Thursday, February 22, 2007

Low Loss

Even though this loss is going to hurt our prospects for a high seed in the tourney, this loss may have also in some ways helped to save us come tourney tme..

If Tony is in fact his father's son, D. Low will be ripped from Eugene to Corvallis to Pullman back to Eugene and Corvallis and then back to Pullman for that INANE chuck at the end of the first half. That my friends, the 3 points that we lost because of that shot, is the reason we lost this game.

Bottom line: when none of your guys--less Harmeling and Weaver in spurts--have a good game and you are down to the wire at Mac Court--you're pretty darn good.

The thing with this team is that they will always be in games because of defense--and there are not many teams out there like the Quack who can really chuck from all corners with that 3 ball, who, quite frankly, the Cougs really don't match up with.

But time and time again this team makes runs and bills big leads only to lose their executiion and let teams back in.

If this team can learn to continue to execute offensively when they are building double digit or near double digit leads, they are a Final Four team.

But without that, we could see a really dissapointing exit from the tourney and I'm talkin an EARLY exit.

Lets just bounce back and beat the Beavs on Saturday.

Duckhater thinks that game is going to be MUCH tougher than one might think. Read more ...plus comments

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Gotta Win Thursday

Paint Thursday's game as the first of maybe only two remaining "must wins" for the Cougs until the NCAA tournament. Here are a few quick rambles for "the nation" to consider:

1) If you look at the current Top 25, we have not beaten a ranked team this year. Granted, if we beat the Quack in Mac Court, they won't be ranked either. Even so, we need that type of statement win at this point of the year as Bracket time approaches.

2) At this point, the goal for the season is to make the Sweet 16. At that point, you just gotta roll the dice and see what the heck happens. But the bottom line is that a #3 seed affords a considerably easier draw than being in that dreaded 4 or 5 slot--facing that terrible #12 that wins every year and/or facing a team like Duke that is SUPER talented but has underachieved.

3) I think that if you win against Oregon, you all-but lock up 2nd in the Pac and a #3 seed in the process.

4) Don't know about you all, but this team needs to lose before the conference tournament...I am much less concerned about winning a Pac-10 title as I am about making the Sweet 16. Beat the Ducks and you feel REAL good about yourself playing in (future) hostile environments. Then you can drop a game against the LA schools and have a game or two to "bounce back."

5) This team is still VERY hard to predict despite their sexy, sexy record. On one hand, I truly believe that we are a Final Four or Elite Eight threat. On the other hand, we're vulnerable enough that I could see a real high seeding leading us to being upset early in the tourney. So, we have a weird balance of needing a big win to keep us "high" and needing to lose so that we aren't viewed as too much of a giant come tourney time.

This game is much like the Zona game a couple of weeks back. The Quack will be throwing everything at us in this game. Withstand and win, and this team is more than special or dangerous--they will find themselves near the Top 5 going into UCLA.

And that, my friends, would be really something special Read more ...plus comments

Friday, February 16, 2007

Speaking of Ivory Clark....

As Duckhater Lawson said, he's that extra intangible guy that can do it all. And, he can jump really high and posterize heralded power forwards around the Pac-10....

WOW!

He gets some respect around the league for stuff like that. And he's either taller than he's listed, or Hawes isn't as tall as reported, because I look at this photo and I don't see that much of a difference:


And finally, according to the Go-2-Guy, we've got a head coach that the camera definitely likes. Anyone notice all the close-ups on Wednesday night?

Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, February 15, 2007

AS GOOD AS IT GETS

If you read Glenn's blog today from the Spokesman Review, you will note constant criticism of Washington's guard play in the Huskies wonderful loss to its new big brother--WSU.

Similarly, if you fast forward three weeks from now, you will hear Billy Packer and all the goons at CBS Sports talk about the importance of Guard Play in the NCAA tournament. In fact, if I had a dollar for everytime that Billy Packer and Dick Vitale talk about how guard play is the #1 recipe for success in the tourney, I'd be, well, something other than what I am today.

The point here is that given how crazy our guard play is--both offensively and defensively--this team is not only a bonafide threat to make the Sweet 16, it also has the look of a bonafide contender for the Final Four.

But the other side of the "guard play" issue is this: despite how GREAT our guard play is and despite how YOUNG of a basketball team we are, I want to alert all of Cougar nation that the MVP of this team , in my view, is none other than Mr. Ivory Clark.

Lest any of you have any doubt, think about what we were doing to the evil quack attack before he fouled out. Then think about what happened to the Clarkless Cougs thereafter.

Then, think about his defense against Stanford and his offensive output @ Arizona. Think about his defense last night against UW's twin big boys. Think about all the back-cut dunks he gets, the second chance put backs, that allows the offense to run and allows the spacing for Weaver and Low to get to the basket.

My point is this: don't for ONE MOMENT think that next year is going to be "the year." While we'll certainly be good--and I'm talking top 25 good--I would bet the kitchen sink that we will NOT be as good next year as we are this year.

So with that in mind, I encourage all of Cougar Nation to enjoy this. Granted, this season may end in dissapointment--as in a dissapointing early tourney exit or a Gonzaga or UWesque choke in the Sweet 16.

But, this Cougar nation, really and truly is "As Good As It Gets."

Clark won't be back next year. And because of that, a slide next year is just as likely as it turned out to be when Detlef, Chris Welp, Fortier, and Williams were all returning from their run to the Sweet 16 only to bounced by Kenny Walker and Kentucky in the FIRST ROUND the next year--all because the UW didn't have their graduated point guard who turned out to be MUCH MORE important than anyone ever realized.

So, enjoy this. With a week off to rest those weary legs, the #7 ranked Cougs will storm into Mac court and steal one, gut out and ugly affair in Gil, and then host UCLA (we will be ranked #5 in the country) for the Pac-10 title followed by a very closely fought contest against USC.

By the end, we could be in the top 4 and assured of no worse than a #2 seed.

All of these games could be excruciating if we let it be so.

But don't this moment in Cougar history pass you by. Enjoy every stinkin' moment of this magical run.

This is truly as Good As it Gets. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Doba's Dinner Recap at AOL; BIG game tonight

I did a recap of the Doba dinner over at AOL. I didn't touch on everything, obviously, there was a ton of information to try and remember so you know how that goes. But the overriding theme to the 2007 recruiting class? Character, no question. Doba went out of his way to talk about the recruiting process, how disappointing it is these days as the "in" thing to de-commit, and told a few stories about some Pac-10 teams doing some things that, well, aren't exactly cool with Doba and company. Teams text-messaging players non-stop, making phone calls and refusing to hang up the phone while Doba was in their living rooms at the time, on and on it goes.

But you know what? GET USED TO IT! Recruiting has never been more vital to a program's success, and while Doba may be turned off by the tactics of other schools, you know what? It's the nature of the game today. Just because a kid commits doesn't mean he's 100% sold on a school, and as Doba mentioned, one kid that committed to them last fall was sort of an off-the-radar type kid, but as soon as the verbal came down, he was contacted by FIVE other Pac-10 schools that all wanted film of him and to schedule a visit! So in other words, for some kids, giving a verbal commitment gets them on the radar so to speak, and other schools suddenly think "hmmm, WSU beat the bushes and found this kid we haven't heard much of, but if they think he's worth a scholie, let's check him out!" Again, GET USED TO IT. Unless the NCAA adopts an early signing period, as Doba pointed out at the dinner, it's only going to get more extreme - more early commitments, more de-committing, etc, etc, ETC.

I liked what I briefly saw out of Sterk regarding the stadium. It was a lightning-quick presentation, but it was still nice to see. The entrance will be a whole new ballgame, plus upgrades to restrooms, concessions, wider concourses, bigger scoreboard, it's going to be a much different feel walking in there this fall.

So there's a big hoops game or something tonight?? While I hope they can pull it out, I'm not exactly holding my breath. This is revenge-city and UW is already in that do-or-die tournament mode. They MUST win this game if they have designs on playing their way into the NCAA's. Combine that with the 75-47 humiliation, and it's their in-state rival, all at home? Hawes is playing well again? Brockman is leading the world in hustle plays, if you believe the media? Let's just say I'm fully prepared to see UW dance on the logo tonight when it's all said and done. Not that I'm not a believer in our 10th ranked Cougs, and hey, 25 games into the season, if these guys were a fraud or a fake we would have seen it by now, but this just has the feel of a "logical loss". Sorry. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, February 08, 2007

It's February and Ahmu is ALREADY out for 2007?



Per the P-I recruiting roundup:
• Doba said the foot surgery on starting defensive tackle Feveae'i Ahmu was more complicated than expected and said he might miss the season. Ahmu never has redshirted and will be a junior in the fall.

GREAT. Here we go again. What is it with the health of these d-tackles that they just can't stay healthy? I'd love to see what Ahmu could do for a full season, because he has shown serious flashes. Who knows, maybe a medical redshirt is in order for this year and he can come back in '08 healthy as a redshirt junior.

So the signing class is in, and the reviews are typically poor. 10 out of 10 in the conference, no matter how you look at it. But stars, shmars, we'll see how these guys pan out. Remember some of our most hyped recruits in the past few years never made it (Estes? Dietriechs?). Unless you sign a top-10 class loaded with 4-star talent up and down the board, it's almost impossible to project who is going to be good and who will be a bust, but speculation is what recruiting is all about.

USC was the winner out west and between 1 and 3 in the country. Getting the RB from Louisiana, McKnight, was just huge. Oregon really hit a home run yesterday. #8 in the nation, they got some serious talent and look to be a factor in the Pac-10 the next few years. Cal was right behind Oregon and we should be used to Tedford getting a top-15 class on an annual basis. And, yes, UW signed a pretty strong class, the best in Willingham's era by far.

Finally, my role at AOL is changing a bit. Instead of handling the WSU beat, I'm also going to be covering the NW Pac-10 schools, plus Stanford, on a daily basis. It's a new approach by AOL, going with the idea of less single-minded coverage and more of a spread-it-around approach. I figure it's the right way to go, you cover more teams regularly, you are going to get more hits, and that's what it's all about. At least for the next year anyway, that's the plan. So you'll probably see less in regards to all the over-analysis on a daily basis for our Cougs, but sometimes less is more! Read more ...plus comments

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's USC's World


We just live here. They take what they want and then decide whether or not to blow you into oblivion.

Whatever. USC taking what they want, that will never change. But the funny part? The kid they stole just AMAZINGLY ROSE FROM 2-STAR TO 3-STAR THE MOMENT HE CAST HIS LOT WITH THE EVIL EMPIRE!?!? HUH!?!? Lots of cred there, Fetters and the rest at Scout. What a bunch of....well, you know.

YES, yes, this is sour grapes in every conceviable way. I mean come on, as I said in the AOL side, why rob from the penny-less WSU stable and add to your bench? Oh well, I guess we'll just have to beat them at hoops - again - and blow past them in the standings! Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If They Weren't For Real Before....

....they certainly ARE now. First sweep of AZ since 1983? Now 7-3 in the conference? Just a team, top to bottom. As Lawson repeatedly says, enjoy this ride.

Now, here's some decent YouTube clips someone made of the UW game, another of the AZ game, and finally, Gonzaga from earlier this year. NICE!



Not sure about the music choice, but oh well:



Finally, the Gonzaga win:

Read more ...plus comments