With the Wolves killing the Pacers one night, and then getting killed by the Hornets the next, it seems like the perfect time to bust out another edition of "Tips o' the Hat, Wags o' the Finger." So, who will be getting the presents, and who will be getting the lumps of coal? Let's find out...
*A wag o' the finger to back-to-back games. Back-to-back games are a bitch, aren't they? After an inspired final three quarters of basketball on Friday, the Wolves came into New Orleans and were flat for pretty much the entire game. I can't make excuses for the horrible effort we saw on Saturday, and a well-rested Wolves team would have still been beaten decisively by New Orleans. But playing back-to-back nights certainly played a role in the blowout loss.
*A wag o' the finger to Wolves' transition defense. This has been an achilles heel all season, and it's a concerning problem because poor transition defense often signifies a lack of effort. The Wolves are doing a brutal job of getting back on defense...the Hornets had 35 fast break points last night, while the Wolves only had five points on the break. This has been a huge problem throughout much of the season, and things only seem to be getting worse.
*A tip o' the hat to Tom Hanneman. I'll admit it...Hanny's starting to grow on me. His ridiculous "Hannemanisms" are so bad, they're good...for example, when we were playing Golden State and Monta Ellis drained a jumper, Hanny actually used the phrase, "the full Monta." Here's another good one I spotted on the KFAN boards: ""The rhinoceros is preposterous!" I still miss the Harlan-Tucker announcing team, but I don't mind Hanny.
A wag o' the finger to turnovers. Another issue that's been a problem all season, and seems to be getting worse. Turnovers are killing this team...the Wolves will often go through stretches where they don't take care of the basketball, and that gives opposing teams an opportunity to make a run. More often than not, this careless, stupid play by the Wolves occurs in the latter parts of the game...thus, we blow leads in the second half. Again, it's another problem that's gone unchanged throughout the season.
(Click "Read More" to continue)
*A tip o' the hat to the Shimmy. Maybe I'm forgetting something, but if I remember correctly, the Indy game was the first time all season that 'Toine's busted out the shimmy. It's a good start, 'Toine, but I want to see the shimmy on a nightly basis from now on. You're on notice.
*A wag o' the finger to 'Toine's performance against the Hornets. In that game, 'Toine shot 1-9 from the field and 1-7 from beyond the arc. That's ridiculous. It's been well-established that he absolutely loves to park himself behind the arc, but jeez...whatever happened to driving once in a while?
*A wag o' the finger to Mark "Sir Fouls-A-Lot" Madsen. Within 1:30 of entering the third quarter of last night's game, Dog had already picked up three fouls. In one of the more ridiculous fouls I've seen all season, Madsen actually wrapped his arms around David West...and watching the replay, it was clear that there was little reason for him to do that. He picked up four fouls in four minutes, and catapulted the Hornets into the bonus. And having the opposition in the penalty is just another obstacle to making a comeback.
*A wag o' the finger to Big Al's skitzo stat lines. On Friday, Jefferson was 13-21 from the field with 29 points...on Saturday, he played virtually the same amount of minutes, but only went 5-11 from the field with 11 points. Those stats speak volumes about the shot selection of his teammates--on Saturday, there were too many contested, stupid shots taken with plenty of time left on the shot clock (Telfair, Green, and Shimmy--I'm looking at you), and that poor shot selection limited Al's touches. As was the case with Keyshawn Johnson, just give Al the damn ball!
*A tip o' the hat and wag o' the finger to Gerald Green. Gerald played 16 quality minutes against the Pacers, but man, his performance last night was full of ups and downs. He came into the game in the second quarter and provided the Wolves with instant offense, helping the Wolves climb back into the game. In the second half, though, things fell apart for Gerald. Bad shot selection, turnovers (he had six in that game)...but worst of all, he was getting frustrated with himself. At this point, I think Gerald's confidence level could be a bigger issue than his so-called "basketball IQ." When he makes mistakes, he gets down on himself rather quickly...and that's something that must change. He needs to improve his mental toughness.
*A wag o' the finger to no-shows. The Wolves sold over 15,000 tickets for Friday's game--I attended that one, and there wasn't anywhere near 15,000 people there. There has been an unbelievable amount of no-shows for this year's games.
*A tip o' the hat to football and Tubby's team. With the Wolves on pace to win about 15 games this season, I'm just glad we have something to cheer about in town...it's been truly astounding to watch the Vikings turn their season around, and make a playoff run (just to get my shameless plug in, visit "Vikings War Cry," my Vikes blog). And the Goofers basketball team has gotten their season off to a nice start, thus far, with Tubby at the helm.
*A tip o' the hat to Britt Robson. I've been reading more and more of his stuff lately, and after doing so, I see little reason to read the Strib's or Pioneer Press' coverage of the Wolves. He notices stuff during the course of a game that 99% of people miss, and most of all, he's one of the few people in the local sports media that actually has some balls. Best sports mind in town, and it's not even close.