Football Focus 2014

Articles filed under Wennington, Bill

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  • Wennington: Pressure’s on Sixers now May 9, 2012 9:43 PM
    Bulls broadcaster and former NBA player Bill Wennington answers some key questions about Game 6 of the team's first-round series, such as whether Philadelphia is feeling any pressure now, the matchup advantage posed by Ronnie Brewer in the Bulls lineup, and whether Luol Deng should get more shots. Check out Wennington's perspective in today's column for the Daily Herald.

     
  • Time for Bulls to fight off the odds May 7, 2012 9:57 PM
    Q. Now that it’s do-or-die for the Bulls, in what areas do you think they’re capable of playing better in Game 5? A. This is when the Bulls players and coaches have to fight off the odds. There are some things they can do to beat the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 5. Except for the middle of the first quarter and the very end of the game, the Bulls really played well enough to win Game 4 Sunday. The two things that jump out at me right away are offensive rebounding and foul shooting. The Sixers had 12 offensive rebounds for 19 points. The Bulls have to make both those numbers smaller by having all five players on the floor boxing out better. With regard to fouling, the Bulls put Philadelphia on the foul line 31 times and the Sixers made 22 of them — way too many. The Bulls got to the foul line 14 times and made 11. Although this is a good percentage, they need to get to the line much more often. Another thing the Bulls need to do is to recognize which Sixer has the hot hand. The last two games it has been Spenser Hawes, who hit his Philadelphia career highs in those games. You cannot let a player get hot and stay there throughout a game. The Bulls’ defense has to adjust. Q. Philadelphia had a 64-37 advantage in free-throw attempts in Games 1 and 2, including 16-0 in the final two minutes. What’s going on there? A. Back to the foul shots by the Sixers, as I said way too many. We can blame the referees and I do believe there were some — how can I say this with out offending anyone — ”difficult calls.” As a player, all you can hope for is consistency from the referees. Solely blaming the refs is a cop-out. The Bulls could play better defense with their feet, react quicker to ball movement and not lose sight of their man. By doing these things you will not be prone to reaching out and slapping at the ball or player as he goes by. Just the rapid movement of an arm or hand slapping down toward an opponent’s arm causes a lot of fouls to be called. The Bulls as a team have to be more aggressive attacking the basket so they can get to the foul line more. Yes, Philadelphia is a good defensive team, but you must get the ball into the paint and cause the Sixers to make the same mistakes the Bulls did in Games 3 and 4. Q. Is there any Bulls player you would pick out who needs to step up in Game 5? A. The first player I would like to see pick up his game would be Luol Deng. He is averaging just 10 points in the playoffs and needs to improve on that; he averaged 15 points during the regular season. Omer Asik has a huge opportunity here to pick up his game with Joakim Noah out by providing a spark defensively and offensively. He could score more and continue to be the defensive anchor in the middle for the Bulls. As I have said and you have seen, this Bulls team has been one that has different players stepping up and winning games all season. Now is the time when all of the players have to step up together at the same time to extend this playoff run. Q. How much of a shock would it be for you to have the playoffs end May 8, when everyone was expecting to go into June? A. It would be a shock to me. At halftime of Game 1, I was thinking that the Bulls would sweep Philly. When Derrick Rose went down and we lost Game 2, I thought it would be harder but the Bulls could still win it in six games. When Joakim Noah got hurt in Game 3, I knew winning the series would be difficult. This team has dealt with adversity all season and can still win in seven. When Derrick got injured, my belief that the Bulls could win an NBA championship this season diminished, but I still thought that they could compete in the playoffs until the Eastern Conference finals. With a little good luck, you never know. Now it’s time for us all to pull together and “Bullieve.” Ÿ Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Chicago Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls’ playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.

     
  • Grim? There is always hope May 5, 2012 9:30 PM
    Q. With Joakim Noah likely to miss Game 4 with a sprained ankle, things don’t look promising for the Bulls. Do you see any signs of hope? A. With Joakim Noah likely to miss Game 4 with a badly sprained ankle, one may look at the Bulls’ chances of winning this series as grim. That is not why these players put on their uniforms every night. For 66 games during the regular season and now for three games in the playoffs, this Bulls team has laced up its sneakers with the thought that they can win the game. That is part of what being a champion is. Hope you ask? Yes there is always hope; again the starting lineup will have to change. One would think that Omir Asik or Taj Gibson will be put into a starting role. They will both need to play well now. Carlos Boozer stepped up his game in Game 3 and needs to continue to do that. Rip Hamilton has been great in the playoffs and his role becomes even more important. Where things can get better for the Bulls is the play of Luol Deng and the guards in the backcourt. If you had been watching those first 66 games you know that is very possible. Q. Can you relate to Noah asking to go back in during the fourth quarter of Game 3 (he played two minutes, but was clearly not able to run)? A. I can definitely relate to Joakim Noah wanting to go back out and play in Game 3 after he sprained his ankle. He is a warrior and wanted to help his team win a very important game. The adrenaline rushes that you get in big moments in big games are part of the reason athletes play the game. The problem is that at times they can mask the symptoms of an injury, and it makes it difficult to know exactly how bad it is. Joakim clearly was not at full strength when he got back out there but had to try to do his best, as he always does. There have been several times throughout my basketball career that I have been injured and wanted to get back out there and play. In college at St. John’s University I had sprained my ankle, left to get it retaped and came back into the game. I was not at full strength but was able to compete. I ended up finishing the game and helping my team to a win at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in front of 33,000 people. If I did not go back and try, I would never have known. I am not comparing injuries here, but as a competitor you want to try. Joakim Noah is a true competitor at the highest level. Q. What’s your take on the point guard situation? C.J. Watson struggled in Game 3, John Lucas had his moments and Mike James has yet to play in the series. A. The guard situation has not been consistent here in the playoffs. I know as well as everyone watching that CJ Watson can play better, he has to find that place in his mind where he can let go of the past few games and move on to where he can succeed. I know that sounds very Zen-like and it can be very difficult. There are a lot of distractions for players during the game and one of the most difficult to overcome is your own play. No one wants to go out there and look bad, but if you are worried about making mistakes then most likely you will. John Lucas III has played well in spurts. If he can be more consistent that will definitely help. Although Mike James has been untried here in the playoffs, I think he can help. Q. How do you like to spend your free time at those nice hotels the Bulls frequent? A. Being on the road sometimes affords you the opportunity to get out and see the cities you are staying in. This time I did not get out and do a lot. I did stay in and catch up with some of the media hounds from Chicago as they waited for the Bulls team meeting and film session to end. During the Bulls’ last stay here in Philadelphia, Bulls PR representative Matt Yob and I did get out and tour the City of Brotherly Love. I do try to get out of the room several times a day either to walk or work out. As luxurious as these hotels are, it is great to get out and get some fresh air; hopefully as Game 4 will be for our Bulls. Ÿ Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Chicago Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls’ playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.

     
  • Easy to put one loss in rearview mirror May 3, 2012 10:16 PM
    Q. You’ve been through this scenario. The Bulls dropped Game 2 of a playoff series in 1997 (Atlanta) and ’98 (Charlotte) on the way to the title. What’s does it take to win playoff games on the road? A. The thing about the playoffs is it is a seven-game series, so no matter how well or how bad you play in one particular game, it is over and done with. Most of the time the best team wins. There is nothing good about losing, but it does give you the opportunity to go over your mistakes and try to correct them for the next game. The Bulls have now traveled to Philadelphia and will have to deal with all that entails: airplanes, buses to and from games and practice, not sleeping in your own bed or home, and the stress from of opposing teams. The players and coaches need to block all of that out of their minds and focus on the task at hand — winning Game 3. Worry about Game 4 after Game 3 and so on down the line. All they have to do is win the next game. Q. What’s the biggest correction the Bulls need to make from that miserable second half in Game 2? A. In Game 2, the Bulls did not rebound well. They were out rebounded for the 16th time this season and are now 7-9 in those games. Their interior defense left much to be desired as well. These are two things that they can look at and correct for the rest of this series. They have prided themselves on rebounding and defense all season, so this was certainly out of character. Looking at the energy in the second half of Game 2 you can see they can play with much more. Offensive penetration into the paint did not happen in the second half. The guards need to be more aggressive on driving to the basket. Q. Joakim Noah hit 10 of 11 shots for 21 points in Game 2. Should we start expecting more from him on offense? A. Joakim Noah played well; he took the shots that were given to him and shot the ball well. He aggressively drove to the basket and made good basketball plays. If the 76ers play him the same way and dare him to shoot the 16-foot jump shot, then Jo should continue to take it or drive to the basket as he did. If they play him honest and the shot is not there, he has proven to be a very good passer. Should we expect Jo to have numbers like that always? Why not, if the shots are there for him, and he continues to rebound like he always has. Remember, most of the Bulls’ offense is not designed for him he, has to pick his spots. Q. As usual, the Bulls left for Philadelphia via the team charter. What is that experience like? A. As I said, Game 3 is here in Philadelphia. The Bulls travel on a very nice charter airplane where the seats are all the size of first-class seats on a commercial flight. Sounds great, right? Well remember, most basketball players are oversized as well, so the seats are like coach seats for the average person. It is very comforting to be on the plane with the same people all the time. You become like family. The flight attendants are superb and know what you like and bring you your favorite drink just after you get settled in your seat. Mine is club soda and a splash of cranberry. The Bull’s Chef Steve Jackson caters the plane flights out so we are always guaranteed a good meal when we depart Chicago. Meals are catered from different restaurants on the road, so we always get a taste of the local cuisine of the city we were just in. Everybody loves Memphis for the barbecue. Most flights day or night the guys try to get some rest. A few will watch movies on their laptops or talk. It is normally pretty quiet and usually uneventful, unless there is turbulence ... much like in Game 2. But it always smoothes out and we land safely, as I’m sure this series will. Ÿ Bill Wennington provides color commentary for all Chicago Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls’ playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.

     
  • How far can Bulls go without Derrick Rose? Apr 30, 2012 8:31 PM
    I’m looking forward to our little chats here during the playoffs. I hope to shed some insight and a little knowledge of the game of basketball. As a former athlete, let me start by saying (only to get it out of the way): “I was misquoted, it was taken out of context.” There, I feel better now. Oh wait, there’s one more: “My editors changed it.” Ah, no pressure now. Let’s get to the questions and start with the obvious after the Bulls won their first game 103–91 over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday. Q. With the loss of Derrick Rose due to a torn ACL (out for the remainder of the playoffs), how far can the Bulls go? A. Of course things just got more difficult. Not to over simplify it, but if the Bulls had to play at 90 percent of their full potential every game with Derrick in the lineup to win the NBA championship, they now have to play at 97 percent of their full potential every game. This season without Derrick the Bulls have had spurts in games where they do not score a field goal for extended times, sometimes lasting seven-plus minutes. They are going to have to find a way to limit those occurrences and put points on the scoreboard. Getting to the foul line and attacking the basket have traditionally been two ways for players to put points on the board when they are not shooting the ball well. Making foul shots builds your confidence and helps enable you to start making the shots you were missing earlier in the game. Just like this team feeds off Joakim Noah’s energy, it can feed off a teammate who is putting points on the board when things are not going well offensively. Q. What will the Bulls have to do well to win without Rose? A. Defensively, C.J. Watson, John Lucas III and Mike James are going to have to occupy and challenge their counterparts to keep them honest defensively so they cannot slough off and help out on other players. Offensively they need to work the Sixers guards so they don’t have the energy to take over games in the fourth quarter. Q. Any personal experience with ACL injuries — yourself, friends, teammates? A. As far as Derrick’s injury goes, I personally do not have any experience with a torn ACL, nor have I had teammates with one. I do not want to say it’s a common injury, but if you are a sports fan, you have at least heard the term ACL before. There has been this type of injury in many sports with many different results, from partial to full recovery. Knowing Derrick and his work ethic, along with his competitive edge and age, I believe he is a perfect candidate for a full recovery. I am not a doctor nor did I play one on TV, so I really cannot guess how long his recovery will be. Q. What sorts of adjustments can you see the Sixers making in Game 2 and beyond? A. I expect that the Sixers will immediately challenge C.J. and John, attacking them to find out how consistent they will be defensively throughout the game. With Holiday, Meeks and Williams, Philadelphia has guards who can put numbers on the scoreboard. Also, with Derrick out, Philly can change its defensive emphasis and can challenge other players such as Carlos Boozer and Rip Hamilton. The challenge for the Bulls will be to do it as a team, just as they have done all season long. It is not just one player; it is the cumulative value of all the players that make this Bulls team successful. Q. Why was Rose out there late in Game 1? A. If you were watching, you know that Philly was edging back in and most of the starters for both teams were still in the game. You do not want to give the Sixers or any team the momentum to finish a game strong. As it was, it went from a 20-point game with five minutes to go to a 12-point game with 70 seconds to go with the starters in. It is easy for anyone to second-guess with the emotions of Rose being hurt, but to have him in at that time was the right call. This is the playoffs. There are no second chances. ŸBill Wennington provides color commentary for all Bulls broadcasts on WMVP 1000-AM. Wennington is in his ninth year as a Bulls broadcaster, partnered with Chuck Swirsky. Before that he played in the NBA for 13 years and with the Bulls for six years. He owns three championship rings from his Bulls’ playing time. He has been inducted into the Quebec and Canadian basketball halls of fame.

     
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