19 Jan 19
Debbie Jones was watching on TV at her Apple Valley home last Monday when her son, Tre Jones, a freshman point guard at Duke, was lost indefinitely to the Blue Devils with a right shoulder injury in a loss to Syracuse.
Debbie Jones, right, of Apple Valley, and her sons, local basketball stars Tre, left, and Tyus Jones, are photographed after Duke’s 66-52 victory over Gonzaga on Sunday March 29, 2015 in Houston to advance the Blue Devils to the NCAA Final Four. At the time, Tyus was a freshman point guard for Duke, and Tre was a freshman guard on the Apple Valley High School team that won the 2015 Class 4A State Boys’ Basketball championship. Photo courtesy of the Jones family.
A day later, Debbie was watching on TV again when her other point guard son, Tyus, was lost indefinitely to the Minnesota Timberwolves, suffering an ankle sprain in a loss to Philadelphia.
“Crazy,” Debbie said. “It’s devastating because I’m watching on TV — it’s not like I’m even there. It was not easy, not easy at all.
“But what do you do? You can’t control it, so you do what you can do, hope that their recovery is quick and they can get back on the floor as soon as possible. Unfortunately, injuries are part of things, and you try to avoid them. There are times you just have to deal with it.
“Rehab and get back out there better and stronger.”
Debbie Jones already had plans to visit Tre at Duke on Saturday.
“I’ll check on Tre, and Tyus is back (in Minnesota) now, so I’ll be checking on him,” she said.
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano blasted a colossal home run for the Estrellas Orientales in a Dominican Republic game the other day, then stared at it in admiration before jubilantly circling the bases to cheers from teammates. Sano, who weighed 297 last season, appears to have lost weight, but he’s still plenty big.
The NHL’s trade deadline is Feb. 25. Other than Nino Niederreiter going to Carolina last week, people in the know say first-year Wild general manager Paul Fenton hasn’t had much latitude to deal because of some no-trade clauses, coupled with several players with overvalued contracts underperforming.
Until defenseman Matt Dumba was injured (ruptured pectoralis) last month, the Wild had a player who could actually bring a substantive return in a trade.
By the way, coach Bruce Boudreau, in the third season of a four-year contract, still has the support of the front office.
Despite its embarrassing 95-68 loss at Illinois last week, the Gophers men’s basketball team should get into the NCAA tournament if it can win eight of its final 14 games, which would leave the U with a 21-10 record. But right now, the Gophers are on the bubble.
When the hockey team former Gophers captain and Wild forward Erik Westrum coaches, Southwest Christian-Richfield, had its game against Dodge County cancelled due to snow on Friday, he and wife Kelly invited the players to their Prior Lake backyard outdoor rink for a hockey day.
K.J. Choi on Saturday committed to the inaugural 3M Open PGA Tour tournament in July at the TPC in Blaine, joining Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau.
The reigning Big Ten baseball champion Gophers have received a transfer commitment from former Woodbury slugger Ronald Sweeny III, who as a freshman at Iowa Western community college last year hit .375 with four home runs and 34 runs batted in in 40 games.
Sweeny, 6 feet 2, 210 pounds, bats left-handed and will be a scholarship player for Minnesota in 2020. He’ll remain at Iowa Western this season and have two years of eligibility with the Gophers. Sweeny was a Woodbury teammate of the Gophers’ star closer, Max Meyer, and is expected to play first base.
Meyer, meanwhile, a sophomore right-hander with a mid-90s fastball and biting slider, also will play some left field for the Gophers. He’s committed to play in the accelerated Cape Cod collegiate summer league for Wareham this year. The Cape Cod League gets stocked with future high-round major league draft picks.
Meyer, if he remains healthy, could be a first-round pick in the 2020 draft. Last summer, he had seven saves in 16 games for Team USA that competed in Cuba.
The Twins will have a total of 70 managers, coaches and trainers working in their minor league system this season for about 150 players.
Besides Gophers Rem Pitlick, Mat Robson and Tyler Sheehy, a record 78 names were submitted for Hobey Baker Award consideration last week. The leader at this juncture appears to be Calgary native Taro Hirose of Michigan State, which Minnesota faced this weekend in East Lansing.
Formerly a staff member with the Denver Broncos, orthopedist Brian Bjerke is moving to join the Vikings’ medical staff.
It’s a new $704,000, 2,500-square foot state-of-art baseball clubhouse for St. Mary’s University’s program that opened last week.
Some notable coaches were to be behind the benches when the Minnetonka and Andover boys hockey teams played a Hockey Day Minnesota game on Saturday at Lake Bemidji.
Minnetonka is coached by Sean Goldsworthy, son of iconic late North Star Bill Goldsworthy, the creator of the popular Goldy Shuffle.
Andover is coached by Mark Manney, a former Moorhead star who played at Air Force Academy, then became a pilot for six years on Air Force One for presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
“They are first-class, gracious, humble guys who treat you with the utmost respect — everything you’d kind of want in a president regardless of whether you agree with their policies or not,” Manney said.
Air Force One is a Boeing 747-200. Was there pressure flying the leader of the free world?
“Yeah, at times,” said Manney, 59. “There are a lot of (trips) that are pretty simple and straight forward, and some others that, yeah, you feel the heat. But there’s no thrill like the first time.”
The first time was in 1999.
“You’ve seen the plane on TV coming into or departing somewhere, and once you’re up in the cockpit watching yourself up there, it’s a little different feeling,” Manney said.
St. John’s senior guard David Stokman, who will face St. Thomas in a rivalry game at Schoenecker Arena on Monday evening, was named MIAC basketball athlete of the week after shooting 59.4 from the field and 60 percent from three-point range in three victories.
St. John’s is ranked No. 8 nationally in Division III; St. Thomas No. 11.
Nearly 120 avid Twins fans paid more than $4,000 apiece for the team’s week-long fantasy camp in Fort Myers, Fla., held two weeks ago.
“Just a bunch of fun baseball guys that’s turned into a pretty good family thing as far as getting to know these guys,” Kent Hrbek said. “Every time I go to a Twins game now, I run into five different campers.”
Nearly 30 rookies attended the camp this year.
“I don’t think the price really matters to them — that’s not the deal,” said Hrbek, whose No. 14 Twins jersey is among those retired at Target Field.
“It’s a fun week of competitive baseball. The juices are flowing, and guys get to be men and let their hormones go.”
Former Twins Jacque Jones, J.C. Romero, Tommy Watkins, Juan Rincon and Matt LeCroy were new fantasy camp coaches this year. Other former Twins participating included Bert Blyleven, Frank Viola, Bill Campbell, Steve Braun, Tony Oliva, Dick Stigman, Juan Berenguer, Tim Laudner and Phil Roof.
There’s a player draft before games start at the Twins’ multi-field spring training complex.
“That gets pretty wild — it’s a fun time,” Hrbek said. “You put together your team, and then you go out and play.”
Hrbek, 58, and Laudner, 60, coach a team together.
“I’m the general manager, and Timmy’s the manager,” Hrbek said. “The guys have fun the first couple games, then it turns pretty cutthroat because if you make it to the championship game, you get to play at (major league) Hammond Field.”
Hrbek, who hit 293 home runs during a wonderful 14-year career for the Twins, took an at-bat during the pro-camper game.
“Popped out to second base,” he said with a laugh, “so I’ve still got it.”
Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle joins hosts Bill Robertson and Patrick Klinger on Friday on “Behind the Game,” a TV show airing on cable access and YouTube.
When the Gophers play Wisconsin in men’s hockey at Mariucci Arena next Saturday, a 40th anniversary celebration of the Herb Brooks-coached 1979 national champions will take place.
It’s gone generally unnoticed, but in the Timberwolves’ loss to San Antonio on Friday, Andrew Wiggins (7,174 points, 19.5-per-game average) surpassed Sam Mitchell (7,161) for second-place on the team’s all-time scoring list. Kevin Garnett leads with 19,201 (19.8 average).
Mitchell these days is relentlessly recruiting Rochester John Marshall’s Matthew Hurt as an assistant at Memphis.
The Gophers women’s basketball game at Nebraska on Sunday will be televised by ESPN2 at 5 p.m. The Cornhuskers have two Minnesotans — frosh Sam Haiby from Moorhead and Kayla Mershon from Minnetonka.
New Twins manager Rocco Baldelli speaks Friday at a Dunkers breakfast at the Minneapolis Club.
DON’T PRINT THAT
Insiders say contract, age, unspectacular play and team salary cap could seriously prompt the Vikings to try to either trade former Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen or even release him if they can’t get a satisfactory pay reduction from him in the offseason.
Griffen, 31, who’s under contract for nearly $12 million next season, wasn’t the same player this season after missing five games for mental health concerns. A new deal is expected to be heavy on incentives.
A little birdie says the Timberwolves’ initial consideration as an assistant for interim coach Ryan Saunders was Randy Wittman, the ex-Wolves coach. But they settled on just-as-good Jerry Sichting, who also was a Wolves assistant under Saunders’ father, Flip.
Ryan Saunders’ composure under duress, and whether he holds players accountable, will be big factors in determining whether the Timberwolves erase his interim tag as head coach.
No decision will be made until this summer. One thing for sure: If the Wolves offered Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve the job, she would accept in a minute.
There are more than a few coaches outside the Timberwolves’ staff who immediately made it known they want the head coaching job made vacant with Tom Thibodeau’s firing.
The Timberwolves have improved from 29th to 27th of the NBA’s 30 teams in attendance, averaging 15,030 a game.
Paul Chryst, whose Wisconsin football team lost 37-15 to the Gophers last season when he was paid $3.75 million, last week received a contract extension through 2024. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck’s annual deal is for $3.55 million and runs through 2023.
A report that the Twins could be a suitor for either Bryce Harper or Manny Machado is laughable.
Larry Fitzgerald’s hole-in-one at posh Seminole Golf Club (Juno Beach, Fla.) playing with former President Barack Obama last Friday was No. 3 for the Arizona Cardinals’ wideout from Minneapolis. The future hall of famer is a 10-handicapper.
Vikings wideout Adam Thielen, a 2-handicapper, has committed to return to the Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament in Nevada in July.
Ex-Viking Adrian Peterson, who turns 34 in March, rushed for 1,042 yards for the Washington Redskins this season. The Vikings’ top two running backs, Dalvin Cook and Latavius Murray, totaled only 151 yards more.
Former Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman, the ex-Gophers QB from St. Louis Park, would have seemed a worthwhile choice as the Vikings’ QB coach.
What? The Gophers men’s hockey team the past two weeks beat No. 9 nationally-ranked teams, Notre Dame (twice last weekend) and Penn State (the weekend before), but were not even included in the latest top-15 rankings. They didn’t even receive a single vote.
You’ve got to wonder how long Penn State will stay with men’s basketball coach Pat Chambers, whose Nittany Lions entered Saturday’s game against the Gophers with a Big Ten record of 0-7.
It was Jimmy O’Neill, who was Joe Mauer’s baseball coach at Cretin-Derham Hall, who suggested that the former Twins star be hesitant to swing at the first pitch. It was when Mauer was a sophomore.
“I probably told that to a half-dozen guys that have really good hand-eye coordination. But most of the other guys never listened,” O’Neill said. “Make sure you get a good pitch to hit because then usually when you swing, you hit it. You look back on it, and Joe really only did swing and miss once his entire high school career.”
MLB.com predicts new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli’s starting lineup if the season began today, and it’s not far off: 1, Jorge Polanco, SS; 2, Eddie Rosario, LF; 3, Miguel Sano, 3B; 4, Nelson Cruz, DH; 5, C.J. Cron, 1B; 6, Max Kepler, RF; 7, Jonathan Schoop, 2B; 8, Jason Castro, C; 9, Byron Buxton, CF.
That was Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor in Des Moines recently watching the Iowa Wolves’ G League team and meeting with sponsors and fans.
Taylor, by the way, owns a chicken farm in northern Iowa that produces 4 million eggs a day and is growing rapidly.
Former Twins third base coach Gene Glynn, 62, who is about to begin his 41st season in professional baseball as roving minor league infield and base running instructor for the Miami Marlins, on the Twins’ Sano: “He’s underrated as a third baseman, one of the best I’ve ever seen coming in on a ball and throwing.”
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