Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Tough to keep the fire burning after years on the sideline

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: April 19, 2014 - 6:45 PM

The last of Rick Adelman’s seven seasons as an NBA player was 1974-75. Two years later, he took a coaching job at Chemekata Community College in Salem, Ore. He was there for six seasons.

My guess is you won’t find many sideline wizards who were still in junior college in the year they turned 37 who wound up accumulating Hall of Fame numbers.

Adelman’s first game as an NBA head coach was with Portland on Feb. 18, 1989. He was 43 at the time and would win 1,042 regular-season games and another 79 in the playoffs over the next quarter-century.

The Timberwolves were desperate for credibility when they persuaded Adelman to take the job during the lockout in September 2011. He was 65 at the time, and eight months younger than the sportswriter about to offer this opinion:

What was revealed with Adelman — and with Tubby Smith before him — was the risk that a big-league team or big-time program takes when hiring an older coach.

Tubby was a couple of months from his 56th birthday when hired by the U. Throw in that it was his fourth job as a head coach and that’s “older coach’’ territory.

The issue certainly wasn’t coaching an actual game, particularly with Adelman. I think what defeats many older coaches is being more easily discouraged than in their 30s, 40s and into their 50s.

My view of Adelman was that he had his engine going 100 percent that first winter in Minneapolis, until March 9, 2012, when the rookie point guard, Ricky Rubio, blew out a knee and the playoffs went kaput.
Other issues — including his wife’s health — followed and led to a coach who came off as weary and defeated for much of this failed last season in Minnesota.

Same with Tubby. There were three years of fire, capped by the trip to the Big Ten tournament title game in 2010, followed by three years of February flops that were somehow linked to the absence of a practice facility.

Discouragement is the enemy of old coaches, and I’d say many of us who have been at a task for decades.

Plus Three from Patrick

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer turns 58 in June. Reasons he might avoid “older coach’’ blues:

• It’s his first job as a head coach. Fire burns.

• It’s the NFL. Head coaches set the agenda. Gigantic staffs can do the real work.

• It’s a 16-game season, not 35-40 (Tubby) or 82 (Adelman).


Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
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