Coach Jim Boylen flexes his muscles in his new job, but Bulls still lose
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INDIANAPOLIS — The differences between the departed Fred Hoiberg and new coach Jim Boylen were made apparent during the last 36 hours.
Boylen sounds almost like a mob boss when he speaks about his players and their shortcomings, while Hoiberg was a more tactful politician.
Boylen stands and paces the entire game with a volume set at 10, while Hoiberg remained calm.
Boylen seems hell-bent on making the Bulls a gritty defensive team that will play throwback, slow-it-down basketball, while Hoiberg wanted his space-and-pace offense to run the opposition off the floor.
What do the two have in common?
A loss. Make that seven in a row, this time a 96-90 setback against the Pacers.
“That’s my mentality, road-dog mentality,’’ Boylen said. “Run when we can, but we’re going to set up and make people guard us through the clock. That’s a Coach Pop [Gregg Popovich] thing and I believe in it.’’
What else does he believe?
The Bulls lack toughness and proper conditioning. That’s going to change, he said.
“That’s real,’’ Justin Holiday said. “You can’t get upset in life if it’s real. You only have one of two ways to go when you get put up against the wall, and if we’re competitors like we say we are, we’ll go in the right direction.’’
It has been a whirlwind two days for the organization, specifically the players.
Lauri Markkanen, who was playing in just his second game of the season because of a right elbow injury, learned that Hoiberg was fired as he was heading to the facility Monday.
But the second-year player made headlines after the Tuesday morning shootaround when he paused and gave an awkward answer when asked if Hoiberg lost control of the locker room.
“It’s hard to say,’’ Markkanen said. “It’s so different. I don’t know. That’s a hard question to ask.’’
Asked again, he gave a nervous laugh and said, “sometimes he did, sometimes he . . . nah. Obviously, players take care of themselves. We talked about different stuff in the locker room. But I don’t think we talked about Coach’s decisions and stuff like that.’’
Markkanen did say how much he cared about Hoiberg and “loved playing for him.’’ It sounded like the second-year player knew he couldn’t speak for every player.
Zach LaVine took the same approach, insisting that he could only explain his feelings about Hoiberg, and not speak for everyone about the dismissal.
“I mean it’s part of the business that you have to understand,’’ LaVine said. “I’ve been through like five coaches already, so I think this is going to be my fifth coach. You start understanding part of the business and how it is. I texted him right afterwards and let him know I appreciate him and thanks for all the hard work, because at the end of the day Fred is a great dude and you respect that.’’
Boylen had individual meetings with each player in the Indianapolis hotel Monday night, letting each know exactly where they stood and what was expected.
“They’ve been locked in,’’ Boylen said. “They’ve been respectful. They’ve been teachable, coachable. And I’m hoping they can become reliable. This whole thing is going to be an interactive experience. As much as I’m the leader, I understand a guy needs a say in his role and do what he can do. I’m open to that. But when we get on this floor, we gotta do what I ask them to do.’’