Former Players Dish On New Iowa Energy Coach Matt Woodley

Updated: May 10, 2016

After spending two seasons on the bench as an assistant coach for the Iowa Energy, Matt Woodley was named the team’s newest head coach this past Friday, replacing Bob Donewald Jr., who the team opted to not bring back for the 2016-17 season.

Before joining Iowa prior to the 2014-15 season, Woodley served as head coach of the Truman State Bulldogs men’s basketball program for three seasons (2011-2014).  He guided the Bulldogs to the 2013 MIAA Tournament while three players earned All-MIAA honors.  In addition, Woodley has also served as an assistant coach at Washington State University (2006-2009), Middle Tennessee State University (2004-2006) and the University of Denver (2001-2004).

“We are pleased to announce Matt as head coach of the Iowa Energy,” Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace said via a team press release. “As evidenced last season, our affiliation with the Iowa Energy provides us a critical resource in the development of our players and institution of our organization’s philosophies. Matt’s coaching acumen and background within the Energy franchise make him a terrific fit.”

What type of head coach is Matt Woodley? Speaking to a number of former players, Woodley easily related to his players and made them each feel important.

NBA veteran Damien Wilkins played for the Iowa Energy during the 2014-15 season and had this to say about Woodley in an interview last year with D-League Digest.

Despite not hearing his name called this past year for an opportunity at the NBA, Wilkins is still grateful at the relationship he formed with Woodley.

“Woods was the best,” Wilkins said. “We had a lot of talks, a lot of days in the gym fine tuning things. He helped me get better if you can believe that a 35-year old got better,” Wilkins laughed.

Joel Wright, who spent a majority of last season with the Energy as well, shared a similar sentiment.

“That’s one of the best coaches I’ve played for,” Wright said. “(Woodley) was great on the sideline, keeping our heads on when stuff wasn’t going right. He was just born for the head coaching spot.”

Wright couldn’t pick one specific moment this past season with Woodley that stood out, but mentioned he felt good vibrations all the time from the new head coach.

“Everyday was a special moment with him,” Wright said. “He treated me with love and told me major stuff for me to keep pushing.”

DJ Stephens, who finished out the season with the Energy after being traded from the Canton Charge echoed the feelings of others.

“A couple of games coach Donewald got ejected, coach Wood took over the game and ended up winning those games,” Stephens said.

Donewald received an automatic one game suspension last year after receiving his 13th technical foul. Woodley stepped up in his place as head coach as well as a separate incident when Donewald was ejected in a game against the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

Woodley’s rather quick ascension to the D-League coaching circle is proven by his ability to relate to his players and get the most out of them. Though the Energy did not make the playoffs the past two seasons, it’s clear with Woodley’s hire, those expectations will surely rise in the future.


  1. Pingback: Sources: Iowa and Sioux Falls Move West

  2. Tate

    April 29, 2017 at 6:38 am

    I wonder why Woodley got fired. Given that he didn’t even make it through the season and the firing was announced as “effective immediately,” he must not have been a good fit.

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