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Papa Glen's Great Adventure


From yesterday's PiPress (cross outs are mine):

Randy Wittman's coaching job is safe, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said.

"If I worried about the short term, and I looked at the economy and all my companies, if I based things on that, then I'd fire all my presidents because they had a bad month," Taylor said. "I've been through ups and downs. You've got to be patient. I think Randy has prepared (the players) well. We've just got to get them some confidence. They're still young."


"Because they've done some really good things," Taylor said. "It's just been that fourth quarter. Is it just unlucky, or why do we do turnovers late in the game?"

I thought we would probably have a better record. We played really good in every game for three quarters; we've just struggled in fourth quarters. We've done some really good things this year. The turnovers have been down, but when we've had them, they've been at critical times in the fourth quarter."

Wittman has this season and next season remaining on a contract worth nearly $5 million. No shakeups are planned, Taylor said.

Now imagine that Papa Glen had said "third quarter" and take a look at last night's ball game:

    1 2 3 4 Total
Boston 22 14 35 24 95 Final 
Minnesota 21 18 10 29 78

Those damn 3rd quarters.  

I hate to be the one to break this to Papa Glen, but it doesn't matter which quarter you pick, the Wolves have at least one 12-minute suck-fest during each and every game.  In this case, the world champion Celtics decided that they didn't want to exert 48 minutes of effort against a scrappy Wolves club and they pulled away at the half.   Other teams just have the decency to wait until the last quarter. 

The problem with the Wolves has nothing to do with the 4th quarter.  It has to do with questionable personnel decisions, bad coaching, and terrible back court play.  That's it.  You can pretend that it's a matter of getting your guys to play a bit harder in the 4th against the Oklahoma Cities and Golden States of the world, but ultimately this comes down to the simple facts of Kevin McHale can't GM, Randy Wittman can't coach, and Randy Foye can't play point.  You newspaper columnists can thank me later for saving you a years worth of material with this squad.

Since we're on the subject of quarters, let's also take the time to talk a bit about the 1st.  Randy Wittman now runs out a starting lineup of Al Jefferson, Jason Collins, Ryan Gomes, Mike Miller, and Foye.  Against Philly, Collins racked up a -11 before he was yanked for Kevin LoveAgainst Denver, JC was -8 before K-Love made his entrance.  Against Boston, Collins gave up a -3 before the Wolves' 1st round pick made his way into the game.  I am in no way suggesting that Kevin Love is going to win all of these games for Our Beloved Puppies Zombies, but a) he needs the minutes and b) he's better than Jason Collins.  Forget the end of games, Minnesota is the only team in the league that spots its opponents Jason Collins and a terrible defensive 3 point specialist who doesn't shoot 3 pointers. 

Speaking of Mr. South Dakota, he has now taken a grand total of 32 shots in his past 5 games.  He is shooting 52% from the floor.  I'll let Britt take it from here:

Miller had proudly told reporters that he didn't take bad shots, and wouldn't take bad shots, which sounds dandy--"play the right way" and all of that--except when you consider that coming into Wednesday's game, Randy Foye was shooting 36.3%, Rashad McCants 35.8%, Corey Brewer 38.6%, Kevin Love 38.2% and Bassy Telfair 32.4%. By contrast, Mike Miller was making 51.7% of those good shots he was taking, which made one or two Wolves partisans interested in finding out what might happen if he threw up a few bad ones, because even if only 40% of them went in, it was better than the other alternatives on the wing.

Mike, on a team with Randy Foye, Sebastian Telfair, and Corey Brewer, we need you to take some bad shots.  Please.  Last night you had numerous open shots that were inexplicably passed on.  One in particular stands out.  In the 1st quarter, Kevin Love set a beautiful screen to open you up from three.  The shot was yours.  Completely sealed from the defender by the heads-up rookie.  Did you shoot?  Of course not.  In other related South Dakota news, human cock fighter and SD native Brock Lesnar was at last night's game. 

Let's get to some bullet points:

  • Last year the Wolves chalked up their 3rd victory in the 18th contest of the year.  Their next 7 games are against Detroit, Phoenix, OKC, Denver, Charlotte, Orlando, and New Jersey.  Here's hoping for some luck against the Thunder.
  • If you take a look at the After 10 stat post, I think you can easily make the case that the Wolves are improving.  They have more talent and they are doing a few things quite a bit better than they were last season. They are doing some things worse, but on the whole, this is an improved club.  The problem here is a general lack of above-average talent and baffling rotations. 
  • In an interesting rotation decision last night, Witt ran out Bassy, Craig Smith, Corey Brewer, Kevin Love, and Rodney Carney. It was a small athletic lineup brought about by the Celtics' big men getting in foul trouble.  With the naked eye, it was a surprisingly effective 2nd unit.  It will be interesting to see what Popcorn Machine has to say about it. 
  • The Wolves shot 31.3% from the floor last night.  The team record for lowest FG% in a game is 29%.  The league record is .229: Milwaukee vs. Minneapolis, at Buffalo, November 6, 1954 (22/96)
  • Despite the loss, the Wolves continue to get to the line and turn the ball over less than their opponent; winning the FT battle (23-27) to (17-24) and the TO battle 14-16.  OBZ's also had twice as many offensive rebounds as did the Celtics.  Too bad they shot 18% lower from the field.  This was a completely one-dimensional Four Factor loss. 
  • Boston is a good defensive team, but I'd love for the refs to actually call a clean game against them just to see what would happen.  Boston is a serial violator of defensive three second and hand checking rules.  Last night, they kept a series of 2 bigs on the floor--either KG, Leon Powe, Kendrick Perkins, or Glen Davis. In their defensive scheme, one of these lugs is a floater who has responsibility to cut off penetration.  Without any penetration, he just sort of sits there and I cannot tell you how many times I looked in the lane to find a Boston big with his hands down just standing there with no one around.  I'm a big proponent of zone defense and I think the league should remove all restrictions on its implementation (to go along with a widened lane and shorter 3 point line).  However, as the rules currently stand, Boston walks awfully close to the line when it comes to a legal zone or help defense.  It didn't cost them the game against the Wolves, but it sure as hell didn't hurt them in the playoffs last year.
  • Randy Foye had an awful, putrid, no good game.  He got the ball where it needed to go against an uneventful and unimaginative Philly squad, but against Boston, he was clueless.  Boston is exactly the type of team you need to have a good point in order to play well against.  With each passing game it becomes more and more obvious that the Wolves are going to have to use this year's draft to address their back court....which, BTW, has been the focus of 3 out of the past 4 drafts.  It doesn't exactly fill you with confidence that they can get it right this time around, does it?
  • Speaking of draft picks, when the Wolves run out a lineup of Bassy, Miller, Gomes, Jefferson, and Collins, they do not play a single player who was a 1st round pick of the team.  Not one.  Can you think of another team in the NBA that is so void of home grown top round talent?
  • Kevin Love needs to learn the art of the pull up push shot.
  • Golden State and Chicago are 87-83 with 18.8 seconds to go in the 3rd. 
  • Was anyone excited for Sam-I-Am to make his return to Target Center last night?  He was kind of left out of the whole "look who's returning" party. 
  • J-Pete had some doozies last night.  In the 1st he said that the world champs were nervous to play the Wolves.  In the 2nd he said that this was a "trap game" for the Celts as well as taking a cheap shot at departed-Puppy Marko Jaric. In the 4th he said something to the effect of "If the Wolves made more shots, they'd be in this thing."  When is he leaving to coach the Lynx again?
  • Is it too early to start talking about the draft? Have I mentioned that Stephen Curry is off to an insane start?  Remember folks, it's not too early to get on the bandwagon. 
  • The Wolves ran out a white out front line last night; Love, Brian Cardinal, and Mark Madsen.  Please tell me someone got a picture.
  • Speaking of white outs, did the team really go from Sweetwater Jones to Don Overbeck?  Ick.
  • Does anyone else want to strangle Mr. Overbeck yet?

Folks, there was a lot of chatter on the radio today about how Wolves fans would feel about KG's return to the Target Center.  Does it leave fans with a bad taste in their mouth?  Are they happy that KG finally won a title?  Are they bitter?  To tell you the truth, I was really kind of ambivalent about KG's return.  After all, outside of one magical run to the WCF, KG, his big salary, and his taste in free agents (cough...T-Hud...cough) helped keep the Wolves stuck in 1st round playoff hell.  Yeah, it kind of sucks that the Wolves had the basic idea right (surround him with 2 scorers) and that it only took him a few months to win elsewhere what he could have won here under better management, but it had to change.  If KG were still on this squad, the Wolves would have likely had only 1 1st rounder between 07-09; giving picks to the Clippers and Celtics.  They'd probably still have Ricky Davis and Marc Blount and we'd still likely be watching a 2-8 team.

The problem (and the heartache) for this club is, was, and always will be Kevin McHale and Papa Glen.  It's almost comical at this point.  They continually pick the wrong people and run the wrong systems.  They sign the wrong guys and send the wrong ones out of town.  There is zero accountability and almost no luck.  The luck that they do have gets destroyed by rank incompetence.  The Country Club is, was, and always will be.  Even if McHale retires, Fred Hoiberg is there to take his place.  What makes Freddy so qualified?  Outside of being white and from the midwest, I don't have the slightest idea. 

This team will cause heartburn and ache until the Country Club is broken up.  It has nothing to do with KG winning elsewhere and returning with a different number and team.  The Wolves are about to have a colossally bad  season and walk away with cap space and 1st round picks.  This is it.  This is their last chance.  Yet somehow, the guys who crashed the car in the first place are still behind the wheel.  That's what causes the bitterness and regret.   Things are moving in the right direction.  We just can't trust McHale and Papa Glen to get us there in one piece or not get lost in the process.