Saturday, Jan. 1, 2011
By Aggrey Sam
As the 2011 calendar year begins, Derrick Rose continues to be under siege. In the midst of his elevation to a true superstarboth on and off the courtopposing defenses have shown him corresponding attention, blitzing him, blanketing him with two and sometimes three defenders; anything at their disposal to get the ball out of his hands.
While the increased defensive focus has occasionally resulted in some of the high-turnover games Rose has suffered through as of late, his evolution into a top-tier decision-maker and consummate floor general, albeit incomplete, has been sped up. Much of that is due to the freedom given to him by new Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau.
Never. Never in my whole life of playing basketball, said Rose about whether any of his other coaches have given him such latitude. He doesnt care. He just cares about defense. When we come down and shoot a bad shot or whatever, he doesnt really care about that. He wants to pick that up on the defensive end. That mistake on the offensive end, it cant happen on defense. He just says he can live with missed shots, but he cant live with people not giving their full effort."
In Memphis where Rose attended college, it was like a dribble-drive motion offense, where I didnt really need to call plays--or if I did, there were other players on the court that would call something because they were older than I was or they've been in that system for a long time--but last year, it was kind of like the same thing, Vinny really called all the calls, he continued. But this year, I'm learning the system a little bit more, studying it, especially when you've got a guy like Booz, where you could come down, tell Coach to sit down and you could just pass him the ball and let Booz do his thing or come down, do pick-and-roll, or you see Kyle's in the game and he's hot. You could call a play for him or Lu. It's easy when you've got options on the court.
Thats been another step in Roses development, picking and choosing what to do on the floor and when, given the autonomy he receives as a play-caller. Despite being a first-year head coach, the decision to let Rose operate with near-impunity on the offensive end hasnt been a difficult one for Thibodeau.
To me, he has the ability to read and if he sees something that he likes--we're in constant communication through the game--so he's telling me the things that he's seeing, I'm telling him the things that I'm seeing and in preparation for each opponent, we know what we're trying to attack and what we're looking for, said Thibodeau.
For me, I want him to attack. Him being aggressive, I want him to read, I want him to make the right play. I want him to run the team, in pick-and-rolls, transition, if he has the ball, he's the first option and that's what puts pressure on the defense," Thibodeau added. It's his responsibility to run the team and recognize what's going on and what the matchups are.
Added Rose: Thibodeau always tells me to take my time in practice, just making sure everybodys in the right spot because if one person messes up, it messes up our whole playit messes up the rhythm of the play that were runningso just making sure everybodys in the right spot and making sure that we run everything through.
Rose has obviously responded extremely positively to the trust Thibodeau has displayed in him, shedding some of his low-key demeanor as hes become empowered even more as an on-court, vocal leader for the team.
As a point guard, youve got to know what plays to call, said the third-year floor general. I look at Thibs sometimes, but other than that, I go with the flow.
The game really isn't that hard. I remember last year, we used to go into games and be like, 'Man, how are we going to win this game?' or 'What are we going to do?' But now, we go into games and we know what to do. If we're messing up in a certain area, we can hurry up and change it right when we're playing. We don't have to look at film tomorrow or say 'that's why we lost.' We can change it right there and that's been the difference between this year and last year, continued Rose, who didnt fault Chicagos previous coaching staff for any aspect of its instruction, but clearly believes Thibodeau has helped take his game to another level, both mentally and physically.
Roses newfound studiousness has been manifested in him taking a page from Thibodeau and watching game film in his off time, a diversion from his usual off-court consumption of sitcoms on DVD.
I don't really watch games. I look at the scores or whatever, but I don't watch NBA games like that, revealed Rose. Film, I'm watching a lot more, looking at how our team is and looking at the percentages and how we're doing.
While Rose has always been quietly confident, his production and talent are now so obvious that even the humble South Side native must admit hes approaching rare air, as far as his status around the league. A helpful nudge from his agent, former Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong, helped him realize that.
Just asking him what Mike Michael Jordan did or what they did at certain times and his knowledge of the game because he played with the greatest in the world, so he knows what he did. Im nothing near him, but he was just telling me all the things that he did, so I could have a little bit more confidence out there in knowing what Im doing, said Rose of what kind of advice he solicits from Armstrong. Hes a guy studies the game, was a pretty good point guard in the NBA, played for a couple of years, won championships and hes my agent, so why not ask him questions about everything he went through?
I know that now, I could easily come down and do whatever I want to do in the game, but Ive just got to pick it out at the right times, so that everybodys getting the touches that they want and I can easily get in the groove of the game.
At the same time, hes still the same 22-year-old whodespite playing in last years All-Star Gamejoked about his chances of playing in the annual event again next month, It would be great, but just get me on the team. Let me be the water boy or something like that. I'll be good. Towel boy or something. Let me run the clock or something. I'll be good.
New year, same Rose.
Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.com's Bulls Insider. Follow him @CSNBullsInsider on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bulls information and his take on the team, the NBA and much more.