Following are opinions from Mille Lacs County Times sports editor Gary Larson, former Princeton Union-Eagle editor and sports columnist Luther Dorr, former Times intern Logan Marxhausen and sports fan Ben Johnson. Note: This feature is written on Monday each week.
•Question: The Winter Olympics are underway in Sochi, Russia. How much have you been watching and how much will you be watching? What events are you most interested in?
-Dorr: Haven’t watched much, the Beatles show on Sunday night being a bigger attraction. If I have the time I will watch hockey, both men’s and women’s, and downhill, slalom and ski jumping, luge, and maybe even some curling if the U.S. is involved. If I’m home and speed skating is on, or maybe even figure skating, I might tune in. The Summer Olympics are a bigger draw for me. I don’t care about snowboarding, slopestyle (whatever that is), or team figure skating – in other words, some of the events they’ve added that have not been part of the Olympics in the past. And they even tried to screw up the Summer Olympics by dropping wrestling.
-Marxhausen: The Sochi Olympics have yet to catch my eye as I have not witnessed a single event on television. I usually catch the stories for the day but other then that it has been an uneventful start to the Olympics. Shaun White just qualified for the halfpipe, which is always a fun event to watch, but other than that, the only event I will be following with much anticipation will be the hockey portion of the Olympics. The exciting 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics brought foreign stars out of the woodwork as competition ran high and the rivalry between the top tier countries ran its course through the games. The Winter Olympics really does not start for many fans until the first puck drops in the men’s hockey competition. That is when my television and myself will switch into Olympics mode.
-Larson: I’ve caught an hour or so of coverage so far and will continue to do so. Having so many Minnesotans competing adds more interest. There is never a shortage of neat feature stories at the Winter and Summer Games.
-Johnson: I watched the opening ceremony along with some of the skiing and snowboarding events thus far. I look forward to watching some of the women’s and men’s hockey games. Anne Schleper, a St. Cloud native, had an assist in the 3-1 victory over Finland in the opening round for the women’s team. I’ll be sure to also catch some of the biathlon trials. The biathlon is one of the most unique events in the Winter Olympics. It combines skiing with shooting while being timed. This time of year is always a rather dull period in professional sports so it will be fun to watch the Winter Olympics.
•Question: The Minnesota Timberwolves are 24-28 after losing to Houston Monday night and have had an up-and-down season, a season in which many observers felt the team would be much improved. Owner Glen Taylor recently told Minneapolis Star-Tribune columnist Sid Hartman that he was disappointed with the team’s showing thus far and had expected the team to be better. What are your thoughts on the team and what ails it the most?
-Dorr: Just when it seemed the team was getting going, there was an injury to Nikola Pekovic. I think that took away any chance of the team making the playoffs. Now Kevin Love and Kevin Martin are hurt and who knows how much they will play? It’s surely the most star-crossed franchise ever in Minnesota and perhaps even in the U.S. They never got the high draft choice they should have gotten, because of the idiotic way the NBA conducts its draft, and they’ve had draft choices that didn’t work out, as well as injuries, such as Love missing most of last season. I thought the pieces were in place this year to have a shot at the playoffs but the injury to Pekovic took care of that. And, as I’ve said for three years, Ricky Rubio is way overrated. (Having to answer this question delayed my rant about the Gopher men’s basketball team for a week. But, have you ever seen such horrible rebounding? Although, I was there for the win against Indiana last Saturday night and it was like old times with The Barn rockin’ the way it has previously.)
-Marxhausen: It is truly no lie when you say it is brutal to watch the Timberwolves. Everyone knows they have the ability to stick with any team, but they cannot show up every day to vault themselves higher. If they were in the Eastern Conference they would be up towards the top. Watching the game against the Rockets Monday night I noticed that the team does not play with excitement nor can it lean on leadership to take the team forward. The media and fans alike figured Kevin Love to be the savior for the Timberwolves, taking them to the playoffs. While his numbers are sufficiently good enough, they lack the team aspect. Watching the Timberwolves is not fun because they are not having fun on the court. Going through the motions, they are just another bunch of athlete getting paid big money. The team needs to light a fire under its rear as it has the weapons to compete.
-Larson: How much talent do the Timberwolves really have? Is Rick Adelman the answer as head coach? I wonder. Instead of planning facility upgrades Glen Taylor should be planning roster upgrades.
-Johnson: Taylor is right in feeling disappointed with the Timberwolves so far this season. They are a better team than 24-28. They have a good group of talented players that should be putting together a winning season. They have lost six out of their last seven games and have been outscored in the fourth quarter six out of their last seven games. The team needs to finish games better. Maybe a lack of conditioning is the reason? The Timberwolves have had a few injuries but I think you could look at every NBA team and find injuries. After Denver and Indiana visit the Target Center, the Timberwolves go on a five game road trip where they could really fall behind in the standings if they don’t begin to play better.
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