One of the great things about being a Minnesota sports fan is that there’s never a shortage of teams to follow and games to watch. In the midst of all the hubbub, there is a lot that often slips past the busy sports fan. It might be an obscure bit of news. Or maybe a bizarre occurrence that’s worth a second look. To help capture all the moments you might have missed, TC Huddle gives you T.W.I.M.S. Notes…a look back at the obscure news blotter from This Week In Minnesota Sports.
Will AP Be Ready by September?
It’s hard for me to imagine that Adrian Peterson will be healthy enough to participate fully at Vikings training camp, let alone ready to go on Opening Day of the 2012 NFL season. Considering that he tore his ACL on December 24th, it will only have been a scant 7 months since the injury when training camp opens in August. How can he possibly be anywhere close to full strength by then? Peterson suffered major ligament damage playing a high-impact, high-stress professional sport. Simply put, the odds of him being ready are slim-to-none. While I hope I’m wrong, I doubt I am. Our state is rife with examples of athletes who suffered an ACL tear and were slow to bounce back. Vikings cornerback Cedric Griffin suffered two torn ACLs in 2010, and is still working his way back. Gophers forward Mo Walker tore his ACL in 2010 and took a medical redshirt for the entirety of this season. And former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper never really recovered from a torn ACL he suffered while playing for the Vikings. Point being, don’t expect much from AP this season. If the Vikings are smart, they will give him the 2012 season to get back to full strength.
Rubio Sets World Record for Consecutive Shots from Behind the Backboard
We all know that Guinness has a reputation for being the king of obscure world records. Well, the record set by Wolves guard Ricky Rubio at last weekend’s NBA All-Star weekend fit the mold. After participating in a practice for Friday’s Rising Stars game, Rubio, along with fellow NBAers Evan Turner and Jeremy Lin, took some time to pursue the Guinness World Record for most shots made from behind the backboard in a 60-second time period. Sure enough, Revolver Rick effortlessly made 18 behind-the-backboard shots in a row to set the new record. The record itself is impressive enough (as anyone who has played a game of HORSE can attest to). But isn’t it a bit odd that a guy who can make 18 consecutive shots from one spot on the floor—let alone a spot that’s behind the backboard—had a reputation when he came to the NBA for being a poor shooter? Does that make any sense? I decided to check on Rubio’s midseason shooting statistics, just to get a feel for how he’s been doing. The results: 82% from the free throw line and 34% from 3-point range. That doesn’t sound like a guy with a notoriously weak reputation as a shooter. Either Rubio has dramatically improved as a shooter over the last year, or his poor shooting was a direct reflection of the European style of play.
Gopher’s Guard Rachel Banham Named Big Ten Freshman of the Year
Rachel Banham chose to play basketball at the U of M knowing that the expectations were high. Not since Lindsay Whalen stayed home for her college basketball career has a player had to deal with this sort of pressure. If Banham’s freshman season is any indication, it looks like she will do just fine. After a spectacular freshman campaign in which she averaged 16.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game and 2.6 assists per game, Banham was named the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year by both the media and the coaches. “For her to come in and do the things she has done for our program, and to make a statement in the Big Ten like she has again and again, has been remarkable,” said Gophers head coach Pam Borton. Banham was also named second-team All-Big Ten on both the media and coaches team, as well as being named Big Ten freshman of the week five times.
Gophers senior quarterback MarQueis Gray is Coming off a season in which he threw for nearly 1500 yards and 8 touchdowns, while also running for nearly 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns. By all accounts, he is poised to have a fantastic senior season. Despite his success last season, his coaches feel he can improve a lot in his passing efficiency. To that end, they spent some time last week scouring the country for examples of other mobile quarterbacks who eventually evolved into pretty decent passers as well. One of the places they landed was Waco, Texas, home to Baylor University and current Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. “We had seen him play the year before, and he made a real nice jump from 2010 to 2011,” said offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover. That’s the kind of jump the Gophers coaches would like to see out of Gray, so they spent some time looking for tips on how to make Gray more productive as a passer. It remains to be seen how well Gray does as a senior, but chances are good that he’ll have an explosive senior year. Not only will he have the same offensive system as the year before for the first time in his college career, he also should have confidence in the way he and his teammates played over the last 5 games of the 2011 season.
Four Lynx Starters in the Mix for Spot on Team USA
Four Lynx starters—Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen, Maya Moore, and Rebekkah Brunson—are among the 21 finalists for the U.S. women’s basketball team, which will compete in London at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Of the four, only Augustus has Olympic experience, as she was a part of Team USA’s gold medal run in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. While competing in the Olympics would be a new experience for the other three, it isn’t as if they lack international experience. Whalen and Moore both played for the U.S. team that won the 2010 FIBA World Championships, and Brunson was a part of the U.S. team that competed in the 2007 Americas Championships. While all four are under consideration, the odds of them all making the U.S. Olympic team are extremely slim, mainly because there are only 12 roster spots available. Still, it would be fun to see Team USA represented by multiple Lynx players at this summer’s Olympic Games.
Wolves’ Rubio, Barea Garnering Respect Around the NBA
A recent poll of 137 NBA players asked which player would be chosen first if starting an NBA team from scratch. Not surprisingly, the overwhelming choice was Miami’s Lebron James, who was the poll’s top vote-getter. Shockingly, though, Ricky Rubio also was chosen. Granted, he only garnered 1% of the vote, but getting a vote is getting a vote! While I love what Rubio is doing for the Wolves as much as anyone else, it’s hard to fathom how an NBA player would choose him over the likes of Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and Derrick Rose.
In other news, Wolves reserve guard JJ Barea also showed up in a poll of NBA players. When asked who the biggest flopper was in the NBA, Barea ranked 8th by his fellow players. That made me chuckle if for no other reason than because Barea had just been called out for his flopping by Wolves color commentator Jim Peterson during Tuesday’s game against the Clippers. Paraphrasing, Peterson said that Barea has to stop flopping because he is going to get a reputation, and then won’t get those calls. Ah, looks like it might be too late!
Ineligible Player Crushes Winona State’s Men’s Basketball Team
The Winona State men’s basketball season ripped through its regular season, en route to the #3 ranking in NCAA Division II, a 24-4 overall record, and a 19-3 record in conference. That, however, was before the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) nullified the first 13 conference games of the Warriors’ season after discovering that junior guard Grant Johnson was ineligible to play. Johnson, who played in the first 19 games of the season after transferring to Winona State from Wisconsin-Parkside, had his eligibility questioned based on responses on his transfer release form. As it turned out, Johnson was ineligible, costing the Warriors 13 games in conference play. Fortunately for the Warriors, their adjusted record in conference was still good enough to qualify them for the NSIC playoffs, where they won their quarterfinal game over St. Cloud State. NSIC semifinals are scheduled for tomorrow night. Johnson played in 19 games for the Warriors, averaging 15 ppg.
Joe Buri is a former high school athletic director who currently works as an attorney in corporate America. In addition to writing for TC Huddle, he also volunteers as an assistant varsity basketball coach at a local Twin Cities high school. Once dubbed “The Human Stump,” he considers holding former NBA forward Devean George to 39 points a highlight of his collegiate basketball experience.