Thursday, January 5, 2012

4 More Losses...No More Tears

KLove's contract negotiations could be the buzzkill of all the TPup positivity.

Sports Tears in our Beers was created for nights like last night.  Four teams of interest to the STOB Crew were in action last night and not a single one of them won, and a few lost in painfully close battles.  Minnesota Timberwolves lost by 4 to a struggling Memphis Grizzlies team after having so much goodwill coming into the game.  The Minnesota Golden Gophers lost at home to a mediocre Iowa team by 2 after missing a relatively easy buzzer beating running lay up.  My Duke Blue Devils lost to Temple in Philadelphia by 5, looking mostly uninterested the entire game.  Finally, a team none of us really care about but for the sake of making a point, the Minnesota Wild continued to suck by losing to Vancouver (rival...i guess?) 3-0.  So everywhere we looked we lost, yet I am not crying.  Why?

Let's start with Duke and why I am not depressed after they fell last night to Temple.  First of all, they were on the road, yes techinically it was a neutral court but it was in Philly and the court had "Temple Owls" written on it with a Temple leaning crowd. was a road game.  Also Temple is a quality veteran laden opponent, that may make some noise in the tournament.  Third, the Devils were coming off a long layoff from the holidays, in which there were some horrible opponents sprinkled in (over the past month: UNC Greensboro, Penn and Western Michigan) and they needed a wake up call prior to heading into ACC conference play, a loss they didn't need, but they didn't wake up early enough in the game and the loss will be even more of a wake up.  Finally, Temple is a bad match up for Duke.  Temple has guards that can create 1-1 and guards that are relatively big.  This is the type of team Duke doesn't want to run into come March, but if they do they can look back at this game to try to learn from their mistakes and hopefully prevent another loss.

So I am not all that mad about Duke's loss.  Sure those are really just excuses for Duke, but they are all true and with that make me not all that upset at the loss.  Also, Duke is solidly set in the top 10 of college basketball right now and this loss will mean little come the time of year that really matters in March/April.

On to the Minnesota Wild, I don't care about them.  I really only added them to be able to say that "our" teams went 0-4 last night instead of 0-3.  0-4 just sounded better.  Thanks for losing Wild so I could include you for no real reason and stop sucking cause there are some that do care about you and I feel sorry (not really) for them.

Minnesota Gopher men's basketball.  How the hell did you lose to Iowa, at home, after losing your first two conference games, when you know this is a must win?  Oh I know, cause you are horrible.  Hey Tubby, how about scheduling some quality competition in the non-conference so the Gopher fans that actually get their hopes up when you beat North Dakota State by 4 (why they get their hopes up I don't know but they do), can at least see that you aren't a 12-1 team bound for the NCAA tournament prior to January when they have pretty much always learned their team is mediocre once your team starts crapping themselves against real competition in the Big 10?  That was a long sentence but Tubby has scheduled cupcakes every year and runs up a real nice record against them and sometimes squeaks out a nice win against A (as in "single") good opponent due to being able to plan for that team for weeks while playing teams only 2-3 years removed from being a D-II school. 

What was even more sad last night was that a school that has been in worse shape than the Gopher program, with less celebrated coaches than Tubby actually has more talent than the Gophers.  Their team looked deeper, better put together and much more full of hope than the Gophers did last night.  When the Gophers got Tubby they hoped or thought they would be moving to the upper echelon of Big 10 basketball and would be locked in there with blue chip recruits lining up to play for the championship winning (on the back of Rick Pitino) coach.  Instead the one blue chip the Gophers actually signed sat out that year and then began a trend for Tubby's Gophers the following year and transferred to another school.  Now the Gophers are relying on a Juco transfer to lead their team after another transfer, who was their leader, got injured. 

So you maybe asking, "Where is the happiness here Ben?  I thought you left last night happy about these four losses and now you are ripping Tubby's program apart." 

I am happy about the Gopher loss for one reason.  I haven't heard a peep about Duke's loss because of it.  A fellow STOB'er, Ken, can get a bit more mouthy when his Gophers are winning.  Also STOB contributor Paul can get even more mouthy, but when those Gopher suck, as they have often, they get real quiet.  So quiet that a Duke loss to a team they should have beat, can go by without a peep from Ken or Paul because their Gophers lost to a team they even more so should have beaten.  As long as Duke is better than the Gophers I can always hold that high over Ken and Paul's heads (and not just because I am much taller than both) and after seeing the shape the Gopher program is in right now, I am feeling pretty comfortable that I'll have the upper hand in that match up for a long time.

Finally we finish with a team we all root for in the Minnesota Timberwolves.  2-4 now after a very unenthusiastic performance against a struggling Memphis team missing arguably their best player (Zach Randolph).  For some this could be a sign that even though the Wolves were riding a two game winning streak from wins over Dallas and San Antonio, two good teams, they were regressing back to their old ways.  That may even be true for some of the team but what I saw from Ricky Rubio left me feeling good for the Timberwolves future.  Ricky Rubio ended the game with 12 points 10 assists and 4 rebounds.  The most impressive thing about the game for me though was that when the game got close late, Rubio wanted the ball.  Heck, he even wanted to shoot!  All we heard is that he was a reluctant shooter, and not good enough of a shooter to make people respect him defensively in the NBA. 

Well down a couple possession in the final minute and looking to make up points quickly, Rubio came off a ball screen and pulled up for an in rhythm three point JUMP shot that was pure and splashed through the net.  Up to this point from three point land we had only seen Rubio shoot a slow set shot.  That shot isn't NBA ready and had given me pause.  His jumper from mid range looked much better and in my head I thought, "Man, it'd sure be nice if he could shoot it from three with that form and as a jumper."  Then it happens and after seeing that three last night, I now know that a reliable jump shot three is only probably one summer away for Rubio.  I am not expecting him to start shooting threes like this often this year, but I do expect that his jumper will move from midrange to three point range over this summer.  With that an already amazingly dangerous pick and roll PG becomes unstoppable and steps into Steve Nash territory in his second season. 

Honestly all of that clicked in my head on one shot, that came in a loss.  The kid may just be that franchise player the Wolves have been looking for since Garnett (who to me wasn't a franchise player anyways, needed sidekicks near the level of franchise players to really win) and if the Wolves keep Love (who is currently demanding a max deal offer pre mid January...this could be that huge buzzkill on this, so far, very exciting and full of hope TWolves season...ish...Kahn just do it or someone else will...25-15 doesn't grow on trees) they have the foundation to be a playoff contender and with some other pieces or players stepping up...yes, possibly a title contender for the next decade.

So there you have it, 4 losses but positivity shining through them, for me at least.

Ben's New Year's Resolution of posting everyday in 2012: 5-5 (Yes, yesterday was a repost of old material...but a post it was nonetheless!) 

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