Kent Youngblood here. After two years covering the Gophers, I’m back helping out with the Wild and the Wolves. With Jerry Zgoda about to dive into some much-deserved time off, I was over at Target Center today listing to Darko Milicic talk about his recently-signed contract.
Not having dealt with him last year, I can’t tell you how much better he looks condition-wise. But he looked OK, claimed to have been running and lifting weights for two months already and swears he’ll be in great shape, both physically and mentally, when training camp starts.
I think having his head in the right place is important. He said he was in great physical shape when he reported to camp with the Knicks last year, but admitted he wasn’t mentally healthy. Sounds like he didn’t have a lot of confidence, either in the clubs commitment to him (turns out there wasn’t much) or his future in the league.
He’s said it before, but Darko reiterated today how much it meant to him to come to a team that believed he could play and gave him a chance to show it. When GM David Kahn and coach Kurt Rambis traveled to Serbia to meet with him in June it also sent a message Milicic took to heart.
His talking points Friday?
--He will not travel to Los Angeles to work out with Rambis and Michael Beasley. Instead, he’ll stay in the Twin Cities until the end of the month, working out and finding a place for he and his family to life this fall.
--He said he intends to be more aggressive on the offensive end going forward. For him it’s all a confidence issue. “I’ve been talking to the coaches a lot,’’ he said. “They like me passing the ball, but they’re also telling me to be more aggressive in the post, try to score. Not having that much confidence in myself, I looked to pass more than go to the basket. Now I think I can score more in the post.”
--It will take time for a roster full of new names to mesh, but a preseason trip to Europe will help.
--He took some blame for the way his career has gone so far, but talked about Minnesota as a new start. “I never thought anybody would come and give me a chance like they did,” he said.
--By the way, Milicic also showed some fire when asked how he felt about the criticism the Wolves have taken for offering him the contract. “Maybe if they talk to my face it would be different,” he said of the critics. “Come to Serbia, (see) if you have the (fortitude) to say something like that to me. … They’re gonna talk. That’s what they do.”
That’s about it. Have a good weekend.
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