November 29, 2007

Premium performance

Zach took 10 shots, he made a bucket. These are the games we dream of. Bravo, Knicks.

Look At Me...

My office is located near a bank of elevators. This is convenient if you're late returning from lunch, or going somewhere else in the building. But it's mostly inconvenient for two reasons: People who are lost usually wander to the first office they see...and secondly, being in a high traffic area, people feel the need to LOOK INSIDE. Wow, his door is open, I should LOOK AT HIM. We're not talking a Playboy parade, either. And before I can even get out the famous "Look at me!" quote perfected by Dillon, the people are in full stride and long gone.

Sometimes I think teams feel this way, too. And when you see a negative reaction afterward it's usually because they either can't handle it, or it wasn't much to begin with. Last month's Clip Ship update almost predicted a return to earth in quick timing. This, of course, happened. And specifically it has thunked the team back to mediocrity this week. While the Warriors finally came out to play, the Clips have quickly fallen backward. And I'll admit it was a bit disheartening seeing the 4th quarter beat-down by the Rockets. Those were how the Clippers games usually went at the start of the decade - End of 1: Wow, they look good. Halftime: We've got the lead, I'm surprised. End of 3: Well, we're only down 6. Final: Do you remember where we parked?

Well, enough of the usual. (Someone just looked in again...Christ) I'd like to turn this over to an addition in one of our links. We here at the Wolves Den are large fans of Andrei Kirilenko's site, but his wife is now writing as well. Here now is her first post, unedited by me, titled "Masha Started Writing Her Blog":


It took me a quite a while to start my own blog: Masha Kirilenko blog. I thought somebody gotta do it in our family. Since Andrei is so busy playing basketball … or Word Of Warcraft..I gotta do it. We could of course pretend that it is he who is writing it, but that would be unfair. Whatever you like or not I’m going to be author.

It’s our seventh season in NBA. Seems like an eternity. I wonder how Karl and John felt about the years. It’s like in a movie – The Greyhound Day. But still very exciting. Each year I look forwards the season. By the end of each October I feel that adrenaline buzz in my veins. And I know for sure that I’m basketball addict. And this is not because my husband plays every second night of my life. Simply: Basketball is the best game with the ball on Earth! Last night we played Golden State at home. They left for L.A. though right after. It was a good and easy win. Andrei played really well. And when I say well, that means he played well because I am the worst judge. It is never enough for me in this game. I always think that he could do better. Not enough points, not enough rebounds or assists. What he always has enough for me is turnovers. Last night it was 3.

I buy seasonal tickets for myself each season and sit right across Andrei. Not sure if Jerry Sloan likes that ;). So during the game I can talk to Andrei. Well, not really talk but I do read lips and he reads mine. Not that somebody were deaf and dumn in our family, but we just love reading each other lips. All the fourth quarter I was begging him to hit 3. And yes, he got it done.

The game last night was fast and dynamic. Believe or not sometimes the games can be really boring. Slow pace. Whistle by a whistle. And just wanna shout to refs “let them play the ball”. So last night the game was beautiful. First of all I was happy for my friend Al Harrington who scored 38 last night!

Al is a great guy. We were on vacation in France this summer. We were playing Charades on the boat and he was supposed to show the word “cucumber”. He was doing it so funny that nobody guessed what it was ;). He had no luck expressing or acting out the word “cucumber”. But last night he did some luck hitting 15 shots of his 20! Andrei and Al worked out together at the Abunasaar Academy trying to improve their jump shots. I guess it really helped Al. But not Andrei. Jeff Hornacek (bless his heart) has been working out with Andrei for the whole preseason, but still I don’t see the result I wanna see. My dad says (he used to be a professional basketball player) that Andrei WILL start making his shots very soon. The quantity should become quality. He says it is a law of life. I hope he is not mistaken.


Now, to choose a "favorite" part of that is not easy, but what I enjoy the most is the style of prose. And this is by no means an's the idyllic charm of a foreigner who gets all the words down, but is missing the slight sentence nuance. But that's OK because they plow ahead anyway. Strong on plow. But they don't care and we shouldn't either. Hell, when the Rad Man was on the Clips, he was quoted as telling me "Victory for Clippers, OK!" I knew what he meant AND I liked the way he said it. Hell, could you do a charade of "cucumber" to foreigners and not expect a high comedic moment? Of course not.

Back to it here - and hoping another victory against Denver rights this ship.

November 28, 2007

What's The POINT In GUARDing Him?

In the NBA championships are won and lost based on defense, clutch shooting, and - most importantly - play in the post. The big guys are the ones who make the difference. Tim Duncan's Spurs. Shaq's Lakers. Yes Kobe Bryant and Tony Parker played their parts but it's the Big Fellas that really make the difference.

In college however, that's different. The most important factor in March is the guard play. Ben Gordon taking the Huskies off Emeka's back, Tyus Edny streaking up the floor, or Gerry McNamara lighting up MSG one last time. Yes the big guys play their parts but there's a role reversal in the college game.

Derrick Rose is again a spotlight guy here - I know, it's annoying, but he's so damn good. He's a fresman and a rising leader on a top-5 team. He came back from a clunker of a game to score 19 points along with 12 assists in another big Tigers win. We all know he can score and make the flashy pass but it's the little stats that show me how good he really is. He's attempting nearly 7 free throws per game, which is a great number for a freshman guard. He's scoring 17.8ppg while only taking 11 shots per game, which shows me he's not getting in the way of his teammates. He may not be a stellar defender but he's only averaging 2 fouls per game while playing good enough defense (and offense) to stay on the floor. He and Mr. Douglas-Roberts will be huge for Memphis come March.

Eric Gordon has also shown up on this here blog previously. But again, another young lead guard who's showing a lot of poise and talent early and often. He's scored 20 points in each of his 6 games with 3 30-point efforts. He's shooting 55% from the field, 84% from the line, and a slightly inflated 51% from beyond the arc. Oh and he's averaging an Allen Iverson-esque 10.3 free throw attempts per game. That's amazing for a young player. Instead of settling for jumpers, he's being aggressive and going to the basket.

Patrick Mills is a freshman point guard for St. Mary's - the other team in the league that Gonzaga is in. He's an Aussie who was the youngest player to play for their national team. He's averaging a modest 15.8 points and 5 assists per game but has a very nice 2.5/1 assist-turnover ratio, is shooting 48% from the field, and averaging 3 steals per game. While he's been a little up and down thus far, he's shown that he can single handedly beat a team - see the 37 he dropped in the win against then #11 Oregon. This St. Mary's team could ride a few hot games by Patty and steal a couple of wins in the big Dance.

There are some teams that may not have a Derrick Rose or an O.J. Mayo to rely on but whose backcourts can still throw punches. Texas and Oregon have two and three deep backcourts that will indeed be trouble for most teams they face. D.J. Augustine and A.J. Abrams average a combined 40 points per game while shooting well over 50% from the field. Augustin is dropping 7.8 dimes a game while Abrams has made 25 of 45 threes through 5 games. The Oregon Ducks rely on the trio of Bryce Taylor, Tajuan Porter, and Malik Hairston to do most of the damage for their squad. They're scoring 50 point a game and doing it on both ends of the floor. They really make Maarty Leunen's job much easier on the inside.

UConn has a backcourt that has been a little Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde at times. Jerome Dyson and A.J. Price have both shown their ability to take it to the other team as well as taking their own team out of games. If they can get more consistant, look for them to be a terror come March.

Ahh the Huskies....Good segway.

Have you seen Hasheem Thabeet? He's a 19-year old,7-3, 255lb center. As a freshman he made everyone drool over the potential of this raw athletic specimen from Tanzania. He's had a slow start to the season which has led some to lable him as a let down. He's picked it up the last three games. He's averaging 15 points 11.7 rebounds and 3 blocks - with 12/12/9 in his last game. He alone will be the defensive line which will allow those UConn guards to cheat a little out on the wings. He also looks like Wallace from The Wire.

November 27, 2007

The Failure Franchise Just Keeps Failing Away

They traded their best player in the offseason in a deal that absolutely did not have to happen, from either side. As a result of that, we have:

1. A stadium that sits at around 50-70% full for each game (being out-drawn by the Gophers is going to start to hurt)
2. A failure coach who has no idea how to find the right mix of players on the floor, and gives WAYYYYY too much time to Marko Jaric.
3. A team too young to rise above their failure coach (see: Boston).
4. Nobody on the team with a combination of being confident AND good enough to take a meaningful shot in the 4th quarter and have it go in.

And then there's this: the biggest game of the year is KG's return in February. They are building their entire ticket campaign around that one game. They started with 10 game packs, then they were offering it 6 game packs. Now it's a special Holiday Fun Deal: 3 games for 50 bucks and one of them is Boston. They're holding those Boston tickets for dear life, knowing that it is the only way they can sell the other tickets at all. The team and coach isn't good enough to even draw people in for Dallas and Phoenix????? We better offer Boston!

Why would you want to go to the Boston game? To see Kevin Garnett. That will be the only game of the year that is sold out.


It's a crumbling facade, made no better by this idiot coach and idiot GM. They can't back their way into a win, they can't even beat teams who are relatively close to them in talent. They get lucky and catch teams on an off night, but it will never be enough to sustain any sort of growth or success. They'll continue to flail about until they each leave via free agency, the coach is fired, or the team folds.

I've run the gamut of emotions with this Wolves team, and I currently find myself at utter apathy and despair. I could give a shit what they do, and I want to see them fail more so that the coach is fired.

You know it's bad when I have the chance to see Phoenix, Dallas and Boston for 50 dollars and I don't even think once about doing it. The dark days have fallen, and there is no morning.

November 25, 2007


The Wolves had an 18-point lead at half time.

Against the Hawks.

And lost.

63 points in the first half.

24 in the second half.

Randy Wittman needs to be fired. A collapse like that can't be put all on the players. That's the coach not being able to adjust to adjustments made by the other team. That's poor coaching. He should've never been a head coach and should've never been put in charge of a young team. He's not a teacher. He's never had any success at any level. He's going to be a bigger problem this season than Kevin McHale. That's how serious this team's problems on the bench are.

November 20, 2007

As We Sit

Right now, with the current rosters, the Gophers would defeat the Timberwolves at a game of basketball. Their coach is that much smarter than Wittless.

I'm just saying.

November 18, 2007

Ping Pong Balls

Not to focus on a team, but it looks like they will get their fair share of ping pong balls for the next draft. If the odds play out, it might be Hibbert and the newly extended Al Jeff down low. That could be something . . . Hibbert, Al Jeff, Brewer, Foye, McCants. That could be something, right?

November 14, 2007

Bears, Cats, and.....Bears - Oh My!

It was a pretty good start to the college basketball season. A few upsets, blowouts, and dropped jaws. It can only go up from here as we get closer to March.

Winning Ways

The mighty Golden Gophers of Minnesota are in the books - undefeated thus far!!! 1-0! That might be the first time since a year ago they've won more games than they've lost. But seriously, good start for the Tubby-era. No one jumped off the box stat-wise but they ran and played hard, which are not traits of the previous regime.

Someone I know had the Belmont Bears in the Sweet 16 a couple years back so I couldn't help but notice they picked up a decent non-conference win at Cinncinati. Sure the Bearcats are down, but now we know a Bear-bear beats a Bearcat.

Kids To Watch

Michael Beasley is going to show up early and often here because I think he's going to be KD 2.0. In two games this week he's averaging 31 points, 19 rebounds - setting a Big 12 record with 24 rebounds in one game. This kid does it all over the floor. I know he was sad when Huggins left, but I think staying at K-State will further ensure his status as a top-5 draft pick next year.

Kevin Love will also show up here often. His UCLA Bruins, ranked #2 in the country, went 2-0 this past week behind two solid performances by the freshman center. He averaged 21.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. I don't think he's going to throw up Beasley's gaudy numbers but I think he'll average a workmans double-double and be a factor in every game this year. (Love had 19 points and 9 rebounds last night too)

Teams On The Gleem

Watch out for Orangemen's backcourt of Jonny Flynn and Eric Devendorf. They combined for 47 points and 15 assists in their first game of the year. Flynn is a highly touted freshman from New York and should compliment the McNamara-like skills of Devendorf throughout the year. I don't expect huge things from 'Cuse, but I expect them to be a problem for mid-to-high seeds on the second weekend come March.

I know everyone hates them, even in a down year, but the Duke Bluedevils will be better than most expect - well, except those who drink the blue Kool-aid. Through two games freshman Kyle Singler has been steady(15 pts, 10 pts) and Jon Scheyer has been Coach K's offensive punch off the bench, averaging 17.5 points in 26 minutes per game. They won't wow anyone this year, but expect them to be improved from a season ago.

Something To Watch

Coming off a huge upset of Kentucky, Gardner-Webb will have two cracks at Uconn in the coming week (11/15, 11/20). Can they reproduce the magic? We'll see. Uconn is young and the Runnin' Bulldogs are 3-0 and looking like an early pick for a mid-major spot in the Dance. That's of course premature, but if they play the Huskies tough, or even win a game, that'll certainly help give all of us bracket-crazy fools a better idea of how good they really are.

November 9, 2007

College Knowledge: A Big Ten Preview

The Big Ten conference couldn indeed be in for a surprise season this year. It's no longer the Greg Oden Conference, Alando Tucker and Chris Rock are no longer at Wisconsin, and there are three new head coaches at Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota. It seems as though the experts have decided that this will be a down year for the boys of the midwest except in Bloomington and East Lansing. It's hard to argue with them considering all the departures. One Big Ten All-Conference First teamer returns(Drew Neitzel, MSU), one second teamer(D.J. White, IU), one All-Freshmen teamer (Raymar Morgan, MSU), and none of the major individual award winners remain in the conference.

That leaves eight of the eleven teams with five or more freshmen on their roster, eight teams with three seniors or less, and six teams with both. That's much younger than the conference has been in the past.

What that means is that predicting who's going to finish where in the standing may be more difficult than in the past - to some extent. I think there are two tiers in the Big Ten this year: The top 6 and the bottom 5. Realistically there are only four teams that have legitimate shots at making the big dance in March, assuming everything goes the way it's supposed to.

Michigan State is the cream of the crop this season, returning All-Conference first team point guard, and a pre-season candidate for conference player of the year, Drew Neitzel. Sophomore Raymar Morgan is primed to build on his solid freshman season. You can never count out a team coached by Tom Izzo either, they always seem to be there in the end.

Indiana is right there with the Spartans as well due to the return of their own conference player of the year candidate D.J. White. He'll have some more help this season in form of freshman sensation Eric Gordon who was a top prospect out of high school, mentioned in the same sentences as O.J. Mayo and Derrick Rose. Expect good things from the Hoosiers this year.

The team that I think is flying under the radar right now is Ohio State. Yes they lost their trio of special freshmen to the NBA but they're bringing in four new youngsters that should be able to fill in atleast some of the void left by Oden, Conley, and Cook. Remember these names: Kosta Koufos and Jon Diebler. Koufos was the U-18 Euro tourney MVP and the runner up to Diebler for Mr. Basketball in Ohio. They should both play prominant roles immediately. Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner are the other two freshmen that should contribute, but maybe not right away.

Wisconsin is the last team in the Big Ten that I believe has a shot at playing in March. Losing Alando Tucker and Kammron Taylor will hurt, but the development of Brian Butch and Michael Flowers should help ease that pain. A decent freshman class and coach Bo Ryan should be able to put together a good enough season to get them to the Big Dance and finish in the top 5 in the Big Ten.

Purdue and Illinois should round out the top 6 in a weaker Big Ten than in the past due to decent recruiting classes and well balanced rosters.

Michigan and Minnesota are two of the three teams that have new coaches this season (Iowa being the other) so it's hard to say what's going to happen with those two teams. Michigan lost it's four top scorers from a year ago and are learning a complex, new system under new head coach John Beilein. They had a "disappointing" 22 win season last year and probably won't get off to a great start this season, making it hard to match the totals from last year. I think this team will be dangerous come the Big Ten tournament because they'll have gotten a grasp on a system that is very hard to defend and could make a surprise, Iowa-like run from a couple years ago, to steal a spot in the big dance.

As for Minnesota, they have nowhere to go but up. Just like Michigan they had a disappointing 22 win season - 22 wins for their opponents. They're one of the older teams in the conference and probably one of the least talented. But that's just what new head coach Tubby Smith wants you to think. They may not play much better this year but they'll play much harder and I think we'll see more than we thought we were going to out of the senior trio of Spencer Tollackson, Dan Coleman, and Lawrence Mckenzie. They won't make the dance and are probably a long shot for the NIT as well, but with Tubby on the bench we should expect nothing but better-than-last-year.

Iowa's best players (Tyler Smith, Adam Huluska) transferred to Tennessee and went to the NBA. They have some decent young talent and a hungry coach but they're two years away from being much of anything. Northwestern will spoil someone's Big Ten season but do nothing otherwise, and Penn State will be Penn State - which is to say not that good.

1. Michigan State 13-3
2. Indiana 12-4
3. Ohio State 11-5
4. Wisconsin 11-5
5. Purdue 9-7
6. Illinois 9-7

7. Michigan 8-8
8. Minnesota 8-8
9. Iowa 6-10
10. Penn State 4-12
11. Northwestern 2-14

All Conference Team
Drew Neitzel
Eric Gordon
Brian Butch
D.J. White
Kosta Koufos

Player of the Year: D.J. White
Freshman of the Year: Eric Gordon
Defensive Player of the Year: Kosta Koufos
Coach of the Year: Tubby Smith

November 8, 2007

Blueberry Pancakes

Everyone loves them. And everyone's a winner a Putt-Putt. And right now, surrounded by pickets, fog, and the usual...the Clip Ship is 4-0. I should be happy, but...

We've been here before. You take wins where you can get them and steal others. When life is hard in March, you need these November wins. Hell, get them under the radar. As this photo indicates, a match-up of undefeated teams this soon doesn't draw a lot of interest - even in Indiana.

A little over 10 years ago, the Clippers started the season in a similar fashion, and ended up with a big WEOMP for the season summary. This team is usually a failure, so it's only a matter of time, right?

The injuries, big and small, continue to pile up. And yet...gotta get these wins. It would seem to me, with a franchise such as this, you're not being pessimistic by thinking this way. It happens at some point during the season, so it takes an able mind to be prepared.

But...4-0. A fine start. Come Friday, another undefeated team, another measuring stick. Ghetto meets Ghetto. Come prepared.

November 7, 2007

Free Woes

I certainly hope this trend changes, but the Wolves have given away all three games at the free throw line. They've outrebounded two of their three opponents and are only averaging 13 turnovers per game, which is quite good considering the teams youth. But the fouls and the free throw disparity is attrocious. They've attempted 54 freethrows compared to their opponents 121, and have been outscored there 89-38.

Versus Denver the Wolves were 14/19 compared to the Nuggets 28/38. They were outscored at the free throw line by 14 and lost the game by 8.

Against Orlando they were 18/15 to the Magic's 31/44. They lost the game by 8 while being outscored at the line by 13.

And to top it off, the game against the Knicks was glaringly bad. The Wolves were 6/10 compared to 30/39. They lost by 4 and got crushed at the free throw line by 24. If that difference is even a third, the Wolves win that game.

I know that they're young - and the officials know it - so they're not going to get the calls, they're going to make mistakes, and they may not be aggressive at the right times, but that has to change if they want to win any games. They've been in all three games this year, so it's the little things that are going to make a difference. Randy Foye should help get their free throw attempts up because he likes to go to the basket so hopefully he'll rub off on the rest of the team.

November 6, 2007

College Basketball And The 2008 NBA Draft

I know, I know, neither hoops season is very far along, but with our boys off to an 0-2 start and expectations extremely low, I've decided to keep an eye on some players in the college game that could end up wearing white, black, and blue next season. Hopefully I'll do this periodically but I can't promise anything.

Michael Beasley, F 6-9 235 Freshman, Kansas State

In an exhibition game against Not-really-a-college-state Beasley put up an impressive line of 35 points, 15 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists, and 4 blocks. Not bad. The most impressive part of that line? He did that in only 28 minutes. K-State pulled a bit of a coup just to get this kid - rated #2 behind OJ Mayo - to Mahattan, let alone keep him after Huggy-bear dipped to West Virginia. He alone has them in the top-25 and he'll have every opportunity to keep them there - or atleast close anyways. I expect him to have a Kevin Durant/Carmelo Anthony type of season individually, but probably not quite the team success those two had. All I can say is, if you haven't seen this kid play yet, make sure to watch any K-State game you can because you'll be watching something special. Of course you could probably just wait til next year and watch him in the NBA.

Derrick Rose, G 6-4 195 Freshman, Memphis

This kid has been, and will continue to be, splashed all over everywhere. Partially because he was the #3 rated recruit behind OJ Mayo, they play a similar game, and his team is ranked #3 in the country with a solid shot at a title in March. As far as his game, he didn't disappoint against We're-not-good-university putting up 17 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 blocks. He did all that in 25 minutes and he only had 1 turnover. I think OJ Mayo may have a better season individually but I think Rose will help lead his team in meeting many of the expectations people hold for the Tigers. I expect him to have a college career similar to that of Stephon Marbury: He'll break your ankles, taunt you, then bury a big three in a big game, on his way to the NBA. That's where the comparisons to Starbury end though. This kid will be special.

November 2, 2007

So Our Final Conclusion Has Been Permitted, Punks Made Us A Target And Knew That We'd Hit It

Big Al, Foye, McCants, and the season opens tonight.

The roller coaster just took off.

We embark on a season of uncertainty and potential, one judged not by overall record but whether the players live up to expectations and projections. Will Al get 20 a game? Can he rebound 12? Can the team give up less than a hundred points a game? If these goals are achieved, the record will speak for itself.

The truly fun thing about this season is that every pundit in the entire American basketball world has picked the Wolves to finish dead last in the league. I've seen predictions of as low as 15 wins. On the other side, there are only a handful of teams with guaranteed successful seasons looming (San Antonio, Dallas, Detroit, Phoenix, etc) Nearly every other team has a bunch of question marks, and their projected record is based on what might happen and what their fans expect. Even the Celtics, who were drastically improved by our deceased GM, still have a wholly incompetent coach running the show, and are liable to duck out in the first round to Orlando. Cleveland fans just hope to holy hell that they can get into the playoffs and have LeBron take over. That uncertainty, that awful feeling of being just good enough to run with the pack, is missing from this Wolves team.

Look, we can sit here and try to pretty this thing up, but the fact is that the Wolves are a pretty garbage team and the odds of them simply making the playoffs are almost a thousand to one. It's really never happened before - that a team this young and inexperienced has even had a winning record. So I'm not saying this as some sort of defense mechanism in order to convey a pessimist view. It's the honest truth. They're not good. I'm fully expecting a shellacking at the hands of the Nugs tonight.

But if Al scores 25 and grabs 13? I'm not going to be disappointed at all.

Game on.