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 Olympic village

Welcome to Manchester

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 6, 2012 - 1:15 PM

Took the train north for a little more than two hours today from London. I'm at Old Trafford now home of Manchester United, and the US and Canada women's soccer teams are warming up for the semifinals of the Olympic tournament.

Now that I've been to Wimbledon and Old Trafford, I want to see two more UK institutions: Wembley Stadium (I hope to get to a match there later this week) and St. Andrew's (can't see the newspaper sending me there for the British Open, even though my peers say it's one of the great things they've ever covered.)

It's cold here. Or at least it feels cold after a warm couple of weeks in London. Right now there's a disappointing crowd here.

Gotta tell you, I loved the train trip. No security lines, just buy a ticket, get on, spread out, pop off. Beats the heck out of flying.

Manchester itself is a pretty cool town as well. And the scenery on the way here was, as they say, brilliant.

I get why some Americans become Anglophiles.

I'll have advances on the women's volleyball and women's basketball quarter-finals in tomorrow's paper, along with a column on the women's soccer semifinal.

Watching Russian Wolves

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: August 2, 2012 - 11:43 AM

I'll be covering Lochte-Phelps later, but right now I'm at the Olympic Park basketball arena watching the new Russian Wolves, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved. It's halftime, Russia leads Brazil, 40-32. Kirilenko has 12, Shved 9.

Shved doesn't have a lot of rotation on his outside shot, but he's hit a very long three, and he has a great feel for when to drive and how to run an offense. Kirilenko continues to dominate.

We're somewhere near the midpoint of the Olympics. My highlights so far, in no particular order:

-London

What a great city. Now, I've had better meals at my local McDonald's, but if I had the time, I'm sure I could find some good Greek and Indian cooking, and I still hope to at some point. My sister lived here, and said that if you go into the pubs, keep it simple, and if you want a good meal, go to an ethnic restaurant run by people of that ethnicity. Rachel Blount found a great meal at a Greek place by our hotel, and that's on my wish list.

Otherwise, it's a sprawling, diverse, beautiful, atmospheric city. And unlike New York city, even though there are throngs of people everywhere, it never feels overcrowded to me. I'd vacation here.

-Strawberries and cream

Or, as they say here, ``strawbries n cream.''

I was prepared to be disappointed, but the strawberries and cream at Wimbledon are excellent. But I couldn't bring myself to try the ``bangers.''

-Wimbledon

As I wrote the other day, it's a beautiful place that reminds me of Augusta National and Fenway Park, in terms of historic sporting events bleeding every shade of green.

-London transport

Every Olympics brings its own transportation nightmares, but, going just by my personal experience, we have great choices here. You can take your time with a bus ride that could turn into a free, wonderful, guided tour of London, or you can jump on the Javelin (the high-speed train) or tube, and get where you're going very quickly.

-Basketball

In part because of all of the Minnesota connections, and in part because the United States teams tend to play very late at night, so I can catch them after covering other events, I've spent a lot of time at basketball.

I'ts been great stuff. The Russian Wolves are playing extremely well and are very personable. Kevin Love has emerged as a key player. And the three Lynx, Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore, have been a treat, both for the way they play and because of the class with which they conduct themselves.

-Lindsey Berg, USA volleyball captain and former Gopher

Selfishly, she's exactly what writers hope for at the Olympics - a key player who is eager to promote her team and her sport.

Now I'm looking forward to track, and watching the US women's soccer team, assuming they make it to the semifinals.

Watching Usain Bolt in Beijing was one of the highlights of my career. As I write about for the Friday paper, he could reenact his dominance, or his recent problems could turn Yohan Blake or Tyson Gay into the new champion.

I'm checking in periodically with 1500espn from London. My next appearance will be at 2 p.m. with Reusse and Mackey, and I'll try to call in for part of Sunday Sports Talk, sometime between 10 and noon this Sunday.

Please follow on Twitter at @Souhanstrib

Breakfast at Wimbledon

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 31, 2012 - 5:38 AM

Check one off the sportswriting bucket list. I'm at Wimbledon to watch a stunning succession of matches today, starting with Venus Williams vs. Aleksandra Wozniak.

Great Britain's Andy Murray will face Jarkko Nieminen after that, followed by the match of the day: America's Andy Roddick vs. Novak Djokovic.

The final match on storied Centre Court today will be Maria Sharapova vs. Great Britain's Laura Robson.

I'm spending the day here, and if I get back to Olympic Park in time, I may try to catch Kevin Love and the US against Tunisia. Just in case Kevin has something to say afterward.

Wimbledon is beautiful. I'll share my thoughts on the joint in my Wednesday column.

Please follow me on Twitter for Olympic updates at @Souhanstrib.

 

USA basketball, wearing it with pride

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 30, 2012 - 9:08 AM
London
During the flow of the NBA season, some of the league’s stars can seem alternately tone-deaf, selfish, greedy, individualistic and arrogant. During the last two Olympics, as those stars become Team USA, their personalities have changed dramatically.
Sometimes their wardrobes change, too.
After helping guide the US to a 98-71 victory over France on Sunday at the Olympic Park Basketball Arena, US star LeBron James did not display the kind of look-at-me fashion sense he and his peers showed off during the NBA playoffs.
He wore a baseball cap, sweatshirt, backpack and three pins on his chest. All contained the phrase ``USA Basketball.’’
``We understand that every time we take the floor it’s not about the name across our back, it’s about the name across our best,’’ James said. ``We want to represent the US the right way.’’
The US team lacks inside height and depth. It plans to win with pressure defense, fast breaks, and interchangeable parts on offense.
After leading just 22-21 after the first quarter, the US’s defensive intensity and depth wore down the French. James took just six shots and scored nine points, but he was a force on defense and had eight of his team’s 27 assists.
``I thought we did a good job defensively,’’ said US coach Mike Krzyzewski. ``We shared the ball, assisted on 27 of our 31 buckets. This is a good first step for us.’’
Kevin Durant, in his first Olympic game, led all scorers with 22 points, and Kevin Love scored 14 points in just 14 minutes.
Spurs star Tony Parker scored 10 points for France and was able to get into the lane early in the game, but the US’s physical defense caused him to finish 4-for-11 from the field.
`That team is like a Gemini," said France center Ronny Turiaf. "They have two faces, a nightmare-nightmare."
The US forced 18 turnovers but committed 14 itself in a sloppy, foul-plagued game that felt like an exhibition.
``They put pressure on you, and try to get you to take bad shots and make decisions, and they want to get out and run,’’ said France forward Florent Pietrus. ``They run a lot, and they shoot good, and they play 2000 percent.’’
After the game, the US players paraded to the stands to hug First Lady Michelle Obama, then paraded through the interview ``mix zone,’’ wearing their USA gear.
``We don’t want anybody on this team to change,’’ James said. ``We just want them to adapt.’’
 

What a tour...

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 30, 2012 - 7:05 AM

Covering the Olympics can be a logistical challenge. You can take the wrong bus and cost yourself half a day. You can get lost. You can miss the last bus departing from a venue late at night and find yourself wandering strange streets, looking for a cab.

Usually, though, the buses run on time, and you figure it all out, and sometimes you're rewarded with, as the British would put it, a ``brilliant'' experience.''

In Turin, that was a bus ride up the switchbacks in the Alps, when the end of your bus hung over a precipice and the driver thought nothing of turning 180 degrees with a swing of the wheel.

In Vancouver, that was the bus ride up to Whistler, with the bay glistening on your left and the mountains rising like CGI creations on your right.

In London, I had seen Tower Bridge and the Tower of London and the Thames, but hadn't made it to Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park or Harrods.

Then I got on a bus Monday morning on a beautiful London day, found myself alone, and got a tour of all of the above from the driver. He even stopped so we could take a picture of the Buckingham Palace Guards marching band.

London is a spectacular city. Every Olympics has its controversies and logistical problems. Here, they'e outraged over all the empty corporate seats, and they should be - plenty of Londoners would kill for tickets others aren't using.

But I love being in a city of this size and beauty.

 

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