Wolves 'have to take some responsibility' on D, Adelman says
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Meeting with media on Friday for the first time since the NBA lockout was lifted, Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman was able to speak directly about his team and their players for the first time since he was hired.
His analysis of a team that won 17-games the year before under Kurt Rambis and finished dead-last in points allowed was blunt and to the point. The team must play better defense and buy into a system that is going to allow the group of talented youngsters to achieve their potential.
"This team, these players, have to take some responsibility on the defensive end," Adelman said in a 20-minute session with reporters. "It is just horrendous the way they approach it. There is no sustained effort on (the defensive) end."
"There is no way you can give up as many easy baskets as they gave up."
His players were made aware of their new leader's defensive assessment of a season ago and couldn't help but sheepishly agree.
"Horrendous is the word," Anthony Tolliver said. "It was pretty bad."
"I think that's the best way to describe it," Anthony Randolph said.
Kevin Love said it was the first thing Adelman brought up in his 90-minute meeting with the coach.
"That's something we drastically need to improve on, myself included."
Adelman spoke from experience, coaching the Houston Rockets last season to a 3-1 record against the Wolves. He specifically mentioned the final game of the season where the Rockets were able to toy with the Wolves in a 121-102 victory.
"We got whatever we wanted on our first option," he said. "We never had to go anywhere else."
Although he obviously wasn't with team a year ago, Adelman mentioned how surprised he was that the Wolves weren't winning more games and getting more out of the young nucleus of talent they had a year ago -- which has since improved with the additions of rookies Ricky Rubio, Derrick Williams and Malcon Lee.
For Adelman -- a coach who has won 945 career games, good for eighth all-time -- it comes down to young players making a commitment to get better, playing the game a certain way and making something of themselves in this league other than being just another player getting lost in the sea of untapped potential.
"What it comes down to really is there is a trust level in the way you play the game at both ends of the court that we have to engrain in them," Adelman said. "And we have to make them understand that this is the way we are going to play. If we lose, fine, but we are going to play that way."
Adelman admits he wishes he had a couple veterans on a team that will likely retain the crown of youngest team in the league for a second-consecutive year, but he has been in this position before. He will be looking for the players that are willing to buy in and willing to play with a team concept.
"That is what we are looking for over these next to weeks. Who is going to grow, who is going to buy in? Because they have to grow, they have to buy in as a group as to what is going to give us the best chance to be successful."
Adelman spoke highly of the players on the roster, but was once again blunt when it came to expectations of this team going forward, insisting there must be change to the way the team practices and prepares if they wants to get out of the dormant state this franchise has been in shipping Kevin Garnett to Boston.
"Let's face facts here," Adelman said. "I am not hiding anything here: They won 17 games last year. Let's come to realistic ideas that things have to change. You can't go along the same way. I don't want to do that."
Training camp opens Friday with all players practicing -- with the exception of the injured Martell Webster, who is out indefinitely following offseason back surgery. Camp will run every day through next Friday before the team plays their first of two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks next Saturday at Target Center. The schedule for the following week has not been announced.
With a shortened camp, a new staff and new players, Adelman says he will be continually mixing up the rotations while looking for the guys who will be on the court against the Oklahoma City Thunder for their regular season-opener on Dec. 26.
"We are approaching these two weeks that there won't be a regular starting team when we scrimmage. We are going to mix guys in and out all the time and they will understand that. And what we decide (as a starting lineup) for the first game (against Milwaukee) may not hold true. ...
"Are we getting better? That's what we are trying do. Are we getting better every day, consistently and not dropping off or go the other direction or go back to your old habits."