New-look Bulls maintaining old habits

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New-look Bulls maintaining old habits

When the Bulls open their 2012-13 season tomorrow at home against the Kings, there will be multiple new faces on the bench and a notably absent former MVP in the starting lineup.

Like the majority of NBA teams, the new-look Bulls have question marks in certain areas. But as head coach Tom Thibodeau has preached all offseason and into the preseason, he expects nothing to change regarding the way his team prepares and executes this season.

And Thibodeau seems to be in mid-season form with his list of objectives for his team.

Our style of plays gonna be the same. Were not changing our attitude or approach to how were gonna play; defend, rebound, low turnovers, inside-out, share the ball, cover up your weaknesses, know your job, do your job, know when to shoot, know when to pass, stay disciplined. Whether Rose is here or not, thats always the same.

Weve got a host of new players, forward Carlos Boozer said. Our core is the same, our principles are the same and our goals are the same. We all have the same challenge of getting better every day.

With the group Gar Forman and John Paxson constructed in the offseason, Thibodeau seems to have put an emphasis on running the offense through the post. With a core frontcourt of Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer and Taj Gibson, Thibodeaus hope is that establishing the painted area and then working the ball back outside will yield results for an offense that struggled to score in the preseason.

We want to be inside-out. The defense is gonna tell you what shot youre gonna get. I want us to make the right plays. We want to score as quickly as we can, score as many easy baskets as we can; our looks, in order, are lay-ups and dunks first, deep post-ups second, and then open jumpers third, he said. So the more we score inside, that puts more pressure on the defense. Then the responsibility of those players is to hit the open man.

That process began slow for the Bulls, but Thibodeau must be pleased with how his group battled back in the preseason, winning its last four contests. But even with improved results, it may take the Bulls more than an offseason to fully acclimate to each others styles of plays and roles on this years team. Thats where Thibodeau will play a major factor, changing on the go and feeling out his teams strengths and weaknesses.

Just because were starting doesnt mean its the end-all. We know its the beginning and you constantly have to work on different things. You have a problem area, you address it, Thibodeau said. So youre constantly working on things, trying to build the right habits so you can be successful in the end.

And while Thibodeau has instilled consistency on a daily basis for his team, expectations have stayed the same, as well. With Rose out indefinitely, the Indiana Pacers are considered by many to be the frontrunners in the Central Division. But inside the Berto Center, the Bulls arent worried about what anyone thinks but themselves.

I feel like the expectations for us are always pretty similar. We want to get better. We want to play our best when our best is needed, Joakim Noah said. Were a hungry group and whether its two years ago, last year or this year, the goal is to be ready when it hits the fan at the end of the year in the playoffs.

Their first test will be tomorrow night against Sacramento, a group of young, rising players who are likely still a few years away from competing. Led by Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, power forward Taj Gibson said some of the other players like Marcus Thornton, Isaiah Thomas and Jason Thompson are talented players who may be unknown because of the Kings lack of recent success.

Theyre not rookies anymore. Theyve got a lot of guys that can play. Theyve got a lot of guys that people dont really know about because their team the last couple of years has not been doing so well, but its all about a new year. Everybodys focused and ready. Its all about who wants to compete harder and I know that weve got to come out with the right mindset.

It may be a new year for all 30 teams, but the Bulls, facing questions and a relatively new roster, are looking at it no different than they have the first two seasons under Thibodeau.

The skys the limit for us, Gibson said. Right now were focused on just winning one game at a time. Its up to us to play hard, but I know we have a lot of talent and Im looking forward to shocking the world.

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

Preview: Cubs-Marlins Sunday on CSN

The Cubs take on the Miami Marlins on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports App.

Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 11:30 a.m., followed by first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies on the call. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Starting pitching matchup: Mike Montgomery (1-3, 2.26 ERA) vs. Edinson Volquez (3-8, 4.19 ERA)

Click here for more stats to make sure you’re ready for the action.

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

White Sox upset by the call that led to ejections of Todd Frazier, Rick Renteria

White Sox upset by the call that led to ejections of Todd Frazier, Rick Renteria

Todd Frazier wasn’t pleased with a call Saturday afternoon that led to the first ejection of his career.

It’s not that the White Sox third baseman is arguing about whether or not he deserved to get thrown out in the seventh inning of a 10-2 loss to the Oakland A’s. Frazier is more miffed by first-base umpire Sam Holbrook’s initial ruling --- that his throw pulled Jose Abreu off the bag --- and the determination by replay officials that the call was correct.

Frazier was ejected shortly after word arrived that the call stands, which means officials in New York didn’t believe they have enough evidence to overturn the original ruling. That fact bothered Frazier, who was charged with an error and began to speak his mind. White Sox manager Rick Renteria was ejected shortly thereafter for the third straight home game.

“It’s just frustrating with the technology we have today,” Frazier said. “It’s just crazy. It boggles your mind. It really does. You know -- I’m the one. I’m vocal. I’m emotional. But when it’s wrong, 100 percent wrong. I saw it on the MLB Network. I saw it in our cameras and our computers. I just don’t understand how we can see it and they can’t see it in New York. It’s just, it’s frustrating as all hell to be honest with you. It turned into a big inning. We were down a lot, don’t get me wrong. But still, Jake (Petricka) is pitching his heart out and next thing you know he gives up an unearned run and two more runs. So it’s really not that hard. Honest. It’s not that hard.”

Renteria raced onto the field in an attempt to save Frazier from a quick ejection, but didn’t have enough time. It was the third home game in a row in which a White Sox player was ejected for the first time in their career. Tim Anderson got the boot on Friday night after he argued with plate umpire Jim Wolf. And Avisail Garcia got tossed from the June 15 series finale against the Baltimore Orioles.

Renteria said taking into context who his players are and their track record made him want to further defend their actions.

“I don't ever go into a situation arguing with someone to get thrown out,” Renteria said. “I don't. I think what happens is, like anybody emotionally, when you start talking and expressing yourself, you have a tendency to get heated. You don't plan on doing that. I certainly don't go out there planning on having that happen. I think what happens, and I think it's just human nature, you start thinking about the whole situation, you're losing a player. You're losing a guy that's supposed to be in there for the next two, three innings to help you maybe continue to chip away. Our team has been fighting every day, since day one of spring training. I don’t care what our record is, I don't care what the score is, we fight. And when you take one of those pieces out of the lineup, you get pissed.”

Even though he had a chance to cool off, Frazier still felt the same after the contest. He stuck his head into the team’s video room after the game to check out the play. Teams have a variety of angles from which they can determine whether or not to challenge a call. They also have the option of taking a freeze frame and magnifying the picture, which left no doubt in Frazier’s mind that the call was incorrect.

“Like I said just frustrating,” Frazier said. “It’s just not that hard. And with all the technology like I said, I don’t mean to repeat ourselves, but with all the technology and 8 different angles it’s just one of those things where I just can’t let that go. It turned into a huge inning. You never know. We were down 6 we coulda came back. You gotta be 100 percent. You gotta be 100 percent right on that and I really don’t think he was.”