Friday, October 26, 2007

Finding Hope

It turns out you can find a good chunk of 'hope' in 'hoops'. We're about to find out how powerful that that little literary coincidence is.

In this state, it's more potent than we might expect, or even want to admit. I'm not sure if there is any other region in the country that embraces youth movements in sports quite like Minnesota does. It's a bad habit. We want to think it's based on our natural optimism, but the truth is darker. We embrace the beginning because we've been so dissappointed watching our teams fail to successfully negotiate those last few steps at the end.

And so we yearn to rebuild. The Wild can state from their inception that they'll be relatively incompetent for a half dozen years while they wait for their minor league system to bear fruit. They still sell out. Watching a successful baseball team for a half dozen years is almost more than we can bear. We yearn to tear it down and restart, rather than face the possible torture of another short playoff appearance.

And now there are the Wolves. My family and I went to last night's preseason game and The Chatty Chatty Princess™ wore her Garnett jersey, "even though he's not on the team any more daddy." I hear you kid. And seemingly, so does the rest of the fan base. When talking with a sales rep tonight, I was informed that the season ticket package was the only way left to get tix to their most popular game this season - Friday, Febuary 8th versus the Celtics. It's gonna get a bit dusty in Target Center that night.

Until then, we have a lot of new guys to watch, and based on tonight's game, it'll be easy for this fan base to find some hope. Rashad McCants and Al Jefferson both look like real players, and Jefferson could end up an all-star. Craig Smith is still undersized vertically, but looked the part of the gritty backup power forward. Theo Ratliff looked competent.

But there will be growing pains. I want to get excited about Randy Foye, but he didn't play much, and didn't shine when he did. I made the mistake of watching first round pick Corey Brewer, and I wish I could get those images out of my head. Not that I don't think he won't eventually look good, but tonight he just looked lost, and I don't expect that will be the last time.

But the guy that made me rush to to look up his stats and history was Sebastian Telfair. He looked like a real point guard, delivering bounce passes in the lane, drawing the double team, attacking the basket. He's just 22 years old, and was drafted 13th overall out of high school in 2004.

His history is interesting. His one year with the Celtics was terrible - he fell from a promising first string guy to a troubled 3rd string guy - but he was playing for Doc Rivers. And just a year ago he was good enough that the Celtics, a rebuilding team, traded a #7 pick for him after he spent two years with Portland. And you have to love any guy who rotowire describes as "a New York City playground legend".

Listen, if he becomes as good at point guard as McCants looks like he'll be at small forward, that would allow Foye to become the sniper shooting guard that he seemingly needs to be. And suddenly the Wolves have four above-average players in their starting rotation, and they're all young and ....

Ah, you see, it got me too. It might be a bad habit, but bad habits come from somewhere, don't they? Like boredom. Or desperation.

Or hope.

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