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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Posts about Wolves guards

Wolves win

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 8, 2013 - 10:22 PM

Tidbits following the Wolves' 108-103 victory over Atlanta at Target Center on Tuesday night:

-16-15 matches the Wolves' best record after 31 games since they were 16-15 in 2006-07

-The Wolves had lost 11 straight to the Hawks.

-The Wolves are 8-0 this season when scoring 100.

-Nikola Pekovic had 25 points and 18 rebounds, helping the Wolves dominate the scoring in the paint, 50-38.

-Ricky Rubio finished with eight assists. He didn't drive the lane often, but he was deft in finding teammates open for jump shots.

-Derrick Williams matched a career-high by hitting three three-pointers. He's shooting 45.2 percent on 3s in his last 31 shots.

-Andrei Kirilenko, the lovable Russian, had 21 points, six rebounds and five assists. He reached 2,0000 career assists. He needs one steal to become the 15th player in NBA history to reach 2,000 assists, 1,000 steals and 1,000 blocks.

Wrote my column on the Wolves' injury woes and the admirable way they've overcome them. I invoke the name of Joey Two Steps.

I'll be on 1500espn from 9-noon all week with Judd Zulgad. I believe we'll have Wolves coach Bill Bayno on at some point tomorrow.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Big weekend for Mn sports

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 17, 2012 - 9:12 AM
It was quite a weekend for Minnesota sports fans, a weekend made possible by perhaps the two most popular athletes in the Twin Cities these days.
One captivated because of accomplishment, the other because of promise. Both exceeded expectations while coming off of major knee surgery.
Adrian Peterson rushed for 212 yards, moving him within reasonable striking distance of Eric Dickerson’s rushing record of 2,105.
Ricky Rubio returned to Target Center and made the kind of deft, heady plays that have made him a national phenomenon.
That’s not an exaggeration. When you talk to national NBA writers and talk to people around the country, they find Rubio more interesting than any Wolves player since Kevin Garnett was a teenager.
Both have a chance, in the season following ACL surgery, to lead their teams to the playoffs. And both teams currently hold the sixth seed in their respective conferences.
We tend to speak of the local sports scene as if it’s one big organism, when actually it’s a collection of independent businesses. But if we want to toss all of local sports into the same category, things are looking up.
The Vikings have a chance to go to the playoffs in what I thought would be a rebuilding year.
The Wolves have a chance to go to the playoffs despite a stunning array of injuries and a recent history of awful personnel moves.
The Twins are building a future winner and could, with one more veteran pitcher, be more competitive this season.
The Wild will play again…someday.
The Gopher basketball team is the best of Tubby Smith’s tenure.
And Gopher football is in a bowl game, which, while it doesn’t impress me, is better than the alternative.
Other than Peterson’s long runs, the most interesting play of the Vikings’ victory, to me, was Everson Griffen’s interception return for a touchdown.
On the play, Chad Greenway faked a blitz from the left side of the defensive line. At the snap, he sprinted to the right flat to cover. Griffen dropped from defensive end into coverage as safety Harrison Smith dropped deep. Bradford saw Griffen but thought he could get the ball past him.
Griffen was an outstanding high school running back. He’s a remarkable athlete. Once the ball was in the air, the Rams were in trouble. Griffen intercepted and scooted down the right sideline to the end zone, shaking off a tackler.
Greenway put his hand in the air, the touchdown, when Griffen was still 20 yards from the end zone. Griffen’s teammates know how talented he is.
Tampa-2 defenses are known for predictability. That play was the latest example of Leslie Frazier and Alan Williams’ ability to mix up coverages and looks this year. And it was the latest of Griffen’s plays that justified the team’s patience with him when he was known for throwing wild parties and underachieving.
Another fascinating week awaits.
The Wolves face Miami and Oklahoma City. The Vikings travel to Houston to face the Texans, who allowed 105 yards to Colts running back Vick Ballard on Sunday.
I’ll be on 1500espn today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 2:05 p.m., and on WJON in St. Cloud at 7:15 each morning to talk sports. You can follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Minnesota basketball, the good and bad, and a new LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 29, 2012 - 8:38 AM

Rick Adelman has been to the Timberwolves what Tubby Smith should have been for the University of Minnesota. He makes a difference in such obvious ways.

Last night, the Gophers held Wisconsin to 16 first-half points and still found a way to lose, because finding a way to lose is what Tubby's teams have done the last two years.

Last night, the Timberwolves beat a good team on the road, whipping the Clippers in LA with a powerhouse fourth-quarter performance, in part because Adelman has a feel for when to play his players, and because he has tremendously upgraded the Wolves' offensive intelligence and defensive tenaciousness.

Darko is not a good player, yet Adelman has used him to good effect twice against the Clippers, particularly in keeping Blake Griffin from the basket. I know Adelman won't win the coach of the year award, but I'd consider him.

In light of last night's developments, here's my latest high-irrelevant, transparently self-serving Local Power Rankings:

1. Timberwolves

I left the No. 1 slot vacant in my last rankings because I couldn't reward the Wolves when they were playing poorly, and no other local teams had earned this spot. The Wolves, having won five of six, easily reclaim this spot. This is a likeable and surging team.

 

2. Gopher hockey

Four straight victories: That's impressive, but we all know we're going to judge this team by the way it performs in the postseason.

3. Minnesota Vikings

The last two seasons were abysmal, but I'm seeing signs of hope. The farther I get from last season the more willing I am to give Christian Ponder the benefit of the doubt as a rookie quarterback playing with a limited supporting cast. Add Matt Kalil, then find a starting cornerback and a speed receiver either in free agency or the draft, and this team could quickly make strides, especially if Ponder learns from last season.

4. Minnesota Twins

I don't think this is a good team, but there's no way it can suffer as many injuries as it did last season, and the infield defense is guaranteed to be better.

5. Minnesota Wild

Other than the Nick Leddy trade, I like all of Chuck Fletcher's moves. He's aggressive and forward-thinking and I do believe he's building a winner. I just think the young scorers he's drafted and acquired are going to have to make it to the X before the record will support that assertion.

6. Gopher football

Nothing new here, although I continue to hear from Minnesotans about how much they like Jerry Kill. If that vibe works on recruits, we may have something here.

7. Gopher basketball

And your new last-place team in the LPR: I give you the Minnesota Golden Basketball Gophers.

Tubby Smith loses games he should have won, then blames the administration, or his players, or nightlife in Minneapolis. He did take the blame for one mistake: Moving Blake Hoffarber to the point last year. Otherwise, he's a finger-pointer of the first degree.

He must go. But does the new president and his 98-person advisory committee think he should go?

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Upcoming:

I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 from Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers with Reusse and Mackey. I'll also be on from the stadium for Sunday Sports Talk, 10-noon on 1500espn on Sunday morning.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

Wolves reach a milestone

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 7, 2012 - 10:54 PM
The Wolves' victory Tuesday night improved their record to 13-12, marking the first time they've been over .500 this late in the season since 2007 and the first time they've been 13-12 through 25 games since 2005-2006.
To me, there were two keys to the game: Ricky Rubio's passing and defense, and Nik Pekovic's dominant inside play.
My column for the Wednesday paper focussed on Kings center DeMarcus Cousins, and how talented the Wolves would be if they had drafted him instead of Wes Johnson. But on this night, Pekovic's physical play and defense hassled Cousins into a 3-for-13 shooting performance.
Before the game, Wolves coach Rick Adelman said that Pekovic is his starting center. It will be interesting to see whether Darko Milicic pouts, or, if he does, whether anybody will be able to tell.
What's fascinating is watching the way Wolves coach Rick Adelman uses his roster. Tuesday night, with Kevin Love suspended, Adelman started Derrick Williams (14 points, 8 rebounds) and used Anthony Tolliver for 22 minutes for defensive purposes.
Adelman didnt' play Anthony Randolph, Martell Webster or Wayne Elllington. Ellington is a better player than Wes Johnson, but Adelman is obviously giving Johnson every opportunity to prove he deserves to be in the NBA.
With Love out, Pekovic became a big part of the offense, shooting 12 times and producing 23 points. Predictably, Michael Beasley took 21 shots in 31 minutes to produce 17 points. Now, 17 points and 14 looks impressive, but he went 7-for-21 from the field. He's maddening.
More stuff, courtesy of the Timberwolves' PR staff:
-Rubio finished with 14 assists, tying a season high. He had eight in the first quarter. He was plus-11 on the night and is a team-leading plus-95 on the season. He also finished with five steals, the 14th time this season he's had three or more.
-Pekovic has had four double-doubles in the last two weeks. The Wolves are 4-1 with him in the starting lineup and 6-2 when he plays more than 20 minutes.
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I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 p.m. Wednesday and every weekday. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
 

Beasley at the 2? Or at the 6?

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: January 31, 2012 - 5:37 PM

I'm at the X tonight, writing about the Wild resuming its schedule and Marek Zidlicky complaining about Mike Yeo. Congratulations to colleague Michael Russo for breaking the story. We'll both have much more on this developing situation throughout the night and in tomorrow's paper.

Right now I'm sitting next to Michael and he's wearing all kinds of brown. Brown loafers with lighter-brown shoes with some kind of brown-check pattern, all of which mesh nicely with his brown jacket and pink shirt.

So, I'm jealous.

Fashion aside, I wanted to touch on something I tweeted last night while watching the Wolves dominate Houston.

I've always thought that Michael Beasley's best role would be as a Microwave-style sixth man who could come in with the second unit, jack up shots and be pulled if the opposing coach started running plays to victimize his defensive weaknesses.

But maybe the easiest solutions are the best. Maybe Beasley, a gifted shooter and driver who also can be a gifted passer when he wants to be, is the Wolves' solution at shooting guard.

No, he's not a perfect fit. He's not very good defensively, he sometimes shoots too much and holds the ball too long, and he's not really a guard.

But I'd rather have Beasley as an oversized shooting guard who can dominate opposing shooting guards on offense and give the Wolves another primary offensive option, than keep seeing Wes Johnson stumble around.

Beasley, despite his size, is a better ballhandler than Johnson. And he's a better passer. And if last night was any indication, he's learned that in Rick Adelman's offense, if you move the ball there will be plenty of quality shots for everyone.

Beasley's a likeable guy. Watch the way he interacts with Kevin Love and his other teammates. They're fond of him. And he is too talented for the Wolves not to explore just how good their lineup can be when he's playing correctly.

Having Adelman in place simplifies a lot of personnel decisions for the Wolves. If someone like Darko or Beasley can't perform well in this offense, with Rubio passing and Love spreading the floor with his three-point shooting, then the Wolves won't have to have any regrets getting rid of those guys.

But I think Beasley could find a niche here, soon.

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Upcoming: I'll be on 1500espn at 2:05 each weekday, and Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon at the studio for a change this Sunday. I have a special guest planned, and we'll do our last NFL pick and speak with ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert.

Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

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