RandBall

Michael Rand started RandBall with hopes that he could convince the world to love jumpsuits as much as he does. So far, he's only succeeded in using the word "redacted" a lot. He welcomes suggestions, news tips, links of pure genius, and pictures of pets in Halloween costumes here, though he already knows he will regret that last part.

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Wednesday (Five things about the Timberwolves) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 29th at 3:56pm 280778772

rubioWe’ve been accused in years past of having an overly optimistic view of the Timberwolves going into seasons, only to see great expectations (or, let’s face it, even modest ones) blow up in another lost season. This optimism even explains the piece of art you see with this post; friends say our annual “the Wolves could be better this season” blog season preview is a good reminder to check your smoke detector batteries.

As such, we’re trying something a little new this season: tempered realism. We’ll let the Wolves try to exceed our modest expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver. That’s the way to get ahead in 2014. As such, here are five things we think about this year’s team:

1) In the long run, we think the Wolves are better off having made the Kevin Love trade. We don’t think he could be the No. 1 player on a great team, and we don’t think the Wolves could have added anyone better than him without trading him. So we stand by this post from a few months ago: David Kahn, in botching Love’s contract, quite possibly saved the Wolves. It forced them to trade Love in his youthful prime, and we can’t imagine ever getting a better haul than what Flip Saunders achieved this offseason.

2) That said, we most definitely think there will be a drop-off in victories this season from last year. Our gut says even when you factor in all the close losses last season, Love was worth an extra 10 victories from last year to this one. So we’re saying this year’s Wolves are a 30-win team.

3) While including Thad Young in the Love trade could be construed as a sign the Wolves aren’t fully committed to a rebuild (they could have had a future first-round pick instead), we do like what Saunders is doing with the roster. Having a few veterans sprinkled in with all this youth is a good thing, in our mind, and it was encouraging to hear Saunders talk after the Wolves cut J.J. Barea about the move being geared toward the future and not wanting to give up on a promising young player like Glenn Robinson III instead.

4) Of all the young players on the roster, we think Zach LaVine will need the longest leash when it comes to figuring out just how good he is. LaVine is a great athlete, but his freshman year at UCLA was nothing special. Sounds a lot like Russell Westbrook (3.4 ppg, less than 1 rebound and assist per game as a UCLA freshman). We’re not saying LaVine is the next Westbrook. That would be crazy. But this was a pick that will take a couple of years to judge.

5) The Wolves should have a pretty nice bench this season. We look at their roster and see a lot of useful players and not a ton of roster filler. The downside is we’re not sure the starting five will be all that much better than the next five. We’re also not entirely sure how this team is going to score points on a nightly basis, which is half of the object of the game, but we certainly foresee this being a more motivated team and a better defensive team than in the Rick Adelman years. Maybe that adds up to a few more close wins. Maybe the youth comes together more quickly than we think. For now, though, 30 wins is our guess. But check those batteries anyway.

TFD: Illinois fraternity in trouble over "Gut the Gophers" sign

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 28th at 4:18pm 280698702

In the grand scheme of things, this is not as bad as other recent ideas, but still members of an Illinois fraternity are in trouble because over a Gophers football-related sign they made over the weekend.

Here’s a tweet with a picture of the sign:

And here’s the report from the News-Gazette out of Champaign:

Members of a fraternity are expected to meet soon with University of Illinois officials following its posting of a sign that depicted a knife-wielding American Indian posed over a gopher.

The giant paddleboard placed on the Delta Chi lawn during Saturday’s homecoming game against the Minnesota Gophers featured a Chief Illiniwek-like character in a headdress leaning over a gopher. Painted on the sign were the words, “Gut the Gophers.”

Mid-day talker: If the Twins don't at least try to go after Maddon, it's a big mistake

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 28th at 2:57pm 280668902

maddongardyTwo paragraphs from La Velle E. Neal’s Monday update on the Twins’ managerial search:

The Twins on Friday expressed interested in speaking with Joe Maddon, who opted out of his contract managing the Rays and became a free agent. According to the source, the Twins had not contacted Maddon as of Monday but are keeping that option open.

To do that, the Twins would have to extend their search into November, which isn’t likely. All signs point to the club making its decision sometime this week on a new manager.

In other words: The Twins said they were interested in talking to Maddon; a weekend passed and they still haven’t tried to do that. If they really want to do that, they will have to stretch out their search. But indications are they are going to name a manager this week, so why even bother trying to go after Maddon?

This line of thinking is, well, maddening (Maddoning?). We will reiterate two things we have said multiple times regarding the Twins and Maddon: 1) If the Twins really have an interest, then they should show that interest and do something about it. Call Maddon’s people. If they get rebuffed, that’s fine. 2) If we were running the Twins, we would essentially give Maddon a blank check. Does he want $5 million a year? Fine. How about $6 million a year? Sure. Because in modern baseball, the number of impact free agents at that price are few and far between — and far less likely to have the kind of impact a very good manager could have.

No offense to Paul Molitor or Torey Lovullo, who are said to be the front-runners for the job, but neither has even close to the track record of Maddon. If the Twins have, in fact, reached out to Maddon and been rejected but won’t say so because they are worried about offending other candidates or making an eventual hire be perceived as a second choice, they shouldn’t be. A lot of good coaches weren’t the first choice. Two of them are leading the Gophers football and men’s basketball programs right now. The public perception backlash is greater if the perception is that the Twins didn’t even really try for Maddon.

This is about exploring a unique opportunity — one that probably wouldn’t work, but you never know.

Tuesday (McHale, Saunders most likely NBA coaches to be fired) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 28th at 9:21am 280642272

flipmchaleThe start of the NBA season is upon us, and you know what that means: prop bet time!

Yes, the start of any season allows the most desperate of gamblers to wager on normal things like projected win totals to completely speculative things like …

Who will be the first head coach replaced on a full time basis in the 2014-2015 season?

That’s the exact wording from Bovada, a master at timing the release of these prop bets to generate publicity. And we bought it, mostly because of the curious names at the top of their list.

The favorites — the coaches with the shortest odds — to be fired: 1) Kevin McHale of Houston, at 7 to 4; and 2) Flip Saunders of the Wolves, at 2 to 1.

This is strange and comical on a number of levels. First, of course, the two used to work together in Minnesota, and McHale fired Saunders about a decade ago.  … Then McHale and Rick Adelman essentially swapped places, with McHale going to coach Houston and Adelman coaching the Wolves. … Then Saunders replaced Adelman in Minnesota.

We can understand McHale being on the list at the top, since there are still major expectations for the James Harden/Dwight Howard-led Rockets, who have yet to win a playoff series under McHale.

But Saunders? Is Bovada aware that Saunders is also a minority owner with the Wolves as well as President of Basketball Operations — meaning there are a lot of layers to get rid of him?

As noted on Twitter, though, it could be pretty lucrative:

Regardless, we’d take Scott Brooks (8 to 1), Randy Wittman (10 to 1) or Dave Joerger (10 to 1) if we were betting. (That’s a former Wolves player, a former Wolves coach and a would-be Wolves coach, if you are scoring at home and still looking for a Timberwolves connection).

(Photo from 2001 preseason Star Tribune photo shoot. We just rediscovered it, and it is magic).

TFD: Twins' prospect Byron Buxton left Arizona Fall League game Monday with apparent injury

Posted by: Michael Rand Updated October 27th at 5:48pm 280581312

We don’t know how serious this is. We don’t know if it’s the same wrist that limited Byron Buxton this season. All we know is we saw these two tweets about Buxton from MLB.com’s William Boor. We’ll see what happens from there:

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New Orleans 28 FINAL
Carolina 10
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 105 FINAL
Orlando 98
Detroit 91 FINAL
Minnesota 97
New York 95 FINAL
Cleveland 90
Utah 102 FINAL
Dallas 120
Oklahoma City 85 4th Qtr 2:11
LA Clippers 89
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Buffalo 2
Winnipeg 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
Chicago 5 FINAL(SO)
Ottawa 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Arizona 1 FINAL
Florida 2
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Minnesota 4
Anaheim 0 FINAL
St. Louis 2
NY Islanders 0 FINAL
Colorado 5
Montreal 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
(2) Florida State 42 FINAL
Louisville 31
Troy 10 FINAL
Ga Southern 42
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
Air Force 11/1/14 10:30 AM
Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
North Carolina 11/1/14 11:30 AM
Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Western Mich 11/1/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Purdue 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
(22) Clemson 11/6/14 6:30 PM
Wake Forest
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 2
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan

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