Young and Dangerous: Time To Pay Attention To The Timberwolves

Nine out of 16.

Nine out of 16 players on the Minnesota Timberwolves current roster were born in the 1990’s. That’ll only increase after the Wolves make the first overall pick in the NBA Draft in a month from now. It’s not that young pups immediately turns a team into a contending team, but it does mean if, and when, they click, there’s a lot of time to keep on clicking.

If you forget about some guy named Kevin Garnett, who?, and fairly disposable guards Gary Neal and Kevin Martin, the Wolves don’t have anyone on the roster born later than 1986. The Wolves are really young.

Young and dangerous.

Andrew Wiggins, the only unanimous selection to the All-Rookie first team, could burst into being a superstar. At the very least it looks like Wiggins is on his way to being an All-Star. That’s just the foot of the hill.

Zach Lavine, Shabazz Muhammed, and Gorgui Dieng all are showing that they are going to be more than capable to log NBA minutes that matter. Throw in a Jahlil Okafor or Karl-Anthony Towns and the Wolves suddenly have a strong young six when throwing in Ricky Rubio.

Maybe it’s the fact that the Wolves finally weren’t bitten in the lottery or maybe because the Minnesota Twins are winning and I’m all of a sudden optimistic about every other team in Minnesota, the Gophers football team now has the 23rd best recruiting class, by the way, but whatever it is, it’s time to pay attention to the Timberwolves once again.

Like Taylor Swift says, “we could be forever or it’s going to go down in flames.”

Either the Wolves will show great promise this next season or we will all sit and watch the car vs. train wreck of Kevin Garnett being stuck on and absolutely horrible team. Either way it’s going to be a lot of fun.

It’s about time for the men’s basketball team in Target Center to take a nod from the women and start winning. It’s time we all paid attention to both squads.


Five Things We Learned From The First Weekend Of The NCAA Tournament

The first weekend-plus of the NCAA men’s tournament has come to an end and, as usual, there has been a lot of madness. People across the country have, as usual, already torn up their brackets and have started cheering for the upsets. We’ve learned a lot from the first rounds of the tournament, so let’s review.

Michigan State Wins In March

As long as Tom Izzo is the coach of Michigan State never count out the Spartans. Michigan State is now heading into their seventh Sweet 16 in eight years. The Spartans entered the tournament as a seventh seed in their region, a reflection of a mediocre Big Ten season, but have quickly become a sexy pick to advance potentially to the Final Four. It, of course, helps that Villanova fell, but some people knew that would happen.

Sexy Picks Will Turn On You

In a world where we all try to win our bracket pools by not selecting the obvious number one seeds to win, every year we learn that the sexy picks aren’t the way to win it. Big time sexy picks like Iowa State and Butler didn’t make it out of the first round and Louisville knocked out the under-the-radar sexy pick Northern Iowa on Sunday. Sexy picks are fun, but they are more flash than substance sometimes.

ACC = Amazing Collegiate Conference

Notre Dame, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Louisville and Duke all hail from the ACC and they all stand tall in the Sweet 16.  Many are in position to advance to the Elite Eight. North Carolina will not be favored in a matchup against number one seed Wisconsin and Louisville and North Carolina State faceoff against each other, but the ACC looks to be stronger than ever and will be a big part of your television viewing for the rest of March.

The Committee Sometimes Knows

When the bracket came out, many where crying about the fact that UCLA made the tournament and I was one of those making noise. UCLA has made us all eat crow as they are one of the lucky 16 remaining teams. UCLA was a benefactor of pulling their own upset over Larry Brown and SMU and being paired in the bracket with the Iowa State upset brought by UAB to allow UCLA to advance, but sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Don’t Get Emotionally Attached To A Team

I’m a Minnesota Golden Gopher fan and March is usually pretty depressing because the Gophers never seem to make the NCAA Tournament. Over the years I’ve adopted Iowa State, thanks to former Minnesota Timberwolves’ great Fred Hoiberg, Kansas, Minnesota’s own Cole Aldrich, and Northern Iowa, the run a couple years ago and not realizing there was ANOTHER Division 1 team in Iowa. I go into the second weekend without any emotional ties to any team. I love coach Izzo at Michigan State, I like cheering for Rick Pitino since his son, Richard, is at Minnesota and I picked Duke to win it all, but I won’t shed any tears or it won’t ruin my day if any of these schools lose. I am now in an emotionless tournament.

The beautiful thing about basketball is that you can watch any level and learn something from it. You can watch a 5th grade basketball tournament and be amazed by a pass and you can watch the best college athletes and be amazed by the coaching. Basketball is beautiful. Strategy, skill and slam dunks: basketball is always the sexy pick.

NCAA Selection Committee Screwed Up Perfection

The Kentucky Wildcats are heading into the NCAA tournament as the number one overall seed on the men’s side and there was really no question about it. Kentucky is stacked and is the odds on favorite to win the madness. They are getting the respect that they deserve and that they have earned.

There’s another team in Division 1 college basketball that went undefeated. They didn’t get the respect that they deserve.

The Princeton Tigers women’s basketball team completed a perfect season. 30 wins and no losses. Perfection.

Princeton was seeded as an eight seed in the NCAA tournament. That means the selection committee thinks that at least 28 teams are better than the undefeated Tigers. The selection committee selected 28 teams before a team with the best record in the nation.

That’s ridiculous.

Princeton is a member of the Ivy league which isn’t an athletic power-conference, but it is respectable. Princeton even played a non-conference schedule full of schools that people have actually heard of including Wake Forest, Georgetown, Michigan and a Pittsburgh team that is a 10 seed in the bracket with a 9-7 record in their conference.

There’s an argument to be had that Princeton doesn’t deserve a one seed in the tournament. UConn only has one loss and Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland all have two losses, but those are the only records that possibly can squeak ahead of perfection.

Two seed Tennessee has five losses, Florida State has four losses, Baylor has three… all sort of acceptable, but Kentucky has nine losses with a 10-6 conference record. Princeton has to be better than that.

I am not going to claim that I am an expert on women’s college basketball, but I do believe that an undefeated record should be respected to some extent. Princeton might not win the tournament, but they deserve way better than a seed that says their season was middle of the pact. Just look at some of the scores they put up in their road to perfection.

The perfect season ending in a national championship has happened 11 times in women’s college basketball, only six times by a team that is not the Connecticut Huskies. Six more times a team has entered the tournament undefeated and lost in the tournament. My point is that an undefeated season is not exactly common.

It should be recognized and not just thrown in the middle of the tournament as an afterthought.

At least Princeton was thought of unlike the 1983 Oral Roberts women’s team. That year Oral Roberts also went undefeated, but was not selected to the tournament at all. 36 teams were deemed better than an undefeated team.

The NCAA is a screwed up collection of people, but who knew that they could screw up perfection.

Hey, Kevin Garnett, Are You Ever Going To Play?

Maybe I was naïve, but I thought the move bringing Kevin Garnett back to the Minnesota Timberwolves was, at a minimum, a decent move. A veteran defensive presence never really hurt anything, plus if it gets the young studs playing all the better.

The funny thing is that he Garnett been much of a presence… literally. The Timberwolves have played a total of nine games since he started playing with the Wolves and he has only played in a total of five games. Five.

The four games Garnett has missed have just by chance happened to be road contests, a contest in which the Timberwolves get no percentage of the gate. It’s real fishy.

I understand that Garnett isn’t a young man anymore and won’t play in every game, but he does actually need to play for this move to look legitimate. The Wolves have just played three straight road games, none in a back-to-back, and Garnett hasn’t played in any games.

He needs to get on the floor.

Garnett and the team can say he’ll do more teaching in practice, but that is also a double-edged sword. Garnett frankly doesn’t deserve practice minutes if he isn’t going to play in half of the games on the team’s schedule.

When this move came about, I was all for it. I realized that Garnett was not going to turn around the Wolves, but I was excited to see what he could do with the bushels of young talent on the roster. I can’t see that if he never plays.

The not playing epidemic is even worse when taking in the fact that the team still wants to give Garnett a contract extension. An NBA roster can only hold 15 players, each spot is valuable and each spot should be able to play for yoi every single game, apparently Garnett can no longer do that.

Garnett gave his heart and soul to basketball and this team years ago, but there’s not a whole lot of heart in anything going on with his playing after being acquired at the trade deadline.

It’s looking like the Timberwolves traded away Thad Young for a week’s worth of attention and two sellouts of Target Center. That’s not the only thing that sold out in this situation.

I Don’t Want To Be Bobby Knight

I had an anger issue when it came to basketball in my younger days. I don’t know where exactly I got that from. I loved, and still love, the clip of Bobby Knight tossing the chair across the floor, so maybe I just wanted to be Bobby Knight. I don’t want to be Bob Knight anymore.

I’d love his success. Three National Championships, plus one as a player. Five Final Four appearances. Eleven Big Ten titles. A 902-371 career coaching record.

All of that success, but all that my generation remembers him for is throwing that chair across the floor.

The Minnesota State Boys’ Basketball Championships came to a close this weekend and as usual, you will barely hear anything about the Single-A and Double-A schools. All you will hear about is De La Salle and Apple Valley defeating an before-the-game undefeated team.

Single-A saw Rushford-Peterson win the championship. It was Rushford-Peterson’s tenth appearance at the state tournament since 2000. Thomas Vix has been the coach for 30 years and has been at the helm of a lot of good teams. I’ve never seen him yell.

Between tight semi-finals and championship games, from the stands the man has never appeared to yell. I’m starting to doubt that he can actually physically yell.

Vix shows little to no emotion throughout the game, in a good way. The most powerful thing that is shown is a death glare to an official or one of his own players. The glare is usually reserved for a player that has done something against his liking and it works. That look could cut through steel.

He’s found a lot of success by never raising his voice during the game.

The same thing is happening in Ames, Iowa.

As we head into Selection Sunday, the Iowa State Cyclones have won five straight games after falling behind by double-digits. That tenacity brought the Cyclones to their second straight Big 12 Tournament Championship and a lot of momentum headed into the NCAA tournament.

When looking over at the sideline, Head Coach Fred Hoiberg has stayed cool, calm and collected during all of the ups and downs, the behinds and the comebacks.

There’s evidence that the Bob Knight style works, too.

While Rushford-Peterson’s Vix doesn’t show any emotion, Triple-A’s De La Salle just won their fourth straight championship under the watch of Dave Thorson. Thorson is a man who never sits down and is constantly yelling. Yelling to the point that a totally neutral party in attendance will want him to sit down, breathe and shut up.

A team imitates their coach. There’s a lot of different styles in basketball that are successful and a lot of different successful coaches as well, there’s no one true way to go to lead a team to the promised land, but I know what’s more impressive.

The cool, calm and collected coach.

It looks better. Plus it makes it appear that you’ve coached your team to the best of your ability to prepare for the game. If the kids haven’t bought in our caught on by mid-game, there’s a 99.9% chance that it isn’t going to happen that night.

I don’t know what Vix and Hoiberg are like behind closed doors. I don’t know if they yell their head off during practice, but I do know that I don’t want to be Bob Knight. I want to be Thomas Vix. I want to be Fred Hoiberg.

I’ll just throw my chair across the floor in celebration.