Russia's Timofey Mozgov puts up a shot during a World...

Russia's Timofey Mozgov puts up a shot during a World Championship match against New Zealand in Istanbul, Turkey. (Sept. 6, 2010) Credit: AFP/Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Timofey Mozgov has a lot to learn and not much time to learn it. The Russian center has to adjust to the NBA game and learn Mike D'Antoni's system while also learning English. And then you throw in the West Virginia twang of D'Antoni and his brother, Dan, on top of the slang used by the rest of the players.

Mike D'Antoni said he has to make sure he makes eye-contact when he speaks to the 24-year-old, who knows just enough English to get by.

Danilo Gallinari, whose English was far better when he arrived from Italy in 2008, is trying to assist, along with Ronny Turiaf, a native of France.

"One thing I do know," Mike D'Antoni said after Sunday's practice, "is when he's got it, he's got it."

What Mozgov already has is the respect of his new teammates, who didn't know what to expect of the young, unheralded center.

"I'm really surprised how good he really is," Amar'e Stoudemire said.