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No surprise, Tom Thibodeau's first practice long and intense

MINNEAPOLIS--Tom Thibodeau's first practice as the Timberwolves' new coach lived up to its billing Tuesday. "Longer than I expected," rookie point guard Kris Dunn said of the training camp opener. Players can anticipate a lot of that this season....

Sep 26, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau poses for a photo during Minnesota Timberwolves media day at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau poses for a photo during Minnesota Timberwolves media day at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS-Tom Thibodeau's first practice as the Timberwolves' new coach lived up to its billing Tuesday.

"Longer than I expected," rookie point guard Kris Dunn said of the training camp opener.

Players can anticipate a lot of that this season. Thibodeau's former players have spoken to the difficulty of his practices, and Tuesday seemed to be no different, as the audible volume of practice was easily heard throughout the building.

"It was very intense," forward Andrew Wiggins said.

You'd expect nothing less from a coach who is routinely one of the first to enter the office and one of the last to leave. Players weren't surprised by anything.

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"Training camp was easy to a lot of us," Wiggins said. "Not easy, but we knew what we were doing. We executed a quick, fast-break practice, and everybody had fun, too."

That's all thanks to the past three weeks. Many players arrived in Minneapolis early and have been working out with Thibodeau for the better part of a month. Dunn said the only difference between the past few weeks and Tuesday was a faster pace.

"We knew what (Thibodeau) was expecting, and we came out here and we worked hard," Wiggins said. "We didn't give him no reason to get mad or make us go harder, because we were going as hard as we can go."

Which is pretty hard, if you ask Karl-Anthony Towns.

"We're in great shape," Towns said. "We had a great offseason. We all put our bodies to new limits. So with those new limits, we were able to come in and get a great first day of practice in. ... Thibs is one of the best coaches at understanding what we need to do to be the next team."

That's a process, Thibodeau said. One that started in the offseason, took another step the past few weeks and reached a different level on Tuesday. He said the primary focus early is to get the base offense and defense down and build the fundamentals.

"We have to commit to improving," Thibodeau said. "Each and every day we have to get better. There's a lot of ground to make up."

That's been a common theme for a team that won just 29 games last season. With a large gap between where the Wolves are now and where they want to be, every day counts.

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"Every single practice, I just continue to stress about how important and how valuable this time is for us," Towns said. "We need to establish who we are right now, so when we come into (exhibition games) next week, we can show the world who we are."

Special visitors

The entire Duke coaching staff, including head coach Mike Krzyzewski, was on hand for Tuesday's practice. Krzyzewski and Co. visited Apple Valley point guard Tre Jones on a recruiting trip this week.

Thibodeau was an assistant under Krzyzewski for USA Basketball this summer at the Rio Olympics. Wolves guard Tyus Jones, Tre's older brother, won a national championship with Krzyzewski in 2015.

Also on hand were former Wolves coach Randy Wittman and Gophers coach Richard Pitino.

"It's always good to get their thoughts of what they see," Thibodeau said.

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