Wolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell called it constructive language. Any fan who watched the team’s first practice, which was  broadcast live on NBA TV, knows it as dead air.

The network had to hit the dump button any time language was used that was less than family-friendly. With Mitchell, frankly, that was a good bit.

Joking aside, though, it was interesting to see how much the first practice was devoted to defense. With the exception of some late work on the fast break, pretty much the entire three-plus-hour session was devoted to defense. “Well we have to get better defensively,” Mitchell said. “And the only way you’re going to get better is to work on it. That’s something Flip (Saunders) talked about, and something that we’ve been stressing.’’

Message received. “Defense is what wins games,”  Ricky Rubio said. “We want to build from there. I know we have a lot of talent and stuff, and we can score a lot of points. But we have to start with our defense. That’s going to be our base.’’

Here are some other items from today’s late-afternoon workout:

--It’s pretty clear that the veterans on the team – particularly Kevin Garnett, Tayshaun Prince and Andre Miller – are being encouraged to help out with the younger players. “The coach, he is the voice,” Rubio said. “He has to be the one running the show. But sometimes the players, we see things that coaches don’t see. It’s great for us as a player to get a chance to talk.’’

--Gary Trent, a former Wolves player and confidante of Garnett’s, will be working this season with the team’s big men, Mitchell said. It is a player-development role.

--Ryan Saunders was at practice today. He has been told by the team to take whatever time is necessary to see to his father, Flip, who is battling cancer.