Before we get started, a quick note: This humble effort SHOULD NOT be seen as even a half-assed attempt to fill the ball-shaped hole left by Britt Robson’s departure from City Pages. As anyone who has read his copious writings on the Wolves over the years knows, he’s the best and most insightful basketball writer in town. In case you for some reason aren’t aware, you can


his sports column at our rival publication, which shall go nameless.

To the business at hand: Last night’s preseason home opener. Final: 106-95, Pacers over the Wolves.

The mood: As the game was getting underway, a stringy-haired scalper flashed four primo tickets to passersby approaching Target Center. Asked how sales were going, he sighed. “Slow,” he said.

Game in a nutshell: It wasn’t pretty, and mostly it wasn’t close, but there were flashes of what the Wolves need to do in order to win. For one, not play Marko Jaric at point guard. As we’ve long been aware, he’s not quick enough to defend the position. (PGs Randy Foye and Sebastian Telfair continue to nurse nagging injuries, and neither is sure to be ready when the regular season starts next week.) For another, get Al Jefferson the ball. A lot. He’s solid in the post, and his inside presence should help free up shots from the perimeter. For a third, hope Ryan Gomes continues settling in at small forward. He’s played power forward his first two seasons in the league, but is now competing for time at the 3 with rookie Corey Brewer. Brewer is athletic and quick, but Gomes doesn’t miss most of his open 12-footers. And aside from defending quicker players, Gomes has a knack for being where he’s most needed at the right time.

Courtside fashion watch: Mark Madsen, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, cheered his teammates on while wearing a suit that somehow managed to marry charcoal gray with sky blue. It worked.

Most intriguing facial hair experiment: Travis Diener’s attempted mutton chops. The third-year man out of Marquette looks as though he’s about 10 days in. He’s at that scary point where you can’t really tell if he’s got what it takes to get the facial follicles across the finish line. Reason tells me that the 25-year-old is capable of pulling this thing off. Still, I’m nervous for him. Stakes is high. The regular season is just around the corner. My fingers are crossed.

Injury report: Several players missed the game due to injury. I’d list them, but it’s too depressing. In related news, Craig Smith left the game in the third quarter after hitting the deck hard. At the post-game press conference, Coach Randy Wittman elaborated on Smith’s injury: “A bruised ass.” He had no further information.

Uninjured report: Neither Juwan Howard nor John Edwards were injured, and neither of them got to play. Sad Times at DNP-CD High.

Inside the locker room: It smells like cologne. Also, Al Jefferson wears extremely large diamond earrings. Like the size of very small translucent golf balls, practically.

Trillion report: (A trillion refers to a player who has played one minute without recording any other statistic—no shots, points, assists, rebounds, steals, fouls, turnovers, etc. Pound for pound, the most fantastic statistic in the game.) No one scored a trillion. But keep it tuned here to find out when they do!

Fan competition: For those of you who’ve read this far, thanks so much! I’m touched. Just for you, here’s a chance to win a fabulous prize: Guess how many games the Wolves will win this year. Post your prediction in the comments. At season’s end, the person who gets closest without going over will win something awesome. Deadline is before the season opener.

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