Tags Posts tagged with "Kevin McHale"

Kevin McHale

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Minnesota Timberwolves, Thank you
The fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves a heart felt thank you for all of the support and enthusiasm for the team over the past few years. Photo: shutterstock
I wanted to take a minute to tell the fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves a heart felt thank you for all of the support and enthusiasm for the team over the past few years. Even though the past couple of years had been tough from a wins and losses perspective, when I will think of my time in Minneapolis, I will always think about that 2004 team that almost made it to the NBA Finals. At that time, Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the entire league, Sam Cassell was an All-Star and Latrell Sprewell was one of our emotional leaders. I remember during the playoff run that year how driving to and from games was absolutely crazy with part of downtown shut down so that cars could get through. This was all possible because of you, the fans and your amazing support.

From a different standpoint, Minneapolis has come to feel like an absolute second home for me personally. Having grown up in Northern California, I never really knew much about Minnesota until Kevin McHale and Glen Taylor signed me to play for the Timberwolves. Needless to say, the past several years have been some of the best years of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity, the support from the community and the fact that you truly made me feel at home in new place. Thank you for your friendship and for the giving me the chance to play for the team. When friends from out of town came to visit Minnesota I would always take them to the stone arch bridge downtown, the state Capital, or the Mill City Museum. Exploring new parts of the Twin Cities became one of my passions while I was there.

After I learned of my trade to the LA Clippers, David Kahn left me a voicemail and it was great. To you, the fans, David Kahn is going to do a great job as the General Manager. He is going to tirelessly do everything in his power to return the team to the same form of that special 2004 season. And to Glen Taylor, I express my thanks for allowing me to contribute to a great team. I’m sure that you will get the team back to the high expectations that you and the community have for the team. It has been an honor to play for the team over the past number of years and to be part of your organization.

But above all, I want to thank you the fans. I wish all of you the best and I hope that I will see you down the road and perhaps at a Timberwolves vs. LA Clippers game in the future!

Sincerely,
Mark Madsen

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Win Streak, Kevin McHale, Target Center, Al Jefferson, Phil Jackson
Talking about win streak, Coach, Players. Photo: shutterstock.com
A four game win streak is not too bad at all. Since Kevin McHale took over, it has taken time for us to get his system and philosophy but I think that we are all finally starting to click. We are also building on the defensive principles and system that Randy Wittman put into place befor the coaching change.

Tonight at the Target center, basketball was fun again. The fans were screaming, Randy Foye has 18 points in the first quarter and Al Jefferson continued to be the “Iron Man” that Don Nelson described him to be a week ago. If Al Jefferson does not make the All-Star game, then something is seriously wrong in this league. There are only three players in the league that can score down low the way Al can and it’s Mr. Jefferson, Tim Duncan, and the Shaq Diesel.

In fact, it was Al Jefferson’s birthday party on Sunday night a few days ago! He had the entire team over to his house and an amazing catered dinner along with some relaxation time where players and teammates shot the breeze, played pool and ate appetizers. Al had kevin Love get up and sing him happy birthday in front of all 40 people. Kevin Love ate it up and had a great time with going back and forth with his post player friend and mentor, the Big Al.

McHale’s coaching style reminds me a little bit of my first coach and NBA mentor, Phil Jackson. The one thing they both really have in common is that during practice they’re both all over people and once the game starts they don’t say a whole lot. It allows you as a player to relax, play loose, and just try to make a play without looking over your shoulder. They both cared a lot about effort an energy. Phil Jackson used to always talk about playing with energy.

McHale has a new tradition that no coach I’ve ever played for has used. At the end of practice or a game or before a game when everybody on the team puts their hand in for the break, (“one, two, three, TEAM, or WIN, chant), McHale takes a different approach. Everybody puts their hand in and then McHale will single out one guy and ask for example, “Craig Smith, what do you have for us today?” Craig might say “Family” (as he did once) and then on “three” everyone chants “FAMILY!” I like this as it keeps everyone on their toes and everyone thinking about what they want the chant to be if McHale picks them.

The best chant so far in my opinion has come from Sebastian Telfair, which he told us later he borrowed from the old Portland Trailblazers team chaplain “Too annointed to be dissapointed!” It was a little bit long to chant, but guys LOVED the creativity!

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Kevin McHale, Coach, Head Coach, Glen Taylor, NBA, Go Green
Kevin McHale is a former American professional basketball player. Photo: shutterstock.com
Kevin McHale Returning to coach? I sure hope he comes back as the head coach next season! But this question has been the question of the past few weeks from media members, fans, and even amongst ourselves in the locker room. This is one case where it’s possible that even Mac doesn’t know what he’s going to do! Glen Taylor has publicly said that if Mac wants the job then he’ll be the coach next year. I’ve known Mac for the past 6 years and from what I’ve observed and the brief conversations we’ve had, I think that he truly is not sure yet what he’s going to do. I know it’s going to be a family decision because the Kevin McHale is a family man first. Here is one of the reasons why I want Kevin McHale to return as the head coach of the Timberwolves:

About a week ago, the NBA allowed all of us players to take part in a “Go Green” campaign to help promote great issues like environmental awareness, recycling, and other types of “green thinking” issues. Of course it’s a great opportunity and every team around the NBA wore warm-ups for one week with a big recycling logo on the front. Undoubtedly we have to take care of the environment in many many different ways.

Well, the first game we wore these special warm-up tops was against the Utah Jazz in Utah. After we had our 1-2-3- “Win” chant which was an event in itself that night, McHale held everybody up for one more minute and said something along the lines of,

“Hey fellas….I just want you to know about this global warming thing…..25 years ago it was Global Cooling and they were telling us we were going to freeze to death….so when they tell you all about global warming don’t worry about it too much…….”

It’s just nice when the head coach can crack a joke to loosen guys up. The guys on the team loved it and everyone was laughing so hard and it kind of took away the tension of a tough part of the season. We went out that night and took it to the Utah Jazz and won the game with a shorthanded roster.

Then a week later I walked into a breakfast meeting before it got started in San Francisco when we were playing the warriors and the first thing I hear is Kevin McHale explaining to a couple of guys on the team, “Yeah…the ice cap off of Greenland is receding but the ice caps off Antarctica are actually expanding….” It was good natured and fun and sometimes you need some fun on a long road trip.

Of course Mac loves the environment, but he’s also not afraid to mess with players and other coaches and just get guys thinking about things in a new way. McHale speaks his mind and you have to respect that. In the same way he’s not worried about saying something politically uncorrect, he’s also not going to worry about hurting a players feelings if he has to get on that player. The player will get over it.

But it does help that he jokes around with us and makes guys laugh. So in practice and at games when he does get on us or really challenges a player, you know that he’s on your side. It’s just been a lot of fun playing for him, and before a rash of injuries our record spoke for itself especially in the month of January. I think the most important thing about McHale as a coach is that he knows the game like no other. Especially when we were rolling in January (before all the injuries), he just had a great feel for what our defensive schemes would be as well as how we would attack other teams.

The biggest issue is that Kevin McHale doesn’t need to coach….he could do a lot of different things within the world of sports, or in business or in public service. Rumor has it that he’s up at the family cabin in Hibbing for some time to reflect and rejuvenate a little bit. But even today at our exit physicals, one of my teammates and I were talking about it and both of us were not sure what would happen. I guess time will tell, but I hope he’s back next season as the head coach!

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Mike Krzyzewski, Coach k., Duke Coach, NBA
Mike Krzyzewski is an American basketball coach and former player. Since 1980, he has served as the head men's basketball coach at Duke University after taking over the program from Bill Foster. Photo: shutterstock.com
Coach Mike Krzyzewksi of Duke Coach K had some interesting things to say about basketball in his recent Q&A with the Charlotte Observer. At one point in the article, he compares young high school basketball players to 16 year old Michelle Wie who is a tremendous young golf talent who is able to reap the financial rewards of turning pro at a young age. Coach K. stresses that he does not think the exodus of great high school players to the NBA will hurt the college game but that NCAA basketball is going to be fine regardless. I guess it’s just refreshing to see such a respected coach like Mike Krzyzewksi state publicly that opportunities like playing in the NBA should be based on merit—especially when most of the other professional sports are already allowing the best players to come join their ranks.

It is ironic that so many other sports allow high school athletes to make the jump directly to the professional level. It is really a tough thing to say though given that for every Lebron James, Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, or Kobe….there are countless players who don’t get drafted and never make an NBA team. For those guys, (who could have been stars in college), they’re thrust overseas or onto some CBA or NBDL team where they have to go against grown men who are ten years older and stronger.

The quote I found most interesting in a different article by the Charlotte Observer was this one. Here is the question that was posed to Coack K. When asked about the biggest differences between the NBA game and the International game, Coach K. responded by saying:

“I didn’t know this because I’m not coaching the NBA game, but in the NBA, they really don’t allow much physical contact. They’re trying to make it more of an offensive game, so there’s not the bumping and all that on the ball handler. There’s no hand checking at all. The international game is 180 degrees different. … That’s their rule, and we have to adjust to it, instead of saying, “That’s not the way we play.”

for complete article, visit: Charlotte Observer

I think in the late 1990’s the NBA game was truly a physical, gritty, and very punishing league in terms of physical contact. Granted I was at home in college watching the games from the sofa with a bag of potato chips, but that’s my view. Sometime in the early 2000’s the philosophy of the NBA rules committee changed to promote more scoring. The end result is that in some ways, high school and college basketball are more physical than the NBA. You might think I am joking or that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I can tell you that when I first played in the Long Beach Summer League with NBA rules for the first time, I almost fouled out in the first game. I still remember Kevin McHale telling me two years ago about how “if you so much as tough a guy with your hand on the perimeter, it’s a foul,” whereas, “you can absolutely tackle a guy away from the ball in the paint and there’s no foul.” Perhaps the NBA should re-evaluate the direction of the physical contact rules so that we are more prepared for international competition.

At any rate, it is what it is, and we as players have to adjust to it. To finish up, I wanted to share one line from the letter that Dwayne Casey sent out to all of us players dated August 22nd. It was a letter that definitely got me fired up for the coming season. “Training camp will be demanding and everyone will have to earn their spot.” I haven’t heard a sentence like that since my high school coach John Raynor who referred to every single player every year as a “varsity CANDIDATE.” I am very excited for camp to start and I’ll be writing more about our informal team workouts in a few days.

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Blog, Football Pad, Nick Collison, Supersonics, NBA Players, Miami Heat, Kevin Mchale, Wally Szcerbaik, Fred Hoiberg, Kevin Garnett
It's been tough with losing lately and so tonight, now that we just won, I can be happy and return to the keyboard. Photo: Shutterstock.com
I’m sorry that I’ve been away from the typewriter for so long……it’s been tough with losing lately and so tonight, now that we just won, I can be happy and return to the keyboard. I played our game tonight with some sort of football pad on the right, lower part of my back. It’s a little strange to play a game so strapped up, but I had really bruised my back two days ago and I needed some kind of protection. The funny thing is that the opponent knows when you are hurt from their own scouting report and from the fact that when you’re on defense, you constantly touch your man’s back to feel where he is so that you can watch the ball. Tonight on the court, Nick Collison from the Supersonics asked me how my back was during the game. He said he had watched the tape and saw me fall. He was really nice about everything as most NBA players are.

I must say that two years ago I had a hurt back (broken bone) and I was playing with the injury and someone from another team purposely hit me there. (I’m not going to give a name). By and large, most NBA players don’t try to dirty stuff like that, but there is always a few people out there who try stunts like that.

If any of you have seen our schedule, you will know that we will be in Miami on Dec. 31st. We play the Heat on Jan 1. I’m hoping the Miami Heat players really enjoy the new year and stay out as late as they want! 🙂 I’m probably going to be in the room kind of early but let me let you guys in on a little secret. I have NEVER been on an NBA team with a curfew. That’s the honest truth. I think it may be against the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA or something. Actually I think most of the guys on our team are very responsible when it comes to getting enough rest and understanding that rest is important. Most of the guys on this team don’t really go out late at night and Coach Casey and Kevin McHale let us police ourselves as we’re all grown men.

Wally Szcerbiak has been on fire lately. It’s almost 1am and I just read the ESPN.com AP story on our game against Seattle. I always like to see the media’s perception of things and then compare it to the inside. When I read the article two quotes jumped out at me. The first quote came from Wally when he said:

“My philosophy is any open look is an open look.”

Comment: Anyone who watches our games knows this is true. If wally has even one inch to shoot, then the ball is going up. Wally and Fred Hoiberg are the two best shooters I have ever seen in my entire life.
Said Casey: “Kevin and Wally are playing at an All-Star level.”

Comment: I really believe that both Wally and KG deserve to be invited to the all-star game.
I thought I would just share a quick little update on Fred Hoiberg. I played a three-on-three game with Freddie last week and the guy looked great. He may be the first player ever to play in the NBA with a pacemaker. It’s a little unusual because when he does practice he’s got this protective cover he puts over the pacemaker that looks like a little box under his uniform. I truly believe that Fred will be back in the NBA as a player if that’s what he and his wife decide on and if the doctors give their OK. I know that Fred has a very important test coming up on Jan 3rd down in Rochester so let’s all pull for him!

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Glen Taylor, Player and Coach, Selfish, Mineapolis, NBA Timberwolves
I am personally quite disappointed. Every player, coach and front office staffer, up to owner Glen Taylor is very upset about the way this season has gone thus far. photo: shutterstock.com

As I write this the chances of us making the playoffs are pretty bleak. I can tell you that I am personally quite disappointed. Every player, coach and front office staffer, up to owner Glen Taylor is very upset about the way this season has gone thus far. Trying to put a finger on what exactly went wrong is hard to do. Unfortunately, we as players are responsible in the end for getting the job done on the court, and we didn’t. It cost a coach his job and it cost the fans and us a playoff appearance. I certainly can understand the frustration coming from our fans. So we are going to keep the hope alive, as we’re not out of it yet. The chances are slim, but we are going to fight and try to find a way to make it in. That’s what we’re still hoping for.

After our loss to Atlanta, Kevin McHale came in and really gave it to us. A coach has to be able to get on people at times, and we as players need to have thick skin and be responsive. Coach was upset that we weren’t passing the ball and we were playing selfish basketball. He told us two things about passing the ball and being unselfish that hit home. The first one came from the legendary University of Minnesota hockey coach Herb Brooks who told him, “Passes don’t come from the hands, they come from the heart.” Then he told us something his high school coach used to say, “If you have to think about passing the ball, then something is wrong.” He reminded us how we grew up playing the game—for fun and for pride in trying to kick someone’s tail every time you stepped onto the court. The thing about him is that he’s a basketball purist and when the effort and unselfishness isn’t there (on offense and defense) he’s very upset. I also think it legitimately hurts him to see the game played the wrong way. The truth is that everyone on the team can be unselfish and give great energy. Sometimes we just need to be reminded of that fact. I know we will bounce back in a decisive fashion.

Now that I can’t really work out as much, I have been doing a lot of walking around the lakes in Minneapolis and in the western suburbs. I am really trying to get out with friends and enjoy nature and take in the sun. Maybe get a little Vitamin D back into the system after a long winter. Minnesota is a great state, and particularly attractive if you enjoy the outdoors. Maybe this summer I will be lucky enough to get out on a boat and do some tubing. I have heard so many good things about Lake Minnetonka, maybe I will hang out there a little bit and soak up some rays and enjoy one of the 10,000 lakes.

Every once in a while when I’m walking around people will recognize me and say hello. They have all been very supportive. I had a few people come up during a recent walk and wish myself and the team the very best. They reached out on a personal note to ask me about my surgery and wish me well in the recovery process. They were hoping that I can recover on all levels and it was very much appreciated.

I am fortunate as part of this organization to be able to work with Dan Zeman, who is a local exercise physiologist. He used to work with Greg LeMond and has been talking to me about cardiovascular conditioning. When I combine his expertise and knowledge with that of Wolves’ strength coach Thomas McKinney, they offer up quite a source of knowledge. I hope to build on conditioning and hopefully be stronger when I return from my surgery. I look forward to writing again next week. Thanks, Mark.

Thanks, Mark

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Quentin Richardson, Three point shootout, Fred Hoiberg, Dan Zamen, Physiologist,
Talking about players and other people. Photo: shutterstock.com

It was fun to watch the All-Star festivities from Denver this past weekend. I’m happy for the Suns’ Quentin Richardson, who won the Three-Point Shootout, but I still think that Fred Hoiberg would have had a great showing had he been invited. Every year the criteria for being invited to the Shootout are different. This year, to be included, you needed to have made 100 three pointers by the deadline and have a good shooting percentage. Right now, Fred leads the NBA, knocking down 52-of-100 from beyond the arc. At 52% shooting, Fred’s next closest competitor is Dallas’ Jason Terry at 47%. What makes Fred’s shooting percentage all the more meaningful, is that a lot of his makes come in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. I still think Freddy can win the Shootout and I hope he gets that chance in the coming years. I was able to complete a full practice on Tuesday for the first time since breaking my thumb. It was AWESOME to be able to work with my teammates again. The only hard thing is wearing a splint while I play to protect the bone. I think I’ll have to wear the protective brace for about two weeks and during that time I’ll just have to make some adjustments in the way that I play. On Tuesday when we arrived at practice our old friend Dan Zeman was there, and that means it was time to get our body fat tested. Zeman is an exercise physiologist and has worked with a number of local athletes. In the process, every player has to weigh himself and then Dan pinches our stomach, chest and thigh with a caliper to measure our body fat. We get tested three times a year. Dan has worked closely with cyclist Greg LeMond in the past. Greg’s success in the Tour de France is established and when Dan gives us tips on keeping fit and lean during the season, we pay close attention. We are taking off for the West Coast this week for a three-game trip that includes stops in Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland. After practice on Tuesday, Kevin McHale said, “Everyone needs to be on the plane by 3:45. If you’re not there in your seat at 3:45, the plane is taking off without you and if I’m not there, the plane is taking off too.” One time when I was playing for the Lakers one of my teammates was a few minutes late and they closed the doors and off we went. If you do miss the plane, you have to schedule your own flight and meet the team out in the city where you are playing. You do not want that to happen and have to face everyone later on. Well, right now we are gearing up for the “unofficial” second half of the season. We need to win a few games and make a little run to better position ourselves for the playoffs. We’ve won a couple of games in a row now and I really think we can build on it. I’ll talk to you next week! — Mark Madsen

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NBA, Business, Flip Saunders, Basketball, NBA Head Coach, Phil Jackson, National Basketball Players Association
Talking about Flip Saunders, Players and practices. Photo: shutterstock.com

If there’s one phrase about the NBA I never liked it’s this one: “It’s a business.” Unfortunately as players and coaches we know the phrase is true. We know that we can get traded, released or let go. This week the organization made a business move and relieved Flip Saunders of his coaching duties. I think that all of us players feel partially responsible and we’re very sorry to see Flip gone.

Flip coached me for a year and a half and during that time I learned a tremendous amount about the game of basketball. I reached Flip on his cell phone right after practice when they announced he wouldn’t be our coach and we had a good talk. He said he was going to find the positive in the situation and enjoy spending time with his wife and kids. Believe me, there are only a few people out there that have what it takes to be an NBA head coach. You have to know how to handle and communicate with today’s athlete, which is no small task. You must know the X’s and O’s and be resilient. Flip has all of those qualities and he is passionate about the game. I’m looking forward to the next time I see Flip so that I can thank him in person for a great two years.

Every coach is different. I still remember my rookie year in the NBA with Los Angeles losing our home opener. After we all got to the locker room, Phil Jackson walked in and said, “The dogs bark and the caravan moves on… practice at 10:00 tomorrow.” Then everyone just got up and wrapped ice on their knees and stepped into the shower.

Kevin McHale will coach us from now on. Mac (as everyone calls him) will be different than Phil and Flip. I think as far as the offense goes, Mac is going to run a lot of the old Boston Celtics’ sets which rely on setting hard picks, making crisp passes and throwing the occasional “dribble weave” into the mix. The “dribble weave” is where a post player dribbles the ball toward a guard, hands it to him and then knocks the living daylight of the guard’s defender with a screen. Prior to being named head coach, Mac always worked out with players after practice and taught us post moves. I think the transition should be smooth.

All-Star Weekend is here already and Ervin Johnson (player representative) and Kevin Garnett will be going to Denver in different capacities. Erv will go to Denver to help out with negotiations between the owners and the National Basketball Players Association, while KG will be appearing in his eighth All-Star game. Hopefully the owners and players representatives can make progress in working toward a new collective bargaining agreement to avoid what hockey is going through right now. Erv is someone who is always involved in helping others. He loves to do things in a quiet way to help out folks and he’d probably hit me with a forearm to the chest if I told any of the things he’s done (just kidding). Let me share just one thing: Erv rounded up donations from our locker room and from players on other teams, in addition to digging in his own pocket, to help pay for the NBA chaplains from each team to attend All-Star Weekend in Colorado.

Hopefully you are enjoying this journal. If you have any questions you want me to answer, you can send them to me on my website: www.madsen35.com. Have a great week!

— Mark Madsen

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My 29th Birthday, Injury, Ndudi Ebi, NBA, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Utah, Kevin McHale, Sacramento
I celebrate my 29th birthday, talking about games and peoples. Photo: shutterstock.com

Sometimes if the team makes a one-day trip, the players on the Injured List stay at home. So right now, I’m at my house recovering from our practice while the rest of the team is on a flight to Milwaukee.

Even though I don’t practice in the conventional sense, they still work me very hard. Today our strength coach put me through a pretty intense, full-body weight room workout. My broken thumb is getting better slowly. Right now there are two pins sticking out of my thumb about a quarter-inch that are drilled another inch or so into the bone to hold everything together. On either Thursday or Friday of this week the doctors are going to remove them. I will gradually start doing some rehabilitation and hope to be on the court in three to four weeks.

On a more personal note, I celebrated my 29th birthday last Friday. I didn’t do anything too out of the norm, as we had a morning shoot-around and then a game against Utah that night. After the game some friends of mine took me out to dinner in uptown Minneapolis. These are people that I’ve gotten to know since arriving in Minnesota, and have become good friends in the last year. It was a little bit different then the birthdays I celebrated as a kid with nine siblings (four brothers and five sisters). We had the same family traditions that everyone else has, the cake, ice cream and gifts, but with one twist.

The only difference is that my parents would have us go around the table and have everyone say one nice thing about the person celebrating the birthday. It’s always fun to hear the different comments that everyone makes. That’s how we did it growing up and that’s how we do it to this day when we get together as a family.

With me not traveling this week, I’ll go in to practice tomorrow with Ndudi Ebi and we’ll both lift weights and maybe ride the bike. When we both get healthy enough, Kevin McHale will work us out and put us through a bunch of really hard drills on the court. I think Kevin is one of the few GMs in the NBA who really works with players constantly. Some of us watched him play when we were growing up (although I don’t think Ndudi was born yet) and I can definitely remember when he seemed to leave his man in the dust in the post.

When I was a free agent trying to decide between Minnesota and Dallas, I remember when Kevin told me on the phone that he works with players after practice. When I told my Dad how he gets involved in the teaching process, my Dad was so excited because he was a Celtics fan for quite a while.

Today’s practice was pretty intense. I think everyone was a little bit frustrated that we lost the game against Sacramento yesterday. But after a loss, most teammates and coaches just come the next day with more resolve and ready to work hard. Once you start working out and start to practice it’s a lot easier to let go of the mistakes of the previous game. I still remember what Sam Cassell said to me early last year after a game we lost. I think he saw that I was down and said, “Don’t worry about it Mad Dog…just remember Annie.”

I tried to figure out who Annie was and I really couldn’t figure out what Sam was talking about. Then he added, “She’s the one who has the song, ‘The sun will come out tomorrow.’ ” Sam is someone who never lets anything get him down and he’s a teammate who cares about everyone in the locker room.

Thanks for reading this journal and I hope to have some more inside information for you next week.

— Mark Madsen