U alumnus named Timberwolves head coach

Jack Satzinger

Flip Saunders hasn’t slipped on a Minnesota uniform since 1977, but he’s still having a major impact on the state’s basketball landscape.

The Minnesota Timberwolves announced Friday that Saunders, who served as the franchise’s president of basketball operations last season, will take to the sidelines to replace former head coach Rick Adelman.

Saunders will remain president of basketball operations while coaching. The Cleveland, Ohio, native is also a minority owner and will have to juggle multiple responsibilities.

“I went to University of Minnesota as a business major in marketing and management,” Saunders said. “Part of doing that is being able to do a lot of different things at the same time.”

Saunders, who previously coached the Timberwolves from 1995-96 to 2004-05, had more than a month to conduct a coaching search and called it an educational experience.

A variety of coaches were reportedly interviewed by Saunders, from NBA veterans George Karl and Lionel Hollins, to college coaches Tom Izzo, Billy Donovan and Fred Hoiberg.

Saunders wouldn’t name specific candidates Friday, but explained the concerns college coaches have about moving up to the NBA.

“Many college coaches are very [nervous] about jumping,” Saunders said. “The uncertainty was really the determining factor.”

While Saunders did interview a number of coaches for the opening, it didn’t come as much of a shock when he decided to take the position himself.

“I wasn’t surprised,” Timberwolves center Gorgui Dieng said

Saunders played for the Gophers from 1973-77. He reportedly declined a coaching job at the University last year.