DALLAS — Coach Fred Hoiberg doesn’t like the term “Hoiball.’’
Check that, he deplores it.
The problem is it’s hard for him to escape the tag, even three years removed from Iowa State, where the term originated during his coaching days.
“I have no idea which year it started there,’’ Hoiberg said Wednesday, looking to distance himself from the moniker that describes his space-and-pace offense.
But he doesn’t want to distance himself from the concepts that make up “Hoiball,’’ starting with an emphasis on ball movement.
In the preseason opener Tuesday, the Bulls had 30 assists on their 44 made field goals, and that didn’t count the “hockey assists,’’ as Hoiberg calls them, which are the good passes leading to the assists.
Even in the Bulls’ 118-71 loss Wednesday to the Mavericks, the ball movement was crisp in the first half before it completely fell apart in the second half in which they were outscored 69-28.
Hoiberg always has stressed good ball movement, but the front office mostly ignored that factor his first two years on the job, so he basically had to scrap the concept.
Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade are ball-dominant players, whether it’s a high usage rate or that they’re just more comfortable playing isolation. All are gone, and while there is a serious talent void, there’s a chance for Hoiberg to finally play the offense he envisioned.
Basically, it’s sink or swim time.
“I think the ball movement when you don’t have that one go-to guy is essential, and I’m really happy with the way the guys have bought into that,’’ Hoiberg said of training camp and the first two games. “They’ve played with great pace, they’ve played with great movement and they’ve played unselfishly.’’
What really caught Hoiberg’s eye in the victory against the Pelicans were the 12 corner three-pointers the Bulls shot. That tells him they’re on to something good.
“Just with the way the game is going with all the analytics, if you can get shots at the rim and get open — I think we took 12 corner threes [Tuesday], and that’s a great sign,’’ Hoiberg said. “It’s the second-highest true shooting percentage spot on the floor behind the shot at the rim. If we can get in there and manufacture those types of shots, that’s what hopefully this offense is designed to do.’’
The problem against the Mavericks was Dallas’ offense was built to do the same thing, and the Mavs did it much better.
The Bulls (1-1) continued to show that the only bad three-point shot is the one they don’t take. They shot 35 three-pointers (making 16) against the Pelicans and followed that up with 29 three-point shots against the Mavs (making only seven).
They finished 29th in that category last season, attempting only 22.3 threes per game.
“We just have a big emphasis on getting open shots and moving the ball,’’ Justin Holiday said of the new-look offense. “Moving the ball is the reason why we’ve had so many open threes, and we obviously have guys that can shoot the three, as well. [Hoiberg] hasn’t specifically said, ‘Make sure we get open threes.’ Moving the ball, our shots will come.’’
Just stay away from calling it “Hoiball.’’
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