Souhan: Recent sports hires restore credibilty in Twin Cities market

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 18, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Bad hires are history, giving way to savvy leaders who fuel optimism.

hide

Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders

Photo: Richard Sennott, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Tom Kelly had a favorite word for the strange events that occur around the traveling carnival that is a big-league sports team: buffoonery.

As Twins manager, he might use it in reference to an umpiring call or an official scorer’s decision, or a rookie’s behavior. Sample TK quote: “That question right there, Souhan, that’s straight buffoonery.”

Over the past decade, “buffoonery” might have been the most useful word in the English language in describing the state of the Twin Cities sports scene.

When the Timberwolves hired Flip Saunders to replace David Kahn to run the team’s basketball operations, we became buffoon-free.

Consider the transformation: In 2010, Kahn ran the Wolves, along with his hand-picked coach, Kurt Rambis. Joel Maturi held the position of athletic director at the University of Minnesota and oversaw his signature hire, Tim Brewster.

Kahn fired Rambis, perhaps the only coach in Minnesota who was more passive-aggressive than his fanbase. Rambis was replaced by Rick Adelman, a coach worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

Maturi fired Brewster, whose motivational slogans still resonate in the halls of the Bierman Building, causing young athletes to passionately run through the wrong doors at the wrong time, and then undertook a nationwide search before settling on the one working coach willing to take the job, Jerry Kill.

The University of Minnesota pushed aside Maturi, replacing him with Norwood Teague.

Finally, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor fired Kahn, The Man Who Chose Jonny Flynn Instead of Steph Curry, and replaced him with Saunders.

For the first time since Maturi became the athletic director at Minnesota in 2002, our market is filled with competent people in important positions.

The Twins are run by Terry Ryan, one of the best general managers in baseball over the past dozen years, and managed by Ron Gardenhire, who, for all of the team’s losing the past two years, has taken his team to six postseason appearances (and another if you include a lost Game 163) in 11 seasons.

The Wild is run by Chuck Fletcher and Mike Yeo, who have much to prove but are smart people who may learn on the job.

The Wolves are run by Saunders and Adelman, and while Saunders has a limited résumé as a basketball executive, he, unlike Kahn, has a chance of picking out the basketball in a lineup of fruit-shaped objects.

The Vikings are run by Rick Spielman and Leslie Frazier, whose intelligence and foresight helped them earn a surprising playoff berth last year.

The Gophers athletic department is run by Teague, who demonstrated guts and independent thinking by firing the apathetic Tubby Smith and hiring a promising young coach in Richard Pitino.

Kill is a credible coach, and Pitino has made an impressive first impression in Minnesota, refusing to duck into the turtle-shell of low expectations.

It’s foolish to waste much time dreaming of championships. With four major sports and a Big Ten university, no major Minnesota sport has won a title since the Twins in 1991. What we can demand is competence and intelligent leadership, and for the first time in a long time, competence abounds.

Saunders has already impressed. Engaging Kevin Love by sending him to represent the team in the draft is a shrewd way to mend a difficult relationship between team and star. Kahn’s departure will help that, too.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Toronto 104 FINAL
Indiana 91
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Detroit 95
Milwaukee 109 FINAL
Miami 102
Memphis 109 FINAL
Dallas 90
Chicago 113 FINAL
Golden State 111
Washington 98 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
NY Rangers 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 4
Arizona 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 4
Winnipeg 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Washington 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Carolina 4
Dallas 2 FINAL
Montreal 3
Detroit 5 FINAL
Florida 4
Colorado 3 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 4
Buffalo 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Edmonton 1
Anaheim 4 FINAL
Vancouver 0
Ball State 47 FINAL
Akron 59
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Bowling Green 56
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Buffalo 77
Ohio 40 FINAL
Eastern Mich 76
Xavier 66 FINAL
Georgetown 53
Vanderbilt 62 FINAL
Georgia 70
West Virginia 65 FINAL
Kansas State 59
Central Mich 53 FINAL
Kent State 63
Saint Josephs 48 FINAL
La Salle 53
Nebraska 44 FINAL
Michigan 58
Miami-Ohio 65 FINAL
Toledo 70
Tulsa 62 FINAL
Tulane 55
George Washington 48 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 72
Pittsburgh 67 FINAL
Virginia Tech 70
Indiana State 78 FINAL
Evansville 89
Tabor College 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Florida 52 FINAL
Alabama 50
Tennessee 64 FINAL
Arkansas 69
Texas A&M 71 FINAL
Auburn 61
Baylor 53 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
DePaul 0 Postponed
Providence 0
Michigan State 0 Postponed
Rutgers 0
Wyoming 44 FINAL
Utah State 56
Fresno State 47 FINAL
San Diego St 58
UNLV 67 FINAL
Nevada 62
SD Christian 54 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 79
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Boise State 82
Temple 71 FINAL
UCF 54
Campbell 42 FINAL
Presbyterian 51
Coastal Carolina 65 FINAL
High Point 73
Gardner-Webb 49 FINAL
Radford 59
UNC-Asheville 58 FINAL
Liberty 62
Winthrop 63 FINAL
Longwood 62
Columbia International 33 FINAL
Charleston Southern 74
Tulane 63 FINAL
Houston 46
(3) Baylor 89 FINAL
TCU 67
Navy 49 FINAL
American Univ 59
Valparaiso 42 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 60
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local team is currently the biggest disappointment?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close