Thibodeau ready to get season going

After exhausting the tape of NBA games, Tom Thibodeau turned to the college ranks. AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau has spent his professional life teaching in gymnasiums all over the country, so not being able to teach his own players hit him especially hard during the lockout.

"What you do realize is how much you miss the players," he said Thursday morning. "Not having them around every day, that was tough.

"We've got good guys. But again, the challenge was to maximize our time. So it gave us more time to watch film, to work on the playbook, to study, to come up with new ideas, to go visit with coaches -- things of that nature.”

Just how much tape did Thibodeau watch?

"Well, there's never enough," he said. "There's always something else you could look at. The thing that's a little different this year is you had an opportunity to watch a little more college basketball to start the season. That was fun. There's always something you can be looking at.”

Getting in shape: Having been an assistant coach during the last NBA work stoppage in 1999-2000 with the New York Knicks, Thibodeau realizes that there is a chance some members of his team could come back to training camp out of shape.

"When I look back to '98-99, there were a lot of guys that came in out of shape, there were a lot of injuries early on," Thibodeau said. "[It's] the same thing. The one thing, when you're faced with a season like this, you have to maximize your time, your team meetings, your shootarounds.

"Your concentration level has to be extremely high because the one thing is when you're looking at a number of back-to-backs and things like that, your practice time is very limited, so you have to make the most of that time. It also affects your rest because now if you play a back-to-back, the next day you may look at as a practice day but maybe now you'll be taking that day off. But hopefully your players are in great shape."

Thibodeau is confident it won't take long for his players to readjust to his practices.

"The professionalism of our team was outstanding last year, so I'm sure they all been doing the right thing and we'll see when they come in. And then once they're here, we have to look ahead. It will be a tough challenge we're facing but everyone's facing the same challenge and then it's how quickly you respond to that challenge."

Butler better be ready to learn: According to Jimmy Butler's Twitter feed, he is still in Florida working out at the IMG Academy. When he comes back to Chicago, he better be ready to work. Thibodeau made it clear that Butler is going to have to gain a lot of ground quickly in order to land in the rotation.

"I think it's going to be how he responds to the new challenge," Thibodeau said. "He was in the gym a short time with us right after being drafted. From what I observed during that time was I loved his attitude and approach and that's the first step in becoming a pro, so now he's going to have to carry that on when he gets here and he has a lot to learn."