Friday, April 29, 2011

Ponder seems like a good choice for Vikings

There's no doubt that the Minnesota Vikings were going to draft a quarterback this week, though many were caught off guard when they took Christian Ponder at No. 12.

Three quarterbacks had already been selected, and presumably, the Vikings had some interest in one, two or all three. So when it came time to pick, the Vikings used their choice on Ponder, a player whose strengths seems to be intelligence and leadership but has concerns about arm injuries.

If the Vikings have faith that Ponder will be a starter for the next 5 to 10 years, it was a good choice, regardless of what self-titled "draft experts" say.

Could the Vikings have drafted Ponder at No. 20? Probably.

But the problem is that the Vikings didn't draft at 20. They were 12.

The Vikings may have tried to trade down, but apparently, no team was willing to offer much. So the Vikings were stuck at 12, and they took the player they wanted.

That makes it a good choice.

Does that mean that Ponder will work out? No.

But none of the players drafted Thursday, or any of the ones selected in the next two days, carry any money-back guarantee.

The Vikings could have taken a defensive lineman or offensive lineman that would have been safer, but if you have a chance to draft a starting quarterback, you do it.

For that reason, give the Vikings the benefit of the doubt. If the Ponder selection doesn't work out, GM Rick Spielman or coach Leslie Frazier won't be around the next time the team drafts a quarterback.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

NFL Draft live chat

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What to watch for at MSU football team's final spring practice

The Minnesota State football team holds its final spring practice Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. at Blakeslee Stadium, and there are a few things to keep an eye at the scrimmage.

Quarterback Jon Wolf has missed most of the spring practice with a broken throwing hand, leaving redshirt freshman Trent Cummings to handle the work. Senior Will Brogan has not participated in spring practice to save a semester of eligibility, though it's clear that the athletic Wolf is best-suited and favored to be the starting quarterback in the fall.

There are three offensive linemen returning, and it's important that the Mavericks improve up front. Hoffner prefers a physical, run-first attack which can't happen without good offensive line play.

Defensively, the top five tacklers from last season are gone, leaving gaping holes in that unit. Defensive lineman Chris Schaudt and linebacker Ross Jirgl are the top tacklers back.

This is an important season for the Mavericks, who took a step back with a 6-5 record. After consecutive playoff appearances, the Mavericks can't afford to continue slipping.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

MSU men's basketball team getting bigger ... literally

It doesn't appear that Minnesota State men's basketball coach Matt Margenthaler is done with recruiting this spring, but he certainly has solved the team's most glaring need: size.

In the last week, the Mavericks have added high-schoolers Zach Romashko (Blaine) and T.J. Okafor (Champlin Park)and Iowa Lakes Community College transfer Charles McNeal III. Each is around 6-6 or 6-7, with good numbers for scoring and rebounding.

Romashko and Okafor are more gifted scorers, apparently inside and outside, while McNeal is more of a scrapper. Regardless, the Mavericks, who have Connor O'Brien, Mike Bisenius and Mitch Grundman returning, will no longer have a size disadvantage.

Throw in guards Kelly Madison and Miles Chamberlain, who signed in the fall, and Margenthaler said this is the most talented recruiting class he's ever brought to Minnesota State. That's a big statement, considering all the talented players to put on the purple and gold over the last 10 seasons.

Margenthaler said Monday that he'd like to bring in at least one more player, preferably a transfer who is more mature and ready to play right away. The roster only has one true point guard (Jimmy Whitehead) and one known 3-point threat (Stephen Kirschbaum).

Since Margenthaler has already recruited size, he's free to add a shooter or ball-handler.

It might be a rebuilding season upcoming for the Mavericks, who made that historic run to the national semifinals, but it doesn't appear that the dropoff will be severe as fans may have thought. And it likely never will under Margenthaler.

It's only six months until Midnight Madness. Recruiting has a way of getting you excited for the next season.