Doug Wolter: It's never too late until you run out of time
I don’t know if the Worthington Trojans boys basketball team is going to realize its potential before it’s too late, but one final opportunity dangles temptingly like a ripe fruit. The beauty of high school sports is that as long as there’s a game on the schedule, the opportunity exists to surprise and enlighten.
The Section 2AAA boys basketball seedings were released on Wednesday and Worthington got the sixth seed among the eight teams represented. WHS opens Tuesday on the road against No. 3 Willmar, a team that defeated the Trojans this year by an 86-76 score.
I have clearly sensed that head coach Jared Keaveny and many WHS fans, as well, have decided that the 2013-14 Trojans should have a better record than their current 8-14. This is not to diminish the players’ abilities but to believe that they’re capable of more. They are an athletic group and when they’re going well they can score in flurries. They fight hard for offensive rebounds and often obtain more than their share, and once they get their hands on them they know how to put the ball back in the hoop. They’ve forged several comebacks based on a fierce defensive pressure that, when they’re in sync, makes them look as dangerous as anybody they’ve played against.
The problem, however, is that they’ve played from behind so often that comebacks are so often necessary. Keaveny has repeatedly stressed that his Trojans look great when they’re playing great defense. If only they’d keep it up for two full halves.
On Tuesday, the Trojans played one of those complete games in a 68-65 victory over Martin County West. The result might have convinced fans that this team is capable of surprising people in the Section 2AAA tournament. Wouldn’t it be something if they do just that.
It’s always enjoyable to see my old friend Dave Cummings, with whom I enjoyed many a happy moment on the fast-pitch softball fields of days gone by. But on Tuesday Dave stopped by the office, at my request, to talk wrestling.
Which is fitting, because on March 3 the former Worthington High School wrestling coach will be inducted into the Southeast Minnesota Mayo Clinic Center Hall of Fame.
Dave’s wrestling story began at LeRoy-Ostrander High School where, in 1970, he won a state wrestling championship.
Things were different back then. Wrestling was single-class and there was no state team tournament. Nobody ranked individual wrestlers against their peers, and records were not always well kept. Dave still doesn’t know his overall won-loss record from his high school days.
He knew he was good before he competed at state, but he didn’t really know how good. “All the people I wrestled in the region and the state were people I’d never seen before,” he recalls today.
Turns out, he was good enough to win a state championship. After graduating, he wrestled at Mankato State University where he became an All-American. Local fans know him best for his 13 seasons coaching the Worthington High School wrestling team.
At Worthington, Dave coached the Trojans in several state tournament appearances, finishing as high as third place.
But never first.
“There were at least a couple of years we should’ve been state champs and just didn’t get the job done,” Dave said.
The jump shot
Sports fans who remember Shawn Fury from his days as a Daily Globe sports reporter might be impressed to learn that he is going to write a new book about the history of the jump shot. Macmillan imprint Flatiron Books purchased the project and has assigned veteran publisher/editor Bob Miller — who has worked with legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson, among others — to collaborate with Shawn.
“I simply can’t wait to write this book. As corny as it sounds, it feels lilke the book I was born to write,” he said.
The book is tentatively titled, “Rise and Fire: A Biography of the Jump Shot.” It is intended to celebrate the shot while tracing its history, in Shawn’s words, “from the biggest NBA arenas to the playgrounds of New York and the barns of Indiana.” The book will explore the science of the shot and the superstitions surrounding it.
Sounds like a great idea for a book and it should be ready sometime in 2015.
And if I were to be so bold, I might suggest that Shawn’s next book should be something about the art of the tennis serve. I have seen Shawn’s serve first-hand, in fact. And it’s wicked.