Minnesota Wild… Playoff team?

I know I blog about a lot of sports. My wife is a prisoner of my sports disease! But I can’t help it!

I love hockey! I’m a former basketball coach and hockey is basketball on ice. I watch a lot of games so I am telling you what I see with the MN Wild. Is it gospel? No. But its my opinion which is why I write a blog. So here goes. The Wild have a decent team. They have good goaltending, unlike the Blackhawks. They have good defense. Sutter is the real deal. They need a thumper back there because they can get muscled on the boards but overall the D is good. They have some speed and talent on the puck. What they don’t have is 1 complete line. Their top line is one power forward from being dominant. Heatley is not that. He’s a 2nd line guy with Bouchard and Setegouchi, Coyle or somebody like him is the power forward for the top line. Speed from a big guy would make Zack and Mikko better. Heatley is stuck in neutral while Zack and Mikko are flying around. They need to create more offense by being able to carry the puck into the offensive zone. You can’t do that when one guy on your top line is not a worker and can’t skate. Mikko, Zack, and a power forward with speed would present a lot of problems. Think a healthy and motivated Latandress type. I say throw Coyle on that line and see what happens. Parise gets beat up challenging the puck all the time and Mikko is at best when he’s facilitating and defending. This is a very good team next year. They are an average team this year. The Wild need to continue to mix in their youth, Coyle on the top line is my call. Offseason should be about getting bigger on the blue line and bigger and more athletic at forward. They are pot committed with 200 mill committed to 2 players so might as well go all in!

Gopher Mens Basketball..what happened?

How does a team look like a final four team in December turn into a team that needs to win at least a couple of games down the stretch to make the field of 65?

Is it overrated talent? Is it Tubby? Is it the conference? Answer. All of the above! Lets start with the talent…Rodney still can’t shoot the ball nor has his handle improved. When I was a kid, players like him were called soft. Dre Hollins is a 2 guard! Coleman is… well what is he? Trevor is not close to pre injury status. Austin Hollins is there best player, but he has a big hole in his game too. His handle is keeping him from being a star!  Coaching? What is their identity? What is this team? Early in the season, defense turned to offense regularly. Now, they can’t score and they turn the ball over 20 plus times a game. Whats Tubby running on offense? Heard that question before? This is a serious problem since MN now has some really good high school ballers and this staff has not figured out that todays players do not want to play 47-45 games. Jones and Vaughn are not playing at MN. Sad but true.

The Big 10 is getting a lot of best conference chatter nationally so I have to give the experts some room here. My opinion for what its worth is that the Big 10 may have the best conference top to bottom rankings wise. But the eyeball test has me thinking that they will continue to lose ground in the Blue Chip talent chase overall. Yes, Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State will continue to get their studs. But the conference has 12 teams! I watch Wisconsin play and I think, what is that! Northwestern plays keep away until the shot clock is down to 5 on every possession. Purdue, Iowa, Nebraska, Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State, MN. I just named the other 9 teams in the conference. Which one of them is headed to the sweet 16? Ok that was rhetorical.  The referees call the games like they’re  Rugby matches! Its brutal to watch. 19-18 at halftime is routine and 45 free throws is the norm. Are you kidding me! For every Zeller that decides to go to the Big 10, there are 10 Tyus Jones that say, the heck with that style of ball, I’m taking my talents to Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina etc. etc. 

Thats a problem people. Don’t be fooled. This conference is not a national threat from top to bottom. So what if they put 7 even 8 teams in the tourney! There are really 2 teams with any chance to do damage. Indiana and Michigan. So yes, on paper its a big time conference but the eyeball test has it with the same number of contenders as the ACC, Big East, and SEC.Heck Gonzaga has a real chance to do something this year. Again! So my point on this matter is that the perception of the conference inflates the early season rankings and expectations. At the end of the day, the Big 10 routinely puts 6 to 8 teams in the tournament and most years theres 1 or 2 that get deep. 

My conclusion is that the U of M basketball team is underachieving but not nearly as much as you think. Tubby probably has to go. I’ve met him and he’s a great man and has led the team back from the Monson era. They are now respectable after the Pryzbiila, Rickert, and Humphries debacle. But he has become stubborn in his approach to todays college game. He doesn’t adapt to his talent like those guys coaching at Duke, North Carolina, Louisville etc. And his biggest failure is his inability to secure a top of the line point guard. Its just time. It’ll be expensive so its 50/50 that he he stays. Lastly, the conference is not doing itself any favors. They continue to pride themselves on being the roughest conference in the country. But the appeal of this conference to the bluest of blue chippers continues to fall behind. The Big East tried to sustain that from the Georgetown, Seton Hall and Syracuse days of the mid 80’s. Syracuse adjusted faster than the rest and are consistently good. The rest haven’t and continue to try to catch up. 

Talent makes conferences good! Name the last dominant player from the Big 10 to excel at the NBA level. Take your time. I’ll wait. 

Minnesota Sports…Why so diseased?

After a prolonged absence, I’m baacckk! Did you miss me? Ok probably not, but I missed writing so here I am again.  Lots on my sports brain so let me get right to it.

The Vikings are acting like a bush league operation by not giving Leslie Frazier the extension he earned. Yeah I said it. One could argue that they set him up to fail this past season. (I’m one who is arguing that) Here are the facts…They strapped him with an unproven, overrated project of a quarterback. They gave this quarterback absolutely no vertical threat. They paid a tight end (John Carlson) 20 million to stand on the sideline looking like Adonis. The offensive coordinator alienated their most explosive passing threat by throwing him 3 yard passes and asking him to make lemonade out of lemons. If Adrian Peterson doesn’t do the unthinkable,  and Leslie Frazier isn’t so respected in that locker room they are a 5 win team at best. No coach did more with less. Totally bush league move for them not to extend his deal!

David Kahn must go! Yeah I said it! (again) Even if you take away the injuries, the product that he and Adelman assembled was a 7 or 8 seed in the West and home by early May. I admit I was a huge Adelman bobo. But after Rambis I get a pass. My thinking was finally a presence on the bench that would garner respect around the league. No matter the injuries, the roster has no defensive presence besides a breaking down AK47 and Rubio. I tell the truth here so lets break it down.

Guards first…Luke can’t guard his position and can’t beat anyone off the dribble. Ever notice that when he plays point, he dribbles the ball until theres about 5 seconds left on the clock? I knew you noticed! Pass the ball! 15 minutes a game would be about right. JJ shoots way to much and he’s exactly 4 inches taller than my daughter and shes not tall. Career back up. 12-18 minutes a game. Shved… I like him but he turns the ball over at an alarming rate, and his outside shooting and decision making is not made for prime time yet. Malcom Lee got hurt but before that he was actually playing good defense and showing progress offensively. Adelman didn’t like him so his minutes were sporadic. Still, at best he’s a rotation guy. Brandon Roy… Ok sign a 2 guard with no cartilage in either Knee and hope the blood plasma transfusion works? GONG!!! Rubio is Rubio. I like him a lot. He’d have 20 assist a game if his passes were going to guys who could make shots. The last few weeks he’s been playing his heart out for this team. So thats the guards. 6 guards and 1 that would get major minutes on any team. Thats not about the injuries, thats a recipe put together that was destined for mediocrity. Kinda like heading to North Dakota looking for seafood gumbo. Lets move on.

Kevin Love… I wrote last year that he was not a franchise player and I got hammered for it. At least you were reading so I didn’t mind. But the facts are the facts…When your “best” player can’t or won’t defend and is not or has not been an end of game closer, then that player is not a Franchise Player. Can he be a big part of a good team? Yes. His stats would be great if he was Robin but he went to the Olympics talking like he was Batman! Then he shot 37% percent from the field, broke his hand doing those dangerous knuckle pushups and then re broke it. Injuries do happen but timing is everything. He was KLove to the beloved Wolves fan and now he has got a serious image problem on his hands. What now?

Adelman doesn’t like DWill so he didn’t play him for the first month of the season until he had no choice due to the injuries. Is he a superstar like you’d expect from a number 2 pick? No. Can he be a 25 min 12 point 6 rebound guy for a long time in the NBA? Absolutely!  Pek? Time to leverage the big man for some assets. Good player on a bad team. Him and Kevin don’t work because neither can defend the paint and neither has any explosion down low. He misses a lot of buckets from in close. 3rd option on a good team and he’s in a contract year. Do not pay him 50 million for 5 years! Yeah I said it! The rest is depressing. Cunningham is a glue guy. 20 minutes a night is perfect for his skillset. Steimsma is awful! Chris Johnson is better but Adelman is stubborn about guys he doesn’t know or like. Kid is long athletic and defends the bucket! 20 minutes a night with Steimsma not getting anytime unless absolutely necessary. Oh I almost forgot about Chase Buddinger. Good role player. Can shoot and jump, but cannot guard anyone on the floor.

Ok so there you have it. If they weren’t hurt is this the kind of product that was going to threaten the best teams in the league? These are David Kahns bold, job saving moves? Really now. Of the 12 players listed above, are there more than 3 players that could get major minutes on a good team? He has to go after this season. Injuries aren’t his crutch this time. Talent evaluation is his weakness in a league that requires you be right at least 80 percent of the time. Give him Rubio and nothing else!

Ok you’re tired of the negative so I’ll wait on the Twins, Wild, and Gopher football/ basketball. Diseased!!

15-1, high flying offense, no superbowl…sound familiar? My 3 things… Plus 1.

I  have always made the case about offenses selling tickets and defenses winning championships. It appears that the Packers didn’t get the memo. I’m sure I sent it. Ok maybe I didn’t send it to them. What do you want from me? I have some bias!! Report me if you want.

The Packers are the latest offensive juggernaut to be asked to watch the remaining of the tournament on television. Did you see it coming? Are you surprised? I did and I’m not! The Packers were a flawed team. In their only loss of the season to the K.C Chiefs, they were exposed. When they played a physical team with a good front four, defensive backs that can play man coverage, and linebackers that are athletic, they got beat. Sounds like the Giants to me. Defensively, I can’t understand why they were so bad, but wow they were so bad. The 98 Vikings were the same team. Play out front. Give up a bunch of yards. Win by 2 touchdowns! The problem is when the game slows down and every possession starts to matter, you need a running game to sustain drives and a defense that can get off the field. I hear people saying that they didn’t play like they had played all year and thats why they lost. Uh they did play like they played all year and that formula didn’t get them past round 1. The Giants beat them up physically and if not for some questionable calls, the score would have been worse!

My 3 Things…. Plus 1

1) The Saints – 49ers game was the best playoff game I’ve seen in a long time. In the end the Saints ( another offensive juggernaut) had the same problem the Packers had. They couldn’t get a stop when they really needed one. Under a minute to go and 80 yards away and Alex Smith leads the team down to get the game winning touchdown? Not a tying field goal. A touchdown! Alex Smith? Really? Go to your room!

2) Joe Flacco almost cost the Ravens a chance to play this weekend! If not for the studs they have on the other side of the ball, they would be done. How many times on 3rd and 3, are you going to throw the ball 25 yards down the sideline Joe? Move the chains! You got the ball on the 50 yard line and punted from the 45. Are you kidding me?  Even Trent Dilfer would have gotten a field goal out of that. Manage the game and stop trying to prove you’re an elite quarterback. You aren’t! Yeah I Said it!

3) Tebow!!!! I couldn’t keep watching the destruction so I turned to a movie to occupy me. Shooter with Mark Wahlberg. Ok movie but Mark is best suited for behind the camera. Ok where was I?? Oh yeah, the beat down that the Patriots put on the Broncos and Tebow. You saw it, so no need for me to pile on. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am rooting for the guy. Is this offseason and training camp going to help? Can he learn to read defenses from the pocket? What about that throwing motion? I’m not betting against the guy and I am sincerely hoping he gets a lot better. Why? Because its great to see a guy who has no earthly business playing quarterback in the NFL, playing quarterback in the NFL!

The Patriots are the last of the all offense, no defense teams left in the playoffs. They are playing the Ravens and the aforementioned train wreck that is Joe Flacco. The difference with the Patriots is that they can hurt you in so many ways offensively. The tight ends are a match up nightmare and Wes Welker is basically they’re running game. Even though they spread teams out with 4 and 5 receivers, they really aren’t in a hurry. They can get you 7 yards at a time. If you punt, you’re in deep trouble. Some advice for Flacco… when you have a chance on 3rd and 3, you best just pick up the first down! Tom Brady is an elite quarterback and if you play like you did last week… you can join the rest of us couch potatoes! Yeah I said it!

TW

NFL Playoffs…My 3 things

Greetings all. Welcome to 2012!

When last I wrote, several teams where seen packing up for the year and 8 teams were ready to make a run for the Lombardi Trophy. I noticed 3 things over the weekend and it wouldn’t be a blog if I didn’t share…

1) Are we finally ready to say that Matt Ryan is a disappointment? Elite Quarterbacks don’t produce 2 points in a playoff game! The Falcons are built to win now. They have a defense, a running game, and above average receivers. So why are they done? 2 points points? Come on Matt, step up your game! On a side note… I think Ray Edwards is stealing money. He got paid big in free agency and he was an absolute bust. Built like Tarzan, playing like Jane, (no disrespect to Jane), she’s not trying to play defensive end. Kudos to the Vikings for recognizing he was all about the money. 8 sacks playing with Jared Allen got him huge money from the Falcons. Fraud! Finally… Eli Manning is not Peyton’s brother anymore. He’s Eli Manning!

2) The Texans are going to win a Super Bowl before the Cowboys. They lost their best defensive player, (Mario Williams). They played 9 games without their best offensive player, (Andre Johnson) and are starting their 3rd string quarterback, somebody named TJ Yates. They will not win the Super Bowl this year but this team is loaded and will need to be dealt with for many years to come. “Americas Team”, the Cowboys, are in serious trouble. The roster is full of me first players, a meddling owner, and a Quarterback that despite numbers that suggest eliteness, has proven to be more Danny White, than Troy Aikman. They lack discipline on both sides of the ball and week to week seemed to be trying to figure out what kind of identity they want to roll with.

3) TEBOW!!!!!! I can’t explain it but I am rooting for this guy! It’s crazy but he is a winner. Plain and simple. I watched that game against the Steelers and I saw his coaches trying to play it safe in the 2nd half. When you lose 7-3 to the Chiefs the week before, I knew that after getting the lead 20-6 at halftime, Coach Fox was going to pull the plug on the offense. The Steelers weren’t going to lay down,(they’re champions) so of course they came back. But this guy did not flinch. Unbelievable! That throwing motion is awful. He throws the ugliest ball in the league. That accuracy is inconsistent, balls bouncing 8 yards in front of receivers. He can only read one side of the field from the pocket. Did I mention that he’s built like a linebacker?? But he really did throw for over 300 yards and an 80 yard touchdown pass in overtime. His team is headed to New England to play the Patriots this weekend. I will never bet for or against him but I will be rooting for him. I just wish I knew why!

Tebow!!!!! Yeah I Said It!

NFL Playoffs!!…Very Interesting

Today ‘s games marked the end of a very long season for a lot of teams. Which franchise would you want to be running right now?

The Vikings? Is Cristian Ponder an offensive line from being the franchise quarterback, or is he Kyle Boller?  How about the Rams? Do you really believe firing their coach and a healthy Sam Bradford is the answer for a 2 win season? Maybe you believe Cleveland is a happy Peyton Hillis and a healthy Colt McCoy away from the playoffs? What’s next for the Buccaneers? The team that got its head coach fired because they quit on him has serious leadership issues. Someone in that locker room needs to step up! Where are you Josh? How about you Kellen? The Bills? Interesting. Is it me or did they jump the gun with Fitzpatrick? Could be me… but I’m going with definitely jumped the gun. Did the Raiders just break the NFL record for most penalties again?! Is Carson Palmer a winner? Hmmm…Make the case and we’ll discuss. Blaine Gabbert is worse than Christian Ponder. The Jaguars are lost.

Based on their relevance at the moment, the Minnesota Vikings earn only a short assessment. They have some work to do. My goodness, who are they? Is it on Leslie Frazier?  Don’t forget, you were all on board when number 4 and the convoy came rolling in. Something about championship window was uttered. Oh you do remember don’t you? That means wins and a chance to go to the bowl. Woohoo! The downside is its short term and last I checked, players don’t get younger. The Offensive line needs more talent. The receiving corps needs more talent. More talent is needed in the the defensive backfield. All together now…. they need more talent! And finally…Please find a position for Everson Griffen and never take him off the field!!!! Lets see…you need talent on the defense…hmmm. Fire Musgrave immediately! Yeah, I said  it!

Whew, sorry about that.. Just another purple fan working through it.

Lets talk about the positives…the Playoffs are here. Will it be the offenses of the Packers, Saints, Patriots?…. Maybe you’re thinking defense? Do you think the Steelers or Ravens have enough? Is running the football and playing field position the formula? If so, does that mean the Falcons have  a chance? Is it Tebow time? Really? I’m a sucker for a good story and this is a good one. John Fox called a horrible game today. 7-3 with the playoffs on the line? Seriously?  Playoffs??!! We’re talking about Playoffs??! Giants, Cowboys… yeah and?? Ah yes… here comes the Detroit Lions! I know it was the last game but did Matt Flynn really throw for 480 and 6 touchdowns? I’m sorry, Matt Flynn? Interesting. Can the 49ers score enough?

If you think offense then you’re thinking Packers Vs Patriots? They are the same team aren’t they? Close enough. Wouldn’t that be good? The purest in me says there’s no chance 2 teams that play no defense make it to the Super Bowl!! Defense wins championship right? But Flacco, and an injured Ben has me second guessing myself. I need a couple of days to gather my thoughts before I can come up with my take.

Happy New Year

TW

Wolves decision… KLove … what to do?

The Minnesota Timberwolves have a decision to make that will have long term franchise ramifications. Do they give Kevin Love a contract extension for the maximum?

Kevin Love is a special player with special skills. But is he a franchise player? Watching him play and dominate the boards the way he does is amazing. He can shoot from distance. He works harder than most NBA players and he clearly hates losing. He is one of the top power forwards in the league. Having said all of that, he may never be a starter in the All Star game,and his team is 2 to 3 seasons after this one from being the 8 seed in the championship tournament. He is not a maximum contract player. Yeah, I said it!

As much as I like him and respect his talents and he’s the face of the franchise, the fact is, his unique skill set has helped the Wolves to a 32-132 record over the last 2 seasons. Is it his fault?… of course not! Coaching, GM decisions and lack of veteran leadership are at the root of their ineptness. However, the question is, should Kevin Love be a maximum contract player, not is David Kahn the worst GM in the league. (I’m certain we’ll address that in future blogs) I compare him to 2 other young players in the league on young, inexperienced teams and I see Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant. Over the last 2 years, these 2 maximum contract players have led the league in scoring (Durant twice) and been named MVP (Rose last season). These are individual awards but when you look at the success of their teams, it is clear that their individual talents have translated into WINS. They have both taken their teams deep into the playoffs and are both poised to make a title run this year. You can argue about the organizations being better and having better supporting players. Those would both be valid. But even  if you believe that, there is simply no denying that these players are difference makers. In the NBA, the 4th quarter belongs to the superstars. These are the players that you give the ball to and ask to win the game. In my opinion, thats what franchise players are. Finishers! The wolves could have won at least 10 more games last year if they had a finisher. Heck they would be 2-0 this season, if they had one!

Kevin Love can be the second best( and highly paid)  player on a winning team, or he can be the best and highest paid player on a losing team. Its really his choice. If he takes a little less than maximum, the team will have flexibility to pay players to stay or come to Minny. If he takes the Kevin Garnett approach, he will constantly be surrounded with second tier players and the franchise will be destined for middle of the road success in a couple of years. What if Michael Beasley finally gets it? He’s the most talented player on the team. If he finally gets the team thing ( he’s only 22 yrs old) then surely you want him on the team don’t you? What if Rubio is all that we hope he is? You would want to keep him longterm too, right?  Mr. Love: Have you noticed what is going on in the league? Are you seeing that in this league you have to have 3 really good players to win?

What should the Wolves do? They should avoid being pressured by the fans and media to sign him now. He will be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. That means the wolves would be able to match any offers he gets from another team and they can pay him more because he’s their player. They should wait and see what the rest of the league thinks he’s worth and act accordingly. Will that upset him? Probably. But he will create a PR nightmare for the KLOVE brand if he argues that 11- 13 million per season for 5 seasons isn’t good enough and he needs 15 million. Besides, I’ve heard him say on numerous occasions that he’s all about winning. We shall see! I really like your game KLOVE but you are not a maximum contract player. Yeah, I said it!

Happy New Year Everyone!

TW

Welcome to my blog for sports nuts!

Hello everyone! I started this blog because the “glazed over” look from my wife this past weekend told me that this is what I needed to do. She didn’t say it in words because she’s a saint, but the look said,” I wish I cared about Tampa 2, compressed schedules, power-plays, Tubby, Flacco, or home field throughout… but I just don’t.” What?  You really don’t care about all of the useless information I’ve been sharing with you for 25 years?  Who knew?

I have been following sports and writing on blogs for a long time and thought this would be a great outlet for me and a relief to my wife. The blog, you may have guessed is going to be about sports. I follow all sports both nationally and locally so you could find a take on just about any of them here. I’m a fan of the local MN teams and will try my best to give them a fair shake. If you don’t live here, then you have no idea the challenge that presents.

The name of the blog is Yeah, I Said It!  Kinda catchy don’t you think? The intent is to share my thoughts on what the the average fan, and some columnist think but don’t or won’t say. These are my opinions on subjects from my perspective. This is not going to be some stat junkies paradise. I’m just not that detailed!  I read and watch a lot of sports (yeah I know… but I said she’s a saint already) I played almost every sport growing up and decided at age 40 to learn how to play hockey. I’ll try not to bore you with those details… I said try. Its been a lot of fun! I’ve coached sports for a long time so I watch sports just a little differently than the average fan. (Ask her if you don’t believe me) … Not better, just differently.

The plan is to post every Thursday but I reserve the right to rant at anytime, should the opportunity arise. Your feedback is welcome and encouraged. This should be a lot of fun! I hope you enjoy! Tell all of your sports crazy friends and family about the blog. If you want to know my take on something, feel free to share!

Tedd

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 171 other followers