By Mike McGraw
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Mike Dunleavy should feel right at home inside the Berto Center. He's got two former Duke teammates inside the locker room, in Carlos Boozer and Dahntay Jones.
But when Dunleavy joined the Bulls as a free agent in July, it was obvious this could be a different situation for him. During 11 NBA seasons, Dunleavy has never played for a team that finished with a winning record.
"I think it's pretty much everything I expected it to be, in a good way," Dunleavy said. "Just the attention to detail, the hard work everybody puts in. Coach expects a lot out of us each day, both physically and mentally. I'm enjoying it. I'm working hard, but I'm enjoying it."
Since being drafted with the No. 3 pick in the 2002 draft, Dunleavy has played for Golden State, Indiana and Milwaukee. He's made the playoffs twice as a No. 8 seed, including last spring with the Bucks, but is 1-8 in playoff games.
So does it feel different inside the gym with a team whose nucleus played in the Eastern Conference finals in 2011?
"It does. There just seems to be a standard or a level of excellence that the guys bring each and every day," Dunleavy said. "When you're on teams that don't win or don't win a lot, that's sporadic. So here, I expect it to be every day. It's been that thus far. I think it will be a great season."
The 6-foot-9 Dunleavy is expected to provide outside shooting for the Bulls. He hit 42.8 percent from 3-point range in Milwaukee last season. He should also be a good fit for a versatile lineup, since he's played shooting guard and both forward positions during his career.
"Obviously, he knows the league, but he's learning a new system," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "But I think his shooting helps everybody. In addition to his shooting, the passing. Anytime you add a guy who can pass the ball like that, it helps to make everyone else better."
The transition to Thibodeau can be interesting for some players. Vladimir Radmanovic never seemed to master the coach's high expectations last season.
Dunleavy has played for Scott Skiles and his father was a longtime head coach in the NBA, so he was ready for Thibodeau.
"Pretty much what I expected from seeing him on the sideline, watching his teams play," Dunleavy said. "Incredible attention to detail. The one thing about him, I feel is each and every moment he's with us or without us, he's looking out for what's best for the team and always looking to make us better. That's a great thing to have."
Hopefully, having four Duke products on the same roster won't create any chemistry issues for the Bulls. Luol Deng is the fourth ex-Blue Devil besides the three mentioned above.
"It's been fun," Boozer said. "We've been talking about some old-school (Duke) stuff, talking with the Kentucky guys. We've got old-school Nazr (Mohammed) and young-school Marquis (Teague). Talking about who's got the most pros. I don't know if it's our team. It's probably Connecticut or somebody, but we're up there."