Simons Says...




Thursday, March 17, 2011

Blue:
I call ‘em “blue days”. I woke up to another unwanted snowfall and then an email that just rubbed me the wrong way. It sent the day in the wrong direction. It made it “one of those days”. I didn’t want to shovel or plow another snowfall, so that was one. Then, when I finished, I was the checking mail and a “fan’s” note got me humming. We’ll leave out the words. The note in a moment.

Do know, I’m watching the same games, seeing the same things you are. It’s that time of year and yes, I hear the skeptics, see the lopsided games and I can read the headlines that pronounce doom and gloom for the Wolves. Sadly, if you are a hockey fan, you’re getting a complete whammy as well. If you are a fan of both teams then, ooh la la, your head is likely spinning with a Linda Blair flair (very old school reference there).

There will be no excuses kicked out from me but I try to fire back observations to those who don’t see it as I do. They see results and make observations and then make crazy comments. That brings me to A.C. in Columbus (near Forest Lake in the north Metro). It’s clear, he’s had it and I must have been handy because he let me have it. His letter to my SimonsSays MAILBAG at rod@gameontvmn.com.

“How do you continue to write nice things about the Timberwolves? They are horrible, you are pathetic for defending that team and they need to fire the coach”.

The letter was a tad longer but I had to edit because of the nature of it. This is a “G” rated blog anyhow. “AC” took the gloves off and that’s ok. Whatever the case, I don’t think I write “nice” things about the Wolves, I write what I see and have learned over the years in covering the NBA (as well as all the other major professional leagues and sports). Here in SimonsSays and on my TV show, GameON!, I make it clear. I like this basketball team; I see the potential and from my vantage point come thoughts on the team.

Horrible?! I’ll admit they’re struggling badly and losing as they did to Sacramento (on the same day the Wild were being humbled by Montreal at the “X”) didn’t make anyone feel warm and fuzzy. Defending the team? No. Again, it’s my professional observations. First of all, the Wolves are not quitting. The Wolves players are not cleaning golf clubs and planning off- season vacations. No doubt about it, this has been a horribly hard season on all involved and the NBA’s “dog days” are really putting a negative spotlight on the Wolves in what was suppose to be a better season. But when losses pile up, fingers point and blame is passed quickly. Watching the Wolves up close, you can see the youngest team in the league hitting the wall. Most of the young guys are still learning how to play in an NBA season. It’s just reality. There are a handful of NBA teams in the same position as Minnesota. Plenty of young talent, few veteran leaders and a team in need of more parts to become better.

This makes daily work tough for all involved. It’s a major disappointment for players, coaches as well as the staff that puts the games together for fans. From sales to marketing, administrative to interns. These folks are working everyday under a cloud that a losing season casts on them. When you cover the team, you see it, up close and personally. Losing takes a toll on everyone associated with the team. Fan and public fingers point at the guy at the front of the bench but the angst that this season has brought is shared with people well beyond Coach Rambis. I hate seeing that.

I always fall back on what might happen and having covered the turnarounds in team sports, I still see the potential. There will be a turnaround. A few years ago, the faithful didn’t see this type of season playing out in Chicago. They were use to the dominance of the Jordan era Bulls and rebuilding got old. Them there was hope and plenty of frustration for shortcomings. Last off-season, the team added a few veterans, they allowed the solid young cast to mature even more and right before your eyes, Da’ Bulls have become one of the top teams in the East. And they are a beast.

Talking to former Twins player/coach Al Newman this week at the taping of GameON!, we discussed team turnarounds. Newmie has seen it first hand, in baseball, basketball, football, you name the sport, and he’s seen it. Newman has been a part of his first love (baseball) since his college days at San Diego State (a teammate of hitting great and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn) and he’s always kept a close eye on all sports. Newman noted that it turnarounds happen when least expected. In the Twins case, no turnaround needed these days. They are very good, wins are predicted and anything short of going deep in the post season (and bring on the Yankees) will be disappointing. But as Newmie reminded me, in any team sport, get that “right mix” and things change quickly.

In the Wolves case (if you believe some of the reports), patience is wearing paper thin on a few fronts and with some fans. I have heard Coach Rambis say there is work to do and that he wants to be the one leading the charge. More time IS needed but whether or not that happens is in the hands of team ownership. I’ve said it before and will again, from my perspective, plug in two solid veterans, get that certain Euro guard over here and then add another solid draft and we’re in business. The foundation blocks are in place and on several occasions this season, it showed.

I’ll remind you, there’s nothing like the arrival of spring when days get longer, playoff basketball is on and baseball’s opened for its six month run. There’s a buzz that’s created and there is nothing like it. We’re blessed to live in a town that has all those pro teams and the opportunity to mix the team sport season. If hockey playoffs were part of this puzzle, it’d be amazing. It’s not happening this year but there’s always hope for next. Right?

I’m in the corner that still believes. The Wolves WILL get this done. Is change in the air, most likely, some kind of change. You can’t wrap a season like this and not tinker. Regardless, I’m NOT moving out of my space. I will save these thoughts and remind those who pester me (see email from Mr. AC) when the time comes (hopefully next season), even though I’m not a “told you so” kinda’ guy.

So, now that I’ve vented, I’ll close this segment by admitting I’m tired of the snow. Tired of AC’s take. And come game time, I’ll be OK by Dallas “tip” (and then tomorrow in OKC).

Working Hard:
Kevin Love’s having a great season, full of double-doubles and an all star selection. He and his teammates are showing up among league leaders too:

>K-Love ranks first in the NBA in rebounds (15.4 rpg) and 18th in scoring (20.3ppg), T-23rd in free-throw percentage (85.1%), 13th in three-point percentage(42.3%) and 29th in minutes (35.9 mpg).

>Michael Beasley is tied at 21st in the NBA in scoring (19.0 ppg).

>Darko Milicic is fifth in the NBA in blocked shots (2.16 bpg).

>Luke Ridnour ranks fourth in three-point percentage (44.5%) and 6th in free-throw percentage (90.5%).

>Wes Johnson shows up fifth among rookies in the NBA in scoring (9.1 ppg), seventh in assists (1.9 apg) and T-10th in rebounds (3.0 rpg).

THE MORE THE MERRIER:
Here’s a chance for basketball fans to gather for a very special celebration.

We’re giving fans an upclose and personal opportunity to meet and talk hoops with the Lynx at a special Women’s Final Four Championship game viewing party on April 5th! On the night of the Women’s NVAA title championship, GameON! is teaming with the Lynx to host a viewing party at our host location Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka! It’s easy to find, great food and a dozen HD big screens to watch the game with us! It’s Tuesday April 5th starting at 6pm for the show taping and then 7:30pm, it’s GameON! for the national championship game!!

Remember, these are big days for the Lynx because the 2011 WNBA Draft is just around the corner on Monday, April 11. Minnesota holds the top pick in the Draft for the third time in franchise history and they gotta’ pick University of Connecticut forward Maya Moore. More info to come but make your plans now to join us and other basketball fans at the Courtside Bar and Grill on April 5th!! Go ahead and e-mail me if you need more information. We’d love to have you in the house with us!

AND WATCH FOR:
Thanks for the e-mails and the uptick in communication from you out there. I very much enjoy getting those and next week, we’ll share some more of your FAN thoughts in our SimonsSays mailbag. Until then, keep your chin up and see you Sunday on GameON! I’d love to have you out to one of our live GameON! Tapings this next Tuesday at Courtside Bar and Grill in Anoka on Jackson Street. More details and guest listings on our redesigned show website (www.GameOnTvMn.com)