Asik's improvement can be attributed to confidence

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Asik's improvement can be attributed to confidence

Omer Asiks improvement with the Houston Rockets can be attributed to one thing: confidence.

Of course, more playing time always helps. The third-year Turkish big man is averaging a career-high 30 minutes per game coming into his return to Chicago against his former club, which easily tops the 12.1 and 14.7 minutes he averaged his first two seasons as the front line anchor of the Bulls Bench Mob.

Along with more minutes, Asik is averaging 10 points, 11 rebounds and one block per contest.

Omer has been fantastic, Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. I think any time you ask someone to stretch their minutes from spot minutes 14, 12, 16, 18, to 30 minutes (per game) youre never sure what youre going to get, but hes been fantastic. Omer has been great. Hes been rebounding the ball at a high level, been a real diligent worker, has been working on his game and been real solid defensively in the paint. Hes been fantastic.

Hes handling the ball a little bit more, hes rolling, hes making passes and hes just doing a lot of different stuff, he continued. But hes a young guy. I think anytime that your role really expands, its a real good opportunity for him to grow and he has been. I think his offense has been growing, his free throw percentage is way up and I think a lot of that is just confidence. I just see a more confident player.

McHale hasnt had the chance to fully work with Asik on adding to his low-post moves, saying, Weve done some stuff, but not as much. Well do more as we go along. He had a lot of adjustments to make, the last thing in the world he needed was to think about 10 other things. So we tried to narrow it down for him. Hes done a lot of work and hes going to keep progressing.

While the Bulls still boost one of the leagues best defenses, allowing opponents just 91 points per game, its clear theres a void defensively without Asik backing up Joakim Noah, but Tom Thibodeau sees the loss, but appreciates the gains more.

I think Jo playing more minutes has helped him develop, Thibodeau said of Noah, whos having a career season. We liked having both of them, it didnt work out for us. Were happy for Omer. Hes a great guy, did a great job for us here.

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

The Blackhawks were put in a rough spot on Saturday afternoon when goaltender Corey Crawford had to undergo an emergency appendectomy before their matinee matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers.

With Scott Darling as the lone goaltender on the active roster the Blackhawks signed Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as Darling's backup for Saturday's game against the Flyers.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Semborski, 23, has no NHL experience and last played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey Wildcats.

According to EliteProspects.com, Semborski had a 4.98 GAA and .844 save percentage in 29 games with the Wildcats.

Both the Blackhawks and NHL Twitter accounts had some fun at the expense of Semborski.

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford to undergo appendectomy, out indefinitely

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford to undergo appendectomy, out indefinitely

The Blackhawks announced Saturday afternoon that Corey Crawford is undergoing an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital and will be out indefinitely.

Blackhawks team physician Dr. Michael Terry released this statement regarding Crawford:

"Corey presented this morning with acute appendicitis. He is undergoing an appendectomy today at a Philadelphia hospital. We are anticipating a full recovery and return to play. We will provide details regarding the timeline of his return after we have more information about the surgery.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Scott Darling got the start against the Flyers, and the Blackhawks signed 23-year-old Eric Semborski to an amateur tryout to serve as an emergency backup goalie. He played club hockey at Temple University and for the Empire Junior Hockey Jersey's Wildcats.

Crawford has been lights out for the Blackhawks this season, owning a 12-6-1 record with a 2.27 goals against average and .927 save percentage, including two shutouts.