Coach Fred Hoiberg enjoyed a get-together Wednesday with the Iowa State team he coached before joining the Bulls. The Cyclones play Virginia on Friday at the United Center in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
“It’s really cool,’’ said Hoiberg, an Iowa State alum from Ames, Iowa, who has been nicknamed “The Mayor’’ of his hometown since he received write-in votes there. “I told them they’ll have to take care of business because I’ll be in a bar in Orlando watching. I already have my ticket for Sunday to hopefully watch them cut down the nets and go to the Final Four.’’
Hoiberg also had some non-basketball advice.
“I told them to step back and enjoy it,’’ he said. “That’s one thing I regret. I did not do that. You have to enjoy it for a moment, and then get the razor-sharp focus they’ll need to win this weekend.’’
It’s about energy
With 12 games left in the last 21 days, the Bulls have no more back-to-back days off. That means they won’t have much practice time to reacquaint players who haven’t been together a lot because of injuries.
“It’s a lot of mental preparation, a lot of film work the rest of the way,’’ Hoiberg said. “Add things on our shootarounds or walkthrough days. Get them prepared to play. The biggest thing now is you need to be the more energetic team. We had a long talk about that. You talk about the game plan and this is how we’re playing certain actions. But the big thing is playing with more energy than the other team.’’
The familiar five
Despite limited practice opportunities, the Bulls believe getting reacquainted on the fly won’t be a big deal. Although Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Taj Gibson and Pau Gasol were in the starting lineup together against the Knicks for only the third time this season, they’re a veteran group and have played together in the past. And they believe in each other.
“There’s definitely a sense of confidence,’’ Dunleavy said, “and a comfort level within that group. We played together quite a bit last season. We know what’s going on. We’re veteran guys. We have a good feel for each other. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get out there healthy together. When we are, I like our chances.’’
While the Bulls were winning four of five before facing the Knicks, Doug McDermott was putting together quite a shooting streak.
McDermott was 17-for-28 (61 percent) on three-pointers in those five games. He averaged 19.4 points during that stretch, almost double his 9.8 season scoring average.
“Whenever you’re a shooter, getting off early is definitely important,’’ said McDermott, who began his hot streak with 29 points March 14 against the Raptors. “I got off to a good start at Toronto, and it’s carried over. I just have to continue to stay aggressive, even if shots aren’t falling, and not dwell on the last shot because shooters are going to miss every once in a while.’’
This and that
E’Twaun Moore (hamstring) and Cameron Bairstow (back) did not dress for the Bulls.
Carmelo Anthony returned after sitting out the Knicks’ loss Sunday against the Kings with a migraine.
The Bulls and Knicks split their first two meetings. The Knicks won 107-91 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 19, and the Bulls won 108-81 at the United Center on Jan. 1.
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