Nanook of the Wasatch: Braving Cougar away games, so you don't have to.
If any of you follow me on twitter (@longballj) and I can’t really recommend that you do, you probably know that Amieable and I were in attendance for last Thursday’s basketball debacle against the Utes. For some rage and humiliation tinted thoughts on our Men’s hoops team, as well as other musings on such topics as the basketball experience offered by the Huntsman arena, our new defensive coordinator and the abundance of national headline making heroism on the very road we live on… read on!
So while most of you were safe at home following the little weeble wobble men on a game tracker, or the University of Utah’s live Web stream of Thursday’s game, Amieable and I were in Section M, row 18, seats 5 and 6 of the Huntsman Center watching the Cougs hit rock bottom live and in 3D. The Cougs’ overtime loss to Utah may be the lowest low in the Bone era; an era that is fast becoming known for its epic, shocking and inexplicable “lows”. In fact lets go ahead and try and rank the low moments that have been brought to us by Bone ball:
- Losing to Utah
- Losing to Riverside (or perhaps the whole Anaheim tournament)
- Getting run out of Madison Square Garden by Wichita State (lost by over 30)
- Losing by 26 at Oregon in 2011 (We had beaten this bad Oregon team by 14 in Pullman)
- Losing by 25 at Arizona State in 2010 (We had just beaten Arizona)
- Losing to a BAD Arizona State team in 2011.
- Going 2-10 in our final 12 games of 2010 (this included wrapping up the season by losing 3 straight to the Oregon schools)
- 3/5 of the starting lineup getting busted for pot in 2011
Feel free to rearrange or add to this list any way you see fit. One thing that has stood out to me is how every time we are about to get excited about Bone’s teams, they ALWAYS find a way to not just disappoint us, but to completely crush our spirits. Getting all the way to the final 4 of the NIT only to be humiliated on national TV, shocking Arizona on their home floor only to turn around and get blown out by ASU, dropping both games in LA to start the 2011 conference slate after a terrific non-conference run, following a terrific win over UW with a baffling beat down at the hands of Oregon, etc, etc, etc. If the pattern holds we will beat the Dawgs this week then half the team will get arrested with a bunch of hookers and coke during the post game celebration at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. I can’t wait.
So what was it like being there? Well, there was a sparse crowd in the Huntsman Center on Thursday and their reactions to the win were very interesting. As a whole the crowd did not really sense they could win until near the very end of regulation. With under a minute to go they got into the game and stayed vocal throughout the overtime period. There were some very vocal fans behind us who seemed shocked every time one of the Utah players did anything positive and even they were content to yell at rather than for their team for most of the night. Clearly this was a fan base that had seen some horrendous basketball. When the buzzer sounded at the end of overtime there was genuine disbelief and as Amieable and I left the arena the Utah fans seemed too stunned to even make any remarks to us at all. I say this because the Utes are not a fan base known for their sporting good behavior and I was expecting us to be on the receiving end of some comments. None came and we made it to our car completely un-molested.
Huntsman Arena: Its like Beasley and the Tacoma Dome had a baby.
While the Cougar’s performance and the sparse crowd (the Utah students were still on break) did not impress us at all, the facility did and we are happy to report that the Huntsman Center is a very nice addition to the Pac-12. First of all it looks cool, with this big crazy Star Trek Enterprise style disk hanging over the arena supporting the lights and center scoreboard. The center scoreboard had a nice big screen I could have watched the entire game on and of course the arena is adorned with the many banners from Utah's rich basketball history. Suprisingly though, the Rick Majerus era was outdone by what appears to be a prolific women's gymnastics program. In many ways the arena resembles Beasley, especially the concourse, with the major difference being that Huntsman is round while Beasley is octagonal. While Amieable and I splurged a bit for good seats it did seem as though there isn’t a bad seat in the house and certainly no obstructed views. I also have to give props to the announcer who does a really good job at the whole “homer announcer” shtick of wildly inflecting his voice for every score by the home team, while briefly and nearly inaudibly mumbling any score by the away team. We do have to point out that the cheerleaders were a big disappointment, but the African dance (I am using this term VERY loosely) themed halftime routine by a local high school cheer squad was one for the ages, including half the squad performing on stilts. For real. All in all, while the arena is definitely a relic of the 70’s, much like ours, it still gets high marks.
Hopefully those of you who watched Thursdays game did not make the same mistake we did and tune in for Saturday’s game at Colorado. For those that did, we feel ya… hugs. To compound our misery we followed up Saturdays loss by watching Tony Bennet’s Virginia Cavaliers grab a last second win over Miami to continue one of the best starts at Virginia since Ralph Sampson was running around in the short shorts. The part that was a real kick in the beans was that they won it with a last second defensive stand. Awww, the memories. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the kind of win that we used to savor on the Palouse… a win that was the result of a complete effort on both ends of the court that baffled and frustrated the opponent. Perhaps most importantly, it was a conference win achieved on a night when the team did not have its best game. I miss the days when we played the game well enough that even on our worst nights nobody blew us out and more often than not we still found a way to win. Currently if we have an off night, we can’t even beat some of the worst teams in the country.
|#4 North Carolina||1-0||--||1.000||14-2||.875||W8|
|North Carolina State||1-0||--||1.000||12-4||.750||W6|
Don't look at these standings, it won't make you feel any better.
How about we talk about something that is not depressing, like our football team! When was the last time we could say that with a straight face? This weekend it was confirmed that the Cougs have hired Mike Breske as their new defensive coordinator. There is some handwringing going on in the Cougar nation over how long it took to make this much-anticipated hire and also over the hiring of a name not familiar to most fans. While it appears Breske did not start out at the top of Mike Leach’s wish list and it very well may be that some other candidates said “no thanks” to the opportunity to join Leach on the Palouse, I still think there is a lot to be excited about in this hire. For one, this wasn’t a nepotistic hire of one of Leach’s good ‘ol buddies, which is notable because Leach has largely built his staff with guys from his past. This is the result of Leach going out and finding a guy that he was impressed with. What impressed coach Leach? I would venture a guess that the Pirate wants an aggressive, risk taking, ball hawking defense and that is exactly what Breske has been running in his nearly 30 years of coaching. He is also known for defenses that shut down the passing game and in the Pac-12, that is going to be paramount. By now we have probably all heard of coach Leach’s new found interest in the defensive side of the ball and the time he spent studying up on the Ryan’s and their approach to defense. Whatever he learned from that experience I guarantee you played a big part in this hire. I feel pretty confident that while we aren’t throwing a big name and a lot of money around in our D-coordinator hiring, we may have landed the right guy anyway. You think guys like Kaufusi, Sua, Mayes, Monroe and Mizell like the sound of blitz crazy scheme? And hell, if it doesn’t work out, at least we won’t be on the hook for over 600 large like some people we know.
Finally, I have to comment on the incredible spate of opportunistic heroism that has taken place recently just up the road from our humble abode here in Logan, UT. First of all back in September a group of bystanders moved a burning car off a trapped motorcyclist. Not only did this happen just a few hundred yards up the road from our house, but I actually drove up to this scene as it was happening with a co-worker. Our faith in humanity was briefly restored by the actions of all these on-lookers who, thanks to the construction worker, kinda resembled the Village People. Then recently as our faith in humanity again began to waver thanks to Casey Anthony, Bashar al-Assad and the Connell-North Franklin boys basketball team, yet another dramatic act of heroism just up the same road from our house. A car full of kids ended up in the Logan river and tragedy was averted when passers by leapt from their own vehicles into the icy water to rescue the children. Wow, way to go Utah where apparently there is a Hero on every corner. I guess if we are going to fit in here its time to brush up on our first aid.
Finally, stay tuned to the recruiting news this week as Coach Leach had a number of big visits this weekend. Some exciting guys on that list and hopefully there will be some new commits very soon.
Well that's all for now, but it is Apple Cup basketball week so good luck to Christian Caple on the first big test of his objectivity and GO COUGS!
My vote remains the same: LSU, national champion.
Any team can reach up and have one good game, but try playing a tough schedule week in and week out. Alabama has played too many cupcakes in their fluffy OOC and their cream-puff conference (outside of LSU--a home loss--and Arkansas).
If you want respect Tide, you got play the big boys. Flukes happen.
I was just over at the FB Pirates page. I saw you met my good friend Tom. What a fool. Every post he has to be the authority. Anyhow I hardly post anymore because of him. You should have seen his response when someone posted the helmet schedule.
Thanks for your remote reports. Tell the truth, you had inside information on the certainty of Utah joining the Pac-12, so poor Amieable, who had her eye on Scam Newton U., was forced to go with her second choice-Utah State.
By the way, how far is it (miles and timewise) to get from Logan to Salt Lake City? I've only been through the area once and have never been to Logan.
One thing I can say about Utah is the people there actually care about one another. My friend lives in Utah and even though he is gay and russian othrodox, his Mormon neighbors helped rebuild his barn after it burnt down, no questions asked. Likewise, when a flood destroyed some homes, he took some families into his home for a few weeks until they were able to find a new place.
Let's not forget that loss to ASU in the 10-11 season is when ASU was missing 3 starters, and had a total of 6 or 7 guys available to play. Funny thing is, it is beginning to look like that might happen again this year and ASU just bounced their top scorer and suspended 2 more. Talk about dysfunction! Our team actually pales in comparison.
3.5 more years of Bone ball, or at least 2.5 more years. What I find interesting that defenders of Bone ball are saying the same things as many PW defenders, or what pretty much everyone sales 3 or 4 years in. "Hey, Coach X hasn't got to utilize all schollies yet, because Coach X still has some of Coach Y's players that don't fit Coach X's system." Man, do I get tired of this. You really have to give a guy like Dennis Erickson credit. He may ultimately tank a program or leave quickly for greener pastures, but look at his record when he takes one over:
1st yr at UI in 1982 (9-4)
1st yr at Wyoming (6-6)
2nd yr at WSU (9-3)
1st yr @ Miami (11-1), (3rd yr was 12-0 Natl Champs)
2nd yr @ OSU (11-1) (1st yr was 7-5)
1st yr @ ASU (10-3)
Can we just forfeit the rest of the basketball season? It would save me a lot of time and frustration from turning in to watch this team even though I know it will be painful to watch. I guess the new Pac-12 TV contract not being here yet saves us a little bit. Moos has constantly said he will not fire a coach mid season unless the coach has lost the team or there is disciplinary issues. I think one more pot bust might do the trick. Come on Pullman PD, we know you have it in you.
I would guess the LB coach must be Volero too since Monroe says he is from Miami. It does seem that there is one coaching vacancy still or one mystery coach. I would guess it has to be a defensive coach though. I wonder when the official announcement is going to be? Hopefully today during Moos' radio show.
If you are going to join the good citizens of Logan in the Hero game I have one question. Are you going to dress up like a sailor or shave the beard and grow a porno stash to go with your cop uniform? I am very interested to see our Defensive schemes this upcoming year. Again I am with Sutra on screaming for the 3-4. We have the linebackers for this and the pressure that could be brought to bear can help our secondary by shortening the time they have to cover.
Wow! Fantastic read filled with Heroes as well as my favorite group of kin, the Zeros.
I'll have more "thoughts" (ouch) on Breske, but I am excited about the potential stability he may bring to the program over the coming years.
Also, Cougfan re-tweeted last night that Daryl Monroe was excited about his position coach being from Miami. To me, this means that Volero (can we just call him Volare?) must be the LB coach (gosh I'm smart). The question is, is Breske going to coach the secondary or is there another hire forthcoming?
Interesting times in Coug land..
I know it's not good to explain your own jokes, but... doesn't anyone see the irony of the argument that the same Tide fans had against Utah, BSU, etc.?
@Stiffmiester Ughh, I got into it with him Stiff, and immediately refused to even debate with him. Does he really think Bill Moos would have agreed to a TV deal that had us playing our home games at Husky Stadium and our school colors changed?
What a fool, not even worth my time!
@WallaCougI agree, the timing of our move is definitely "suspicious".
Logan is about 80 miles north of Salt Lake.
@jsfranklin.wsu this is true. The people I work with are almost, to a person, the most dedicated, earnest and helpful people I have ever been around. They make terrible drinking buddies, but pretty great neighbors and co-workers.
@ptowncoug3012 Well most of us actually do care about the long term health of the program, so I'd be more interested in a builder than a mercinary for hire like erickson. That said, in Leach we got both a quick winner and a long term builder. He won immediately in Lubbock and his last 3 years were his best.
@Selahcoug You would think that a defensive coordinator would want to bring on at least one guy of his own picking?
As far as hoops, i think we just need to swallow that this is a down year and hope the infusion of new blood next year will start to turn things around. I think we now know what the Sr. class, Lodwick, Capers, Enquist and Aiden can do and it ain't much, so lets shelve them and start giving minutes to the guys who can help us down the road. Just play Simon for chrissakes. What's the worst that can happen, a loss to Utah?
@Stiffmiester dude, i am the Indian, obviously!
@Sutra I think with 2 wide receiver coaches there have to be some double duties being done somewhere. I guess Leach is his own OC, though, right?
A lot of the players tweets seemed pretty pumped after the meeting last night.
So I don't do the facebook, but after you brought up this Tom guys comments about the helmet schedule I had my wife get on there and show me his comments. I can't seem to find the error he is talking about. The only thing I can see is the helmet graphic cut off a g in Washington because of cell size. Am I missing something? I explained in the comments why I went with different helmets for teams. WSU's are home and away and other teams have alternates which I just tried to slip them all in games I thought they may actually use them. If I did make a mistake, which I am perfectly capable of doing, what is it? Or is this guy just too damn stupid to read it?
@LucasNurmi Yes he has that high of an opinion of himself! My only posts now have to do with bringing the Tech faithful over to the Coug Nation and this blog. Huck Tom! he is the anti Coug.
Hey, I'm not saying everybody should go out and hire DE, but you have to be impressed on how he does things. Although if you would ask me if I would have I have taken DE over PW, the answer would be yes. I would have done a deal with the devil in this instance over being the laughingstock of the Pac-10/12. But hey, hindsight is 20/20
The only concern about the DC hire is what you impliedly pointed out LB. Essentially, the staff that is built is loyal or at least connected to Leach other than Breske. Breske really has no loyalty or connection to Leach. My view of Leach is that he is the ultimate exec. He has a view that he wants things to go and everybody better fall in line.
What happens if our D completely implodes (and Im really not sure what constitutes an implosion if Leach would be ok with a Baylor-UW type shootout) and our secondary coach starts butting heads with our DC. Whose side is Leach going to be on?
@Longball Yeah that too obvious, that's why I tried the unconventional approach on your choices. Besides chicks dig a porno stash as much as the longball.
@ptowncoug3012 Ha, yeah DE is just what the Dr. ordered for a team facing academic probation and a rash of arrests.
@Longball@ptowncoug3012@Selahcoug But that was the same position that Leach was in when he was hired as an offensive coordinator at OSU. And from the sound of it, Leach is going to take the same approach with Breske that Stoops took with Leach (i.e. give him a lot of freedom).
I see where issues could arise but bringing in a coordinator with no ties to other coaches has definitely worked before.
@Stiffmiester Can I just be an Indian with a porno stash?
Sadly, this isn't my new stuff and with PW now gone, I do not envision any new material to blast him. I kid, I kid. My post was tongue in cheek. It is easy to nitpick anything a coach does or doesn't do. Although, I still think it is strange for someone like PW with very little HC experience to run the show like a Bowden or Paterno. My view is that you have to earn that right to sit in the office and bark orders, otherwise when things go wrong everyone thinks you don't know what you are doing because you ain't getting your hands dirty.
Hey, I like CPW, I think he is a man of great character, much better than I by a longshot, but I simply didn't like his plan when he chose to execute it.