Coach re­flects as he comes back to Utah

Boylen be­lieves he’s ma­tured, is be­com­ing more tol­er­ant

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - BLACKHAWKS AND BULLS - By Teddy Green­stein tgreen­[email protected]­ Twit­ter @Ted­dyGreen­stein

SALT LAKE CITY — Tom Thi­bodeau was a taskmas­ter. Fred Hoiberg was a low-key play­ers’ coach.

On what side of the scale does Jim Boylen fall? Tough to say.

Af­ter the Warriors oblit­er­ated his Bulls on Fri­day night, Boylen al­ter­nated be­tween old-school and new-school, tough guy and sym­pa­thetic soul.

At times he ex­pressed com­pas­sion, say­ing: “I’m just try­ing to sup­port our guys — we have a young group. Of course no­body likes get­ting their butt kicked, but we’ll take the good mo­ments and build on them and take the bad mo­ments and learn from them.”

He also was crit­i­cal of his play­ers for al­low­ing Klay Thomp­son to drain three 3-point­eres in the game’s first 70 sec­onds, say­ing: “I don’t know if we were watch­ing them, if we were in awe, fear­ful … we were a lit­tle too re­spect­ful.”

And then asked if there would be some “boots to asses” re­ac­tions from him, Boylen replied: “Yeah, well, we’ve had some boots to asses and will con­tinue to have that. We’ll han­dle that in prac­tice.”

Maybe coaches don’t have to pick a lane. There was only one Pat Ri­ley. There was only one Phil Jack­son.

The Bulls took the floor Sat­ur­day night against the Jazz hav­ing lost six straight games, four by dou­ble dig­its. They played it close most of the game but still lost 110-102 as Dono­van Mitchell torched the Bulls for 34 points. Five Bulls scored in dou­ble fig­ures, but no one topped Zach LaVine’s 21 points on 7-for-21 shoot­ing.

One night ear­lier in Oak­land, Calif., they were run off the court. The Warriors led 43-17 af­ter one, the largest first-quar­ter deficit for a Bulls team in fran­chise his­tory.

“We def­i­nitely didn’t come out with an edge,” rookie for­ward Wen­dell Carter Jr. said, “and didn’t ex­e­cute our game plan on de­fense.”

Boylen ex­pressed pride that the Bulls “won” the sec­ond quar­ter, outscor­ing the NBA cham­pi­ons 38-33.

“I think you’ve got to talk about that,” Boylen said. “Win the next mo­ment. Break it down. Try to win two of four quar­ters, three of four quar­ters.”

The play that typ­i­fied the Bulls’ lack­lus­ter ef­fort came in the third quar­ter: With the Warriors lead­ing 110-70, Stephen Curry was left all alone at the top of the key. He was so open, you half-won­dered if the Bulls had five play­ers on the court.

Curry mis­fired and im­me­di­ately hus­tled to the corner to re­trieve the ball. Carter then chased af­ter Curry, who dished, re­treated to the 3-point line, re­ceived the ball and hit the shot.

Carter’s per­spec­tive?

“Ain’t gonna lie,” he said, “him be­ing that wide open, I thought it was noth­ing but net. He missed it and I saw him com­ing. I thought: What the heck? He went like he was go­ing to cut, so I was go­ing with him. I turn around and he’s al­ready shoot­ing. Man. Steph is on a whole ‘nother planet.”

The Warriors missed 39 shots and re­bounded 11 of them. The Bulls missed 43 shots and tracked down just five.

Was a “boots to ass” re­sponse war­ranted?

Boylen on Sat­ur­day re­turned to Salt Lake City, where hoops fans called him “Jimmy Ball” af­ter he led the Univer­sity of Utah to the NCAA tour­na­ment in 2009.

“I think peo­ple in Utah liked my pas­sion,” he said.

For­ward Will Cly­burn, who now plays pro­fes­sion­ally in Moscow, thrived un­der Boylen, call­ing him both a “hard-nosed coach” and a “lov­ing guy” off the court.

“He re­ally loves the game, so when stuff was not go­ing right, emo­tion­ally, he would re­ally get into it and push you,” he said. “He would say some stuff to you where you’d ei­ther crack or keep go­ing.”

That meshes with the nar­ra­tive that formed af­ter Boylen was hired. Within days, some Bulls threat­ened to blow off a Sun­day prac­tice fol­low­ing a fran­chise­worst 56-point loss to the Celtics.

Boylen re­sponded by form­ing a lead­er­ship com­mit­tee to give play­ers a voice.

Asked Sat­ur­day how he has changed since Utah fired him in 2011, Boylen replied: “Ma­tu­rity. I think I’m a bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tor than I was then. I’m a lit­tle more pa­tient, more tol­er­ant. And hope­fully wiser.”

Boylen is signed through next sea­son. ESPN’s Adrian Wo­j­narowski re­ported Sat­ur­day that $1 mil­lion of Boylen’s $1.6 mil­lion salary for the 2019-20 sea­son is guar­an­teed, leav­ing the Bulls flex­i­bil­ity if they want to con­duct a search af­ter the sea­son.


The Bulls’ Jim Boylen was the coach at the Univer­sity of Utah from 2007-11.

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