Ex-DePaul, NBA star Strickland optimistic about protege Teague's future


Ex-DePaul, NBA star Strickland optimistic about protege Teague's future

Rod Stricklands been here before. A young, explosive point guard he mentored for a year in John Caliparis program, drafted by the Bulls after a freshman season that concluded with the final game of the NCAA Tournament.

Of course, Marquis Teagues lone college campaign ended with a championship, he wasnt the first overall pick in the NBA Draft and hes not carrying the hopes of an entire city on his back. But Strickland, a former DePaul standout, longtime top-notch NBA floor general and current University of Kentucky assistant coach, believes that although Teague went lower than projected in last weeks draft, its a blessing in disguise that he ended up in Chicago, where he can learn from the tutelage of Derrick Rose.

Its great for Marquis because hell get to go to a winning team, a defensive-oriented team, a great coach whos going to demand a lot out of you, like Coach Calipari did to him last year, so I think hell improve. Then, youve got D-Rose there to be by your side, give you tips and kind of show you the ropes, and show you how to be a professional, Strickland told CSNChicago.com, adding that its incredible how Rose has grown and matured so much since his less-vocal college days at the University of Memphis. If I was Marquis, Id be right on D-Roses coattails. Id try to take as much from him and whenever he was working out, Id be there with him because thats what its going to take. But I think hes got a great opportunity to be around that organization, a winning organization.

Strickland, who scored over 14,000 points and dished out over 7,000 assists in a 17-year NBA career following reaching All-American status with the Blue Demons, isnt saying Teague will make the same immediate impact Rose did upon entering the league, but he does think the Indianapolis native is a bit underrated after posting less-than-gaudy statistics he averaged 10 points and 4.8 assists per game on a squad featuring five other draft picks, including the first two overall selections, Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and will eventually flourish on the next level.

I think youll see a different Marquis Teague in the NBA. I think hell open up a little more. Plus, the court gets wider. Youre playing with even better players when you get in the league. The court opens up a lot and hell be able to use his quickness, Strickland explained by phone from Venezuela, where hes assisting Calipari with coaching the Dominican Republic mens basketball national team in a qualifying event for the upcoming Olympics in London. I think hell play better as a pro. I think the court opens up once you get to the league. The defense is different. Theyve got to concentrate on other players. Youre not the main focus.

Theyre going to demand a lot from him, both offensively and defensively, as far as running the team and being that leader, and defensively, what Marquis can do is he can get up in people, he can pressure the ball. He has a toughness about him. I think all those things can be brought out even more with the Bulls.

"Then, youve got D-Rose there. I think thats big-time for him, to teach him what it takes to be a professional and stay in that league for a long period of time, he continued. I think hes capable of being a very good defender. He can get in the ball. Hes strong and quick enough, so I think he can be very good in that.

Teagues transition from a top-10 prep prospect because of his scoring ability to a distributor in college had its ups and downs, but by the end of the season, he found a balance between remaining aggressive, yet limiting his turnovers and keeping his fellow future NBA peers happy by spreading the wealth.

He had to fall back a little bit and Im sure there were times when that was frustrating. He had to get used to that, he had to adjust to it and I think thats probably why he struggled in the beginning," said Strickland. "Hes playing with very good to great players. I think that was an adjustment. In high school, he was the man, he did everything, he just took over and he just played his game. I think some of his instincts were taken away because he had so many great players. As a floor leader, he became better and better as the season went on.

"In the beginning, he struggled with it. When he came in, he had a scorers mentality, but then he realized that wasnt going to be able to be the way he played at Kentucky and it wasnt going to help us succeed, and he changed. He became that floor leader as a point guard, he became more vocal as the year went on. He just grew and matured as a player and a person as the year went on and at the end, he had us under control and he ran the team.

Thats the biggest thing that happened to him. He kind of transformed into a pass-first point guard. Marquis, I think hes a real competitive kid. Tough, hard-nosed kid. Wants to win, wants to compete, he added. When the game gets a little physical and tight and close and a little chatty, he likes that. He enjoys that.

Teague is still a work in progress, but with his ability to get into the paint and push the ball in transition, a focus on pressuring the ball defensively and improvement on his inconsistent outside jumper, he could provide the Bulls with another dimension and in time, a change-of-pace guard behind Rose. And at a time when teams in the league are increasingly going to small-ball, dual point-guard sets think Denvers use of veteran Andre Miller and young speedster Ty Lawson or how former Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro played All-Star Chris Paul and another Strickland protg at Kentucky, Eric Bledsoe, together with the Clippers his potential becomes evident.

But any visions of how Tom Thibodeau utilizes the duo has to be taken with a grain of salt, as Roses ongoing recovery is still first and foremost in the minds of observers, though Strickland is optimistic about how the former league MVP will respond.

Knowing D-Rose, hes chomping at the bit right now, probably pissed off hes got to sit out and cant get on that court, so Im sure hes doing everything hes got to do to get ready. I see him coming back as D-Rose. I dont see anything being different, he said. I think he loves challenges. I hate that he got injured like that, but Im expecting to see D-Rose when he gets back on the court. Thats the only thing I know from him.

Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks with knee sprain

Kris Dunn out 4-6 weeks with knee sprain

The Bulls season has gotten off to a rocky start, losing their first three games of the campaign. Part of that can be attributed to injuries to star Lauri Markkanen, and things just got a whole lot worse.

Point guard Kris Dunn will miss the next four to six weeks with an MCL sprain in his left knee.

Dunn played in his first game against the Mavericks on Monday night after missing the first two games for the birth of his son. Dunn scored nine points with seven assists and four rebounds.

Cam Payne has been filled in for Dunn in the first two games and will be tabbed to do so for the next month or so

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

Power Rankings Roundup: People are pretty apathetic about losing to the Patriots

While the notion of a "good loss" is more coachspeak than anything of real substance, it looks like NFL media agree. 

After a close loss to the Patriots -- about three feet close, to be exact -- Power Rankings makers aren't blaming the Bears too much. In fact, shoutout to our mothership, Big NBC Sports, for actually *raising* the Bears in their latest rankings. Thanks guys! 

Here's what they're saying: 

Ours: #17, down 4 -
You can do worse than barely losing to the Patriots, but what on earth has happened to Chicago's defense?

NBCSports: #10, up 1 - 
Bears went toe-to-toe with the Patriots and made it to the later rounds before taking one on the chin. No shame in that.

NFL.com: #11, N/A - 
The opportunities were there for the Bears, who took it to the Patriots in the first half Sunday. The second half was a different story, as Chicago was stuck in catch-up mode.

Washington Post: #16, down 1 - 
The Bears came up a yard shy of a tying TD on the Hail Mary against the Patriots. This was a far less egregious loss than falling to Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins a week earlier. But it was still a loss.

ESPN: #13, down 1 - 
Need more from: RB Jordan Howard. Howard is averaging only 3.46 yards per rush, which ranks 41st out of 47 qualifying running backs. Bears running backs as a whole rank 30th with 1.45 yards after contact per rush, and Mitchell Trubisky has led the team in rushing in two of the past three games.

Sports Illustrated: #18, N/A - 
The Bears were 3-1 before starting a four-game tour of the AFC East. They need to take care of business against the Jets and Bills to keep pace in a tough NFC North.

Sporting News: #16, down 1 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and the offense have become a fun, unpredictable and mostly explosive roller-coaster ride, but the defense is showing it has plenty of leaks behind Khalil Mack.

FanSided: #17, down 2 - 
Mitchell Trubisky and those special teams were a disaster on Sunday.

Bleacher Report: #15, N/A - 
The problem is the Bears also have five tough divisional games remaining, including two with the Vikings. A date with the Rams also looms. However, if the Bears take care of business in the first four games mentioned, they will need to go just 3-3 in their remaining six matchups to go 10-6 and (presumably) make the playoffs.