Simons Says - March 7, 2013
“I miss winning." That short, concise and passionate quote came from Ricky Rubio and underscored just how important one win is to this team. ONE win, even if it was against the Washington Wizards.
To tell you it’s been a tough season for the Wolves is perhaps the biggest understatement of the winter. In all my years of work in sports and news from TV to radio and points in between, I’ve never seen anything like what this team has endured. Injury on injury, time after time. Players coming in as others go to sickbay. The coach has to take leave because of his wife’s illness. So much excitement and optimism as the season starts and then, into the first week of the season, the gremlins come to roost.
But as this March day unfolds, the Wolves win now ends a six-game losing streak and a stretch in which the Wolves won just twice in 11 games. Rubio is the face of the franchise and that single sentence is perhaps one of the biggest reasons. He’s in it for the long haul. No public posturing, no back and forth. Rubio not only says it but you see it on his face when he’s playing. There's a lot of "old school" in the young player, for sure.
Case in point: I’m working with the My29 TV broadcast crew for the Miami-Wolves game and it’s reached halftime. A play goes amiss as the buzzer sounds and Rubio, as he’s walking right past me under the basket near the team bench, strikes the basket's protective padding with his fist in frustration. Rubio is playing as hard as anyone even though things are going well for the team. Rubio is clearly invested in the team and believes that winning can happen in Minnesota.
His play is proof. Through this rough stretch, Rubio is averaging over 13 points, five rebounds, 10 assists and over two steals in 35 minutes a game. There’s no question that Rubio has returned from his knee surgery; in the win against the Wizards, Rubio played nearly the entire game (37:11) and scored 15 points with 11 assists. Of the 11 team steals, Rubio had six. Rubio is leading by example. He displays a positive vibe even in the face of troubling play, and the Spanish sensation has clearly stolen the hearts of fans here.
“I miss winning." Three words that say so much and underscore the importance of having Rubio here. And just to be clear, Rubio isn’t the only one on the team pouring it out. I’ve said many many times in this Simons Says blog that players like J.J. Barea (2-4 from outside with 12 points vs. Washington), Luke Ridnour, Dante Cunningham, Big Pek and Andrei Kirilenko are all bangers and fighters. The team is down to nine bodies (I didn’t say healthy), and they’re all logging big minutes and working each game to do what most don’t think they can do: win.
Three other highlights for the Wolves against the Wizards: The Wolves forced 24 Washington turnovers while only committing 14 of their own. Two, the razor-thin bench outscored the Wiz 33-14. And being undersized didn’t keep the Wolves from owning the painted area of the court, as they doubling up the Wizards in scoring in the middle, 42-22.
Coach Rick Adelman breathed a sigh of relief after the game. You could see how fired up he was during the game. Coach told the media, “this one feels a lot better." His post-game news conference was lighter and more relaxed thanks to the win.
And as this happens, the door opens and soon the team will welcome back All-Star Kevin Love and first-year Wolves player Chase Budinger to practice. Reports indicate that within two to three weeks, both might be back on the court playing for the team. Add to that the return of Nikola Pekovic and Andrei Kirilenko to the court within the next week to 10 days, and we could see a much different team. Remember, Minnesota has used 15 different starting line-ups this season. 15! The most games any starting line-up has played together has been nine, and that’s Pek, Derrick Williams, AK-47, Rubio and Ridnour.
The sun is shining as this is written, the Wolves have some good news on their kitchen table and that’s all good with me.
Now, to the mailbag. Milissa in Plymouth writes “I’m a big D-Will fan. I see him playing a lot but is he out of the coach’s doghouse. My husband says he’s in it." Milissa, thanks and I believe, that while D-Will is still a work in progress, he’s out of the doghouse (not sure he was there long). Derrick has been vital during this injury-riddled run averaging over 20 points and 10 rebounds in the past five games. By the way, D-Will is shooting nearly 50 percent, too.
It was great to be back on the TV broadcast to talk about a great deal in “Get Closer." This is the opportunity/promise that the Timberwolves Basketball Club provides its season ticket members and allows members get closer to the action on court than any other professional sport. It truly differentiates the organization from all others. Wolves season ticket members get closer to the team and its players through benefits only available to them. To this end, the Minnesota Timberwolves have launched their “Get Closer” season ticket membership campaign, and you can save big money on tickets.
Check out the new Rubio commercial that supports the new “Get Closer” campaign. Other players in the television campaign include: Andrei Kirilenko, Nikola Pekovic and Greg Stiemsma, and more ads will debut later this month.
We are taking membership with the Timberwolves from 43 Target Center home games to a 365-day relationship with benefits throughout the calendar year. With our membership benefits, affordable pricing and a 10% playoff refund, we believe now is a tremendous opportunity to become a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves Basketball Club. Timberwolves season ticket member pricing still remains one of the best and most affordable values in all of professional sports with memberships starting as low as $172. There will continue to be more than 1,000 lower-level season tickets priced as low as $20 per game, the most affordable lower-level season ticket in the NBA. Additionally, 6,700 tickets in the upper level are priced at $7 or less per game, including 2,000 upper-level tickets priced at only $4 per game. These prices are all guaranteed through the end of the regular season (April 17). After April 17, season ticket memberships will increase. Go to Timberwolves.com for more information.
Schedule set for Lynx
It will be great to see the 2012 Western Conference Champion Minnesota Lynx kick off their 15th anniversary season in the WNBA at home against Connecticut on Saturday, June 1 at 7 p.m. The 2013 WNBA campaign includes 34 regular season games, dating from May 24 and Sept. 14. This year’s All-Star Game will be held in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday, July 27. The Lynx will play Western Conference teams Los Angeles (three times on the road, twice at home) and Phoenix (three times at home, twice on the road) five times this season, while facing off with San Antonio, Seattle and Tulsa four times each, twice at home and twice on the road. Minnesota will face all six Eastern Conference teams twice, once at home and once on the road. The 2013 Lynx campaign also includes two nationally broadcasted home games on July 9 vs. Atlanta and Aug. 24 vs. Indiana.
We’re all on MY29!
You know that GameON! is on FOX’s MY29! The Wolves offer a franchise-record 78 regular-season games televised locally, including 50 on Fox Sports North and 25 on the Wolves' exclusive over-the-air broadcast home, WFTC My29. For the second consecutive season, every Wolves regular season contest will be carried live on News Radio 830 WCCO-AM.
Breaking News! See you on TV at a new time
Catch your Wolves on this Sunday’s GameON! this week!! You don’t want to miss the Emmy nominated GameON! @ 10am this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 and throughout the weekend on MidCo Sports Net. Our special show this weekend originates from Cooper Irish Pub in St. Louis Park and features former Gophers great and New Lynx Center Janel McCarville, 96.3 KTWIN-FM morning host Cane Peterson (catch a listen to Cane & Company… GOOD stuff!), Boxing stud Caleb Truax and a cameo by Wolves mascot Crunch! GameON! is broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online at www.gameontvmn.com.
GameON! allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans at our weekly tapings at Kieran’s Irish Pub and its sister locations. GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). You can friend us on Facebook at GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@GameOnTvMn.com. GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in Simons Says at Timberwolves.com.
And last but not least, you can also catch Rod as he hosts the new Twins Post-Post game show w/longtime Minnesota music aficionado Jason Nagel on 96.3 KTWIN-FM radio during the baseball season.
Keep your GameON! See you soon!