Bulls rookie forward Chandler Hutchison has only 43 regular-season games and a few weeks of training camp to draw on, but he sees a team that’s getting tougher under new coach Jim Boylen.
But how is toughness actually measured in the first place?
Hutchison says the acceptance of tougher practices by the players is a good starting point.
“I wouldn’t say frustration was the initial reaction because it really wasn’t frustration, but the initial kind of bite-back was just because everybody was tired of losing,’’ Hutchison said of the first few weeks under Boylen’s hard-nosed style. “Then you go into the fact that we had multiple games where we would lose, thrown in with tough practices, and it gets hard. Everything was kind of compiling, and it was hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I feel like that’s something Jim really believes in.
“Whether you win or lose, you show up and work. Whether you have a good day or a bad day, you show up and put in your work. That’s always the way I was coached and the mindset I’ve had, but it’s all a process of feeling him out. It’s a learning process for all of us.’’
There was that initial two-player mutiny over Boylen’s rigorous practice demands that took on a life of its own with the national media, but after a few closed-door team meetings, it was quickly squashed.
According to Hutchison, players actually fell in line fairly quickly with Boylen’s practice push, and now it’s expected.
That’s exactly what Boylen wanted to hear.
“I don’t know if you ever get satisfied with something like that,’’ Boylen said. “I feel like there’s always one more loose ball you can get, one more defensive rebound you can fight for, a 50-50 ball. I think that’s just coaching. What I have seen is our practice habits are improving. That’s important to me.
“That’s a sign of toughness. That’s a sign of mental toughness that practice is valued. We are practicing more like a good NBA team that I’ve been a part of in the past.’’