Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls Motivated To Succeed Without Derrick Rose

October 29, 2012 – 10:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from the Chicago Bulls this season as they’ll be without superstar Derrick Rose for most, if not all, of the season. His exact return isn’t known, and that’s leading folks to “sleep on the Bulls” as Joakim Noah puts it in the following interview. Noah says he’s not angry with people’s lowered expectations, but he believes it’s motivating a hungry basketball team.

Joakim Noah joined Connor McKnight and Aggrey Sam on WSCR in Chicago to discuss the team’s mentality heading into the season, the questions surrounding Derrick Rose, winning thanks to defense, what it’d be like if Rose is able to join the team later in the season, working on his jump shot, why he’s not a fan of the new system of All-Star balloting and people sleeping on the Chicago Bulls this year.

How are you feeling going into the season?:

“I’m excited. I think we’ve been working really hard. A lot of people are sleeping on us. We’re a team that’s been through a lot, dealt with a lot of adversity, especially with what happened to us in the playoffs last year. I really felt like we were set to make a run at it, then injuries happened, which sucks. But we’re hungry, hungrier than ever, and hopefully Derrick gets back in time and we can make a run at the end of this.”

Are you guys a little bit over the Derrick Rose questions at this point?:

“You’re not a better team without your MVP; he’s our star player. But we’ve got to hold the fort down until he comes back, and we don’t know when that’s going to be. So the questions that you guys have, we have the same questions.”

Who is a guy that you think is really going to surprise people this year?:

“I don’t know if it’s one specific person, but I think Carlos came in in great shape. He’s very aggressive offensively, so I’m really excited about playing with ‘Los. … Rip as well. I think Rip is just such a big part of what we’re doing right now. … He makes it easier for guys like me to get easy baskets. But, like I said, it’s our whole group.”

How confident are you guys that you can win games based off your defense?:

“What people don’t realize is every day, at practice, during shootaround, we’re working on defensive rotations for about an hour, hour and a half, every day. I don’t know how many teams in the NBA are working on defensive rotations for an hour, hour and a half. It’s very repetitive and it sucks — it really sucks — but at the end of the day it helps you win ballgames.”

Depending on when Rose can get back, won’t that be just like adding a star player at the trade deadline?:

“I think it’s better than that, just because of what Derrick represents for Chicago. Just to be a part of that is cool for me. … Only time will tell, but it’s exciting stuff.”

Do you feel like you’re more comfortable shooting your jump shot?:

“When I’m not thinking, I’m just out there playing ball, the game just comes out a lot easier. I’ve been working on my game a lot and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable out there shooting the ball and all that.”

On the All-Star ballot changing to simply include front-court players and back-court players:

“I don’t know, I think that there’s positions in the NBA. I thought, to me, it was more like, wow, why would you [change]? I know that teams are going smaller, but I feel like the center position is still an important position. The center position is the man in the middle, the guy that clogs up the paint. If there wasn’t a center representing the East, and it was all forwards … I understand, because the game would probably be more exciting in terms of athleticism and dunks. Who wants to see a jump hook in an All-Star game? … But I feel like it should still be appreciated.”

What’s something that you learned about this team in the preseason?:

“I think that’s what preseason’s all about, is just getting familiar with your teammates, see what works, see what doesn’t, see what everybody’s strengths and weaknesses are and be as prepared as possible.”

Are you guys angry that people seem to be sleeping on you?:

“No, I don’t think it’s angry. We have the best job in the world. I don’t think we’re angry, but it’s motivating. … It’s an underdog kind of mentality out here.”

Listen to Joakim Noah on WSCR in Chicago here

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