Rose unhappy about Villanueva 'cheap shot'

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Rose unhappy about Villanueva 'cheap shot'

AUBURN HILLS, Mich.Sporting a cut over the bridge of his nose, Derrick Rose looked like he had been in boxing match Sunday night. In fact, he called the overtime win over the Pistons a brawl, though he didnt mean it in a literal sense.

However, Rose didnt find the flagrant foul committed on him by Pistons forward Charlie Villanueva to be simply in the spirit of the game. The veteran reserve hacked the reigning league MVP in transition with 4:31 left in the contest, something Rose took exception to.

Its basketball. Hit me in my face. I think he didnt go for the ball. Whatever they called it, they called it for a reason, he said. I was mad. Sick and tired of people trying to take cheap shots at me. Ive got to say something.

I really dont know why he gets cheap-shotted by opponents. Probably because I dont say anything, but Im a man. Situations like that, you have to say something, he continued. Youve got to. He didnt even aim for the ball. At least aim for the ball. I felt like he didnt and thats the reason why I got mad a little bit.

After the play, Rose and Villanueva got into it verbally, resulting in a technical foul for the Piston. Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau wasnt necessarily happy with the play, but accepted the referees explanation.

I thought he was getting to the rim, and he didnt get the calls, but he was getting hit, so hes got to keep going, he said. These guys, theyre great officials, so he said that it appeared to be worse than it actually was. Thats what he said to me. Usually, when they say that, they know that theyve gotten a pretty good look at it, so I dropped it right there. I thought the five-second count against Luol Deng with under a minute left in regulation was a little quick, but I guess sometimes on the road, thats to be expected. We were out of timeouts in that situation. Otherwise, we would have been able to use it, but we have to clean that up. We cant put ourselves in those situations.

Villanueva, who had been in first-year Pistons head coach Lawrence Franks doghouse and had only played 40 total minutes entering the game19 of which occurred in Detroits game against Orlando last weekscored a season-high 13 points on the evening, keying a second-quarter run by the home team. Ironically, he was also the high school teammate of Deng, Roses current teammate.

I hate that he played well against us, Deng told CSNChicago.com, while teammates Carlos Boozer and Ronnie Brewer joked about his love for Villanueva, who reportedly was defiant about the incident afterwards, in the background. But Im happy for Charlie.

Hes not a bad guy. He fouled Derrick pretty hard, he continued about the forward, who, along with former Bulls guard Ben Gordon, has been a major disappointment for the Pistons since signing as a free agent three summers ago. Charlie, hes not going to fight anybody. Its heat of the moment. Hes not that type of player.

Blackhawks get shut out in preseason opener by Chris Kunitz, Penguins

Blackhawks get shut out in preseason opener by Chris Kunitz, Penguins

Scott Darling stopped 33 of 35 shots but Chris Kunitz scored twice, including the game-winning power-play goal, as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Blackhawks 2-0 in the preseason opener at the United Center.

Tristan Jarry stopped all 30 shots he saw for the Penguins.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks outshot the Penguins 13-3 in the first 20 minutes. But Darling’s quiet first period was followed by a very busy second, when he saw and stopped 23 shots.

The Penguins broke through 2:31 into the third period when Kunitz tipped Trevor Daley’s shot for a 1-0 lead. A few minutes later Kunitz batted home his own rebound for a 2-0 Penguins lead.

Notre Dame players react to the firing of Brian VanGorder

Notre Dame players react to the firing of Brian VanGorder

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — James Onwualu and Brian VanGorder came to the Irish defense at the same time back in 2014, when Onwualu was moved from wide receiver to (briefly) safety right around when the now-former defensive coordinator was hired. 

Under VanGorder’s watch, Onwualu developed into a reliable outside linebacker and ultimately a senior captain. So when Notre Dame fired VanGorder on Sunday — a day after the school’s student section chanted “Fire Van-Gord-Er” during that brutal loss to Duke — it wasn’t necessarily an easy piece of news to digest for Onwualu and some of his teammates. 

“Obviously everybody was talking about it, even our student section seemed to have a strong stance on that,” Onwualu said. “It was shocking to me. Obviously this is the only defensive experience I've ever had. He's really all I knew defensively. So it's difficult for some older guys, you know, and me included to put that aside and just take the next step into something new.”

But that’s what Notre Dame has to do with VanGorder’s rocky tenure in the rearview mirror and Greg Hudson taking over as defensive coordinator, with coach Brian Kelly taking an increased role in his team’s leaky defense. 

Players understood why the move — which came in the wake of Kelly’s postgame comments saying everyone’s job wasn’t safe — was made, turning to the “it’s a business” line more frequently seen in a level of the sport in which the players are paid (which isn’t to say they’re wrong for viewing college football that way). 

“It was a bit surprising,” junior linebacker Nyles Morgan said. “I knew him personally obviously playing defense, but it’s a business. And so we’ve really bought into what coach (Greg) Hudson’s been saying, and we have to move forward. We can’t linger in the past.”

It’s not like Notre Dame players were blind to the problem, though. The team’s first sack of the season came when Morgan dropped Duke quarterback Daniel Jones on Saturday, and the defense allowed 50, 36 and 38 points in Notre Dame’s three losses. 

“The whole defense knows that we need to play better ball, and obviously if we were playing better ball, that maybe not would have happened,” Onwualu said. 

Safety Drue Tranquill said he felt some guilt about the firing of VanGorder and had sympathy for his now-former coach. 

“It wasn’t just coach VanGorder’s fault, the entire defense was struggling as a whole,” Tranquill said. “And he happens to be the leader of that. This is a really cutthroat business and I personally feel a sort of responsibility on my end. I can’t just watch the leader of the defense walk out and lose his job. It’s a really hard situation and it’s just real life. 

“It’s just this industry and it’s really cutthroat. So part of me really felt for him. But a part of me realized he probably wants me to rally around the guys in the locker room and he probably wants me out there giving it my all each and every day and not worrying about him, because it’s about Notre Dame. It’s about Notre Dame winning football games, so we just have to come in, positive mentality, and move forward.” 

On the offensive side of the ball, both quarterback DeShone Kizer and left tackle Mike McGlinchey said they fully trust Kelly to do what’s right for the team. And in this case, that meant making a change at defensive coordinator. 

“We lost a great coach, but things needed to happen for us to move forward,” Kizer said. “Coach Kelly makes the decision. We trust in whatever he has to say, and moving forward we'll make the adjustments that need to be made on the offensive side of the ball to pick up our defense and to start playing games and getting W’s.”

“The reaction from us is that football is the way it is and coach Kelly felt that there needed to be a change, and so we made it,” McGlinchey added. “And obviously it's tough when it's a mid-season change and guys are connected to coach VanGorder, and have a guy on our team that is his son (reserve quarterback and holder Montgomery VanGorder). But at the same time everybody understands that changes needed to be made, and that's the decision that coach Kelly made. So we all are behind it.”

Notre Dame players talked quite a bit about how enjoyable practice was on Tuesday and Wednesday, which would seem to fly in the face of the team’s 1-3 record and uncertain chances of becoming bowl eligible this year. Kelly said he fired VanGorder as part of an effort to bring more passion and fun to a team in need of a spark, but knew the decision wouldn’t sit well with everyone on his team. 

Regardless of how the move was received, it’s the one that was made. And Notre Dame needs its defense to play better going forward, otherwise a season that’s teetering on the brink of disaster could go careening over the edge. 

“He was really the one that gave me the opportunity and spent the time and invested in me to be able to play defense and to be able to be where I'm at today,” Onwualu said in describing the conversation he had with VanGorder after his firing. “So just a quick thanks for the opportunity and the time that you spent with me. I don't think it's a huge good-bye. It's like anybody you work with, right? It's a business, you know. Stay in contact and I hope your next step is a good one.”