Page 2 of 2 Previous
A decade ago, new Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders assembled Garnett and newcomers Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell together and in their first season coached them to the Western Conference finals, a springtime run that might have gone even longer had Cassell not gotten injured.
Saunders suggested that 2003-04 Wolves team had more questions about how it would come together.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be that major with this team because all of their roles are very much defined,” Saunders said. “In 2004, we weren’t sure if Sam was going to be a scorer or a point guard and was Sprewell going to be a defender, a slasher, scorer, three-point shooter, the corner three? Everyone knew what K.G. was going to be.
“On this team, I really believe their roles are pretty defined. When your roles are defined and you start playing together, it doesn’t take long to mesh in those roles.”
Playing their roles
Pekovic is the bruiser who creates space for others because of his punishing low-post game and the way he rolls aggressively to the basket on pick-and-roll plays. Love is the game’s best “stretch 4” forward, a unique inside-outside combination of freakish rebounding big man with a guard’s three-point touch.
“Not a lot,” Adelman said when asked how many big men have the kind of perimeter game Love does. “That’s what really hurt last year when he broke his hand, came back and shot 20 percent or whatever it was. It just wasn’t the same. When you’ve got Pek rolling down the middle, you’ve got to honor that, and then Kevin gives you another dimension. The other team really has to make a decision.”
And then there’s Rubio, the maestro with the ball in his hands.
“I think it will be easy because we know each other, even if we didn’t play a lot of minutes together,” Rubio said. “I think we all play together. Pek is good in the pick-and-roll. Kevin, I think I had a feeling with him, the kind of player I like to play with. He’s so good that you can do a lot of things wrong and he’s going to make you look good.”
The big question is defense, and particularly whether Pekovic at center and Love at power forward can be the foundation of a contending defense because neither is a shot blocker or a notable individual defender. If the Wolves are going to win, they must position themselves properly and be willing to draw charging calls.
“I believe most of the good teams, especially defensively, are the ones that set the tone,” Adelman said. “They’re the ones who are talking. They see everything coming at you. Those guys have to be more vocal and have to be in the right spot early for us to get better. Big people have to do that. Dante [Cunningham] is very active, but those guys have to do the same thing.”
The Wolves spent four days in Mankato getting to know each other, with Love, Pekovic and Rubio reacquainting themselves on the floor while welcoming Martin and Brewer as well.
They have seven preseason games — including four in six days starting Monday against CSKA Moscow — to learn each other in a process that certainly will take much longer than that.
“It’s going to take time,” assistant coach Terry Porter said. “Last year and the year before, they’re all different players now. There’s a lot of difference in confidence for the three of them. I think they have a better grasp of our offense and now it’s just a matter of getting those guys on the court and working through all the nuances of what this offense can do to help these guys be successful.
“It’s something that will be an ongoing process. Whenever you talk about those three guys being the core of our offense, it’s timing and it’s rhythm and it takes time.”
|Dallas||12/9/13 7:40 PM|
|San Diego||12/12/13 7:25 PM|
|Miami||79||3rd Qtr 4:53|
|Indiana||24||2nd Qtr 8:23|
|Orlando||25||2nd Qtr 9:26|
|San Jose||0||3rd Prd|
|Florida||0||1st Prd 2:55|
|SW Oklahoma St||55||FINAL|
|San Diego St||70|
|Nebraska||53||2nd Half 7:39|
|Jacksonville St||40||2nd Half 3:57|
|Boston College||25||1st Half 3:16|
|Seton Hall||7:00 PM|
|Eastern Wash||7:30 PM|
|(13) Oklahoma State||24|
|(16) Arizona State||14|
|(1) Florida State||45|
|(7) Ohio State||24||FINAL|
|(4) Michigan State||34|
|(21) Fresno State||24|
|Army||12/14/13 2:00 PM|
|(10) Penn State||77||FINAL|
|Central Conn St||82||FINAL|
|(12) South Carolina||76||FINAL|
|Cal State Fullerton||52||FINAL|
|(20) Iowa State||79|
|Stephen F Austin||83||FINAL|
|Long Beach St||67||FINAL|
Poll: What's the best sports rivalry involving a Twin Cities sports team?