How about some D for the Wolves?

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 11, 2011 - 12:14 AM

New coach Rick Adelman cannot believe how badly the Wolves played defense last season and vows it will improve.

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Philadelphia's Marreese Speights went up for a shot against the Wolves' Anthony Randolph in March, a game the 76ers won 111-100. The 2010-11 Wolves gave up 107.7 points per game, worst in the NBA.

Photo: Matt Slocum, Associated Press - Ap

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New Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman, by all accounts, is a man of relatively few words.

That doesn't mean, though, that he doesn't pick just the right ones.

In fact, when talking about his new team's defense last season, he chose the perfect word.

"You have to take some responsibility at the defensive end," he said. "I mean, it's horrendous the way they approach it."

Adelman knows of what he speaks.

Last April, Adelman brought his Houston team to town for the season's final game. The Rockets scored 121 points and won by 19, the Wolves' 15th consecutive loss.

Chase Budinger -- CHASE BUDINGER!!! -- scored 35 of those points, for crying out loud.

"There is no way that you can give up as many easy baskets as they gave up," Adelman said. "We came in here and we won, and I know it's the last game and neither team is playing for anything ... but we got whatever we want in our first option. We never even had to go anywhere else. They have to learn that they cannot give up easy baskets."

Their education began with Saturday's first practice of training camp.

Maybe Adelman's first lesson included this revelation.

"There are two ends of the court," he said.

For real?

"It's not like way back when I was growing up, where in girls' basketball you put defensive players at one end and the offensive players at the other," Adelman said. "That makes it easy. I'd like to do that. But they won't allow it, although the rules are changing in this league so maybe they'll throw that in there, too."

The Wolves allowed nearly 108 points a game last season, worst in the league. They finished near the bottom in transition defense and just about every other important defensive category as well.

"It was just a perfect storm of several different things," reserve forward Anthony Tolliver said.

Those factors likely included: youthful inexperience, lack of commitment, effort, trust and perhaps even physical talent and basketball intellect.

And, of course, don't forget poor coaching.

"We had no consistency, night in and night out," veteran guard Luke Ridnour said. "We didn't know what we were doing, and with a young team, there's no way to win games like that.

''Young guys not knowing what they're supposed to do is just kind of figuring it out. It doesn't work that way, not at this level. Everyone is so good, you've got to have a good fundamental team defense.

"I got to play for good fundamental coaches defensively, [Milwaukee coach] Scott Skiles. And to come from that to what we did last year was just totally different. I'm excited to get back to playing good team defense."

All-Star forward Kevin Love met with Adelman for 75 minutes before training camp.

Guess what was the first thing they talked about.

"That's something we drastically need to improve on, myself included," Love said. "With a coach like him and the coaching staff he's brought in, I expect that will be the thing we will improve on by leaps and bounds quickly."

Adelman's defensive message sounds straightforward, and it's all about personal accountability.

"The one thing is make them understand there is responsibility out there, every possession," he said. "You have to do a better job of making it hard for the other team to score. You're going to get beat, but you can't give up as many easy baskets as they gave up."

Wolves players, to a man, vowed at the team's annual media day Friday to do better.

Even Michael Beasley.

"I wasn't too happy with the way we played defense," Beasley said as he sat next to forward Anthony Randolph. "Myself, this guy over here, Kevin, Wes [Johnson], we're way more athletic, way more smarter than what we showed last year."

Talk is one thing. Change is something else.

"You've got to understand that's what it takes to win games," said new Wolves center Brad Miller, who played for the Rockets in that game at Target Center last spring. "You don't have to be the Boston Celtics or the Bulls, but you can't be as bad as that. When we came here, we had almost 30 assists. I came down four times in a row and hit Kevin Martin on the same backdoor cut for easy layups."

Four consecutive times?

Wouldn't any team figure out how to stop the same play?

"You would have thought that, but ... " Miller said. "It's a mindset. You have to be willing to stop somebody. They had the philosophy, 'We're going to outscore you.' Well, that didn't work, so you've got to get a new philosophy."

If these Wolves do, they can search for another word other than the one that Adelman found to describe last season.

When asked for a description for last season, Ridnour said, "Horrendous is pretty good."

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