Thu 5 Nov 2009
The transition from college to the NBA is a difficult one. Not only are the players bigger, stronger and faster, often times the losses mount quickly for youngsters who are used to winning big at successful NCAA programs. Just ask Wolves rookie Wayne Ellington.
Last season the junior guard helped lead the North Carolina Tar Heels to a 34-4 record en route to a National Championship. For his part, Ellington shot 7 of 10 from three-point range in the Final 4 and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Today the 6-5 sharpshooter finds himself on a franchise in the midst of a complete overall.
I caught up with Ellington after practice today to discuss his first impressions of the NBA.
DZ: You’ve been to training camp and gotten the first week of the regular season under your belt, could you just talk about that a little bit?
ELLINGTON: It’s been a lot of fun. Training camp was fun…as a team, we are just continuing to get better night in and night out. I think as a rookie it’s good to be on a team like this where everybody is learning new things and everybody is trying to get on the same page. It’s been a lot easier.
DZ: You guys have lost four in a row now unfortunately; that’s something that doesn’t happen when you’re at North Carolina, how do you get adjusted to it?
ELLINGTON: Oh man, that’s something you never want to get adjusted to. It’s tough; it’s hard for me especially when I lose four games in season (at North Carolina). It’s been tough, but at the same time it’s been a good learning experience so far. (I am) just going to continue to use it as a learning tool.
DZ: Is there anything during the first week – now that you are in the real games – that has kind of surprised you or been more difficult than you thought?
ELLINGTON: Actually, nothing has really been too surprising or too difficult. I think I am getting a pretty good feel for what coach (Rambis) wants in terms of offensively and defensively. I am picking it up pretty well. Of course it’s new for me – everything is new. It just takes some adjusting, some time to react. I think I am learning on the fly and getting good at it.
DZ: Being a rookie this season and having a new coaching staff, are you just at a point now where you are trying to carve out a role for yourself; everybody is trying to figure out where you all fit in?
ELLINGTON: Yeah, definitely. Everybody is just trying to figure out where guys are going to be at, how guys like to play, where guys fit in, what role guys are at, things like that - not only myself, but a lot of people on the team.
DZ: One last thing, for all of us who watched the NCAA tournament last year, you guys made it look pretty easy cruising through (to the title). Was it as easy as you guys made it look to the rest of us?
ELLINGTON: (laughs) No, it wasn’t easy at all man. We had a whole lot of pressure on our shoulders. It was definitely something that was tough for us. Not only in the tournament, but throughout the whole season, there was a target on our back and people were gunning for us. At the end of the day, we worked hard and it paid off for us. We sacrificed a lot for the better of our team and it resulted in a National Championship.
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