Before he'd played his first game as a Minnesota Timberwolf, first-round draft pick Donyell Marshall was the target of a recurring inquiry.
"People are always asking me if I'm going to turn this team around," the former UConn star told the New York Daily News. "I tell them I can't do it all alone, but that I'm here to help build a winner."Now, Marshall is probably simply saying, "Help!"
The T-Wolves, who have been as predictable as a Minnesota winter, have a new coach (Bill Blair), a former head coach (Mike Schuler) as an assistant, and four players who weren't around last year (Marshall, Sean Rooks, Pat Durham, Howard Eisley), yet they don't appear to be a lick better than last season.
In fact, if you combine Minnesota's 1-13 start this season with their 1-15 record at the end of last season, it adds up to two victories in their last 30 regular-season games.
It would be hard to fault the T-Wolves if they tended to look past tonight's (7 p.m.) Delta Center matchup with the Utah Jazz to their next game, a visit to L.A.'s favorite charitable institution, the Clippers. With a win there, Minnesota could be no worse than .500 (1-1) for the month of December.
It may be the month's highlight.
Actually, a Minnesota victory over Utah wouldn't be a surprise equivalent to, say, Martians beaming up Jazz owner Larry Miller to their mothership as part of the halftime show. After all, Minnesota's one victory this season was over the Golden State Warriors, which is about the only NBA team the Jazz absolutely cannot handle.
On the other hand, Minnesota lost by 38 points a few days ago to Philadelphia, a team Utah positively pounded.
Marshall has been a plus, but he hasn't appeared ready to lead this team to the Promised Land, just as J.R. (or Isaiah, or Bob, or whatever he's calling himself this year), or Christian, or Luc, or Felton (sorry, big fella) weren't ready before him.
Some compared Marshall to Dr. J coming into this season. Others to Larry Nance. Strictly hype, of course. The kid's averaging 14.6 points and 6.1 rebounds, but he's shooting 38.9 percent from the floor. That's even bad for the Timberwolves, a team that's last in the league in scoring.
GAME NOTES: The T-Wolves' "Dunk-O-Meter" reports that former Jazzman Mike Brown is one of five players without a dunk this season . . . Brown hasn't played much lately; he's been on the floor for fewer minutes than anyone but recent signee Durham, and he's hit 2 of 13 shots (15.4 percent).