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Rookies Tony Snell, Erik Murphy are striving to pick up Thibs’ defensive system

Updated: November 7, 2013 6:58AM



INDIANAPOLIS — The education of Bulls rookies Erik Murphy and Tony Snell started on Saturday night. As coach Tom Thibodeau stated earlier in the week: “Both have a long way to go.’’

Each player missed badly on their first shots in the second quarter, and each had defensive lapses that led to buckets by the Indiana Pacers. But as it was for Jimmy Butler two seasons ago, and Marquis Teague last year, grasping Thibodeau’s system is a process.

For some, a long one.

“I mean, once you keep practicing on it, it becomes a little easier,’’ said Snell, whom the Bulls selected in the first round (20th overall) of the draft. “But it’s a defense where you can’t just try and learn it one time — and all of a sudden you know what to do. Since I like playing defense, I’ve really been working on it. I’ve been asking coaches where I should be, is this right, is this the defensive principle in this situation.’’

Snell did admit that he knew even before camp that playing defense was a backbone to keeping Thibodeau happy. Until a player actually goes through it, the preparation matters little.

“It’s different when you have to go on the court,’’ Snell said. “My mind-set was, ‘Yeah, I know, I got to be ready for this defense,’ but going out there and learning how to feel comfortable out there is the challenge.’’

Thibodeau understands that, but at the same time knows that his rookies have to cram to catch up.

“Well, it’s going to move quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “We run five-man offense, five-man defense and they have to do their part. If one guy’s not doing their job, then the whole unit is going to break down. So they have to understand how important that is.’’

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com



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