Wolves rookie Dieng's education will be put to the test

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 29, 2014 - 11:58 PM

Late in the second quarter of the Timberwolves’ victory at Chicago on Monday, rookie center Gorgui Dieng was called for a foul and, a few seconds later, missed a shot. Quickly, Ronny Turiaf was up and was put back in the game by Rick Adelman.

As Dieng made his way off the court and toward the bench, Adelman stopped him. He put his arm around Dieng, gave him some instruction, then patted Dieng on the back on his way back to the bench. For Adelman, not known for his patience with rookies, it was an interesting moment, one that shows the veteran coach clearly likes the raw rookie.

And now that rookie has to grow up. With Nikola Pekovic out indefinitely, Turiaf and Dieng will have to do more. Turiaf, the veteran, will have to carry most of that load. But more will be needed from Dieng and, for him, this is new territory.

“It takes away a huge part of what we do,” Adelman said of playing without Pekovic. “But you have no choice but to move on. You have to play Ronny there, and [Dieng] will back him up.”

According to some of his teammates Monday, Dieng will not be intimidated by the moment. “It’s funny,” forward Kevin Love said. “He’s extremely confident, even as a rookie. But he works hard, too.”

When told of Love’s comments, Turiaf laughed. “No question, no question,” he said. So is there a story behind that laugh? “Yeah, but that I can’t tell you,” Turiaf said. “How about them apples? … I can tell you for a fact that my main man over here is waiting for this opportunity. He’s put in the work, I can tell you that.”

Adelman agreed, though he said he hoped Dieng would show less confidence in his outlet passes, a joking reference to Dieng’s pass late in a victory over Utah on Jan. 18, when he put a pass off the backboard. “He works his tail off and competes,” Adelman said. “That’s all we try to tell him to do. Compete and stay within yourself. He can do some things. It’s just experience right now.”

There is no question Dieng is raw, especially on offense. But his ability to protect the rim on defense has had many clamoring for him to get more minutes. Love said it’s clear the game has slowed down a bit for Dieng, one of the team’s hardest workers in practice. Dieng himself said he has learned not to try to do too much, especially on offense. As for this opportunity?

“Every day I just block shots, play defense and, when I get the ball, I just put on my move,” he said. “I’m just going to play my game. I’m not worried about having good or bad games.”

Dieng only played six minutes against the Pelicans on Wednesday, going scoreless with four rebounds.

It appears Turiaf has become a mentor for Dieng. “We always talk about it,” Turiaf said. “I ask him, ‘What have you learned?’ And his thing is, ‘I’m learning the day in and day out of being an NBA player.’ ”

Confidence, part II

Turiaf isn’t lacking for confidence, either. Asked about how he will handle a vastly increased role, he laughed.

“Whatever coach asks me to do, I’ll do,” he said. “… If I’m asked to be a scorer, I will score. If I’m asked to be a defender, I’ll be a defender. If I’m asked to be the guy who is taking care of everybody behind the scenes, I do that. So it’s fun.”

Etc.

• After consulting with his doctor, forward Chase Budinger has been cleared to play up to 24 minutes per night, up a bit from the 18 recommended when he first returned from knee surgery.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Marshall 52 FINAL
Northern Ill 23
Navy 17 FINAL
San Diego St 16
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close