Weekend Links

This week’s weekend links are very Timberwolves-centric, as I’m still riding the high from last night’s buzzer-beating victory over the Clippers. Go watch Kevin Love’s game-winner, then come back here. As always, these links appeared first at RandBall, your home for forgetting all about this year’s Hockey Day Minnesota because I’m too excited about the Wolves.

I want to convince you to believe in the Timberwolves. Not in their potential. In this team, right now. For years we Wolves fans have been conditioned to look at the long term, to take solace in moral victories, and to talk about the Wolves in terms of what they might someday be. And while I admit it sounds over-optimistic to get excited about a team with a losing record, consider this. Of the team’s eight losses, five were basically one-possession games. Against Toronto, the Wolves lost by eleven, but only because they went on an epic fourth-quarter run of bricklaying; another eleven-point loss against Chicago was due to Derrick Rose, and to the Bulls hitting 134% from three-point range. Only against Cleveland did Minnesota come out and really play badly, a shocker for those of us who have watched the Wolves play insipid, hopeless basketball for entire months over the past few years.

Minnesota is 12th in the league in defense. They are 12th in point differential – they’re scoring more points than they’re giving up. Ricky Rubio is the real deal. Kevin Love is an All-Star. And random guys are stepping up at various times – Darko had 22 points and shoved Blake Griffin around last night, did you see that? Sure, there’s potential on this team. But that potential isn’t focused on some unfixed, distant point in the future. I think this team is a threat for a playoff spot, I really do. That potential is happening, now.

And if I haven’t yet convinced you to start watching the Wolves, watch Kevin Love’s game-winning shot from last night and tell me that this isn’t fun.

On with the links:

*Two links this week from Benjamin Polk of the A Wolf Among Wolves blog. First is a piece published at The Classical about Ricky Rubio – and hope. Second is a look at Derrick Williams’ season so far.

*It’s college football recruiting season, and the great Spencer Hall sets the table by explaining the whole recruiting process for you. (NOTE: Explanation may not completely follow guidelines from the NCAA Manual.)

*It sounds like next year’s NHL Winter Classic will be between the Red Wings and the Maple Leafs, as part of the league’s continuing quest to make sure that casual fans assume that the NHL has only eight teams. Down Goes Brown looks at the pros and cons of this possibility. Key quote: “Con: Detroit is located in Michigan which is pretty much the furthest west you can go and still find any American hockey fans, as far as the NHL seems to know.”

*And finally: remember nine years ago, when the Giants lost the the 49ers after botching a field goal attempt in one of the most bizarre ends to a game you’ll ever see? The AP’s Jim Litke catches up with the long snapper that day, Trey Junkin, whose life has never been the same since.

That’s it for me. Utah tonight for the Wolves, but no TV locally. I’ve got to go and call the folks at Channel 45 under a few hundred assumed names, in the hopes they’ll pick up a bunch of these nontelevised games and show them here in Minnesota.