It used to be very difficult to guard Derrick Rose five seasons ago.
The knees were both healthy and full of life, he had two working eyes, and while his game was predicated on violently attacking the rim, there was a beauty to it that bordered on art.
Now, it would seem the only difficulty with Rose is coaching him.
Not from the standpoint of the point guard understanding what is being taught on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball, as much as his perception of what is taking place out on the court compared to what the coach sees and the film shows.
Further evidence that far too often it’s Rose’s world, and besides that tight group around him, everyone else is just a visitor.
Tuesday’s blowout in Charlotte was just the latest example of Rose vs. reality. Following the most dismal performance in quite some time for a Bulls team, coach Fred Hoiberg was once again asked about pacing – a key element to his high-octane offense.
Specifically, the inconsistent pacing from Rose in pushing the ball up the floor.
“Yeah, we gotta keep working on it, and I think that’s the biggest thing, getting [Rose] reps,’’ Hoiberg said. “You know, again, he basically had the first 20-25 days off [after Sept. 30 orbital bone surgery], and then came back. The first game he came back he was great with the pace against Dallas. We gotta get him back to playing that way.’’
Hoiberg was then asked if he noticed Rose walking the ball up against the Hornets far too often.
“Yeah, we’re too much holding,’’ Hoiberg said. “We gotta get that thing moving side-to-side. It’s way too much holding the ball.’’
Minutes later, there was Rose in the locker room, offering up a completely different reality.
“As far as my performance, I love the way I pushed the ball,’’ Rose said. “Trying to get my conditioning under me and my legs under me and wait until everything heals.’’
Not the first time Rose’s reality has contradicted a coach. Tom Thibodeau went through it last season with Rose’s almost defiance to attack the rim, and Team USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski went through it in the summer of 2014 in dealing with what Rose was healthy enough to actually do in practice and in FIBA games.
So is the supposed face of the franchise really difficult to coach? Hoiberg wasn’t ready to go down that road on Wednesday.
“I don’t think it’s difficult to reach Derrick at all,’’ Hoiberg said. “We sat in the film room [Wednesday] and watched a lot of clips. He’s in there and understands and takes full accountability for his issues. That’s where it starts. You have to see it and get better.’’
Why the different versions of pacing in the loss then?
“Some of it is not his fault,’’ Hoiberg said. “A lot of times, we’re not running with him and getting down. It has to be a commitment by all five guys to get out and run. When we do it, we’re pretty effective. But there’s too much inconsistency in that area right now.’’
Message sent by the coach.
Thursday against the high-powered Oklahoma City Thunder will be a great test for Rose to see of the message was received.