Thursday, March 06, 2008

Lunardi: 6 Seed the Worst Case Scenario for WSU?

At least that's what ESPN's bracket guru claimed yesterday. Every week, Joe Lunardi appears on KJR and gives an analysis of his weekly bracket. The guy is regarded as the most accurate projector of these kinds of things, so you have to respect his opinion. But what was a big surprise to me was that he said that our 6 seed could be regarded as the WORST case scenario. Mitch Levy asked him for WSU's seed range, and he said best case, 3-seed, worst case, a 6-seed. You can hear the interview here. Check it around the 12-minute mark and he gets into the Pac-10. He's got UCLA as a likely 1-seed (shocker), Stanford a 1 if they win out but probably a 3, and WSU is "awkward" but even if they lose to UW and the first Pac-10 tourney game, they would fall no further than a 6.

One of the biggest reasons is our conference, but also earlier in the interview he mentions how so many bubble teams have been struggling. There just aren't many teams that we would fall past, even IF we lose out! Makes you feel like it's really going to be a wild tournament this year (but can't you say that every year?).

On the Sonics front, things are hopping. It looks like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a big name in the potential new ownership group trying to save the team. And today's P-I profiles the story with native son Matt Griffin as well as an update on the deal. And on the same KJR theme, Mitch Levy gives a rant and a breakdown of the Key Arena situation.

This is beyond crucial for the hopes of pro hoops in Seattle. The current local plan is a slam-dunk. If you haven't read up on it, here's the details:

  • $300 million renovation for the Key.
  • $150 million would be from purely private investors. These same private investors would either buy the Sonics from the current owner, or they would attempt to buy a franchise in trouble in another city (New Orleans?).
  • $75 million would come from a facility fee, naming rights, etc at Key Arena. One scenario floated by Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics says that it would be roughly a $5 facility fee on a ticket.
  • $75 million would then come from the state taxes, the existing stadium taxes being extended. In other words, there wouldn't be a need for ANY NEW TAXES, merely an extension. And some extra money created from the existing tax could go to other causes like low income housing, etc.

And finally, this deal would pay off the outstanding Key Arena debt from the last time they did their half-assed renovation. Even the anti-stadium guys, Nic Licata and Chris Van Dyke, are quoted as being potentially IN FAVOR of this kind of a plan!

You just hope that the legislature realizes what is being handed to them. This is the ultimate bailout for them. This is an offer that very likely won't be there in the future as well. And they must do something, quickly, before the NBA Board of Governors meet in late April to vote on the Sonics move. The Oklahoma vote for their $120 million arena upgrade passed with flying colors on Tuesday, so the board could have an easy "yes" vote knowing an upgraded building will be waiting for them in OKC.

I urge any of you, if you care about the future of pro sports in Seattle, to simply send a quick 2-or-3 sentence e-mail to the governor and house speaker. You can do that with this link. Just quickly tell them you are a voter, and you are in support of them going with this plan. That's it. They must hear from as many people as possible in order to enhance the sense of urgency. Don't let them off the hook, blowing a fantastic deal in the process!

Last item of the day - Tony Bennett. Jim Moore goes through a quick rundown of Tony being a candidate at Anywhere U, for all the obvious reasons. Moore also weighs in on the idea of why Bennett won't say he's interested, and gets some comments from Lorenzo Romar as to why he would say what he's saying (or isn't saying?). WSU Hoops founder Jeff Nusser gave his own view of the situation, and it's somewhat out-of-the-box from what you might think? But I guess the thing I take from it is what Sterk said at the end of the article:

"One year ago this month, Sterk extended Bennett's contract through 2014 and gave him a raise to an average salary of $800,000.

"He asked for seven years," Sterk said Wednesday. "He wanted to build this. It's not like I have blinders on. I feel good about him and where he wants to be and what he's doing."

Sterk said there has been "no contact with him or me or anyone" from Indiana. He also pointed out that Mark Few is everyone's annual candidate to leave Gonzaga, but he's still in Spokane. And in spite of courtships from other suitors, he expects Bennett to stay in Pullman."


atlantacoug said...

My main complaint with NCAA bracketing is that we won't know anything until March 16th, then have 3 days to find expensive travel to get where ever we are playing. I don't have a solution, just complaints. That is how I roll.
I agree with 6th seed being the worst we can do. And If we beat the Huskies and win our first Tourney game I say we are a 4 seed.

Regarding the Sonics, Can Stern really let the Sonics leave if there are local buyers who are willing to remodel Key? I realize that Possession is 9/10ths of the law, and Bennett owns the Sonics...but that would be UGLY if it happens that way. Stern would be wise start working WITH us instead of making inflamatory comments to the media in support of his ol' pal Bennett.

Sedihawk said...

Atl, I think the thing to watch for is, as always, championship week. If we see a bunch of upsets from the weaker conferences, it only makes our case for a higher seed better. And you know there are upsets every year.

Meanwhile, Stern is just playing the game. He's an ass, but he also knows that things don't get done until the "gun is to the head" and that's what we have here. Seattle and state of WA leadership is notoriously bad in being proactive, but they have shown that when the two-minute warning sounds, they have done the right thing. The M's and the Seahawks are prime examples. The M's were basically gone and were put up for sale briefly before they came to their senses and passed the tax. The Seahawks DID move until Bob Whitsitt and Slade Gordon interfered and got Paul Allen to the table, but the state still had to agree to holding a special election for public money. Stern knows that if he said "ok, we'll back off on the move and let's see what can be done", well, then nothing will be done! Look at the past 4-5 years, starting with Howard Schultz going down to Oly every session asking for public money. He was ignored and/or laughed out of the room. Why? Not because it's a bad idea, but because there is no sense of urgency, no leverage. They were locally owned and had a lease until 2010. But that's obviously not the case now. And with OKC passing their own arena deal Tuesday, the screws have been tightened.

To me, this is it. If they pass on this absolute slam-dunk of a deal, they are morons and the NBA is done here. The court case doesn't matter at that point, because the NBA will approve the move without a Key Arena plan and Bennett and their group will simply dig in and build for 2010. The state and city will never, never, ever get another deal close to this. I've e-mailed Gregoire and Frank Chopp, asking for them to show the proper leadership and take the best deal they will ever get, and it's this one! We'll see.

Anonymous said...

From Brian Robinson:

I want to say that the inclusion of Ballmers name in this article surprised me. I had really been hearing Jeff Bezos of Amazon as the primary guy with Stanton as the backup. I expected Ballmer to be involved on naming rights for the arena. I still think there is a chance he winds up involved. If we somehow have Ballmer, Bezos, Stanton, and Sinegal all involved along with Matt Griffens development expertise it winds up being freaking amazing. Regardless this is an all-star team of local money. Combined they have something along the lines of 15x the PBC’s net worth.

Sedihawk said...

Press conference at 3:30 today with mayor Greg Nickels plus other supporters. Probably won't hear from Ballmer directly but full details will be officially released. I heard Matt Griffin on KJR at 8:45 and it was very encouraging. Even better, it's not even an EXTENSION of the existing stadium taxes! The thing is, that tax was doing so well that it was set to retire in 2012, or 4 years before the original legislation had it running until 2016. The request is simply to not retire it early and let it run it's course, and then after 2012, use the money for the Key upgrade, plus other things like low income housing, etc.

Pardon the pun, but SLAM-FRIGGIN-DUNK.

kaddy said...

I'm not sure what to expect - if Bennett takes WSU to the Final Four, you can be damn sure other schools will break the bank to take him away. On the other hand, if we go to the Final Four, it will probably prove to Bennett that he can be highly successful in Pullman, which might help him to stay.

In the end, I just can't see him leaving, especially after his "we don't want to be a flash in the pan" comments. That would make him look very hypocritical. Even if IU offers him, I think he stays. He's only 38, and there will always be other opportunities to cash in (more than he has, at least).

kaddy said...

If you haven't read the article today in the TNT, you need to. I laughed out loud when I read the part about Robbie Cowgill at the end:
MUSCLE BEACH: Cowgill has always been quick to poke fun at his gangly body. Of course, he doesn't have much choice.

"I believe we've talked about it before, during and after every practice for the past four years," Harmeling said. "It's been such a go-to joke."

The 6-foot-10 Cowgill said he believes he weighed 175 pounds at the start of his freshman year. Tony Bennett remembers Cowgill getting ready to take a dip in a whirlpool on his recruiting visit.

"He's got his swimming trunks on," Bennett recalled. "We're in the locker room. He looks at me and he goes, 'Hey, Coach,' and he flexes and says, 'How are the ladies going to be able to leave this body alone if I come to Washington State?' "
Now that's funny...

wsuhoops said...

Ever notice how little Mark Few's name comes up for high-profile job vacancies now? Say no for a few years and they actually start to believe you that you like it where you are, thank you very much.

Like you guys and Sterk, I think he wants to see this thing through. He will probably move on at some point, and when the point comes, I won't begrudge him, because he'll do it at a point when the program is going to be able to succeed without him.

-- Nuss

Sedihawk said...

That is true, the white noise on Few seems to have really scaled back. He's one happy guy in Spokane though, that's all very legit. He might never win the national title coming from the WCC, but he owns that conference and can punch his dance ticket every year at GU. They'll break through to the Final Four one of these years. He makes lots of money yet doesn't seem to have the overwhelming desire to be in another galaxy in terms of salary. It's an absolutely perfect fit.

Hmmm, I wonder if TB bolts, would Few consider Pullman?? It's one of the best conferences in America, it's in Eastern WA, he'd get decent money. Just saying.

JMNOR55 said...

Re: Few: It's good for GU, maybe not so good for his visibility that his name doesn't come up for every BCS job. Remember Dan Monson, after GU's run to the Elite Eight in 1999, he bolted for Minnesota, in the Big 10 and made the NCAA once and lost in the first round. Now he's in Long Beach.