'It's just hard': Wolves coaches, players talk about Flip Saunders

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For the first time since Sunday's announcement, Timberwolves players and coaches had the chance to publicly talk about about Flip Saunders.

Saunders died at the age of 60, after suffering complications during treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which he'd been diagnosed with over the summer. Since then, touching tributes from colleagues, writers and friends have poured in.

On Monday afternoon, the team had its first chance to speak to the public.

Timberwolves interim head coach Sam Mitchell, a former player for Saunders, said he will remember Flip 

" target="_blank">for the good times and for what he learned from him. Mitchell acknowledged the next few days especially will be hard for some of the players.

Over the course of two stints with the team Saunders coached the Wolves for 11 seasons and had been in his role as president of basketball operations for two.

"Flip was a great friend of mine who had a lot of influence on me. It's tough to see anyone go at such a young age," said Wolves General Manager Milt Newton during a press conference at practice Monday. "We would go to lunch every day and talk about basketball and life. It's very difficult."

 Ricky Rubio, after speaking with the media Monday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Ricky Rubio, after speaking with the media Monday. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Wolves players talked about keeping Saunders' vision for this team alive, and honoring their fallen coach with their play this season.

"It was very hard. For a lot of us and a lot of our problems in life we have been coming to a basketball gym to really just vent our problems and forget about them for two hours of practice," Wolves rookie Karl-Anthony Towns said. "It was kind of hit an miss on emotions through practice, but we stayed strong together and we're just trying to keep the vision he had for us going."

Several of the Wolves who spoke on Monday said they will honor Saunders with their play this season.

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