Love, Nystrom and big numbers

Published 11:55 am Saturday, December 11, 2010

Michael Wilbon — my second favorite sports journalist behind Mike Simmons — was recently given a column on This is great news. Wilbon is as level-headed and interesting as any sports writer, and his personality in print, I believe, is more honest than it is trading shots with Tony Kornheiser on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.”

In Wilbon’s first ESPN column that published Wednesday, he presented his readers with a number of bullet points both introducing himself and what you can expect from his column. I liked the format and am going to steal a bit of that today:

  • Picking the Tribune football Player of the Year this season was difficult, though I’m glad I made the unconvential choice of a lineman. Speaking with Albert Lea’s Caleb Gaudian, I could tell he just really loves playing football. Stats, awards, wins and losses all seemed to take a back seat to just being on the field with his friends. Congratulations on a terrific season to Northwood-Kensett quarterback Spencer Capitani, who was also worthy of a Player of the Year nod. Capitani had a remarkable season. He rushed for 1,402 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 186 carries. He threw for another 314 yards and was named first team All-State this season and three-time All-District for his career.
  • Congratulations to Roy Nystrom on his 617th win and sliding into fourth place all-time nationally in high school hockey wins. I never played hockey but was friends with those who did, and the respect they had for coach Nystrom was second to none. While players and parents are blaming coaches more and more these days, I never heard a negative comment about Nystrom. The all-time record is 897 and I hope Nystrom goes for it. At this pace he will have to coach for about 18 more seasons. Godspeed, Roy.
  • I’m happier with the Jerry Kill coaching hire than I was when it was announced. While he’s not the big-name coach I was expecting Minnesota to hire, the way he carries himself and what Kill’s respected colleagues are saying about him is no doubt impressive. I think he’ll bring a much-needed identity to the Gopher football program. Brewster was constantly changing offensive schemes and coordinators and didn’t seem to knowwhat to do with MarQueis Gray. Kill has done the same thing at every program — run the ball and run it fast — and he’s never failed doing it.
  • Kevin Love has made rebounding fun again. The Timberwolves’ power forward has such an innate ability to get great position half the time he doesn’t even need to jump to snatch his 18th board. To us early 20-somethings, Love helps make up for missing Dennis Rodman’s prime. Though Love will never reach the mind-boggling 18.7 rebounds per game Rodman grabbed during the 1991-92 season, his ability to score and spread the floor with a solid 3-point jump shot makes up for it.
  • Be glad the Twins aren’t in the AL East. The Red Sox acquired two of my favorite players this week by trading for Padres’ slugger Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford for $142 million dollar contract. If the Yankees sign Cliff Lee I don’t think the Orioles will ever make the playoffs again. Ever.

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