Offseason Workouts - Gomes Interview
If you thought you spotted Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair or Rashad McCants meandering around Target Center in the last few weeks, you were probably right. Indeed, Timberwolves players have been around for voluntary workouts leading up to just-around-the-corner training camp.
On Monday at Target Center's practice facility, seven of the youngsters (and Ricky Davis) played a series of spirited, intense four-on-four contests. After the scrimmages, players went through shooting drills and lifting routines with Wolves coaches. In the meantime, we spoke to Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, Kevin McHale and John-Blair Bickerstaff.
Here's the interview with Gomes, the third-year player out of Providence who came to Minnesota from Boston. Stay tuned for more offseason interviews this coming week exclusively on timberwolves.com.
MT: Kevin McHale has spoken about how much he likes your size at the three position, though you can play the four as well. It was apparent today that you like to operate down low as much as you can before moving out to nail a jumper.
Gomes: The easiest way to play is the smart way. If you catch the ball as close to the basket as you can, the higher your field-goal percentage is going to be. That's what I try to do. Sneak in there; don't call for it as much because that's when they push you out. Try to get guys when they're going help side or when they're not paying attention; sneak in and get an easy basket or foul. And then, if I'm open from the outside, take the shot. My game is pretty simple: work inside, then work outside. Don't work outside and then try to go inside. You want to get an easy basket first and then that opens everything up; you have more confidence in your game. So, that's what I tried to do today.
MT: Despite how informal these voluntary workouts are, it's obvious that a lot can be gained from playing with your 2007-08 teammates as much as possible before November 2nd.
Gomes: A lot can be learned. We're here as a team, but we're here to compete also. So, we've got to compete and know what guys do best, know what their weaknesses are to help you to your advantage, but get minutes in. But on the other end, when you're out there with them you've got to know where they like to catch the ball and what they like to do. You're out here competing, trying to get into shape, trying to do the right things and when you get on the court with the next guy, you've got to know what he does best so you can (bridge) that gap.
MT: As the leader of Providence's squad in college, you played against Villanova's Randy Foye at least twice a year in the Big East. What kind of growth have you seen in his game?
Gomes: Well, when Randy was in college I thought he was more of a driver. Villanova used a lot of guards, had a lot of mismatches, and they would get to the basket pretty easily. But I think he's learned while playing (in Minnesota) when to drive and when to shoot, pass or set up the offense. In this league it's hard to get all the way to basket unless you get a steal or a fast break. So, Randy's in-between game has gotten much better. I think being able to pull up when not getting all the way to the basket, in-between the free-throw line and the goal and make that shot (is big). His ball handling was always there, because like I said, in college he was handling the ball all the time. And his jump shot has gotten a lot better.
MT: What else can you tell us about your new teammates?
Gomes: I watched Corey Brewer in the NCAA Tournament; he can stroke it, and if you lose sight of him he can break to the hole pretty bad. He caught a few straight-ahead dunks (on the fast break) today because he's so quick. When you go in for the rebound and you don't get it, it's hard to catch up to a guy like that, especially coming from college to the NBA game. It's a little bit slower in the NBA because there's more half court (action), and in college it's just all up and down.
MT: That's an interesting take. Florida certainly got up and down that floor. What else do you have for us while you're on this analyzing kick?
Gomes: Chris Richard ... Powerful guy, he's physical. I think he takes on the mentality to attack first, rather than be attacked. And that's what I like. He goes after that rebound, goes after blocked shots and when he gets in that post he's willing to bang. He's not trying to do anything that he's not used to doing, yet, as far as taking fade-away jump shots. He's trying to get as close to the basket as he can by using his power.
MT: Fair enough. Please, go on.
Gomes: Rashad McCants, I played against him the last two years. He's slick. He knows how to get to the basket, can handle the ball and he's a great set shooter. Ricky Davis is here today too. I've played with him already and I know his game. I think we have some pieces here and we can do a lot of good things because everyone is so interchangeable. When guys are out there it's hard for other teams because they're going to have to decide whom they're going to double-team, whom they're going to let go, and I think we all have individual talent to do a special thing. So, if we get that all together here in training camp and before the season starts, I think we're going to have a good chance.
MT: You talked about Minnesota's No. 7 overall draft pick this year, Brewer, whose game really seems to complement yours at the three spot because you do such different things well.
Gomes: I think so. The battle of NBA players is which team is going to adjust. I think if you're a coach -- I'm not a coach, I'm just saying from what I see -- I think when you know you have the advantage is when you make the other team make a change, and you don't make a change. By having different guys out there who can do different things, and no matter what they're doing, if you as a coach believe, 'I'm sticking to this,' and you make the other team adjust, I think you have the upper hand. Hopefully you come out with the win, but whoever makes the opposing team adjust has the upper hand, because now they're playing your kind of basketball, and you're not playing theirs.
MT: And so, surely Randy Wittman and Co. have already been scheming as to how to capitalize on your strengths. Before I forget, congratulations. Rumor has it you just tied the knot with your lady.
Gomes: Yes, I did. August 10th I got married. Went to Hawaii for my honeymoon. My wife and I have been together since high school, so it was an easy decision. Everything went well, but now I had my fun for 10 days and it's back to work for a long period of time. Take it one game at a time and hopefully at the end of the season we progressed and our people like what they see and we're proud of what we did, because we're the ones going to be out there on the court dictating where we're going to be at the end.
MT: As far as the coming season goes, do you in a strange way embrace the collectively low expectations of this team?
Gomes: That's all I've got to think of. If no one's planning on us to do anything, finish last or whatever their projections are, we want nothing more than to prove to them that we're better that what they say. This happens with a lot teams in every sport. At the end of the day if you flourish from where they thought you were going to be to where you are, you get a lot of publicity, a lot of hope: "This guy's good, this team's good, we didn't expect that." So we're coming into games, of course, trying to win. But we know that there's a lot of negativity because they look at the personnel, they might say, "Well, these guys haven't played enough in a Western Conference. It's going to be tough. Utah and all these other teams." We can't pay attention to what the media says and what the projections are because they're writing and we're playing. And that's all you've got to think about.