Column: It’s time to go

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jon Laging, Sports Columnist

For all those confident that the Vikings will respond to a new owner that is willing to spend money to be a Super Bowl contender, please consider the Timberwolves dismal post season play. Glen Taylor has put his checkbook on the table more than once, in fact, even got caught doing it with Joe Smith and has not made the Super Bowl of NBA basketball.

He, at Kevin McHale’s behest, even exceeded the salary cap limit when putting together the 2004 team with soon to be malcontents, Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell.

What did we learn from this? Basically that money alone just doesn’t get it done. We saw that last year in baseball with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Mets. In addition to money, intelligent management and coaching is needed.

Certainly Billy Beane and our own Terry Ryan proved that. They are operating at half-mast compared to some others and yet their division winning record can be matched to all, including the Yankees. Therefore why don’t the Timberwolves do better considering that they, unlike the Twins, can match the money of the rest of the teams in their league? We are left with one answer, Management!

Kevin McHale made one move that worked out extremely well. The drafting of Kevin Garnett. A decade ago McHale made a good decision. Does that give him a free ride for another ten years? I don’t think so. Kevin Garnett has reached his peak years and after perhaps a couple more seasons will begin his decline. In fact, if you look at his statistics he has significantly declined especially in rebounding this year. The team must capitalize on this wonderful player or soon it will be too late.

If you have the league’s 2004 MVP and all the needed assets (money), and don’t win, the problem, if not the coach, is management. I don’t care if the manager’s name is Kevin McHale or John Smith you must reach that conclusion. How many more years do we give McHale? My answer is none. Make a move before it’s any later, if it’s not too late already.

Our Minnesota Gophers have had the same losing problem only worse. After all, the Timberwolves have a winning record in their league. I’ll not get into the recruits lost, but Dan Monson has mishandled players&8217; Rickert, Humphries and Hargrow. My theory is that Monson’s difficulties with star players stems from his early struggle with Joel Pryzbilla. Monson confronted Pryzbilla and he told him to go jump and walked away. He left behind a ragged team and a stricken coach. Since that time Monson seems to have difficulty with coaching his stars to play team ball. There can be only one boss and it appears Monson has let stars, most particularly Humphries, walk all over him to his and the team’s detriment.

The Gophers supply their basketball coach with Big Ten assets and also provide him with one of the finest fieldhouses in the land. Given that, whom or what is left to bear responsibility for lack of success? The head of the program. Dan Monson.

Sometimes the most productive analysis is the simplest. Monson has had the following losing or 500 seasons in the Big Ten: 1999-00 (3-13) 2000-01 (5-11) 2002-03 (8-8) 20003-04 (3-13) and that’s not even counting this year in which the Gopher’s are (0-5). In his seventh year Monson stands 39-62 in Big Ten play at the time of this writing.

It seems to me that Monson has had more than enough time to recover from Gophergate. Let’s thank him for running a clean program and find someone that can run a clean program and a winning program. If you are not having success, it’s time to do something.