The Chris Bosh-less Raptors are back in action tonight, taking on the Al Jefferson-less Minnesota Timberwolves at Minnesota tonight.
The Wolves suffered a big blow on Sunday as Al Jefferson had to leave the game with a season-ending torn ACL in the right knee. Al Jefferson was averaging 23 pts and 11 rebounds.
To preview tonight's Raptors-Wolves game, I got a chance to ask College Wolf at our brother Bloguin site, Twolves Blog a few questions about the Wolves and tonight's matchup.
HHN: Without using expletives, how angry were Wolves fans when Al Jefferson wasn't named to the All-Star team?
College Wolf (TWolves Blog):I think the general consensus was that yes, most Wolves fans were pretty peeved that Big Al got passed over for the likes of an over the hill Shaq and less than spectacular David West. And I don’t really think you can blame the fans for believing Al should have been selected, especially since Kevin Love had been snubbed in the Rookie-Sophomore just mere days earlier. Personally, I never thought that Al was going to get selected, namely because of the Wolves terrible sub .500 record. Statistically, Jefferson can certainly make the case as being one of the best post players in the entire NBA. He’s one of only three players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. His defense is sub-par, which hurts him, but it’s not like there aren’t other all-stars that don’t play defense. Unfortunately, the Western Conference is loaded with worthy players, most of which are on winning teams. In the eyes of the coaches, winning records tend to trump statistics when it comes to All-Star selection (unless of course we are talking about the 3 sub .500 Eastern Conference selections this year.)
HHN: Minnesota had a great month of January going 10-4, what turned it around for them?
College Wolf (TWolves Blog):I believe it was a combination of the fresh voice (McHale as coach), and the benefit of an extremely generous stretch of our schedule. The Wolves played mostly inferior to completely awful teams in January, and the few contending teams we played were beset with injuries. McHale is clearly a better coach than Randy Wittman in every facet of the job description, so it is no surprise that the players responded to him and were able to turn things around for the time being. And once they won a few games, pride, momentum, and a little bit of swagger carried them through the rest of the month on a high note. Unfortunately, it looks like injuries and a (much) tougher schedule has been conspiring against the Wolves of late. They will be hard pressed to duplicate any such 15 game stretch the rest of the season, especially now that Jefferson tore his ACL and is out for the reason of the year.
HHN: The Raptors have been playing some terrible ball as of late, losing six in a row, what do the Raptors have to do to turn it around and get a win against the Wolves?
College Wolf (TWolves Blog): Honestly, nothing. The Wolves will be a cakewalk for almost any team with a pulse from here on out. Big Al was the heart and soul of our offense, and without him we will be hard pressed maintaining any semblance of a cohesive offense. On offense we have no legitimate and proven big men, so JON and Bosh will be free to help off their men and generally wreck havoc. The Raptors should not have to worry about anyone other than the inconsistent Kevin Love inside, and should free them to focus on our perimeter threats (assuming they even show up this game.) Defensively, I don’t see how we possibly stop JON and Bosh. Considering that some combination of Brian Cardinal, Mark Madsen, Calvin Booth, and Jason Collins will be playing significant minutes, the Toronto bigs should have a field day scoring at will. Kevin Love plays hard and is determined on defense, but he is undersized and un-athletic. I shudder thinking about him even attempting to guard JON or Bosh. It will not be a pretty game.
HHN: Lastly, what are some of the nicknames fans have for Wolves players that the rest of the NBA fans may not know about?
College Wolf (TWolves Blog): Let’s see:
Ryan “The Barometer” Gomes: As Gomes go, so do the Wolves. If he is having a good game, there is an equally good chance the Wolves could win on any given night. If he is struggling and not playing well, it usually ends up in a Wolves loss.
Craig “The Rhino” Smith: I’m not sure how legitimate this nickname is being that he gave it to himself; but everyone refers to him as “The Rhino.” Also, he’s got big muscles and kind of looks like a Rhino, so you can’t really fault him there.
Corey “Turbo” Brewer: Apparently he looks exactly like a character from a movie (I forget the title) named “Turbo.” And honestly, the resemblance is uncanny. Plus, he’s really fast and typically looks like he was shot out of a cannon while out on the court.
“HotRod”ney Carney: Kind of lame, but we don’t really have anything else. Plus, the TV announcers dubbed it to him so it has stuck for the most part.
Randy “Fourth Quarter” Foye: I personally am not a fan of this, but it was another one given by the Wolves TV announcing crew. Seems to be a hit amongst the less informed fans.
Mark “Maddog” Madsen: Pretty sure everyone knows about this.
Brian “The Custodian” Cardinal: Same for this one.
Mike “Skinny” Miller: I forget the origins of this at the moment, but it dates back to his college days. Everyone called him “Skinny”, and I’m sorry but I can’t remember if it was in reference to his physique at the time or not.
Kevin “Da Angry Whopper” Love: Your guess is as good as mine.
Calvin “The Thief” Booth: Because he’s pretty much just stealing paychecks at this point.
Thanks again to College Wolf at TWolvesBlog.com for the Q&A.
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