Flip Saunders

Recent Articles

Timberwolves’ 2014 playoffs shot slipping away!

The 2013-2014 Minnesota Timberwolves season started with great expectations. Celebrating 25 years of NBA Timberwolves basketball for the most part has been a quarter of a century of mediocrity, consistent frustration, disappointment, and unfulfilled excitement. Starting this season, the Timberwolves have missed the playoffs nine years in a row. New Vice President-Part Owner Flip Saunders replaced David Kahn. Saunders, the all-time winningest coach in franchise history, promised a culture change from top to bottom throughout the organization. Continue Reading →

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High-scoring Timberwolves now 7-4

Will this be the year the Timberwolves make a run for a title? Will they return to the playoffs for the first time since Kevin Garnett-Sam Cassell-Latrell Sprewell drove the franchise to the Western Conference Finals? This is year 25 for the Timberwolves to celebrate a quarter of a century of no banners. When I started covering sports in this town back in 1978 the NBA did not exist. After 11 games, the 7-4 Timberwolves are one of the league’s most entertaining teams. They get up and down the floor. Continue Reading →

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Bobby’s back, and he’s not the same guy

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer

 

Bobby Jackson this week begins his first season as Minnesota Timberwolves player development coach.  He returns to the area where some of his greatest athletic exploits are well-documented. Jackson starred for two seasons at the University of Minnesota (1995-97), where in his senior year he was named the Big Ten’s top player and helped the Gophers reach the 1997 NCAA national semifinals. From there, the guard became an NBA draft pick and logged a dozen seasons (1997-2009) with six teams, including the Wolves (1998-2000), and was the 2003 NBA Sixth Man during his tenure with Sacramento. “I think I had a decent career at both levels,” says Jackson humbly. After retiring as a player, Jackson first became a scout, then an assistant coach at Sacramento for two seasons. Continue Reading →

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Changing of the guard with the T-Wolves

 

 
Flip Saunders’ good calculations will replace David Kahn’s poor ones
 

Because of my November 7, 2012 column (“The smartest White team in the NBA: T-Wolves team return to the 1950s?”), we took heat from those who took exception with our prediction that there would be a “day of reckoning” (being fired) if David Kahn’s “smartest White team” strategy didn’t result in at least 45 wins (it was disastrous; they won only 31). As I wrote in that November 7 column: “Play the best players, whether all White, all Black or a combination. To have the best game possible, Commissioner Stern has insisted on ‘color blind’ drafting/signing. So why not the Timberwolves?” Thus, get the fans “the best players playing so their teams have the best chance to win. It is quite clear that owner Glenn Taylor is of the same mind set.”

My prediction was the fruit of my being a life-long sports analyst/journalist/fan with a deep sense of the game’s history. Continue Reading →

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Does it really matter? — Athletes’ sexual orientation none of our business

 

 

Two weeks ago we learned that the WNBA’s top overall pick is gay. Last week we learned that a longtime NBA veteran center is gay. Neither news item bothered me at all. However, what does bother me is what convinced Britney Griner to tell a reporter that she’s out of the closet and why it matters. Ditto for what convinced Jason Collins to exclusively speak about his sexuality to Sports Illustrated. Continue Reading →

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Congratulations, Tubby!

 

 
 Texas Tech hires Tubby Smith while U of M keeps looking

There is no mystery about the well-designed plan to oust six-year U of M Gopher men’s basketball Head Coach Tubby Smith. Well designed, but ill-advised and poorly executed, as seen in various Star Tribune headlines Monday, March 25 through Monday, April 1. 25th: “Firing Smith would be big mistake by Gophers” (Sid Hartman)

26th: “Tubby out, U search in high gear” (Dennis Brackin)

26th: “U: time for a change”

26th: “Tubby’s best not enough”

27th: “Mn in position like sleeping giant”

28th: “Search moves on; Smart to stay at VCU”

29th: “U leaders mold coaching network”

30th: “Stop fretting, Flip [Saunders] is the right fit”

31st: “Flip says no to U”

1st: “Tubby Smith to Texas Tech; Minnesota search continues”

1st: “Minnesota basketball coaching job: Who wants it?”

Have you wondered, as I have, as to why, even when the Gophers were 15-1, the Star Tribune’s little lady from North Carolina [by way of short stints — after graduating from college — at the Boston Globe and the Detroit Free Press] was so hostile in her sports coverage of U basketball? Sources within the U as well as Minneapolis sports scene movers and shakers enable us to connect the dots. The announcement that Tubby found a new job April 1 at Texas Tech was no April Fool’s joke. Continue Reading →

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Thank you Tubby for an excellent run! — Tubby Smith: a man of principle and integrity

 

 

First things first: we join and support the observations made by our longtime friend Sid Hartman in his columns last week that “Firing Smith would be a big mistake for Gophers.”

Once again, the University of Minnesota (1) showed no class; (2) showed no professionalism; and (3) lied, firing Coach Smith just three months after signing him to a three-year extension. They leaked it to the news media before telling Tubby. They tried to cover with “leaks happen” when it kept secret a year it’s extending the contract of its losing women’s basketball coach. They purposefully attempted to humiliate a great coach, a decent human being, and a recognized high-caliber coach with a national title to his credit. Instead, they humiliated themselves, showed their indecency, and exposed the pettiness of self-centered bureaucrats. Continue Reading →

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Norwood Teague fires Tubby Smith!

Gophers fire a great coach rather than build a great team
 
 

I understand why Tubby Smith was fired after six seasons, 121 wins, 81 losses and three NCAA appearances. After playing the toughest schedule in the nation, he fired up the Minnesota fan base for Gopher hoops. After a 15-1 start and reaching number eight in the polls, expectations went through the roof and became unrealistic. Tubby said this was his best team, and he was right, with wins over nationally ranked Michigan State, Illinois, Memphis and Wisconsin, the incredible court-rushing experience of beating number one Indiana at Williams Arena. His Gophers even beat one of the top five NCAA programs of all-time, UCLA, 83-63, the Pac 12 Champions in the NCAA tournament; and they finished 21-13 after a second-round loss to No.3 Florida. Continue Reading →

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Heat set franchise record

 

 

Suddenly there’s no stopping the World Champion Miami Heat. Being around this group after they dismantled the under-manned Minnesota Timberwolves 97-81, it’s apparent their main objective Monday night at Target Center before 18,391 fans was to win and not get trapped in a snowstorm. “We saw the forecast,” said Dwyane Wade, who scored a game-high 32 points and 10 assists. “We heard it might be coming.”

The defending NBA Champions did not play their best game, with 23 turnovers; but with the Timberwolves’ injury issues, having three starters out, the Heat had to be ready for a fight. A frustrated J.J. Barea, who was just one of 11 from the field, finally lost his cool in the fourth quarter. Continue Reading →

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