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Groundhog Day at Target Center

posted Jan 31, 2019, 9:15 AM by Dan Whenesota   [ updated Feb 2, 2019, 2:53 PM ]

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.  Timberwolves game tied.  20 seconds on the clock.  Coach takes a time out.  He grabs his marker and begins to write on the clipboard.  The team is listening and watching what he is drawing.  The team breaks the huddle.  They inbound the ball and that player holds the ball until the clock winds down and then puts up a long distance shot at the last second. 

Not only have we seen this before, I feel like we see it every game.  Last night it happened again in OT.  We just happened to get lucky that the rebound bounced KAT’s way and he had enough time to get off a shot to win it.  *(edited this paragraph see note below)

Is that what we drew in the huddle?  You just spent the entire time-out, drawing up an ISO play?  The same one we use EVERY game?  I would love to be a fly on that clipboard.   This is what I imagine it sounds like. 

“Alright, everybody listen, here’s what were gonna do.  Get the ball in to Wiggins.  The rest of you get the heck out of the way.  Ready?  Break!” 

Really?  That’s our best play?   Our go-to, game winning play that we keep in our back pocket for just such occasions?   

Can’t we be more creative than that?  Can we run some picks to get an open shot?  I mean, I don’t need a Bryce Drew Valpo game winner every time or even a ‘Hoosiers’ Pickett fence.  It doesn’t need to be that fancy.  But there has to be something a bit more complex that we could do in that situation.  Why even bother calling a time-out if that’s what you’re going to do?    And why do you have to draw it on the clipboard.  IT’S THE SAME PLAY EVERY TIME!   Did the players not remember it from the last time we called it?   Maybe we aren’t even drawing a play.  If not, what are they doing in the huddle?  Is everyone just making plans for after the game?   Maybe Coach is writing a list of restaurants for the team to choose from, or maybe he’s just drawing pictures of Jimmy Butler to make everyone laugh.  It reminds me of the scene from Bull Durham where they're having trouble deciding what to buy a teammate for a wedding gift. 

I thought maybe it was a Thibs thing and that the players just weren’t listening to him.  But it’s continued with Saunders.  Which begs the question… what if Saunders is drawing up a play, but the players aren’t listening and are doing their own thing?  If so, that’s a whole separate issue. 

I get that it’s the NBA and this is more common than in college or high school.  But Lebron does not play for the Timberwolves.   Nor does Harden.  Therefore, shouldn’t we be doing things differently?

As I was thinking about all this last night and ranting about it on Twitter, someone reminded me that Saturday is February 2nd, Groundhog Day.  We’ve all seen the movie where Bill Murray has to repeat the same day over and over again until he gets everything right to move on with his life. 

Maybe that’s what’s going on here.  The Timberwolves are re-living the same situation every game and until they do something different the outcome won’t change.  The franchise itself is stuck in a rut and has been for a long time.  As we all know, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Maybe it’s time to start doing things differently.  That might require some big changes, and Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So maybe it’s as simple as calling an actual play to win a game.   It’s a start.   At this point what can it hurt?

Ironically, the Timberwolves play on Groundhog Day at 8pm vs the Nuggets at Target Center.  If the Wolves see their shadow that night, Does that mean we get another 6 weeks of inconsistent play? 


* Paragraph edit: 
I had originally wrote that it happened twice last night, once at the end of regulation and at the end of OT.   At the end of regulation, the ISO was in transition, not directly out of a timeout.  However there was a timeout before the defensive stop that led to the transition. I can only assume Saunders could have drawn up a play in case they got the stop and needed a basket to win.  The point was... its still an ISO play, no picks, nothing designed, everyone get out of my way and let me hero this.  In addition, when we did get that stop there was about 14 seconds left on the clock AND we had a time out left as well.  We could have used that time out, drawn up an actual play and tried to execute it, rather than one player try to win it on his own.  

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