COLUMN: Winter sports changes, Minnesota misery, and more

Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

Random musings:

   As the high school winter sports season approaches, there are some changes on the horizon.

   One of the most noticeable will be the use of a 35-second shot clock in prep basketball games.

   I’m in favor. It will keep the action moving, and take away those times when more than a minute is left in the first and third quarters and a team decides to hold the ball for a last shot. They can still do that, but only if they get the ball with under 35 seconds left.

   If you follow these pages, you probably saw my article about Izzy Taylor, Monticello’s wrestler who has joined the Anamosa team for this season, since she was the only Panther who signed up for girls wrestling. The day will come when Monticello has its own team.

   What I learned last week is that Midland High School is putting a girls wrestling team on the mat for the coming season, under the direction of former Midland State qualifier T.J. Bowen. What’s more, the team photo that will appear in our Dec. 7 Winter Sports Preview Section is impressive: the Eagles have 10 girls out for the team.

   Girls wrestling in Iowa is growing dramatically, and is sanctioned by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union for the first time. It’s good to see.

It’s not so bad

   One of my bosses, Dan Goodyear, came to my office Monday morning and asked if I was OK.

   It was a fair question. Fans of Minnesota football teams had a rough weekend.

   First, despite my praise of coach P.J. Fleck in last week’s paper, the Gophers gave up two costly turnovers, missed a short field goal, and lost to Iowa by three points.

   Then, the Vikings were crushed by Dallas Sunday, 40-3, the fifth-worst Vikings loss of all time.

   But to be honest, I’m fine. The Gophers-Hawkeyes game was a good one, exciting right to the end. Unlike those who think a game has to end 45-42 to be exciting, I love a good defensive struggle, where every third down play is huge and field position means so much.

   Hey, the Gophers are 7-4. If they beat Wisconsin this week they’ll finish 8-4 and get a decent bowl bid. I would take that every year with this program.

   And besides, Hawkeye victories make those around me happy.

   As for the Vikings, they were due for a clunker (and what a clunker it was). I prefer to look at the big picture; if you had asked me at the start of the season to accept an 8-2 record for the Purple through 10 games, I would have jumped at the chance.

NBA is back

   Thanks to the enthusiasm of my sons, the NBA became my favorite professional sport some years ago, and still is.

   I basically have four “favorite teams” now. The Timberwolves, as Minnesota’s representative; the Bulls, my older son’s favorite; the Heat, my younger son’s favorite, and a new entry, the Kings.

   That former Hawkeye Keegan Murray is a starter for Sacramento is only part of the appeal. I bet the “over” on season wins for the Kings through my sports betting app. I need them to go at least 35-47 for the season in order to win. At this writing they are 9-6, and doing better than any of the other three teams I follow.

Return to the rink

   Hockey is back in my life. I zipped up to Dubuque Friday night to catch a Fighting Saints hockey game, my first USHL contest since COVID became a thing.

   I loved it, although I wasn’t crazy about the outcome; the Saints lost an overtime shootout to Muskegon. It was a game they could have and should have won.

   Having watched hundreds of hockey games over the years, I came away with this piece of advice for the Saints: shoot more. So many times, they would have a clear shot at the net but would give up the puck in hopes of a better shot, which usually didn’t materialize.

   You get a shot, you take it. These aren’t NHL goalies, although Dubuque netminder Marcus Brannman played like one.




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