Kill expects almost his entire roster to be available for spring practice including Marcus Jones, a promising freshman wide receiver last year who missed part of the 2011 season because of a torn ACL. The coach did report on WCCO Radio last Sunday morning that junior linebacker Brendan Beal (ACL) won’t be available.
News of a tentative deal on a Vikings stadium announced this morning is consistent with what sources have been telling Sports Headliners that political approval will get done. Most likely this year.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman plan to attend Saturday’s 42nd annual NFL 101 Awards gala in Kansas City where those being honored will include Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, selected as the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in nationwide voting by the media. Allen had a league leading 22 sacks last season, only a half sack short of the NFL record. He is 20th all-time in NFL sacks.
The Gophers basketball team has lost six straight Big Ten games, matching the season ending losing streak of last year. Minnesota, 5-12 in the Big Ten, closes the regular season at home on Saturday afternoon against Nebraska (4-13).
Tubby Smith is finishing up his fifth season as Gophers coach. His conference record, including Big Ten tournament games, is 43-56. The coach he replaced, Dan Monson, was 31-56 after five seasons but had to deal with NCAA and school sanctions left over from the Clem Haskins era.
While Smith is experiencing his second consecutive disappointing season, Monson’s Long Beach State team has won a second straight Big West regular season championship.
“I always thought he (Monson) could coach,” said Spencer Tollackson who played three seasons for Monson atMinnesota. “He had proven that he could coach at Gonzaga. I think he had some problems here that weren’t self-inflicted. …They’re able to recruit guys and get guys into school (at Long BeachState) that some other schools maybe wouldn’t. … He’s able to be successful out there. I am not surprised at all.”
Monson was only 37 when named Gophers coach and Tollackson thinks his former boss is probably a better coach now than he’s ever been. “I don’t know if coach was really ready for this job when he took it,” he said. “I think he was a little young. He was just starting a family with a bunch of young kids.”
Pam Borton’s Gophers team, the No. 8 seed, plays Wisconsin, the No. 9 seed, in an opening game of the Big Ten Women’s Tournament starting at 5 p.m. tonight in Indianapolis. Rachel Banham is the league’s Freshman of the Year as voted by coaches and media. Borton’s conference record in 10 seasons is 89-77.
The February issue of Minnesota Basketball News includes a listing of great state basketball tournament teams and players as selected by a committee of the Minnesota State High School League. The all-time top five boys’ teams: Minneapolis North, 1995; Hopkins, 2009; Edina, 1966-68; Edgerton, 1960; and Minneapolis Edison, 1937. The best boys players: Khalid El-Amin, North; Randy Breuer, Lake City; Isaiah Dahlman, Braham; Jim McIntyre, Minneapolis Patrick Henry; and Mark Olberding, Melrose.
The top girls’ teams: St. Paul Central, 2007; Rochester Mayo, 1997; Minneapolis North, 1998; Lakeville North, 2010; and Rochester Lourdes, 1991. The best girls players: Tayler Hill, Minneapolis South; Janet Karvonen, New York Mills; Kelly Miller, Rochester Mayo; Coco Miller, Mayo; and Angel Robinson, St. Paul Central.
The St. Thomas women’s basketball team (26-1) hosts an opening Division III NCAA Tournament game on Friday starting at 8 p.m. against Martin Luther (20-7). The Tommies have won 26 games in a row including 24 over MIAC opponents, finishing as both regular season and conference tournament champions.
Oswaldo Arcia, a 20-year-old outfielder on the Twins 40-man spring training roster, is unlikely to make the big league club this year but has shown power in the lower minors including last season hitting 13 home runs in 292 at-bats. The Venezuelan outfielder is 6-feet, 210 pounds.
The Twins search for pitching is exemplified by the 21 pitching candidates on the 40-man roster listed on the team website.
The Twins, who might have the least power among major league teams, are looking for home runs from offseason acquisition Ryan Doumit. A catcher-outfielder, he’s likely to see a lot of at-bats as a designated hitter. But Doumit has never hit more than 15 home runs in one season. His next best totals are 13 and 10.
A 20-bout mixed martial arts card matching Minnesota fighters against rivals from Japan is scheduled for Saturday, April 28 at Target Center. An anticipated match involves Minnetonka welterweight Jeremy Hamilton (8-1-0) against Yoshiyuki Yoshida (13-6). Hamilton is a rising star while Yoshida, a former world judo champion, earned the first Cage Force welterweight title in 2007. A crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 is expected with tickets still available in all price categories including $200 ringside.