season:  Senior TE Matt Kentgen Senior DL Walter Hutt

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will need to reload on both sides of the football with just 7 starters back (3 offense 4 defense) this fall. .

EDGY's Early Take: Maine West is looking to continue to take positive steps forward after just missing out on a five win season in 2016. Look for the Warriors to get the football into the hands of senior TE Matt Kentgen as much as possible and if the underclassmen can develop West could again challenge for a state playoff slot in 2017.

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