Archive for Jacob Wandersee

Worst Franchise in Professional Sports

Last week, I gave some reasoning why the Minnesota Timberwolves have reason to be optimistic. As I stated earlier, I’m generally an optimist. In that vein, the Wolves have a few pieces that can at least provide some excitement for the rest of this season into next.

That being said, the actions taken this past weekend were just another checkmark on the resume of why the Minnesota Timberwolves just might be the worst franchise in all of professional sports.

First of all, in case you haven’t heard, head coach Ryan Saunders was fired this past Sunday. This in and of itself isn’t necessarily what’s wrong with the franchise.

Since he started as an interim head coach in the 2018/19 season, his record of 43-94 (.314%) shouldn’t dazzle anybody. The obvious caveat is that his stars D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have played less than 10 games together but sometimes you just have bad luck. Firing him is a reasonable and defensible decision.

However, the way he was let go was embarrassing at best. The Wolves were in New York and came just short of a 20 point comeback against former coach Tom Thibodeau and his Knicks squad (who are 15-16 and the 7th seed in the playoffs by the way).

After the game, it was announced that Saunders was being relieved of his coaching duties. Firing a coach on the road isn’t ideal but I guess it’s something that happens sometimes.

Almost immediately after, it was announced that the Wolves had agreed to a multi-year deal with Toronto Raptors assistant coach Chris Finch. While GM Gersson Rosas has worked with Finch for a long time and interviewed for the original head coach opening, hiring an assistant from another team midseason hasn’t happened since 2008.

On top of that, Minnesota had just played the Raptors twice in the past week.

On top of that on top of that, head coach of the Raptors Nick Nurse said that the deal came together in about 36 hours. He also said that he knew that their game Sunday against the 76’ers was going to be the last game Finch was an assistant coach for the Raptors.

So let’s get this straight. Saturday morning after the Raptors/Wolves game, the Timberwolves started working on a deal to make Finch the head coach. They let Saunders, who they knew they were going to fire, fly to New York to coach his last game. They fired him immediately after the game. They hired his replacement immediately after that.

Those are not good optics. Professional sports are certainly a tough industry and I don’t expect anyone to be babied, but treating people with respect goes a long way in running a successful franchise.

Just as badly, Karl-Anthony Towns was interviewed on Tuesday about this process. Saunders has long had the support of Towns and keeping your star happy is certainly an important piece to the puzzle of a successful franchise. At his press conference, Towns admitted that he was not consulted at all with the firing/hiring decision or at least informed ahead of time before it went public. He found out at the same time via Twitter as we all did while he was eating pizza with his dad after the game.

How are you supposed to build a franchise of trust, respect, collaboration and integrity when you let your players know that their coach (one who they at least publicly really supported and liked) is being fired via a generic press release and a half-hearted graphic on Twitter?

The moral of this lesson is that Glen Taylor needs to sell the team. Taylor, while he seems to be a nice guy, has shown too long that he doesn’t make good decisions and can’t lead a franchise to any kind of relevancy.

Aaron Gleeman pointed this repulsive stat on Twitter (@AaronGleeman) that should make fans want to dismantle the team entirely.

With Kevin Garnett in 14 seasons

- 513 wins and 457 losses

- .529 winning percentage

- 8 playoff appearances

Without Kevin Garnett in 18 seasons

- 474 wins and 1,062 losses

- .309 winning percentage

- 1 playoff appearance

On a sad yet hilarious side note, Saunders actually has improved this winning percentage ever so slightly. His percentage was .314% against the overall .309%.

The Timberwolves have the worst record in the NBA this season, the worst overall winning percentage as a franchise in the league (.396%), only nine playoff appearances, two playoff series wins (both in 2004), the fewest playoff wins with 18 and the worst playoff winning percentage (.346%).

No other franchise in any other sport can rival those numbers. If the Timberwolves hadn’t stumbled into Garnett, I fear how much worse things would be. Perhaps the franchise would already be in Seattle or Las Vegas…

I reference it often, but The Common Man on KFAN always says the following about his sports teams. He wants his teams to be either historically good or biblically bad so that it is interesting either way.

However, in the case of the Timberwolves, there just might be a parade in downtown Minneapolis if the Wolves went .500 for a season. It starts with Taylor selling the team.

Timberwolves Looking Toward Future… Again

It feels like the same narrative year after year. Things seem like they are trending positively until the season starts. The Minnesota Timberwolves then typically win about five of their first 20 games. At this point, fans only can begin to think about next year and try to meld together some sort of optimism…

As Wolves fans know, that optimism is usually a house of cards year after year after year.

But since I am really an eternal optimist about most things in life, here I am writing the same piece I do every year about how things could perhaps get turned around for our Minnesota Timberwolves.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the real deal

This season was doomed once KAT was out. That’s just a fact. The Timberwolves, when perfectly healthy, would’ve been flirting with a .500 record in my opinion. Take away the key to everything they do, and this is one of the worst teams in the entire league.

However, when Towns has been healthy, the Wolves have actually looked competent. KAT is still recovering from his difficult bout with COVID-19, but as he gains his wind, things have been better.

Honestly, since the month of February started, Minnesota has looked slightly better. Their losses have been closer, losing by 2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 7 and 6. This may seem like a pointless observation, but they are figuring some things out as we go. A healthy KAT is a tremendous value to this team. If the Wolves are going to be relevant in any way next year, they need him around. But he needs help…

Malik Beasley and Anthony Edwards could be legit

Beasley has been a pleasant surprise this season to me. When the Wolves re-signed him, I was nervous that he was a little pricey at around $14 million per year for a guy who only plays offense. While he still doesn’t play defense, he has been quite impressive on offense, averaging 21 points per game while shooting 40% from 3-point range. If Russell can return to some form of his All-Star season self, a core of Beasley, Edwards, Russell and Towns is intriguing.

On that note, 1st overall pick Edwards is starting to come into his own. After struggling to begin the season, the rookie is up to 14 points per game and is looking more confident as he goes. It’s difficult to try to find your path without Towns on the floor as Edwards has been looked to as the main guy at times. He’s going to fail with this role as a rookie but the experiences are good for him and he can be a starter alongside those other weapons.

The Cap Situation needs some work

The Wolves have essentially no contracts coming off the books for the 2021-22 season. This is a big bummer. Touting the youngest roster in the league, the Wolves could certainly use some reinforcements this offseason. Two things will determine how much help they get.

First, the Golden State Warriors hold the Timberwolves first round pick unless it is in the top three. Right now, the Wolves would be in a position to have the highest odds to be in the top three, even though those odds wouldn’t be that good. Hopefully Minnesota can be in the top three this season, get a top end draft pick and stay healthy going into next season.

Second, the Wolves will have a decent amount of expiring contracts next season. Expiring contracts are one of the hottest commodities in the NBA, as teams who have realistic chances of signing star players can use expiring contracts to open up cap space. Let’s be real, the Wolves are never signing a free agent that is more than a bench player.

Contracts that will perhaps be juicy to other teams include: Ricky Rubio ($17.8 million – this is a little rich, but so few players in the league have middle level contracts like this, somebody might bite), Jauncho Hernangomez ($7 million, please someone take him) and Jake Layman ($4 million) and Josh Okogie ($4 million) whose contracts are probably too insignificant to matter.

Hopefully the Wolves can parlay those expiring deals into good picks and/or veteran players that can help the team win some games now. I’m not overly optimistic but there are pieces there to figure something out.

Is Ryan Saunders a good coach?

This is one of the biggest question marks going into next season in my opinion. This is also perhaps one of the most difficult aspects to assess. Saunders has not been successful as the head coach of the Timberwolves in terms of wins and losses. At the end of the day, that obviously is the most important stat.

However, there are a lot of things working in his favor. First, he has yet to really coach a consistent group of players game after game, where Towns and Russell are both available. It’s hard to truly assess his abilities when he is stuck with half of an NBA roster.

Additionally, he has the trust and support of key players like Towns and Russell along with GM Gersson Rosas and current owner Glen Taylor. This is not insignificant in today’s NBA as being liked is sometimes more important for job security than the results.

I’m not sure what the right answer is but Wolves management will have a lot to discuss this offseason. Hopefully, the rest of this season gets a little better and the path becomes clearer. Hopefully Russell can return and he can finally play a stretch of games with Towns. Hopefully Beasley and Edwards continue to improve and the offense really starts to take place. Hopefully the Wolves start playing some defense.

With one playoff appearance since 2004, all we can really do is hope.

Super Bowl Grades

Super Bowl 55 wasn’t exactly a thrilling game. While the storylines were endless…

Is Tom Brady the greatest of all time? Is Brady too old? How does Tampa Bay hosting a Super Bowl affect things? Can Patrick Mahomes win back-to-back Super Bowls? Whose defense can actually stop either of these offenses?

The game actually kind of stank. So instead of critically analyzing the game, I will do some Super Bowl game day grades.

Tom Brady’s GOAT Status: A++++++

Let’s start with Tom Brady. Apparently there are some people who had some doubt about who the best quarterback was before this game. Additionally, somehow winning this game would cement his legacy as the best as if there was competition before.

Let’s get this straight. Brady already clearly was the GOAT and everything he does from the age of 43 on is gravy. The man has won seven Super Bowls, which is more than any franchise. The man is in the top two or three in every important statistical category for a career.

Perhaps more importantly is Brady’s playoff success. Brady is 5000 yards clear of Peyton Manning for postseason passing yards, 40 touchdowns clear of Joe Montana, has nine fourth quarter comebacks, is 34-11 in the playoffs (Montana is 2nd at 16-7), and got a first round bye in the playoffs 13 times. Brady is, always has been, and might always be the GOAT.

Patrick Mahomes’ Grit: A

It was known that Mahomes was hurt going into the game, but it wasn’t clear how badly. Tuesday it came out that Mahomes will undergo surgery to repair a torn plantar plate in his foot and the rehab will take several months.

It was clear that he was hurting as he ran around trying to make something happen. In today’s edition of “Stats that I didn’t know existed”, Mahomes ran 497 yards before throwing the ball or getting sacked during the game. That was the highest this season in the entire league. Mahomes did about everything he could to keep the Chiefs in the game, but he got almost no help which leads me to…

Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Adjustments: D-

I think there was an arrogance to the Chiefs game plan. They abandoned the run, didn’t help their struggling offensive line and receivers couldn’t catch anything. The Chiefs kept calling deep shot plays, but the Bucs continued to take away the deep part of the field. The pass rush continuously got to Mahomes, without much blitzing, allowing the double teams to work and causing him to scramble.

It seemed the Chiefs had a little bit of the “We’ve done this all year, we aren’t changing what we do now,” and the Bucs were ready for it.

Commercials: B

There were a handful that caught my attention, although the overall crop of commercials seemed to be weaker than normal. My favorite was for Cheetos, as it featured Ashton Kutchar and Mila Kunis (who doesn’t love that couple) as well as the 90’s rapper Shaggy. They spoofed his hit song “Wasn’t Me” and although it could’ve been better, the idea was brilliant.

Admittedly I’m a sucker for Beavis and Butthead, so the Paramount+ commercial got me to laugh out loud.

The Weeknd’s Halftime Performance: A

I thought The Weeknd had a great halftime show. As an amatuer musician, I always appreciate live music and respect performers who put their music first. Live singing and instruments are always a huge plus for me as well.

If we want to see dancing and lip syncing, we can watch a lip sync battle on Jimmy Fallon. I want to see an all encompassing performance, which The Weeknd definitely did.

While the bandages on the faces were odd, he played a bunch of certified wailers. If the last song he played, Blinding Lights, doesn’t get you amped up, I’m not sure what will.

My college roommate Baeza, who is a pop culture fanatic and is Ethiopian (as is The Weeknd), had the following to say:

“From the streets of Scarborough to the world’s biggest stage at the Super Bowl, The Weeknd’s halftime performance was the career culmination of the Canadian R&B/Pop performer. Performing with a full choir ensemble and cleverly masked back up dancers, 2020’s biggest music superstar rocked a red blazer and captivating grin that lit up Raymond James Stadium. 

Abel Tesfaye put on a firework display; vocally, artistically, and literally, that seemed to have the whole world in awe every second for the 14 minute performance. For every Canadian, Ethiopian and XO Fan across the world, this was a moment where they could all beam with pride as they saw their guy flawlessly rock the biggest stage in music.”

Minnesota Golden Gophers: A+

While former Gopher receiver and Minnesota Tyler Johnson didn’t have a catch, he was an essential piece to their NFC Championship win over the Green Bay Packers, so he still gets an A.

Forgotten in the shuffle perhaps was former Gopher linebacker Damien Wilson, who finished with 10 tackles in the loss.

The biggest winner of the night certainly was Antoine Winfield Jr. While notching six tackles, two pass deflections and an interception, Winfield’s biggest highlight came at the end of the game. After forcing an incompletion to end the game on a pass thrown to Tyreek Hill, Winfield went right up to him and flashed the peace sign.

For those that probably don’t remember, earlier this season the Chiefs beat the Bucs. In that game, Hill broke away on a deep touchdown, flashed the peace sign to Winfield and did a backflip into the end zone.

It’s safe to say that Winfield got the last laugh. A+.

Gophers Starting To Falter

The Minnesota Golden Gophers men’s basketball team had a better first half of the season then really anyone would have predicted. Peaking as the 16th ranked team in the AP Top 25 poll with a 10-2 record after a huge overtime win over Iowa, things were looking up.

In one of the most grueling schedule stretches of any team in the country, Minnesota came out again better than anyone expected. With eight out of nine games against ranked opponents (the one unranked opponent was St. Louis who later would be ranked), the Gophers finished 5-4 in that stretch.

After dismantling #7 Michigan 75-57, handing them their only loss of the season, momentum was on the Gophers side as they headed into the soft portion of the schedule. With just one game against a ranked opponent remaining in the 12 final games and an 11-4 record, a 20 win season seemed within reach.

However, the past two games have been rough. Minnesota lost to a bad Maryland squad 63-49. Needing a bounce-back win, the Gophers blew a 14 point lead at Purdue and lost 81-62. Minnesota is now unranked sitting at 9th in the Big 10 with an 11-6 (4-6) record.

There are a few glaring reasons that the Gophers have lost four of their past five games. First, teams are starting to attack Marcus Carr when he has the basketball. Carr, who thrives on the pick-n-roll ball screen game, is being stifled by teams and their aggressive hedging. Hedging is stopping Carr from getting into the paint where he inevitably was getting fouled or finishing at the rim.

In the past five games, Carr, who was leading the nation in free throw attempts, has only attempted 4.4 free throws per game.

With this change in defensive strategy also means that Carr is attempting more difficult shots. While Carr had his way with non-conference opponents, averaging 25 points, Big 10 teams and their aggressive style has Carr averaging 10 less points per game.

Carr, knowing he is the best player and perhaps has the longest leash for questionable shot selection in the Big 10, like I said earlier has been forced to take contested, fade away or step back jumpers. In the past seven games, Carr’s field goal percentages are: 15.4%, 57.1%, 33.3%, 26.3%, 31.3%, 25%, 23.1%. This team will lose a lot of games if these numbers continue.

While Carr needs to play better, a stronger performance from the supporting cast would certainly help alleviate some of this stress. Both Goch started the season averaging 15 points in non-conference play, but has fallen off a cliff. In Big 10 play, Goch is averaging just 5 points per game, hasn’t hit a 3-pointer since January 10th and got benched last game.

Gabe Kalscheur sadly hasn’t been much better. Leading the Big 10 in 3-point percentage earlier in his career, Kalscheur is shooting 31.1% from the field and a paltry 23% from three. While still averaging 9 points per game, the lack of 3-point shooting allows defenses to key in on Carr without worrying about shooters on the floor.

Liam Robbins and Brandon Johnson have been doing their part to help Carr out. Robbins is chipping in 14 points per game, a Big 10 leading 2.8 blocks and 7 rebounds while shooting 46% from the field and 38% from three. That is more than enough of a rim presence from your starting 5-man.

Johnson has been a great complimentary piece, averaging 8 points and 6 rebounds on 48% from the field. Johnson is a perfectly viable 4th or 5th option, but with Goch and Kalscheur struggling and Jamal Mashburn Jr. still coming into his own, Johnson is far too often the Gophers 3rd option.

There is still plenty of time to figure this thing out and right the ship. Minnesota hasn’t done much to adjust to the way defenses are now playing Carr, but tweaking the offense to perhaps have Carr off-ball a little more could help open things up for him.

Simply put, the Gophers need to find shooters to space the floor as well. Whether that is Kalsheur, Goch, Mashburn Jr. or even Tre’ Williams, the ball screen game with Carr and Robbins or Johnson will never be as effective when teams can leave guys open around the 3-point line.

Soft matchups with Rutgers on Thursday and Nebraska if they are out of the COVID-19 protocols on Monday should be two wins that can help Minnesota find their groove.

Minnesota isn’t going to win a Big 10 championship or be a top four seed in the NCAA tournament, but getting hot could at least put the Gophers in the top five in the conference and net them a six or seven seed in the tournament.

In the preseason, expectations were so low that even being in consideration to make the tournament would have been considered a successful season. However, expectations change as the season unfolds. The Gophers need to get on track to show they can be relevant come March.

What the Vikings Don’t Have

There are two primary ways for an NFL team to make the Super Bowl when it comes to the quarterback position. The final four teams in the playoffs this season are a prime example of this theory playing out.

Option one is seen by the two teams in the AFC Championship game – the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. What is that option you ask?

A rising star quarterback that is still on a rookie deal. The Bills star quarterback Josh Allen is currently in the third year of his deal from when he was drafted 7th overall in 2018. Allen’s cap hit ranks 30th in the league among quarterbacks.

On the other side of the ball we have Patrick Mahomes. Drafted 10th overall in 2017, Mahomes is in the final year of his deal and is the 32nd highest paid quarterback in the league.

The key to this formula are the contracts. Quarterbacks are easily the most important players on an NFL team and rightfully so get paid the highest deals once their first contract is up, if they are good that is… And honestly when they are not good. But we will get to that later.

However, when a team strikes in the first four years of a rookie contract of a great quarterback, that is when the team tends to hit its peak. With this formula, the rest of the team is often pretty solid. The cap flexibility from not having to pay an elite quarterback means that they can spend extra money on defensive players or an offensive line or an elite wide receiver that improves the overall team while still having a stud at the most important position on the squad.

Teams that made the Super Bowl using this formula include the Chiefs who won in 2020 with Mahomes, the Rams who lost to the Patriots with Jared Goff in 2019, the Eagles who won in 2018 with Carson Wentz (and backup Nick Foles finishing the season), the Seattle Seahawks who won in 2014 with Russell Wilson, the San Francisco 49’ers who lost with Colin Kaepernick in 2013. There are plenty more examples.

Option two is the more expensive approach that has been taken by the two NFC opponents. If your team is going to spend money on a quarterback, it better be one of the best in the league. The guy that the team is paying better be so elite that he can carry the team to the Super Bowl as the rest of the roster is going to struggle financially. If the guy can’t carry the team and you’re spending the big bucks (or even moderate bucks), it is extremely difficult and unlikely to get to the Super Bowl.

I think that Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers at $21.6 million (10th in the NFL) and Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $25 million (6th) both fit this option. Also, I think it is safe to say that Mahomes and his 10 year, $450 million contract will qualify as option two, as he has the potential to be the best of all time.

Elite, expensive quarterbacks who have brought their team to the Super Bowl recently include the New England Patriots with Brady in 2019, 2018, 2017, 2015, 2012 etc., the Denver Broncos in 2016 when they won and 2014 when the lost with Peyton Manning (his arm wasn’t elite but his mind still was), the Packers with Rodgers in 2011 and their opponent the Pittsburgh Steelers with Ben Roethlisberger, the New Orleans Saints with Drew Brees in 2010 and plenty more.

If you don’t have one of these two options, the team is simply never going to be a consistent contender. Sure, you might have that one year where everything pans out or where the quarterback you are overpaying has an amazing season or playoff run (see Carolina Panthers with Cam Newton in 2016, Baltimore Ravens with Joe Flacco in 2013, or even Eli Manning with the New York Giants in 2012 and 2008).

However, these runs are rare and unpredictable. More often than not, over paying a middle-tier quarterback, while they might be a decent starter or even have great years here and there, does not result in a Super Bowl appearance.

This season, for example, here is how the top ten paid quarterbacks fared this season.

Only two of them would be considered elite at this point (Brady and Rodgers). While six of them made the playoffs, only the Saints (Brees) really had a legitimate chance of making it to the third round while four lost in the first round (Russell Wilson, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Tannehill) and Jared Goff was benched for an unemployed accountant and isn’t for sure going to make the 2021 roster.

Two didn’t make the playoffs, as Dak Prescott got hurt in week five and might make the leap to elite status while Jimmy Garoppolo caught lightning in a bottle last season but is likely on the downturn of his career.

The next tier is where Vikings fans should be concerned. Overpaying middle-tier quarterbacks is never the formula for continued success.

Derek Carr (Raiders): 8-8

Jacoby Brissett (Colts): Backup for the Colts. Go figure.

Matt Stafford (Lions): 5-11

Kirk Cousins: 7-9

Alex Smith (Washington): 7-9

Matt Ryan (Falcons): 4-12

Carson Wentz (Eagles): 4-11-1 and also benched.

None of these quarterbacks led their teams to winning records. While Washington made the playoffs on the back of a terrible division and an elite defense, they had no chance of making the Super Bowl.

Yes, I understand that Kirk Cousins had a great season. As I stated earlier, this tier of quarterback can have great seasons. Heck, Derek Carr was an MVP candidate just a few years ago.

However, teams led by this tier typically are A) Not consistently year over year in the playoffs and B) When they do make the playoffs, they are rarely a serious Super Bowl contender.

Obviously the nail in the coffin is this. There are 32 NFL teams and only three to five quarterbacks in a given season who legitimately can lead their team to a Super Bowl given their salary. I’m not saying the Vikings should cut Cousins as he is a perfectly fine player and there are no better alternatives.

What I am saying, though, is with Cousins at the helm, what are you really going for? Trying to be a perennial wild card team? The Vikings don’t have a rookie ready to take over that allows for the rest of the team to improve nor do they have one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

In a league where that is essentially needed in order to be consistently successful, the Vikings better start looking because they don’t have it.

Facing Adversity Head On

My college roommate is a vicar at a church back in his hometown of Mequon, Wisconsin. With two pastors ahead of him, it is still a rather rare occurrence when he is called upon to provide the sermon for any given church service.

However, the morning of the Christmas Eve service, he got the call up. Both of the pastors in the church were quarantining, meaning that my roommate would have to give the sermon on one of most important days on the church calendar on extremely short notice.

Watching it online to virtually cheer him on, he gave a rousing sermon that would’ve made any pastor jealous. I guess I’m only a little biased.

The prominent theme of the message was one about things being unideal. First, he mentioned casually that being called to construct a sermon on one of the biggest days of the year with just hours to prepare isn’t exactly ideal.

Aspects of 2020 certainly haven’t been ideal. Missing family gatherings, businesses struggling, social unrest, COVID-19… nothing about these things have been ideal. I’ve thought about this concept a lot since then because so much about our world is unideal.

As a high school basketball coach, we started practice on Monday January 4th. I’ll tell you this.

Starting the season almost two months late certainly wasn’t ideal. I feel for all the players, but especially those seniors who want to have that season that they can remember fondly.

Wearing masks while playing certainly isn’t ideal. It’s obviously annoying to try to perform at a high level while breathing through a mask and having to adjust it throughout practice.

Worrying about COVID-19 and how it could potentially impact practice and game cancellations and quarantines and all that other jazz simply isn’t ideal.

However, what our players have been doing a great job of, and I hope more people can learn from, is making the best of an unideal situation.

Our players showed up ready to go on day one, practicing hard, learning the skills and coming together as a team. They showed up with masks and are doing just fine coping with this inconvenience.

Our guys know that every day of practice and each game is a gift and not something that we can take for granted.

Amidst all of these unideal circumstances, I’m bombarded with people who face the unideal and let it ruin their day… or their week or month or year.

Our guys, along with our area high school athletes who are readying for their first games or matches or meets this week, have been forced to learn at a young age that life throws situations and circumstances right in your face that aren’t ideal.

How we react to these moments will go a long way in defining how our life plays out. We can either feel sorry for ourselves about it or we can get up, dust ourselves off and make the most of the opportunities we are given.

I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far. I’m proud of the way that our players, and I’m sure players on many teams across the area, have faced these circumstances and dealt with the adversity in a mature way.

In an era where many people yell to the clouds about how things didn’t go their way, our athletes are facing the adversity head on.