Q&A: Wolves Player Development Coach Shawn Respert

Mark Remme
Lynx Editor/Writer

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Since members of the Timberwolves began returning to Minneapolis preparing for the NBA season, there has been overlap at the LifeTime Fitness Training Center. Some days Wolves players are training before or after Lynx practices, and on occasion itís facilitated an opportunity for the two teams to cross paths and talk basketball.

That was the case earlier this month, as Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve and Wolves player development coach Shawn Respert spent a little time after a Lynx practice discussing the game and a little strategy. LynxBasketball.com spoke with Respert about his conversations with Reeve, and how he sees the way she approaches the game being similar to that of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman.

LynxBasketball.com: What has it been like getting to talk basketball with coach Reeve?

Shawn Respert: It allowed us to have some conversations about the game and what I saw, the appreciation of watching her coach and what the girls do every night, night in and night out. And then we just talked about our offense, and what weíve done with our corner offense and some of the wrinkles to it. And itís just good to get some dialogue, because the girls again, if you want to see it ran right, thatís the kind of players that I felt would execute it exactly the way it should be.

LynxBasketball.com: You come from a coaching staff with a potential future hall of fame head coach, and all of you are NBA veterans. On the other side youíve got Cheryl, the reigning 2011 Coach of the Year and defending WNBA champion. Itís pretty cool to see that interaction.

SR: Sheís incredible. Again, when you talk about greatness, the thing I like best about coach is sheís a lot like Rick. Sheís very humble. She doesnít try to throw that out in front of people. She downplays a lot of her ability to manage egos and personalities. That, to me, is the greatest denominator when you talk about professional basketball, managing egos and personalities when you talk about players. When coaches figure that out, and they learn how to master that, thatís where they take themselves up and you say ĎThese are great coaches.í A lot of good coaches out there, but the great ones have that ability not only to teach the game, there are a lot of teachers of the game. There are a lot of managers who can manage egos and personalities. But the ability to do both, to teach and manage personalities, and thatís where there are very few that can put those two together.

LynxBasketball.com: When you look at Phil Jackson, people will say he had some of the greatest talent ever to play. But a lot of people have failed with great talent. There is that balance between the two.

SR: When you have his attention, thatís when the coach teaches. But youíve got to get their attention first. Youíve got to get them interested in what youíve got to say. And sometimes itís not all because you say it. Youíve got to find that way. Thatís what I said with coach. Thatís what I learned, thatís the element. Talking to Cheryl, if I close my eyes I feel like Iím talking to coach Adelman. Itís that same patience, that sameóbut itís a confidence. She knows what sheís talking about, but she doesnít overwhelm you or throw it on you as if because you donít know or whoever you are, your position, I know what Iím doing. Just to hear it out just shows the type of person she is and the character, and thatís why I think itís great to have them. When they get together, thatís when the magic really happens. Youíve got the two mindsets that they have. Itís not going to be fair to the WNBA when those connect and he injects or she gets his ideas.

LynxBasketball.com: How would you describe WNBA basketball?

SR: Theyíll make the right reads, theyíll have great timing to things, theyíll set great screens, and theyíre not in a rush to get there. I just think thatís what we talked about at the end, just little techniques on how coach Adelman may teach how to set up coming out of certain cuts, how you want your postsóthe spacing on the floor. And itís just good that at least the willingness to listen and hear that. Sheís a coach that won a championship last year. She doesnít have to listen to me, so I was just thankful that she picked up some things that Iíve watched coach Adelman do in the last five years, and itís been incredible.

LynxBasketball.com: Do coach Reeve and coach Adelman know each other at all?

SR: I think theyíve exchanged and talked about [meeting] at some point. To make the effort to get together, but I donít think they have yet. But you hang around long enough that will happen. And the funny thing is itís scary to see whatís going to happen once those two minds get together. How much better with her doing her thing, again coach Adelman has given her a lot of credit.

When we watch them play and watch them execute he kind of says, ĎGosh, how does she get them to do that?í Maybe there is something that she has that can help us. In talking to her and her getting together with Rick at some point. Thereís something there. With great minds, thereís always something that helps. You always say iron sharpens iron. Somethingís going to get betterówe donít know what it is, but both parties could benefit when those two get together.

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