Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Even Video Games Love Carolina

With our biggest hoops game since the 1941 NCAA title game coming up Thursday, the experts are coming out of the woodwork to pick North Carolina. Dickie V, Digger, you know the usual suspects. I haven't seen any projections yet that say we will be blown out of the basketball universe, and everyone expects it to be a bit of a grind for the Heels, but in the end they'll be 8-10 points better. What, did you expect that anyone would actually pick WSU this week??

That said, even the video games are against us. EA Sports' NCAA March Madness '08 has simmed the tourney, and has the Heels taking down our Cougs (pictured above). You can see the entire tourney here via ESPN Videogames, but they have Carolina 69, WSU 62. But with that, I wasn't exactly satisfied, so I thought what the heck, I'll sim it myself and let's see what happens. After all, I've got an XBox 360, and while I don't have March Madness, I do have College Hoops 2K8, which is widely regarded as the superior title (it really is fun, and very realistic).

What happened? Well, 2K8 lets you set up the entire tournament, from 1-to-65, and you can let things play out, or take control of any game you choose. For accuracy sake, I decided to just let the CPU play itself to see what happens. And guess what?? THE COUGARS ARE HEADED FOR THE ELITE 8!

That's right - The Cougars strolled into Charlotte and pulled off the stunner, taking down Carolina 66-61. Derrick Low and Aron Baynes both had 15 points, with Low drilling a big 3 with 34 seconds left to seal the deal. As in real life, WSU was very patient with the ball offensively and shot 47%, a decent percentage overall. They played stifling, switching, "pack" defense to frustrate Hansbrough, keep Ty Lawson from penetrating, and just played a heck of a game. The Heels shot 41%. All that said, unfortunately, Tennessee ended the WSU title hopes on Saturday, winning a tough game 71-68.

Ok, I know, just a video game, right? Well, 2K8 also did it right with Davidson, placing them in the Sweet 16, as well as Villanova and Western Kentucky. In the end of my sim, Kansas cut down the nets with a big win over UCLA. We shall see what happens, but hey, I've got some hope!

Speaking of Charlotte....what the heck has happened to Adam Morrison??

They say he's a free spirit and really his "own guy", but geez. He looks like he's somewhere else. Or maybe he's simply realizing that Gonzaga is now going to be 2nd fiddle in Eastern WA to the surging WSU Cougar hoops program?? I guess he'll just have to get by with several piles of cash and NBA groupies at every turn. Poor guy!

Speaking of Gonzaga, KJR was talking yesterday that Mark Few rumors are starting to percolate. This time it's his alma mater calling, as Ernie Kent is going to get fired chatter is increasing by the day. People take shots at Gonzaga, as they aren't exactly the cute, cuddly little engine that could as they were when they first burst on the scene. But Few has done a hell of a job building something out of nowhere. They've now been to 10 consecutive NCAA's, and I don't care what conference you play in, that ain't easy! We shall see what happens there. If Few did land at Oregon, I would expect a lot of the same thing, honestly. Few's teams play fast and love to shoot the rock, but they aren't exactly a defensive team. But it would also be interesting to see what he could do with Oregon's resources.

Thanks to Atlanta Coug, but ESPN.com ran a story about Gary Rogers from spring ball. Not bad. Ted Miller has moved on from the P-I, and now does the .com thing full-time, so it's nice to have a NW presence on the national scene for good.

Another day, more Tony Bennett coaching fodder. We mentioned yesterday in comments that IU was rumored to have narrowed their choices down already to either 2 or 3 main candidates, specifically Rick Barnes, Rick Pitino and Thad Motta. This came via Andy Katz and later Pat Forde of ESPN over the weekend on ESPN radio (sorry, no link). You can check out some of the Scout.com's IU message boards for more. I think those names show you one thing - IU has some major fish they are trying to land. While we love Tony and know what a fantastic thing he has going here, on the national scale he doesn't exactly measure up to those names on the IU radar. We're talking Final 4's, national titles, and deep, deep runs and consistent tourney appearances, time after time after time.

But as "PTownCoug" mentioned in comments yesterday, just because IU is looking at those big fish doesn't keep us in the clear here. As is usually the case, when a big coach moves on down the road, the domino's usually fall. And that means that if, say, Barnes goes to IU, well, Texas is now open. And if Tony doesn't go to Texas (and I DOUBT he would), but let's say Mike Brey goes from Notre Dame to Texas. Suddenly Notre Dame is open. And on and on it goes.

It is the oldest Mike Holmgren saying, but it is very true here - "IT IS WHAT IT IS." And this is the way it is going to be with Tony. I think it's several things, mainly he's young, successful, has a sparkling image, and the hoops "genes". He's a lot of things that AD's around the country would love to associate with their programs. And you also get the NCAA writers from everywhere taking a look at young, talented guys and say "why the heck would he want to coach in frosty Pullman??" and of course, write articles that are more speculation than fact. It is just something we have to get used to, and every year when some tasty jobs open up, Tony's name is going to be thrown against the wall to see if it sticks. Just keep thinking of Holmgren's catch-phrase, "IT IS WHAT IT IS!"

Quickly speaking of the Seahawks, nice move to keep Lofa a Hawk For Life! What a fantastic player and leader of a still-rising defense. No better move than to lock him up now before the world of NFL free agency poisons the water. As Lofa said, it wasn't Good Friday, it was Great Friday. I would say the same thing if I signed a $42 million dollar extension with a bunch of guaranteed money!

HAPPY TUESDAY TO Y'ALL!

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ironic and Funny....I just received NCAA College B-ball 2K8 in the mail last night from gamefly for my X360....took it out and played WSU vs UNC at Friel Court (had to see all the crimson and Butch running around ;) .....I didn't have the same success as you - WSU took off to a 5-0 lead and then at half, UNC had a 29-27 lead.....after that, UNC went on a big 18-2 run and beat me by 20 in the end 64-44...my shooters went absoltely cold (couldn't buy a three - kind of the reverse of what D.Lowe does) and UNC could not miss from the outside....I sure hope this is not a bad omen....anyway, this is the first time I have played the game so I am sure I did not do the underdog Cougs any justice....I mean played after that against Montana State and then Purdue and still lost so for whatever it is worth, right?? ;) Anyway, sent the game back in the mail this morning - bad mojo vibes ya know ;)

Billyblaze
Reno, NV

Sedihawk said...

Come on Billy Blaze! Don't jinx us! :)

To make it a better game, there are sliders that you should download. If you go to 2K Share, it's called, from the features menu I believe, there are sliders that you download to make it a great game. Also tons of rosters out there, that really go to great lengths to get the players appearances just right.

There is a group at a site called operationsports.com that are constantly tweaking the ratings of players and their appearances to make it as realistic as possible. They gave WSU some good love, too, boosting their ratings for several players and updating their look. There was even one update that had Weaver and his leg sleeve, if you can believe it! It's a challenging game though and they do a good job.

Sedihawk said...

/end videogame geekiness.

kaddy said...

I have no idea what you guys are even talking about. Sliders? 2K?
I'm 35, but you guys are making me feel like I'm over 50.

Sedihawk said...

Isn't 35 the new 25?

This is what I'm talking about:

http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/sports/collegehoops2k8/index.html

And yes, I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I do. I like games. And it is fun to simulate a game to see what outcome is vs. reality. Sometimes it's way off, sometimes it's a hit.

Anonymous said...

Heheeheehe......sliders, white castle, mini burgers, dicks drive in, claim jumper, anyone, anyone, Buehler, Buehler?? ;) no, the sliders I think sedi is talking about are game enhancements for the xbox 360 game, college b-ball 2K8 (2008).......I could have used some cheatz so I could give the tarheads their due ;)
Now you say you are 35 and like sports and do not know the whole 2K whatever sports games??....where do ya live in the appalchians of north carolina with the wrong turn folks??......I am joking, just hackin on ya as they say in Young Guns.....GO COUGS!!!!

Billyblaze (aka Bill)
Reno, NV

P.s. Has WSU ever played UNC in basketball, football, anything??......I can't believe this day has almost come since I went to elementary/middle school in Raleigh but also did 5yrs in Pullman at WSU that they will meet - very cool. Ya guys don't realize how so arrogant/cocky those UNC fans are......more so than USC football people ;) As long as we are not intimidated by some tradition, we have a good chance.......BB

Anonymous said...

Why does thursday's big game have me thinking NY Giants vs NE Patriots or Villanova vs Georgetown back in the 80's?? I am getting that weird feeling the sun is finally going to shine on the Cougars and man, what a huge victory it will be in their backyard ;) no one thinks we can do it except US (analysts today are already talking about who UNC will play on Saturday)......I am not sure UNC could beat UCLA or Stanford.......I see Baynes, Cowgill, and Weaver being HUGE tomorrow with also Lowe/Taylor/and co. hitting some big clutch treys.....I am predicting it before you guys do, WSU 68 UNC 67 :) - and yep, UNC not only under 100, under 70.....I wonder what excuses the nation will use for them thursday night ;)

Billyblaze
Reno, NV

P.s. Don't criticize me too much until after the game and then I want some luv from my fellow cougs, K?

Anonymous said...

Look, I wouldn't worry too much about Tony leaving this year. Last year he turned down a $1.5 million dollar contract from Michigan (I have my sources) and I don't see him leaving Taylor or the incoming recruits next season.
UNC scares me because they're really well coached and, unlike Notre Dame, have the ability to play a half court game. Contrary to last game where shutting down the 3 ball was more important than shutting down Harangody, this week Hansbrough is the key. Wayne Ellington also scares me a ton because he can knock down a jumper even with a hand in his face.
Also, I'm worried about Kyle. He had maybe the best game of his life against ND but he has NBA scouts watching him now and more attention. he can't force long range shots because that's not his game. I hope (and expect) he will remain disciplined and do everything to help the team but that first shot against ND somewhat perturbs me.
Finally, it seems that the Sonics leaving is almost a done deal (Clay is trying to get out quickly, smart on his part) but, on a brighter note, the Sonics name would stay in Seattle where it belongs. But then again, so should the team.

kaddy said...

Just booked my trip to Charlotte - leaving on the redeye tomorrow night... Go Cougs!

Sedihawk said...

Kaddy, you are so F'ing MONEY you don't even know it! How great is that? But tell me how you can make it to Charlotte, but can't make it to Seattle for the Wulff dinner?? WTF!?! Do you hate me THAT much?? :)

What is it about 67 years anyway? 67 years between Rose Bowl appearances. Now we go further in the NCAA tourney since 1941....or 67 years. Hmm.

Anonymous - Tony did talk to Michigan, but I don't think he turned down 1.5 large. We heard it from a great source who says it never made it that far. But who knows, maybe someone associated with Michigan talked to someone associated with Tony and the 1.5 number was thrown around, as is always the way in high stakes, back-room coaching deals? Speaking of back-room deals, maybe I'll spill the beans on Jeff Tedford and UW some time...

And I'm not worried about Kyle. He's too solid/steady Eddie. This is the absolute last time to think about being selfish, and I see zero reason he'll change into something he isn't just because Carolina is on the opposite end! He and Low made that Pan Am team for a reason, we're talking two of the 15 best NCAA players that tried out of that team. Look how they've elevated their games now that the tourney has started. They know what they are doing.

I'm sure Nuss will have something more detailed on his site, but I think this thing boils down to three things: 1) How does Hansbrough handle the double team? and 2) can Rochestie, Low and Weaver successfully handle Ty Lawson? And finally, 3) how do we play offensively??

First, if Handbrough makes good decisions in the half-court set and he gets the ball where it needs to go, we're cooked. That approach works against Notre Dame, as they were decent, but UNC has NBA talent out there. This is a different level. Give those cats wide open looks and they'll make us pay. Don't believe me? Look at their shooting percentages the first two games of this tourney. Particularly look at how their other big-men are playing, like Thompson. They are really, really strong.

And, Lawson, wow, what a catalyst he is. As someone on UNC said the other day, Lawson when healthy might be the fastest man in the NCAA with the basketball. He's a blur in the open floor. If we can have our backcourt just keep the game in front of him and don't let him penetrate, we have a good chance. But if he beats Rochestie and the rest off the dribble, we in BIG trouble.

As Brinkhater told me today, we're also going to have to really be great on the offensive end. The shooting guard on ND said it the other night, that not only were we great defensively, but offensively they were worn out trying to defend us for 25-30 seconds per possession, and we did a good job with guys like Cowgill hitting 15-footers. That offensive style grinds on you just as much as what we do on D.

Just remember, UNC is not unbeatable. They do NOT play UCLA's style of defense, not in system nor defensive desire. We've had a steady diet of Stanford and UCLA, so this isn't that much of a leap from what we've collided with all year. They don't fly around the room before they put on their shorts. They go one leg at a time, just like you and me. Of course they probably have a couple of supermodels helping them get dressed, but you get the idea!

And no, they didn't beat everyone they played by 30 points! It only seems like it. They had some real struggles against the likes of Va-Tech, Clemson, etc. Duke beat them at Chapel Hill. Davidson had them in trouble. They are, again, NOT invincible.

And, Billy Blaze, good point. Nobody said the Giants could beat the P-men. And I think only I believed Villanova would beat G-town back in the day. All I know is we're getting our shot at Goliath! If we're going out, let's go out BIG.

kaddy said...

When healthy, I'll go to the ends of the earth to see the Cougs. I was sick during the Wulff dinner - Thrasher wouldn't even reimburse me.

Anonymous said...

I have it from a Cougar player himself that Tony in fact did turn down those big bucks.

Anyway, i guess we're beating a dead horse here. What we should be focusing on is North Carolina.

Sedihawk, Kyle just sometimes seems to try to do too much, but you're right. There's not another person more cool than Kyle (or Derrick/Taylor/Robbie) and I wouldn't prefer anybody else on the floor against the #1 team in the nation. Here's to hoping Hansbrough draws a ton of fouls and we frustrate them into terrible decisions. Hey, Kenpom has us at a 45% chance.

atlantacoug said...

I will be watching the game with Kaddy, Creep and the #1 Husky fan. Listen for us on Trade Street singing the fight song after our big win Thursday night.

Sedihawk said...

Kaddy, it's cool man. Have fun and represent. Don't get drowned out by that Carolina blue!

Anonymous, that is really, really interesting about Tony. Maybe in the end your source is better. Ours is pretty dialed in and hears a lot of things straight from the horses mouth, but not a player, so I'll definitely give you that one. I guess one could argue that Michigan isn't that great of a job, even for 1.5? They've been in trouble, and only won when they cheated. But to turn down a shot to almost double your annual salary at a bigger school with more exposure says a hell of a lot about the man himself. Let's hope history repeats itself.

Kenpom isn't perfect, but I do dig his stuff. He did go 16-for-16 on day 1, and that's hard to beat.

How is everyone's bracket by the way? I can't believe only two people out of millions even picked the sweet 16! I am patting myself on the back for Davidson, but I only got 12 of the 16.

Sedihawk said...

Interesting Q & A re: Bennett and Indiana. Check it:

http://blog.seattletimes.nwsource.com/brewer/2008/03/qargue_will_indiana_call_on_be.html

JMNOR55 said...

I will root for WSU tomorrow evening, but only because the better that WSU does, it helps out both Washington and Gonzaga in terms of having a goal to shoot for. Even though Gonzaga has had first round exits the last two years, they are MILES ahead of Washington.

The two-year run is nice, hopefully WSU can reach the heights that Wisconsin and Michigan State have in the Big 10.

Cheers,

Jmnor55