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Awestruck By Rose

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[Note: Chances are, you're relatively unimpressed with a headline that reads "Awestruck By Rose."  To that end, please note that we were strongly considering "Rose In Full Bloom" before thinking for a second about how dopey that sounded and scrapping it.  You can thank us later.  On to the column.]

Well, Derrick Rose sold me.

In the biggest game of his collegiate career to date, Rose gave his team a chance to play in an even bigger game on Monday night.

But the freshman point guard from Memphis didn't just play exceptionally well in a 78-63 win over UCLA in the national semis.  He played a brand of basketball that was, as the headline states, just kind of awe-inspiring.

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Full disclosure: I've seen Rose play a few times this year, but last night's game took the cake, particularly out of the performances that I have seen from him this season.

Sure, the numbers from the 15-point victory over UCLA are good: 7-for-16 shooting, 11-for-12 from the line, 25 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists.  But they don't tell the whole story.

That's because Derrick Rose dominated a game last night against one of the nation's top four teams.

For my part, it's the speed and quickness that absolutely blow me away.  Rose's ability to get past his man and into the lane to wreak havoc is marvelous to watch.  Watching him decide to go to the rim and just go ahead and do it without obstacle is a joy to watch.  He was able to get a step on just about every defender UCLA threw at him.  No, with a faster game being played in the NBA, he won't necessarily be able to use the first step with the same efficacy that he does now, but Derrick Rose is still very quick -- by anyone's standards.

Further, his abilities to finish once he gets to the rim are only worthy of even more praise.  Rose uses the window very well and can make any variety of goofy, off-balanced shots while he has it.  Up-and-under?  No problem.  Step-around the defender for a finger-roll?  Sure.  Baseline leaner?  Yep, count it.

He guards people.  He can shoot the ball at least a bit from the outside.  He dishes the basketball well, and he isn't a terrible rebounder for a point guard.  The fun part remains that those are the secondary strengths of Derrick Rose's game.

This guy can sprint -- or stutter-step -- his way down the floor with anyone.  His ability to hit tough shots and score around the basket -- especially on a tough stage -- will be valuable at any level at which he has played or will play.

Derrick Rose is a ball player for sure.

And after Monday night, I'll be more than ready for him to join the ranks of the pros. 

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