Today's daily links will include of coverage of the OKC game. But let's be honest – no matter how die-hard of a Wolves fan you may be, the 62nd loss of the season isn't anywhere near as interesting as the game that's going down tonight in Indianapolis. I'm not a college basketball fan by any means. In fact, I didn't even fill out a bracket this year. But Duke/Butler is a matchup that I find absolutely captivating.
On one side, you've got the title-winning machine that is Duke. We're it not for the fact that Duke's roster doesn't contain a bunch of ridiculously overpaid steroid-using sellouts, they'd basically be the New York Yankees of college basketball. Then, on the other side, you've got Butler, who, if we're keeping the baseball analogy alive, are essentially the AAA Rochester Redwings. It's a rare thing to get a championship matchup that is this unbalanced in terms of pedigree. To call this a battle of David vs. Goliath would be an understatement. At least David had some stones to throw. In the world of NCAA basketball, this may as well be Stephen Hawking vs. The Undertaker. I think that its safe to say that unless they're a die-hard Duke fan, everyone in America will be pulling for Butler.
Well, everyone, that is, except the guy writing this article.
You may be shaking your head in disgust. After all, rooting for Duke is like cheering on the 180 lb. 8th grader as he steals a 7 year old's lunch money. However, when it comes to basketball, I'm a Wolves fan first and foremost. With that in mind, I find myself unable to root against the Blue Devils and the rich tradition they share with our Timberpups. I mean, just look at some of the all-time great Dukies who have gone on to wear a Wolves jersey…
Yes, we easily could have had Shaquille O'Neal or Alonzo Mourning in the 1992 draft, but instead the Wolves were blessed with Duke legend, Christian Laettner. Say what you will about the pretty boy, but it was his lack of NBA-caliber skill that paved the way for three additional seasons of ineptitude and the Wolves landing the #5 pick in the 1995 draft. Would you really rather have had Shaq, who would've fled from Minnesota after 3 years, or Alonzo Mourning's bad kidney over 11 seasons of KG? I think not. Thank you Duke!
Will Avery may be considered a bust by many, but in my book, he's a success. It's all about putting things in context, and considering the track record of the man drafting Avery, McHale definitely hit above his average in the 1999 draft. Avery's career 2.7ppg and 1.4 assists absolutely dwarf the contributions made by other McHale 1st round draftees like Paul Grant and Ndudi Ebi.
Yet another Duke great, Shelden Williams may be the only NBA player ever to get beat by his wife in a game of basketball. Still, you gotta give the man a hand for giving Oompa Loompa's everywhere hope that they can make it to the NBA one day as well.
So after reading that, Wolves fans, how can you NOT root for Duke tonight? Goooooooooo Blue Devils!!!
Wolves Daily Links 4/5/10
Jefferson Learning from Darko
From Zgoda at the Strib:
Even without Darko Milicic beside him Sunday, is it possible Timberwolves forward Al Jefferson continues to learn from a guy who wasn't his teammate only seven weeks ago?
Milicic has exhibited a deft sense for the game since he was acquired in February, enough so that his absence was felt when he missed Sunday's 116-108 loss to Oklahoma City because of a mild concussion suffered Saturday against Miami.
Once far out of sight with the Knicks and still out of shape with the Wolves, Milicic has demonstrated during his short time in Minnesota the value of his 7-1 size and a variety of his skills, not the least of which is his passing.
That ability — both his vision and willingness — is something Jefferson never has been accused of, although some moments suggested otherwise Sunday.
When your franchise player has to learn things from the biggest draft bust in over a decade, it's safe to say that it's not a good sign…
Durant Thunders Down 40 on the Wolves
From the AP:
Kevin Durant scored 40 points to break the franchise record for scoring in a season and the Oklahoma City Thunder fought off a spirited charge by the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 116-108 victory on Sunday night.
Less than 24 hours after clinching the franchise's first playoff berth in five years, the Thunder built a 25-point lead in the first half, but then had to hang on as Minnesota moved back within six in the final 10 minutes.
Durant hit a jumper and then threw down a two-handed alley-oop jam with 5 minutes left to restore Oklahoma City's lead to double digits and break the franchise scoring record in the process.
Wolves Defense = Not Good.
Weekend Recap from Howlin' TWolf – Link
Just in case you wanted to re-live the misery all over again…