Friday, January 16, 2004

The Last of the Flyin' Illini

What happened to Kendall Gill lately? He's been suspiciously playing sparse minutes the past few games, including last night's loss to Memphis

Gill has averaged 11 minutes in his last three games.

"I don't feel I'm struggling," he said. "I have no idea. Nothing has been said to me."

About the title, Kendall Gill is a cult hero in Illini Basketball lore for being part of the best Illinois team of all time, reaching 1989 final four. And although naturally I'm a big fan, I was a little young to get attached to that team, and in fact are more aware of Frank Williams' and Robert Archibald's pro careers when looking for famous alumni. So I don't pretend to be an expert on Gill's career. So the first thing that came to mind when trying to figure out Gill's slide was that he was playing too many minutes. The Bulls are a bad team, so a player like Gill may be overworked compared to what he's used to. And while his conditioning regimen has reached legendary proportions, he's still getting up there in years. So how many minutes has Gill averaged in his career?

90-91 CHA 82 23.7
 91-92 CHA 79 36.8
 92-93 CHA 69 35.2
 93-94 SEA 79 30.8
 94-95 SEA 73 29.1
 95-96 CHA/NJN 47 35.8
 96-97 NJN 82 39.0
 97-98 NJN 81 33.7
 98-99 NJN 50 32.1
 99-00 NJN 76 31.0
 00-01 NJN 31 28.8
 01-02 MIA 65 21.7
 02-03 MIN 82 25.2
 03-04 CHI 38 27.1
 Career   934 30.9
So it turns out, to my surprise, that Gill hasn't been playing any more minutes than usual. If you want to get picky though, it has been the most minutes since the 00-01 season. And I don't see him being fatigued or anything like that. Now lets look at the monthly splits (i've gone table-crazy):
Oct-Nov 16 26.6 0.457 10.0 4 9 18 26 0.985
Dec 15 29.8 0.372 12.4 4 16 46 58 0.892
Jan 7 22.4 0.339 7.3 0 3 9 10 0.768


I combined October and November since there were only 2 games in October. PSA stands for 'points per shot attempt', a tool developed by John Hollinger. (I'm not even sure I computed it right, but I think so :) ). So while Gill scored more points per game in December, you could see that his overall effectiveness was in fact slipping. Things have gotten noticeably worse in January, and has forced Skiles' hand in taking away his minutes. So when Gill says "I don't feel I'm struggling", the numbers tell a different story.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Status Check

There isn't a whole lot going on in Bulls-land, the losses are piling up and the team is simply inconsistent from one game to the next. Scottie Pippen returned against the Pistons on Tuesday, yet Tyson Chandler is still sidelined. I didn't get to see the Detroit game until the 4th quarter when they were down 20. While the Bulls did string together a nice rally to cut the lead to 7(with the ball), Detroit plays the kind of style that is tough to come back on. Plus they're simply a better team. In fact I projected them to win the East.

But then again, I projected the Bulls to finish 6th. Now after a horrendous start, players being traded, and coaches being fired, the preseason goal of making the playoffs looks bleaker by the day. And the thing about bad starts is that you have to play better the rest of the year to catch up. Not around .500 which they have been lately. So how well do the Bulls' have to play for the rest of the year to even sniff a playoff spot?  I was going to do these projections during the all-star break, but since there's little going on I'll put up this chart now:

notes: Bulls' current record: 12-26 (.312)

           8th seed last year(Orlando): 42-40 (.512)

W(total) L(total) RestofTheWay: W L %
30 52   18 26 0.409
32 50   20 24 0.455
34 48   22 22 0.500
36 46   24 20 0.545
38 44   26 18 0.591
40 42   28 16 0.636
42 40   30 14 0.682
44 38   32 12 0.727
46 36   34 10 0.773
48 34   36 8 0.818
50 32   38 6 0.864


So, even in the meek Eastern Conference, to match the record for the 8th seed last year the Bulls' need to play .682 basketball. Pretty much twice as good as they're playing now. Now that cutoff mark may be a little lower (or higher) this year, but safe to say the Bulls' will have to run off a string of victories. The kind of streak such as 7 in a row, or 10 out of 12, etc. to get back in the race. A return of Tyson Chandler could be the kind of thing to spark such a run, but by then the hole may be even deeper.

Note: I changed the settings on the blog to make the table actually look right. Unfortunately that means that most of my previous posts have messed up line breaks. from now on they should be alright though :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Breaking News

Naw, don't get too excited, but it was just reported on WSCR (a source as credible as the Warren Commission) that Scottie Pippen will play in tonight's game against the Pistons.

They're also reporting that management is 'concerned' over Tyson Chandler's back rehab, which makes me want to crawl into a hole and cry myself to sleep.

UPDATE: here's the release on Pippen's activation from the IR. Chris Jefferies will take his place.

Monday, January 12, 2004

In Attendance.. I was very lucky to get stellar seats to Friday night's game against the Blazers. I mean real stellar seats. They were 1st row across from the Bulls Bench (which was technically behind 3 rows of chairs). And the funny thing about that game was that in the papers the next day they made special note of the Fans' reaction to Eddy Curry's play.I personally didn't think the booing was an extraordinary reaction considering the awful basketball I saw in the previous 2 Bulls' games I saw. Then again, frustration has been growing in even a "patient" fan like myself, so I can see why Eddy was the focus of the fans that night. He was blocked several times down low, and when he did get a shot off, they frequently fell short. And like I've said several times already, that kind of play (even from a 20-year-old) is unacceptable for such a potential post weapon. What I like to see though is a nice comeback performance the next night in the win over New Orleans, scoring 19 points and making 13 out of 14 foul shots. I didn't get to see the game, but that foul shot total at the very least shows aggressiveness.

But more on the fans....this article from the Sun-Times on saturday was an interesting read, regarding the disparity between attendance figures of the Bulls and Blackhawks, the main tenants of the United Center. That stat isn't quite as interesting as the fact that the team has the the the 3rd highest average attendance in the league. For a team with such an awful record, this is probably astounding to those outside of the Chicago area. But this quote explains most of it:

"During the 1990s, when we were winning all those championships, we worked really hard to prepare for the inevitable downturn as our players aged, and buy our basketball department the time it needed to retool the product,'' Bulls vice president of business operations Steve Schanwald said. "This was why we promoted and built a 25,000-name season-ticket waiting list back in the '90s. "I think all these things have paid off for us the last six years and are still paying off today. And [Jerry] Reinsdorf has always given us the resources we needed to keep things going and implement his vision.''
So while the attendance remains strong, most of those season ticket holders are the corporate types that still remember the days when the Bulls were an insanely hot ticket. Undoubtedly these seats are now tougher to give away than they used to, which is fine by me if I benefit :). But I imagine as the losing continues, more and more seats will be given up entirely as the fans themselves give up hope that the party days of the '90s will return. And judging by fan reaction in the games I've been to, that may come sooner than later.