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Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is a tough guy to satisfy

Updated: October 20, 2013 7:25PM



Having Derrick Rose back healthy and playing at a high level should have coach Tom Thibodeau feeling good.

Watching the Bulls post a 5-0 record in the preseason should leave him thinking something special is on the horizon with the regular season just more than a week away.

But this is Thibodeau. And because he is chasing perfection, happy thoughts are for other coaches to have.

‘‘We’re improving, but we still have a long way to go,’’ Thibodeau said Sunday. ‘‘You’re trying to build concentration over a long period of time, and you’ve got to grind. This season is about grinding and working. You’ve got to put the work in. You can’t skip steps, you can’t take shortcuts. You’ve got to put a lot of work into it.’’

The Bulls have, specifically during the weekend. Thibodeau usually gives his players a day off when there are multiple days between games, but the Bulls practiced Saturday and Sunday. Practice Sunday lasted close to 21/2 hours.

Afterward, Thibodeau said the Bulls’ level of play is not meeting his standards.

‘‘Well, it depends on what your standards are,’’ he said. ‘‘On the first day of camp, if you went to all 30 teams, everyone would say, ‘Yeah, we want to win a championship.’ Very few teams are willing to make that commitment over a long period of time in putting the necessary work into it each and every day. It’s easy to say it; it’s harder to do it.

‘‘I think that’s the great value of guys like Carlos [Boozer] and Luol [Deng]. They come in every day and work. And Derrick. We’ve got to get back to doing that.’’

Thibodeau’s bad mood was spurred by how the Bulls showed up to play Friday against the Indiana Pacers. They won 103-98, but the fact the starters came out and fell behind 29-21 after the first quarter infuriated Thibodeau.

‘‘I measure everything on whether it’s being done at a championship level,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Whether it’s your preparation, how you practice, how you conduct yourself in the weight room, how you conduct yourself in a film session, how you conduct yourself on the bus. There’s a lot that goes into winning, so you’ve got to be willing to pay the price.’’

While it’s a relentless message, the Bulls never have grown tired of it under Thibodeau. And the new players are embracing his intensity.

‘‘I’m on board with that,’’ veteran sharpshooter Mike Dunleavy said. ‘‘There’s no point in going through the motions. You put the work in and get it right. . . . I’ve had a hard time finding a basket to shoot at after practice because there are so many guys getting extra work in. I’ve never been in a situation like that. It’s a good thing.’’



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