Memphis' Rose blossoms amid veterans in college debut
Posted: November 6, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The Memphis Tigers just got more dangerous.
As if returning all five starters from a team that went to a second straight NCAA tournament regional final wasn't enough, highly touted freshman guard Derrick Rose stole the show in his first collegiate game.
Rose had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists as No. 3 Memphis beat Tennessee-Martin 102-71 on Monday night in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic.
After 25 minutes, Rose looked a prime candidate to follow in the footsteps of recent impact freshmen such as Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.
"And that was just his first game," Memphis guard Chris Douglas-Roberts said. "Imagine what he can do in a few months."
Rose's teammates told him Sunday that he might not be able to sleep in anticipation of his first game. Rose said he fell asleep in the team hotel when his head hit the pillow.
Rose looked like a tested senior, going 8-for-16 from the field with four dunks, bringing the 16,555 fans at FedExForum to their feet cheering each time. He also had a block on a breakaway in the first half that sent coach John Calipari out of his chair and invigorated the Tigers' bench.
"When we were dying, he scored," Calipari said. "We were dying, he blocks a shot. We were dying, he goes in there and makes a play."
Rose gave his college debut a 'C,' although he graded his dance class earlier in the day as an 'A-plus.'
"I still think I can do better," Rose said.
He put plenty of moves on the Skyhawks.
"He does things that a lot of people haven't seen," Douglas-Roberts said. "He deserves all the credit. It's crazy to think that was his first game."
After Tennessee-Martin took a 23-19 lead 9 minutes into the game, it was Rose who took charge and calmed an erratic Tigers offense. Rose had 10 points to lead an 18-1 run and help Memphis pull away to a 49-36 halftime lead.
"Fastest point guard I've ever played against," Skyhawks guard Lester Hudson said.
Calipari said Rose might be the player Memphis needs this year to push them into the Final Four, although he may only have him for a year.
"You need to have a guy, that when the game is on the line, he can just dog the other guys and do whatever he wants when he wants," Calipari said. "He can do that."
The only other newcomer on the Memphis roster was also impressive.
Shawn Taggart, a transfer from Iowa State, started in place of injured forward Joey Dorsey and finished with 15 rebounds. Dorsey has a sprained right shoulder, but was still in uniform and participated in pregame warmups.
"If he can do that every night, there's no stopping us," forward Robert Dozier said. "If he can do that when Joey comes back, those guys will own the glass."
But it was Rose who dazzled the crowd. He said he still has to get more comfortable with his teammates and the college game, but his play Monday night suggested that won't take long.
"We had to get our little jitters out or whatever," Rose said. "But towards the second half, we got used to playing with each other and just joined from there."
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