Assistant Jim Boylan Named Interim Coach For Bulls

Friday, December 28th 2007, 7:22 am
By: News On 6

DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ Jim Boylan's coaching influences include many of the game's most well-known and respected names: Al McGuire, Jud Heathcote, Mike Fratello, Brian Hill and even the man he replaced, Scott Skiles.

``I've tried to steal from everybody,'' Boylan said Thursday when he was named interim head coach of the Chicago Bulls, replacing his good friend Skiles, who was fired Monday.

Boylan, who entered the NBA in 1992 as a video coordinator and advance scout with Lenny Wilkens and the Cleveland Cavaliers, finally gets an opportunity to be a head coach at the pro level after years of being an assistant.

He made it clear Thursday he'll be his own man in an attempt to turn around the Bulls, who at 9-17 are one of the league's most disappointing teams. Their surprising struggles come one season after they took the Detroit Pistons to six games in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Boylan served as Skiles' top assistant the last four seasons and also worked with him in Phoenix, but that doesn't mean he'll use all the same tactics or philosophies as his predecessor.

``Scott and I are similar in some ways and very different in other ways,'' Boylan said.

``My approach will be different and I will be myself. I talked to the players about that. I hope any preconceived notions about anyone are put on the back burner.''

The Bulls' confidence is wavering, their defense has been soft and their shooting has been poor. Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng and Ben Gordon are all below last season's levels in scoring and the Bulls are shooting only 41 percent as a team.

``We need to get our guys believing in themselves again. That's not always an easy thing to do,'' Boylan said.

What will it take? ``Not necessarily any grand gestures or any great change that needs to happen. Sometimes it's just some little things.''

Boylan already made alterations during his first practice Thursday, adding some wrinkles and hoping to speed up the Bulls' offense with more running. He also made a lineup change, moving former Sixth Man of the Year Gordon out as a starter and putting Chris Duhon in. He's hoping the scoring punch of Gordon off the bench will give the Bulls a needed lift.

General manager John Paxson said the job is Boylan's for the rest of the season and he doesn't expect miracles. He just wants the Bulls to tighten up their rotation and define roles a little more.

``It's a job interview for me and the rest of the league for him,'' Paxson said. ``He has the right attitude and approach as I sit here. Jim has been in the league for about 15 years and not had a chance to be a head coach and I know guys often times don't get that opportunity no matter how long they are in it.''

The more experienced Boylan was chosen over fellow assistant coach Pete Myers, who guided the team during Wednesday night's 94-79 loss at San Antonio. Myers said he was OK with the decision and would stay on as an assistant.

The 52-year-old Boylan also has been an assistant in Cleveland under Fratello (1993-97), Vancouver under Hill (1997-2000), Phoenix under Skiles (2000-01) and Atlanta under Terry Stotts (2003-04).

He also coached in the Continental Basketball Association and in college, including stops at Michigan State as an assistant under Heathcote (1986-89) and as head coach at New Hampshire (1989-92).

As a player, Boylan helped lead Marquette to the 1977 NCAA Championship, scoring 14 points in the championship game win against North Carolina. The Buffalo Braves later drafted him in the fourth round of the 1979 NBA draft.

After he left Marquette, he was on a team touring Italy that McGuire coached. And one day McGuire came up to him and said thanks.

Boylan asked McGuire why he thanked him.

``I'm thanking you for making me a millionaire. If we didn't win that NCAA championship game, I wouldn't be the millionaire I am today, so I just wanted to let you know I appreciate it,'' Boylan said, quoting McGuire.

Boylan's appointment came as no surprise to the Bulls players.

Gordon said he accepted a return to the bench to help the team and he doesn't think Boylan will be an extension of Skiles, who led Chicago to three straight playoff appearances.

``They are two different types of coaches, they deal with guys a little bit differently. Hopefully Jim can help us turn things around and we can get going,'' Gordon said.

Added Ben Wallace: ``We are all fine with it. We still got to go out and play better basketball.''