2-19-10: DFTU

Hello again everybody...

We've done it once again! We've fooled the employment gods into giving us two straight days off! And I'm thrilled to report that it should be the case for many weeks to come... hopefully.

Yes, the brain trust that runs my shop has finally filled the vacant Studio Coordinator position. In fact, the new guy is training in as I begin to write this column. So hopefully my days of weekend fill-in work are done. Hopefully.

I'm a bit conflicted today. A couple of things happened yesterday. One was pretty neat. The other was lousy (most of you can guess what I'm referencing there - if not, I'll discuss later).

The neat one concerned an email I got in the morning. I thought it was a hoax at first, but it turned out to be legit. A reporter from the Globe and Mail (a newspaper based in Toronto of all places) had stumbled across my Wednesday column as she was researching an article on why men don't like figure skating. Apparently she thought some of my comments on subjective judging were interesting and wanted to do an interview.

Several emails and a bit of phone-tag got the job done and helped produce her article which you can read here.

Intellectually, I know that anything I put on the blog is out there on the internet for anyone and everyone to see. But the concept doesn't really sink home until you get a call from a Canadian newspaper reporter. Go figure!

Anyway, my thanks to Ms. Weeks for her interest in my blog. And for those of you wondering, yes, that's the most times I've ever been referred to as “Mr. Cook”... by far.

But enough of my shameless self-promotion! It's Friday, and that means you came here to be Updated. So let's get to it!

”The only way to make a man trustworthy is to trust him.”
- Henry Stimson (1867 - 1950), American statesman

Easier said than done, right, especially when I was so very, very wrong about something...

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What was that? I'm glad you asked! (Or am I?) So with that, it's time, once again, for everybody's favorite segment...

Dan's Favorite Teams Update!

Wisconsin Badgers: The Badgers are 19-7 (9-5 in the Big Ten). They're fifth in the conference and ranked 14th in the nation.

Though once again, that ranking is likely to slip a bit. Why does it seem like I keep saying that?

I know this is a tad out of the usual order, but since the Wild section will be small thanks to the Olympic Break, and given the grievous events of last night, I felt the need to put the Badger section first.

Minnesota 68, Wisconsin 52.


I mean it's bad enough to lose to hated rival, but to get blown out by them when they've been playing like crap for weeks?! That's almost more than I can take.

Wisconsin scored the first 6 points of the game. But once they lost that lead, they never got a sniff of it again.

It pains me to say it (I mean it really, really pains me), but the Badgers were out-played and out-coached in every fashion imaginable. Minnesota's zone defense had Wisconsin off their game all night. And Bo Ryan spent more time complaining to the officials - for which he earned a well-deserved technical foul - than figuring out how to beat said defense.

Yes, it was a road game, and road games in the Big Ten are always tough. But that's no excuse to lose to a team that's now 6-7 in the conference.

I'm not sure what's worse actually. Having to watch your favorite team get beat by their rival, or the inevitable verbal ass-whipping I'm going to take at work today. I'm not going to say that I don't deserve it - lord knows I've earned every bit of it. But that doesn't mean I'm looking forward to it!

I suppose the good news is that forward Jon Leuer finally got back into action (although his play was rusty, at best).

But that's a very small consolation for what was really a thorough and total defeat.

Ugh. I'm still sick over it.

Thankfully, the Badgers get a couple of “bounce-back” games over the next week. Sunday they host Northwestern. And next Thursday they travel to Assembly Hall to face a still-weakened Hooiser squad. After that, there are only two more regular season games before the Big Ten Tournament. Bucky better get fired up, or they could find themselves uncomfortably close to the NCAA “bubble”.

(Ed.'s Note: For those of you expecting the previously advertised “Golden Gopher Cheap Shot”, it's been delayed. I mean, are you kidding? I'm going to cheap-shot a team that just handed my squad a 16-point loss? Even I'm not that crazy.)

Minnesota Wild: The Wild are 30-27-4, good for 64 points. They're fourth in the Northwest Division and 13th in the Western Conference, 5 points out of a playoff spot.

The Wild have been dormant since this past Sunday when they defeated Vancouver 6-2. It was a great win for the Wild. Unfortunately, it came on the heels of a crushing 3-2 loss to a beleaguered Atlanta Thrasher team.

Trust me, I'd love nothing more than to be trumpeting the wonder of a big win over the division leaders, but when it comes after an uninspired performance like that the Wild put forth against Atlanta, I just can't muster the optimism to do it.

It's more of the same that we've been seeing all year. One night the Wild look like world-beaters, the next they look like they're just out there cashing paychecks. That might be a little harsh, but the dichotomy in energy levels has been distinct.

I don't think they're going to pack it in and become sellers at the deadline however. I'm not saying they won't make moves, but the trade they made last Friday is probably more indicative of what they're looking to do than anything.

For those of you who've been paying absolutely no attention, the Wild sent defenseman Kim Johnsson and prospect Nick Leddy to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Cam Barker.

Barker might be a slight upgrade over Johnsson (Kim-haters will say that's an understatement, as well as point to Barker scoring in his first game with the Wild). But what he really brings is more long-term cost-certainty.

Johnsson's a free agent after this season. Barker's locked up for two more years. Not to mention that he costs less than Johnsson in the first place.

Ultimately, this quality of this deal will be decided by Leddy. If the kid grows into an NHL star, then Chicago might come out on the “winning” end. If not, then the Wild have added a guy who's better on the power play and comes cheaper than the guy they traded.

I doubt seriously this is the end of the tweaking GM Chuck Fletcher is going to try and accomplish before the trading deadline. Whether he can find any dance partners is another matter.

The Wild remain idle while the Winter Games are in session. They'll be back at it on March 3rd as they start a short road trip to Western Canada in Calgary.

Maple Grove Crimson: The Crimson are 21-2 (15-0 in the Northwest Suburban). They're first in their conference and ranked 4th in the state in Class 4A.

I hate to be repetitive, but it was another week, and another two comfortable wins for the Crimson.

Last Friday, the Crimson cruised to a 72-36 win over Elk River. Juniors Ellen Edison and Stephanie Davison, along with senior Julie Kruse couldn't decide amongst them who should lead the team in scoring that night, so they decided to stick with a nice, even 15 points per player. Yes, you read that right. Three of the Crimson's starters outscored all of the Elks' players by 9 points. Wow.

But as I mentioned last week, there was another story (probably more important than the win) that happened that night. Maple Grove's “pink-out” in support of the Kay Yow Breast Cancer Fun was a roaring success. A lot of money was made for a special cause and a good time was had by all.

Here's a photo of the team in their pink, along with the coaching staff (Coach Cook is on the left - note the pink tie):

How do you not love a socially responsible team?!

This past Tuesday night the Crimson kept the train rolling against the Anoka Tornadoes, blitzing them 68-23. This time junior Anna Gerdes (11 points) joined seniors Julie Kruse (10 points) and Veronica Jakubovie (10 points) in leading Maple Grove in scoring.

You've got to have regular leaders on a successful team. But the knowledge that they have role-players that can step up and lead the team in scoring on any given night must be very reassuring for the coaching staff.

And speaking of the coaching staff, the awards are starting to come in. It was announce today that Mark Cook and Ellen Wiese of Maple Grove have been selected as Section 5AAAA Coach and Assistant Coach of the Year. Congrats on an honor well-earned!

One more “gimme” game remains for Maple Grove before they tough final stretch. Tonight, the Crimson travel to face the Park Center Pirates (who they beat 56-34 in their last meeting). Don't expect the winning streak to stop tonight. But after that, things get really interesting. Tuesday night, the Crimson host second-place Centennial for a game which could decide the Conference title. And lest they rest on their laurels, Maple Grove has to face hated-rival Osseo one week from tonight.

We're getting to the fun part, Crimson fans. Stay tuned!

That's going to wrap things up for this week. Feel Updated? I thought you might.

I'll be back on Monday (hopefully) with more Sports Take goodness for you.

Until then, thanks for reading!

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