Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson I’m going to embark on a new challenge and give my opinion on sports, something I’ve never been shy about doing. I plan on reviewing the week in sports, and breaking it down by local, regional and national sport stories. This week, I plan on looking at the Wimbledon Finals for a national story, the Wild signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and the NDSU Men’s basketball team getting a verbal commit from local phenom A.J. Jacobson.
Roger Federer winning Wimbledon is like watching your mom cook supper. She has been doing it for years and makes it look so easy that you wonder why you would ever think about doubting her skills.
Federer finished off his seventh Wimbledon title on Sunday by beating Great Britain’s own Andy Murray in four sets. This not only ties Federer with Pete Sampras as the only two tennis players to win Wimbledon seven times, it vaults him to the world number one ranking at the ripe old age of 30.
That age in most sports is just about the middle of the prime years if not beginning on the back end of them. In tennis, when turning pro at age 16 is not unheard of, 30-years-old is on your way out the door age.
Pete Sampras, who has 14 Grand Slam titles to his name, won his last Grand Slam title at age 31 and did most of his damage between the ages of 21 and 27, winning 12 of his Grand Slam titles in that time.
The decline of Federer has been in discussion for the last couple years. With the Rafael Nadal at 26 and winning the French Open seven of the last eight years, and Novak Djokovic at 25 and the number one ranking in the world, it seemed the young guns were taking over.
With Federer dispatching Djokovic in the semifinals and Murray in the Finals, he is trying to turn back the hands of time. The scariest thing for an athlete is getting too old to perform like they once did.
For at least this tournament, Federer looked much like the man who ran through Grand Slam tournaments like a sprinter runs through the finishing tape. It is going to be short lived, but it was still a lot of fun to watch Federer dominate yet again.
The signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter by the Minnesota Wild this past week has a much bigger impact than just for on the ice for the team. Both players signed a contract that pays them $98 million over 13 years. Both are in the prime of their careers, Parise turns 28 at the end of July, while Suter is 27.
Parise will be a leader on a young team and the Wild’s version of Joe Mauer. Parise left his hometown of Minneapolis to go play his college hockey in Grand Forks, N.D. for the University of North Dakota. Drafted by the New Jersey Devils, he quickly established himself as one of the best forwards in the game.
Now back, you can about imagine the excitement of the Wild faithful. To them, the prodigal son has returned home. He also brought his friend to play as well.
Suter is from Madison, Wis. and, unlike Parise, stayed at home to play his college hockey choosing the University of Wisconsin. He was chosen by the Nashville Predators and made his debut in 2005 with the team. He was selected as an NHL All-Star in 2012 and played on the 2010 Olympic team.
Both players were one and two on every team’s free agent board. For them to choose the same team is not that uncommon in the realm of sports these days. What is uncommon is for them to choose a team in a small market.
We can go on and on about how important hockey is to the state of Minnesota itself, but reality is that if you want to get more national exposure, you go to a larger media market. Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Chicago or Detroit would be your best bet for gaining the most attention.
Parise and Suter, however, did not care about that. What they cared about was coming back to an area that they know and love. That kind of commitment to an area makes fans feel all kinds of bubbly inside. They love to hear that and will be out in droves just to watch these guys skate.
The loyalty to the team by the fans, the administration, hell the guy who drives the zamboni will all be tough to match because of a couple players’ decision. You follow the example of the most popular kid in school or the best player on the team. Parise and Suter, who are now both, set the example for a franchise that will be felt for years.
Minnesota and Wisconsin are constantly churning out great players and when the time comes, they may want to return to their home area as well.
For the North Dakota State University Bison men’s basketball team to get a verbal commitment from soon-to-be senior A.J. Jacobson is huge. Why? Well, NDSU has not grabbed a slew of in-state talent in head coach Saul Phillips tenure.
Lucas Moorman was a North Dakota native, but he did not pan out in the way they had hoped. He served a purpose as someone to stand near the basket and occasionally the ball would fall into his hands for a rebound. Austin Pennick was listed on the roster as being from Fargo, but he played his high school ball in Moorhead. They have yet to grab a player from North Dakota to make a major impact on the team.
I give head coach Saul Phillips slack for that because he was not the head coach at the time of those guys being recruited, but as an assistant, you have a hand in who gets recruited. While a majority of players on the NDSU roster are from Minnesota, and will continue to be, I always felt like the Bison should look harder in the state.
They landed Bismarck High product Dexter Werner when he verbally committed back in 2011. That was the first step in showing that the Bison were trying to get the best available talent in-state for their team.
Jacobson, who will be entering his senior season at Shanley this fall, is an even bigger step at keeping the talent in-state. The 6’5” guard averaged 24 points and 11 rebounds per game for the Class A state runner-up Deacons last year. He showed a great ability to pull up off the dribble and knock down the jumper.
He’s a Fargo native, mother is in the NDSU hall of fame and an academically strong student. He’s the perfect example of a student-athlete for any program, but more so for NDSU. By keeping a Fargo kid in Fargo, you get the family and friends to come out and watch him play.
It is obvious in sports that when a hometown player stays in the hometown, they instantly become the most popular player. I just think it makes so much sense for both Jacobson and NDSU.
It’s just a question of whether or not he will develop into a good player. He needs to develop a quicker first step and learn to play better defense. If he does that, he will be successful.