- Nick Friedell, ESPN Staff Writer
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At least that's what they're trying to make themselves believe on the first day of training camp.
"I think we'll be what we've always been," Bulls forward Carlos Boozer said after the team's first practice Tuesday afternoon. "I think we'll have the same principles, our same system, our program's not going to change.
"We're going to play tough basketball. We're going to play together, we're going to protect the paint, rebound, defend, share the ball on offense, take open shots, trust each other and play as a team."
Playing as a team is something that Tom Thibodeau believes he can get his players to do, despite the fact that half the roster is different from a season ago.
"I think each and every year you're faced with new and different challenges, and we've gone through this before so this is nothing new," he said. "Two years ago we had a number of new guys also, so we had to get established that year.
"And we've dealt with the injury part for two seasons, so it's just a continuation of what we've already done. Now the new guys have to get acclimated to learning a new system. So that's a challenge, and they also have to learn each other."
As far as replacing Rose offensively, Boozer believes it's going to take a little more work to find the open shots. That's doesn't mean they can't find a way to make it work, though. Thibodeau acknowledged that both Boozer and Rip Hamilton came into camp in better shape than a year ago and the veteran forward realizes he may get the ball a little more with Rose out.
"Probably different spots," he said. "Pick and rolls, post-ups, different positions. We got a pretty good offense where you move around a lot. We pass the ball a lot, cut. We got great shooters; (Marco) Belinelli can really shoot the ball, I learned that today. Kirk Hinrich's a really good shooter, I didn't realize how good of a shooter he was, and obviously, Luol (Deng) is phenomenal."
No matter who is on the floor, Boozer and his teammates know that there will still be plenty of times when they miss Rose.
"Usually when we have Derrick, the shot clock gets down to six (or) seven, we're searching him out to give him the ball because he can always make something amazing happen. I think this year we're probably running a few more pick and rolls, swinging the ball, using him a little more until we get him back."
Thibs enjoying having Hinrich around: Tom Thibodeau has always respected Kirk Hinrich from afar. Now, after seeing him up close for a few months, he appreciates the veteran point guard even more.
"It's funny, at one point there was a trade possibility when I was in Boston, and we thought we were going to get him there but that didn't happen," Thibodeau said. "And then when I arrived here ... I always had great respect for him because of the type of competitor that he is. But that's all part of it and fortunately it ended up the way I would have liked."
Hinrich figures to play a lot with Rose out of the lineup, but Thibodeau is going to keep a close eye on his minutes to see if he can keep the veteran guard healthy. Hinrich has missed 28 games the past two seasons because of various injuries.
"We'll see what he can handle," Thibodeau said. "He's put a lot of work into rehabbing and he looks great. He's moving extremely well. I think his versatility, the fact that he can play the point, he can play the off guard, I think he guards three positions, he can fill a number of different responsibilities for us."
"It's never going to retire," Gibson said. "We're just trying to make a new Bench Mob, just get guys more situated, because everybody on the bench mob already had a name, but it helped their (individual) stock up a million times, so we're just hoping to get guys more situated in the scheme of things and so far, so good."
The last word: Boozer on Thibodeau's new contract: "(I'm) happy for him. He can sleep a little bit better at night. Not that he will, he's always in here, but he can a little bit, yeah."
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