Getting To Know Dave Wohl
John Focke sat down with new Wolves assistant coach Dave Wohl to discuss his vast coaching experience and the story behind his wife's guest role on Seinfeld.
John Focke with Dave Wohl
John Focke: Looking over your resume, you have been everything, an assistant coach, head coach, and assistant general manager. How have all of those experiences prepared you to step into this role here with the Timberwolves?
Dave Wohl: I have been a teacher most of my career, that's how I look at it. I was coaching in Boston, working with Ryan Gomes and Al Jefferson and throughout most of my career, I found the most fun for an assistant coach is often those times when you get to work individually with a player. I was really excited that David set the bar that high because I think there is some franchises that don't look to develop players as much, maybe because of where they are as a team, maybe they are fighting for a championship or something like that. For us, in the situation we are in, the life blood of where we are going to be, has got to come from a lot of the young players that we keep developing over the years and getting better and better.
John Focke: And speaking of those players, looking at the roster, what was so appealing about joining this organization with the players that you have here now and of course the flexibility to come?
Dave Wohl: I thought they have a big piece in Al Jefferson. Having been with Al in Boston, I know the strides Al has made. I thought he really had a breakout year and you now have a piece that you know can get you a lot of points and rebounds on a given night, even against the really good teams. I think the draft picks that they took in Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio, especially gives you the potential to have two guards who I think have the chance to turnout to be terrific players in our league. I also thought Wayne Ellington was a terrific pick. I had watched Wayne for a couple of years in college. You know, Corey Brewer is an interesting player to me because I had watched him at Florida and he had the injury last year where I think he really didn't get to have the kind of year in terms of minutes that he probably would have had. So, I'm anxious to see how Corey can comeback healthy. Ryan Gomes has proved to be a very reliable, consistent player and I thought the acquisition of Ryan Hollins was another addition to the bigs along with Al and Kevin Love, who I thought had a terrific rookie year too. So, I think there is a lot of young potential with this team and again as coaches, it's our job to get them going in the right direction and develop some of their skills and help Kurt blend them into the team concept he wants.
John Focke: Speaking of Kurt Rambis, can you talk a little about your relationship with Kurt, which I know dates way back to the 80s? How have you guys stayed in contact and how did it come about that he decided to bring you here?
Dave Wohl: I first got to know Kurt when I was an assistant coach with Pat Riley on the Showtime teams 1983-1985. He and I developed a nice relationship there, we both have an offbeat sense of humor, so we became fairly close as a player and coach can sometimes get. And over the years when Kurt got into coaching, we would exchange coaching tidbits or suggestions or if he had a team coming up that we just played, he would call me or I would call him or vice versa. Over the years we just stayed in touch and I was living in Manhattan Beach where he lives a couple of times just coincidently. We were able to maintain a relationship and I worked for him briefly when he took over in the lockout season when Del Harris was fired, he brought me back as an assistant coach there. So, when he got this job we started talking and I wanted to get back into coaching, I had been in the front office for the past two years in Boston. We built a championship team and it was a lot of fun but I really missed the coaching side, I think that is really what I do best and enjoy more. It was just kind of a natural fit and I'm really excited to work for him.
John Focke: How about the other assistant coaches, a lot of characters on this team. You mentioned your offbeat sense of humor, you got Reggie Theus, Bill Laimbeer, and of course J.B. Bickerstaff, who we know is a very fun guy as well.
Dave Wohl: I think it's going to be a really terrific staff to work with and I think that is a big key going through a season because with the development of a young team, you are always going to have some peaks and valleys. I think that it's really important for a staff to have been through some of that, either as players or coaches. I certainly think Bill and Reggie have been through that as players. I think if anything, what they say to players will have a lot of credibility because of who they were as players. J.B. has been in coaching now and certainly with the relationship with his dad, he has sat at a coaches feet so to speak for a longtime during his career. I think it's a group from what I can see early, that we get along great and I think there is a lot of experience here for us to help some of these players get better.
John Focke: As your trying to get acclimated to Minnesota and the new staff, David Kahn keeps changing the roster on you. How tough is it to everyday come in and see this guys out, got a new guy here and try to evaluate that talent or do you just wait until it's all settled?
Dave Wohl: Well, I think for most coaches you look at what you have on training camp day and that's the group you have to work with. So, despite if you get excited or dissapointed about something like with any team, I think now we are pretty excited because we thought the [Ramon] Sessions signing was a terrific idea from a coaching staff. And, I thought some of the other things they have done has helped us talent wise or helped us cap wise. I was really excited by all of the moves David's made and as coach, you just wait until September 28 and whomever we have with a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform are the guys we are going to coach. But I do think the moves he had made have been real positive for the organization.
John Focke: Now we got to ask you about this. Doing some research today, we found out that your wife was on a Seinfeld episode. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what that experience was like?
Dave Wohl: My wife went to UCLA and she was an actress for a long time. She was able to do a lot of the guest roles on a lot of the top shows; Mad About You, NYPD Blue, etc. And she did the Seinfeld role, which was the one when they put a show together about themselves and she actually played the character of Elaine in the show about Elaine. It's unbelievable how many people see that show and call her and she is a terrific actress. She doesn't get the opportunities being in Boston and out of LA but she did a great job and what was fun about that was I was in LA at the time and I got to go to the filming. I was on the set and Larry David was standing next to me and we know he is the producer and he has his own show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry is a big basketball fan and he would be sitting next to me and he would be talking about trades, personnel, and there would be a big laugh from the audience and he would poke me in the ribs and say that is my joke. A little bit later, there would be a minor joke and he would say, I didn't write that one. He was really a character and it was fun. All of the people on the set where wonderful and my wife had a great time, so it was a good experience.
John Focke: Well great, welcome to Minnesota.
Dave Wohl: Thanks a lot.