Iowa Wolves Coach Scott Roth Talks Justin Patton, Two-Way Players And Open Tryouts
Our Kyle Ratke was able to chat with Iowa Wolves coach Scott Roth before his second season with the team.
KR: Saturday marks the first of two open tryouts for the Iowa Wolves. The first will be held in Minneapolis. What’s the process behind that and what are you guys looking for?
SR: It’s a league-wide thing that they’re doing and they’ve been doing it for many, many years. I think it’s just great PR for all the teams. Most teams are having two. Obviously we’re having our one in Minneapolis and then we’ll have one the following weekend in Des Moines. It’s a great PR piece for the team and for the Timberwolves. The big attraction for us is that most of the places these are done offsite at a gym they are rented out for the day. In Minneapolis, you actually get the chance to play on the court that the Timberwolves practice on. To be in that facility is a bonus on top of it. What we’re looking for is just one of those guys who are off the grid who walks in the gym that not too many guys are familiar with. And a chance to come in and try out for the team. Last year we had two or three guys that we ended up bringing to Des Moines to try out for the team and one of them actually made it. Played about the first month of the season and played the games. You just don’t know who is going to walk in the gym. You hope that you get a good variety of players who want to test their skills. I think the big attraction is being in downtown Minneapolis, going to the practice facility that the Timberwolves practice in and showcasing yourself.
KR: What was the first year of the relationship with the Timberwolves, GM Scott Layden and President of Basketball Ops Tom Thibodeau? How was that relationship beneficial?
SR: I think the big thing was that it was a big adventure for all of us. From the ownership, obviously, to the front office. I think buying that team was a natural step for Mr. Taylor and then taking over the team with the proximity was a no brainer. It was a situation where we went down there. Last year was a year of laying the foundation there and creating a new culture. Obviously passing on Coach Thibs’ philosophy of hard work and defense and so forth. It was just a good transition for us. We learned a lot about the process, the good and the bad. And this year we made a conscious effort to make sure we’re improving in all areas that we felt like we could. Having Scott and Thibs and my relationship with them goes way back. It was very for me to follow along what they were asking. Like I said, it was a good transition year for that franchise to get our feet wet, do the right thing and build a foundation.
KR: You have two new two-way players in C.J. Williams and Jared Terrell. What do those two players bring you that excites you as a coach?
SR: Well, I hope first of all that they’re not with me. At the end of the day, our goal for them and us is to get them up and out and onto an NBA roster.
Jared showed in the summer that he’s got versatility and a combo-guard kind of build. Can shoot the ball. Was a good shooter and scorer in college. And had a good summer with the Timberwolves in the Summer League. Those kinds of guys do very well in the G League and showcase themselves very well. I’m expecting a good year from him and I think we can improve upon what he’s been doing and getting him some more exposure and more playing time and getting him used to the NBA game.
C.J. has gotten better every single year. Two years ago, he wasn’t an NBA prospect. And last year, became an NBA prospect. And now he’s at the point where he’s on the verge of making a roster. His shooting ability, he knows how to play. It’s a huge bonus. A lot of teams are looking for wing players who can knock down threes. He had a hell of a game against us the last game of the year. A very good shooter, a smart guy, a veteran who’s been through the league. Has some versatility and is a knock-down shooter, which everyone is looking for.
KR: Obviously your goal is to get these guys ready to play in the NBA. Obviously there’s some roster turnover and you’re reward for getting the guys up is new players to get ready. Is that challenging at all?
SR: It’s very challenging. All the teams are going through it at different points of the season. We started off 2-8. Then we won 11 of 13. And then we lost 10 in a row. Then we won six of our last eight. The flow of the season can be difficult with guys coming and going. Teams that tend to do well in that league have a lot of depth, a lot of resources from past years of guys coming back and building their roster that way. There’s some level of frustration, but obviously going into it, it’s probably the only league in the world where mandating that having to win something determines your job. This is not the place they do that in. We have a luxury of developing players. Winning is important, but making sure players are getting quality minutes and improving is really the No. 1 thing that we’re trying to accomplish. Week to week, you just don’t know. One week you think your gangbusters, the next week you can’t win a game. It’s just the nature of the beast.
KR: During Justin Patton’s time in the G League last year, what did you see from him that made him look like the 16th overall pick in the draft?
SR: He was in a unique situation with not really having anything the summer after the draft. Not participating in Summer League, not participating in training camp. And then coming down here for his first pro experience. He was on a minutes restriction. Once he got his legs underneath him, and got back in shape, he had flashes of what people see in him. A guy who is mobile, who can pass the ball, a tremendous passer. Improving shooter, a pretty good athlete. He gets up and down the floor. Still a lot of rawness to him. But he showed flashes throughout the course of the season.