Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Fillers

  • Did you hear the Vikings signed Brett Favre? I'm surprised!
  • The University of North Dakota dismissed junior forward Matt Frattin from the team after he violated team rules. You may remember that Frattin and former Sioux defenseman Joe Finley decided to make a busy Grand Forks street their personal garbage dump after a night of socializing back in July. Frattin was given a 10-day suspended sentence from that incident, was fined $225, and put on probation for a year. UND coach Dave Hakstol suspended him for two games and reduced his scholarship money. Early Wednesday morning, Frattin was charged with driving under the influence and was kicked off the team. Good for Hakstol for getting this one right. He's been a bit lax over the years with his treatment of violations of team rules, but he got this one right.
  • In more positive news, the United States under-20 hockey team which will compete in the World Junior Championships in Saskatchewan at the end of the year recently concluded its evaluation camp. Coach Dean Blais got together 40 prospects for a few days of drills and intersquad scrimmages before trimming the list to 29. This group participated in four games against the Russian entry in the WJC, and the US team dominated this series. They won three games convincingly (8-1, 6-1, and 6-0) and lost only one. U of M incoming sophomore Jordan Schroeder was the camp's leading scorer (5-9-14), and other Gopher players also appeared in the scoring sheet including Nick Leddy (3-2-5), Aaron Ness (0-3-3), and Zach Budish (2-0-2). As my linked Examiner article notes, WCHA players are all over the scoring leaders in this camp and will figure prominently on this team. It's great that the Gophers will be represented prominently at the WJC again this year, but will be forced to play hamstrung in the Dodge Holiday Classic (January 2-3) and the next weekend against Harvard. Hopefully, nobody gets hurt, because North Dakota comes to town on January 15-16.
  • Speaking of the WCHA, this article explains that the league is close to deciding on a schedule format for 2010-11 when Bemidji State and Nebraska-Omaha come into the league to give it 12 teams. It's no surprise that the biggest decision will involve the conference tournament format, which currently is the Final Five. They'll likely make it a Final Six and eliminate the worthless third place game.
  • Moving to the hardwood, this is certainly not good news for Trevor Mbakwe or the Gophers. Look, jurisprudence will need to play out here and the University's rules certainly aren't different for athletes or non-athletes (hold your laughter). However, being charged and convicted are two very different things. If Mbakwe's attorney is correct that there are four different people who support Mbakwe's alibi, it seems possible that charges will be dropped - or at least reduced. The public facts in this case are sketchy at best. AD Joel Maturi can intervene in the interim, but the article seems to suggest he won't. The court date is August 26, so we'll see.
  • Star Tribune Gopher Basketball beat writer Myron Medcalf has a great interview with coach Tubby Smith on his blog, in which the coach covers a lot of topics as the season approaches. The Gophers have a great recruiting class - easily the best this decade - and should be a factor in the Big Ten.
  • The Gophers hoops' schedule will also be better this season, with an early season matchup against Butler as part of a tournament in California which also includes UCLA. They also have non-conference games scheduled against St. Joseph, Miami (FL), and Stephen F. Austin. This will help Minnesota's RPI - especially if they win those games.
  • TCF Bank Stadium will open to the public Saturday for a scrimmage. It's hard to believe that the stadium is complete and it will usher in an exciting seven months as we await the opening of Target Field. I cannot wait!
  • In Minnesota Wild news, Michael Russo opens the notebook on a number of Wild-related topics, including the potential signing of free agent forward Alex Tanguay. He would be a mid-level forward to compliment the existing core in coach Todd Richards's up-tempo system. Russo also speculates on the roster and the team's third jersey hints. His description of the third jersey sounds like many of the other teams' third jerseys - simply awful. Why this team needs another sweater when the ones they have are perfectly fine (the red home is a league classic and is considered among the gold standards) is beyond me. Of course, anything to sell a few more jerseys. I'll do a jersey rant sometime soon - maybe after the Wild unveils theirs officially.
  • Over at the country club, nothing really is going on. They have a coach now in Kurt Rambis, and their roster has been completely re-made. As Jerry Zgoda writes, "The Meerkat" David Kahn has now turned his attention to signing Ricky Rubio for this upcoming season, although that remains a tall task. With Rubio, they will be a bad team worth watching every night for highlight reel plays. Without Rubio, they will be a bad team worth watching every night to see how the core develops and how Rubio will improve the core once he arrives.
  • Keep checking out my Examiner pages for the Twins and the WCHA. I'm also on Twitter and Facebook, so check those out as well. Have a good weekend!

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