Adelman ready to take control of Timberwolves

For about three months, Rick Adelman was coach of the Minnesota

Timberwolves in name only.

He was officially hired in September, but the NBA lockout

prevented from speaking to, or speaking about, the players he

signed on to coach.

The silence was finally broken this week when owners and players

ratified a new collective bargaining agreement, and Adelman didn’t

mince words in his first public comments specifically about his

team.

The veteran coach said his film study showed a team that was

”horrendous” on the defensive end, and a young group that needed

to show accountability and responsibility if they wanted to improve

from the second-worst record in the league last year.

That’s why Adelman was so eager to hit the practice floor on

Friday for the first time. This team has a lot of work to do, and

very little time to do it to get ready for the opener on Dec.

26.

”I think that’s what our biggest challenge is going to be as a

group, as a coaching staff, to the players, and we’re all going to

have to figure out a way to build the trust here in a short period

of time,” Adelman said.

The Timberwolves began the latest in a series of new beginnings

on Friday, with Adelman and his coaching staff taking over for Kurt

Rambis, who was fired after two seasons and a 32-132 record. And

after being banned from even texting with each over the past five

months of the lockout, there was plenty of curiosity on both

sides.

”I just met him for first time like five minutes ago,” new

point guard Ricky Rubio said, ”and he’s saying he want to talk

with me and see what we can do together to help the team.”

Adelman inherits one of the youngest teams in the league, with

Rubio and No. 2 overall draft pick Derrick Williams the major

additions to a core that includes Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and

Wes Johnson.

”I don’t think really anybody knows what’s going to happen,”

Williams said.

It’s an extremely athletic team that turned the ball over far

too many times last season and played some of the worst defense in

the NBA, two things that Adelman says have to change in a

hurry.

After he parted ways with the Houston Rockets at the end of last

season, many expected Adelman to take a year off and wait for a

plum job with a veteran, contending team to open up. But the

65-year-old appeared to be galvanized by the team’s youth and ready

for the challenge of remaking one of the league’s woebegone

franchises.

”You always want to have a really talented team. You want a

chance to win everything, you know?” he said. ”But I want to see,

can we turn this thing around? Can we build?”

The players seem equally excited to work with a coach with

Adelman’s resume. He has won 945 games in 20 seasons as coach of

the Trail Blazers, Warriors, Kings and Rockets, and the players are

eager to see what he has to teach them.

”He’s proven that he can win with a different set of guys with

a different set of skill sets,” All-Star forward Kevin Love said.

”We’re looking forward to what he can do with this team. With him

it’s all about a challenge.”

The first practice on Friday night lasted for more than three

hours, with Adelman and his coaching staff installing just the

basics of what he wants to do.

”It wasn’t bad,” Adelman said after getting his first look at

his team on the court. ”The scrimmage was ragged, which is

typical. … We’ve got to defend better, especially transition

defense was not good today. That’s been their breakdowns. We’ve got

to take care of the ball. We made poor decisions with the

ball.”

The Timberwolves open the preseason with a game against the

Bucks on Dec. 17, just one week from now. They host the Thunder on

Dec. 26, so the rush is on.

In between now and then, Adelman will have to learn how to divvy

up the playing time with a glut of forwards, including Beasley,

Williams and Anthony Randolph and try to teach Rubio the

differences between playing in Europe and playing in the United

States.

He said he’d love to get another veteran or two, but if they

can’t, the teaching will just have to keep coming in heavy

doses.

”We had a good meeting,” Adelman said. ”The guys’ attitudes

are good. We’ve just got to keep building each practice.”

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