You may have heard him say this a time or two. Flip Saunders, holding court with the media, will throw out this thought often. It’s something he’s believed from early days of playing basketball with buddies on his high school hoops team. Flip loves practice. The T’Wolves head coach enjoys practice so much that he’ll keep his players locked in well past quitting time. Flip has an army of assistants and those lucky enough to try to keep the Wolves main man on schedule often get “the hand”. You know, the “wave off” when approaching the Coach to tell him it’s time to wrap it up.
Flip Saunders is loving this pre-season. Perhaps more than any other in his decades long career in basketball. And after spending hours at a mid-week Wolves practice, his players are buying in too. I’m not talking about the rookies who are just happy to not schlepping books around with their basketballs. Veterans are in. Lock, stock and basketball.
At a time when many fans are still not convinced the Wolves did the right thing by shipping off their disgruntled All Star to Cleveland, Flip’s workouts and pre-season prodding are providing a road map that Veterans see as a GPS to a winning season.
Corey Brewer made that clear to me front and center. Brewer, who’ll headline this weekend’s GameON! on MY29 (Sunday @ 10AM), told me that he’s not been a bit surprised by Flip’s touch with this team. “Coach has a plan. He leans on us veterans and expects things from us. He also lets us play and we’re already more energetic than last season. This is a good place for us” Brewer told me.
No, Coach Flip doesn’t apologize for the long practices and early season work that is expected to galvanize his team. “We aren’t close to where I want us to be” Flip told me. “There’s a lot to do. We have to be concerned about injuries, rotations and we have to put in the work”. Flip also doesn’t give a hoot about the early season predictions that have the Wolves struggling in his first full season back on their bench. When asked about where the Wolves fit in among the Western Conference powers, Flip displays a sly grin and says, “I don’t pay attention to that stuff”.
Brewer, on the other hand, is more forthcoming. Corey told me, “Let ‘em say what they want. All I know is that this is a talented team. We’re very athletic, we have young legs and there’s no need to listen to the doubters. Heck, when I was in Denver, we were expected to be in the cellar and one of the worst teams in the West. Coach (George) Karl believed in us and told us so. Coach said go out and play. Believe in yourself and your teammates. We’ll be fine. Coach (Saunders) also tells us that and it makes a difference. In Denver, we were a 7th and Three seed. We showed them. This team can do the same thing”.
I’ve always been a believer in that. I’m one of those guys who had people tell me early in my career that I couldn’t do this or I’d never do that. You listen to that nonsense and you’re defeated before beginning. Listen, Brewer, Coaches Flip and Karl are dead on right. There will be plenty of obstacles along an NBA season. Stay with yourself and your team and often, it all comes together. Two examples pop right into my head, including the NBA Champion Spurs from last season (beating the Heat’s Big-3) and within the past few days, baseball’s Kansas City Royals are proof of that.
The Wolves open their NBA season over a week. I said this last week that Flip just might surprise many of his detractors. Sure and certainly, there are always those who won’t be convinced but Coach Saunders is a good fit to blend these immensely talented young players with the solid veterans he has on the team. Corey Brewer confirmed what he and his veteran mates are thinking. They’ve bought in. For fans, the ride might get bumpy but if the players are belted in for the long haul, why not us?!
Bring it on. SimonsSays is ready. And catch Coach and Corey Brewer and a few Wolves fans in a fresh and new GameON! this Sunday. It’s always good to have this time with you each and every week! Enjoy it….basketball is here again! Keep that glass half full and keep your GameON!
SimonsSays on TV/PODcast:
GameON! and Rod Simons are winners of a 2014 Emmy award for show host! It’s exciting news as GameON! starts its new season and continues to showcase the Timberwolves like no other broadcast show in the region. GameON! is powered by Budweiser and is broadcast in High Definition and can be found on ITunes, on demand via our new GameON! App (free and available for Apple/Android) and online @ www.gameontvmn.com. There is always a Wolves update on my TV show, GameON! Don’t miss an episode of the Emmy winning GameON! @ 10am this Sunday morning on FOX’s My29 and throughout the weekend regionally on MidCo Sports Net.
GameON! offers in-depth interviews with the top players, great food, sports newsmakers and we get you inside your favorite teams (including the Wolves). We’d love for you to “like” us on Facebook @ GameOnTvMN. Drop me a note, Rod@KTWIN.com
GameON! is also seen in North & South Dakota and Western Minnesota on MidCo SportsNet several times a weekend. We reserve the right to use your e-mails here in SimonsSays @ Timberwolves.com. You can now get SimonsSays in new PODcast form with insight/input from fans just like you and exclusive player interviews! Keep an eye out for SimonsSays PODcast @ Timberwolves.com each and every week.
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We talk Wolves. Every day. High’s & lows. We’re there because we are fans, just like you! Keep your GameON! See you soon!