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News » Rambis readies for first training camp


Rambis readies for first training camp


Rambis readies for first training campMINNEAPOLIS (AP) - On the eve of his first training camp as head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kurt Rambis described his coaching style as more of an educator than a disciplinarian.

Well, Prof. Rambis, class starts on Tuesday.

Rambis takes over as coach of a young and rebuilding team that has plenty of learning to do. Eleven players on the training camp roster are under the age of 26, with the Timberwolves core of Al Jefferson, Kevin Love and Jonny Flynn all 24 or younger.

So there will be plenty of teaching starting in Mankato on Tuesday and, in all likelihood, for the next couple of years.

"I'm going to be very demanding of the players," Rambis said on Monday at the team's media day. "I'm not a yeller and a screamer. There might be a few points in time during the season where that happens, but I see myself more as an educator for the players to get them to understand how to play the right way; how to play together."

Before David Kahn, the new president of basketball operations, hired him in August to oversee the rebuilding, Rambis spent most of the past seven seasons as an understudy to Phil Jackson with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also served as a Lakers assistant under the well-respected Del Harris and played for Pat Riley with the Showtime Lakers in the 1980s, so Rambis has learned from some of the best.

Now it's time to start passing on some of that knowledge to the young pups. He hired a star-studded group of assistants, including Bill Laimbeer, Reggie Theus and Dave Wohl, to help him.

"We know we're going to have to be teachers and helpers with the educational process for these players," Rambis said. "We're hard workers. We're going to spend all the necessary time it's going to take to get these players playing the right way as soon as possible."

The Timberwolves won just 24 games last season under Randy Wittman and Kevin McHale. Over the past few weeks, many of the players have been working out together at the team's practice facility and have already been impressed by the attitude the coaching staff has instilled.

"Kurt left a wonderful job in LA," Jefferson said. "Nice weather. Just won a championship. Got a superstar in Kobe Bryant. Could be the head coach in LA two more years if he stayed.

"He left all that to come here. He didn't come here to (mess around). So I'm really looking forward to working with them. I think they'll bring the best out of us."

One of the many reasons the Timberwolves struggled last year was that Jefferson, their leading scorer and rebounder, went down with a torn ACL in February. The loss robbed the team of its identity and the only player they looked to in tight games, and they limped to the finish.

That caused owner Glen Taylor to clean house. He hired Kahn, who then told McHale he would not return to the organization he had worked for over the previous 15 seasons. Kahn then went on a whirlwind summer of transactions and hirings, so the Wolves will report to Mankato with only five players from last year's team on the roster.

The biggest is Jefferson, who said he is nearly all the way back from knee surgery. He has been playing five-on-five with his teammates for the last few weeks and expects to be fully ready to go once he gets back into shape in training camp.

"I'm just about a training camp away," said Jefferson, who has lost 31 pounds. "By the end of training camp I should be ready."

Jefferson may need to take it easy early in camp as he works himself, and his knee, back into shape. But the rest of the players should expect a physically demanding training camp for a coach that wants to emphasize defense and an up-tempo mentality.

"I want to see their focus," Rambis said. "I want to see their intensity and I want to see their willingness to push themselves beyond the limits of what they think they can do so that their work ethic increases."

Forward Ryan Gomes said he expects an intense camp from a new coach trying to set the tone for what he expects from the team.

"We all have a lot to prove," Gomes said. "We have new management and a new coaching staff and we have to prove to them that we're valuable on the court."


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 29, 2009

 

 
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