Insight News

Dec 21st


Gophers earning their stripes

Gophers earning their stripesThough head coach Tubby Smith’s championship collegiate basketball development program takes greater foothold on success by the day, the Gopher men’s basketball team is still taking their lumps through the first half of the season’s schedule. A recent loss to #2 nationally ranked conference opponent Ohio State showed the Gopher’s ability to hang with the best that the country has to offer. The team has done this increasingly well over the last four years. Many may remember the Gophers big regular season victory over #9 ranked Louisville in 2008. The Gophers were well led that day in 2008 by then sophomore point guard Al Nolen Jr. That well developed leadership almost led to an even more shocking 18point comeback victory over Ohio State just recently. Nolen’s path over the last few years is indicative of the Gophers overall fortunes for the last couple years with both academic and injury related challenges. If breakthrough comes from the endurance of challenges, then it seems the Gopher’s should have a day in the sun sometime very soon…perhaps just in time for March Madness.

Frazier hired as 8th Vikings coach

Frazier hired as 8th Vikings coach“The Super Bowl Shuffle” by the 1985 Superbowl Champion Chicago Bears was one of the greatest off-the-field highlights in the history of the NFL. The NFC North Division of the NFL (Vikings, Bears, Packers, Lions) is perhaps the most historic of all the divisions. The teams and their fan bases know each other well, and thus they all know when they see a good thing within the division. Brett Favre may have been the greatest example of a good thing to come along in the NFC North – and with all the fanfare to go with him. Leslie Frazier was a much less celebrated member of the stellar ’85 Bears team, and he still garners much less fanfare as a coach. But as a people watcher, I’ll say that the quiet, steady, genuine, and watchful nature of Leslie Frazier, coupled with his front line Superbowl experience, seems to provide the elements for a success story in the making.

Viking fans benefited from the steady workings of their teams’ ownership, as they transitioned from the volatility of the end of coach Brad Childress’ reign. Though many desired rash actions, the Vikings ship remained steady. That steady hand continued all the way through to the end of the season, and resulted in smoothly taking the “interim” tag from Frazier’s name and installing him as the permanent head coach moving forward into the 2011 season.

Head Coach Frazier shows a steady hand

Head Coach Frazier shows a steady handWhen Barak Obama was a presidential candidate, my reasoning for supporting him was his demeanor. Things in the country were extremely volatile in 2007 – 2008, and it seemed to me that the best solution for that situation was to have someone in Office that doesn’t act impetuously. NFL head coaches Josh McDaniels (Denver Broncos 2009-2010), Mike Shanahan (Denver Broncos, preceded McDaniels), and of course Brad Childress (Minnesota Vikings), led the league in drama this year, and their paths were full of impetuous decisions. McDaniels has already been fired by the Denver Broncos after only his second year of coaching. Shanahan seems to have an uphill climb ahead of him with the Washington Redskins because players will no longer sell out for him after the questionable, impetuous, handling of Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth. As I suggested with Childress a few months ago, Management 101 may be necessary for some of these coaches to dig how things work in today’s labor market.

Who should be MVP: Vick or Brady?

Who should be MVP: Vick or Brady?It’s pretty hard to stay away from the “Vick versus Brady for NFL MVP” discussion. Both players are the complete evolution of the NFL quarterback, with Vick as the leader by a nose due to his evolutionary athletic ability.

Ever since seeing Vick outrun an outrunnable Florida State team in the 1999 Sugar Bowl, it has been mind-blowing to see him increase in performance. With Vick’s recent game versus the New York Giants, where Vick employed the ideal combination of his running and throwing abilities according to what was required in the game, we were finally able to see him become his ultimate potential.

Timberwolves surprise foster children with shopping spree

 Timberwolves surprise foster children with shopping spreeThe Minnesota Timberwolves FastBreak Foundation, the Minnesota Adoption Resource Network (MARN), the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and World Vision teamed up this holiday season to host the sixth annual "Holiday Shopping for Kids" event held on Thursday, Dec. 9. Thirteen foster children from MARN currently waiting for adoption, and 10 children selected by World Vision, were invited to participate.

The children met for a snack at SEVEN Steakhouse restaurant (700 Hennepin Ave.) to kick off the event. While at SEVEN Steakhouse, the children were told of the surprise holiday shopping spree at the Minneapolis downtown Target store. Wolves players Sebastian Telfair and Anthony Tolliver were in attendance for the shopping event.

The NBA quarter pole assessment

The NBA quarter pole assessmentThe Los Angeles Lakers have participated in the last four NBA Finals. With the additions that they made during the offseason, it would seem that they are well positioned to potentially win a fourth 3-peat for coach Phil Jackson. The Lakers are less dominant than Jackson’s former teams with the Lakers and Bulls, but they still have the same late game Zen to be able to pull out the close ones. For a Lakers fan such as myself, that approach is real annoying – I wish they would just whoop up on teams like the Bulls and Michael Jordan used to do – but at the end of the day, they have been to the dance before, and know where the bathroom is.

On the other side of the country, the Boston Celtics have a bad taste in their mouth because of their loss to the Lakers in last years’ Finals. The Celtics have also added Shaquille O’Neal since last year, and Shaq is still Shaq when he needs to be. No matter what anybody says to me, Shaquille O’Neal is the most dominant force on a basketball court I have ever seen. If Shaq were to concentrate on basketball completely, rather than brand building trips to Harvard Square and such, then I’m fairly confident that he could still perform close to the level of his past dominance. Shaq has been savvy about his body size, and thus staying healthy, so that he can extend his playing career. It’s completely understandable that Shaq focuses so much time on his commercial presence, so I really don’t fault him – as the Bone Thugs and Harmony song says, “gotta’make that money man.” But somehow, I think that lack of focus will be a last second deal breaker if the Celtics were to face the Lakers in the Finals again in June 2011 (yes, we’re already talking about 2011. 2010 has been a good one…did I mention the Lakers won the Championship).

New Gopher coach Kill may grow on people

New Gopher coach Kill may grow on peopleThough Tubby Smith’s Golden Gopher Basketball team is all grown up and in the center of the local spotlight; there is a possible room in said spotlight for the University of Minnesota football team as well. On Monday, Dec. 6, U of M Athletic Director Joel Maturi hired Jerry Kill, former head coach for Northern Illinois University, as the next head coach of the Gopher football team.

In sports there often seems to be a tendency for schools to hire coaches from teams that have recently put a thumping on the hiring schools’ team – no scientific evidence there, but sure seems like it --Kill defeated the Gophers in TCF stadium in September. But though this prejudice may exist, and though Kill doesn’t immediately strike the image of a big tough football coach, there is no doubt that after a few minutes of hearing him speak most couldn’t possibly hold anything against the man. Kill, seeming genuine enough to potentially talk about the holes in his socks to a national audience, gave one of the more engaging opening press conferences that one could hope for.
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