Minnesota connections at Western Illinois
Western Illinois, the Gophers’ football opponent Saturday, is coached by former Minnesota Duluth head coach Bob Nielson. He won the NCAA Division II national championship in 2008 and 2010 with the Bulldogs before leaving for the Leathernecks last season.
He talked this week about the different level of competition they’ll be facing against the Gophers.
“We’re going to change our level of competition next week. It’s a different level of competition when we go up to Minnesota, and that’s taking nothing away from [their first two opponents] Hampton or Quincy. We have to be a better football team.”
One weapon Nielson will have is quarterback Trenton Norvell, who was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Week this week after completing 24 of 34 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns in their 34-6 victory over Quincy.
• When it came to sports, John Valek, who was killed Tuesday in a construction accident at the site of the future St. Paul Saints ballpark, was like an encyclopedia. Valek — the father of Kalli Schmidt Valek, who is like an adopted granddaughter to me — was always the man to turn to if there was a conversation about the Vikings or any other local sports team. He always had the answers. He was a class act.
• The Philadelphia 76ers were impressed with the recent play of former Gophers forward Rodney Williams and are expected to sign him to a multiyear contract soon.
• Bears coach Marc Trestman, who will face the Vikings in Chicago on Sunday, will get an honor he’s thrilled about when he is inducted into the St. Louis Park Athletic Hall of Fame on Thursday. Trestman will not be able to accept the award in person, but his parents, Jerry and Sharon, will be there on his behalf.
• Sports Illustrated ran a feature earlier this month on how Wolves forward Kevin Love and other NBA stars spent their summer working out at a gym with former Syracuse walk-on Rob McClanaghan. Some of the players Love worked out with on a daily basis were Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook. The article also noted that Love is working on two new moves: a Paul Pierce-type spin move and a Dirk Nowitzki-type baseline fadeaway.
• Former Twin Michael Cuddyer was leading the National League with a .334 batting average going into Wednesday’s games. His previous best season average was .284 in 2006 and 2011. If Cuddyer keeps up the pace, he would become the first former Twin to win a batting title with another team.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org