VAUGHT: Timberwolves land "great coach, great guy"

Once Dwane Casey slows down, Mike Cristaldi knows he is going to like the new Minnesota Timberwolves head coach. "Everybody you hear from has nothing but good things to say about coach Casey," said the Minnesota team spokesman. "I know a lot of people in our organization are excited about having him. From all I heard, he really impressed people with his interview."

Casey spent 11 years as an assistant coach at Seattle, including the last four as associate head coach. Casey was also a head coach in Japan for five years before landing at Seattle.

Minnesota obviously believed that Casey deserved credit for part of Seattle's success in developing young talent, something that has been a problem for the Timberwolves in recent seasons.

"We have heard he had a big impact on development of young players," Cristaldi said. "That's a big plus in the NBA. You have to be able to develop talent and then get that young talent to play."

Cristaldi says everyone who talks to him about Casey has good things to say. He says Minnesota media members who did not know a lot about Casey previously have had the same experiences.

"Everybody says he's not only a great coach, but he's a great guy and talks about how much they love working with him," Cristaldi said. "People go out of there way to tell me that, which is pretty unusual. Media members here tell me they are surprised to keep hearing those same things, too."

Cristaldi says players seem "excited to have him around" and that Casey has brought a new level of excitement to a franchise that had a disappointing 2004-2005 season.

"Sometimes a change can just bring a different approach and perspective that you need," Cristaldi said. "I think Dwane is doing that. I know we are being swamped with interview requests for him and that he has a million things to do. But I think everyone here would agree that we feel fortunate to have him here coaching our team now."

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