NBA veterans influence evident in Rose, Wall

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NBA veterans influence evident in Rose, Wall

Saturday, Nov. 13, 2010
Updated 3:22 PM

By Aggrey Sam
CSNChicago.com

As if their ridiculous explosiveness and other similarities weren't enough, Derrick Rose and John Wall - facing off Saturday night at the United Center for the first time in the regular season - both had a shared advantage upon entering the professional ranks: during their lone years in college basketball, the point guards were each tutored by 17-year NBA veteran Rod Strickland.

Strickland, an All-American at DePaul in the late 1980s and regarded as one of the league's best floor generals during his playing days, was an assistant coach at Memphis when Rose led the Tigers to the national-championship game and guided Wall last season at Kentucky. A pass-first playmaker who once led the league in assists, Strickland was also one of the NBA's best finishing point guards, although he lacked the elite athleticism of his proteges.

"They both had that finishing ability even before they got to college. As far as finishing, you've just got to go in there and be aggressive, but they're so athletic and they're physical, so it comes easy to them," Strickland told CSNChicago.com. "As far as their jump shots, even if you're not a great shooter coming out of high school or college, your shot gets better if you work hard on it. They don't have to necessarily be great shooters, they just have to get to spots and make shots to make people think that you can shoot sometimes.

"The hardest thing sometimes when you come into the league is playing against guys you look up to. Now, you've got to be the guy that turns dudes down and makes decisions. That could be a big adjustment for a young PG," continued Strickland about his advice to the two No. 1 picks. "I just told them both to basically go at everybody, always be aggressive, always compete."

A frequent point of comparison for Rose and Wall is concern about their outside shooting - something Rose has started to rectify in his third season and an area in which Wall may be better than advertised - but Strickland believes developing a strong leadership presence and overcoming adversity are more integral to pro success.

"For me it was different, because they the New York Knicks had Mark Jackson Strickland's rookie year. I was more like 'D. Rose' - kind of quiet, got people in spots because of the flow of the game. 'J. Wall,' he's a talkative type, he's going to tell everybody what to do and where to go, real outgoing. It's funny because when 'D. Rose got in the league, I thought that would be adjustment for him, but 'J. Wall,' he's just an outgoing person. 'D. Rose' was one of those guys that might point or slow things down. 'D. Rose' seems to have gotten more outspoken," said Strickland, who also coached last season's Rookie of the Year, Tyreke Evans, at Memphis, as well as Clippers rookie point guard Eric Bledsoe - who's seen an uptick in his minutes under former Bulls head coach Vinny Del Negro while starter Baron Davis is sidelined - at Kentucky as collegians.

"With their games, their work ethic, me and everybody around them knew they'd be successful right away and be able to fight through the bad times," continued Strickland. "I'm sure it's tough - coming from a winning program, then losing a lot of games - competitors keep at it. Those guys just make it another challenge. I don't necessarily believe in that - the 'rookie wall.' I never thought I hit it when I played. I thought it was just a mindset. Those guys are competitive enough and their work ethic is great, so even when they struggle - and everybody does over the course of an 82-game season - they'll get past it."

Added Strickland: I'm not surprised about anything either one of those guys does because of their work ethic and way they went about their business in college. You would hear stuff, but I see them every day and I've been in that league and I know what that league's about. The court opens up so wide for them - guys can't leave them and they're playing with better players every night - that what they're doing is not surprising to me at all. They become different people when they get on the court. They love the lights. What Derrick has done, what John is doing so far, I expected that."

Rose talked about Strickland's influence on him after Friday's Bulls practice.

"Spending hours in the gym with him after practice, going over things, just working on my finishing moves and stuff, he helped me out a lot and I appreciate him for that," said Rose. "I still don't know how to finish like he does, but he was one of the greatest finishers in the NBA. I'm still learning."

As for the matchup with Wall, Rose, as always, prefers to focus on the game from a team standpoint.

"He's a good player, a good young player. He's got good vets over there that are helping him out. But I'm not too worried about the matchup. It's all about winning games and that's all I'm trying to do right now, trying to put my team in a position to win every time we step on the court," said Rose. "Every point guard brings something new. He brings quickness and strength. Saturday's going to be an exciting night."

Aggrey Sam is CSNChicago.coms 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.

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

The last White Sox rebuild: Bobby Howry remembers aftermath of '97 'White Flag' trade

Bobby Howry wasn't aware of the fact he was part of one of the more infamous transactions in White Sox history until a few years after it happened. 

In 1997, with the White Sox only 3 1/2 games behind the division-leading Cleveland Indians, general manager Ron Schueler pulled the trigger on a massive trade that left many around Chicago — including some in the White Sox clubhouse — scratching their heads. Heading to the San Francisco Giants was the team's best starting pitcher (left-hander Wilson Alvarez), a reliable rotation piece (Doug Drabek) and a closer coming off a 1996 All-Star appearance (Roberto Hernandez). In return, the White Sox acquired six minor leaguers: right-handers Howry, Lorenzo Barcelo, Keith Foulke, left-hander Ken Vining, shortstop Mike Caruso and outfielder Brian Manning. Only Foulke had major league experience, and it wasn't exactly good (an 8.26 ERA in 44 2/3 innings). 

Howry was largely oblivious to the shocking nature of the trade that brought him from the Giants to White Sox until, before the 1999 season, he was featured in a commercial that referenced the "White Flag trade."

"I don't even know if I knew it was called that before then," Howry recalled last weekend at the Sheraton Grand Chicago at Cubs Convention. 

The trade was a stark signal that youth would be emphasized on 35th and Shields. Both Alvarez and Hernandez were set to become free agents after the 1997 season, and the 40-year-old Darwin wasn't a long-term piece, either. With youngsters like Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Lee rising through the farm system, the move was made with an eye on the future and maximizing the return on players who weren't going to be long-term pieces. 

Sound familiar? 

It's hardly a perfect comparison, but when the White Sox traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox in December for four minor leaguers — headlined by top-100 prospects in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech — it was the first rebuilding blockbuster trade the organization had made since the 1997 White Flag deal. Shortly after trading their staff ace at the 2016 Winter Meetings, the White Sox shipped Adam Eaton — their best position player — to the Washington Nationals for a package of prospects featuring two more highly-regarded youngsters in Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. 

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And there still could be more moves on the horizon, too, for Rick Hahn's White Sox (Jose Quintana has been the subject of persistent rumors since the Winter Meetings). But for those looking for an optimistic outlook of the White Sox rebuilding plans, it's worth noting that the club's last youth movement, to an extent, was successful.

Only Howry (3.74 ERA over 294 games) and Foulke (2.87 ERA, 100 saves over 346 games) became significant long-term pieces for the White Sox from those six players brought over in 1997. And it wasn't like Schueler dealt away any of the franchise's cornerstones — like Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Robin Ventura — but with future starters in Lee, Ordonez and Chris Singleton on their way the White Sox were able to go young. A swap of promising youthful players (Mike Cameron for Paul Konerko) proved to be successful a year and a half later. 

And with a couple of shrewd moves — namely, dealing Jamie Navarro and John Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Cal Eldred and Jose Valentin — the "Kids Can Play" White Sox stormed to an American League Central title in 2000. 

"It was great," Howry said of developing with so many young players in the late 1999's and 2000. "You come in and you feel a lot more comfortable when you got a lot of young guys and you're all coming up together and building together. It's not like you're walking into a primarily veteran clubhouse where you're kind of having to duck and hide all the time. We had a great group of guys and we built together over a couple of years, and putting that together was a lot of fun."

What sparked things in 2000, Howry said, was that ferocious brawl with the Detroit Tigers on April 22 in which 11 players were ejected (the fight left Foulke needing five stitches and former Tigers catcher/first baseman Robert Fick doused in beer). 

"About the time we had that fight with Detroit, that big brawl, all of a sudden after then we just seemed to kind of come together and everything started to click and it took off," Howry said. 

The White Sox went 80-81 in 1998 and slipped to 75-86 in 1999, but their 95-67 record in 2000 was the best in the league — though it only amounted to a three-game sweep at the hands of the wild-card winning Seattle Mariners. 

Still, the White Flag trade had a happy ending two and a half years later. While with the White Sox, Howry didn't feel pressure to perform under the circumstances with which he arrived, which probably helped those young players grow together into eventual division champions. 

"I was 23 years old," Howry said. "At 23 years old, I didn't really — I was just like, okay, I'm still playing, I got a place to play. I didn't really put a whole lot of thought into three veteran guys for six minor leaguers." 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox Talk Podcast: Zack Collins discusses staying at catcher

White Sox 2016 first round pick Zack Collins joins the podcast to talk about his future with the White Sox, when he hopes to make the big leagues and the doubters who question whether he can be a major league catcher.   He discusses comparisons with Kyle Schwarber, his impressions of Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, why his dad took him to a Linkin Park concert when he was 6 years old and much more.