Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Day 1, training camp: This could be one wild ride

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves players, Wolves practice news, Wolves training camp, Wolves news Updated: September 26, 2010 - 9:41 AM

Opening day of training camp is in the proverbial books and...

Two themes emerged in these first two practice sessions.

Defense (I know, I know, what's that?) and teamwork.

And one other thing I've concluded in just one day around this remade team:

This could be one wild ride...

The Wolves spent abundant portions of both morning and evening sessions working on their defensive concepts on a day Kurt Rambis said was "night and day" difference from training camp a year ago in terms of its competitiveness and intensity.

Rambis also tried to instill quickly an "all-for-one and one-for-all" concept, partly by making his team run lines when they failed to pick a teammate up off the floor within two seconds during a morning scrimmage.

Sure, it's very early still -- first day and everything, you know? -- but it sure looks and feels to me that this experiment Rambis and David Kahn have constructed is going to be one steaming, bubbling petri dish of personalities and talents.

First, you've got newcomer Mike Beasley: Loud, brash, goofy and obviously very skilled.

Then there's Darko Milicic, the re-signed $16 million (guaranteed) center who proved himself to be a wee bit temperamental during this morning's practice.

Rambis returned the players to run sprints after their scrimmage -- the winning team of the three did one trip down the floor and back, the other two teams did two -- and told them if any one player came up short of the end line, everybody would run again.

Assistant coach Bill Laimbeer flagged at least three players for the violation, although, given Rambis' warning, maybe Laimbeer was just being Laimbeer and designated the players just to see how they'd react.

When forced to run again, Milicic not only touched the end line, he kept going and going, taking more strides and touching the first row of seats before turning back.

Upon completing his sprints, Milicic was visibly angry, a development that caused Beasley to come over and attempt to console him..

Beasley basically said, if you have to run again big fella, we're all running again with you.

My first impression is this collection of young players either is going to be a surprising stew of creativity or it is going to combust spectacularly before our very eyes.

I'm betting whatever happens it's going to be fascinating and fun.

Only time will tell.

A couple other things and impressions from today:

* Rookie Wes Johnson participated in most of the two workouts, but he was held out of the morning scrimmage after his hamstring tightened.

He said he was fine and called the move simply a precaution.

* Here's how the players were split up for the scrimmage:

Red team: Beasley, Koufos, John Thomas, Hart, Ager.

White: Love, Brewer, Pekovic, Telfair, Hayward.

Black: Ridnour, Ellington, Webster, Darko, Tolliver.

* Newcomer Nikola Pekovic is one big, strong fella. Not really tall or explosive, but thick, mobile enough and quite possibly a mean streak. Love sounded impressed talking about him after this morning's practice.

* I paid attention to Lazar Hayward and Wes Johnson shooting together after tonight's practice and Beasley on his own at another basket and....this team, at least standing still with not a hand in their face, sure can shoot it, particularly compared to last year's team that couldn't collectively shoot a lick.

Well, that's it for tonight.

Wolves practice at 10 am and 5 p.m. Sunday.

Blog with you then.

 

 

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