PHILADELPHIA – There hasn’t exactly been a lot of room for error for Fred Hoiberg.
The rookie coach inherited a playoff team, but more importantly, a team that the Bulls front office publicly insisted was championship caliber. So when there are lulls – fair or unfair – the spotlight shines brightly on Hoiberg.
“I don’t look at it that way,’’ Hoiberg said Thursday, when asked about this Bulls team being a bigger challenge to coach than even he expected. “I try to approach it with you have to work on the things that are important.
“The challenge … everybody in this business has a challenge to try to get your team to have a chance to win. We try to put the game plan in, follow it and give ourselves an opportunity. This team, we talked a lot about keeping their spirits up. It’s going out and having fun. I don’t think our team is having a lot of fun right now. If you do that, you play with more of a swagger, you communicate more and you play better.’’
The concern should be maybe this team is incapable of having fun.
Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol will likely be elsewhere next season, while Derrick Rose seems spooked by the ghosts of injuries past.
“I haven’t found it a challenge to coach these guys,’’ Hoiberg said. “They’ve been engaged. If there were guys tuning out . . . but whenever we’re in a meeting or film session, there’s 100 percent attention. That’s the thing you look for in your guys.’’
And despite the recent losing, the players seem to feel the same way.
“I think guys are listening,’’ Rose said of Hoiberg’s coaching. “We have good-hearted people here. We don’t have any knuckleheads or anything like that. It’s all about just incorporating that into the game. Everything he tells us in shootaround, and everything he tells us before the game to prep us before the game, we just gotta incorporate that into the game, but on a more consistent basis.’’
The Gasol plan
The Bulls continue to be very cautious with Gasol, leaving him back in Chicago on Thursday so that he could rest his shoulder and Achilles in what was basically a scheduled rest day for the 35-year-old veteran.
As long as there is no soreness on Friday, however, he was scheduled to play against Dallas.