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The Bulls Defense Has Communication Issues

The Bulls have lamented a lack of communication on defense for the past two years. What's going on, and how to fix it?

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Hoiberg recently told the media that communication remains the Bulls' biggest problem on defense. Hoiberg got into more specifics and a plan of how to fix the communication issues in his media duties yesterday. From KC Johnson:

One thing we talked about is coaches are through talking when we're out there on the practice court. It has to come from the players," Hoiberg said. "We bail them out maybe a little too much when we're out there talking and getting them into their coverages. That has to happen (from players.)

"And then it can't just be in drills. It has to carry over to when you play. And it has to go through the tough times. We tend to shut down at times when things aren't going our way."

The Bulls are indeed a very quiet team on defense. Throughout most of the broadcasts, you can hear assistant coach Jim Boylen screaming out the coverages while the players remain silent. Boylen can't do everything though. Hoiberg is absolutely right that the players need to account for each other.

Hoiberg broke down the specifics of where the Bulls are weak, citing transition defense as a key:

"It starts with me. There's no doubt about it," he said. "I need to do a much better job of when the communication isn't there of holding the guys more accountable with that. You have to get back. Everyone has to be pointing and talking in transition. You have to get into ball screen coverages. There are times when we do it. That has to be the constant. "… (As coaches,) we almost have to be silent. It has to come from the players. It's pretty glaring when we're not doing it and the (practice) is silent from the coaches."

Here's what Hoiberg is talking about re: transition defense.

When Bulls players retreat on transition defense, they are supposed to be pointing and speaking about coverages and especially switches. Here's a great example of E'Twaun Moore (who I recently wrote about as a wonderful defender) directing where everyone should be going and making sure everyone has a man covered. By talking, he also ensures that Jimmy Butler isn't going to get blindsided on the upcoming Pachulia drag screen from Dallas:

Now here's an example of poor communication that Hoiberg cited. Tony Snell's man, Chandler Parsons, is already in position for a layup by the time Snell signals that he needs someone to switch:

The defense slipped out of the top 10 for the first time in the Thibodeau era last year, and Taj Gibson, Rose, Butler, and Noah all made multiple references to not talking to each other on the defensive end.

That has to stop. It should be an easy thing to fix, and Hoiberg is going in the right direction by getting the players to talk more in practice.