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Quote Me, Howie: Steve Battaglia, Phill Homere; Vikings News


Cloquet boys basketball coach Steve Battaglia on the Jacks, as they wrap up the regular season and prepare for the 2024 playoffs – "It’s really been a pretty good year for us considering we only play two seniors and one of them was out for a month. We gave a couple of games away but we learned some stuff about ourselves through it. We’re currently playing our best basketball of the season, which is exactly how we try to time it. We’re healthy and we’ve found a good rotation. We’re coming off of a good week with wins over Duluth East (73-61 at home) and Grand Rapids (72-63 in Grand Rapids). We’ve got one final game left against Proctor (Thursday, in Proctor). We’ve got the athleticism and are offensive enough to beat anybody. Our lack of size has hurt us defensively and on the boards, but we think we’ve found some things that we can do to give us a shot. Our (7AAA) section tournament will be interesting. Every team in our section has at least two section losses this season. We feel like we’re in a good position heading into the playoffs. Seed-wise nobody expects us to get out of the first round which allows us to play free and without any pressure. I’m excited for March!"

Duluth Denfeld boys basketball coach Phill Homere on the Hunters, who are getting healthy before the playoffs – "We have been looking ahead to the (Section 7AAA) playoffs. We know it’s going to be a fun one and we are very excited. We are slowly getting healthy. We won’t have all the guys we would like to have but coming into this year if someone would have told me I would play seven-plus games without my two best players and still finish the year above .500 I would have not believe that. Losing (senior power forward) Aidan Altona all year has been very tough for us because it’s no way you replace a kid like that. I give my players a lot of credit for battling all year. Losing Marnaries (Ferguson, junior point guard who leads the team in scoring) seven straight games due to injury was tough for us. At the same time it gave room for different guys to take on new roles so for playoffs they are more prepared. I feel like we know playoffs will not be easy, but I can let you know we will be ready for who ever our opponent is. We have four to six pretty good teams in our section and I feel like anybody can beat anybody. So it will be fun to see how it all plays out. Just know that the Hunters are excited for it and is looking forward to a fun postseason." 

Vikings rank 2nd in NFLPA Report Cards: 'In Own Tier of World-Class Workplace'

The results are in, and the Vikings once again received flying colors on the NFL Players Association Report Card.

Minnesota ranked second behind Miami, after placing first last offseason. The NFLPA wrote that the Vikings and Dolphins "have separated themselves into their own tier in terms of what it means to run a world-class NFL workplace."

The Vikings continue to impress across all categories in our second annual survey. Their facilities are incredible; their staff is rated highly by players; and the workplace experience for Vikings players is enhanced by the continued commitment by ownership to providing a world-class experience for players. As an example, Vikings players unanimously believe that their strength staff contribute to their success by supporting each player with the best possible individualized plan; and for the second straight year, Kevin O'Connell stands out as a head coach for whom players enjoy working.

[Vikings Owner/Chairman] Zygi Wilf [and Owner/President Mark Wilf rank] second among all club owners and ownership groups, which shows how much confidence players have in his willingness to create a workplace that, in many areas, sets the standard across the NFL.

As noted above, the Vikings head coach and ownership group received votes of high confidence, each receiving an A-plus rating.

The survey showed that 100 percent of players believe O'Connell is "very willing to listen to the locker room," and 98 percent feel he is efficient with their time. The Wilfs received a 9.7/10 rating from players when considering their willingness to invest in the facilities.

O'Connell was asked about the recognition during a session with Twin Cities beat reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine.

"I think more than anything it just means the guys are responding to my style of being authentic, being the same guy every day, challenging them to be the best versions of themselves," he said. "I think culture-wise, what we've built over two years, for that to be that, you envision it being something that can sustain within our locker room and the dynamic with my relationship with those guys, but it also means if anything, I look at it coming off the two years we've had, two totally separate, different years, different challenges, different levels of success or failure, that gives me the opportunity to continue push our organization forward under the principles I believe in that our guys are responding to and feel strongly about.

"But also there is no ceiling on us as far as what we're able to do from a standpoint of elevating our players, our team, competing, building the type of team that I think we need to build from a mentality standpoint and all that," O'Connell added. "I feel very strongly about my relationship with the guys, and it's not something I take for granted for one second and never will. It's too important."

Minnesota ranked first among all teams in the following categories: treatment of facilities, nutritionist/dietician, locker room and strength coaches. The Vikings ranked second in training room, team travel, head coach and ownership.

According to the survey, 100 percent of Vikings players are happy with the locker room size, 100 percent feel they get an individualized strength-training plan and 96 percent appreciate their individualized nutrition plan. Players also are grateful to receive their own hotel rooms on road trips and for high-quality equipment in the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center weight room.

The team ranked in the top 10 in all 11 categories, with only three categories falling outside of the top two. The Vikings were seventh in food/cafeteria (B-plus), eighth in weight room (A) and ninth in training staff (B).