Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 12/8/11
MINNEAPOLIS Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio has already studied Minnesota's schedule for the upcoming 66-game season. The tech-savvy rookie has even input all the games on his iPad.So yes, Rubio has noticed the compact nature of this year's lockout-shortened slate that will force Minnesota and other teams to at times play games on back-to-back-to-back days, or at least three games in four days."Yesterday, I was looking at the schedule and I was saying, 16, 17, 18,'" Rubio said Wednesday at Target Center before taking part in a workout with several Wolves teammates. "Three games in a row? What the hell?!"To make matters worse, the NBA's condensed season will take place after a shortened training camp. For the Timberwolves, they'll likely open up camp on Friday after their media day, and will have two preseason games against the Milwaukee Bucks before opening the regular season against Oklahoma City on Dec. 26.Anthony Tolliver, Minnesota's player rep, has been active in keeping up with the latest lockout news. He, too, knows the 66-game schedule will be a challenge for all teams but the young Timberwolves may have an edge when playing three straight nights against older, more veteran teams."We have a lot of fresh legs. We have a lot of young guys," Tolliver said. "I think that could be an advantage for us this year. Obviously it's not going to make a huge, huge difference, but it will give us a little bit of an edge some nights, especially coming off a back-to-back or a back-to-back-to-back, stuff like that."Before the season starts, Minnesota will have to learn a new system under new head coach Rick Adelman. They'll also welcome several new players in Rubio, rookies Derrick Williams and Malcolm Lee and veteran Brad Miller.So while, as Tolliver noted, the core of the Timberwolves remains in tact with Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Wesley Johnson and others, Adelman's offense will be new for everyone."It's not like last year. Last year was literally we threw basically a whole new team together and said, Let's go play,'" Tolliver said. "We're all going to be learning a new system. But as far as camaraderie, I don't think that'll be as big of a problem as maybe some people think."That camaraderie has already begun, as Tolliver and Rubio were joined by Love, Beasley, Johnson, Darko Millicic and Nikola Pekovic on Wednesday. When asked how he thought the shortened preseason would affect the Wolves, Rubio said the young squad might be at a disadvantage. But like Tolliver, Rubio believes the team's youth could an asset during the condensed season."It's going to be hard because we have a new coach, new players, young players, too. It's going to be hard in the beginning," Rubio said. "Maybe it's worse for us because we need time to improve, to be together, to put (in a) new offense, new defense and a new coach. I think we are young, so these games we are playing a lot, four or five per week, we're young and we can handle that."During the lockout, players haven't been able to contact coaches, and vice versa. So while Adelman was brought on to replace Kurt Rambis, he hasn't yet been able to work with his new players.Adelman has coached four different teams during his 20-year coaching career, most recently leading the Houston Rockets for the past four seasons. Tolliver, for one, has admired Adelman's teams from afar and is excited to see what the new coach will bring to Minnesota."I think after playing against the Rockets the last few years, I was just telling Wes, I was like, man, I feel like the Rockets' offense was the hardest offense to guard out of any offense in the whole NBA. Harder than the Lakers' triangle with those talented guys," Tolliver said. "I want to be that team that people hate playing because they don't like guarding it. You score a whole lot of points. Obviously you've got to play some defense too to win games. "With the firepower that we have, it's going to be great for us."
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