MILWAUKEE – Paid to comment on the pro game these many years, Timberwolves broadcast analyst and former NBA player Jim Petersen has become, if for only one fleeting season, something of an NCAA tournament bracketology expert this March.
That's because his stepson and former Benilde-St. Margaret's standout Sanjay Lumpkin is a fifth-year forward on a Northwestern team that will make the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history when the field is revealed Sunday evening.
"As it pertains to Northwestern, I guess I am," he said. "I'm watching RPIs [Ratings Percentage Index] and looking at last-ins and first-outs."
He'll also watch eagerly to see in which NCAA regional and site Northwestern will play. With Petersen set to broadcast Wolves' games Wednesday at Boston, Friday at Miami and Sunday at New Orleans, he's hoping the Wildcats play at a Thursday-Saturday site.
He's also hoping against hope that they'll get sent to Orlando and has his fingers crossed against a Salt Lake City trip. He's talked with his FSN bosses about "contingency plans" that might require Petersen to miss a Wolves game so he can watch the young man whom he and his wife, Tika Shah Petersen, raised a good bit at Target Center since he was 5 or 6.
"Hopefully, I can put this whirlwind together," Petersen said. "I want to do something historic and see my son play in the NCAA tournament.
''He has just been an incredible kid to raise and watch grow up: A perfect gentleman, a great student and a hardworking athlete. I'm just so happy he's going to have this opportunity to make history at Northwestern."
Takes one to know one
Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd knows a little bit about point guards who need to find their shots and maybe even be a little more selfish as their careers progress. He sees it in Wolves guard Ricky Rubio's improved command and improved scoring since the All-Star break.
"He's playing at a very high level," Kidd said. "Everyone talks about his passing, but he can put the ball in the basket, and he's starting to shoot the three well. When he can do that, it makes it a lot easier for [Andrew] Wiggins and [Karl-Anthony] Towns. When he knocks down the open shot and is a little more selfish in taking the ball to the basket, it just makes them that much better."
Wolves guard Lance Stephenson played 16 minutes Wednesday in his first game since the team's re-signed him to another 10-day contract and didn't play at all in Friday's 103-102 victory over Golden State. That's the way it's going to be for a guy whose playing time Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau calls "situational."
Stephenson played Wednesday because Brandon Rush was ill. Thibodeau doesn't intend to disrupt a second unit that's finding itself.
"I have a lot of confidence in Lance," Thibodeau said. "If we need him, I know he'll be ready. But right now, the group's that playing well, I'm staying with those guys."
Grabbing his chance
Nemanja Bjelica's 12 rebounds Friday tied his season high and his 10-point, 12-rebound night was his third double-double in the past five games.
"I always had a feeling for rebounds," said Bjelica. "I'm just playing more and I can show more things. I needed a game like this to feel important, to get confidence and that's why I can help the team."
• Bucks rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon missed his second consecutive game because of back pain.