Monday, Jun. 18, 2018

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Vikings Looking at Roster Again


A notes-filled column including news from Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, and also Gopher season ticket totals:

Zimmer said today he will meet this afternoon with general manager Rick Spielman to discuss personnel. Zimmer referenced the meeting when asked about the left tackle position and also placekicker Blair Walsh.

Starting left tackle Jake Long injured his left Achilles in yesterday’s loss to the Redskins and is out for the season. After the game left guard Alex Boone told reporters he might move to left tackle but Zimmer said that was premature and he will have more to say about his offensive line on Wednesday.

The Vikings have been devastated by injuries in the offensive line. If the team turns to the outside for help a possible addition might be tackle Carter Bykowski who was with Minnesota earlier this year. Bykowski, who is on the Falcons’ practice squad, knows the Vikings’ system.

Walsh missed another extra point (his fourth of the season) in yesterday’s game. He is also only 12 of 16 on field goals and last week the Vikings auditioned potential replacements. Things are so bad Fox TV analyst Chris Spielman (Rick’s brother) said during the game that Zimmer should just plan on Walsh missing kicks. After the game a caller on the Vikings radio network suggested the team should sign a “female soccer player” as the new kicker.

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer

Zimmer on whether injured running back Adrian Peterson might play again this season: “I have no idea.” …

University of Minnesota nonstudent season tickets for both men’s basketball and men’s hockey are down by about 1,000 each from a year ago. As of last week, basketball was at 6,246 compared with 7,221 for the 2015-2016 season. The hockey number was 6,039 after totaling 7,080 in 2015-2016.

Hockey student season tickets were at 2,739 after last season’s figure of 2,788. The basketball student season tickets total was 1,181 after a 2015-2016 number of 1,748. …

After Saturday’s 24-17 loss to No. 21 ranked Nebraska, Tracy Claeys has a 5-7 Big Ten record as interim and head coach of the Gophers. Five of the defeats have been by seven points or less. Claeys has won just one close conference game, defeating Rutgers 32-31 this fall. He has no victories over nationally ranked, or rivalry teams.

The Gophers, 7-3 overall and 4-3 in league games, have lost to Penn State, Iowa and Nebraska—all top 25 ranked teams.

Game times announced: Minnesota’s home football game with Northwestern Saturday will be at 2:30 p.m. and the Gophers men’s hockey game against Minnesota State at Mariucci Arena will start at 8 p.m. …

The St. Thomas football team finished the regular season with a 10-0 record, including 8-0 in the MIAC. Last Saturday the Tommies defeated St. Olaf 73-7 to win the MIAC title. Saint John’s (9-1, 7-1) won second place by defeating Concordia-Moorhead (7-3, 6-2). The Johnnies, who lost their only game to St. Thomas, defeated Concordia 31-7. St. Thomas has an opening Division III playoff game at home on Saturday against Northwestern (Roseville), while Saint John’s hosts Wisconsin-Platteville.

Concordia had a 23-20 loss to St. Thomas earlier in the season. “They should have beaten St. Thomas,” said Saint John’s coach Gary Fasching.

Fasching offered that opinion while speaking to the CORES lunch crowd last Thursday. He had the audience laughing when he opened his talk by saying, “I notice some St. Thomas people (here), so I will try to speak a little slower.”

John Gagliardi

John Gagliardi

Fasching told the audience former Saint John’s coach John Gagliardi had his 90th birthday last week. The legendary Gagliardi sat in with the Johnnies’ coaching staff every Monday this season to review film. …

CORES emcee Dick Jonckowski introduced Gophers basketball coach Richard Pitino at a recent gathering of Minnesota high school basketball coaches. He referred to Pitino’s father, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, as the “Italian Stallion.” Then he introduced the “Pepperoni Pony.”

Jonckowski jokes that he met up with Blair Walsh at a local McDonald’s. Jonckowski asked the Vikings’ placekicker how he is doing. “I can’t kick,” Walsh supposedly said. …

That was Minnesota resident Eric Curry officiating the ESPN televised game Friday night in Hawaii between basketball powers Arizona and Michigan Sate. Curry is married to former Gophers basketball player and now Macalester coach Kelly Roysland. …

The Timberwolves had three players listed in Sports Illustrated’s ranking of the NBA’s top 100 players. The magazine’s NBA preview issue last month ranked center Karl-Anthony Towns No. 23, forward Andrew Wiggins No. 67 and point guard Rick Rubio No. 71. …

Twins owner Jim Pohlad told Sports Headliners he is open to spending more money on players as new baseball department bosses Derek Falvey and Thad Levine rebuild his team. The Twins’ payroll ranked 19th among MLB franchise’s in 2016, according to

Twins fans have noticed the Braves, who ranked with baseball’s worst teams last season, added free veteran agent pitchers R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon this month.

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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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