ST. LOUIS — We all know that Derrick Rose is Chicago through and through, being born and raised on the city’s South Side, a graduate of Simeon Career Academy and playing for his hometown Bulls.
But if any other city can lay even a minimal claim to Rose, it’s Memphis, where he attended the University of Memphis for his lone college season and led the Tigers to the NCAA national-championship game before being selected first overall in the 2008 NBA Draft. Still, despite just spending one year in the “Bluff City,” there’s a still a connection to the only place other than Chicago where Rose has resided, as he’s missed the Bulls’ last two road matchups against the Grizzlies.
“I haven’t played against Memphis in a long time. The last few times that we played against Memphis, I was injured, so for me to play against them, it should be a fun game,” said Rose, who missed last season’s game at Memphis during his year-long absence and also missed the Martin Luther King Day game in the 2011-12 season due to injury. “Memphis, they’re good, man. They have a good team. I’m real close friends with one of the guys on the team, Tony Allen. Chicago guy. I really know his little brother and I’m happy for him, and I wish nothing but the best this year."
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Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau might not have the same fondness for Memphis that his star player does, but he has a great respect for the Grizzlies as a team.
“They’re a deep team, they play in the paint, adding Mike Miller is a big plus for them, but they’re tough. Inside, very good defensively, Conley is one of the more underrated point guards in the league. Tony Allen has great impact on the game defensively, and Tayshaun Prince has been around for a long time. Then, when you look at [Zach] Randolph and [Marc] Gasol inside, you know they’re tough, very tough team,” he explained before the Bulls’ morning shootaround at the Scottrade Center, the site of Monday evening’s preseason contest.
Thibodeau said he plans to utilize Rose in similar fashion to Saturday’s preseason opener in Indianapolis, in a trio of six-to-eight minute segments.
“We’ll see how he’s responding, but if he needs a rest we’re going to get him out,” he explained. “The big thing is last year he practiced from the second half of the season, so we saw that part and now the next step is obviously the games, and preseason games are obviously different than regular-season games. But just the speed and the explosion are back, attacking on both ends and then to see how he responds the next day, to get used to the grind of an NBA season, so that’s the next challenge.
“We want to give a little more time to our second unit so that they have an opportunity to grow together,” the coach went on to say about the rest of his rotation. “I expect the guys in the second unit to get in there and get the job done. We’re building winning habits. For us, winning is important and it’s important to establish winning habits. Throughout the course of the season, you are counting on everybody, so that next man has to get in there and get the job done. That’s what I was pleased with in the first game. There are a lot of things that we need to do better, and hopefully we’ll be able to improve this game.”
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While Rose is resting, he plans to repeat a routine first witnessed against the Pacers, where he used a softball as a stretching technique while in a seated position on the floor.
“It’s really my hamstrings,” he explained. “If you have ACL problems, your hamstrings are the first thing to tighten up, so for me, it’s always keeping them loose and making sure they don’t get tight. That’s how you prevent injuries.”
Although the game is being held in St. Louis — accessible to fans of both teams — it’s considered a Bulls home game. The arena is the home of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, though it has been used for NCAA Tournament basketball games.