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Marty Burns
October 28, 2002
Youth will be served in the Windy City, where a rookie takes charge of a club on which half the players are under 24
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October 28, 2002

13 Chicago Bulls

Youth will be served in the Windy City, where a rookie takes charge of a club on which half the players are under 24

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2001-02 record: 21-61 (eighth in Central)
Points scored: 89.5 (28th)
Points allowed: 98.0 (23rd)
Coach: Bill Cartwright (second season with Bulls)



2001-02 KEY STATS


Jalen Rose


20.4 ppg

4.5 rpg

4.3 apg

0.94 spg

45.5 FG%


Tyson Chandler


6.1 ppg

4.8 rpg

0.8 apg

1.31 bpg

49.7 FG%


Eddy Curry


6.7 ppg

3.8 rpg

0.3 apg

0.74 bpg

50.1 FG%


Trenton Hassell


8.7 ppg

3.3 rpg

2.2 apg

42.5 FG%

36.4 3FG%


Jay Williams (R)#


21.3 ppg

3.5 rpg

5.3 apg

2.17 spg

45.7 FG%



2001-02 KEY STATS


Donyell Marshall#


14.8 ppg

7.6 rpg

1.7 apg

1.16 bpg

51.9 FG%


Eddie Robinson


9.0 ppg

2.7 rpg

1.3 apg

0.79 spg

45.3 FG%


Jamal Crawford


9.3 ppg

1.5 rpg

2.4 apg

0.78 spg

47.6 FG%


Marcus Fizer


12.3 ppg

5.6 rpg

1.6 apg

0.64 spg

43.8 FG%


Fred Hoiberg


4.4 ppg

2.7 rpg

1.7 apg

0.77 spg

41.6 FG%

#New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

Rookie Point Guard Jay Williams was in uniform, miked and ready to go. The camera crew was set, the cue card poised. It was the opening day of training camp, and a Bulls staffer had asked Williams, the No. 2 pick out of Duke, to tape a public service announcement. After a few botched attempts, Williams bolted out of his chair. "My stomach is killing me," he said, unclipping his mike. "I'll be right back." Minutes later Williams jogged back into the Berto Center gym with a sheepish grin. "Sorry," he said. "Bad pizza."

Chicago fans can only hope Williams's debut wasn't an omen. After four nauseating seasons the Bulls are counting on the 6'2" Williams and his deep dishes to help turn this once-proud franchise around. "I feel good about this team," says coach Bill Cartwright, who went 17-38 after taking over for Tim Floyd in midseason. "We've got more guys who can play."

That's not to say that Cartwright will like everything he sees as he watches a defense that yielded a league-worst 46.5% shooting last season. There are also questions about whether Williams and swingman Jalen Rose can coexist as primary ball handlers, and at least a half-dozen players under 24 years old should make the roster. All this could spell chaos, but that's where an orchestrator like Williams comes in. Though only 21 he has maturity to go with explosiveness and acute court vision. In July he declined an invitation to appear on The Tonight Show because he didn't want to miss the first day of voluntary workouts before summer league. He was also the first to call Donyell Marshall after the veteran forward signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal with Chicago. "If I want the ball in my hands at the end of a game," Williams says, "I've got to have the trust of my teammates."

Cartwright envisions Williams as a penetrator on offense and a full-court pest on D. The taller and slightly more experienced Jamal Crawford is likely to start at the point at first, but Williams, whose image already adorns billboards and print ads in the Windy City, clearly will log heavy minutes. His biggest adjustment will be learning game tempo and pick-and-roll defense, two areas in which he struggled during the summer league. He also must find ways to use his drive-and-dish skills within the Bulls' triangle offense. He picked up a few pointers while backing up Baron Davis and Andre Miller on the U.S. team at the world championships over the summer. "I watched the way [Baron] controls his body and uses it to make contact," Williams says. "Andre makes it look so simple, yet he's crafty."

The Bulls say they aren't counting on big numbers right away from Williams. What they need is his intelligence (he was captain of his high school chess team), his drive (he was first in wind sprints at training camp) and his winning touch (Duke was 95-13 in his three seasons). "He's gonna have nights where he looks like a world beater and nights he's gonna look like he still needs to be at Duke," says Rose, Chicago's leading scorer last season. "That's when I've got to be there to put an arm around him and tell him it's gonna be all right."

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]