The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 119-117 in Ryan Saunders’ debut as a head coach on Tuesday. “It was a heck of a night, and it was a great night for our team,” he said. “I told the guys today, I obviously like to speak from the heart and I told them I appreciated how they responded and reacted. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
Andrew Wiggins went off for 40 points and collected 10 rebounds in the win — another strong performance for him. “It was a very emotional game, especially because of Coach Ryan, just getting that win for him and that being his first official first game as head coach,” he said. “It felt good. The energy was amazing. We all wanted it for him.”
Saunders said that he spent most of the night thanking people who reached out to him on Tuesday night, but has put it behind him and is ready to move on to the rest of the season.
“I’ve been comfortable. I think being comfortable is from your preparation, too,” he said. “I understand it’s something new, I understand maybe that people say experience isn’t all there with things at times, but I’m comfortable.”
Wiggins isn’t sure it’s his best game, but he said it’s part of a trend of him playing better recently.
“I just felt like I was getting better,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to have a game like that, but I felt like I was getting better, more comfortable on the floor. Back to how it was a couple years ago: Being aggressive, staying aggressive and asserting myself in different ways.”
Tyus Jones, who knew both Flip and Ryan Saunders since high school, says that he has formed a special relationship with Ryan over the years.
“Yeah, I think so. I think so. And that’s not to take away from his other relationships and bonds with other guys. But yeah, I knew Flip since high school and obviously Ryan,” said the Apple Valley native.
“Then coming here, working with him individually. He was the coach that I worked with every single day — watched film with him and had countless conversations just every day since the day I got here. So he’s someone I grew a great bond and relationship with.”