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Friday, November 09, 2007

AP - Derrick Rose, No. 3 Memphis await chance to shine nationally

Derrick Rose, No. 3 Memphis await chance to shine nationally

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Memphis spent the summer touting Derrick Rose, the freshman guard who already had NBA scouts grinning. The third-ranked Tigers even stamped a rose on most of the team's 20 billboards around town since NCAA rules prohibit incoming freshmen in advertisements.

No need to convince this city anymore.

Rose had 21 points in Memphis' 80-63 victory over Richmond in the second round of the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic on Tuesday night. He was selected MVP of the two-game Memphis regional, scoring 38 points and carrying a veteran team in the first two games of his college career.

``That's just D-Rose,'' Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. ``He's not doing anything different from what we saw all summer in practice. We know what he can do. He's the real deal.''

The country will know soon, too.

After Memphis' win, Frank Sinatra's ``New York, New York'' blared from the speakers at FedExForum. Yes, the Tigers are headed to the big city.

Memphis will play in the semifinals of the tournament that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15, and Rose will get his first chance to show a national television audience just how quickly he has adjusted to the college game.

``That's the big city,'' Rose said. ``It's an opportunity to play on the big stage, and show people what I can do.''

Connecticut, Oklahoma and No. 20 Kentucky are hosting regionals and are expected to reach the semifinals, giving Rose and Memphis an early national television audience to show they belong among the country's elite.

``We'll find out real quick how good we are,'' Memphis coach John Calipari said. ``We're going to get tested by some really, really good teams. We'll have the target on our backs.''

Having gone to consecutive NCAA tournament regional finals, Memphis returned all five starters and 10 players. Rose might be the added push they need.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound guard from the South Side of Chicago has ignited the Tigers in their first two games with soaring dunks, blazing speed and skying for rebounds and blocks. And he can shoot, too.

Rose is shooting 58 percent, and has been Calipari's primary option on an already talented Memphis team.

``He's kind of sparked us so far,'' Calipari said. ``He's pushing other guys to get better.''

The only downside to Rose and Memphis thus far has been foul trouble. Rose was one of three players Tuesday night plagued by fouls, and the Tigers have struggled during such stretches. But when Rose has been given freedom to run the offense, he's lived up to his high billing.

Richmond coach Chris Mooney said Rose forced the Spiders into a fast-paced game, and they couldn't keep up.

``He's great. He's poised. His fundamentals are so good,'' Mooney said. ``His passing, his poise, his dribbling. He's just excellent at every phase.''

© 2007 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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