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Rose focused, comfortable, confident in Team USA sessions
By Adam Fluck | 08.14.2014
As Derrick Rose and his USA Basketball teammates wrapped up the first of two training sessions in Chicago, Tom Thibodeau praised his star guard for not only his impressive play on the court, but how he’s worked his way back into the game mentally.
“He had a great day today,” Thibodeau, an assistant coach for USA Basketball, said of Rose on Thursday. “Each day, there’s been improvement. He’s taking it day by day. Don’t force things and find the rhythm of the game. I think that’s what he’s doing. He learned from his comeback last season just to be a little more patient. I like the way he’s playing on both ends of the floor.”
Thibodeau said USA Basketball has once again provided a “great setting” for Rose, who was able rest and work on his conditioning for about a week as he and his teammates moved from Las Vegas to Chicago.
USA Basketball will again train on Friday before meeting Brazil on Saturday night in an exhibition game at the United Center.
Rose is part of a group that has recently lost two of its key members with the Paul George injury and withdrawal of Kevin Durant, who cited the need to rest and reenergize for the coming NBA season.
Rudy Gay, a teammate of Rose’s on the team that won gold at the 2010 USA World Championship, has been added. While moving forward without the likes of Durant and George was unexpected, Thibodeau said that the quality of the team’s depth will go a long way as it moves forward. Furthermore, he doesn’t foresee any additional pressure on Rose in their absence.
“I don’t think his role will change,” said Thibodeau of Rose. “We were fortunate to pick up Rudy and he’s been involved with USA so I think it will be a seamless transition. You’re adding another quality scorer and that’s one of the good things about this team—when you look at the talent level of all the guys on the team, a lot of them can score. Obviously Kevin is the MVP and a great scorer, but we feel we were very fortunate to pick up Rudy and this is an opportunity for some other guys too. James Harden is a big time scorer. Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry can score. We’ve got a lot of guys who can score so it will be [about] playing for each other and playing to win, everyone sacrificing their individual game for the sake of the team.”
At the end of the day, Thibodeau explained, the emphasis is on winning and the players have bought into that completely.
“We’re asking all these guys to sacrifice playing time and taking some shots and to play for the team,” said Thibodeau. “So there’s no burden to score 25 points or play a lot of minutes. Just go out there and do your job. That’s what [Rose] did in 2010.”
Acknowledging that Rose is a player who has put a lot of pressure on himself in the past, Thibodeau said he likes that he’s had a look of comfort and confidence as of late. He applauded the pace at which Rose is playing, adding that he is reading the game very well and shooting when he should shoot, passing when he should pass and not forcing anything.
“You’re not going to find a better guy than him,” Thibodeau said of Rose. “He’s obviously a superstar talent but he’s a great guy on top of that. He’s a great teammate and we’re very fortunate to have him here in Chicago. He plays to win and he plays for the team. It’s been very unfortunate to have the injuries, but I think in the end the injuries are going to make him a lot stronger. I think he’s grown through that adversity and I think he’s prepared himself well for the coming season.”