Sid Hartman: Adelman's hiring pays off for Wolves, too

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 12, 2012 - 12:26 AM
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Rick Adelman spent a lot of time with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in Mankato before Adelman decided to take on his fifth NBA coaching job. Taylor said of Adelman: “When he says something, I just notice that the players really listen.”

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Glen Taylor hoped for a much improved season by the Timberwolves, who went only 17-65 last season, but he didn't expect the team to be playing close to .500 ball this early in the season, and for that the owner of the team credits coach Rick Adelman and his coaching staff.

Taylor signed Adelman to a five-year contract calling for $5 million per season, and the new coach has proven beyond a doubt that he is worth it.

"That's the market. It was one of those things that, quite frankly, we didn't debate with the coach on at all," Taylor said. "We knew what other coaches were being paid, that's what we offered and he took our first offer. I think it worked out very well for both of us."

Taylor said they talked early in the interviewing process to Adelman, but he was going to be interviewed by the Los Angeles Lakers, and the thinking by the Wolves front office was that Adelman would get that job. Fortunately for the Wolves, the Lakers decided to hire former Cleveland coach Mike Brown, which opened the door for the Wolves to court Adelman.

"We had gone ahead and started our interviewing, and we ended up interviewing six other coaches, all with experience," Taylor said. "When we got done with that [President of Basketball Operations] David Kahn contacted [Adelman] again and asked him what his position was. [Adelman] said that he would like to coach, but he needed to talk it over with his wife.

"He came to Mankato and visited with us in Mankato. We spent the greater part of a day here in my home in Mankato and got to know him very well. I think after that decision, he said that he was inclined to come here and he went home and talked to his wife and got back to David and said yes, he would like to come."

Taylor said what helped lure Adelman was the fact that his wife had grandparents in Minnesota, and as a young woman she had come to Minnesota and knew something about the state.

"We got [Adelman and his wife] to Minnesota and they said that they just loved it here and they made a decision that they would come and work with this young team."

Taylor was asked what he thinks of the prospects for his team this year.

"If you ask the coach, the coach would say that we have lots of potential but we're not there yet," Taylor said.

Injuries have set the Wolves back some, and because of a very compressed schedule that often has the teams playing four or five games per week, the Wolves don't get to practice as much as they would in a normal season. That only makes it harder for a young squad.

While forward Kevin Love is having a great year and has made the All-Star team for the second year in a row, the big attraction has been rookie point guard Ricky Rubio, who has been responsible for some of the team's sellouts.

Rubio -- who entered Saturday night's game leading the NBA in steals per game at 2.44 and was fifth in assists per game at 8.7 -- has helped make the games very entertaining, and Taylor said fans have reacted like they haven't for a long time.

Adelman, in his fifth NBA coaching job, was a winner everywhere he went earlier in his career, other than a two-year stint at Golden State where the Warriors struggled. He went to the NBA Finals with the Trail Blazers, guided a powerhouse with the Kings and had four winning seasons with the Rockets before coming here. Taylor sits a couple of seats away from Adelman, so he was asked to describe how the coach operates.

"What I see from him is that he does not say a lot," Taylor said. "He doesn't shout. When he says something, I just notice that the players really listen and he gets right to the point. So he is not a shouter, just makes his point and kind of lets it go with that. [He's] very encouraging of the players. He's very supportive of the players, even when they're having a difficult time."

Mbakwe wants a sixth year

Gophers senior forward Trevor Mbakwe is making good recovery after suffering a serious knee injury that sidelined him for the men's basketball season. Mbawke posted on Twitter after the Gophers' overtime loss to the Badgers on Thursday, saying he is hoping to get a sixth year so he can play next year. Mbakwe also noted that it was basically up to the NCAA to decide.

Mbakwe also said a lot of people around him had turned away from him after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, and it has helped him realize who his true friends are.

"If you weren't with me during the struggle, don't even try to be there during my success," Mbakwe posted.

Gophers football player Troy Stoudermire recently got a sixth year after missing a lot of his senior year because of injuries, like Mbakwe.

Jottings

Seeing Kevin Love and Lamar Odom on the same floor reminded me that Love gave Odom credit for improving the Timberwolves star's play through their practices with Team USA for the 2010 world championships. Friday, with Odom guarding him part of the time for Dallas, Love had 32 points and 12 rebounds.

That man standing up and cheering the Gophers men's basketball team Thursday behind the maroon and gold bench against Wisconsin was none other than the new president of the University of Minnesota, one Eric Kaler.

Credit Wolves CEO Rob Moor for the hiring of the team President David Kahn, whose three-year contract expires this year and who will get a another good multiyear deal.

Gophers baseball coach John Anderson, who is in the process of signing his first multiyear contract in about 10 years, will be working for his 11th athletic director when the successor to Joel Maturi is named.

Visiting Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman almost every weekday have been running back Toby Gerhart, whose knee injury suffered in Week 17 is showing great improvement, and cornerback Antoine Winfield, who is being treated for a hip problem and is looking forward to a healthy 14th NFL season.

• An indication of how a new Vikings stadium is not just for the NFL team is the crowd of 46,777 that recently attended the Monster Jam at the Metrodome.

Wisconsin men's basketball coach Bo Ryan was so fascinated by a New York Times column by Thomas Friedman, who was raised in St. Louis Park, titled "Average is Over" that he distributed a copy to all his players. "It's about how [being] average is no longer good enough," Ryan said. "A lot of people could survive on average the past two generations, but you can't survive on average now."

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