Even though the groundhog said we’re in for six more weeks (or months, it feels like) of winter, it doesn’t stop Twins pitchers and catchers from reporting to Fort Myers, Fla. Now it’s time for us to live vicariously through the team’s social media accounts (and spring training games on FOX Sports North) to keep morale up as we continue to trudge through the Minnesota snow and hide in the skyways. The most wonderful time of the year.
Courtesy Twins via Twitter
Timberwolves defense (⬇ DOWN)
Minnesota’s new-look defense with head coach Tom Thibodeau’s schemes and Jimmy Butler directing traffic has taken strides since the season opened in October. But lately, it’s been a rollercoaster. In their last five contests, the Timberwolves are allowing 118.6 points per game. That ranks 28th in the NBA in that span, just ahead of the 13-39 Brooklyn Nets and 18-40 Phoenix Suns. Yikes.
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Charlie Coyle, Wild forward (⬆ UP)
The 25-year-old center scored twice against the rival Blackhawks during that delicious 3-0 blanking on Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center. Coyle, who missed a month earlier in the season with a broken leg, has yet to find the scoring touch he had last season when he tallied a career-high 56 points. Coyle’s scoring prowess is vital to the Wild’s playoff chase: Minnesota is 13-0-1 in games he records a positive plus-minus.
AP PhotoMark Humphrey
Yu Darvish sweepstakes (⬇ DOWN)
Well, it was fun while it lasted. Darvish signed with the Cubs on Monday, meaning the Twins -- who reportedly made an offer to the free agent -- missed out on signing the ace. It’s a bummer, mostly because we had hundreds of “Yu” puns stored away somewhere safe.
Vikings offense (⬆ UP)
Minnesota’s offense officially has its leader for next season, as Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was hired as the Vikings offensive coordinator on Friday. It’s still not clear which route the Vikings will go at quarterback, but they have a coach with plenty of experience -- and a Super Bowl ring -- to guide whoever ends up under center.
Bill StreicherBill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Gophers hoops (⬇ DOWN)
Eight straight losses, most recently an 87-57 manhandling by No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday. March was supposed to be to ultimate measuring stick for Jordan Murphy and crew, but instead, Richard Pitino’s team will have to hope for a miracle in the Big Ten tournament to reach the big dance.
Nemanja Bjelica, Timberwolves forward (⬇ DOWN)
Bjelica is Minnesota’s top 3-point shooter -- percentage-wise, anyway, at 44.1 percent. But he’s not scoring at the pace he was earlier in the season (7.5 points per game) before he missed 15 contests with a sprain in his left foot. Since returning from injury Dec. 25, Bjelica has tallied double-digit points in just three games and has scored five points or fewer in seven of his last nine contests. But he’s still shooting 45 percent from downtown in that span. The solution? Shoot more, Bjelica!