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2017-02-17 / Out of the Blue

Out of the Blue

By Brian Miller
HTF Columnist


Bob McDonald talks with reporter Brian Miller after his final home game after 59 years of coaching high school basketball in February of 2014. Photo credit: Eric Sherman Images Bob McDonald talks with reporter Brian Miller after his final home game after 59 years of coaching high school basketball in February of 2014. Photo credit: Eric Sherman Images Let’s start this week off with Monday’s press release from the Minnesota State High School League:

The Minnesota Boys Basketball Coaches Association is proud and honored to announce the establishment of the McDonald Award. This award will be presented annually to the outstanding Senior Basketball Player of the Year beginning with the 2017-18 basketball season.

The award is named in honor of Bob Mc- Donald, a legend and icon in Chisholm, the state of Minnesota, and the nation for his accomplishments as a coach and his commitment to educating students. Coach McDonald served 59 years as a high school basketball coach. Coach McDonald led his teams to 1,012 victories, the only coach in Minnesota hoops history and one of 13 in the nation to accomplish this many wins. He was also known for instilling the values of hard work, teamwork, a strong moral code, and high academic expectations for the students he served on the court and in the classroom. Bob is a member of the MBCA Hall of Fame, the MSHSL Hall of Fame, and the National High School Hall of Fame.

The Award, patterned after the Wooden Award, will include, but not be limited to, qualifications such as exhibiting strength of character, both on and off the court; contributing to team effort; excelling on both offense and defense; and performance over the course of the entire season.

The establishment of the award is also designed to focus attention on the positive aspects of basketball and the role coaches play in the lives of all the student-athletes they represent and serve. In moving forward, it is the goal of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association that the McDonald Award will be widely viewed as the top award that a senior high school basketball player in Minnesota can receive.

Bravo to the MSHSL. I’ve had the opportunity, privilege and distinct pleasure to interview Mr. McDonald dozens of times over the past 20 years, and I’ll be the first to vouch for his attributes of class, dignity and discipline. He never shied away from a question, answered with great candor and treated me with respect, even though I was pretty wet behind the ears when I started out in the newspaper business.

I also saw this week that the Chisholm School Board voted to rename its basketball court after McDonald. The gymnasium is already named for McDonald’s high school coach, Harvey Roels.

I couldn’t be happier for the legendary coach. The honors are beyond justified for a man who was always tirelessly devoted to developing kids into disciplined young men on the court, and more importantly, off it.

That’s it. I won’t hear any other arguments for anybody else other than Tom Brady. That case is closed. Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time after leading the New England Patriots back from the dead to win Super Bowl 51.

From the USA Today: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, prior to Super Bowl LI teams leading by 25 or more points at any time in any NFL game were 2,545-4-2 in the regular season and 102-2 in the postseason. Add it up and only six times in 2,655 games, or 0.2 percent of the time, has a team come back from a 25-point deficit to win a game.

That stat comes from the theatre of the absurd. I was working during Super Bowl when the Atlanta Falcons jumped out to a 21-0 lead. I received a text from a friend in Boston saying: “What is going on with this game.” I replied, “Still a lot of time left, and they have Brady.”

I don’t know if I was so optimistic when it was 28-3 late in the third quarter, but I can tell you this: There’s no other quarterback or coaching staff I’d rather have in that situation; no other team could have pulled that off.

Say all you want about the Falcons choking. I give far more credence to the Patriots taking it away from them. And that Julian Edelman catch? That was the moment I knew the Patriots were going to pull it off. What an amazing game.

Randy Moss turned 40 years young Monday. In related news, I finally regretfully turned in my youth card. For those of you who miss watching him nearly as much as I do, here’s a video showcasing every 40-plus-yard touchdown Moss had in his career: https://www.facebook.com/ NFL/videos/10154840485861263/. It’s 10 minutes long just for those TDs. Wow. That says something about his remarkable career.

Speaking of youth, the Timberwolves may be finally turning the corner. I know I’ve been saying this for years, but three of their kids were recently ranked in the top 20 of ESPN’s #NBArank Rising Stars (players under 25).

Zach LaVine, the two-time defending slam dunk champ, slotted in at No. 17. Sadly, the athletic super-freak will miss the remainder of this season after tearing his ACL two weeks ago.

Andrew Wiggins, who has been on an absolute tear since LaVine went down, came in at No. 11. Personally, I think that’s a bit low. Wiggins is a scoring machine and another remarkable athlete, although admittedly, the rest of his game needs improvement. His 20-point third quarter on his way to 41 points against LeBron James and the Cavs Tuesday was astonishing.

And then there’s Karl-Anthony Towns. The center is in the top 5 of the rankings, which haven’t been released yet. My guess is he comes in at No. 1 or 2. Towns is averaging something like 28 points and 12 rebounds over the last several weeks.

All three guys are under 22. It’s kind of ridiculous how bright their future appears to be.

It appears the Minnesota Wild made the right move in bringing in Bruce Boudreau as their new head coach this season. The Wild have the second-best record in the league behind the Washington Capitals and a five-point lead with a game in hand over the Chicago Blackhawks for the best record in the West.

It remains to be seen if the Wild can put it all together in the playoffs – Boudreau has a dubious Game 7 record – but they do have Devan Dubnyk, who’s been the best goalie in the league this season, and balanced scoring up and down the lineup. As of now, they’re in the driver’s seat for home-ice advantage throughout, at least, the Western Conference playoffs.

In news that might matter to only me and my buddy Scotty and a handful of others after last year’s travesty of a season, pitchers and catchers reported Tuesday for the Minnesota Twins for spring training. The team didn’t make many if any significant moves this offseason, which signals that they are relying on their young talent – Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are the obvious headliners – to make a big step forward this year. It’s hard to envision the team being a contender unless those guys make a giant leap. Nevertheless, it’s early, and hope springs eternal.

Until next time…

Brian Miller lives in Eveleth, MN. He is a longtime local writer, and he would appreciate your thoughts—good or bad—at brianm@hometownfocus.us.

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