Jace Frederick / St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ryan Saunders said he doesn’t expect any extra emotion Tuesday night, Jan 15, when the Timberwolves travel to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers. “I haven’t thought much about it,” Saunders said, “and as a team we haven’t thought much about it, as well.” Whatever you say, Coach. Whenever Jimmy Butler is involved, emotions will be heightened. That’ll be particularly true Tuesday, as the Timberwolves face off against their former teammate, who forced his way out of Minnesota, for the first time. The Wolves know Butler will be ready.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ryan Saunders did something that Tom Thibodeau rarely, if ever, did during his postgame press conference after Minnesota’s win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday. Unsolicited, Saunders praised the play of Tyus Jones. Jones played a key role in that upset victory, playing the final 16-plus minutes of the contest after Jeff Teague was ejected. In those situations, Saunders has no qualms over turning to Jones. Saunders trusts his backup point guard.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle took a few minutes before the game Friday, Jan. 11, to approach Ryan Saunders, share a conversation, then a hug. Carlisle said Saunders becoming the Timberwolves’ interim head coach is emotional for him. He was one of a number of coaches to attend Flip Saunders’ funeral in 2015, and Carlisle distinctly remembers the eulogy Ryan delivered to honor his father. Carlisle loved that Ryan ran one of Flip’s go-to plays to open the Wolves’ win Tuesday over Oklahoma City.
Spencer Tollackson remembers being AAU teammates with Ryan Saunders during their teenage years. Sometimes, Tollackson would play alongside Saunders. Other times, during practice, he would be coached by him. As early as 15 or 16 years old, Saunders couldn’t help but instruct. “Ryan would just take over and start coaching,” recalled Tollackson a former Gophers center and current radio analyst for the men’s basketball team. “Everybody knew that he was destined to be a head coach.”
MINNEAPOLIS -- Three wins in their last four games of the season, including a drubbing of Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl, have some national prognosticators thinking optimistically about the Gophers football team’s future. No, the Gophers didn’t receive a single vote in the year-end Associated Press top 25 poll released Tuesday — a 7-6 record makes a team hard to vote for — but amid the bevy of way-too-early top 25 polls for the 2019 season released in the wake of Monday’s national championship game, a couple have Minnesota listed.
Trailing by one point with a minute to play, Tuesday, Jan. 8, Minnesota Timberwolves forward Dario Saric rose up in the corner for a good look at a three. It clanked off the iron, sparking another battle for a board. The contenders: three Oklahoma City players, and Andrew Wiggins. In the past, Minnesota may as well have conceded the rebound. Wiggins traditionally only got the loose balls that essentially landed at his feet.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired Tom Thibodeau, according to multiple reports. Ryan Saunders will serve as the interim coach, according to the Athletic. The timing of the move is surprising, given the Wolves are in the middle of a playoff race and fresh off a pair of home wins. The Wolves had played somewhat better after trading disgruntled star Jimmy Butler, the man Thibodeau dealt for to change the direction of the franchise.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The hits just keep on coming for a Minnesota Timberwolves team gasping for air in the Western Conference standings. A team ravaged by injuries the past couple of weeks, Minnesota will now be without defensive ace Robert Covington for “a while” after an MRI revealed a bone bruise on his right knee, Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said Friday, Jan. 4. Thibodeau said the injury isn’t expected to need surgery, but when Covington might return is a bit of an unknown.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Derrick Rose’s resurgence hasn’t gone unnoticed by NBA fans. The Minnesota Timberwolves reserve is second in all-star fan voting among Western Conference guards through the first round of returns released by the league Thursday, trailing only Golden State guard Steph Curry. Rose is ahead of reigning league MVP James Harden and former MVP Russell Westbrook.
MINNEAPOLIS — Tyus Jones turned in his best performance of the season and first double-double of his career in the Timberwolves’ victory Monday, Dec. 17, over Sacramento, tallying 10 points — on 5-for-7 shooting — and 10 assists in 24 minutes.