Reunion with familiar foe Philadelphia on deck for Bulls

953285.png

Reunion with familiar foe Philadelphia on deck for Bulls

DEERFIELD, ILL. The Bulls next opponent is a familiar foe, Philadelphia, the team that ousted them in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last spring.

Like the Bulls, the 76ers experienced an offseason of change, losing All-Star swingman Andre Iguodala, leading scorer Louis Williams, veteran power forward Elton Brand and shooting guard Jodie Meeks.

The circumstances of each departure was different Iguodala was traded to Denver in a blockbuster deal, Williams and Meeks each left via free agency (Williams, regarded as one of the leagues top sixth men, signed with his hometown Hawks, while Meeks reached an agreement with the Lakers) and Brand, the former Bull, was amnestied and subsequently acquired by the Mavericks but based on the organizations busy summer, this season was supposed to bring new hope.

Along with short-term deals given to free-agent acquisitions Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Kwame Brown, as well as retaining big men Spencer Hawes and Lavoy Allen, the Sixers received All-Star center Andrew Bynum, in addition to veteran Jason Richardson, in the Iguodala deal.

However, while Bynum hasnt suited up in Philadelphia due to ongoing knee problems, the Sixers are making the best of it, as former Bulls head coach Doug Collins continues to get the most out of a gritty defensive-oriented team with no superstar scoring threat, but a lot of heart.

Those attributes have earned the respect of the Bulls current head coach, Tom Thibodeau.

Theyre good, hard-playing, different. Added a lot of shooting. Kwame Brown is an underrated addition. Jrue Holidays playing great, Evan Turners playing great for them. Theyre playing well, Thibodeau said Friday, following the teams afternoon practice session at the Berto Center.

Thibodeau isnt dwelling on the Bulls series loss to Philadelphia, which saw Derrick Rose suffer a devastating ACL injury and Joakim Noah severely sprain his ankle en route to losing in six games. But the coach is conscious of the fact that players like Holiday, who signed a four-year, 41-million contract extension on the opening day of the NBA season, and Turner, a Chicago native and former No. 2 overall draft pick, have improved.

Its in the past. You learn from every situation, we move on. Theyre our next opponent, so we have to know them well. Theyre different in terms of some of their personnel, but philosophically, theyre the same. Dougs their coach -- a great coach -- he always gets his teams to play to their strengths and cover their weaknesses, so we have to be ready, he explained. I think Turner and Holiday continue to improve each year, significantly, and then when you add in some of their additions Nick Young, Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright theyve added a lot of three-point shooting to their team.

Then, Kwame Brown gives them a lot of toughness up front. Hes a guy thats sort of under the radar, but hes a good defensive player. Spencer Hawes is a guy who can spread you out, great touch. Lavoy Allen, great touch. Their bigs are skilled. Thaddeus Young is a tough matchup, he can out-quick you at the four, can overpower threes, hes tough in transition. So, I think they put pressure on you, they play together and defensively, theyve always been tough.

After a resounding victory Wednesday over Dallas at the United Center, Thibodeau wants the Bulls to keep building on the positive momentum. As solid as the Bulls were from top to bottom in that game, the detail-oriented coach still found some areas the team needs to address.

Just continue to improve every aspect of your defense, from defensive transition to challenging shots, to finishing with the rebound to your pick-and-roll defense, catch-and-shoot defense, low-post defense, help defense, so you never have it fully solved and you can always do better. So, thats the mindset that we want to have. We want to be moving in the right direction, Thibodeau said.

We have to be a 48-minute team. There were stretches where I thought we probably didnt play as well as I would have liked. The thing I did like was offensively, getting to the free-throw line, which allowed us to get our defense set. We have to continue to cut down our turnovers. Thats critical for us, but regardless of what happens on offense, youve got to make sure youre taking care of all your responsibilities defensively and then, the offensive end, I want us to continue to play the way we did the other night. I thought we had a lot of very unselfish plays and the ball was moving, bodies were moving and we got into the paint.

Carlos Rodon to start Wednesday while White Sox reliever undergoes Tommy John

Carlos Rodon to start Wednesday while White Sox reliever undergoes Tommy John

Rick Hahn began his briefing to the media on Monday with two announcements: First, left-hander Carlos Rodon will make his season debut Wednesday against the New York Yankees. 

And right-hander Zach Putnam underwent Tommy John surgery last week and will miss the remainder of the season.

The 29-year-old Putnam was placed on the 10-day disabled list April 25 with right elbow inflammation, but his elbow issues began before that. Last June, Putnam landed on the disabled list with ulnar neuritis in his right elbow and later had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in August (Putnam was first diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow in 2013 while with the Chicago Cubs). 

“When they removed the chips, the ligament was not in great shape but Zach and his doctors thought it was worthwhile for him to try to fight back and pitch through it, which obviously he was able to do for a short period of time but ultimately the ligament gave out,” Hahn said. “Zach deserves a world of credit for doing everything he could the last two years to fight his way back to contribute in the bullpen. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for him.”

Putnam’s Tommy John surgery was performed by Dr. James Andrews and carries a 12-18 month recovery process, which on the more extreme end could rule him out for the entire 2018 season, too. 

This latest setback is another tough break for Putnam, who was outstanding in limited action over the last two seasons, posting a 2.00 ERA with 39 strikeouts, 12 walks and two home runs allowed in 36 innings out of the White Sox bullpen. 

As for Rodon, Hahn wouldn’t tip his hand as to what move will be made to return the 2014 first-round pick to the major league roster. Rodon threw at least 90 pitches in his last three minor league rehab starts and worked in extended spring training before that, so he won’t face any restrictions when he takes the mound against the Yankees on Wednesday. 

“He’s starting his season now,” Hahn said. “He had to alter his training regimen and get himself back on track and we have him out there without restrictions with the same expectations we had for him at the end of last season. He continues to be an important part of our future.” 

60 Days to Kickoff: St. Patrick

stpats1.jpg

60 Days to Kickoff: St. Patrick

 CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: St. Patrick

Head coach: Adam Guerra

Assistant Coaches: Steve Eifrid, Russ Lucas, Matt O'Brien, Pat Gamboney, Mike Fabrizio, Dan Delgado, PJ Whalen

How they fared in 2016: 4-5 (2-5 East Suburban Catholic Conference), failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoffs.

2017 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 26 – vs St. Rita @ Soldier Field

Sept. 1 – @ Glenbrook South

Sept. 8 – @ Joliet Catholic

Sept. 16 - vs Marian Catholic @ Triton College

Sept. 23 - vs Notre Dame @ Triton College

Sept. 29 – @ Marist

Oct. 6 - @ St. Viator

Oct. 14 - vs Carmel @ Triton College

Oct. 20- @ Marian Central Catholic

Biggest storyline: Can the Shamrocks reload under first year head coach Adan Guerra?

Names to watch this season:  Senior RB Joey Solak Senior WR/DB Joey Lombardi 

Biggest holes to fill: The Shamrocks will look to reload this summer in the offensive skills department and in particular at quarterback with the graduation loss of QB Anthony Mazzenga from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: New head coach Adam Guerra takes over a Shamrocks roster that welcomes back 9 returning starters (5 offense 4 defense) and a very good underclassmen group. Look for St. Pats to focus on being a bit more consistent this fall after getting off to a 4-0 start in 2016, then only to lose it's last 5 games of the season.