Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome to Basketball Season, Friday Hoopyball Recaps

Yes, friends, the Bears have been eliminated. Despite the "excitement" of a head coach search and draft prep, that really leaves us with very little to write about concerning the Bears. It also means the only sport involving things related to Chicago going on is basketball, which is generally my wheelhouse. Erik should have plenty of Chicago sports writer cannon fodder concerning this head coach thing, Red will probably break down the year and rosters in preparation for the draft. And I will be taking care of B1G and Bulls hoops. Need a distraction for the eight months between now and the first Bears game of the 13-14 season? ENJOY.

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Since last Friday the Bulls have had a strange three games. They started it off on Saturday by beating the Wizards 87-77 in Chicago, which is okay? Of course, the Wizards don't have John Wall, are 4-24, and were lead in scoring by rookie Bradley Beal, who scored 14 points. We'll take it, I guess.

Of course, they followed that performance up by scoring 81 points against the Bobcats, at home, and losing by 10. The Bobcats are a mighty 8-23 and came into Chicago on Monday with an 18 game losing streak. Not the best of days for the Bulls, and that's a loss we should all pretend didn't happen (especially given that the Bulls have a draft pick of the 'cats that is getting closer and closer to being unprotected). Bob-what? The Bulls played who? I think you are mistaken, ser.

They did follow that embarrassment with a 2 point win over the Magic, 96-94, in Orlando on Wednesday. Jameer Nelson dropped 32 points, somehow, but the Bulls still pulled it out, thanks mostly to 31 points and 11 boards from Carlos Boozer. You may have noticed I did not talk about me being personally thankful to Carlos. Me posting his stat line might be the most pleasant thing I have to say about Carlos. Ever. YOU ARE 6'11", CARLOS. STOP SHOOTING FADE-AWAYS GAHHHHH.

The Bulls are currently 17-13 and would be the #5 seed in the East if the season ended today. The relative success of this Bulls team without its best player says a lot about the state of the Eastern Conference. That the Knicks have managed to get to 22-10 with an offense based entirely around shooting threes, Carmelo Anthony, and ancient men perhaps born during the warring states era is another good example to point to. The good news is one Mr. Rose traveled with the team to Orlando and will also be present tonight at the Heat. The timetable for his return seems to be the All-Star break, and if he can return then, get 40% of a season under his belt, and get back into form... well, who knows. But as it stands, this team is still good enough to make the playoffs without Rose.

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B1G play also opened this week on Monday. I'm a Hawkeye, Red used to be an Illini fan, but like most Illini fans his interest wanes with how good the Illini are. Now Red is, probably, a Northern Iowa fan. Erik went to Bradley, which would make him a Missouri Valley fan if he knew what basketball was. So, actually, I might have to start recapping the week in the MVC. GO PANTHERS?!

Monday:

#5 Indiana 69 - Iowa 65

I went into this game hoping the Hawks would keep it close, and boy did they. Strangely, though, they didn't really play very well. They went 3/17 from 3, shot 33% from the floor, Roy Devyn Marble (Iowa's best player, arguably) shot a ridiculous 1/14, they got outrebounded by 9... and lost by four with a chance to tie the game with a three with 3 seconds left. Maybe Indiana had an off night too, maybe Iowa is pretty good. Who the hell knows. But one thing is for certain: if Iowa wants in the tourney this year, they should probably stop letting opposing point guards drive directly at the basket for easy layups. There were a couple instances where Victor Oladipo charged, in a straight line, from the three point line to the hoop, while all five Iowa defenders did the MC Hammer "U Can't Touch This" dance. It was strange, and I question the strategical soundeness of the "Hammertime" defense.

#18 Michigan State 63 - #9 Minnesota 76

Michigan State is always a dangerous out, but aside from an early season win over Kansas they haven't been very impressive. They had a five point lead with about 8:30 to go but collapsed in epic fashion, eventually taking a 13 point loss. The Hollins' and Trevor Mbakwe, predictably, were the biggest parts of the comeback. Minnesota is now in the top 10. Watch for Tubby Smith's team to immediately lose, at home, to a beat-up Northwestern team. Because he is Tubby Smith.

Wednesday

Nebraska 44 - #8 Ohio State 70

Ever seen Nebraska play basketball? This was probably a good effort from them. MOVING ON.

#11 Illinois 61 - Purdue 68

Illinois was probably the biggest surprise of the non-conference season. They have a new head coach, lost Meyers Leonard, ad their best player shoots more than Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings COMBINED. But Brandon Paul has been hitting everything, and that's led to wins over Butler, Auburn, Georgia Tech, and at Gonzaga. Very impressive. It should have been predictable, then, that the Illini would lose to 6-6 Purdue in their B1G opener. Brandon Paul had a pretty good game, and it's rare you want a guy like that to shoot MORE, but when he shoots 5/10 from the floor and 4/7 from the field... maybe he should have taken a few more shots.

Thursday

#2 Michigan 94 - Northwestern 66

Not much to say here. NW is missing three of its best players, Michigan has Trey Burke and could win a national title. Sorry, smart kids.

Penn State 51 - Wisconsin 60

Wisconsin has lost all of their difficult games so far this year, lost Jared Uthoff to Iowa this offseason, and their head coach lost a lot of respect in the process. I'm predicting a bad year for the Badgers. This game didn't do much to assuage that fear. Writing about Penn State basketball is like writing about Nebraska basketball. It's just a waste of time.

This Week

The Bulls get the Heat in Miami tonight, the Cavs on Monday, and the Bucks on Wednesday. Hopefully they'll get two wins out of that. B1G highlight games include #8 OSU at #11 Illinois on Saturday, #9 Minnesota at #11 Illinois on Wednesday, and #18 MSU at Iowa on Thursday. Enjoy the hoops, see you back here on Friday!

2 comments:

Lee said...

Hey Iggins!, how would you compare Tom Thibodeau to the previous coaches that came after Phil Jackson?

Iggins! said...

Thibs is a much better game coach than any of them, for starters. I'm going to leave Tim Floyd and Bill Cartwright out of this, because anyone who follows Phil and also has to rebuild a franchise isn't exactly getting a fair shake. The choice to draft both Eddy Curry AND Tyson Chandler was not the HC's. Tim Floyd had no idea what to do, but I can't imagine he would have gone that route. Cartwright just had to pick up the scraps (though his teams were marked by the same kind of non-strategy the Knicks were marked by forever. The acquisitions were maddening.)

Scott Skiles is a very poor man's Thibs. He coaches defense well and it showed, his drafts were acceptable, but his downfall ended up being the ridiculously awful '06 offseason. The one where the Bulls traded Tyson Chandler for P.J. Brown and J.R. Smith... then let J.R. disappear into the ether, signed Ben Wallace, drafted LaMarcus Aldridge... and traded him for Tyrus Thomas. It was one of the biggest fucking disasters in Bulls history. And you can see, again, now that Skiles is in Milwaukee, that he doesn't think far enough ahead. What is he doing with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis on the same team? Is he insane?

Vinny Del Negro was brought in to do exactly what he did. He gets shit on a lot for being a bad in-game coach, but that isn't why you hire him. He gets hired to develop players and bring together young teams, and he might be the best coach in the NBA at it. He took Rose, Noah, Gibson, and Asik and made them a playoff team even when they were damn young. His regime traded away the garbage Skiles picked up (and corrected their Salmons mistake). They dumped Larry Hughes, traded Thabo for a first rounder, and his regime is the one that made the Tyrus Thomas trade for the Bobcat's #1 pick that is hurtling towards being unprotected in 2016. But when the team was fused as a unit, Del Negro had done his job. The Bulls needed a great in-game coach, so they grabbed Thibs.

Thibs is the best defensive coach in the league, and a top 5 game coach. He isn't in Del Negro's league as far as player development goes, but that isn't what these Bulls need. If the Bulls ever get rid of Thibodeau, I'll riot. What he has done with this team, even without Rose, is incredible.