From Comcast SportsNetMINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Love returned from the London Olympics determined to do what every veteran U.S. teammate of his had already done -- lead his team to the playoffs.The Minnesota Timberwolves will likely have tobeginthe first month of that pursuit without him.The two-time All-Star broke his right hand in a morning workout Wednesday and will miss six to eight weeks.Love broke the third and fourth metacarpals on his shooting hand in a workout before practice. It's a crushing blow to the Timberwolves, who already will be without star point guard Ricky Rubio for what is expected to be at least the first six weeks of the regular season while he recovers from a torn ACL in his left knee.The Timberwolves open the regular season athomeagainst Sacramento on Nov. 2.Team owner Glen Taylor, speaking to reporters at halftime of the WNBA finals game, acknowledged his initial "why us?" feeling when he first heard the news in the morning. But he tried to keep a positive attitude about the situation, expressing hope that Love will only miss a month of the regular season and confidence that Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham will take advantage of the extra playing time to help the Wolves for the future."I think all of our fans anticipated this season with great enthusiasm. We knew we were going to have to wait for Ricky, and now we have two guys to wait for," Taylor said, adding: "But again, I'm going to be positive about it and say we've got some young guys and let's see themstepup."All the work David Kahn and the rest of the front office did to add veteran depth this summer is about to be tested more than they ever could have imagined.Love averaged 26 points and 13.3 rebounds last season, leading the team in both categories and emerging as the best power forward in the game. He signed a four-year contract in January worth more than 60 million, then played a key role in the United States' march to the gold medal in London.As the only NBA veteran on Team USA who had yet to appear in the playoffs, Love came back brimming with confidence that this was the year the Wolves would break through for the first time since 2004. That already was going to be a challenge in the powerful Western Conference without Rubio, the dynamic point guard who quickly became the glue that held this young team together before injuring his knee in a game against the Lakers on March 9.But with veteran additions Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma and Cunningham, Love was convinced they would be able to weather playing without Rubio better than last season, when they lost 20 of their last 25 games after he went down."We have a great training camp and we can get off to a good start and guys stay healthy, there's really no telling what we can do," Love said just before training camp opened. "I know a lot of teams in the Western Conference have loaded up, but I still feel we can knock those teams off and have a really good year."Two weeks before the season has even started, the wishes for goodhealthare already out the window. Love, who scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a preseason win over Maccabi Haifa on Tuesday night, was scheduled to fly to New York for an examination by Dr. Andy Weiland on Thursday.He had a similar injury to his left hand in mid-October of 2009 and wound upmissingthe first 18 games of the regular season.The injury likely means more playing time for Williams, last year's second overall pick. With Love at power forward, Williams worked diligently to lose some weight, reshape his body and work on his ball-handling to try to earn more minutes at small forward.Williams has always been more comfortable at power forward, so this could be the opportunity for him to make a consistent impact that coach Rick Adelman has been waiting to see from him. Williams impressed coaches with his physical conditioning and aggressive approach to practice when training camp began, but the playing time has still been sporadic.He played just seven minutes Tuesday night against Haifa while Adelman took longer looks at the starting unit and Cunningham off the bench at power forward. Cunningham and Lou Amundson have both impressed Adelman with their tenacity and aggressiveness both in games and during practice."I think he's really an energy guy," Adelman has said about Cunningham. "Very good defender. Does all the little things. Him and Lou are very similar. The things that maybe we didn't do so well last year, running down loose balls, getting to the offensive boards, keeping the boards alive."Adelman also has the versatile Kirilenko, who can play both forward positions, to lean on. He could choose to slide Kirilenko to power forward and use Chase Budinger at the small forward in another starting lineup.Love's absence will also put more pressure on veteran shooting guard Brandon Roy's knees to hold up. Roy was signed in the offseason after missing last year with chronic knee issues. He has held up very well so far in the preseason, and his scoring now becomes even more crucial to fill Love's void.Taylor said he didn't know any more specifics about how Love was hurt. He said "all options are open" for adding another player to the roster to fill in for now.
Despite struggling from 3-point distance for most of game, the Warriors managed to grind out a 119-108 victory over the 76ers Monday at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
All five starters scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant putting in a game-high 27 points to lead the way. Klay Thompson had 21 points, Stephen Curry 19, Zaza Pachulia 16 and Draymond Green 14.
Curry had the toughest night of all, shooting 7-of-23 from the field -- and 0-of-11 from deep, the worst such performance of his career. The Warriors as a team were 6-of-29 from deep.
The Warriors (50-9) shot 44.9 percent overall, only the third time this season they’ve been below 45 percent in back-to-back games. They shot 42.0 percent in beating Brooklyn last Saturday night.
Six players scored in double figures for the 76ers (22-37), with forward Dario Saric totaling a team-high 21 points.
Green and Pachulia share the honors, with Pachulia becoming an offensive force and Green being such a dynamo that even his turnovers couldn’t negate his positive impact.
Green’s line: 14 points (5-of-10 from the field, 1-of-3 from deep, 3-of-6 from the line), 11 assists, six rebounds and five steals. He played 37 minutes and finished plus-22.
Pachulia’s line: 16 points (5-of-5 from the field, 6-of-7 from the line), five rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal. He played 19 minutes and finished plus-1.
After a Robert Covington 3-point pulled Philadelphia within three, 59-56, with 11:19 left in the third quarter, the Warriors came back with a 10-0 run -- requiring only 79 seconds -- to go up 69-59 with 10:00 remaining.
The 76ers got no closer than seven over the remainder of the game.
Warriors: F Kevin Durant (L hand contusion) was listed as probable and upgraded to available 90 minutes before tipoff. C Damian Jones is on assignment with Santa Cruz of the NBA Development League.
76ers: G Jerryd Bayless (L wrist surgery), C Andrew Bogut (personal), C Joel Embiid (L knee contusion), F Ben Simmons (R foot fracture) and C/F Tiago Splitter (R calf strain) were listed as out.
The Warriors return to action Tuesday, when they visit Verizon Center to face the Washington Wizards. Tipoff is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. Pacific.
It’s only February, but this week marks the beginning of the 2017 football season in the Bay Area. Spring practice has arrived.
Most schools now begin “spring” practice in the winter. In the Pac-12, for example, Oregon State began on February 17, Arizona on Feb. 18 and Colorado on Feb. 22. Stanford’s drills start this Tuesday, while Cal’s kick off on March 15.
Schools are limited to a total of 15 sessions, and safety concerns have led the NCAA to strongly recommend that only eight involve full-contact drills. Indeed, if you ask most head coaches what they hope to gain from spring ball, the first thing most of them say is, “I hope no one gets hurt.”
There’s more to it than that, of course. Typically, spring is the time teams look to fill spots lost to graduation, resolve competition for starting spots, move players to new positions, and evaluate redshirts and early-admit freshmen. It also can be a time to find a quarterback and install a new system, which is the case at Cal this spring.
In certain parts of the country, spring practice is a much bigger deal than it is here in the Bay Area. As longtime Texas sports information director Jones Ramsey used to say, “we only have two major sports at Texas—football and spring football.”
In the SEC and Big Ten, huge crowds are commonplace for the spring intra-squad game. Last year for example, Ohio State drew 100,129 fans to its spring game. Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Penn State and Nebraska routinely draw 75,000 to 90,000. Cal and Stanford are thrilled if 3,000 fans show up.
Perhaps the most significant spring practice in the history of Bay Area football took place in 1968 at Stanford. Head coach John Ralston had been recruited from Utah State in 1963 to turn around a moribund program that had won 14 games in five years, low-lighted by an 0-10 record in 1960.
But Ralston’s run-oriented attack wasn’t producing the kind of results Athletic Director Chuck Taylor had hoped for when he hired him. Taylor, a member of Stanford’s 1941 Rose Bowl championship team that introduced the T-formation to college football, and coach of Stanford’s ‘52 Rose Bowl team that lived and died by the forward pass, made a not-so-gentle suggestion to Ralston after three middling seasons: throw the football.
So Ralston recruited a couple of local quarterbacks who could sling it—Jim Plunkett from San Jose’s James Lick High School and Don Bunce from Woodside—and announced that he would switch to a pro-style passing game for the ’68 season. Spring practice would serve as the test kitchen for Ralston’s new offense.
Back in those days I was a wet-behind-the-ears sports editor of the Stanford Daily. My timing was good, as I was fortunate enough to cover the ’68 spring practice and football season. In the spring game, Plunkett completed 22 of 39 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns to solidify his hold on the starting job.
That fall, Stanford opened with San Jose State and Plunkett made his debut by throwing for four touchdowns—including three bombs to quarterback-turned-wide receiver Gene Washington—in a 68-20 rout. No one who was in the stadium that day will ever forget it…it was the beginning of a new era in Stanford football and, in many ways, a new era in college football.
Two years later, Plunkett led Stanford to the conference title and an upset win over Ohio State’s team of the decade in the Rose Bowl. He also won the Heisman Trophy over Notre Dame’s Joe (don’t call me THEES-man) Theisman.
Bunce, the forgotten quarterback, backed up Plunkett for two years before red-shirting his senior year (1970) so he’d have the job to himself in 1971. All he did was win another Pac-8 championship and Rose Bowl.
This spring has the potential to be another important milestone for Stanford and Cal with a new coaching staff at one school and major holes to fill at both.
Cal: New coach Justin Wilcox and his team open spring ball on Wednesday, March 15. The Bears will have three open practices—Friday March 24 at 3:30, Saturday, April 8 at 11 a.m., and the spring game on Saturday, April 22, also at 11. The Pac-12 network will televise the spring game and admission is free. Cal’s March 24 practice will be preceded by “Pro Day” (also open to the public) at 10 a.m., when selected graduating players will work out before NFL scouts and coaches.
In addition to installing a new system and introducing a new coaching staff, Wilcox must find a replacement for record-setting quarterback Davis Webb (a key attraction on Pro Day). Wide receiver Chad Hansen, last season’s breakthrough star, returns to make the new QB’s job easier.
Stanford: The Cardinal divides spring practice into two sessions—February 28-March 12 and April 3-15, separated by a three-week break for dead week, finals and spring break. Four practices will be open to the public—Saturday, March 4 at 10 a.m., Sunday, March 12 at 11:45, Saturday, April 8 (time tbd), and the spring game on Saturday, April 15 at 1:00 p.m., which also will be televised on Pac-12 network.
Stanford’s “Pro Timing Day” on Thursday, March 23 is open to the public at 11:15. The main attractions will be running back Christian McCaffrey and defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, both of whom are turning pro after their junior seasons. Unlike McCaffrey, Thomas played in the Sun Bowl and elevated his pro stock with several game-changing plays.
Coach David Shaw has a quality replacement for McCaffrey in junior Bryce Love, who averaged 7.4 yards per carry during the season and broke two long plays in the bowl game. But he will have to replace Thomas, record-setting kicker Conrad Ukropina, and possibly quarterback Keller Chryst, who is rehabbing from knee surgery.
We’ll be back with a roundup after the conclusion of spring ball. In the meantime, let's hope both Cal and Stanford unearth a few nuggets and that no one gets injured.