Sid Hartman: Wittman impressed by draft possibilities
- Article by: Sid Hartman
- Star Tribune
- June 6, 2007 - 10:55 PM
The Wolves are looking for a big man who can rebound and complement Kevin Garnett, and they worked out two potential good ones Wednesday in Florida's Joakim Noah and Washington's Spencer Hawes.
"I liked what I saw," said coach Randy Wittman. "Hawes is a young kid that's going to have to develop his body a little bit from a strength standpoint, but has got great skills, great feet, great ability to score on the inside.
"And Joakim Noah is just a phenomenal athlete that can do a lot of the intangibles that any coach loves to see in a person. He runs the floor, he can defend just about any position, is a great energy guy, rebounder, slasher to the basket. So, he's a guy that presents a combination of doing all those little intangibles.
"Well, we need to get more athletic and bigger, and he's [Noah] big. He's a lot taller than people think watching him on TV. So, yeah, that's what we're trying to look to do from a standpoint of our team is getting bigger and more athletic, and he fits both those bills."
One good thing about this draft is there are a number of players who fit what the Wolves are looking for. They might not have another first-round draft choice for a while because they owe one to the Clippers and another to the Celtics for past trades.
"You've got some great small forwards in this draft," Wittman said. "Corey Brewer from Florida, Brandan Wright from North Carolina, Al Thornton from Florida State; you've got the kid from Georgetown, Jeff Green; all four of those guys are big threes. You know, I think the smallest of that group is 6-7, 6-7½, so that's another thing that we've talked about, getting bigger and quicker and more athletic, and those kind of guys can fit that bill, too."
The Wolves certainly can't afford to make a mistake on this draft.
Chad Ford of ESPN has the Wolves taking Brewer with the seventh overall pick.
Jerry Sichting, who served on the Timberwolves coaching staff under Flip Saunders, will return to coach on Witt-man's staff. Sichting served as a college assistant at Marquette last year.
Wittman is keeping two members of last year's staff, Bob Ociepka and Rex Kalamian, and will add one other coach.
Twins hitters in slump
Going into the final game of the Oakland/Los Angeles road trip on Wednesday, the Twins were hitting a dismal .193 as as a team.
Of the starters, only Luis Castillo at .300 and Jason Kubel at .357 were hitting above .200. Nick Punto was 0-for-13, Justin Morneau 2-for-19 (.105), Jeff Cirillo 1-for-8 (.125), Mike Redmond 2-for-14 (.143), Michael Cuddyer 3-for-19 (.158), Jason Bartlett 2-for-11 (.182) and Torii Hunter 3-for-16 (.188). The Twins scored only nine runs in the three games with the A's and the first two with the Angels.
Culpepper may be traded
According to the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel's website, former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper has been notified by Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron that the team is going in a different direction and wants to move Culpepper.
"They would like to trade me in order to get something for me," Culpepper said.
On another subject Culpepper said he had been cleared by Birmingham surgeon Dr. James Andrews to begin practicing.
The word at the University of Minnesota is every Gopher on a football scholarship is working out voluntarily every day on the campus.
There are no surprises in the official announcement of the coaching staff of new Gophers basketball coach Tubby Smith. They are Ron Jirsa, the former Marshall coach; Vince Taylor, who was with the Wolves last year; Tubby's son Saul, who was an assistant at Tennessee Tech last year; and director of basketball operations Joe Esposito, who spent the last season as head coach at the Villages Charter High School in Florida.
I am always amazed at how many outstate athletes who played sports at the University of Minnesota remain here rather than return to their hometown when they have finished competing. Former Gophers quarterback Bryan Cupito is another example. Instead of returning to his hometown of Cincinnati, he has gone to work for a pharmaceutical company in the Twin Cities.
Vikings wide receiver Justin Surrency, now playing for Amsterdam in the NFL Europe, caught 12 passes for 113 yards and in his team's 41-38 loss last week to Rhein. He also returned one kickoff for 24 yards.
Tommy Thompson, assistant general manager of the Wild, said he expects Ryan McDonagh of Cretin-Derham Hall, one of seven players from Minnesota who were invited to the NHL workouts in Toronto last week, to go in the first round of the draft. Regarding the other six, Thompson says, "Mike Hoeffel of Hill-Murray could fall down to the second round because of an injury; Patrick White of Grand Rapids will be either a first- or second-round pick; Jake Hansen of White Bear Lake, a second-round pick; Jim O'Brien of Gophers, a second- or third-round pick; Nico Sacchetti of Virginia, a small guy, in the fifth, sixth or seventh round; and Mark Guggenberger, a goalie from Richfield, I would say the last half of the draft."
You had a good idea something was going on when David Crum was treated like royalty while attending the annual University of Minnesota alumni dinner, where Tony Dungy was the main speaker. It became official this week that Crum had left his post at Iowa State and was named the new associate athletic director of the Golden Gopher Fund.
According to Steve Megargee, a Rivals.com college football writer, the Gophers have the eighth-toughest schedule in the Big Ten. ... The word in Portland is that the Trail Blazers definitely will draft Ohio State center Greg Oden with the No. 1 pick. Former Gophers center Joel Przybilla, who played great for them when he was healthy, is having serious knee problems. ... Former Gophers hockey star Ryan Potulny would have had a chance to play in the Stanley Cup with Ottawa had he not been injured during the season. ... Mat Mahoney, 26, grandson of longtime Fairmont (Minn.) football coach Tommy, has been named the new Fairmont football coach. His grandfather coached at Fairmont for some 30 years before retiring some time ago.
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