CHICAGO – In the midst of the best season of his young career, Derrick Rose has developed a new pregame ritual that he believes has helped elevate his game.
"Lifting weights," he said after Monday morning's shootaround. "Getting rest. This year, I've been lifting before every game. Or doing something before every game, and it's coming along where I'm getting used to it. And my body is recovering pretty fast and coach has been doing a great job telling us to lift. Trainers, [strength and conditioning coach] Erik [Helland] have been doing a great job. Everybody's been telling me that lifting is a big deal, especially when you're playing a lot of minutes."
Rose thinks the added workouts have helped keep his body in the type of shape he needs it to be in.
"It's just to make you feel right," he said. "Go in there, lift, then go shoot. Your body feels good. You feel re-energized. And you go out there and hoop."
Rose has been doing plenty of that lately, especially over the past two games. After trying for a while to get to the free-throw line more consistently, Rose seems to have finally figured out the right plan. He is a combined 25-for-29 from the charity stripe over his last two games and the difference is something that Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau is extremely pleased with.
"It causes a lot of problems," Thibodeau said of Rose's recent propensity for getting to the line. "When you're attacking like that, it gets their front line in foul trouble, so now it brings their bench in. It also puts them in the penalty earlier, so it's an opportunity to get to the line and get our defense set so we're not facing a live ball coming at us."
Rose said watching more tape was the key to his success, but Thibodeau believes the turnaround started because Rose doesn't shy away from contact as much anymore.
"He's been attacking," Thibodeau said. "And I think he's getting hit, and by trying to get away from the contact [earlier], he wasn't getting the call. And I think going up through the contact now, he's getting the call so it's better for him."
Thibodeau believes Rose’s new ability to get to the line is just one of the reasons his star is having such a strong start to the season.
"He's got great toughness," Thibodeau said. "And it's both physical and mental. Because even when he's not getting calls, he doesn't allow that frustration to get to him. He'll continue to drive. He's always in an attack mode. And like I've said all season, I think he's gotten much better defensively and I think he's playing a complete game for us."