Training Camp Report: Day 2 | Oct. 2, 2013

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Training Camp Report: Day 2 | Oct. 2, 2013

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

Email / Twitter

At one point during the middle of Wednesday’s practice, the second and third units were on the floor working on defensive rotations in the half-court set and trying to get on the same page through communication. Standing off to the sideline, Kevin Love chimed in a little advice.

“It’s pretty quiet out there, guys,” he said to his teammates.

Open dialogue on the defensive end is a crucial part of keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Kevin Martin said when he was on the Thunder last season, they all seemingly moved “on a string” because they were so in tune with where everyone was on the court. Rick Adelman said the reason Kevin Garnett has been so successful in his career is because he naturally talks on the court, and that type of communication can be contagious.

That’s where the Wolves hope they’re heading, but it’s a work in progress. On Wednesday, the communication on the floor wasn’t quite up to where the team hopes it will be when the games count.

“You have to talk,” Adelman said. “Every coach you’ve probably ever talked to, he’ll say his guys don’t talk enough. When you get in the locker room, they’re talking all the time. But on the court they don’t, you know, that’s just the way it is.”

The Wolves are working to change that trend.

Love, for one, said it’s something he’s personally working on and he’s trying to make sure his teammates do the same. For as much as the team does talk off the court, there’s no reason why they can’t get more communication going on the court.

Center Nikola Pekovic is an extremely vocal guy in the locker room, but he sometimes plays the game as the strong, silent type. Alexey Shved is another player who the team is working with and encouraging to be more vocal.

“I think some guys aren’t the loudest guys in the world, but we’re trying to help them out, and it helps out the rest of the team, too,” Love said. “Whether it’s guys on the interior or guys on the exterior as well.”

One guy who doesn’t have trouble being vocal on or off the court is newly-acquired center Ronny Turiaf. You hear him throughout practices relaying what’s going on around him, and that’s the type of communication that can eventually become contagious.

Adelman said teams are so in depth with their scouting that there should be no surprises about what the opposing team is executing on the floor. The key is to be in tune with one another defensively, because every team is prepared for what they’re going to see on game night.

“When they’re coming down, everyone should know what the other team’s doing—there’s no reason not to,” Adelman said. “We do enough scouting. We talk to them enough. They all should know what’s coming their way. They may get overpowered or something, but they should not be surprised at what’s happening.”

The Young Players Are Hungry

In the final scrimmage of the day, the younger players gave the veterans all they could handle up and down the court. That’s a good thing. When you’re trying to build success within a franchise, every player needs to buy into the philosophy and every unit needs to battle on every possession.

If you do that, the games seem much easier.

“It’s really big,” Love said. “I haven’t seen one guy not, whether it’s diving on the floor, making the extra pass, offensive rebounding the ball, taking charges, I mean it’s been great the first two practices. I know it’s early, but it’s definitely a great standard to set, especially out the gate.”

Part of it certainly is the competition involved for the final spot on the roster—there are four guys in the running for that last position. But that mentality needs to carry into the regular season. If the 15th player on the roster is challenging the first string on every possession of every drill, it will only improve the team in the long run.

“Being hungry and working like that and working hard makes the first unit work as hard as us,” Shabazz Muhammad said. “I think that can make our overall tam so much better.”
Kevin Martin said he’s been through that before. When he was a young player on the Kings, he and others on the second unit would challenge Mike Bibby, Peja Stojakovic, Chris Webber and others in the starting five every day.

“Me and [Wolves player development coach] Bobby [Jackson] were just talking about it—we used to put a licking on them a lot,” Martin said. “But in game nights, it was completely opposite.

“Yeah, they played well. They’ve been playing well these last couple days.”

Quick Hits

  • Shabazz Muhammad has been garnering praise from veteran players as well as coach Rick Adelman and Flip Saunders. He’s been facilitating the ball, not looking for his shot first, and he’s been a model teammate on the court. When Robbie Hummel drew a foul and hit the floor midway through practice on Wednesday, Muhammad was the first person over to help him up. But the biggest thing Muhammad has done consistently is crash the offensive boards. Adelman said teams need to box him out, because he’s been very aggressive in hitting the glass.

    Perhaps K-Love put it best: “He listens—he has that good one year UCLA education.”

  • Love was asked if he thought Adelman was more hands on this year than in years past during camp. Love said Adelman definitely is being more vocal, but a lot of that is getting his point across and implementing his schemes early. Always a very successful delegator to his staff, we’ll see if that trend returns during the regular season.
  • When Adelman was talking about communication, he said Pek not only needs to talk more but “in English, too,” he joked. “That’s the most important thing. He talks a lot on the plane, I know that. And on the bus. But it’s just something you have to push yourself to do.”
  • Muhammad lost about 10-15 pounds heading into camp, and part of that is he hired a personal chef. He said he’s trying to carry himself as a pro, and maintaining a healthy diet is an important part of that. And in case you’re wondering, the McDouble isn’t part of that plan: “No, no cheeseburgers or nothing like that,” he said. “It’s been great.”

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.

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