‘Utility baseball player’ mentality working for Bulls’ Ryan Arcidiaconoon February 23, 2021 at 1:59 am

Billy Donovan missed out on the Ryan Arcidiacono experience years earlier.

The Bulls coach is making sure that’s not happening a second time.

So while going 10 or 11 deep from game-to-game isn’t always ideal for any NBA coach, Arcidiacono makes it easier for Donovan.

The guard is always ready, no matter how long the layoff from his last in-game minutes, he’s always going to bring some much-needed toughness to this roster, and he’s always going to bring energy.

Can’t lose situation as far as Donovan was concerned.

“Whether it be practice or shootarounds or whenever he’s called upon you know exactly what you’re going to get,” Donovan said of Arcidiacono on Monday. “To have a guy like that available with some of the injuries we’ve had to go through, based on putting him in at any point and time or juncture in the game, and you know exactly what you’re going to get. And I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for him because he’s a total team guy. He’s great on the bench even when he’s not in the rotation. He’s good lifting those guys up. I think he’s been really, really valuable to our team.”

Donovan has actually known that for awhile, going back to his days as the Florida head coach. He was recruiting Arcidiacono, and thought he had landed the guard out of the Philadelphia area.

Heck, Arcidiacono even thought he was heading to the Sunshine State, until Villanova coach Jay Wright did a last-minute push, getting Arcidiacono and his parents to attended the program’s version of “Midnight Madness.”

Game, set, match, and Arcidiacono was a Wildcat.

Years later, what almost was, now is, and Donovan is glad to have the hard-nosed guard.

“I’ve always been a guy that regardless if I’m playing 20 minutes, no minutes, five minutes, 30 seconds, I’m always going to come in, bring energy, bring energy on the bench, whatever I have to do to help our team win,” Arcidiacono said. “I call myself a utility baseball player out there because [Donovan will] throw me out there and be like, ‘Alright, you’re playing off the ball with Sato and Coby in the game, with Coby just in the game,’ whatever the case is I’m like alright, I’ll go in for 10 seconds, whatever you need from me I got you, and I think that’s what the coaching staff and Billy expects out of me.”

Bill of health

Both Otto Porter Jr. (back) and Lauri Markkanen (right shoulder sprain) made some progress before the team flew to Houston on Monday, and while Donovan was holding out hope that at least one can return before the All-Star Break, he wasn’t holding his breath.

“I think as this week unfolds and we get closer to the All-Star Break, we’ll certainly have to look at OP because he hasn’t been able to do a lot of cardio stuff,” Donovan said. “I don’t know if either of those guys will be back before the All-Star Break or not. I think a lot of it is going to depend on if they do get some time under their belt and can come back, have they had enough of a period of time to get themselves ready to play? I’d imagine both of those guys have been really, really diligent about working out and trying to take care of themselves, and doing what they can to keep their conditioning up.”

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