Because most of my writing is now necessarily about the broader NBA instead of just the Wolves, I missed Kurt Rambis's postgame press conference Friday night to chase Cleveland Cavs info. But the coach graciously acceded to a quick conversation on his way back to his office, prompted by my curiosity about how he envisions the division of the point guard duties between rookie Jonny Flynn and 23-year old free agent signee Ramon Sessions. Obviously the situation didn't warrant follow-up questions are significant elucidation of his thoughts, but it does provide a little window into his thinking. (Sorry it is already five days later, but other deadlines just kept on coming in the interim.)
Q: What are your primary criteria when it comes to evaluating your point guards?
Kurt Rambis: I'm probably going to need to give Johnny just as much time as I can before someone else, just to give him the experience out there. But he's got to do the right thing.
Q: You gave him a little bit quicker hook in the first half tonight than previously. Was it something you saw specifically?
KR: There was one sequence where he went out of the context of the offense and tried to dribble too much, turned the ball over and then jogged back on defense. That, definitely, if you turn the ball over you better bust your ass as hard as you can to get back and try to make up for the play. It is not one of his teammate's responsibility to get his back when he does something wrong and turns the ball over. So those types of situations. [When he's] making dumb mistakes, I'll have to sit on my hands a lot and just figure he has to go through these learning experiences. But lack of hustle and lack of effort; that's something that he shouldn't tolerate.
Q: And what about during garbage time, when he turned the ball over twice in a row. Is that a circumstance where you de-emphasize the mistakes a little bit just because of the circumstance?
KR: No. That's him. It is good for him to know that if he goes out there and tries to do too much, then they take the ball from him, or that he looks silly out there. It is good for him to learn that what he was able to get away with in college right now he is not able to get away with.
Q: Have you talked to Ramon about minutes or lack thereof?
KR: No, I don't talk to him about minutes. I've just talked about the responsibilities of the job--to both of them, about what I expect of them.
Q: But you don't anticipate any problems? He's got a four-year deal and just should understand what you are trying to do here?
KR: I don't anticipate any words about that. They knew the situation coming in here. My door is always open and players can come in and talk if they have any questions. As the season goes on and Jonny or any player is learning more and more and more, if repeated mistakes continue to be made, then the hook will be quicker. But there is a point where I will accept a certain amount of mistakes and there is a learning curve that goes along with that.
Q: But the team is committed to youth and making some decisions on that basis?
KR: It is a year. We've got time and we are going to try and get both of them as much experience as possible. It's just that right now we are trying to catch Jonny up.
Bonus nugget: After talking to Rambis, I wandered into the Wolves' locker room to see if any players were still around. Typically, the last player left was Ryan Gomes, holding court with patience and eloquence while explaining problems with learning the offense to beat writers Jerry Zgoda and Ray Richardson. Since I came in mid-explanation, I won't try to recreate that part. But it seemed the perfect time-and the voluble, cerebral Gomes was the perfect source-to ask something that I'd wondered about since the beginning of the season. Here is our 30-second exchange.
Q: About what percentage of the half-court sets that you guys run would you say are triangle-related?
RG: What percentage?
Q: Yeah, how often do you guys go into the triangle-half, more than half, less than half...
RG: I'd say about half, half the time.
Q: And then is the rest of it pretty much just your standard pick-and-roll and back cuts?
RG: Yeah, you're standard NBA stuff. Not too many pick and rolls, but your standard ball movement and cuts off people at different angles.
Q: Are there any matchup calls, where you set something up specifically to exploit a matchup?
RG: Sometimes there is. If Corey or Damien or myself have a smaller guy on us or we want to get Al at a certain spot on the floor, we have calls for that.