Hartman: Schedule might help Vikings get off on right foot

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 10, 2012 - 7:57 AM

Most of their divisional games don't come until late in the season, and the early part of the schedule is favorable.

Maybe this sounds ridiculous because all the media expect the Vikings to finish at the bottom of the NFC North. But one factor that should help the team in showing a big improvement over their 3-13 record of a year ago is their very favorable schedule.

The biggest plus for the Vikings in the schedule is that they don't face either the Packers or Bears until Week 12, coming out of their bye. They close out with four of their last six games against either the Packers and the Bears, playing in Chicago on Nov. 25, in Green Bay on Dec. 2, at home vs. Chicago on Dec. 9 and closing out the season at home vs. Green Bay on Dec. 30.

So the Vikings will play at Chicago and at Green Bay on successive weeks and then get the Bears at home. Then they will have road games at St. Louis and Houston before finishing with the Packers.

And another factor in the Vikings' favor is their two games with the Lions.

After opening the season with Jacksonville at home, then playing at Indianapolis, then playing San Francisco at home in Week 3, the Vikings go to Detroit. But they don't face the Lions again until the 10th game of the season.

The first nine games are winnable, except probably the 49ers game, if Christian Ponder has a good year and if the Vikings secondary shows a lot better pass defense.

So if the team can stay healthy and show a lot of improvement in the early part of the schedule, the Vikings could surprise a lot of people and become a factor in the race, before playing a lot of games against division opponents late in the year, after this young team has had time to gel.

Bad decision for Williams

It's hard to understand after the district court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jimmy Williams that the Minnesota Supreme Court would rule in favor of the University of Minnesota.

Maybe Tubby Smith didn't hire Williams on paper, but certainly Williams thought he was going to be Smith's No. 1 assistant men's basketball coach. It wasn't until then-athletic director Joel Maturi decided that having Williams back wasn't a good idea, after he had NCAA violations on his record during his previous Gophers stint, that the hiring didn't happen.

I talked to Williams right after he had talked with Smith about coming to the university. He had quit his job as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and was all excited about moving back to Minnesota.

Williams was such a perfect hire for Smith because he had done as good a recruiting job as any assistant coach when he was working for the Gophers under Jim Dutcher. Williams was able to beat a lot of top-notch programs to bring some outstanding players here.

But now Williams is short the $1 million that he was awarded, money the University of Minnesota didn't even have to pay because it had insurance.

Smith contributes

One thing about Tubby Smith, though, is that he is very involved in community events and spends so much time with underprivileged boys and girls.

For instance on Wednesday, local attorney Ron Zamansky and some 200 volunteers staged the 26th annual Create a Memory event, which Zamansky has been involved with forever. It was held at Target Field for some 500 children from different Twin Cities agencies, including Community Recreation; Jewish Family and Children's Service; Phyllis Wheatley Community Center; YMCA-Minnetonka Heights; West 7th Community Center; Northwest Youth and Family Services, and Kinship of Greater Minneapolis.

The purpose of the event was to give the young participants pleasant memories, and Smith helped it by bringing Gophers players Trevor Mbakwe and Elliott Eliason to the event. The trio stuck around to the end and participated in all of the different events, such as running the bases and tracking down fly balls.

Each kid attending was given a gift bag with baseball cards, baseballs and a kids baseball book. There were other Gophers athletes from nonrevenue sports there as well.

The Twins, who make many contributions to different charities, made Target Field available, and several firms donated pizza, hot dogs, soft drinks and ice cream.

One of the children attending said after the closing ceremony that taking part in the event was the best day of his life.

Jottings

• Timberwolves forward Kevin Love enters Friday's Olympic semifinal against Argentina as Team USA's third-leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points per game, behind only Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. Love is shooting 63.6 percent from the floor and 42.1 percent from three-point range, but he is only 50 percent -- 11-for-22 -- on free throws. Love is also the top rebounder at 7.2 per game, and 20 of his 43 rebounds have come on the offensive end. ... In six games for Russia, Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko is averaging 18.3 points and 7.3 rebounds per game while shooting 64.8 percent from the floor. Kirilenko had 19 points and 13 rebounds in Wednesday's quarterfinal victory over Lithuania. Fellow new Wolves acquisition Alexey Shved is averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 assists. He had only four points on 2-for-12 shooting Wednesday, including 0-for-5 on three-pointers.

• ESPN.com recently updated its top 60 boys' basketball players for the 2014 class, and Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones is No. 2. Dave Telep wrote about Jones: "He is the best point guard in his state since Khalid El-Amin and might be the purest floor general in high school hoops since Chris Paul in 2003." Also on the list at No. 12 was Cooper star Rashad Vaughn, whom Telep called "one of the most accomplished scorers in the class."

• Benilde-St. Margaret's product Jordan Taylor signed with Virtus Roma in Italy, although the former Wisconsin All-America point guard said he is not giving up on trying to get to the NBA. Taylor went undrafted after his senior season, then averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 assists in Summer League play for the Atlanta Hawks.

• Going into this season, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is second among active NFL players with 105 career sacks. Atlanta's John Abraham has 112 sacks over 12 seasons.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com

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Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 72 4th Qtr 10:53
Portland 72
Houston 55 3rd Qtr
Denver 60
Indiana 51 3rd Qtr
LA Clippers 52
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
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Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
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Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 49 2nd Half 4:00
New Mexico 65
Howard 40 2nd Half 6:11
Pepperdine 42
Portland 35 2nd Half 14:54
UNLV 32
CS-Northridge 26 1st Half 2:47
Oregon 32
Grambling St 13 2nd Half
Washington 45
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
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Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
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Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
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Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
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UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
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Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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