March 30, 2005


No, you're not imagining things, this week's Link-O-Rama comes a day early. In preparation for a family event that will have me wearing a suit and tie for the first time in nearly a decade, I am taking a rare three-day weekend from blogging. I'll be back Monday for all sorts of Opening Day goodness, and in the meantime here's some stuff to tide you over.

  • I have officially given up on the Timberwolves. Yes, they are riding a four-game winning streak, but they are 2.5 games out of playoff contention with just 11 games to go and their schedule still includes back-to-back road games against Phoenix and Sacramento, and home games against Denver, San Antonio, and Seattle. In other words, their chances of going 9-2 to close out the year (or something similar, which is what they'll need to make the playoffs) are slim.

    The good news -- and this is really grasping for straws -- is that the Wolves will have a lottery pick for the first time in a long time. Actually, the last time the Wolves even picked in the top 20 was back in 1999, when they drafted Wally Szczerbiak out of Miami of Ohio with the sixth pick and William Avery from Duke with the 14th pick. Avery turned out to be one of the biggest busts in the history of a franchise filled with spectacular busts, but Szczerbiak turned out about as well as could have been expected.

    Anyway, I really think the Wolves should look at grabbing a point guard. Sam Cassell is a free agent after next season and is clearly on his last legs. Whoever they pick could back up Cassell for a year and then take over as the starter in 2006-2007. Interestingly, this figures to be a pretty good draft for point guards. Here are the top 10 point guards who will likely be in the draft, according to ESPN Insider:

    1) Chris Paul, Wake Forest
    2) Deron Williams, Illinois
    3) Raymond Felton, North Carolina
    4) Daniel Gibson, Texas
    5) Ronnie Brewer, Arkansas
    6) Guillermo Diaz, Miami
    7) Monta Ellis, Lanier High School
    8) Mardy Collins, Temple
    9) Jarrett Jack, Georgia Tech
    10) John Gilcrest, Maryland

    Basically, I'd be thrilled with Paul, Williams, Felton or Gibson, although I'll admit I haven't seen Gibson as much as the other three. Felton in particular is the type of up-tempo, pass-first point guard that I like, and his improved shooting this year is impressive. Not that I don't like Paul or Williams, of course, but I think Felton has a better shot at being available when the Wolves pick. The Wolves are a team in need of a massive overhaul, as the core of their roster got old in a hurry this year. Unless they can find some way to turn Cassell into a younger star player, the only way to rebuild things with Kevin Garnett's salary on the books is to draft well and develop young players.

    The Spurs have done this with guys like Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, and the Wolves need to start doing it with Ndudi Ebi and whoever they snag with their upcoming lottery pick. And yes, I know no one thinks Ebi can play and that he is looking like a bust, but I'd like to actually see him play 20 minutes a game before I decided that for sure. The guy was an absolute stud coming out of high school just two years ago, considered as good or better than any number of guys who will be first-round picks this year. It's time to see what he can do, because giving up on a high-school draftee this soon is crazy.

  • Speaking of basketball, the seemingly annual mass exodus from the Gophers is currently taking place. Kerry Wooldridge and Miles Webb are heading elsewhere in search of playing time, and seven-foot recruit James Davis' legal troubles will keep him off the team next year (and possibly for good). I will refrain from making predictions about next year's team or the future of the program, since I was so utterly wrong about this year.
  • Getting back to the Timberwolves for a moment ... Don't laugh, but here's a guy I think they should go after hard in the offseason. Seriously. Per-40-minute averages: 18.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, 1.1 steals, 0.9 turnovers, 57.3 eFG%. Incidentally, the fact that he has played just 25.4 minutes per game this year is a major mark against Sam Mitchell in his first year on the job, albeit only one several.
  • Here's a scary story from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania campus. The highlights:

    Sixteen students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, including 11 members of the football team, were arrested this week for their alleged involvement in a retaliatory attack off campus.

    According to the Indiana Borough police, the students broke into a house on Wayne Avenue on Feb. 16 just before midnight in retaliation for a fight that had occurred at a party a week earlier between Dean Papougenis, a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, and IUP's backup quarterback, Danny Harris.

    Andrew LaScola, a 22-year-old sophomore at IUP, said he was in his room at the house, along with five other people -- including Papougenis -- when they saw an estimated 35 men walking across the parking lot toward their house.

    Can you imagine looking out your window and seeing an angry mob of football players on their way to your front door? Is there a worse feeling in the world than the one you'd have in that situation? From what I gather, this backup quarterback got beat up by a guy at a party and then got a couple dozen of his football-playing buddies to come to his rescue ... a week later. This is like two kids getting into a fight in the sandbox and the loser going to get his older brother, except like 50 times worse.

    Here's the money quote:

    "I think they took it too far," LaScola said.

    What is this world coming to when you can't get into a fist fight with a backup quarterback without risking getting your ass kicked by an entire football team?

  • Remember Matt Riley, the left-handed pitcher I suggested the Twins trade for yesterday? Well, it's too late. The Orioles dealt him to the Rangers about 10 hours after I made the suggestion.
  • Some guy named Jim Ingraham at something called the News-Herald of Northeast Ohio thinks that the Indians will win the American League Central this year. His incredibly in-depth analysis includes gems like this:

    Starting rotation

    If you combined the two teams' five-man rotation, here's how I'd rank them 1-to-10: 1. Johan Santana, 2. Brad Radke, 3. Jake Westbrook, 4. Sabathia, 5. Millwood, 6. Carlos Silva, 7. Lee, 8. Scott Elarton, 9. Kyle Lohse, 10. Joe Mays.

    EDGE: Indians.

    Yeah, that makes sense.

  • ESPN Insider's latest NFL mock draft has the Vikings ending up with Mike Williams (WR, USC) at #7 and Dan Cody (DE, Oklahoma) at #18. Sounds pretty good to me, although I wish I knew enough about this year's crop of defensive ends to say for sure which one I'd rather have.
  • If you don't already make Athletics Nation a part of your daily reading (and why not, exactly?), make sure to head over there today to read about Tyler Bleszinski's experience hanging out with and interviewing a whole bunch of the Oakland A's. Blez was schmoozing with Billy Beane, Barry Zito, Rich Harden, and Eric Byrnes, interviewing Huston Street, handing out AN's "In Billy We Trust" t-shirts, showing off pictures of his new baby girl in a gigantic-looking A's hat, and generally just living the dream of the team blogger.

    Go check it out. The pictures of Blez posing with various players while always sporting the "I can't believe this is happening" look on his face is worth the price of admission. You know, if there was a price of admission. Oh, and seeing pictures of Zito wearing the exact same thing at night and then the next morning is interesting too, in that whole "gee, I wonder what he did last night" sort of way.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Five Questions: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (by Rob McMillin)
    - Five Questions: Chicago Cubs (by Bryan Smith)
    - Giving Up The Long Ball (by Tom Meagher)
    - Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week (by Studes)

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