Scoggins: Challenge for Rubio, Wolves to show grit with glitz

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 9, 2011 - 11:53 PM

Now if the kid can only play. That pretty much sums up the great Rubio experiment that commenced Friday with the opening of Timberwolves training camp.

view larger photos

  

Now if the kid can only play.

That pretty much sums up the great Rubio experiment that commenced Friday with the opening of Timberwolves training camp. Finally, the wait is over. No more guessing or speculating or clicking on YouTube to watch his fancy passes.

We can see the real thing in the flesh. Ricky Rubio, the point guard.

For the first time since Kevin Garnett packed up and moved out, the Wolves have a player who creates a buzz, makes people take notice, brings some intrigue to a team that couldn't give tickets away in recent years. Maybe even creates some hope for the true diehards.

But here's the thing: Can he play? Can he shoot, or shoot well enough? Can he handle stronger and more athletic point guards who undoubtedly want to see if there's substance behind his hype and cool name?

Those questions will be answered in short order as the NBA returns to work with a crammed 66-game schedule. Even those connected to the team sound curious to see what this Rubio character is all about now that they can get their hands on him.

"We'll find out what he can do," coach Rick Adelman said. "But I know he's a very talented kid. Everything I've read about him and heard him talk about, he's unselfish. It's going to be fun watching him. Watching him on tape is one thing. But to have him on the floor and dealing with him is another."

The Wolves face a fascinating tug-of-war in how to proceed with their 21-year-old Spanish point guard. They want to promote and market his appeal while also setting realistic on-court expectations.

Team officials, cheerleaders, employees, fans and media greeted Rubio at the airport in a rock-star arrival for his introductory news conference this past summer. This for a guy who might start his career as a backup.

The Wolves understandably want to maximize Rubio's charisma and mystery factor. The organization has been beaten to a pulp on the court, in public relations and internal morale. The Wolves finally have something -- and someone -- who brings excitement and energy to the place, so why not put a spotlight on it? Can't blame them for that.

Rubio has revealed a quirky sense of humor in his few media sessions, his broken English adding a dose of charm. In one interview, he marveled at how large bags of chips are in the United States, talked about needing to learn the maze of skyways around downtown and admitted he was so impressed by the elaborate costumes of a few trick-or-treaters in Hollywood that he wanted to get his picture taken with them.

His game apparently has a certain style and flair to it, too, but his success as a player will be determined by more than that. We don't know his true basketball chops yet, so it's probably wise to resist the temptation to become intoxicated on hype. At least until he plays in an actual NBA game.

The Wolves must weigh the basketball side of the equation and what's best for Rubio's development. That might require some patience because his initial impact isn't as simple as flipping on a light switch.

Rubio is learning a new system, team and level of basketball in a shortened training camp and condensed preseason while also adjusting to a new culture. Adelman said he doesn't know enough about his rookie point guard yet to lay out his expectations. The two met for the first time as they posed for pictures on media day Friday.

"I know one thing is he can really pass the ball," Adelman said. "He's got great instincts. He's interesting because sometimes he has a pretty easy pass and he'll go another direction and make the same pass a lot harder. But he does it."

Adelman said Rubio reminds him of Jason Williams, his whirling dervish point guard in Sacramento years ago. The veteran coach sees similarities in their passing, their flashy style, their flair in open court. In that case, Adelman better keep a bottle of antacid on the bench, although he seems resigned to the fact that those maddening moments might be inevitable.

"I'm prepared because I went through a lot with Jason," Adelman said with a smile.

In other words, expect the unexpected. At least Rubio is no longer a myth. He's finally here. He even took a picture of his jersey hanging in the locker room Friday and sent it to his friends back home.

Now we get to see what he does with it on.

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Diego 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Detroit
Dallas 7:00 PM
New Orleans
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Vancouver 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Chicago 7:00 PM
Nashville
Arizona 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Carolina 8:00 PM
Calgary
Buffalo 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Columbus 9:30 PM
San Jose
Connecticut 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team are you currently most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close