Q&A with Wolves Center Greg Stiemsma

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When Ricky Rubio tore his ACL in March, it sent the Wolves into a 5-20 tailspin that not only ended their playoff dreams, but thwarted their drive toward respectability. It also exposed two things: the value of the young point guard prodigy and the shallowness of the team’s roster.

While the franchise had to patiently wait to for Rubio to regain his health, they were busy this offseason adding depth. The result was encouraging; the Wolves now have proven veterans Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Dante Cunningham, Greg Stiemsma, and promising rookie Alexey Shved ready, willing and (mostly) able to contribute. That infusion of talent is the main reason the 13-13 Wolves have treaded water so far during this injury riddled campaign.

After stops in Turkey, South Korea and Sioux Falls, the 27-year-old Steimsma proved his mettle with a Boston last year, averaging 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 14 minutes for the veteran squad that took eventual champion Miami to 7 games in the Eastern Conference Finals. I caught up with the Randolph, WI native and former Badger on Friday to discuss his new team, time with the Celtics, overseas adventures and more.

DZ: We are about two months into the season, you are with a new team, how’s it going for you?

STIEMSMA: Good. I am getting comfortable with this team. We’ve had some ups and downs early in the season, but we’ve been fighting through it. I think we’ve been doing a good job of coming together and once we hit our groove I think we still have some high expectations.

DZ: How long does it take to adjust to new teammates and new coaches?

STIEMSMA: It kind of varies. I think with this team, the adjustment period wasn’t too long. Everybody kind of came in with the same mindset, same attitude – do whatever it takes to win and really buy into the defense. I think we’ve gotten out to a really good start.

DZ: Having your background playing overseas and playing on a few teams in a short period of time, does that help you jump in and get ready?

STIEMSMA: Absolutely. You’ve got to be willing to adapt and adjust when you get to this level and fortunately with this group it’s been an easy transition for me. (I am in) a pretty similar role as I was in last year and like I said, everybody was on the same page from the start. That really helped the transition too.

DZ: You mentioned last year. You were with Boston and you guys had a great year – went far into the playoffs – what was that experience like?

STIEMSMA: It was incredible. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys and coaching staff to go through my first full NBA season with. I learned a lot about the game, about professionalism, how to carry yourself and how to prepare for games too.

DZ: The season ended after a tough series with Miami, how long did it take you to get over that?

STIEMSMA: It’s always tough to lose your last game of the year. Obviously, there’s only one team that doesn’t get to be like that. When you get so close, when you get a taste of it – there are a lot of guys who play for a lot of years and don’t get that far, so I was fortunate to be a part of that early on and it just makes me that much more hungry to get back there.

DZ: What was it like practicing everyday with Kevin Garnett?

STIEMSMA: It’s intense. You learn a lot when you see a guy like that who’s that accomplished and has that (much) experience in the league taking practice so seriously - taking every possession, not taking stuff off, not just going through the motions – being serious about things. It really makes you realize how important the little details are in this game.

DZ: You played overseas in Korea and Turkey; what did you like and not like about that experience?

STIEMSMA: It’s tough to be away from your family that long. The one game a week in Turkey, that was kind of tough too. We were in the Euro Challenge for a while, but when we got knocked out of that, (it was) one game a week, a lot of practice time – two a days. The whole lifestyle, kind of getting into that routine – it wasn’t as much fun as playing all of the time like it is here. At the same time, once we found some things we liked, found a routine that we were used to– there were some nice guys over there, some cool teammates I got a long with really well. That made it a little bit easier, but there’s nothing like being out on the court especially now being so close to home. It really helps everything off the court and on the court.

DZ: You grew up in Wisconsin, so I am guessing you are a Packers fan, is that correct?

STIEMSMA: I am a Packers fan enough to claim it, but I am not loyal of a fan either. I can’t quite act like I am a diehard, but I am a Packers fan.

DZ: Do you have any family or friends coming for the game on Sunday?

STIEMSMA: I’ve got a huge crew coming for our game on Saturday night and I think a few guys are staying for Sunday’s game. I’ve got to see what practice time (for Sunday) is, I might try and sneak in there yet. I’ve got a couple of options for tickets so I am going to trying and get in there. One of my buddies is a big Vikings fans and he said I’d have to wear purple and gold – I don’t know if I could go that far or not and betray my Packer roots.

DZ: Any predictions?

STIEMSMA: I’d like to see AP break the record – I would like to see that. He’s incredible, one of the best players in football right now. I don’t really care either way I guess. If the Vikings get it, it would make everybody around here a little happier. The Packers kind of have their spot set. At the same time, it would be nice to talk trash to some of my Viking fan buddies too. Either way, I guess I’ll make it work.

One Response to “Q&A with Wolves Center Greg Stiemsma”

  1. MinnesotaSCORE » Q&A with Wolves Forward Derrick Williams Says:

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    […] 28: Greg Stiemsma   « Watch Armstrong vs #8 Centennial boys hockey | […]

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