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posted: 3/3/2014 5:30 AM

School's in session for Bulls' Fredette

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  • Newly signed guard Jimmer Fredette makes his Bulls debut Sunday against the Knicks at the United Center.

      Newly signed guard Jimmer Fredette makes his Bulls debut Sunday against the Knicks at the United Center.
    Associated Press

 
 

Jimmer Fredette seems to understand how fortunate he is to be in position to receive the basketball education of a lifetime.

Sacramento released him last week, the Bulls signed him and he was in his new uniform for the first time Sunday afternoon.

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The sequence of events placed Fredette in the right place in the NBA at the right time in his career.

"This is a great place to come, learn (how to) play in the NBA and be a professional," Fredette said.

The last word came to mind as the Bulls were on the United Center court drubbing the dreadful Knicks 109-90 and Fredette was on the bench watching.

"(The Bulls) did a great job running their offense and we didn't respond," New York guard / forward J.R. Smith said. "They played harder. Plain and simple."

Playing harder is what Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau demands -- and what center Joakim Noah does.

Taj Gibson learned how to be a pro from watching Noah; Jimmy Butler learned it from watching Noah and Gibson; Tony Snell is learning it from watching Noah, Gibson and Butler; and Fredette should learn it from watching all of them for however long he is here.

The result of the culture on the club is that the Bulls are a fun bunch to follow. They play hard. They play properly. And, yes, they play professionally.

That's the only way the Bulls can go about their business if they want to survive with the current limitations on the roster and without perpetually injured superstar Derrick Rose.

The Bulls have to play the way they're led by Noah, who recorded a triple-double (12 rebounds, 13 points, 14 assists) while taking a mere 10 shots.

"It's huge," Thibodeau said of Noah's performance.

Right in the middle of all the numbers was Noah spraining an ankle, going to the locker room to get it taped and returning to help finish off the Knicks.

The Bulls have to play like Jimmy Butler, who guarded all-star scorer Carmelo Anthony and was outscored only 21-19 despite taking 4 fewer shots.

"He's playing at a very high level now," Thibodeau said of Butler.

None of this even takes into account that early in the game Butler set the Bulls' tone by crashing over courtside seats to save a loose ball.

Fredette witnessing all this from his seat and then joined other Bulls who were up on their feet cheering teammates when the score already was 99-78.

Despite the lopsided score, Thibodeau called a 20-second timeout because he was unhappy that a particular Bulls offensive set was discombobulated.

Insisting on doing all things right all the time is how the Bulls beat a bad team like the Knicks, how they beat good teams like the Mavericks and Warriors last week and how they would play if the league scheduled outdoor games in February with a wind chill below zero.

It's how the Bulls play a full 48 minutes with only 3 turnovers and 30 assists on 39 made field goals.

Even in one game it would be difficult for Fredette not to notice that the Bulls share the ball, the credit and even the blame.

"It's a good group of guys," Fredette noted. "They want to be successful and want the team to be successful."

These Bulls aren't talented enough to win the NBA title or even to make the East finals but they are gritty enough to win any game on any given night.

Meanwhile, Fredette might not last beyond this season with the Bulls if his shoot efficiency doesn't offset his defensive deficiency.

But if Fredette is going to extend his NBA career, this is where to learn how to play the game and become a true professional.

Welcome to the basketball laboratory, young man.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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