There is now no doubt about it. I spent the first part of our weekly visit last week talking about the social media meld with Wolves basketball and going back and forth with dozens of fans prior to the Indiana-MUSKIES game. Looking back, our expectations were very high for the Wolves/Muskies.
I got to tell ya and you just might be one of those people who has one foot on and one foot off the bandwagon. But we’re going to need to exercise some patience. Not the five-year plan type. I don’t think so. But there will be growing pains for this rapidly improving basketball team. The type of pains that drive you crazy. The kind that has you jazzed after watching a decisive road win with a return to face a beatable team. The type of pains that have you comparing this year to the last few and saying “why not”?!
My buddy Danno (whose name is slightly changed from Gene to protect his identity) is a classic example of the overjoyed fan. “Danno” is mesmerized by the standings and is contemplating becoming a basketball lobbyist whose main goal is to get the Wolves into the Eastern Conference. Big D says, “You know, if the Wolves were in the East, they’d be a lock for the playoffs. THAT is improvement,” he says. Checking the boxes with more than a cursory look, he’s right at this point in the season. In the West, the Wolves are no longer the doormat but rather the 11th seeded team. And Danno is right, in the East; Minnesota is the 8th seeded team with a vastly improved 10-12 (.455) record through 22 games.
As I (David) sternly pointed, since that isn’t gonna happen, our focus has to be on patience as Team Adelman gets it’s groove together and continues it’s climb. I find myself elated when little nuggets of news underscore the team’s dramatic resurgence.
Case in point, playing winning basketball over the course of a month. For 15 straight months, the Wolves didn’t have a winning record until this January and if my math doesn’t fail me now, that’s more than 3 seasons and then some. January was very good to the Wolves with big victories and 10-wins in 18 games. That is a stat that makes sense to this coaching staff because it shows development, that the players are gaining consistency and it shows growth despite a rash of injuries to key players like J.J. Barea and Michael Beasley (among others). Much has been made of the Wolves attempt to get to .500 and I like their chances to doing that sooner than later. A team turns that corner and good things can happen. Isn’t all about “Mo,” you know, momentum?! By the way, last time the Wolves were at that mystical .500 mark was back on January 30, 2007.
What’s becoming clearer with each game is that this team is in good shape for continued growth. And unfortunately for the Wolves, they are similar to many in the Western Conference, the OKC’s , Blazers, Clippers (can you believe that) and Nuggets. It’s been enough to drive some GameON! talkers crazy. They’ve been in my ear (via email).
A few of their notes to SimonsSays if we might.
Roberta in Fridley is apparently a big basketball fan and also a Darko supporter: “I don’t quite understand why everyone is down on Darko. Is his injury serious?” Roberta, thanks for the note and thanks for watching GameON! Appreciated. As for Darko, I don’t think it’s an “injury”, per se, but an illness of some sort. Just talking to team officials today and hearing from the big fella himself, it appears Darko’s going to try to play through it. Darko’s missed three games and seeing the progress of Nikola Pekovic and the return of Brad Miller, he is smart and doesn’t want to get off Coach Adelman’s radar.
J.K. in Bloomington wrote me: …”You were a huge fan of Luke Ridnour last season and haven’t said a word about him so far this year. What’s up with that? He’s a big part of this team.” J.K., I couldn’t agree more and no, my feelings about Luke haven’t changed at all. In fact, I remember watching him in high school out in Washington State then when he starred at Oregon and began his NBA run with the hometown SuperSonics. I’m a fan of Coach Adelman’s guard rotations but we haven’t seen the full effects yet because of Barea’s injury. He’s contributing nicely getting over 30 minutes a night, scoring just under 12 a game and dishing out 3 assists per. Shot selection and defense are still priorities but I do like when Luke and Ricky Rubio run together. Get J.J. back full time and we’re in business.
One more and this one from Bill of Minneapolis at our recent GameON! taping. “I’m as big a Wolves fan, if not bigger, than most but I still can’t allow myself to think playoffs this season. Why do you even entertain the conversation when it comes up? It won’t happen even though I want it to.” Bill, thanks for your animated chat with me and thank you for coming out to our tapings at SEVEN Tuesday nights. Here’s the deal. Few people thought the Wolves would be improving as quickly as they are right now. After seasons of struggle, fans are back and people are getting into it. All I know is that if this team can gain some consistency, if they can continue to be stingy on defense (especially in the fourth quarter), if they can find the rotations that maximize this roster and continue to find ways to win games they’d grown accustomed to losing in years past, who says the Wolves can‘t get into the playoffs?!
You Go Rubio!
I don’t think there’s any doubt we’re going to see K-Love and Rubio in the upcoming NBA all star game. Good news for No. 9 too now that the NBA tells us Rubio is the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played from the start of the season (Dec. 25) through January. The honor is the first of Rubio's career and just the fourth Rookie of the Month Award in franchise history. Rubio is fifth among rookies in scoring (11.4 ppg) and first in assists (8.9 apg) and steals (2.24 spg). And you know I’m partial because Rubio is the favorite of my little 6-year-old daughter, Annie. After all the games in which we’ve attended, Rubio has taken over the perch where Crunch resided. They grow up too fast.
Covering Up for Good Cause:
Let’s help out and make a difference as Kevin Love’s coat drive is on to help those in need this winter. Just because it’s been milder doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. Love is inviting all fans to bring new coats to any of eight metro-area drop-off locations, including the Target Center Box Office and Comcast service centers before February 17, with all donations supporting The Salvation Army.
"We've had a mild start to the winter, but it's starting to get pretty cold in Minnesota and many people are in need of new winter coats," Love said. "I want to help out again this year, and with the support of The Salvation Army, Comcast and Wolves fans, we can make a difference this winter for those in need."
As a thank you to those who donate, Love has purchased tickets to the Timberwolves' Feb. 22 game vs. the Utah Jazz. Fans will receive a pair of tickets to this game for each new coat they donate (limit four tickets per family while supplies last).
Locations and specific information you might need can be found at Timberwolves.com.
It didn’t go too well in its debut against Indiana but you catch any of the remaining five Wolves home games this season that link you to a bit of throwback history. The Wolves will wear the 1967-68 Minnesota Muskies uni’s for upcoming home games against Dallas and the Knicks (back to back nights), the Clips and Lake show as well as the Celtics on March 30.
The WNBA Champions know who they’ll play now as the Lynx will tip off their 14th season on Sunday, May 20 against Phoenix at Target Center. It’s one of four nationally televised games this year. In all, 34 regular-season contests (17 home/17 away) from May 20 through September 23. The WNBA will break from July 14 to August 15 to allow WNBA players compete for their respective countries in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
SEE YOU ON TV:
We’d love for you to be a part of our growing TV show called GameON! GameON! powered by SEVEN Steakhouse/Sushi/Ultralounge/Skybar and you can watch it Sunday mornings on FOX’s My29 at 10:30 a.m., on ITunes & online at www.GameOnTvMn.com .
GameON! powered by SEVEN also allows you the opportunity to get up close and personal, to meet your favorite players and fellow fans @ our weekly tapings next door to Target Center @ SEVEN (7th and Hennepin). GameON! is about in-depth interviews with the top players, great food (heck, we’re coming to you from the best Steakhouse for Pete’s sake), sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves).
It’s GameON! powered by SEVEN Steakhouse/Sushi/Ultralounge/Skybar. You can friend us on Facebook and drop me a note, Rod@GameOnTvMN.com.