Rookie of the Year!
Rookie of the Year!
Rookie of the Year!
C'mon, UC fans, let me hear you!
They're always yelling "MVP" stuff about Kobe and LeBron.
The Bulls have this season's NBA Rookie of the Year.
"It's not even close," one scout told me Saturday night after Derrick Rose lit up the Memphis Grizzlies for 26 points in a 96-86 Bulls victory. "Unless maybe Greg Oden does something, and it looks like he'll miss a lot of games. And they haven't even gotten to opening up the court for him yet."
You want to get a good look at this, not just the blazing "ooh and ah" Rose crossover on last year's point guard future Mike Conley late in the first half or the bailout pass Rose took from Ben Gordon while Rose was slashing down the lane and dunked forcefully or just shakin' and bakin' a little between the legs and draining a jumper.
He shoots, too?
It's not his highlight yet, and the range of, say, Deron Williams isn't there as well. And Rose can find a few rookie mistakes with opponents trapping him and ping ponging him all over the court, like dribbling out the clock with 24 seconds or passing as the shot clock ran out one time as well.
Though that's like complaining about lint on Catherine Zeta-Jones. Sorry, us old guys like her best.
Yes, it is the Grizzlies and they did win at home dramatically Friday night, but the Grizzlies are an athletic group and had their way much of the first half. It wasn't a particularly inspiring time for the Bulls coming off Friday's drubbing in Boston.
Other than perhaps Kirk Hinrich stepping into three three pointers in the first half in his most confident shooting of the 2-1 start.
As an aside, coach Vinny Del Negro agreed he's learning as well as in continuing to experiment in rotations he pretty much forgot about Hinrich and left him out too long after Hinrich's good start, much like Del Negro kept Rose out too long Friday, even though Rose had some foul trouble but would end up with just four fouls against the Celtics.
Del Negro still is learning his players and the players are waiting.
Drew Gooden, who had a terrific defensive effort Saturday with 20 rebounds, was telling me after the game he knows the coach with his fourth team has to learn to trust him. I was asking Gooden about posting up more and Gooden said he and the team continue to work out whether his best offense for the team will come from posting up or facing up.
Gooden is not exactly Kobe working out of the post, but he can be effective, especially on a team that doesn't have much in the post. Of course, the other side of that is trying to keep the middle open for Rose. But every team needs to penetrate the paint in various ways, and with the pass is vital.
I did like the way the Bulls finished the game with Rose, Hinrich, Gooden, Luol Deng and Andres Nocioni. Though that's a small front line, it fits probably best with Rose with players who can make shots and spread the court.
Look, Rose isn't Michael Jordan, though I was here covering Jordan in 1984 when he arrived and every game was the same. It was about Jordan, how much he scored, the plays he made. Rose doesn't have that game, and somewhat as important, doesn't have that personality.
He's a surprisingly quiet kid, too quiet, even he admits.
Rose said he got a lesson in that against Boston Friday watching how the champion Celtics communicated, talked trash and to one another, how much fun they seemed to be having—who wouldn't against that Bulls effort?—and how that is important. Rose said he will be trying.
Which I'm getting to.
It is amusing in some respects to be in the post game locker room. The players drift out with a ring of media members around, waiting for the so called stars of the game.
It was another quiet effort from Ben Gordon, and he sat quietly dressing and no one went to ask him a question. Andres Nocioni, interestingly, from a player who barely understood English a few years ago, has become one of the chattiest of players, initiating small talk with reporters as they enter the room.
The rule is the coach speaks in the press room and when he is finished the locker room door is opened.
Hinrich came out to speak and reporters gathered around him with what I called the Pippen look. That's when Scottie Pippen would come out to talk with everyone gathered around asking him questions until Jordan would walk out and everyone would sprint to his locker.
So it was as Rose ambled out and reporters sprinted directly at Rose even as Hinrich was still answering questions.
It's like musical chairs. You never want to be the reporter asking the question when the star of the game walks out across the room. Because then you have to stay because it is too rude to walk away. It's rude for the others, but they don't care.
The players understand, and Hinrich is a reluctant interview anyway, so he usually seems glad there aren't any more questions.
Here's what Rose had to say:
Question: Talk about going offensively with your own shot.
Rose: They were backing off. I know I can shoot. I was just shooting the ball.
Question: Did the coach talk to you about being more aggressive?
Rose: He told me it would be OK if I shoot. He didn't care how many shots. Just shoot the ball and try to get your teammates open and we'll have a good chance to win the game.
Question: Third quarter did you want to dictate more?
Rose: We just got in a flow. We were open but we weren't making shots early. When we realized they weren't falling that's when we started driving.
Question: The knock on you is you need to work on your outside shot. Do you feel comfortable taking that when they back off?
Rose: Yeah, it's comfortable. They leave me open, I've got confidence in my jump shot. Why not take it?
Question: You surprised you've been scoring so much?
Rose: Not really. All I'm trying to do is win the game. If that takes me to score 20 some points or five some points it doesn't matter as long as we win.
Question: Were you trying to turn it up a notch in the fourth quarter?
Rose: I was just trying to be aggressive because we've got people on our team who are real good. So I know if I'm being aggressive, they're going to be aggressive behind me.
Question: How about the first flagrant foul against you (by Kyle Lowry on a late drive)?
Rose: I didn't know it was flagrant until the crowd was going crazy. That's basketball. Things will happen.
(I was wondering if that was retaliation of sorts from Memphis point guards who heard all last season how much better than they are Rose is and how much the team wanted him)
(Rose said he didn't know, but added: "That's what everyone in the NBA is going to do, test you. That's what rookies get: Welcome to the NBA. When you get challenged like that, when I'm getting challenged I'm going right back at them.")
Question: Did it hurt?
Rose: No. Not at all.
Question: Do you feel comfortable in the NBA style of play?
Rose: I've just got to be aggressive. As long as I'm aggressive I get people open or tend to score. All I worry about is winning.
Question: Tonight was the first big rookie match-up of you and (O.J.) Mayo. Do you pay attention?
Rose: I couldn't care less what they're doing now. I'm just trying to win and focus on the Bulls organization.
Question: Is it tough to know when to take the shoot or look for the open man?
Rose: The vets tell me if they back off, shoot.
Question: Is this your demeanor after a win?
Rose: I've got to be more emotional when I'm on the court, talk and yell a little more. After playing the Celtics and seeing how they play, everyone is emotional. I've got to show a little more emotion.
Question: Is that hard for you?
Rose: Very hard. I don't know why. It's just very hard. That's not me, not my personality. I’m a quiet guy, so why change? I'm going to start. It gets your team ready. When you're out there, you're going to war. The Celtics game. Man, that was an emotional team. There wasn't one time on the court they weren't talking to each other. They were having fun. I'm just learning.
That's scary, though not for Bulls fans.
It was a brilliant start for Tyrus Thomas, with a pair of jump-out-of-the-gym blocks, but he fell back into wild shots and little impact. Joakim Noah was awful in a brief stretch, apparently running to the wrong spot every time as teammates waved madly directing him. Del Negro took him out after seven minutes and left him out. Luol Deng continued to struggle with quick shots and Ben Gordon was, surprisingly, not looking for his shot in most of his early stint. But after that ugly loss and with a trip to Orlando and Cleveland, it was a vital early season win.
"We took a hard loss (Friday)," said Rose. "It hadn't been off my mind. We went out there and didn't play hard. This game was important."
Hey, a rookie of the year? And a leader?
We'll see. It's been a long time since the Bulls had one of either.
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