Rand: 13 local sports figures of note for 2013

  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 8:55 PM
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Philip Nelson.

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We spent the last two weeks recapping the top stories of 2012. Now, we shift our attention to the year that is instead of the year that was. Here are 13 local sports figures who could break through to play major roles in big sports stories in 2013 (in alphabetical order):

1. Nick Bjugstad: He returned to the Gophers men's hockey team instead of turning pro, positioning himself as the go-to player on a team with lofty expectations. He had a modest start, but two goals in a rout of Boston College on Sunday -- which vaulted Minnesota back to No. 1 in the USCHO.com rankings -- set Bjugstad up for an important stretch of play in 2013.

2. Hannah Brandt: If you haven't heard of Brandt, you soon will. As a freshman, she is already the second-leading scorer for the undefeated Gophers women's hockey team (19 goals, 29 assists). Can she help Minnesota go undefeated all season? Play resumes Jan. 11 against North Dakota.

3. Jonas Brodin: The Wild's 2011 first-round pick is a standout defenseman who could contribute immediately when (if?) the NHL finally resumes play. He suffered a broken clavicle in early November, but given a chance to heal he could be the kind of young blue-liner the Wild sorely needs.

4. Jessie Diggins: She was a three-time state Nordic champ at Stillwater High School and has now become the new young star on a rapidly improving U.S. cross country ski team. With the Winter Olympics approaching in about a year, the U.S. could have its strongest team ever -- and Diggins could be a big part of it.

5. Gary Fasching: It's never easy replacing a legend, and Fasching knows that. The longtime St. John's assistant coach takes over for the retired John Gagliardi, the all-time winningest coach in college football history. Gags held down the St. John's position for 60 years, so it's safe to say many eyes will be on Fasching to see how his Johnnies fare.

6. Andre Hollins: We're already seeing major hints of the player Hollins can be for the Gophers men's basketball team. He exploded for 41 points against Memphis. He was terrific in Monday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State. But you get the idea the best is yet to come for the sophomore -- and how he plays will be crucial to how the No. 9-ranked Gophers fare.

7. Tyus Jones: We've known about the Apple Valley basketball phenom for years, but 2013 is an important one for Jones. Now a junior, he very likely will be making a college decision sometime in 2013. He has several suitors and has whittled his official list to eight -- including Minnesota.

8. Philip Nelson: He enters 2013 as a 19-year-old with seven career starts as a true freshman in 2012. And this makes him the QB on the roster with the most experience, with MarQueis Gray done and Max Shortell leaving the program. How well Year 3 of Jerry Kill goes could be influenced greatly by the development of Nelson.

9. Devereaux Peters: The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Lynx had the luxury of coming to a team loaded with veterans. But Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 42, isn't going to play forever -- even if it seems that way sometimes. The continued post development of the 6-2 Peters will be an important factor for the Lynx in 2013.

10. Christian Ponder: The final regular-season tally for Ponder in 2012 -- 2,935 yards passing, 18 TDs, 12 INTs -- doesn't look so bad. And to be sure, he won over some critics Sunday against the Packers. But he starts 2013 with a huge playoff game in Lambeau. That game will be the first of many in 2013 that will define Ponder's future.

11. Alexey Shved: He was hardly among the most heralded offseason acquisitions by the Timberwolves, but we have seen enough of Shved to believe 2013 could be big for him. The idea of Shved and a fully healthy Ricky Rubio playing in the same backcourt is tantalizing.

12. Norwood Teague: The new Gophers AD arrived at a good time in some respects. The football team went to a bowl game. The men's hoops and hockey teams are looking strong. But 2013 will also bring the major challenge of Teague flexing his fundraising muscle to generate the new facilities and other improvements the Gophers sorely need.

13. The Twins starting rotation: This is a bit of a cop-out to not pick one pitcher, but whom would you choose? There are so many new faces, and their collective success or failure will go a long way toward determining whether the 2013 Twins are sneaky contenders, at least on the road to recovery or bound to lose 90 games for a third consecutive year.

MICHAEL RAND

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 20 3rd Qtr 8:17
St. Louis 13
Buffalo 10 3rd Qtr
Oakland 13
Indianapolis 0 3rd Qtr 12:00
Dallas 28
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 64 3rd Qtr 2:47
Cleveland 70
Boston 5:00 PM
Miami
Detroit 5:00 PM
Brooklyn
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Sacramento
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Orlando
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Washington
Indiana 6:00 PM
Minnesota
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 0 1st Prd 20:00
Detroit 0
Dallas 0 1st Prd 19:30
Edmonton 0
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Boston
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Chicago
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 50 2nd Half 3:59
Bradley 43
Troy 53 2nd Half 5:22
Nicholls 49
Seton Hall 2 1st Half 17:48
Georgia 8
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
Alabama
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
SMU 43 FINAL
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
Davidson 51 FINAL
Charlotte 86
Indiana State 73 FINAL
St Johns 67
Southern U 49 FINAL
Florida 78
Wright State 46 FINAL
Purdue 70
(19) Oklahoma St 66 FINAL
USC 62
Houston 54 FINAL
Texas Tech 60
Ark-Little Rock 66 FINAL
Tulsa 59
Dayton 71 FINAL
Vanderbilt 67
Northern Ariz 37 FINAL
New Mexico 56
UNC-Asheville 60 FINAL
USC Upstate 67
North Dakota 81 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Western Ill 57 FINAL
Marquette 65
Elon 67 FINAL
(6) North Carolina 85
Ball State 59 FINAL
Western Ky 84
(8) Kentucky 67 FINAL
(13) Duke 89
New Orleans 58 FINAL
Alabama 87
Chicago State 47 FINAL
Milwaukee 69
Bowling Green 61 FINAL
Bradley 47
Ill-Springfield 56 FINAL
SE Missouri St 73
Northern Ill 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
(23) Iowa 100 FINAL
Drake 98
Central Michigan 64 FINAL
Minnesota 67
Western Carolina 45 FINAL
North Florida 62
Wyoming 71 FINAL
Colorado 76
Portland 58 FINAL
Boise State 94
Cal Poly 63 FINAL
Colorado State 65
No Dakota State 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
Albany 71 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 49
Idaho State 63 FINAL
Seattle 55
(18) Michigan State 89 FINAL
(19) Syracuse 76
Oklahoma 58 2nd Half 3:28
Arkansas 61
Northwestern 65 2nd Half 1:41
Arizona State 79
TX-Arlington 33 2nd Half 11:52
North Texas 25
Fresno State 46 2nd Half 15:17
Oregon 39
St Francis-PA 34 2nd Half
Coastal Carolina 25
UNLV 38 2nd Half
CS-Bakersfield 29
UCLA 25 2nd Half
(2) Connecticut 40
(10) Louisville 42 2nd Half
(24) California 34
Howard 0 1st Half 17:28
Virginia 4
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion

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