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UPCOMING EXHIBITION GAMES

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

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

Wolves: Coach looks for multitaskers

  • October 5, 2007 - 10:49 PM

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. He chatted with Star Tribune beat writer Jerry Zgoda by telephone about today's exhibition opener against a Turkish pro team, among other things.

We're all looking forward to playing a game against somebody other than ourselves. The first week of training camp and our coach, Randy Wittman, has made one thing pretty clear: If you're going to play for this team, you're going to have to play more than one position.

We've got a lot of guys who can play more than one, and we're probably going to be able to play a lot of different lineups as the season goes along. I played power forward for most of my time with Boston, except for when Paul Pierce got hurt last season. But I've been playing a lot of small forward this first week of camp at the same position with guys like Corey Brewer, Gerald Green and Greg Buckner. I think I should fit into this very well at either position because I think I really compete and I play good defense, and good defense will get a guy minutes on the court.

Playing small forward is a little different, and I'm trying to learn the things that natural small forwards do and I'm picking it up pretty quickly. You have to do a lot more things on the perimeter. With that position, I think I have a clear advantage on the offensive end because of my size and my strength. I'm working on my ballhandling every day, and it's coming along pretty well. I'm getting better each and every day.

Like Coach Wittman says, the more you can bring to the team, the more positions you can play, the better chances you'll have to play. That's what I'm doing. I'm playing the 3 position in practice, but I'm watching what the 4's are doing, so I know the plays at both spots if I get the call to play power forward.

• • •

I brought my laptop with me to Turkey and I've spent some time each night e-mailing my wife and my friends to let them know how I'm doing. I tell them I like Turkey a lot, what we've seen from our bus and the few times we've gotten out into the city. I tell them our hotel is very, very nice, like a castle, and I tell them about the traffic, of course. They want to know what Turkey is like, and they want to know how the team's looking.

I think they are almost as curious as we are to see how we do against another team. It'll be interesting to see how we do against a European team because they play a different style than NBA teams play. After tonight's game, we get on the plane on Sunday and go to London to play against the Boston Celtics next week. I haven't thought about that game too much because we have to take care of Efes Pilsen first.

But even though it's the preseason, it's going to be a little emotional for the five guys on our team who were traded for Kevin Garnett. Whenever you get traded, you feel like you didn't do as much as you needed to do. You want to prove that they lost a good player and I'm sure they want to know they made the right decision. It's going to be exciting: our first test against an NBA team and Boston, no less.

camp update By JERRY ZGODA

Third-year guard Rashad McCants participated in Friday morning's workout -- the team's only practice of the day -- but he is not expected to play tonight as a precaution. He has been bothered this week by cramps and a sore hamstring.

• Efes Pilsen is to Turkish basketball what the Celtics are historically to the NBA. It has won the Turkish Basketball League championship 12 times and was the first Turkish team to win a European title in a team sport when it captured the Korac Cup in 1996. Utah's Mehmet Okur once played for Efes Pilsen, named for a beer company that sponsors it. Former Wolves center Loren Woods plays for Efes Pilsen.

• Wolves coach Randy Wittman on Friday declared his team ready for a real game. "They're tired of beating up on each other," he said. "Fresh meat, as we like to say, is better than facing each other every day."

• Training camp's two-a-day practices ended Thursday. "Even I'm happy that two-a-days are over," said veteran forward Mark Madsen, who is with the team in Turkey but is sidelined for at least the next month after summer shoulder surgery.

• Today's game will be televised on tape delay on NBA TV at 4:30 p.m. NBA TV is available on some digital cable packages and on sports packages on DirecTV and Dish Network.

• Wolves fans can get their first look at Kevin Garnett in a Celtics uniform when Boston plays Toronto in Italy today at 1:30 p.m. on NBA TV.

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