Eyes wide open for X factor Snell

CHICAGO – Sleep isn’t coming as easily to Tony Snell these days -- though that's not to say the Chicago Bulls backup wing has been stressing of late.

In fact, Snell has continued to take advantage of an extreme bump in playing time dating to late November, when Derrick Rose was lost for the season with a knee injury.

In Saturday's 103-78 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, Snell logged 30 minutes after playing 26 the night before at Washington. He's hit double digits in minutes in each of his past seven games, and scored in double digits in four.

Hard work like that should lead just about anybody into a deep sleep, but the rookie from the University of New Mexico said he is still trying to make adjustments to life in the NBA.

“The traveling is kind of getting to me,” said Snell, who admitted to taking a long soak in the cold tub immediately after Saturday's victory. “I’m kind of losing my sleep. It’s hard for me to sleep at night so I’m just trying to take care of my body.”

With 33 NBA games under his belt, Snell has essentially played a full college season already. And one look at the schedule shows that a significant break isn’t coming anytime soon, unless the five days off for All-Star weekend in February counts.

Snell isn’t worried about it.

“I haven’t hit a wall yet because I’m in the training room trying to take care of my body and make sure my body is right,” he said.

Snell’s numbers seem to suggest that despite sleep deprivation, he is actually getting better. He is averaging 5.9 points per game, though that number is 9.6 for his most recent five, including a 13-point performance Saturday.

“I feel pretty good,” Snell said of his body of work since his minutes increased. “I’m learning every day and trying to strive to get better every day. I’m trying to learn to play with my teammates, trust each other and also try to take advantage.”

While points are nice, Snell’s playing time figures to be predicated on his ability to guard the opponent. And his play on both ends has given the Bulls a huge boost.

“We just have to keep getting better defensively, because when we get stops then we can go out there and run with the shooting we have on the court right now,” center Joakim Noah said. “The rookie Tony Snell, he’s been playing really big for us stretching the court. He’s definitely the X factor.”

Snell could sleep on that compliment -- if only he settles down at night. Until the rest returns, he’ll use all that awake time to take shots and study defense.

“My weight has been up and down but I try to stay consistent,” he said. “Honestly I just go day by day. I just try to do what I can that day and see what happens the next day.”