CHICAGO -- The preseason schedule just started, while the regular season remains three weeks away and Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau felt it was the perfect time to set a hard-working tone.
Originally scheduled as an off day, Thibodeau put his team through a two-hour practice Wednesday after the team played preseason games Monday and Tuesday, with Tuesday night's game at Detroit going into overtime. Both of those games ended in Bulls defeats.
"A lot of things concern me, so it's good to get in the gym and practice," Thibodeau said, as most of the team remained for extra shooting in the Advocate Center, the team's new practice facility. "You're building. There's a lot of stuff you have to add and clean up and improve upon.
"You look at training camp as the whole month. So we try to do a little more in shootaround. A day like today, particularly the guys who haven't played a lot, it's important they get the right amount of work."
The Bulls have plenty of new faces in guys like Aaron Brooks and Paul Gasol, not to mention highly-regarded rookies such as Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. After solid debuts Monday, McDermott and Mirotic did not look as sharp in Tuesday's defeat at Detroit.
"Every practice for us is good," said Mirotic, who claimed he was not surprised by the additional practice time. "We need to be ready for the season. We have a lot of things to do to improve. So every day we need to do better practice to be a better team so we are really hungry. We want to be the best team. We are working good. We have a good atmosphere in the locker room, so we are really feeling good."
Thibodeau would not get into specifics about what he wants to improve upon. Asked if the team has been lacking, he responded with a terse, "It's got to be better."
Thibodeau can be as stern as NBA coaches get so his decision to take away a free day in training camp wasn't a total surprise.
"The thing is, obviously winning and losing is important any time you're keeping score," Thibodeau said, referring to preseason defeats. "What you're looking at more is, are you putting the proper amount of work into playing so the results will take care of themselves? You have to do the right things. I know what goes into winning. I've been in the league a long time. When you skip steps in this league, it's not going to be good."
Veteran Mike Dunleavy suggested that with games so close together at the start of the preseason schedule, individual game minutes were skewed. The Bulls don't play again until Saturday at Milwaukee.
"We're 0-2 right now with some good, some bad and some ugly," Dunleavy said. "We just need to sharpen up a few things on the offensive end, especially with some of our plays, make sure we're in the right spots, things like that. It's nice to come in and get that knocked out and have a couple of good practices before going to Milwaukee."
If the players had an issue with the extra day of practice, they didn't seem to show it on the court.
"Yeah, it was a good day today, a good day," Thibodeau said. "Concentration was good. If you practice well, you'll play well. It's that simple. You have to understand what goes into preparing yourself to practice. You can't just show up and roll in like it's no big deal. It is a big deal. That's how you get ready to play."
It's early, but Thibodeau seems to have gotten an important point across. His early intensity hardly is out of the ordinary.
"Man, it's the same, it's the same, it doesn't change with him," Dunleavy said. "He's pretty consistent in that regard, at least since I've been here. It's always about putting the work in. We have guys who are pretty good about that, continue to do that and get ready for that opener on [Oct.] 29."