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Twins Likely to Avoid Final 4 Conflict

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April 3, 2018

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A Tuesday notes column leading off with Twins news.

The Twins have requested they not be scheduled for home games at Target Field during the April 6-8, 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis. Club president Dave St. Peter said after consulting with Final Four organizers and considering potential issues with hotel rooms, traffic and other concerns the Twins have requested that Major League Baseball schedule the team on the road during that early period in April.

The club has yet to receive the 2019 MLB schedule but it sounds like their request will be honored. “It will be very likely that we will be on the road during the Final Four next year,” St. Peter told Sports Headliners yesterday.

Because of the request to avoid the early April dates, the Twins’ 2019 regular season opening could begin at home outdoors in March. St. Peter said MLB teams may open the schedule on March 28. Since the opening of Target Field on 2010, the Twins have been scheduled at home to start the season just once.

St. Peter also said suspended starting shortstop Jorge Polanco is at the Twins’ complex in Fort Myers where he is playing in what’s called “extended spring training games.” Polanco and others in the Twins system who have yet to be assigned to a specific team in the minor leagues play against similar competition from other organizations.

St. Peter said Polanco, who is suspended for using a performance-enhancing substance, will play for one or more Twins minor league teams starting 20 days out from the end of his 80 game suspension.

Tre & Tyus Jones, Al Nuness

Gophers 1968-1969 basketball captain Al Nuness arranged a trip in 2010 with cousins Tyus and Tre Jones to the Final Four in Indianapolis. At that time Tyus was in eighth grade and Tre was a grade schooler. Back then no one could have predicted the basketball success the Jones brothers have achieved eight years later.

Tre, a senior now at Apple Valley, was named the state’s Mr. Basketball last week and played in the prestigious McDonald’s All-American Game featuring the best prep players in the nation. Those are two honors Tyus earned in 2014. The Mr. Basketball Award dates back to the 1970s, and Tre and Tyus are the only brothers to win the award.

Tyus and Tre led Apple Valley to Class 4A state championships playing for the Eagles. Tyus was named the 2015 Final Four most outstanding player when Duke won the national championship and a few months later found himself on the roster of his hometown NBA Timberwolves. Next fall Tre joins a loaded with talent Duke team that could be consensus preseason favorites to win the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis.

So it looks like Nuness, who took his young cousins to Indy eight years ago to inspire them, might be able to witness another headline moment in 2019. He saw in Indy how the two youngsters studied the Final Four players in 2010 and the trip certainly made an impression. “We went to practices and they wouldn’t leave,” Nuness has said.

Tyus, who turns 22 next month, is one of only six players who were on the Wolves’ roster in April of last year. The club has nine new players including injured forward Jimmy Butler who the Wolves hope will return soon from his knee surgery and at least be available for the playoffs if Minnesota can qualify.

The Wolves have sold out 15 games at Target Center this season, the most since 2003-2004 when they last qualified for the postseason.

The Pirates’ Jameson Taillon, who overcame testicular cancer last year, earned his first win this season after starting against the Twins yesterday. Taillon, 8-7 with a 4.44 ERA last season, was the second MLB overall draft choice in 2010 and debuted with the Pirates in 2016.

The Twins haven’t had success bringing over high profile players from Japan but it looks like a different story for the Angels and rookie pitcher-DH Shohei Ohtani. He won his MLB pitching debut Sunday against the Angels, showing off a 100-miles per hour fast ball, according to NBC Sports California who reported 240 Japanese media were at the game in Oakland against the A’s.

It’s a good guess former Gopher coach Tubby Smith’s salary at his new position with High Point University in North Carolina is paying him less than $200,000 annually. A financial report on athletics from the University for school year June 1, 2013 through May 31, 2014 listed head basketball coach Scott Cherry’s compensation at $89,601. The same report listed basketball revenues during that period at about $1.9 million and operating expenses of approximately $1.6 million.

Smith, who played at High Point, is at his third school since being fired by the Gophers in March of 2013. Smith earned seven-figure compensation while coaching at Minnesota, Texas Tech and Memphis where he was dismissed last month and reportedly received a settlement of over $9 million.

The Gophers are offering discounted season tickets for football and men’s basketball and hockey to U alums who have graduated within the last five years. Pricing per ticket is $199 for football, $249 for basketball and $399 for hockey.

Fans can scout Minnesota Wild unsigned draft picks Nicholas Boka (Michigan), Avery Peterson (UMD) and Nick Swaney (UMD) in the NCAA Frozen Four April 5-7 at Xcel Energy Center. UMD plays Ohio State in the first semifinal the evening of April 5, while Michigan meets Notre Dame in the other semifinal. Both games will be televised on ESPN2. The championship game the night of April 7 will be seen on ESPN.

The Wild, who qualified for the playoffs last night, are one of only two NHL teams (Pittsburgh is the other) that has made the postseason six consecutive years.

Gopher baseball coach John Anderson, who labels Indiana as the favorite for the Big Ten title but sees his team as a contender, speaks to the CORES lunch group May 10 at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Bloomington, 1114 American Blvd. More information is available by contacting Jim Dotseth, dotsethj@comcast.net. CORES is an acronym for coaches, officials, reporters, educators and sports fans.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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