Coach K: Derrick Rose 'had his look'

BARCELONA, Spain -- Derrick Rose has convinced at least one prominent member of the American basketball community that he has turned a significant corner in his comeback from two seasons lost to serious knee trouble.

"He's ready to be Derrick," Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski proclaimed Wednesday.

It was the day after Rose rung up a productive 12 points and five assists during Tuesday night's quarterfinal victory over Slovenia at the Palau Sant Jordi.

And the declaration came two days after Krzyzewski, in a one-on-one meeting with Rose, urged the Chicago Bulls' star to stop focusing so much on facilitating and fitting in at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and turn his attention inward for a change.

The result?

"It's kind of a stark contrast really," Krzyzewski said of the rim-attacking Rose he saw against Slovenia compared to the tentative player who converted only 8 of 37 shots from the floor in Team USA's first six games in Spain.

"We believe in Derrick, " Krzyzewski said. "And I think the lid came off or the jar was open or whatever you want to say. He had his look."

"You could see in his face he was different," Krzyzewski continued. "And I'm glad. I think this starts the journey back to being who he is. And I think it'll happen."

Rose was similarly confident after the game Tuesday night, telling reporters: "I know that I have it. I know what type of player I am. I know I'm great."

After a light workout Wednesday to prepare for Team USA's semifinal showdown with Lithuania on Thursday night, Krzyzewski provided a glimpse into the message he gave Rose in Tuesday's pep talk.

"It's not so much a sales pitch as it's just the focus is to 'be you,'" Krzyzewski said. "This is not a play [where] we're asking you to be an understudy or a role player. We're asking you to be you. You haven't been you for a while because of the injuries. But just be you. And he was."

Until the Slovenia game, Krzyzewski said, Rose appeared to be overly focused on "trying to be a team guy." Rose has said for days that his goals were pushing the ball offensively, pressuring the ball defensively and avoiding turnovers.

"And he was a team guy [against Slovenia]," Krzyzewski said. "But before being a team guy, he has to be his guy. And you saw how excited our whole team was in response to his performance. He was excellent."

Rose, though, has been insisting for days that he has been pleased with his progress, even when he kept missing shots at the rim and struggling to finish plays.

The devastating leg injury suffered by Indiana Pacers star Paul George in a Team USA intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas on Aug. 1, Rose said, never deterred him from going through with his long-held plans to ramp up his comeback as a role player under Krzyzewski before trying again to be a franchise player in Chicago next month.

"I think everyone was devastated at the time," Rose said of George's injury. "I think every player really took into consideration that it probably could have happened to them. And you [were] hurt for him.

"But at the same time, you know that when you come out here and play against this type of competition, it's going to prepare you for the regular season. So you're going to into the regular season with a game-like mentality where you're already going to be fresh, you're already going to be making moves, and you're already going to be in condition. So you're going to start out pretty quick, more than almost the entire NBA."

In the immediate aftermath of the Slovenia win, Rose said the difference in his play was "Coach K giving me the green light."

"He just told me to go out there and play the way I normally play, don't worry about getting guys into the game," Rose said. "The way that I play, guys find a way to play around me, so tonight just try to be aggressive and try to keep it going."