Timberwolves President Flip Saunders was asked Sunday how his team can turn around their 0-10 record in games decided by four points or less. That record fell to 0-11 following their three-point loss to the lowly Kings at home Wednesday.
“To win close games down the stretch you have to shoot free throws, you have to not turn the ball over, you have to make multiple defensive stops, and unfortunately for us in a lot of those games, three of those things we haven’t been able to do at times,” he said. “It’s part of a growing-up process for some of our players, some of our young players.
“But I think the biggest thing where we can make our biggest improvement is going to be at the defensive end, and when we defend and don’t turn the ball over, we’re a pretty good team. And when we don’t defend and we turn the ball over, we’re not a very good team.”
O’Brien moves up
Dan O’Brien was director of football operations for the Gophers, but he was recently promoted to senior associate athletic director overseeing the football program and athletic facilities. That means O’Brien has replaced David Benedict, who was in charge of football but left for Auburn.
This is a move coach Jerry Kill wanted so that only athletic director Norwood Teague is involved in final big decisions on football. Adam Clark will do a lot of things O’Brien did in his previous position.
As for O’Brien, he is so good at what he does. He is Kill’s right-hand man, and a good one.
• One of the hot rumors in downtown Minneapolis is that the Pohlad family, which just spent some $40 million in remodeling the old Ford Center, might build a skyway from Target Field to the Ford Center and make part of the building into a museum. And the word is the Pohlads have some big plans for the Shapco Printing building in the area that they recently purchased.
• Former Gophers receiver Eric Decker is taking on a different role for the Broncos in the postseason, as he is now the team’s punt returner after handling only one punt during the regular season. Decker had three punt returns in the Broncos’ 24-17 victory over San Diego on Sunday, including a 47-yard return. Decker told the Denver Post this week, “I feel like it’s a strength of my game — to help out as much as possible with the ball in my hands. … The more chances I get, the more opportunities I get. I love it.”
• With Jim Caldwell being hired as Detroit Lions coach, the Baltimore Ravens need an offensive coordinator. A number of reports coming out of Baltimore, including the Ravens’ own website, say that former Vikings coach Brad Childress is a candidate. Childress spent this season with the Kansas City Chiefs as a spread game analyst.
• In addition to Gophers safety Brock Vereen playing in Saturday’s East-West Shrine Game, the all-star football game in St. Petersburg, Fla., will also feature North Dakota State cornerback Marcus Williams of Hopkins High School and Wisconsin defensive lineman Beau Allen of Minnetonka.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40, 8:40 and 9:20 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • email@example.com