Following are opinions from Mille Lacs County Times editor-sports editor Gary Larson, reporter Luther Dorr and former Times intern Logan Marxhausen. Note: This feature is written on Monday each week.
•Question: Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the University of Minnesota men’s basketball teams had high hopes going into this season but both teams have struggled and not lived up to pre-season hopes. Which team has been the most disappointing?
-Dorr: That’s a hard one to answer. The Gophers got off to a great start, including their Big Ten season, and have gone in the tank since. I think those first three games of the conference season got everyone thinking they were for real, despite the failures of the past few years under Tubby Smith. The Wolves had the Kevin Love injury, and other injuries, right away but then got going and were over .500 and looking like a definite playoff team. Then came the second injury to Love and the season has turned into a nightmare. For those folks who said they were better off without Love, I can only point to the horrible record since he went out the second time. Both teams have been very disappointing, for different reasons, but I guess I would pick the Gophers for most disappointing because their slide has come with their lineup basically intact.
-Marxhausen: Coach Rick Adelman for the Timberwolves and coach Tubby Smith for the Gophers have some things in common as they both might finish the season without a postseason bid. Adelman has been slowly working back Ricky Rubio since his ACL tear last year and has been slowly improving his minutes since his return. Rubio and Kevin Love have only played a few games together this season, including a win against top-ranked Oklahoma City 99-93 at home back on Dec. 20 to improve to 13-11. With hopes of playoffs looming, the realization came crashing down when Love broke the same hand a second time two weeks after that win and the Timberwolves have been 4-19 since. Trevor Mbakwe was also working his way back from an ACL tear when the season began and had to work his way from a bench role to a starter. On Jan. 9 the Gophers beat No. 12-ranked Illinois to improve to 15-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, just Mbakwe’s fourth start of the season. Since that win, the Gophers have lost eight of their past 11 and are looking at possibly missing the NCAA tournament. The Gophers are clearly more disappointing than the Timberwolves because of the late return of Ricky Rubio to start the season for the Timberwolves and Love breaking his hand twice in just a few months. Though the Gophers have been hurting recently with Rodney Williams being sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Gophers had such a promising start to the season and then it all came crashing down in the second half of the season. They were once considered a one seed going into the tournament and now they could be outside, looking in.
-Larson: As Luther said, it’s a tough pick. But, I’ll go with Tubby Smith’s Gophers as being the most disappointing. That team was hailed by many to place in the top three in the Big Ten and a cinch for a quality seed in the NCAA tourney. The Timberwolves were picked to bid for a playoff spot but ended up with too many injuries to overcome.
•Question: The International Olympic Committee recently announced it is dropping wrestling from the Summer Games. Wrestling has been part of the Olympic Games since 708 B.C. There is a possibility that decision could be reversed in May. What do you think of the decision to drop wrestling?
-Dorr: I thought it was a terrible decision. And in Minnesota, where wrestling is much more important than in some states, the decision has been roundly criticized. I have yet to see the reasons for the decision by the IOC but I can’t imagine those reasons are good ones. I expect the outcry to be substantial enough to get the decision reversed by the time it is to take effect.
-Marxhausen: The governing board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted on Feb. 19 to not guarantee wrestling a spot at the 2020 Olympics. Their reasons behind it include to “modernize” the Olympics. The decision could be reversed in May or wrestling will have to compete against other sports like baseball and karate to make the cut. Wrestlers are appalled that this decision would occur because of the history behind wrestling. There were 344 wrestlers in the 2012 Summer Games, representing 29 countries. It is an outrage for wrestling fans everywhere and should it not make the cut, there will be millions of disappointed fans.
-Larson: It was a hard decision to comprehend but the guess here is that there is hard work being done behind the scenes to get the decision reversed. I can think of several sports that should be eliminated instead of wrestling.
Do you have an opinion on any of this week’s questions? Do you agree or disagree with the sportswriters? Let us know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or a note to Mille Lacs County Times, 225 S.W. 2nd St. Milaca, MN 56353. Or comment online.