Hello, Mankato: Wolves shorten practices, focus lineups

  • Blog Post by: Jerry Zgoda
  • December 16, 2011 - 9:30 AM

The Timberwolves took training camp to Mankato Thursday for a two-day getaway that will include two practices at Minnesota State-Mankato and offered a lasagna dinner at owner Glen Taylor's home Thursday night.

They'll practice there Friday morning and then head back to the Twin Cities for Saturday night's preseason opener.

Here's the story I wrote from here for Friday's paper about the team's point-guard lineage, from head coach Rick Adelman to top assistant Terry Porter to rookie Ricky Rubio.

And here's the notebook that touches on a wide range of subjects, starting to Adelman's admission that has no idea yet who his starting center is.

Adelman started to shorten practices a bit today and will do so again on Friday, when the Wolves are expected to work out for only about 90 minutes after putting in 3 to 4 hour practices in the past week.

He also says he's starting to put together groups he envisions playing together in these two short, sweet preseason games his team has to prepare for its Dec. 26 opener against Oklahoma City.

Here's the way he divided them Thursday for scrimmaging:

White team -- Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea, Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, Nikola Pekovic and Wayne Ellington.

Black team -- Derrick Williams, Wes Johnson, Darko Milicic, Luc Ridnour, Bonzi Wells, Anthony Tolliver and Malcolm Lee.

Got any hunches that your starting lineup will come somewhere from that white team?

At least a good bit of it, although I'm still wondering not only what they'll do at center who how shooting guard will shake out.

Barea played off the ball there a good bit Thursday with Rubio, but Adelman said he'll probably switch it up and play Ridnour with either Rubio or Barea on Friday.

I found it intriguing to Pekovic and Ellington played on that white team.

Are they deep reserves attached to five starters or possible starters themselves?

Afterward, Adelman praised Pekovic's strength, fundamentals, pick-and-roll play and positioning even though he's not a pure shot blocker like Milicic is. 

(Adelman has been pretty reserved commenting on Milicic so far this camp.)

Williams continued to work exclusively at power forward on Thursday, and that will continue for the foreseeable future. Adelman praised Williams' shooting Thursday, but said it's best for now to limit his learning curve to that 4 spot rather than try to get him to learn both the small and power forward spots.

How are they going to split those minutes between all those forwards and centers and who inevitable is going to be unhappy?

That's a BIG question.

Adelman said once again that Love and Randolph most will play some center and said Love could start at center some nights depending on the matchup.

But he said he'll likely have to pick and choose those spots because he's concerned Love will get into early foul trouble the nights he's matched against an old-fashioned, real NBA center, of which there are only a handful.

Maybe I'm ready too much into Thursday's lineup but I got a hunch that Pek could begin the season as starting center.

We'll see...

Adelman said he'd like to play about 10 guys against the Bucks on Saturday, then maybe sub in a handful of new players and play about 10 again in the rematch Wednesday in Milwaukee.

So who's your starting lineup?

And what's your rotation?




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