Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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This is one of my favorite weeks of the year - covering the beginning of baseball season and The Masters.
Got to Augusta just in time for the aftermath of a shower. The forecasts are for intermittent showers all week, which should benefit long, high-ball hitters. So, yes, you should pick Rory McIlroy to win if you're in an office pool.
One of the first things I saw on the course today was a marshall cautioning a ``patron'' not to run. The ``patron'' - that's what Augusta National calls fans - turned and said to the marshall, ``Sorry, bro'.''
At The Masters, you may not carry a cell phone, run or lay down.
This is the rare case when I believe there are too few rules in play.
``Patrons'' should be ejected for using the following words:
-Bra' (not the garment, the Valley Boy/hipster pronunciation of ``Bro''
-You da man
The first time I saw Tyus Jones play, he was in eighth grade and starting at point guard for Apple Valley High. He spent most of the game throwing brilliant passes, but his team fell behind in the fourth quarter. I was about to ask the person next to me if he could shoot, when he started taking, and maknig, three-pointers, leading Apple Valley to a comeback victory.
Last night, in the national title game, Jones looked like exactly the same player.
If he declares for the draft, Jones would probably go in the middle of the first round.
I'd like to see him stay in college, become more of a focal point in Duke's offense, and get a little stronger. I could see him developing into a player with the same skill set as Steph Curry.
Now, that's a little ambitious. Curry is one of the best players in the NBA. But Jones reminds me of him, and at the least should be a quality point guard in the NBA.
Twins fans: You're not allowed to lament an Opening Day loss in which the Twins played a clean game.
You are allowed to lament the following:
-Santana's suspension putting pressure on the rest of the rotation.
-Santana's suspension placing more stress on an unproven group of middle relievers.
-Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson trying to play centerfield and produce offensively.
I'll be filing at least two stories a day all week at The Masters to the paper and Startribune.com.
I also just uploaded my latest podcast to SouhanUnfiltered.com: Former Twins manager Tom Kelly on Molitor, his stroke, broadcasting and spring training. Plus some old-time baseball stories.
The easy statistic to cite in regards to Andre Hollins' slump is that he has scored fewer than 10 points in four straight games.
That doesn't really, matter, though.
What matters is that in the two games that have mattered most to the Gophers basketball game so far - the two road games to start Big Ten play - Hollins has made only three of his 19 shots.
In the previous two games, the Gophers beat cupcake teams while Hollins played limited minutes, and his scoring wasn't required.
At Purdue and at Maryland, Hollins' leadership and scoring were necessary, and absent.
In two Big Ten games, he is 1-for-9 from three-point range. Perhaps even more revealing, a senior guard known for his ability to get to the basket has attempted only two free throws.
Hollins has been passive and inaccurate, leaving the Gophers at 0-2 heading into Tuesday's game at The Barn against Ohio State.
Tubby Smith was known for slumping seniors, the prevailing theory being that players tired of his coaching style.
Now for the second straight season under Richard Pitino, a senior named Hollins is slumping offensively.
Latest podcasts at SouhanUnfiltered.com are with Strib hockey writer Michael Russo, Wolves' VP Jeff Munneke and Strib NFL writer Mark Craig.
Munneke, one of the nicest people in local sports, told great insider stories about people like J.R. Rider, Christian Laettner, Bill Blair and Sam Cassell.
Wrote about Oto Osenieks' cool moment at Senior Day. A few other observations from the Gophers' blowout victory over Penn State:
-Richard Pitino had his team ready to play. The Gophers were all over Penn State from the start and thrived even with their best player, Andre Hollins, playing sparingly in the first half because of foul trouble
-Where did everybody go? Yesterday confirmed my long-held suspicion that there are more Gophers fans who will complain about coverage of their team than will show up for the games and act like loyal fans. It was Senior Day. Pitino has given the fan base an interesting product this season, and could still make the NCAA tournament. It was Senior Day for a good four-year player like Austin Hollins.
But as the clock wound down, many fans bolted for the exits. When Pitino had his seniors address the crowd, there wasn't much crowd left.
I never tell people how they should spend their sporting dollars, but I do find it strange that a fan would block off a Sunday afternoon for basketball, watch the home team win big, and leave before seeing players the fans assumedly care about are honored. Had a few long-time Gopher fans email me about this, one calling it ``disgusting.''
-Pitino hasn't accomplished anything particularly impressive yet. I figured this team would go 7-11, and he beat that projection by one game in a conference that isn't quite as good as I thought it would be.
What is impressive is the energy and optimism he has brought to the program. He gushed about his players yesterday. He admitted he should have played Maverick Ahanmisi more - how many college coaches invite criticism or admit mistakes? He has raved about Williams Arena and Gophers fans, whether he means it or not. He found a way to honor Osenieks at the end of the game without, as he said, ``showing up Penn State.''
The guy gets it, what it means to be a public figure, a leader, a winning salesman for his program. His kids obviously like him and play hard for him. If your expectations for this season were reasonable, you have to be impressed with the guy.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 12:15 with Mackey and Judd. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
It took a while for them to warm up, but Apple Valley star Tyus Jones and Whitney Young center Jahlil Okafor produced a dazzling exchange near the end of the Chicago school's 80-70 victory at Apple Valley High on Thursday night.
The two Duke recruits played on ESPN2 in a packed gym as their future coach, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, watched from courtside. Okafor and his team got the better of the matchup, but Jones put on a secnod-half surge and finished with 29 points.
Or you could say the viewers got the best of the matchup when, in the second half, the two stars produced this exchange:
-Jones blocked a shot, drove the length of the court, drew a foul and hit both free thorws.
-Jones hit a three.
-Jones hit a three while being fouled.
That was what the people came to see, or changed the channel to watch. I'll have more on the rare matchup on startribune.com later and in the Friday paper.
For much of the game, Jones was bottled up by Whitney Young's big, active, 2-3 zone. Apple Valley coach Zach Goring even had Jones play at the free throw line on offense in an attempt to break the zone, and that worked at times, especially after Jones' little brother, eighth-grader Tre, ran the point.
But Whitney Young was too tall and athletic for anything to work for long.
Krzyzewski attended with assistant coach Jeff Capel. They sat courtside, with the media, and Coach K turned down interview requests.
``I'm not doing anything tonight,'' he said. ``This is their night.''
In the first half, it was mostly Okafor's night. He scored nine points and dunked three times as Whitney Young took a 38-29 lead. Jones had two buckets but was largely frustrated by Whitney Young's zone defense and transition defense. He also threw a half-dozen passes that should have resulted in assists but didn't.
Apple Valley did a great job handling the large crowd and media contingent, and of capitalizing on a rare Minnesota sports moment.
This was the first Minnesota high school basketball game ever broadcast nationally.
I'll be on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15, and on 1500ESPN in the Twin Cities at noon tomorrow. My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.
Doug Mientkiewicz wanted to add one thing to our conversation that was the basis of today's column: ``My biggest regret in baseball is that we didn't win a World Series when I was with the Twins. We thought we would.''
On to today's Local Power Ranking of the seven local revenue sports, which have shifted since the last time I did them:
1. Gopher men's hockey
This team is skilled enough to win the national title. Is it tough enough?
2. Minnesota Wild
I'm quite impressed with the way Mike Yeo has melded incoming stars, holdover veterans and promising youngsters. He's gone from hot seat to coach of the year candidate in my book. Ryan Suter has played brilliantly ever since his first two, quite nervous, weeks in a Wild uni.
3. Minnesota Vikings
Didn't like seeing a team in a passing league lose its only dynamic receiver and best cornerback, but Rick Spielman has a chance to make his plan work. If he can complement Greg Jennings with another quality receiver or two (I vote for Cal's Keenan Allen and one more free-agent pickup), the offense could be better, and if he can use the draft to land a couple of defensive starters, the defense could be more talented.
His plan will only be as good as his execution.
4. Gopher basketball
I'm rooting for Minnesota facing VCU in the first round. Tubby vs. Shaka Smart. Tubby vs. the man who should replace him. Bring it on, please.
5. Minnesota Twins
I'm encouraged by a handful of individuals in spring camp, but not by the pitching staff, and the pitching staff will determine this team's fate.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves
I love the way Ricky Rubio has played, knowing the season is lost and his teammates aren't good enough.
7. Gopher football
Jerry Kill is 4-12 in the Big Ten. Facts are so annoying.
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