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 players

Souhan blog: On Torii, Wolves and another vicious hit

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 14, 2012 - 6:47 PM

Catching up on the day in sports while I wait for the three healthy Timberwolves to play Charlotte tonight at Target Center:

-I'm happy for Torii Hunter, and happy that he'll be visiting Target Field more often next season.

Hunter signed a two-year deal for $26 million with the Tigers. I think the Tigers were right to over-pay Hunter, who isn't the dynamo he once was but remains a valuable corner outfielder who will improve the Tigers' lineup and team personality.

He's still an excellent fielder with a strong arm, and he is driven to win a World Series before he retires. I don't know how to place a dollar figure on personality, but Hunter will be a positive influence in the Tigers' clubhouse.

When you're the Tigers and your goal is to win the World Series, it's reasonable to overpay for an older player who suits your needs.

-When will NFL players learn? The NFL fined Texans linebacker Tim Dobbins $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Jay Cutler, one of the most vicious plays of ths season.

Cutler had run toward the line of scrimmage and dumped off a short pass. As he relaxed while looking left, Dobbins smashed his helmet into Cutler's chin, leaving Cutler injured.

I don't think $30,000 is enough. So much money and prestige is at stake in the NFL that the penalty for illegally brutalizing the opposing quarterback should be far greater.

Dobbins excused his hit by saying that Cutler was running with the ball and that Cutler actually ran into him.

In other words, Dobbins, like so many NFL players, hasn't adapted to the concussion era. That's why the NFL should be as vicious with their punishments as Dobbins was with his hit.

-Speaking before the game, Rick Adelman sounded almost bemused by his team's injuries. He said he's never seen anything like this. He's down to nine healthy players and hopes to get J.J. Barea, Nikola Pekovic and Brandon Roy back soon.

He raved about Andrei Kirilenko's defense and hustle, saying he appreciates it even more after he watches game tape.

He also lamented the loss of Chase Budinger for months to a knee injury, saying, ``He was big for us.''

-Charlotte guard and former Wolf Ramon Sessions is scoring 16 points per game off the bench for Charlotte. Rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is averaging 12.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

-Some readers of today's column on the Vikings' stadium deal asked why I wasn't hard on the Twins for selling personal seat licenses. Simple. The Pohlads invested lots of their own money in Target Field, more than they were required to, and they limited the PSLs to elite seats. The Wilfs are exploring PSLs for a large number of seats. I continue to be against that.

-I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow.

 

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

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.’’
 

Rainy day in London

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 29, 2012 - 10:10 AM

It's raining in London. This is news only because of an amazing run of uncharacteristically spectacular weather.

Doesn't affect me. I just watched Brazil beat Australia, 75-71, and I'm waiting on US-France and, later, Russia-Great Britain. I'm here to watch three Wolves - Kevin Love, Alexey Schved and Andrei Kirilenko.

London is a great city, and one of my favorite aspects of this trip is the language. A few translations, with the British version first, followed by the American English translation:

1. Mind the gap/Watch your step

2. Rubbish/Trash

3. Spot of bother/annoyance

4. Thundys/Thunderstorms

5. Brolly/Umbrella

6. Black coffee/Espresso without milk or cream (Brewed coffee is not common here. The best coffee shops serve espresso drinks. A few have ``filtered coffee'' listed at the bottom of choices, as an afterthought)

7. Loo/bathroom

8. Lorry/Truck

9. Az-Hume/assume

10. Tube/Subway

11. Good bits/Most attractive portions of the opposite sex

12. Pint/Serving of beer or ale

13. Porridge/oatmeal

In fact, I had porridge just before walking through the rain today, so I'm feeling very Bri'ish.

Also, the English love their adjectives. This is the home of the television series ``Absolutely Fabulous,'' after all.

You hear a lot of ``Brilliant,'' ``Fabulous'', ``Re-Markable,'' ``Absolutely.''

What's really cool is hearing a 3-year-old speaking like Sir John Gielgud. (Google him, youngsters.) This makes the tots sound very mature even when they're screaming for ice cream.

---------------------------------

Love the White Sox's approach on Francisco Liriano: Beat him up, reduce his trade value, scare off other suitors, then trade for him at a reduced price. Brilliant!

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Hearing that the Wolves were the only team willing to give Brandon Roy two years of guaranteed money. I love the addition of Roy to a team desperate for a quality shooting guard, but that's scary, that no other NBA team would give him a second year. Wolves fans have to hope this wasn't another example of David Kahn overreacting to the chance to be associated with a big NBA name.

---------------------------------

I'll be calling in to 1500espn this morning between basketball games, probably at 11:35 or so. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Winter sports getting after it

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: July 27, 2012 - 12:40 PM

Who would have imagined a few months ago that our most prominent winter sports teams would add Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko?

The Wild, one of the most boring teams in the NHL the past two seasons, should now be entertaining, and should make the playoffs.

The Wolves now feature a starting lineup that, when the knees of Roy and Ricky Rubio are willing, will look something like this: Rubio, Roy, Kirilenko, Love, Pekovic. With a bench of Budinger, Ridnour, Barea, Stiemsma and Derrick Williams.

In short, the Wolves have added depth and talent without sacrificing Williams or trading away first-round draft picks. Kirilenko will add length to the Wolves' defense, and can score and get to the line without hogging the ball. He should mesh well in Adelman's offense.

The Wolves could have made a bigger splash, by trading for Pau Gasol or Nic Batum. But they would have had to sacrifice valuable assets to get those players. They may be better off, long-term, by adding Kirilenko as a free-agent and helping Williams develop into either a starter or a more valuable trade chip.

The Wolves will also be improved because they won't be relying on Wes Johnson, Mike Beasley, Anthony Randolph and Darko to play important minutes. This is the definition of addition by subtraction.

Could we see the Wolves and the Wild in the playoffs? I think so. Especially if Rubio recovers well and Roy can play valuable minutes.

I hope to watch the Russian team with Kirilenko and Alexey Schved on Sunday, and get Kirilenko's thoughts on playing for the Wolves.

 

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