Training Camp Report: Day 2 | Oct. 2, 2013
Training Camp Report: Day 2 | Oct. 2, 2013
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.”
Perhaps K-Love put it best: “He listens—he has that good one year UCLA education.”