Ben Johnson, new Gophers head coach (⬆️ UP)
A new era of Minnesota men’s basketball has begun. And, according to reactions from many Gophers alums, the program is on a positive trajectory after the hiring of Johnson. Amir Coffey tweeted “Gopher ball is in good hands!” His father, Richard Coffey, tweeted “this man is the reason my son played for the home team.” Dan Oturu, another former Minnesota player now with the Los Angeles Clippers, agreed and said Johnson was a “major reason why I put that maroon and gold on.” Also sharing a few words on Twitter was Trevor Mbakwe and J.B. Bickerstaff, the current head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Kaapo Kahkonen, Wild goaltender (⬇️ DOWN)
Heading into the Wild’s clash with Colorado on Saturday, Kahkonen was still riding a hot streak to remember. Minnesota had won all of his last nine starts between the pipes. Kahkonen held opponents to one or fewer goals five times in that stretch, including the first two shutouts of his career. However, he was quickly humbled against the Avalanche. Colorado peppered him with 42 shots on net, cashing in six times in a 6-0 win over the Wild. Oof.
Kyle Garlick, Twins outfielder (⬆️ UP)
Many Twins fans were disappointed when outfielder Alex Kirilloff was optioned to the team’s alternate training site on Tuesday. Garlick, however, likely felt different about it. It greatly increases his chances to make the team. Through 27 at-bats this spring, Garlick is batting .333 (9 for 27). He leads the Twins with four home runs, 11 RBI and a 1.170 OPS in Grapefruit League action. Jake Cave and Brent Rooker and the leading candidates to start in left field for the Twins on opening day April 1, but Garlick isn’t far behind. All three players potentially could make the opening day roster, although one will likely be battling utility man and fan-favorite Willians Astudillo for the 26th spot.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves center (⬆️ UP)
In his last four games, Towns has racked up 29, 41, 24 and 33 points. He’s shooting 53% from the field and 48.4% from 3-point range in that span while grabbing 8.8 rebounds per game.
Miguel Sano, Twins first baseman (⬇️ DOWN)
To put it nicely, Sano isn’t having the best spring. In 32 at-bats, Sano has tallied just three hits (.094 average), all doubles, and has fanned 15 times compared to three walks. That’s right around his strikeout clip of 43.9% last year, which was the worst in the big leagues.