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Rookie will probably be No. 1 shooting guard the rest of the season
By Mike Wells
Posted: March 28, 2009
There wasn't one particular moment that turned around Brandon Rush's rookie season.
It was a combination of good and bad events.
The Indiana Pacers shooting guard fought through it all to gain enough confidence from his coach that he likely will start the final 10 games of the season.
"It's really a case of trial and error," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "Understanding and getting better. It doesn't come at one time. It's a culmination of a lot of effort, teaching and him working hard at it."
Rush moved into the starting lineup at shooting guard a week ago at Charlotte when O'Brien shook up the lineup by moving Jarrett Jack from shooting guard to point guard.
The Pacers, who play at Chicago this afternoon, are 2-0 since the switch, and Rush has totaled 26 points and 13 rebounds in that span.
Rush's defense hasn't gone unnoticed, either.
He played a part in holding Miami's Dwyane Wade, the league's leading scorer, to 5-of-24 shooting in Wednesday's victory.
"This is how I thought I would be able to play once I got comfortable," Rush said. "I always had confidence. It's just been up and down this season because I was playing early on, then I wasn't and now I'm playing again."
Rush didn't have time to learn. Mike Dunleavy's knee injury forced the Pacers to count on Rush more than they expected.
Rush was a regular in the rotation during the first two months, but then was relegated to the bench in January.
He was second guessing his shot selection and often looking over his shoulder at O'Brien when he made a mistake.
Jack, who lives next door to Rush, constantly visited his neighbor to help him stay focused.
"I want to keep him in attack mode, keep him aggressive," Jack said. "He's a really laid-back kid off the court and sometimes that translates to how he plays at times. In timeouts I'm telling him to be aggressive and look for his shot because sometimes he tends to fade in games and he's too talented to let him do that."
O'Brien said Rush is playing with more confidence.
"He doesn't worry about missing a shot," O'Brien said. "There's a lot of different things you can do to impact a basketball team and he's just starting to learn that."
A strong finish could keep him in the starting lineup next season if Dunleavy isn't ready to return.
"It's very important for Brandon to keep on seeing why he's succeeding," O'Brien said. "All the little things we've been talking about all season, he's applying them to his game. It's important for him to succeed in the last month of the season and carry it over into the summer and into next season."