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UPCOMING EXHIBITION GAMES

Saturday: Efes Pilsen in Istanbul, Turkey, 1 p.m.

Wednesday: Celtics in London, 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Wolves: Rookie Richard makes nice with the rims

  • October 5, 2007 - 12:13 AM

New Timberwolves forward Ryan Gomes, a third-year forward acquired from Boston in the Kevin Garnett trade, will offer a daily diary during the team's 10-day training camp trip to Istanbul and London. On Thursday, he chatted with Star Tribune beat writer Jerry Zgoda by telephone about teammate Chris Richard and Saturday's exhibition opener, among other things.

"We went back to two-a-day practices today and tonight we went back to the gym closer to our hotel where Chris Richard tore down a rim at practice Tuesday night. When we got to the gym tonight, one of the spokeswomen for the NBA told us, "Whatever you guys do, don't anybody dunk on that rim." They had just put a new rim up, and I don't think the NBA wants to have to go replacing another one.

"I think he listened to her. Chris is a big guy, but he gets up for his size and today when we were doing drills, he went up there high but he made sure he didn't shatter it again. Laid in nice and soft most of the time.

"I was there when he did it on Tuesday. It wasn't like he shattered the glass. He just hung on the rim and one of the bolts popped out. I've never broken a rim in my life, but that's something he can tell his family and friends someday, that in his first NBA training camp, in Turkey, he pulled down the goal. I don't know how much those rims go for, but I'm sure he doesn't want to put any of his own money down for one of 'em."

• • •

"I knew from watching Corey Brewer in college at Florida that he was a great defensive player, but he has really shown that here in camp. He probably stood out the most in our scrimmage tonight. We have a young, energetic team, and our coach wants guys who will really bring it on defense.

"That's going to be our backbone, and you should see Corey pressuring guys in the backcourt. You can't come down the court and be casual against him. You can't just dribble the ball up against him because he's so active and he has such long arms, it seems like he gets his hands on everything. And even if he does miss something, he recovers so quickly. You're going to notice him a lot this year."

• • •

"We're just two days away from our first exhibition game, against Efes Pilsen here in Istanbul. It's not an NBA team, but you still have to prepare and do the right things, and I think everybody is curious to see how we're going to do against somebody other than ourselves. I'm ready to see how the things we've been working on translate against another team."

camp update By JERRY ZGODA

• Third-year guard Rashad McCants, whose first two NBA seasons have been inconclusive partly because of microfracture knee surgery last season, sat out Thursday's evening practice because of a sore hamstring and could miss Saturday's exhibition against the Turkish team Efes Pilsen Istanbul as a precaution. "If he is as sore tomorrow as he is today, I'd say no even if he wants to play," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "It doesn't make sense."

• One's 6-7 and 255 pounds, the other 6-9 and 255. Big, strong and tough, young Timberwolves forward Craig Smith and Chris Richard might inspire comparisons to each other simply because of their similar stature. But Wittman knows that the two are not the same kind of player.

"Craig is more skilled, he has more swagger to his offensive game," Wittman said. "Chris is more of a banger who will get to where he wants to go even if he has to run through a wall. Craig can beat you with his moves and difference things. He can put the ball on the floor a little more."

• Smith, recovering from a sprained ankle suffered last week in preseason workouts, is working out on his own enough that Wittman now says he thinks Smith might return to participate in practice when the team reaches London next week.

"I'm shocked," Wittman said. "I'm really happy where he is at."

• Wittman gave players more than a day to let their legs recover by canceling Wednesday's second practice and then taking it easy on them Thursday morning before the team scrimmaged hard later in the day. Today, they will practice once before Saturday's exhibition opener.

"I couldn't tell you what I'm really going to do in Saturday's game," Wittman said. "We're just going to play a lot of people. We have so much competition at every spot that I need to give everybody a fair look. We're going to have a lot of people out there playing."

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