Q&A: Shawn Respert

Mark Remme
Wolves 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 it’s 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. Over the next month with Lynx playoffs and Wolves preseason taking place simultaneously, there will be overlap between these two organizations at Target Center.


Timberwolves.com spoke with Respert about his interaction with Reeve, and how he sees the way she approaches the game being similar to that of Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman.

Timberwolves.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 we’ve done with our corner offense and some of the wrinkles to it. And it’s just good to get some dialogue, because the girls again, if you want to see it ran right, that’s the kind of players that I felt would execute it exactly the way it should be.

Timberwolves.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 you’ve got Cheryl, the reigning 2011 Coach of the Year and defending WNBA champion. It’s pretty cool to see that interaction.

SR: She’s incredible. Again, when you talk about greatness, the thing I like best about coach is she’s a lot like Rick. She’s very humble. She doesn’t 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, that’s where they take themselves up and you say ‘These are great coaches.’ 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 that’s where there are very few that can put those two together.

Timberwolves.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, that’s when the coach teaches. But you’ve got to get their attention first. You’ve got to get them interested in what you’ve got to say. And sometimes it’s not all because you say it. You’ve got to find that way. That’s what I said with coach. That’s what I learned, that’s the element. Talking to Cheryl, if I close my eyes I feel like I’m talking to coach Adelman. It’s that same patience, that same—but it’s a confidence. She knows what she’s talking about, but she doesn’t overwhelm you or throw it on you as if because you don’t know or whoever you are, your position, I know what I’m doing. Just to hear it out just shows the type of person she is and the character, and that’s why I think it’s great to have them. When they get together, that’s when the magic really happens. You’ve got the two mindsets that they have. It’s not going to be fair to the WNBA when those connect and he injects or she gets his ideas.

Timberwolves.com: How would you describe WNBA basketball?

SR: They’ll make the right reads, they’ll have great timing to things, they’ll set great screens, and they’re not in a rush to get there. I just think that’s 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 posts—the spacing on the floor. And it’s just good that at least the willingness to listen and hear that. She’s a coach that won a championship last year. She doesn’t have to listen to me, so I was just thankful that she picked up some things that I’ve watched coach Adelman do in the last five years, and it’s been incredible.

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

SR: I think they’ve exchanged and talked about [meeting] at some point. To make the effort to get together, but I don’t think they have yet. But you hang around long enough that will happen. And the funny thing is it’s scary to see what’s 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, ‘Gosh, how does she get them to do that?’ Maybe there is something that she has that can help us. In talking to her and her getting together with Rick at some point. There’s something there. With great minds, there’s always something that helps. You always say iron sharpens iron. Something’s going to get better—we don’t know what it is, but both parties could benefit when those two get together.

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