There were a lot of coaches at the Timberwolves’ first training camp practice Tuesday morning.
I mean, a lot.
And not just the new staff head coach Tom Thibodeau has assembled. Duke and Team USA head coach Mike Krzyzewski and his Duke staff was there, one day after they had gone to Apple Valley to see Tre Jones. Former Wolves head coach and assistant Randy Wittman was there, as was University of Minnesota coach Richard Pitino.
After leaving Chicago, Thibodeau spent last season traveling around the country taking extended looks at the way other coaches did things. Now he’s returning the favor.
“I’m obviously thrilled that coach K and his staff are here on the first day,’’ said Thibodeau, who was an assistant to Krzyzewski for Team USA in Rio. “I had the good fortune to work with him on the Olympic team. And he’s the best. So I appreciate it. Randy Wittman, who has been a great coach in the league for a long time, he’s here. Richard Pitino is here. It’s always good to get their thoughts on what they see. So it was good.’’
So what did they see? A practice that by most accounts lived up to Thibodeau’s reputation of running intense sessions. But, given the fact that most of the Wolves players have been here for three weeks getting ready for this, not really surprising. “We knew what we were doing,” Andrew Wiggins said. “It was a quick, fast-paced practice. But we had fun, too. ‘’
Said Karl-Anthony Towns: “We’re in great shape. We all put our bodies to new limits. So we were able to come in and get a great first practice in. We all felt great.’’
According to Thibodeau, there will be a very well-planned and deliberate process to camp. It started with individual work in the weeks prior to Tuesday’s opener. That will continue until Thibodeau is happy the players are ready for more. Thibodeau’s mantra is getting something down, then adding layers over it. “Summer was a lot of individual work, building relationships, getting to know ‘em,’’ he said. “The fall was really a good next step, and this is the step that follows that. It gives us a good baseline of where we are, we know where we need to go.’’