Training Camp Report: Day 3 | Oct. 3, 2013

Training Camp Report: Day 3 | Oct. 3, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Thursday’s practice was the shortest of the three days the Wolves have been here in Mankato—in fact since camp opened on Tuesday, practices have been a little bit shorter each day. Part of that is likely the coaching staff tempering its itinerary to help players’ bodies cope with the rigors of camp, but the other reason for Thursday’s short practice might have had something to do with coach Rick Adelman’s absence while attending a funeral.

Assistant coach Terry Porter, who stepped in for Adelman for three weeks last year while he was away from the team, moved into the lead role on Thursday in Adelman’s absence. Adelman is expected back tomorrow for the final day of camp at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The thing about this coaching staff’s make up is that even when Adelman is missing from practice, they’ve been together long enough to the point where they know how to fill in without a hitch. Adelman is historically a coach who delegates much of the responsibilities to begin with, so while practice was shorter on Thursday it very much looked the same structure-wise as every other day this week.

“I think Rick’s done a good job of giving guys assignments and letting them have the freedom to talk about both offensively and defensively like he has in the past,” Porter said. “That’s nothing new to him. He’s been in this league to get 1,000 wins. You’ve seen a lot of different staffs turn over. Like anything, it’s about trusting in the guys he has on his staff, and I think he has it.”

Porter has twice been a head coach in the NBA—once in Milwaukee and later in Phoenix. Before that, he was an Adelman assistant in Sacramento right after his retirement as a player. Jack Sikma has been with Adelman both in Houston in Minnesota, T.R. Dunn has been an Adelman assistant in Sacramento, Houston and Minnesota, and first-year assistant David Adelman, Rick’s son, was one of the team’s player development coaches for the past two years. The group has a lot of collective hours working with Adelman, making it easy for the group to work as a collective whole.

As for his assessment on Day 3, Porter said it’s noticeable the team is continuing to improve throughout the week.

“Today was probably the best of the three days…the guys today took some ownership and really wanted to get better and obviously improve on some of the things that coach talked about at dinner [earlier in the week],” Porter said. “We just had great energy, a much better job of just being focused throughout the whole practice from start to finish.”

Rubio Throwing Down

One of the first sights at practice on Thursday was Ricky Rubio going in 1-on-0 during a warm-up drill from the wing, crossing through the paint and throwing down a one-handed slam. It’s the first time I’ve personally seen him dunk to my knowledge, and definitely the first time I saw him do it since his knee surgery last year.

It’s just another sign that his knee is in good shape. He feels like he can dunk similar to before he tore his ACL in March 2012, and the fact that he’s been able to fully recover in the 1 ½ year since continues to give him confidence.

“I’m happy where my injury is now, where I completely forget about it,” Rubio said.

Porter said it’s a good thing seeing Rubio throw down. It shows he has self-assurance in his knee and he trusts it enough to test his ups.

“His legs are good, the confidence is good. He has enough confidence,” Porter said. “That’s a positive when it comes to him trying to dunk.”

How about his jumper? Rubio has obviously never been a volume shooter—his game is predicated on passing—but he has shown the willingness to spot up off a screen or late in the shot clock during these past three days.

Porter said when Rubio gets his look, he’s going to take them.

Rubio said he’ll do whatever the situation calls for.

“If the team needs me to score, I will,” he said. “I’m trying to improve. I’m trying to be better, and that’s what I’m doing every year. I had a good practice by myself, like during Spain, and improving my jump shot and my legs, too. And I feel pretty good in that.”

Quick Hits

  • Early on in practice, Derrick Williams got minutes at small forward doing 5-on-5 drills with Rubio, Kevin Martin, Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic.

  • Shabazz Muhammad continues to play solid each day at camp. He didn’t do anything incredibly flashy on Thursday, but he did hit a couple outside shots during the scrimmage and he continues to noticeably work hard every play—much like all the guys on the gold squad usually comprised of Muhammad, Othyus Jeffers, Robbie Hummel, Gorgui Dieng and either Lorenzo Brown or A.J. Price. It seems like when it comes to Muhammad—which seems often to be true with rookies—the more he blends in, the more he stands out.

  • Defensive communication continues to be the biggest thing the team talks about each day. Nikola Pekovic said: “The coaches all the time are saying, ‘You’ve got to talk, you’ve got to talk, you’ve got to talk.’ You need to become a habit. When it becomes a habit, then it becomes easier. But until then, they’re going to repeat it every day 100 times.”

  • The Wolves spent Wednesday night at owner Glen Taylor’s house having their annual lasagna meal. Flip Saunders said between the players, the coaches, the basketball operations staff, family guests and others, there were approximately 60 people on hand. “He’s the owner—this shows him in a setting where his grandkids are around and it’s a whole different situation,” Saunders said. “Glen has always stressed this whole thing being close and another family. It’s a point of emphasis he shows to the players—not only does he say it but he walks it, too.”

  • The team is expected to have a team-building event on Thursday night, with an emphasis on rookie participation.

  • As for Ricky’s dunking, he said don’t expect any high-flying, Derrick Williams-like slams in his future.

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