By Johannes Berendt

MOSCOW, Russia, Oct. 5, 2006 -- Once again, there was a lot of teaching going on in the Clippers´ practice today, with Mike Dunleavy running numerous inbound plays and half-court offensive sets.

We caught up with Ralph Lawler, the "Voice of the Clippers". Never in his 28 years with the Clippers has he been more excited than right now. So what does he think about the training camp thus far?

"Fortunately this year, most of the guys know the Dunleavy system. It is just a matter of filling in the blanks for a couple of guys.

"They (all) are pretty healthy. You always worry about injuries. Right now only Tim Thomas is nursing a sore back but he is working hard with our strength and conditioning people to get ready to go and hopefully play on the weekend. But everybody else is healthy.

"One of the guys who has made a giant stride is Q Ross who was a terrific defensive stopper for the team a year ago. It looks like he has more confidence offensively that he has had in the past. He has gotten stronger. Very similar body type to Shaun Livingston who also is bigger and stronger. Chris Kaman is a young big guy who is going to make a big stride this year."

He believes a 50-win season is well "within reach".

"The coach certainly wants to win 30 games at home this season. You do that and you win half of the game on the road and it gives you a way of winning 50 plus games and I think that is the target range for this team."


The local fans should be able get a good look at Elton Brand and Co.

"We´ll play our starters anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes," said Dunleavy. "No more than that probably. We´ll see how the game goes."

Dunleavy has been pairing his starters together in practice a lot before throwing the new guys into the mix. "There is a lot to teach and learn," he added.


Rookie Paul Davis admitted it will take a while to master the transition from college to pro. Chris Kaman, Elton Brand and Corey Maggette have all been providing valuable help. For a center, Davis can use his shooting skills to stretch the defence out. If only he got an open look.

"The shots that were open in college are not open in the NBA," he said. "You have to play faster and get your shots off. It´s not something a lot of people would expect to come straight away but with time and practice it will."

"They have been great welcoming me and telling me little things,” Davis said. “I´m sure once the season starts they will be hard on me from a vet-rookie standpoint."

Well, actually they should rather admire their new teammate for the impression he has left among Russian fans.