Forman: Hoiberg is a perfect fit for Bulls

  • Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg talks with Matt Thomas, left, and Monte Morris during a game against Texas.

    Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg talks with Matt Thomas, left, and Monte Morris during a game against Texas. Associated Press/February 2015

Updated 6/3/2015 10:54 AM

There's no point trying to find fault with the Bulls' choice for their next head coach.

Fred Hoiberg is likable, humble and has a great sense of humor. At Tuesday's introductory news conference at the Advocate Center, Hoiberg introduced his four kids and his wife, Carol, who has been at his side since high school.


He runs the gamut of basketball experience, with 10 years as an NBA player, five more working in the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office, then five successful seasons coaching Iowa State, alma mater.

The most important question of the day, though, wasn't about Hoiberg, necessarily, but what he will do to improve on the performance of Tom Thibodeau, who produced the sixth-best winning percentage in NBA coaching history while leading the Bulls the past five years.

Hoiberg was never asked that question directly and twice threw respect in Thibodeau's direction. But The Mayor did provide an answer.

"We had the second-fastest pace of play in all of college basketball last year," Hoiberg said. "We like to get out and play with pace and play with spacing, I think we ran more pick-and-roll than anybody in college basketball last year. We really like to flow into an offense as opposed to coming down and getting set on every possession."

The Bulls' management team of John Paxson and Gar Forman tried to alter Thibodeau's offensive system and convinced their former coach to make a few changes. But it remained a bone of contention in a frayed relationship.

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There's no guarantee the offense will be any more successful under Hoiberg, but he does seem to be very clear on why the Bulls wanted to make this change. Hoiberg was the first and only candidate the Bulls pursued after firing Thibodeau last Thursday.

"I'm confident in my abilities to do a great job here, I really am," Hoiberg said. "I think we can put an exciting style of play out there, to be able to put our players in position to utilize their skill sets to the best of their abilities.

"Hopefully we do that and give ourselves a chance to win and again, be in a position at this time of year to where we're playing our best and can compete for that championship. That's always going to be our goal here."

Forman said he and Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf met casually with Hoiberg last week to gauge his interest. The two sides talked more seriously over the weekend and sealed the deal Monday.


Hoiberg, who played for the Bulls from 1999-2003, said he didn't decide whether to take the job until Monday evening.

"This is a perfect fit for this team. Not only this coming year, but many years to come," Forman said. "I see a guy who now has a track record of having success and a style of play that we think can be very effective with this basketball team."

Hoiberg grew up in Ames, Iowa, and was a star player at Iowa State. Then as a coach, he led the Cyclones to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.

When asked why he chose to leave ISU, Hoiberg mentioned how being an NBA coach was a lifelong dream. His goal of competing at the highest level of basketball was driven even more by the premature end of his playing career in 2005 due to a heart condition.

"I would still play with our guys when I was in Minnesota a couple of years after I had that (first heart) surgery and had to hang up my shoes," Hoiberg said. 'I would play and can remember going home to Carol one day and saying, 'You know what, I think I want to play again.' And she said, 'Are you out of your mind?'

"I wanted to feel that again. … I missed being down there on the floor."

Hoiberg thought he probably was headed for an assistant coaching gig in the NBA when Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard first called.

Hoiberg said he heard from NBA teams before, but it wasn't until the Bulls reached out that he felt ready to leave Iowa State.

"Any time you make a major life change like we're making right now, you have to have the full support of your family," Hoiberg said. "It's really, really been emotional to leave a comfortable situation like we had. My family understands that this has always been my dream."

Hoiberg said he loves the Bulls' roster and the flexibility of the personnel. Two players sat in the gym and listened to the news conference: Tony Snell and Hoiberg's fellow Ames High School graduate Doug McDermott.

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