Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bennett to IU: PASS!

Sweet! Tony stays, as Vince at the SR.com has the news. Like many of you thought, the job just isn't done here. I can't wait until his press conference tomorrow or Tuesday and we can hear about the future, and Tony WILL be part of it!

Interesting that he did talk to IU after all (and not a shocker). This is a great day for Cougars everywhere!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tony Bennett Rumor-MANIA!


"Hey Jim, Tony here. These guys are leaving, so....I'm just gonna go ahead and bail too...it's cool, right??"

Ok, that conversation hasn't happened and probably wouldn't happen. But the rumors and speculation are flying high tonight, so we'll round it up for you in one pretty/ugly package.

  • P-I's Dan Raley claims that Bennett isn't telling the truth, and that his source says he's got the offer in front of him now and has until high noon on Sunday to become the next coach at Indiana. This echoes what is coming from the Scout.com site for Indiana, as they are claiming that the offer is in hand and the clock is ticking. It is his job if he wants it at this point, and he has to decide by tomorrow.

  • Someone named Gary Parrish at CBS says that Bennett has roughly 24 hours to accept or refuse the offer, and that sorry, but it has been made. Parrish goes on to speculate that if he turns it down, he will use it as a loyalty play to WSU and hopefully get what he's after, which is the charter plane, assistants raises, etc. Interesting angle.

  • ESPN's Andy Katz said settle down, those rumors last night aren't exactly true and Tony himself claimed today he hasn't been offered anything. I later heard Katz on ESPN radio this afternoon, and he was asked point-blank what is going on with Bennett and WSU/IU/CAL. Katz wouldn't even really speculate on Bennett, but he stuck to his view that IU will get their coach by the Final Four, but wouldn't say anything about Bennett. He did mention Mike Montgomery as a great fit at either IU or Cal, but he didn't say anything about Bennett.


I think Katz and Vince are who we should listen to right now. They are the two closest sources out there on this. I especially think Katz is who we should focus on right now. Not because he's saying things that I think we want to here, but because of the background with Katz and the Bennett's. Katz is an ESPN guy, but he's a Wisconsin guy all the way. He graduated from Wisconsin, and worked at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. He knows the Bennett's very, very well, and was seen with them personally several times during the tournament. I have no doubt Katz knows what is going on.

Get all that straight? Pretty flippin' NUTS right now isn't it? Our source hasn't said a thing, so I wish we had more to offer. Personally, and simply gut-feeling time, but I think he's going to stay. I am choosing to take him at his word, and he's gone out of his way to say that WSU is a great place for him and his family. This is on the record, and also, off the record stuff that many people claim they have heard from Tony himself. STAY TUNED! Read more ...plus comments

NOT SO BREAKING News - Bennett NOT(!) Offered IU Job

UPDATE 9:00 AM 3/29/08 - Per Andy Katz, Bennett has NOT BEEN OFFERED the IU job. Check it out.

"The source also said a published report Saturday morning that Indiana had made an offer to Washington State's Tony Bennett was inaccurate. Indiana has not offered anyone the job, according to the source.

Reached Saturday morning in Pullman, Bennett told ESPN.com, "I haven't had one conversation with [Indiana] and so, no, I haven't been offered the job.''

Washington State athletic director Jim Sterk said Saturday morning that no school has asked for permission to talk to Bennett."



Well, that didn't take long. Per Fox Sports at least, the cat is officially out of the bag, and Indiana has made their move to Tony. Let's see how Tony handles this one. And this little matter of the Cal Bears has now cropped up, where Cougfan cites a report in the San Francisco Chronicle saying sources claim "Bennett is expected to leave WSU" and that he's already a finalist for their job. You can read that story here.

I tried our own source earlier today, as I actually heard a rumor something was up, but I didn't hear a thing back from him. So I don't have anything good "insider" views about what is out there. But the gut tells you this isn't a good thing.

I just hope we find out soon enough what he's going to do. I can't imagine he is the type of guy that is going to let this thing drag out. It makes you think we are going to get the word sooner rather than later. It's hold-your-breath time. Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Will Goliath Fall Again?

No detailed X's and O's breakdown today. You can get that anywhere else in serious information-overload all over the net. There are previews everywhere. No, instead, a simple tribute to David over Goliath. Because even though we're a 4-seed, and many believe that we are simply exactly where a 4-seed should be, still, let's be honest. It's Washington State vs. North Carolina.

First, though, who was Goliath?
  • Born: c. 1060 B.C.
  • Birthplace: Gath, Palestine
  • Died: c. 1030 B.C. (killed in battle)
  • Best Known As: The giant slain by David's slingshot

Goliath was a giant soldier from Gath in ancient Palestine, according to a famous story in the biblical book 1 Samuel. Listed at roughly 9 FEET tall, an imposing figure no matter the era. The 17th chapter describes an armed clash between the Philistines, led by Goliath, and the army of Israel. Despite Goliath's intimidating size, the unlikely Judean boy-hero David meets him on the field of battle. David slings a fatal stone that hits the giant between the eyes and fells him. David beheads the fallen Goliath, Israel wins in a rout and David goes on to become king. In sports, politics, business and other arenas, a competition between seemingly mismatched opponents is sometimes described as "David and Goliath" or "David versus Goliath."

So clearly it's happened before (if you believe in such things). Here's some of the biggest NCAA versions of Goliath to fall to David over the years:


Chaminade over #1 Virginia in 1982. Virginia had Ralph Sampson, but were shocked 72-70 by a school that still nobody knows where they are, or how it happened (Chaminade beat them in Hawaii by the way).

Villanova over Georgetown (sorry Reep). Easily one of the most stunning upsets of all-time, the scrappy Wildcats play nearly the perfect game, including the 2nd half where they shot 90%! The only miss was a block by Ewing. This was pre-shot clock days, and some to this day claim that the clock was introduced because of this game. Villanova was an 8-seed by the way, still to this day the lowest seed to ever win the NCAA title.

George Mason topples #1 U-Conn. Mason was loaded with patience and experience, and U-Conn was loaded with NBA first-round draft picks in Rudy Gay, Marcus Williams, Hilton Armstrong and Josh Boone. U-Conn survived an OT win over UW to get to the Great 8, and everyone thought they were home free to return to the Final Four if they could kick the pesky upstarts from nowhere to the curb. DENIED.

Hmmm....maybe this is our best hope? Isn't UNC loaded with NBA draft picks? Don't they like to play fast and will try to run, run, run us back to Pullman? Hmmm.

Stanford over USC this year. Almost a 40-pt dog, on the road, and the Cardinal shock the Trojans. NOBODY saw that coming, yet it happened.

One of the the biggest upsets in terms of name/shock value? App State - Michigan last year. App State blocks the field goal heard 'round the college football world, as fans all over the country break out in a spontaneous cheer in the 34-32 stunner.

Maybe my favorite of all-time? Hickory winning the state title in Indiana, led by Gene Hackman. How inspiring is that?




(gotta love the "let's win this for all the small schools"!)

So there you have it. It's been done before. Will it happen again?? Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Trufant Surrenders!


NIIIICE. Trufant has re-upped with the Hawks in a cap-friendly, long-term deal that brings smiles all around. Nice job Tru. You've freed up some $4 million in cap space for the team to use as it needs to the rest of this offseason. Plus, no more drama to worry about. Will he hold out and skip mini-camps? Is he unhappy being the franchise player? Will we simply lose him down the road because of this? All speculation is officially GONE. Welcome home Tru!

On the Tony Bennett front, no, I'm not going to link to wild rumors. But there is a decent read from Jerry Brewer of the Times, in a Q & A about Tony and the possibility of Indiana. It's a good 7-question deal with a writer who knows Indiana, and I thought there were some interesting things to take from it. Brewer has done a good job on covering the Cougs' run in the midst of UW country, and I've heard him on the radio a few times. He is extremely impressed with Bennett and the WSU program. Brewer, by the way, you might recognize the last name. He is the cousin of former Florida superstar Corey Brewer, who was a lottery pick last year and is toiling for the T-Wolves. The guy knows college hoops, no doubt about it.

Meanwhile, yes, we're in the Sweet 16. But last I checked, this is a FOOTBALL blog, so, here goes.

Paul Wulff had an online chat prior to the start of spring ball. Nothing earth-shattering, but I thought it would be of some interest. Check it out here. And if you read closely enough, you'll see our own Kaddy reveal himself! Cool.

Practices have been moving along, now 6 full ones in the books. Unfortunately there just isn't a lot of free content out there right now to get a read on how things are going. Cougfan has daily recaps, but, they are premium stories. We hear bits-n-pieces, but it's hard to get good info right now. Here's a story from the Times earlier last week, as well as the P-I, and the News Tribune. There are some good nuggets in there. Otherwise it's pretty quiet, but the hoops team is kind of making it so. It'll pick up soon.

Finally, the Sonics. It sounds pretty dire right now. But what did everyone expect David Stern to say at a press conference with Clay Bennett, the mayor and the governor of Oklahoma? Forget it, we're keeping the team in Seattle?? Whatever. All I now is from hearing from Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics, this thing isn't dead. Far from it. Look for something to come out of the city this week that, potentially, they've found the bridge money of $75 million to make the $300 Key a reality. And then, let's just see what the NBA says to a massive renovation as well as an ownership group approaching $20 BILLION in net worth. I'll say this - if they say no to that group? Then adios, see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya. Good luck in the dust bowl, trying to attract free agents in the least-appealing market in the NBA. And also enjoy watching Kevin Durant grow up and, of course, bail for a bigger market (New York, LA, even DC?). Be careful what you wish for!


Read more ...plus comments

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! Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, March 22, 2008

SWEET!!!!!!!



Time to bomb away with the comments on tonight's absolute thrashing of Notre Lame.

Key points:

1) The defense was great, but it was the REBOUNDING that made us dominant. Very few second chance points tonight. It was the difference.

2) Kyle Weaver played like a pro tonight. I know that Low was great, but Weaver looked like the 1st rounder that he is. Wonderful game by a wonderful player.

3) Rochestie sucked. Which made tonight even more amazing that we are able to dominate (let alone win) without his "A" game.

4) Cowgill might have been our MVP this weekend. He really, really stepped up. When he and Caleb are hitting from the perimeter, we are a really tough out. We DO have a chance to make it to San Antonio folks. It may not be a great one, but we do have a real chance.

So, congrats seniors for earning what it is that you absolutely deserved: The Sweet 16 and a night or more in the National Spotlight. You make us all proud.

Lets put our hands together for this crew...

As well as for the Arkansas Razorbacks..

Go Hogs!!! Read more ...plus comments

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cal RB James Montgomery to Washington....State??

So news breaks this week that touted RB James Montgomery of Cal is leaving Berkeley. Lots of talk about the reasons, but mainly, he's not happy at Cal. And of course, the usual connect-the-dots nature has many Seattle scribes placing Montgomery at UW, the school he originally committed to but ultimately changed his mind. But in the words of Lee Corso....NOT so fast my friend!

Guess who is elbowing their way into the picture?? That's right, Paul Wulff and the WSU Cougars have snuck into this thing. Per the Sacramento Bee, Montgomery says that he's wide open, but right now it's Washington State, Florida and one other SEC school that wasn't mentioned.

But we will go one step further. Brinkhater, he of the Sacramento area, reports an insider conversation he had yesterday evening with a Berkeley know-it-all. Basically, the word is, it's WSU by a large margin, and Florida as a distant 2nd! The one big pull for Florida is that one of Montgomery's best buddies, a player from Cordova High School, is headed for Florida. But otherwise, the odds are strong Montgomery COULD be a Coug!

If this happens, well, first off Montgomery would sit out next year, and would be eligible for the '09 season. He would have two years of eligibility left at that point, so in essence it would be like getting a monster JC transfer, but you've had him practicing with you the prior year. Can you say INSTANT impact?? Team him up with Ivory or even Tardy, and we could be looking at one strong backfield! Stay tuned. We'll have more information as we hear it, but for now, the rumors are strong that Montgomery is a "hard lean" towards Crimson! Read more ...plus comments

Thursday, March 20, 2008

KILL RUDY

So, we knocked the nerves out in the second half and ran rough shot over those poor souls from Winthrop.

Man, what a performance from our front line.

And now our boys make their move toward immortality.

In my mind, next to the 97 football season, the 2002 UCLA game for the Rose Bowl, and our 2003 win over Texas, this is the biggest game for Cougar athletics in the past 40 years.

Its that big.

No need to go over game film with this one. Is Notre Dame good? Yep.

Can they score? Yep.

Are they balanced? Yep.

Can they defend? Kinda.

Is the Big East awesome? Yep.

But, it really is all about this ONE question folks: CAN THEY CROWD US?

And based on what i have seen the answer is NO.

Cougs 65 Irish 59

Enjoy our boys run to the Sweet Sixteen. Read more ...plus comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

2nd Season





Well, here we are Cougar Nation....41-2, sitting as the #1 seed in the West Region of prognostication, and you know what that means?

NOTHING.

Absolutely nothing.

But, where our Cougars are concerned, the second season means everything. And this weekend, in particular, is THE opportunity that these wonderful kids have to enter and live in Cougar lore forever.

Win this weekend, and you become the only Cougar team since the 1941 squad to advance past the second round.

Of course, to do that, we have to beat the mighty Winthrop.

Now, if you all think that Brinkhater has such a little life that he has actually watched any Winthrop film, then you are right. In fact, I have literally spent about 20 hours over the last couple of days breaking down game film..

And here's my braniac take from that effort:

For Winthrop to win tomorrow, they are going to have to play GREAT. And we are going to have to play HORRIBLY.

Basically, Winthrop is an undersized and underskilled Oregon with Bigs that are neither as powerful as any in the PAC-10 nor can they help spread the floor a al Super Marty Leunen...
What they are going to do is send their version of a Taylor Rochestie-Derrick Low half-breed and see whether or not he can get off with Weaver guarding him. Is that gonna happen or fly?
In a word, "NOPE."


The only way that we lose this game is if we start off trying to establish Baynes in the low block. We do that, we run the risk of getting stale, and if they are able to get hot early, we could find ourselves in an 11-4 hole that would be tough to get out of.

But, I just don't see it.

Look for Weaver to come up big on both ends of the floor, and as you all will see, the guy who will make this tournament for us is Taylor Rochestie. Look for him as a returning (to the NCAA) junior to be confident and very loose. He'll get 16 and 5 tomorrow.


The game will start tight as I think that Winthrop is going to throw a match-up zone or some wrinkle at us to try to confuse us a bit. And it may work for all of about 10 minutes.

Cougs win going away in the 2nd half in a virtual redux of last year's win in Sacto v. Oral Roberts:

Cougs 69 Winthtrop 54.

Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, since Saturday will be the time to bite your nails off..
Read more ...plus comments

Bad Omen for Pac-10?

Valpo, coach Romar? Seriously?? VALPO?? Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria. What the hell is going on with UW's hoop program? Are they reverting back to what they really are? Were they just a fluke with Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy and Bobby Jones? After their sweet-16 run in 2006, they now have one post-season appearance, and it's a loss to Valpo.

Yes, UW screwed the proverbial pooch tonight, dropping the opener of the worst post-season tournament of all-time, the C-Blah-I. Oh yeah, Brockman gutted it out for 14 points on a bum ankle, but in a microcosm of a season gone wrong, he also bricked a pair of free throws with 4 seconds left in the 72-71 loss. Unbelievable.

After you stop laughing, ask yourself this - is this something to wring your hands about for tomorrow? Is this a bad sign for the Pac-10 overall? Granted UW was in the CBI for a reason this year. They were one of the worst free throw shooting teams in America (actually Winthrop is right there with them). They finished 16-17 and looked every bit the up-and-down, .500 team. But is this bad for what we actually care about, as in, WSU??

Hard to say. After all, we did need two OT sessions - at home no less - to finally dispose of UW. And UW did beat UCLA, Arizona, ASU and Oregon this year. I'm leaning it's not a big deal....but I can't help but feel queasy on the eve of March Madness!

Meanwhile, Cougfan has a FREE write-up of today's practice. Hooray FREE. In the FREE write-up, they talk about practicing indoors and - gasp - running the option with all the QB's? Wow. This really isn't your grandfather's (read: Doba) WSU offense anymore, is it? Anyway, enjoy. Read more ...plus comments

Monday, March 17, 2008

March Madness - WSU Football Blog Style

Obviously the focus this week is on these guys, and for good reason. A 4-seed in Denver is nothing to sneeze at, as we wind up our best 2-year run ever in terms of NCAA appearances. I won't get too deep into it here, but as we commented yesterday, the message this week is simple - ENJOY this while it lasts. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man, and that applies to this hoops program. We don't know what the future holds, so try to enjoy the gift that is the "precious present". That's easier said than done, and around 4:20 on Thursday many of you will be gnawing the fingernails and gnashing the teeth, but do everything you can to keep things in perspective!

But today isn't just about hoops. Since it's March, we're also talking about FOOTBALL! Unbelievable. Yep, spring ball is set to roll. Here's a link to the official Spring Primer from the school. It's a pretty good read. But we've got a LOT of questions that need to be answered. We'll go through a few areas the rest of the week, so check back as things roll on. Without further adieu, here are the top-3 questions for the offensive skill positions this spring:


1) Who's the QB?

The leader in the clubhouse at this point is Gary Rogers. Great size at 6-7, with an arm so strong Jack Thompson raves that he could throw it through a car wash and have it come out dry on the other side. Thompson also says he's Carson Palmer, but with better feet. Uh, OK. That's kind of a stretch, but hey, it's March. Optimism runs wild this time of year. It's not so much Rogers and his whopping physical size and tools, but my question is how will he fit into this offense? While much is made of the idea that this offense is the spread/read option offense, you don't need Dennis Dixon or Pat White as a runner back there. This is really a modified version of that offense, NOT a true read-option where the QB fakes a handoff 80% of the time with the idea that he can tuck it and run. The challengers are Cole Morgan, Kevin Lopina and the young dark horse, Marshall L (I'll refrain from constantly misspelling the last name, so he'll simply be Marshall or Marshall L going forward).


2) Who Will Be the Running Back(s)?

This is a big question that needs to be addressed. New OC Todd Sturdy said it a few times at the football dinner a few weeks ago, but despite being a no-huddle shotgun offense, we WILL run the football. In fact, the goal is a 50-50 run-pass ratio, so healthy bodies are going to be a premium for the offense. With Dwight Tardy out with the knee injury suffered while celebrating vs. UCLA (I don't care what anyone says, he hurt that knee after scoring the TD vs. the Bruins), Chris Ivory will be the undisputed starter from the opening practice.


Tardy however got the starter nod with the first depth chart released in the Paul Wulff era, so things might be different in the fall. I will say this however - Chris Ivory, at least to me, looks to have more upside that Dwight Tardy. Not to say that I don't like them both, and I think combined, if they are both healthy this fall, that's a heck of a one-two punch. But Ivory appears to me to have more explosion than Tardy, both in the short runs with more punch and he even has an extra gear that could make him pretty special. A couple of other kids in the mix are Marcus Richmond, who's had very little opportunity at this point to do much, and Logwone Mitz, a powerful 6-0, 230-pounder who came in with some recruiting buzz last year but didn't play. Hard to say now, but by the opener this position could be one of real strength on the offense, and we may end up being a true 50-50 run-pass offense after all.


3) How About the WR's?

We all know Brandon Gibson will bless this team with his return next year. After losing Bumpus, Charles Dillon and Jed Collins, all I can say is THANK YOU Brandon. And from the early talk, it sure as heck sounds like Wulff and company are going to do all they can to reward him for his return. Wulff even mentioned, albeit briefly, that you are going to see them get the ball to Gibson in all sorts of creative ways. The leading receiver in the conference from 2007 and a guy who's big plays won us the Apple Cup, Gibson is poised to have a gigantic Senior year. Just hope that he clicks early in the offense and most of all, STAYS HEALTHY this spring! We all know what he can do, so let's just handle him with kid gloves, hmmm?

Jeshua Anderson showed a tremendous upside as a frosh last year, and he's truly got "world class" speed as he will completely miss spring ball, instead working on his track team skills. Anderson is rumored to be a true candidate for the Olympic team, so it's hard to bet fully on his return to football at this point. We'll see how it all shakes out. Benny Ward is back, and while he's experienced, he hasn't exactly been a world-beater. But he'll team with Gibson as a senior starter at one WR spot. At flanker, promising sophomore Daniel Blackledge is back as a raw, yet talented youngster. Outside of those three players, the depth is thin. At least it's thin based on past production, but that doesn't mean they aren't any good. They had some good players ahead of them the last few seasons, so the opportunities haven't been there. The good news is Mike Levenseller has stuck with the new staff, and can concentrate solely on coaching up the WR's. No need to worry about calling plays or bickering with the OC Mike, just coach up these youngsters and let's see how much we can improve this spring! Read more ...plus comments

Sunday, March 16, 2008

And thy Prayers....

Shall be answered.

We got as favorable a first weekend draw that we could have asked for.....

To be sure, Winthrop will be a nightmare and Notre Dame will be a test...

But overall, you have to say that we have a GREAT chance of advancing past the first weekend.

How exciting!

And congrats to Arizona State for getting totally screwed...How anyone can justify Oregon OR Arizona over them is beyond me...

Give us your thoughts Read more ...plus comments

Where are we going?

Well, here's a good opportunity for you all to really vent about little Jo-Jo Lee-Nards-Eees prediction that we are going to be a seventh seed today when the brackets come out.

Are you fricking kidding me?

At this point, everyone who knows ANYTHING about Selection Sunday knows that you really know NOTHING about what is going to happen until those darn things are released today at three.

But, here's Brinkhater's logic (see Military Intelligence):

1) We won't know this in advance, but I think that the key factor in our seeding is the number of teams from the Pac-10 the committee sends to the Big Dance. Honestly, if the number is 7, then I think that you are going to see us slide up to a 4 seed.

2) If the number we send is 6, then I think that you are going to see us land as a 5, playing Illinois State in Omaha. For me, last night's choke by Tennessee was costly. I fear that we will be sitting on the upper half of the bracket with Louisville in the second round and Kansas or Texas in the Sweet 16 if we get there. YUCK.

3) If memory serves, the Pac-10 tends to get their #2 team sent to the East regional. With UCLA number 1 in the West, that leaves the south or the midwest. I am betting midwest, but we should all really hope for the south.

4) All in all, my dream really is to get a five seed and see the University of Notre Lame on the other side sitting in that four spot. We get the Irish, we get a ticket to the Sweet 16. Fingers crossed all, this draw is so important to us.

PS. Little Thompson scored 37 last night in Sacto en route to leading his team to the Division III State Championship.

Tony's going nowhere. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thugged




Just a gutty performance on both sides of the ball for both teams. But man did we get beat up.

Personally, I thought Tony's decision to go zone was WAY too late, but at least he got off his rocker and did what needed to be done to win the game.

One thing is for sure, we aren't going to see Stanford again unless its the Final Four.

Man are they good or what?

And our kids battled. But, like it was posted earlier today, we get KILLED by teams that crowd us. And that will be what we will see in the tournament. If we back cut and cross screen we'll be a real, real tough out.

On the plus side, you saw Harmeling come out a bit tonight and Weaver, despite some TO's, played big as well.

So, sit back and wait for the draw. My call is a #5 seed.

But rest easy Coug Nation, we WILL win our first round game. Its the second one that we really, really need to worry about.

Until Sunday.
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What a Kicker!

Yep, last night was sure a fun game to watch, even if you were like me and chewed your nails off in the final five minutes....



But, what we saw yesterday was the final nail in what I think is the first real change and improvement marker from this year's bunch compared to last year's 26-8 squad: the bombers don't beat us anymore.

I know, I know, you all can point to the slash, dash, crash, and smash that Zona put on us, but I would contend to all of you that last year, Oregon beat us twice (and would've done it thrice if given the opp) in the EXACT same type of game. This year, we beat them in all three. Last year, we lost to Vandy in the NCAA because we couldn't contain and/or withstand the barrage from never-never land. This year we would win that same type of game.

So as we look forward to the NCAA's, this much we know: the small teams ain't gonna beat us. What will beat us, however, are teams that can crowd us. Solid and fierce ball pressure is the key to beating us. And unfortunately, Stanford has the trees on the front line to back that pressure up in spades.

A couple of weeks ago, I told you all that we would lose at home to Stanford and then bounce back and get em in the conference tournament. And part of me still feels like Baynes and Cowgill are going to play well tonight and we are going to get them much in the same way that USC finally got us despite losing two close contests.

At the same time, its also important for you all to know that, at that time, I really thought that Stanford was a major, major pretender. But, after seeing parts of the game last night, as well as last week's tilt against UCLA, I have a different perspective. I honestly think that they might be the best in the conference.

While destined for a 3 seed unless they win the conference tournament, Stanford is really a SOLID #2 seed and, in my book, are a more than legit contender for the Final Four (and if Hill shot like he did last year, I'd put em in there). And, the Lopez kids are really something to behold. Where the killer B is concerned, I honestly haven't seen a better one handed jumper at the college level since, dare I say, Tim Duncan?

So, we REALLY, REALLY have our hands full tonight, folks.

I also wonder about what a win tonight really gets us. On one hand, win tonight, and I think that we grab a #3 seed on Selection Sunday which would obviously position us for an Elite Eight run. Lose tonight and I think we get a 4 if its close, and a 5 if its not.
And in my book, there's NO WAY we're beating UCLA on Saturday.
So, I ask you, is it more important to gain a signature win before the tourney starts, or are we better suited to play one less game and be that much more fresh for next week and that oh-so-precious second game????


I'm torn about how to answer that, I really am (e.g. what do YOU think?)


In terms of the game prediction, well, Weaver is going to have to bring his A+ game, Cowgill will have to play as well as he has in the last two (he's really coming on!), Baynes is going to have to stay out of foul trouble (a tall order) but will be fresh, and Harmeling is going to have to buy a vowel, if not a clue.

IF all of those things happen, we'll win.

But they won't and so we won't.

Brinkhater locks up a 41-2 pre-NCAA record and the number one seed in the West as the Trees cruise 68-57.

We'll be a #5 seed on selection Sunday...And that, dear Cougar nation, ain't a bad thing.

Also, please Remember: there is a REAL chance that including tonight, there are only two more times to watch this fantastic group of kids.

ENJOY IT!!!!

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

NIT


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Number One in the West Region?

Well, as we sit here on the Eve of the Pac-10 tournament (the play-in games don't count), its easy to overlook that little boy Brinkhater is sitting at 39-2 for this soothsayeresque season of men's football and basketball.

Win tomorrow, and I go 40-2 for the year (with both L's the result of lame predictions that we'd beat Arizona in hoops..won't do that again).

Which begs the question, if I go 40-2, even with a loss in the conference semis, do I get the #1 seed in the West? (By the way, I heard that Nuss is currently slated as an 11 seed in the East Region, but don't tell him I said that...)

Okay, back to tomorrow's game and it ain't that hard to break that bad boy down folks (if it was, I couldn't do it).

So, here are the questions:

Do the Ducks break out and kill us with the three ball? Or do they struggle if and/or when we make them shoot over the top all night????

I really don't think that we're going to have a difficult time scoring, so this is going to come down to how well Oregon shoots the rock.

With an NCAA tournament bid on the line, you know that the Ducks are going to come out flying.

And I fully expect them to open a 20-12 or some such lead early. But, by the half that lead will be cut to 34-30. And then, in the second half, we will take control.

Cougs win 69-59 in a second half that will look a lot like this:


But really, it's okay, Quackers. After you get your bubble burst tomorrow, you will start what will be a really, really deep run in the NIT. I fully expect to see Ernie and the Boys in MSG the week before the final four.

Viva Numero 65 mis amigos con plumas! Read more ...plus comments

Cougar Killers

Well, with about a week left until the Madness begins, I thought it might be a good blog topic for us to debate what teams we could beat, and what teams would send us packing back to the Palouse for a long, long, long summer...And, to do it BEFORE the brackets are released.

Consider this a template for you all to NOT use when filling out your own bracket. Brinkhater has been anything but a soothsayer when it comes to Bracketology over the past say, 15 years (but in the 80's, I was MON-AY).


Here's one guy that I would love to see us play against, but would send us home in a hurry:




Yep, Ty Lawson would KILL us much in the same way that he and the Heels ran SC out of the gym in the second half of last year's game in the Sweet 16. But honestly, if we're going to go out (which we will at some point), I hope it's against one of the giants.


But first, the teams that I think we would (or should) beat:


Tennessee (can we contain Lofton, yes!)

Memphis (can we keep them on the perimeter, yes!)

Wisconsin

Duke (this would be a real push, but we'd HAVE to beat ratface)

Georgetown (would've beaten em last year too)

Stanford (we're gonna beat em sometime, aren't we???)

Butler

Notre Dame

UConn

Drake

Purdue

Michigan State

Indiana (we would've gon 35-0 in the Big Ten)
Kansas State
Baylor



Teams that Would Send us Packing

North Carolina

UCLA

Kansas

Arizona

Xavier

Louisville

Vanderbilt (again)

Davidson

West Virginia (I HATE Hugs--Bob that is)

Kentucky (look out)

Texas
Texas A&M

We'll be back tomorrow for our quick prediction about how we will beat the Quack 3 straight times and send them packing to the NIT.


Sorry Quackers, your bubble will be burst in about 36 hours.


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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday Ramblings

Rambling about the Sonics mess was something I was going to lead off with, but you know what? I'm tired of it already. Yesterday both sides fired off letters, first Ballmer and the rest of the A-team signing an April 10th deadline to get this Key Arena deal done or else their $500 MILLION dollar gift disappears. Of course the state responded in their usual, BS way, this time hoping that a non-binding letter proclaiming that they will form a committee to review the idea sometime "next year"?? Uh, no. Not going to fly. Basically the statement is if they wait until next session, there won't be anything to study. As Ballmer has said, the "moons are aligned" for this thing to happen now, but it must be fully in place by 4/10, a week before the board of governors meet to decide the Sonics request to move. Here's a direct link to the letter. These guys are beyond serious here, and there is very little grey/gray area to what their intent really is.

What I found interesting is the Dino Rossi angle. Here's a guy who barely lost to Gregoire and many to this day still claim he should have won. And he came out swinging yesterday after meeting with the A-team, convinced like the rest of the general public that this is such an overwhelmingly amazing option for all citizens of King County that they just can't possibly pass on this.....can they???

I guess either the state is playing major politics here, waiting until the 11th hour to agree and look like heroes? Either that or our elected officials are certified morons that fit the image of bloated, slow-moving government to a T. I'm not fully giving up hope, but this ship sure seems to lack not only a rudder, but it's clear now that the captain has completely frozen in her tracks.

Moving on, and yes, FOOTBALL related stuff here! Most of you know that the school has released the spring depth chart. Cougfan does a great job of running it down here.

The thing that caught my attention the most is what Wulff has been saying all along, and that is we are not good on the defensive line right now. How bad is it? Stud LB Andy Mattingly is actually moving to defensive end (gasp!). Mattingly had a fantastic run once he took over as a starter 5 games into the season, and finished the year with a remarkable 91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss including 8 sacks, an INT, 4 pass-breakups, 4 forced fumbles and a partridge in a pear tree. I think Mattingly was sighted selling popcorn in the stands when the offense had the ball. And he's moving to defensive end? I can't say I'm all that thrilled with the idea. Mattingly has NFL linebacker size at a legit 6-4, 241 lbs. He's already rated by NFLDraftScout.com as the #11 linebacker eligible for the 2010 NFL draft, and they have him as a "rising" player.

I guess Wulff and Sears and Ball are going to do what's best for the defense, but I just hate the idea of having him not playing in space. Then again, Mattingly doesn't appear to have the top-shelf speed burst in him that the great outside linebackers have. He's listed as having a 4.74 40-time, and that's clearly too slow for the NFL. But 4.7 is sure as hell quick enough as a defensive end.

Another thing that shows you how bad the d-line is? Andy Roof, who's now back in the program, is shifting to d-tackle. Roof is generally regarded as the strongest guy on the team, and he's got a nasty edge to him, no doubt, so maybe this move is OK. Just seems unusual given he'll be a senior and there seems to be an opening at left guard, but instead they are projected to go with Andrew Roxas.

One more thing here - I think spending too much time on the pre-spring depth chart this year is a little foolish. We know that by fall, when things get serious, it's going to look a lot different. We also know that other than Broussard and Levy, we have a brand-spanking-new coaching staff. They've barely got to know this new group of players, and this will be their first hands-on experience coaching them. We don't know how everyone is going to fit into Wulff's new system. So I think the thing to pay attention to here isn't so much what the depth chart looks like now, but instead to focus on what it looks like coming OUT of spring and in particular how it looks towards the end of fall camp. I think right now there are just too many unknowns to get bent out of shape about anything!

Finally, the Quacks are on the hoops radar for Thursday. Woody commented yesterday that Lunardi is doing some back-peddling on our Cougar seed, now firmly as a 7 in Raleigh, starting at a 2nd-round match-up with the Dukies. So maybe it is more important than we thought to go out and win a couple of Pac-10 tourney games after all? That appears to be our best hope of improving that seed. The thing is, I know I've heard Lunardi say before that when he does this thing, he gives it thought about not only where teams are now, but also he tries to project where teams will be by the time the brackets are announced. So maybe he's got us pegged for a 7 no matter what? I don't know, but we'll see how it all plays out. Personally I think the 3rd place team in what is regarded as the best conference in America should be better than a 7, but I don't spend any time studying how the hell this all breaks out, and that's basically Lunardi's full-time job!

Enjoy your Tuesday. Oh yeah, if you haven't already, e-mail the governor and Frank Chopp. Give a quick call at 800-562-6000. Tell them to do the right thing and save the Sonics. It's right there in front of their big, fat, bloated faces. Read more ...plus comments

Saturday, March 08, 2008

SEVEN

Cheer up kiddo. You guys sure tried hard. You might want to change those shorts though. I guess when you lose to "little brother" SEVEN straight times, it's got to be tough.

In all seriousness, this one felt more grinder than thriller. Thrilling, sure, a thrill to win, beat your rival for the 7th straight time, and most of all, thrilled to salt away the #3 Pac-10 seed. But a grinder in the way this thing played out. If you are scoring at home, that's now 7 straight in hoops, 3 out of the last 4 in football. WOW.

I finally thought the missed free throws, something we seem to be doing a lot of lately, was going to nail us. Not only Cowgill's miss with 13 seconds left in a tie game, but to go just 19-29 for the game isn't real great. It's borderline-bad actually. We got absolutely destroyed on the glass too. Not that it's all that surprising, but 42-23? That's TERRIBLE.

To stay positive, you have to like Cowgill's final home game. I can't remember the last time I saw him actually look OK shooting the ball from 17-feet? But he sure hit a few. And that lay-in with 13 seconds left to time the game was huge. That was more or less a scramble for the ball at that point and obviously could have gone the other way, and suddenly you are fouling down 2. Instead we're tied. Ok, he missed the FT (and borderline lucky to draw IRON he missed so badly!) but still, a heady play by the senior.

Low was efficient, 6-for-13 including a couple of 3's. One of those was super-deep, easily from NBA land. He played pretty well with the ball too. I'm not sure what his turnover count was, but I don't remember him making too many errant passes or really forcing the action. A nice way to go out.

I can't believe Weaver's final line of 20 points. Maybe it was because he made 9 FT's, but he seemed to scuffle from the field. It didn't "feel" like a guy who scored 20 points? I don't know, hard to explain I guess.

ALL that said, I think the timing of our little "who's our big-shot Bob?" poll was pretty good. Did you notice who hit those 3's in the first OT, both when we were DOWN 3 points? They couldn't have been better looks, and they couldn't have come at a better time. Just gigantic shots to keep them in a game that felt like it was going to slip away so many times. Rochestie is the guy you want to take those shots, again not just because of his ability to hit the 3 or draw the foul, but his desire at crunch time to be THE GUY to take those shots! On a team that is totally unselfish, you have to at least have one guy that doesn't look pass-first when the heat is on. Rochestie is that guy.

Well, on to the Pac-10 tourney. I truly hope this win will cement a Big Dance 6-seed, worst-case, regardless of what happens next week. We get the 6-seed Oregon Ducks in next Thursday at 6 PM. Let's just rest up and get ready to go next week. Read more ...plus comments

Friday, March 07, 2008

Surgery

Well, in a few short hours, both Sir Alex Brinkhater (formely known as, that is) and the wonderful world of the Washington Puppies will both have something in common:





Yep, we're both going under the knife.


In Brinkhater's case, my little visit to the OR will represent what they call at my age a "minor procedure." For the Huskies, its called "the 7th death."


Granted, Dear Puppy Chow Kingdome, it could be one of those days. Appleby could play better than the restaurant chain for whom he is named, Dentmon could play above his head as he does about every 31 games, and Morris and Brockman could be their normal studly selves (Morris is the X factor tomorrow, by the way).


But at this point, UW beating us is like us beating UCLA (in basketball). The match-ups just are NOT favorable.

So, I want you all to really ENJOY this last home game of our seniors. With a win tomorrow, we lock up at least a 6th seed in the tourney--which puts us in a solid position to advance to the Sweet 16.


But, even more than that, enjoy watching the BEST, most classy group of WSU student-athletes that we've ever seen go out in style against our fat, dumb, older brother, the U-Dubya.


WSU 65 UW 56 (thank you Taylor for hitting a bunch of FTs late).


Oh yeah, and even if I don't run my record to 39-2 as expected, I'll be so high on valium, you won't be able to convince me otherwise.


Peace out.
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Sonics New Mission...Impossible?

It's now out there for full consumption - there is new local money that is burning the hole in the pocket of Steve Ballmer, among other big players, to not only buy the Sonics but give $150 million dollars towards a massive Key Arena renovation. You've seen all the particulars so I'll spare you the further details as to why this thing makes so much sense. But the quick, official breakdown is $150 million from the new ownership group, $75 million from the city that is all but guaranteed at this point, but the sticking point is the last $75 million to come from the stadium tax that's already in place. The plan has been to retire the stadium taxes for the M's by 2012, as it was doing so well it was set to finish 4 years ahead of the original 2016 date. This group is simply asking the state to not retire the tax early, in 2012, but instead let it run it's course as it was originally designed. They would take $75 million of it for the Key, but anything left over in that time period would go to other causes, however the state saw fit.

Seems like a home run. But the resistance looks like this thing is going to be a long-shot to come through.

So far we've had house speaker Frank Chopp cowering in the corner, so unsure of what to say or do that he's actually deferred his comments to his mouthpiece named Jeff Morris from Anacortes. Morris threw cold water on the idea yesterday, saying that it's far too late in the session and that he doesn't see much support for something being introduced so late in the process. Meanwhile, the governor's spokesperson says hey, great. But we're not going to commit to anything for this session and it's unlikely a special session will be called after next week.

Finally, the ultimate fly in the ointment, crap-with-feet-Bennett. The word is he's still partying from Tuesday night's election victory in OKC and is dying to bring "his" Sonics "home". Last night, Bennett's office wouldn't comment, and the NBA flatly said "Mr. Bennett has stated the team is not for sale." Maybe it's just part of the dance, and for now he's got to say it. What, did you expect he'd just bend over and pull up his skirt? Of course not.

So, add it all up? There's a lot of opposition here. Maybe it is too much to overcome in such a short time. Or maybe, just maybe, this power group is so used to getting what they want that they don't know how to take no for an answer?

I mean think about the players in this - Steve Ballmer, the friggin' CEO OF MICROSOFT, the most successful software company in the world. Ballmer's net worth is $15 BILLION. To put that in proper context, he is only about $1 billion behind Paul Allen. That number would easily place Ballmer as the #2 richest owner in pro sports behind only Allen. Even further, everyone brags about Bennett's wealth and his group has billions. Yet Ballmer's net worth is FIVE TIMES that of Bennett's entire ownership clan.

And don't forget the political power of Slade Gorton. He's been talking to the NBA since December about this possibility. He's been in the middle of so many successful things in Seattle and oh yeah, he's going to help defend the city in court in June for the Sonics lawsuit. Remember, Gorton is responsible for the M's, saving them TWICE - once by suing MLB and getting the M's in '77, and then again helping the sale to Nintendo of America and also playing peacemaker between the M's and the state over Safeco Field in '95 - and of course the Seahawks, who actually moved to Anaheim before he got involved with Paul Allen, and ultimately Qwest Field!

I guess the real question for the state to answer is, well, OK, this thing is being unveiled late in the session. It's not ideal because of the timing. But what is the alternative? What if they play politics and throw out resistance-type quotes, and hem and haw about there's not enough time? Well, if that happens and they let this thing go, then the NBA board of governors has a choice to make next month. They have the OKC situation sorted out with their latest upgrade to Ford Center. Then they look at Seattle and see a state legislature opposed to a silver-platter style offer for the arena? That this state can't even bring themselves to consider letting a stadium tax run it's course?? There wouldn't be any public vote on this thing. The usual anti-stadium suspects have already weighed in, saying they are in favor of this plan. They have one of the top-30 richest human beings on the planet with 6.5 billion people as a potential owner of the team, and is a major force in the pacific NW. And the state is thinking of saying no??

If they say no, it's simple - the NBA board will vote to allow the relocation if this thing isn't approved and Seattle has nothing on the table. This deal evaporates in the wind and will never come back. The Sonics court case will play out, and the city will ultimately win. But that will only delay the inevitable. Oh, there will be other, lesser plans floated by the state next legislative session, but it won't matter. It won't come close to what is on the table. As every second goes by, the Sonics are closer to OKC. And then, after the 2009 - 2010 season, the team is gone. The city not only loses a big part of it's culture, but is then stuck with an outdated arena that has debt still unpaid from the last time the renovation happened. And, yes, they lose their major tenant for at least 41 nights from November - April, the dreariest time of the year to exist in Seattle.

We'll see how it plays out, but this next week is going to be a potential roller-coaster. If you've ever wondered if you should contact the powers-that-be, this is the time. Read more ...plus comments

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."

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Monday, March 03, 2008

Who is Our Big-Shot Bob?



He's infuriated NBA fans forever and made Will Smith generally hate him for all the times NBA broadcasts would compare him to the Fresh Prince. But say this about Big-Shot Bob, the guy not only wanted the ball in crunch time, he made the shots in huge moments, time and again! So he's a punk that body-checked Steve Nash into the scorers table last year, and yeah, he deserves to get kicked in the onions every now and then (this is maybe the only time I'll ever thank you Karl Malone for anything):




But I digress Coug fans. Let's spin it back our way a moment. Who, exactly, is our "Big Shot Bob"? Who is the guy, at crunch time, that you want taking that season-altering shot?

It's not such an easy answer, is it? I thought we'd put up a poll and you could pick for yourself, then comment here as to who you believe is THE MAN when the sh*t hits the Cougar fan.

Just a few other items today, then back to it.

  1. Is Marcus Trufant holding the Seahawks hostage? There was some weird comments from both the Hawks brass and Trufant about their general disagreement over a contract. Tim Ruskell was unusually open and talkative about the situation, and what got me is how candid he was about how they view him. They believe Trufant is an excellent do-everything corner, but, they DO NOT view him as a true shut-down guy. Well, is he? I think we all know that he had an outstanding season on the cusp of free agency. There are probably a lot of reasons for it, such as Jimmy Mora showing up to coach the secondary, moving him back to his natural corner position, staying healthy, etc, etc, etc. But can anyone really call him an elite, shutdown type that teams gameplan against? I LOVE Trufant, always have and always will. But I wonder if he's overplaying his own value here. Look, NFL'ers gotta get theirs while they can, and I'm sure his own teammates don't begrudge him for this. At the end of the day it's all about the money. But is Trufant's $9+ million cap number as the franchise player a huge problem? Think about it: We just saw Josh Brown take the Lambs cash to kick indoors, because the Hawks wouldn't/couldn't come up with the extra $500k per year. We're seeing backups/special team guys like LB Kevin Bentley and Nike Koutouvides land elsewhere. We're probably going to lose a young, up-and-coming WR in DJ Hackett due to finances. And we're also seeing outside free agents that could help the club next year in TE Alge Crumpler go somewhere other than Seattle, largely based on the cash involved. And Ruskell himself said it, that because of the cap situation, if the Hawks do add a player, well, they are probably going to have to do a "one-for-one" deal where a player on the roster is cut. I hope, for Tru's sake and the greater good of the franchise, that they can get a long-term deal with Marcus worked out and help free up some cash to add to this team. Because I don't know what you think, but I believe they aren't that far away from really making a Super Bowl push next year. But without cap space that could be saved by Tru taking the long-term offer, it's hard to get those final pieces.

  2. Still hanging in there on the top-25 polls. It would be nice to cap off the season in the rankings, but of course these rankings aren't exactly all that important to the seeding committee, is it? The cool thing is the updated Bracketology that has us now as a 6-seed in the South, avoiding that dreaded 2nd-round matchup with Duke. But guess who Lunardi has on the other side of the bracket, if WSU could get by 11th-seeded Illinois State?? How about 3-seed Wisconsin?? OH THE IRONY.



  3. How about those 58-0 Ferris Saxons?? Yes, my Saxons. But that's not the reason I bring them up. Some are touting them as the greatest 4A WA high school hoops team of all-time. Hard to argue with 58 straight wins and a pair of state titles, something nobody above B-level hoops has done in Washington (something called Brewster High won 82 straight from 74-77). And, sorry Rooster, they passed Reardon on the all-time streak list with their 58th win in a row. All five of their starters have legit D-1 NCAA talent as well. And a couple have a WSU tint to them: Jared Karstetter, the tournament MVP, headed for WSU on a football scholie (and maybe a hoops walk-on), and DeAngelo Casto, a 6-8 beast at PF who set a tourney record in blocked shots and has WSU high on his list. Casto had a dunk in the 4th quarter of the title game that was so forceful, HE MOVED THE BASKET FROM IT'S SUPPORT. Hmm, maybe another Ivory Clark?? Anyway, if they aren't the best ever in the state, they are certainly the best to hail from the GSL. Hats off to the scarlet-n-silver for a remarkable run through the highest levels of competition!

Enjoy your week!

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

BIG GAME?

Happy Saturday, Cougar Nation!

Sorry for the brief post with no pictures, but I have real life deadlines to meet today.

Anyhow, BELOW you will find SediHawk's review of last night's Coug football dinner.

IT IS A great read.

As for today, well, a win would put us on track for what I believe will be a #3 seed in the tourney.

With a loss, we head toward the dreaded land of a 5 seed--unless we make a run in the Pac-10 tournament.

Honestly, this is the hardest game of the season for me to predict. As we get nearer to the finish line, the voice of Brinkhater the fan gets much louder than Brinkhater the quasi-analyst.

And with that in mind, Brinkhater the fan smells a really great victory for us today.

But, Brinkhater the quasi-analyst smells things a bit differently (I use both nostrils). He sees the rabid fans at Maples, he sees a Cardinal team that will have "The Goods" this time around (he didn't play last game, remember), and he sees a game where Mr. Hill does just enough to make Kyle Weaver struggle.

In essence, I ask you all to think back to our games with USC last year. If you remember, we nipped them in LA by 1 or two points in the first game. In the second game, we secured 2nd place in the conference in a wild, double OT thriller that served as Baynes' coming out party.

But after that second game, you just knew that if we played them again, that they would get us and get us good.

And I think the same type of thing will begin to play out today.

Cardinal win 65-63 and set themselves up to get beat by us pretty good (by 10 points) in the second round of the Pac-10 tourney in two weeks.

"Enjoy" again... Read more ...plus comments

WSU Football Dinner Recap

An enjoyable evening last night to be had by all in attendance (sorry we missed you Kaddy, hope you are feeling better). Just a quick 10-point rundown about what I think we all took from it:

  1. President Floyd made an appearance and gave a brief, yet inspiring speech about how honored he is to be the President. He talked about his commitment and dedication to the athletic programs, and of course that went over well. But he spoke with great passion about WSU and you feel like he's one of us. HE also spoke very well of Doba, and how much respect he has for him and the way the situation was handled at the end of the year (um, ok?). It was also Floyd's birthday, as he's a leap-year baby, so the whole crowd sang happy B-day to him at the end. He didn't expect that, and you could tell he was really touched by the gesture. He sat at the next table over from us and you could see in his eyes that it meant something.

  2. Wulff was introduced and he got things off to a great start by immediately leading the 300+ in attendance in the fight song. Great idea and it got people fired up. Just seeing him in the crimson polo shirt, leading the crowd, you really get the connection he has with the fans. I also have to say that he appeared not only happy about where he is, but he also spoke with deep passion about the program and the way we are going to do things in the future. It also struck me that he seemed quite relaxed and it wasn't what I was expecting. To be honest I've heard that he isn't the best "podium" presence, but at least on this night, he did great! He threw in a few one-liners, including one about Steve Broussard needing a stool when all the coaches were introduced one-by-one (easy on the short guys coach!). Wulff said all the right things, and preached character and commitment, over and over again. He ran through some video of the recruits and I won't really go there, as Hooty did a fabulous job of that after signing day. I like the looks of a few of these guys, especially Wolfgramm and Karstetter. The general theme is we got a lot of high-quality kids with upside, but there doesn't appear to be a ton of immediate help for next season. Wulff said several times that there were guys he really, really wants to redshirt next year, but he may not have a choice but to play them given the situation. Wulff also said we "aren't very good" on the defensive line right now, so I have a feeling basically every d-line recruit signed for this class will have a chance to play!

  3. Chris Ball was great. He told some funny stories, and he had the "F-UP" of the night when he said there's nothing like a football Saturday at Denny Stadium (Alabama's home field!). That drew a lot of laughs and cat-calls. But Ball also explained the nature of the business and how you are constantly on the move. What's funny is Ball and his 14-year old son are living with Doba in his house right now! And with Doba's fat settlement, they are eating extremely well. IN fact, Doba cooks for them and has dinner on the table when they get home! Ball said his son called him and said when he got home, coach Doba had lobster on the table. Pretty funny. Ball also had everyone do the "Cougar Chop" and he said he really missed that about MARTIN Stadium.

  4. Rooster and I actually spoke with Chris Ball for a few moments. He's really excited about coming back to Pullman. I think he's going to be a tremendous hire and will really be an upgrade to our secondary. He's been around the block and coached some of the best DB's in school history, so the guy knows how to get the best out of these kids. We talked about the blog, and while he hadn't seen it he said he would check it out. He also asked if we were advertising on the site, and I said not yet, and he said "well, you should!" He also said "when I left, we were Pac-10 champions, and now that I'm back we're going to do everything we can to get back there." He left a very strong impression on Rooster and I, no doubt.

  5. OC/QB coach Todd Sturdy spoke about the offense. Get ready for everything you've heard, as in the no-huddle, shotgun offense. But he also said that they will do everything they can to run the football, and in his ideal scenario we WILL be a 50/50 run to pass ratio offense. But he also said we'll do a ton of motion and shifting and really the whole approach is to attack the opposing defense. Sturdy didn't mention this, but Wulf threw in a little tidbit about trying a bunch of different things to get Brandon Gibson the ball as much as possible next year. They were showing film on one of the running back recruits who caught the ball a ton as well, and Wulff said that they will try all sorts of things with Gibson. Interesting. Maybe that's part of why Gibson is staying, if Wulff and company have promised him that they are really going to open up the offense and get him involved in ways he hasn't been before?

  6. The "Cowboy" of the staff, Sears, spoke about the defense. He didn't hide anything, in that we will be a 4-3 defense, but make no mistake, we WILL be an 8-man front. Our entire defensive scheme will be about stopping the run, putting teams in predictable 2nd and 3rd and long situations. He didn't talk about blitzing a whole lot, but what it probably means is we'll see a lot of 4-6 Chicago Bear defensive looks, where the strong safety is brought right up to the line of scrimmage and is really an extra linebacker, with a free safety playing center field and the corners in man coverage out on the island. I like the aggressive approach, instead of sitting back in the cover-2 playing soft and let teams run and eat us alive in the short passing game! Sears also spoke at length about turnovers, and that we will do everything possible to force takeaways. It's going to be a major, major focal point of the defense, and it reminded me a lot of our 01-03 defenses, a couple of times where we led the nation in takeaways and/or INT'S. Finally, Sears preached technique and fundamentals, over and over again. He said we will not sacrifice those things, no matter what, and we will be very sound in that part of the game. He said missed tackles and mistakes will not be for a lack of fundamentals.

  7. Sterk did an updated presentation on the stadium. The exciting thing is that the next phase has gone out for bid, and they are in major fund-raising mode for phase III right now. He seemed really positive about the way things were going, but no question we have a lot of ground to cover. He didn't talk about UW's desire for state money - at least nothing I'll repeat here - but things seem to be moving forward. The updated photo gallery at WSUCougars.com has everything you'd want to see, so there wasn't a whole lot new to the presentation. Stadium Way is looking really good, and it's going to be something when it's complete. The scoreboard should also be in place by the opener this fall. Sterk also talked about the sports programs in general, in that we had 20-something student athletes get 4.0's last semester. We're also sitting a cumulative 3.0 GPA across all sports programs, and I believe he said we are second only to Stanford in that category. Always important to remember they are students too!

  8. Gary Rogers, according to Wulff, will go into spring ball as the first guy in line for the starting QB job. But Wulff made no guarantees about anything, and they don't know how it will shake out, but Rogers gets first crack as the starter. I heard Jack Thompson talking on the radio the other night about Rogers, and he was just going on and on about what a great athlete and leader he is, how he has a great arm and surprisingly quick feet, and that he should be the guy next fall. But we'll see. You get the sense that it's wide open and the best man will win the job.

  9. The uniforms were a big topic, in fact I think that was the first question asked of Wulff when he was done speaking. He said we are going to become a Nike school, fully, after next season, so there will be new uniforms. He did say that he didn't know what they will look like and it sounds pretty early in the process. He asked opinions on the helmets, and for some reason the crimson helmets got a decent response compared to the others. But we'll see. I think Wulff did say that he didn't think there would be anything drastically different, but they would be new. Let's hope we don't go the way of Oregon or Oregon State's jog-bra uni's! I know marketing is important, but you can do uni's in a clean way, can't you? Knowing what we know of Wulff, I'd at least assume our look will be traditional.

  10. There will be a new kicker on campus next year! Wulff couldn't name him, because he's a JC that will be walking on and it would be against the rules to name him right now. But Wulff did go out of his way to say that the kid has a really strong leg, and will get kickoffs into the end zone! Hopefully the days of the 35-yard squib are gone? One other thing on special teams that I missed before, is that Broussard is going to be working with the special teams. If you remember, Broussard was a hell of a kick returner, both at WSU and in the NFL, so hopefully he's got some ideas on how to improve upon some of the worst special teams in school history.
That's about it. I'm sure there are some things I missed, and Rooster, if you drop by go ahead and comment where I might have overlooked something. But overall, a real feel-good evening. The enthusiasm is great for the football program right now and there is a real sense of positive change going on. It starts with the President and trickles on down the line. I'll easily say that the energy in the room felt light years different compared to last year's dinner! Not a shot at Doba, but overall people are simply excited about what the future will bring.


KJR's Ian Furness was once again the perfect MC for the event. I think as long as we ever hold functions on the west side, Ian needs to be front and center. Even President Floyd went out of his way to thank him for what he does for WSU!


I think as fans, we need to be positive, but also patient. Wulff and these coaches have a vision, and they are out there doing what they can to make it happen. Wulff said they are already working hard as can be for recruiting, and even have full offers out right now, so I don't think many staffs are going to out-work us next year. But let's give this thing some time. Things aren't going to change overnight, and there are going to be some bumps in the road, but I couldn't be happier to have Paul Wulff as our coach! Read more ...plus comments