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Ready or not, Del Negro gets set to lead Bulls
By Mike McGraw | Daily Herald Staff

Vinny Del Negro opens his first camp as Bulls coach on Tuesday.

 

Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

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Published: 9/27/2008 11:50 PM

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Dodging construction is a task not limited to Vinny Del Negro's daily commute.

The roads leading to the Berto Center are a mess, but the building's interior also is undergoing a facelift - at Del Negro's request.

His new vision for the Bulls' practice facility includes a state of the art coaches' conference room and a door leading straight from the media room to the basketball court. Del Negro is even relocating some of the artwork on the walls.

The longtime NBA point guard, who has never been a coach, will conduct his first practice of Bulls training camp Tuesday. Clearly, Del Negro knows what he wants. The question ahead is whether he can recreate his vision for the Bulls on the court.

"Preparing for the job has been a big part of my summer," Del Negro said while seated behind his desk at the Berto Center. "Things are easy to talk about. But in this situation, things are hard to get accomplished and I'm not a very patient person. I like things done the right way."

No doubt some NBA observers still are scratching their heads over why the Bulls settled on a coaching candidate with no experience. When the questions are brought up, Bulls insiders talk about how Del Negro impressed management by being extraordinarily well-preared and full of ideas.

Del Negro assembled an experienced staff, hiring Del Harris, Bernie Bickerstaff and Bob Ociepka to join holdovers Pete Myers and Mike Wilhelm. The coaches spent much of the summer building offensive and defensive philosophies, creating terminology and even running through plays themselves on the court.

One of Del Negro's messages for the players will be to run the court with a purpose, because rookie point guard Derrick Rose has the ability to turn on the jets and help everyone succeed.

"Every coach seems to have their own way of going about it," Del Negro said. "I've had coaches who seem to be incredibly detailed and incredibly prepared, and other coaches that didn't seem that way, but I still learned a tremendous amount from each one.

"Just because I envision something or we diagram something and you think you're the smartest coach in the world, if it doesn't work you have to have enough sense to say, 'It's not as good as I thought,' and push it to the side and keep working."

Del Negro has rubbed shoulders with a variety of renowned coaches, from Jim Valvano at North Carolina State to Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. Del Negro also played for George Karl, Dick Motta and Scott Skiles.

When the Bulls introduced Del Negro on June 11, general manager John Paxson made it clear that he hopes Del Negro can be a great communicator and, in turn, an effective motivator.

Del Negro got the ball rolling this summer with several lunches, dinners and phone conversations with his players.

"I believe in good communication," he said. "I believe if you have good communication with players, the trust they have in you and you have in them can happen faster and better."

Del Negro mentioned Kirk Hinrich and Tyrus Thomas as players who had very productive summers, while second-year center Aaron Gray dropped close to 30 pounds.

"I've been around long enough to know we have a lot of work to do," Del Negro added. "We have to get this team back to playing hard, with a commitment to each other and to respect wearing a Bulls jersey. Those things don't happen overnight."