Practice Report: Monday, Oct. 8, 2012

Alex Conover
Web Editorial Associate


Training camp is in the rearview mirror, and Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman has his sights set on his team’s first preseason opponent: the Indiana Pacers.

“I’m looking to see how we compete against another team,” Adelman said after practice on Monday. “Especially Indiana. They’re a very good team, and they’re very physical. I have a feeling we’re going to learn a lot about our team defensively, because that’s one area where we have not been real good in. They go at you near the basket. I just want to see how they compete against a good team.”

When the team travels to Fargo, N.D. on Wednesday for their first preseason contest, the coaching staff will be looking to see how a couple players do in some live game action. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Fargodome.

“I think [Alexey] Shved will be on the floor a lot, just for the experience factor,” Adelman said. “We’ll try to play Derrick [Williams] a lot—he’s been playing well. Chase [Budinger] will be playing the two and three.”

Shved continues to adjust, learn

The Timberwolves continue to explore their options at point guard, and with Luke Ridnour missing today’s practice due to a minor back injury, rookie Alexey Shved has been seeing more time running the offense.

One of the roadblocks that has appeared, however, is the young Russian’s familiarity with the English language.

“We’ve been playing him at point,” Adelman said, “but that’s hard because he has to run the whole team and call all the plays. We’ve been showing him a lot of film.”

Learning English is one of the biggest hurdles for an international newcomer to overcome, and Kevin Love compared Shved’s process to Ricky Rubio’s last year.

“I could understand Ricky more last year when he first came,” Love said of Rubio, who came over from Spain last summer. “Alexey’s like Ricky, but he’s shy, he loves the game, and if we can get him to speak up he’ll be much better.

“AK [fellow Russian Andrei Kirilenko] is very beneficial for a player like that. We need to get him talking more, and if we can get him doing that, it can really help. He plays loose, and that can hurt him or it can help him. I think as a rookie, once he learns talking on defense and being the facilitator on the floor, he’ll really speak up.”

The good news for Shved is that since he is immersed in the English language, he has already seen improvement in his own abilities.

“If someone needs help, I can tell them where to stand because I’ve learned 1, 2 and 3,” Shved said. “Maybe they can’t understand me, but I can repeat a second time—I am speaking better and better. Right now I feel like I can speak better than last week.

“I like this place. I like Minneapolis. For me, the first day was difficult. But now I feel good. Day after tomorrow is our first game, and we’ll see what I can do.”

Quick Hits

  • Guard Luke Ridnour sat out of contact drills today with a sore back, according to coach Adelman. “He’s making good progress," Adelman said. "He’s working hard every day, and he says he’s feeling good. We’ll just keep moving forward.”

  • Kevin Love noted that this year’s team has a lot more passing and ball movement, and he could see his own assist numbers rising this season. “If I have to sacrifice points for our team to win, so be it,” Love said. “Coach says I’ll be a large focal point of this offense, but he wants me to look for passes more. I’m looking for guys, and they’re really flashing and looking. There are a lot of different options.”

  • Love also noted center Nikola Pekovic’s improvement with his passing game. “It’s funny,” Love said, “because Pek keeps getting better, and not just his conditioning or post moves. Passing out of double teams, he never would have made that read last year. Kicking the ball out, it makes for great basketball on an unselfish team.”

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