University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari appeared on ESPN’s First Take Wednesday and essentially came to the defense of Derrick Rose, whom he coached while at the University of Memphis.
Since arriving in the NBA, Rose has been categorized as a “scoring” point guard and not a “traditional” distributor and shot creator for others. Skip Bayless, the show's antagonist, said he didn’t feel Rose was a “great” point guard for those very reasons.
Calipari quickly said he was the person who converted Rose's mentality and turned him into a scorer.
“When he came with me, he was pass first, please everybody else, run down and shoot some layups. … I probably changed that in his game,” Calipari said. “In the National Championship game, that Kansas team – think of those players – that team was way better than [Memphis], and all of a sudden, they’re up at the half and we’re about ready to get blown out. And I look at Derrick as I walk off the floor and I ask him, ‘You want to win?’ and he says yes. So I tell him, ‘Shoot the ball and quit passing!’"
Calipari went on to defend the other knock on Rose which is on the defensive side of the ball. The coach explained that teams mostly catch him in pick-and-roll situations that make it difficult for any player to guard his man one-on-one.
Calipari said defense wasn’t the best part of Derrick’s game, but he isn’t nearly as bad as people make him out to be. He also praised Rose by calling him the hardest working player he’s ever coached and said with confidence that he’d be back better than ever after his knee injury.
“This kid defers to his teammates, he wants to win, he’ll cry after losses and he’s doing what their coach wants," he said. "If Tom Thibodeau told him don’t shoot, he would not shoot. I’m telling you. I coached him.”