John Calipari supports Derrick Rose
Count Derrick Rose's former coach among those who think the one-time MVP will, at the very least, return to form when he comes back from the devastating ACL injury he suffered in the NBA playoffs this past spring.
"I think that you're going to see a player, you'll be amazed when he comes back," Kentucky coach John Calipari told ESPN 1000's "Carmen, Jurko & Harry" show on Wednesday. "(Rose's) skill set will be even better. I think his shooting will be even better because he only knows one thing.
"He almost has a fear, an anxiety about not being good enough. He's tougher on himself than anyone around him. I used to tell him 'you're too hard on yourself, man. You're going to get to the NBA, there's too many games. You can't on yourself like this. You gotta let it go. You gotta go on to the next game.'"
Calipari coached Rose in college at Memphis in 2007-08 and has remained a confidant. He found Rose's response to the injury encouraging.
"I spoke to him, it was about a month ago -- may have been a little longer than that," Calipari said. "We spoke for about 30 minutes, this was after the injury and I just wanted to make sure that he was, mentally, in a great frame of mind. As we spoke, I really didn't have to do anything to get him in the right frame of mind. He was in the right frame of mind.
"He looked at the whole thing in a bigger picture and basically said, 'You know this may have been a message to me to slow down and to really look at what's going on around me and to step back.' He said 'I think God was telling me things are coming at you too fast.' And he said 'coach I'm gonna come back (and) wait until you see my body when I come back.' And he said 'I'm going to be better than I was before I got hurt.' And if you know him, you understand when he gets on a mission that way, he's going."
Rose tore his ACL in Chicago's first playoff game against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 28. The organization has said it expects him to miss between eight and 12 months -- though team physician Brian Cole recently told ESPNChicago.com's Nick Friedell that Rose was "ahead of schedule."
In the wake of Rose's injury, expectations for the Bulls have declined dramatically. Calipari wasn't so quick to dismiss the team's chances, however.
"If I'm in Chicago, I'm excited about seeing when he comes back," Calipari said. "It's going to be a process because this is one of those eight-month injuries. I think what'll happen is guys around him will make the team better, and when he comes back, the first couple weeks, they'll try to figure out each other. And as soon as they do figure out each other, now you've got one of the best players (in the NBA) surrounded by players who have all improved."
Calipari said the NBA's hectic schedule last season -- a 66-game lockout-shortened slate -- may have taken a toll on Rose and others around the league.
"I think part of what happened with (Rose) and (there is) no one to blame, but there were so many games, and he only knows one speed on that basketball court, which is I'm coming at you teeth and feet. ... Well when you start playing nine games in 12 days, come on," Calipari said. "I think there some of that happened this year not only to him but to other guys."
The Bulls drafted another Calipari pupil -- Kentucky point guard Marquis Teague -- and brought back veteran Kirk Hinrich to ease the burden while Rose is out. Earlier this week, the team cut ties with C.J. Watson, who backed up Rose the past two seasons. Chicago is likely going to add one more point guard to the mix before the season begins.