Team USA coach Mike Krzyzewski continued to rave about Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose on Tuesday, saying the superstar played his way back to an "elite" level during the U.S. training camp last week in Las Vegas.
Rose, who has played just 10 games in the past two seasons because of a torn ACL in his left knee and a torn meniscus in his right knee, opened eyes throughout the past week with his play.
"It takes an exceptional person, which is why we're talking about Derrick," Krzyzewski said, discussing how difficult it is to return to such a high level after missing so much time. "I think he's exceptional in every way. He went right at it. The first defensive exchange in the camp, he was all over the ball handler, moving his feet, attacking him. There was a buzz right away because it was basically his saying, 'Look, I'm not just back. I'm back at a level that's elite.'"
Team USA players and coaches continually said Rose was playing like he did before the ACL injury in April 2012. Krzyzewski maintained that during his conference call with media.
"Derrick was sensational the whole week," Krzyzewski said. "He really did that every day, how fast and strong and decisive he was. He really created an air of excitement for the team because we all were anxious to see who he was right now. And who he is is very, very good. We're ecstatic about it and so happy for him."
So is Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who also serves an assistant on Team USA's staff under Krzyzewski.
"I think it's ideal for him in this particular case," Thibodeau said of Rose's experience during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "The Herd" on Tuesday morning. "One of the great things they do is the way they pace the team. There's days where there is no contact at all. ... We never went past two hours, and oftentimes it was an hour and a half. There was not a lot of contact. I think it's good for Derrick. It's great for him, actually."
Rose, who will join Team USA in Chicago next week as it continues training for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain later this month, seems like a lock to make the team.
"Being with the other elite guards helps you," Krzyzewski said. "And Derrick maintained that the entire week. We could not be happier about that particular situation."
Krzyzewski also couldn't be happier about the fact that he gets to take Team USA back to his hometown.
"As far as coming to Chicago, we'll be playing about a mile and a half from where I grew up, so it's an honor," he said. "What an honor for me to bring a U.S. team and be able to coach it in the United Center. And it's a homecoming for Anthony Davis and also for Derrick Rose, in addition to Jerry [Colangelo]. So Chicago's our town."
Chicago is looking forward to seeing Rose in action again -- especially if he continues playing like he did last week.
"The big thing for Derrick is he has to take this step by step," Thibodeau said. "The summer league practices were very good for him, but the talent level is not at an NBA level. The way he looks right now, his body is strong, he's feeling great. It's been two years now since he's had the ACL injury, and I think he feels good about where he is physically, and mentally he's doing very well."