Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders takes a look at a packed crowd at the Taylor Center.

Excitement And Energy Surround Dunks After Dark

by Kyle Ratke, Digital Content Manager

Digital Content Manager


Excitement is what Flip Saunders wanted.
Excitement is what he got.

On Tuesday at about 12:01 a.m., the Minnesota Timberwolves took the court for “Dunks After Dark” at the Taylor Center on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. Ironically, Monday was also National Coffee Day.

But it was before midnight when the energy oozed out of the building.

And these fans (many students at Minnesota State University, Mankato) didn’t causally walk in at midnight. They stormed in at 11 p.m. when the doors opened. This event truly had the feel of Midnight Madness. There was dancing. There was loud music. And obviously, there was dunking.

Crunch apparently crawled out of bed to attend this…

Fans, players, coaches and media members in attendance probably had a few coffees throughout the day, and maybe even as late as 10 p.m. It was all worth it, though, as the Timberwolves packed the building named after their owner in front of roughly 4,500 fans.

"Great energy here from the support in Mankato," Saunders said at around 1:25 a.m. "It's nice for them to come out. Glen (Taylor) has been such a big supporter of the city, so it's nice for people to come out when the team came down and put a little show on for them."

The evening started out with the team doing 3 and 5-man weaves up and down the court. This was also full of alley-oops.

The Wolves then split into three mini teams, set to play three 12-minute scrimmages. Team one consisted of Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger, Andrew Wiggins, Robbie Hummel, Nikola Pekovic and Kyrylo Fesenko. Team two included Mo Williams, Zach LaVine, Corey Brewer, Thaddeus Young, Gorgui Dieng and Brady Heslip. Team three was J.J. Barea, Kevin Martin, Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Bennett, Ronny Turiaf and Glenn Robinson III.
The first points of the scrimmage? A Rubio-to-Wiggins alley-oop that got the Taylor Center on its feet.

While the scrimmage was all fun and dandy, it was the next event that really brought the fans in. It was time for the high-flying trio of LaVine, Wiggins and Robinson to take part in a freestyle dunk exhibition or in other words, “Dunks After Dark.”

There technically was no real winner, but to sound absolutely cliché, perhaps the real winner was Minnesota basketball fans. When is the last time there was this much excitement surrounding the Minnesota Timberwolves?

“Dunks After Dark” not only showed off the athleticism and skill of this 2014-15 Wolves team. It also showed the excitement fans have for this team.

"That was a lot of fun. That was back in my environment," LaVine said of the college-like atmosphere. "I'm only a year, not even a year, a couple months (out of school). So, that's back in my environment. It was a lot of fun."

Luckily for fans this season, they won’t have to wait until after midnight to see the players dunk. Most games start at 7 p.m. CST.

The Wolves will be able to rest a little bit before practicing tomorrow at 2 p.m. Expect a Practice Report, a photo gallery from tonight, videos and more on Timberwolves.com.

Until then, get some sleep.


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