During an unforgettable scene in “A Few Good Men” — which came out … checks notes … this can’t be right … 27 years ago in 1992 — Tom Cruise’s character and Jack Nicholson’s character have this back-and-forth at the film’s climax:
“You want answers? … I think I’m entitled to them. … You want answers?! … I want the TRUTH! … YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
If they remade this movie now, and called it “A Few Good Teams,” and changed the plot to be about five Minnesota squads, 1) That would be an awful idea with barely more than regional appeal. 2) It would nonetheless have the potential to be very accurate.
What I’m getting at here is this (aside from the fact that I enjoy dated pop culture references): I think we’re on the cusp of finding out some important answers about five local teams: the Gophers men’s and women’s basketball teams, the Wild, Wolves and Vikings.
And I think that in some cases as much as we want to know what’s going to happen, we aren’t necessarily going to like the answers (even if we can probably handle them, since this is just sports after all).
Let’s take a spin through all five.
Gophers men’s basketball
The answers we seek: Is this team going to make the NCAA tournament, and is Richard Pitino going to keep his job?
Clarity will arrive: Within a month, and possibly as soon as this week. The Gophers won’t sink their NCAA hopes with a home loss against Michigan on Thursday, but knocking off the No. 7 Wolverines would give Minnesota a much clearer path to the Big Dance. Pitino’s fate might not be intertwined with making the tournament, but it’s obviously much easier to envision him being dismissed if he misses the tourney again when bids are announced in less than a month on St. Patrick’s Day.
Gophers women’s basketball
The answers we seek: Are the Gophers for real this season, or are they just on a hot streak that bodes well for the future?
Clarity will arrive: Within a month, and possibly as soon as this week. Like the men’s squad, Lindsay Whalen’s team has a huge opportunity Thursday at Maryland. The Gophers were 2-7 in the conference at one point, but six straight wins at least put them in the conversation for a tournament bid. But they need some impressive wins to boost their resume (and RPI), and stunning Maryland would be a great start.
The answers we seek: Is GM Paul Fenton going to blow up the roster, and is coach Bruce Boudreau going to survive?
Clarity will arrive: Within two months, and possibly very soon. Minnesota’s disastrous homestand made it more likely Fenton will be a major seller before Monday’s trade deadline, and the fact that the Wild hasn’t won since Boudreau made his pledge that the Wild would make the playoffs doesn’t bode well for anyone. It’s also just as possible, though, that the Wild rides this out and tries to make a push into the postseason before a major offseason purge.
The answers we seek: What can interim coach Ryan Saunders do with a healthy roster, and will it be enough for him to earn the job permanently?
Clarity will arrive: Over the next two months. The Wolves resume play Friday after a long all-star break. While making the playoffs is a pretty remote possibility at this point, seeing how Saunders would coach — both in terms of style and rotations — with healthy point guards and Rob Covington is an important test over the final 25 games.
The answers we seek: Can the Vikings thread the needle by maintaining their defensive core and upgrading the offensive line in free agency and the draft?
Clarity will arrive: In the next two months. Free agency starts in mid-March with the Vikings having plenty of pressing needs and not a ton of cash. The evaluation will spill into late April with the draft. If Rick Spielman can make Mike Zimmer and all his new offensive assistants happy, he will have achieved a feat.