The Walthalls could have a fragmented rooting interest tonight when the family watches the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
The Memphis Grizzlies play at the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8:30 p.m.
“I will be rooting for the Grizzlies I can tell you that,” said Minnesota State Moorhead men’s basketball coach Chad Walthall.
Walthall is longtime friends with first-year Memphis head coach Dave Joerger. Both are from Staples, Minn. Walthall’s four kids are where the cheering split could occur.
“They know that dad knows the head coach of the Grizzlies pretty well,” Walthall said.
Dad knowing the head coach, however, may not be enough to offset the star power of Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, one of the best players in the NBA.
“I know the little one is automatic KD,” Walthall said of his 7-year-old son Beau. “I know the oldest (13-year-old daughter Brooke) is too cool to wear any jerseys, and the twins (11-year-olds Brady and Blake) could flip at halftime.”
Walthall has an extra tie to the Memphis head coach since he’s coaching at Joerger’s alma mater. Joerger played point guard for two seasons (1995-97) with the Dragons.
“He follows the Dragons all the time,” Walthall said. “It’s amazing how much he follows the Dragons.”
Joerger was one of the first to congratulate Walthall after MSUM earned a share of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division title this past season. Walthall hopes to bring Joerger into town to do a one-day clinic in the near future.
“We have talked about it,” Walthall said. “I think we both would love to do it. It’s just a matter of the right timing for both of us.”
While Joerger has coached in the NBA playoffs as an assistant, tonight will mark his first postseason game as a head coach.
Blaine Joerger, Dave’s younger brother, thinks these playoffs will be different for his older sibling.
“It is totally different with him being a head coach,” said Blaine, who lives in the Twin Cities area and officiates NSIC and Division III basketball games. “Everything stops at him.”
Blaine has made it to six of Dave’s games in person this season, watching many more on his NBA television package.
“I think I have gotten over the weirdness of seeing him on ESPN and on TV,” Blaine said. “Becoming a fan becomes a little stressful sometimes.”
Blaine said he may be biased, but he sensed his brother had that “it” factor growing up.
“You could see it pretty early on,” said Blaine, who played college basketball at Minnesota State-Mankato. “Coaching was his passion.”
The Grizzlies have a 50-32 record in Dave Joerger’s first season as head coach.
Memphis made the NBA postseason, even though starting center Marc Gasol missed 23 games early in the regular season due to a knee injury. The 7-foot-1 Gasol is third on the team in scoring, averaging 14.6 points per game.
Gasol returned to the lineup in mid-January.
“It was nice to see him with the injury to Gasol still win 50 games,” said Walthall. “I think that was a pretty huge deal for him.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found
FARGO – The Summit League softball series between North Dakota State and Fort Wayne has been moved to Gate City Bank Field in the Fargodome this weekend.
The series will begin with a doubleheader starting at 6 p.m. today and will conclude with a game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
NDSU sits in first place in the Summit League standings, and holds a 16-2 all-time record at Gate City Bank Field.
Timberwolves enter crucial offseasonComments Off
The Minnesota Timberwolves finished their season Wednesday night. And while a 40-42 record is the team’s best mark since 2004-05, the Timberwolves will hope next season to end their playoff drought. Minnesota hasn’t made the postseason since reaching the Western Conference Finals in 2004.
The following are a few storylines to keep in mind as the Timberwolves enter a pivotal offseason:
Uncertainty with Love
Two years have passed since Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love signed a four-year contract extension. But that fourth year was a player option, meaning Love can opt out of the deal that pays him $15 million per year following next season.
Love has become one of the league’s elite players. His per-game averages of 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds this season each ranked in the top four in the NBA.
But with next season potentially being his last in Minnesota, it raises the possibility that the Wolves could try to trade him this offseason while he is still under contract.
An injury to center Nikola Pekovic late in the season allowed first-round pick Gorgui Dieng to receive more playing time. And the rookie didn’t disappoint.
In nine games during the season’s final month, Dieng averaged 11.9 points, 10.7 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman, 67, went 97-133 in his three seasons at the helm. But his departure leaves a vacancy.
Minnesota reportedly has interest in former Timberwolves guard Fred Hoiberg for the head coaching opening. He guided Iowa State to the Sweet 16 as its men’s basketball head coach this past season.
And there is always the possibility that team president Flip Saunders decides to return to the bench.
Roster in place
The Timberwolves can opt for roster stability heading into next season. The team has very few free agents, with the most notable being reserve forward Dante Cunningham.
But that also means that – unless they make a trade – the Timberwolves will likely lack salary cap space to improve a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade.
JAMESTOWN, N.D. – A heap of optimism surrounds the Carrington High School track and field teams this spring, if only the weather would cooperate.
Another late spring has once again locked the bulk of the state’s track teams indoors for the time being, but once the sun does shine, so should the Cardinals.
The two-time defending state champion girls team is once again poised to make plenty of noise, while a young boys squad has made gains to potentially up its game.
“We’re just kind of champing at the bit to get outside,” Carrington track and field coach Greg Hoeckle said. “We still have some injury things that we are dealing with, with one of our (girls) athletes, but other than that we’re pretty healthy.”
Plenty of buzz will be surrounding senior Kayla Hochhalter all season. The standout thrower, who signed with the University of Iowa over the winter, is potentially gunning for three individual state titles in the javelin, discus and shot put.
She is the defending title holder in the discus. But she also finished second in the shot put and third in the javelin.
Hochhalter has never placed outside of the top three in the javelin, dating back to when she was an eighth-grader, and her personal best of 145 feet in the event would be a new North Dakota Class B record if she can match that mark at this year’s state meet.
“That’s her goal, and if anybody is capable of doing it, Kayla is,” Hoeckle said of Hochhalter’s potential sweep in the throwing events. “She works hard and has put the time and effort in to being in that position.”
The girls put up 113 points to win their second straight state title last season, which was 51 points better than second-place Hazen.
Another key cog returning is freshman distance runner Ashley Neumiller, who racked up three state podium visits as an eighth-grader. Neumiller finished third in the 3,200 (11 minutes, 52.78 seconds), fourth in the mile (5:23.92) and sixth in the 800 (2:24.90).
Neumiller was also a member of Carrington’s second-place winning 3,200 relay team (10:09.53), which also returns sophomore Ann Endres and senior Page Anderson.
“We have a strong nucleus of girls returning, and we have good support with our younger girls coming up,” Hoeckle said. “We try to cover all the areas. But we have four good quality throwers and they usually place high at every meet, so that’s probably where we’re the strongest.”
The Carrington boys team has upped the ante after finishing 17th at state last season, with 19 total points. The team only includes one senior, Hunter Stusynski, but the young talent is starting to rise toward the top.
The team will be looking for a strong showing from junior Seth Abaurrea. Abaurrea placed fifth at state in the 100 (11.19) and sixth in the 200 (22.65), but possibly helping Abaurrea’s cause in those events is the graduation of other athletes.
Of the four sprinters who finished ahead of Abaurrea in the 100, and the five athletes that finished ahead of him in the 200, just one returns in each race.
Abaurrea was also a member of the team’s fifth-place 400 relay team (44.84) and ninth-place 800 relay quarter (1:35.16), both of which return all its runners to the track. Also returning in the 400 relay are sophomores Walker Carr, Connor Wendel and Cole Ferguson, and back in the 800 relay are Ferguson, Carr and sophomore Riley Lura.
Carrington junior Riley Miller returns after placing fourth at state in the long jump (21-2).
“Our (boys) team is still quite young, but we have all our sprinters back and that’s where our largest group of returners are,” Hoeckle said. “We’re expecting some big things from the boys, and we feel like this year we can start moving hopefully into that top five range.”
Savaloja writes for the Jamestown Sun
FARGO – When Enrique Alvarez co-founded the Fargo-Moorhead Fencing Club in 2010 his goal was to make a strong fencing committee in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
His club took a big step forward at its first senior national tournament Sunday and Monday. Alvarez earned a gold medal and took first place and 16-year-old Dominic Baer took eighth in Division II men’s epee at the North American Cup National Tournament at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Not bad considering it was Alvarez’s first senior national event in the United States and Baer’s first senior national event ever.
“It’s very good results for it being the first time ever,” Alvarez said. “We were the only club with two people on the podium that day in this division.”
It’s something Alvarez could not have imagined when he started the club four years ago. It’s something he didn’t even imagine days before going to the tournament.
“No, not at all,” Alvarez said. “What I was expecting from my students was to just have an experience out of their comfort zone. I just told them to have fun and show your best. It’s good to know that we’re doing stuff correctly and that even in Fargo, the middle of nowhere, you can get good fencers.”
Baer is home-schooled right outside Glyndon, Minn. He was taking violin lessons when his violin teacher passed away in the middle of the school year. Baer’s mother looked for something else for him to do. She stumbled upon the fencing club.
That was two-and-a-half years ago.
“It took off as soon as we took our first lesson,” Baer said. “I’ve always really liked swords. Just being able to swordfight and the whole physical and mental aspect of it I enjoy. It isn’t as easy as it looks to stab people.”
Alvarez and Baer will now be able to compete in Division I events after their performances.
“There’ll be some tough fencers in there,” Baer said. “After the first practice, I knew fencing was something I wanted to do.”
Alvarez couldn’t help but notice when fencers were announced at the podium, all of them had five or more years of fencing experience.
Baer represents how far Alvarez’s club has come. From five members in 2010 to competing nationally in 2014.
“It’s coming to a realization that all the efforts we have put in the last years to supporting our fencers and our club is getting results,” Alvarez said. “Our next event is going to be at a national event in Ohio, so we’ll see if we can get some medals there, too.”
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548