September 20, 2014
Mike Krzyzewski is done asking Derrick Rose how he feels. The Team USA coach made that evident Monday night before Tuesday’s 101-71 win over Slovenia in the final exhibition game at the Gran Canaria Arena in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.
‘‘I asked [Rose on Monday], and he said, ‘I feel great,’ ’’ Krzyzewski told reporters. ‘‘He did everything. He’s full-go. I think there’s a part of him that’s like, ‘Quit asking me how I feel. I’m good.’ So I’m not going to ask him anymore.’’
You’d hope someone would because while FIBA World Cup tournament play doesn’t start until Saturday, Rose continued to look like a guy whose game never made it through customs.
Coming off the bench behind Kyrie Irving for a second straight game, Rose looked unsure with the ball, evident in three turnovers in his 20 minutes. He was a pedestrian 3-for-6 from the free-throw line, missed an uncontested layup and seemed passive on offense (0-for-3) and inconsistent on defense (minus-4 in the plus/minus category).
He wasn’t the player who first showed up to Las Vegas last month, wowing teammates and coaches on both sides of the ball.
But for now, Rose gets a free pass. He missed two days of practice and an exhibition game in New York while battling fatigue last week, and of course there’s the elephant in the room of having played just 10 regular-season games since the 2012 playoffs because of season-ending surgeries to both knees.
Not that Rose minds being a decoy rather than a highlight film — a mentality he has preached since checking in to USA Basketball.
‘‘For me individually, it’s playing under control and shooting the right shots,’’ Rose said recently. ‘‘It’s no need for me to force any shots with all the offensive threats that we have on our team. I don’t have to shoot, not one shot, but just being prepared to shoot those shots whenever I have the opportunity.’’
The important news is that Rose seemingly came out of Tuesday’s game healthy. With three days to practice and rest for a stretch of five games in six days, Team USA’s coaching staff will have to keep a close eye on Rose, making sure the rust is indeed coming off and there are no concerns about setbacks.
That’s where Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the USA assistant coach, comes in.
‘‘You’re going day by day,’’ Thibodeau said of Rose’s workload once the preliminary games begin. ‘‘We knew that going in. . . . It is a progression. [Rose] has gotten a lot better. The main thing is shaking the rust off. He will continue to build. If he needs a day off, he will get a day off. He says he feels great.’’
Meanwhile, rust remained the furthest thing from the mind of Chicagoan Anthony Davis. The big man dominated again Tuesday, scoring a team-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds and five blocks.