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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Timberwolves reportedly in trade discussions with Memphis

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 With the NBA trade deadline nearing on Thursday the rumors are starting to pick up and the Timberwolves and Grizzlies are involved. Yahoo! Sports reported yesterday Memphis is looking at a potential deal with Minnesota. If consummated the deal would have Chase Budinger and J.J. Barea heading to Memphis with Tayshaun Prince going to Minnesota. It could also expand to involve popular Memphis guard Tony Allen. The Wolves host Indiana tomorrow night.

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers host the Illinois Fighting Illini tomorrow night at Williams Arena in a Big Ten men's basketball game. The Gophers have won two-of-three following Sunday's 54-48 victory at Northwestern. Minnesota sits at 17-and-9 on the season and 6-and-7 in Big Ten play. Illinois is 14-and-12 and 3-and-10. Gopher head coach Richard Pitino says his team expects a tough game with Illinois and Pitino urged Minnesota fans to make the Barn a tough environment for the visiting club. Tipoff tomorrow is 8 p.m.

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Golden Gopher women's basketball standout Amanda Zahui (ZOW-hee) of Stockholm, Sweden has once again been named the Big Ten Freshman Player of the Week. She helped Minnesota to a pair of road wins last week over Wisconsin and Northwestern, averaging 16.5-points and 13.5-rebounds in the two victories. This is her sixth weekly honor of the season. The Gopher women have won four straight games and host Purdue on Thursday at Williams Arena at 7 p.m.

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 Bemidji State junior guard Brock Lutes of Portland, Oregon is this week's NSIC men's basketball Player of the Week. He helped the Beavers to to a split of games over the weekend, averaging 32.5-points per game in those contests. Bemidji State is 18-and-6 on the year. Minot State star forward Carly Boag of Tamworth, Australia is the NSIC women's basketball Player of the Week. Augsburg senior Andy Seidlitz of New Hope is this week's MIAC men's basketball Athlete of the Week, surpassing the 1000-point barrier in his career with the Auggies. Augsburg won two games during the weekend. Bethel freshman forward Kalli Zimmerman of Champlin is the MIAC women's basketball Athlete of the Week She helped the Royals to a pair of league wins during the week.

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 Minnesota Twins pitchers and catchers continue workouts today in Fort Myers, Florida, as spring training officially got underway yesterday for the battery mates. Reliever Ryan Pressly says he will work hard to make the team again. He was 3-and-3 last year, appearing in 49 games out of the bullpen. The rest of the team is set to report by Friday with the first full squad workout on Saturday. The Twins open spring training play on February 28th against the Boston Red Sox.

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The Minnesota Wild signed goalie John Curry to a two-way NHL contract yesterday. The 29-year-old Curry has posted a 6-3-and-2 record with AHL Iowa this season. He is a native of Shoreview and has previously played four NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He played college hockey at Boston University.

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Despite the dominance of the U.S. and Canada in the sport, women's hockey is getting a boost from officials. International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel says the sport will "never" be taken out of the Olympics. Since entering the Games in 1998, Canada has won three gold medals while the USA has one. The two teams will play on Thursday for the Gold Medal in Sochi, Russia. Team USA has five current or former Gophers on the roster, including Minnesotans Gigi Marvin of Warroad, Lee Stecklein of Roseville, and Anne Schleper  of St. Cloud. Team Canada has three players who once played at Minnesota-Duluth, including Jocelyne Larocque, Carolina Ouellette, and Haley Irwin.

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The U.S. men's hockey team will have eyes focused on today's qualifying game between the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which begins at 11 a.m. The winner of that contest will face Team USA in the quarterfinals tomorrow. Team USA has ten players with Minnesota connections, including the team captain Zach Parise, who is from Minneapolis and plays for the Minnesota Wild.

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 Host nation Russia and the U.S. share the lead atop the medals table in Sochi, each having won 19 so far. The Netherlands is next with 17 medals while Canada owns 16 to this point. Germany owns the most gold medals with eight.

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The D-N-R is hosting a public meeting in Lake City Wednesday night to discuss deer population goals for southeastern Minnesota (Wed6:30pm). Big game coordinator Leslie McInenly (MAC'-in-en-lee) says they want the public to weigh in before an advisory team comes up with a management plan. She says they have pretty high deer density in the southeast relative to the rest of the state. She says anyone who lives, work or recreates in southeastern Minnesota can offer public input on deer population goals. A second meeting is next Tuesday in St.Charles.

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