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).


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 69 4th Qtr 10:01
Phoenix 75
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60
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