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 Gophers coaches

This week's LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: February 7, 2013 - 3:45 PM

Today's local power rankings look far different than my last attempt to rank local revenue-generating sports teams:

1. Minnesota Vikings

Great week for the local NFL franchise, and its legacy. Adrian Peterson wins the MVP Award, then admits he played at the end of the season despite a sports hernia.

When I was talking to him Saturday night, I asked when he'd work out again. He said ``In four weeks.'' When I asked whether that was doctor's orders, he said, ``You got that right.'' Of course, I thought we were talking about his knee. Wish I had asked whether it was his ``abdomen,'' as the Vikings listed the injury.

Cris Carter made the Hall. Matt Birk won a ring.

Great stuff.

2. Gopher hockey

Fun team to watch. Why No. 2? Because the Gophers need to win the WCHA to fulfill their potential, and until they move into first in the conference, they don't move into first here.

3. The Wild

Disappointing start, but the team's at .500 while sorting out a lot of new combinations in a season without a true training camp.

4. MInnesota Twins

Fans are going to get sick of me saying `Wait until next year,'' but...wait until next year.

5. Gopher basketball

They're at .500 in the Big Ten, which would be fine for a team lacking such high expectations. But it's to the point now where this team isn't even fun to watch. They can't get a clean look in the half-court offense, and they refuse to run, so they're stuck with their lousy half-court offense.

Next time they play a quality opponent that slows down the pace, count how many baskets they score that aren't a result of a covered three-point shot or an offensive rebound. You won't need both hands.

6. Timberwolves

It's sad, seeing what has become of such a promising roster. Wait til next year. Again.

7. Gopher football

I think the idea that the Gophers can't win because there isn't enough talent in the state is bogus. If the Gophers consistently landed a good percentage of the best players in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Western Wisconsin, and occasionally landed an out-of-area gem like Maroney, they'd have more than enough talent to compete.

-Sunday Sports Talk will run from 10 to 12:30 this week on 1500ESPN.

My Twitter handle is @Souhanstrib.

 

Latest LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: December 19, 2012 - 8:37 AM

Time for the latest edition of the Local Power Rankings, my highly irrelevant look at the key revenue Twin Cities sports teams. Things are looking up:

1. Minnesota Vikings

Overachieving at 8-6, they have a chance to make the playoffs at least one year ahead of a realistic rebuilding schedule.

2. Gopher basketball

This is not only a good team, it's a team that quite obviously likes to play together. Andre and Austin Hollins play together like twins, even though they're not.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

What's one common thread between the two local basketball teams? Both rid themselves of a big man who contributed next to nothing. The Wolves got rid of Darko, to their benefit, and the Gophers got rid of Ralph Sampson, to the same effect.

The Wolves are struggling to score at the rim and from the three-point line. While that's troubling, it's also somewhat due to Kevin Love's struggles to regain his shooting touch. That will come in time.

4. Gopher hockey

The boys are talented but slightly underachieving. They can be better than this.

5. Minnesota Twins

I know, I know, you want them to spend more money. But that's not the issue. Over-spending on a pitcher just to prove you're willing to spend money will not fix what's wrong with this team. Terry Ryan's plan is obvious and logical: Try to get through the 2013 season with a rotation that gives the team a chance to compete, and then be set up to win in the following years as the best players in the farm system reach the majors.

That plsn isn't guaranteed to work, but neither would have over-paying Anibal Sanchez have guaranteed success.

6. Gopher football

Jerry Kill might have caught quite the break, with Wisconsin changing coaches. Then again, Barry Alvarez seems to know what he's doing.

7. MInnesota Wild

It's a terrible negotiation when someone who is terrible at his job (Gary Bettman) sits down across from someone who is very good at his job but cares more about his legacy than the sport (Donald Fehr.) I feel for all the businesses and working-class people who are taking a financial hit because these fools can't cut a deal.

 

I'll be at Winter Park today for Vikings interviews, then will join Reusse&Mackey on 1500espn at 2:05. I'm also on WJON in St. Cloud every morning at 7:15 with Jay Caldwell. Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.

 

Return of the LPR

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: November 27, 2012 - 2:14 PM
This week’s Local Power Rankings:
1.        Gophers hockey. They have been far from flawless, but they’re talented and entertaining and ranked up where they belong, near the top of the national rankings.
2.        The Wild. Still undefeated.
3.        Gopher basketball. There is no shame in losing to Duke this time of the year. Duke dominates early-season tournaments. Andre Hollins and Trevor Mbakwe both turned in big games last week, two excellent signs for a talented team.
4.        The Vikings. I know, I know, they are sliding down a slippery slope, but pause for a moment and recognize this fact: They are 6-5 and a victory on Sunday at Green Bay would keep them in playoff contention. I know, I know, but let’s not pretend this is a predicable league.
5.        The Timberwolves. Kevin Love’s return, and his inability to shoot to his standards while recovering from his hand injury, have jammed the previously flowing offense. The Wolves will figure it out, but it’s been a rough week.
6.        The Twins. They haven’t done anything to fix their pitching yet. But it’s early. We probably can’t begin to judge their winter until they trade Denard Span and sign at least one veteran starter.
7.        Gopher football. Despite all of the negative things that have happened this season, it’s too early to call for Jerry Kill’s head. It’s not too early to suggest that his continued seizures, and the fact that they seem triggered by stress, are a bigger problem than Woody Teague wants to publicly admit. Yes, the seizures will hurt recruiting. Yes, the seizures are a threat to ticket sales (I wouldn’t want to risk seeing anyone suffering in that way on the sideline.) Yes, the seizures are a threat to Kill’s career. It’s sad. It’s also true.

Prepping at the Dome

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: October 25, 2012 - 5:10 PM

Catching up on the local sports scene:

-Vikings. I'm at the Dome, where I'm picking a typical grind-it-out victory for the Vikings. Tampa Bay has scary weapons in Doug Martin and Victor Jackson, but the Vikings have a number of advantages in this game.

Their defense has excelled at taking away the best skill-position player or players on the other team, with Larry Fitzgerald being the most recent example. The Vikings have been able to run the ball on pretty much everyone, and are smart enough not to veer away from their strengths, even though Tampa Bay is much better against the run than the pass.

Most of all, though, the Vikings appear to be the superior team at this juncture, and they're getting to play at home, presumably in front of a loud crowd, against a team that doesn't play often on turf. And the Bucs had to play on Sunday and spend Wednesday traveling. NFL players just don't bounce back that easily and quickly, not most of them.

My sure-to-be-wrong prediction: Vikings 23, Bucs 16.

-Twins: In September, I heard that the Twins would make major changes to their coaching staff. The only surprise, among the recently-announced changes, is that Terry Steinbach will be the bench coach. I hadn't heard Terry's name previously, and he wound up taking the position I had heard was reserved for Triple-A manager Gene Glynn.

This lineup makes sense. Glynn is very valuable where he right now, and Steinbach should be a good foil for Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire is hyperactive on the bench. He needs someone to slow him down and offer all of his options. Gardenhire's first instinct is to act. Steinbach's job will be to make sure Gardenhire has thought every move through thoroughly as possible.

Whatever the changes to the coaching staff, the success of the franchise will depend on finding pitching. With word that Scott Boras client Kyle Lohse may be looking for a $75-million contract, it's more apparent than ever to me that Terry Ryan is going to have to try to get lucky with trades or low-level free-agent signings that will not impress anyone initially.

-Wild: Remember when we had an NHL team in our town? Me, neither.

-Gopher football: I want to like Jerry Kill. I really do. He's making it difficult, though. I've already ripped the removal of North Carolina from future schedules. I'm also disturbed by the removal of redshirts from several key young players.

The last time I went to one of Kill's press conferences, he emphasized the importance of patience. Removing the redshirt from your freshman quarterback at midseason and telling him on Friday that he would be starting on Saturday is not patient. It's an act of desperation.

Jerry: Recruits can smell desperation.

-Gopher basketball: As tough as I've been on Tubby Smith on many fronts, I won't bash him because his son got  a DUI. While I believe driving while intoxicated is absolutely wrong and reckless, I also know a million people who have done it at some point in their lives. Saul Smith made a terrible mistake, but let's not play the ``leader-of-young-men card.'' He's an assistant coach. Let's not pretend that an assistant coach getting a DUI is going to alter the lives of a dozen college basketball players.

-Here are a few notes on tonight's game, courtesy of Vikings media relations:

-Matt Blair will enter the Vikings' ring of honor tonight.

-Percy Harvin ranks second in the NFL in receptions, with 53. His 271 receptions rank second in franchise history for a player in his first four seasons. He's caught a pass in every NFL game in which he's played.

-Kicker Blair Walsh leads the league with 27 touchbacks. He's tied for third in the NFL with 16 field goals.

-The Vikings' 72 sacks and 25 forced fumbles since the start of the 2011 season are the most in the NFL.

-Jared Allen has a sack in five straight games.

-Kyle Rudolph is tied for the lead league among tight ends with 5 touchdown catches.

-Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib. I'll be on WJON at 7:15 a.m and 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. tomorrow to talk about the game.

 

Torii Hunter excited for Torii, Jr.

Posted by: Jim Souhan Updated: April 12, 2012 - 10:35 AM

Chatted with Torii Hunter this morning. Last night, he hit his head against the rightfield wall...and then hit a grounder up the middle and turned it into a double with hustle.

Most players get hit in the head these days, they are sent for tests and observation. Hunter's name was in the lineup Thursday morning before he even got to the clubhouse. Angels manager Mike Scioscia knows Hunter always wants to play.

``Man, I'm like a '64 Impala, with no seat belts,'' Hunter said. ``Old-school.''

True. After a little baseball talk, Hunter started bragging about his son, Torii, Jr. He has a lot to brag about.

Hunter says Torii, Jr., got a 27 on his first try on the ACT, and about 1,600 on the SAT. ``He has a 37-inch vertical, runs a 4.48 40,'' Hunter said.

Torii, Jr., is deciding whether to play football or baseball, or try to play both. Notre Dame, Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Arizona have offered him football scholarships. He's considering Stanford and Minnesota for their baseball programs.

Arkansas might have had an edge before Bobby Petrino got fired. ``His uncle went there, his Momma went there, I signed there, and they have a really good engineering program, and that's what he wants to do,'' Hunter said. ``But Stanford is one of the best in that area.''

I got the feeling that Hunter was quite impressed with Stanford's campus and academics. ``We went there on a recruiting visit,'' Hunter said. ``Just 6,500 students. They have the students live with the athletes, which I like. The way they set up everything on the recruiting visit kind of sold us. We're sitting in the weeds, waiting to make the decision.''

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The Vikings just sent out a press release about long-snapper Cullen Loeffler awarding an equipment grant to Ingram High in Texas.

From the release: Minnesota Vikings long snapper CULLEN LOEFFLER and USA Football will donate a $1,500 equipment grant to football programs within the Ingram (Texas) Independent School District, which Loeffler attended as a youth.

 USA Football named Loeffler to its 2011 All-Fundamentals Team last December, honoring 26 NFL players who employ proper technique for younger players to emulate. Each All-Fundamentals Team player is awarded a $1,500 equipment grant...
I spoke with Loeffler about this last season. I'm amazed at just how many current Twin Cities athletes involve themselves in charitable efforts.
One of the most striking things about my profile of Carl Pavano last week was how guilty he feels about not doing more early in his career. He's making up for it now.
This might sound strange, given his reputation, but Denny Green made a big difference in this area. He encouraged his players to do good works on Tuesdays, the natural off day for NFL teams, and now all local teams push their athletes to get involved.
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Just got back from Ron Gardenhire's office. He has Joe Mauer catching a day game after catching a night game. Does that mean Mauer feels good?
``Didn't ask,'' Gardenhire said.
Gardenhire said this spring that his new approach would be to assume that his players were healthy and eager to play. If they want out of the lineup, they have to come to him.
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Fun game for the Twins last night. Pavano gutted his way through 6 2/3, and Glen Perkins struck out Albert Pujols with a nasty slider.
Jamey Carroll, Josh Willingham and Chris Parmalee all put together impressive at-bats.
One thing to watch: Alexi Casilla is off to one of his typical slow starts, and Brian Dozier continues to do everything within his power to earn a promotion.
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I'l be on 1500espn tonight with Tom Pelisserro, and Tom and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from the talk box outside Target Field on Sunday. The Gardenhire Show will run 9:30-10 followed by our show, which will run until noon.
Please follow me on Twitter, at @Souhanstrib.
 

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