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Bulls are old pros at coping with loss from injury

Luol Deng says he’s pleased with Bulls’ effort camp sees it paying off this season. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Luol Deng says he’s pleased with the Bulls’ effort in camp and sees it paying off this season. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 9, 2012 6:20AM

How many different ways can Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau be asked about life without Derrick Rose?

If one week of training camp is any indication, Thibodeau is sure going to find out.

‘‘Obviously, Derrick is a great player, but this is not a new thing for us — he missed half the season [last year],’’ Thibodeau said Sunday. ‘‘We found a way to do it last year, and I expect us to find a way to do it this year. This is about the players we have available. They’re more than capable.

‘‘Rip [Hamilton] has been a big shot-maker his whole career, Carlos [Boozer] has been a big shot-maker his whole career, Luol [Deng] has hit some big shots for us, so we have several guys that are capable.’’

For now, capable will have to do. With the Bulls’ first practice this afternoon at the United Center — a dress rehearsal for the first preseason game Tuesday night — Thibodeau feels he has the pulse of some elements of his team, but there are many unanswered questions.

Life without Rose until maybe February because of his surgically repaired torn left anterior cruciate ligament is atop that list, but it’s not the only concern. Rose isn’t the only key starter who’s been on the shelf for extended amounts of time.

‘‘We’ve dealt with this for two years now,’’ Thibodeau said. ‘‘Rip missed 38 games [last season], and the year before it was Carlos and Joakim [Noah], so I think the responsibility falls on guys accepting and embracing their roles, whatever their job is. You’ve got to know your job and do your job. If you do that, then you put yourself in position to win, and that’s all we expect.’’

The problem in camp so far is that expectations aren’t necessarily being met — at least the high expectations of Thibodeau.

‘‘It’s not where I would like it to be, but each day we’re just trying to get better at it,’’ he said. ‘‘Right now, these are long practices, guys are in early watching film, staying late, but what you’re starting to do is build habits that you hope will help you be successful throughout the season. Hopefully, you play better each and every day, and play your best at the end.’’

It’s that ‘‘end’’ that’s the concern. Contrary to Thibodeau’s expectations, the Bulls are more of an afterthought to national — and local — observers until Rose returns.

‘‘That’s all right,’’ Deng said. ‘‘That’s fine with us. We’ve been in that situation before, been in that situation many times. We don’t really care what everyone thinks. We’re putting in the effort, we’re putting in the work. You keep doing that consistently, you’re going to get good results.

‘‘I’m really happy with the effort we’re putting in and how hard we’re working. We’re not just trying to go out there and hope it happens. We’re really working and making it happen.’’

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