Archive for July, 2005

Lawson response

July 29, 2005

Lawson wrote:
“Reading this just makes me so pumped…you know I’m a Swogger guy, just like I was a Kegel guy, just like I was a Leaf guy…I LOVE those tall QBs in this offense…Love em, love em, love em…It will be interesting to see how this whole thing unfolds…saw Bruce on the Campus Cam couple of nights ago, you can tell that the kids think we’re gonna be really good….I am excited…”

You said it! How can you not be excited and, better yet, confident after reading that? With Swogger’s arm and some experience under his belt, this could be a wonderful season for him. With all those weapons too? Check out this Bumpus punt return vs. the Quackers:

Lawson wrote:
Couldn’t agree more about the A’s…Dead in the water in May and then KABAM…really incredible to see those kids step up like they have…..makes you really wonder what the hell the M’s have been doing for the last few years, although man has Richie Rich panned out….Am going to be sad to see it happen on one hand, but I sure hope to see Moyer go to a contender..he’s back to form and will be really fun to see ole Mister Crafty down the stretch…As you know, he has been my favoriate Mariner for long time for the same reasons as why I loved Gary Payton so much–I love players with fundamentals…remember how Gary would use his left to bank in those 7 foot bank/hook shots from the old school…and i love watching moyer paint the corners with those change ups…I love it….and the M’s should deal him…period….

Agree on M’s – sell anyone who isn’t named Sexson/Beltre/Felix. Notice I left Ichiro’s name off that list?? I seriously would live if they traded him elsewhere (the Cubs have wanted him since early last year). How about Ichiro for Kerry Wood?

Lawson wrote:

Sonics: Hard to know what to think…I think Locke’s right about the interchangable pieces, but they had better get something for Vlade, cuz the one year tender will yield nothing in return because the salary will be too low…My sense is that Indiana may still be a destination for him…..Toward that end, Eddie House is basically done in Sacramento now that they traded for Hart to back up Bibby…House can fill it, and man is he quick…I think he’d be GREAT in Seattle backing up Ridnour and the Sac Bee reported Seattle as one of three interested teams (Mia, Cle)….Wilkins: I think he can be GREAT for the Supes given their system and current stars (Allen/Lewis)…but they should NOT overpay for him, and if he wants to go to the A-T-L fine…but, man, why go to pergatory and kill your value so early….I mean, NO ONE, is gonna take numbers seriously when they’re coming from scrub-central….we’ll see how it all goes down, but we need to find front court depth….the one year tender for Vlade spells DOOM!

Good timing on the Vladi take. Locke has a big write-up of why Vlade is so valuable. The bottom line is the team WINS and does well whenever he’s on the floor! There is a plus-minus calculator at a website called where you can see how players do when they are on the floor together, and everyone is in a positive mode when Vladi is in the game. Agree on the tender, too, they’d never get decent value at 3.2 million. Who knows, maybe they just don’t want the guy around? He is a bit of a flake, and I heard from one person who works here that says the guy is a complete pot head in every sense of the word (but isn’t 50% of the NBA like that?).

Also, Locke has been talking about this a lot, but he said the Sonics have quietly started to become the “moneyball” team of the NBA. They rely heavily on statistical analysis and crunch numbers in a ton of different ways, and they use that to set the value on players throughout the league. It catches a lot of agents by surprise when they are negotiating and they show them a presentation of where their client ranks. Locke said more than once, he’s heard some comments from agents that just come away shaking their heads, knowing that the Sonics have their thumb on their players value and they don’t want that information getting out! It’s interesting. That’s why you don’t see them overspending on a Jerome James or AD, they just won’t do it because in their analysis, they aren’t close to being worth it. They are staying within their business model, and as we know last year, it worked.

Also, one other thing – I’m big on the Fantastic 4 and all that on the Supes, but I’m also concerned about the bench. I don’t mean to downplay the bench too much, I mean there are times where it’s great to be able to go 8 deep or so on a nightly basis, but it is a tad overrated. That said, we saw with a team like the Suns what it’s like when you have to play a grinding style against San Antonio and you only really can go 6 deep, maybe 7 deep, but that’s it. It just wears your butt out over a long series, and it is important the Sonics do the right thing in filling out the bench the rest of the way. Vlade would be huge to be the 6th man again and on the floor in the 4th quarter with Nick at the 5, and having Fortson thug it up nightly is important too. The backup point is really interesting because it can mean so much to a team to have confidence in that guy! What if Luke blows out his ankle? As much as I love what he’s shown this last year, what if he takes a step back this year? I guess anything is possible. The question is, will they pay enough to get quality behind him?

Swogger’s confidence rising; Wilkens entertaining other offers??

July 28, 2005

First, premium story on Swogger. Sounds like he is ready to go!

THE PAIN shot through his right foot with every step — slowly robbing him of his ability to push off, run, throw. Games, practice, getting to class. Few knew how badly it hurt just to walk. With a torn ligament in the opposite knee, Josh Swogger was a proverbial poster boy: He didn’t have a good leg to stand on. Spring was a time for final healing. This summer, back at full strength, he’s found his stride again. His confidence is soaring — both in himself and a revved up Cougar offense.

It’s good to be Josh Swogger these days. Happily married since December. Dubbed by one national pre-season magazine as the strongest arm in the Pac-10. His surgically repaired foot, the one that abruptly ended his 2004 season after six games, strong and pain free. The knee’s feeling good, too.Seniors on defense say the Cougar offensive looks as powerful as the 2002 club that won the Pac-10 title.”My confidence is higher than it’s ever been,” says Swogger. “I’m 100 percent right now. This summer, I’ve done everything — conditioning, passing skelly and what-not.”The stress fracture in the foot likely occurred in last season’s opener at New Mexico. By the time the Stanford game ended in Week 6, the break in Swogger’s navicular bone was 3 1/2 millimeters wide, a veritable abyss. Over the course of the season, he’d also sustained a partially separated shoulder, minor concussion and rotator cuff injury.The guy was a walking infirmary.”It was just one thing after another,” said the 6-5, 254-pound junior from Ohio. “It was kind of tough..but you expect to get banged up as a quarterback.”Talk about an understatement. If there’s any decency among the footballs gods, you’ve got to believe Swogger’s fulfilled his career allotment for injuries.

SURGERY IN OCTOBER WAS followed by rehab that also kept him out of most spring drills. “It was difficult seeing the team go through everything without me because I feel I’m one of the leaders,” he said.The offensive line made it all a little easier. Before he was injured, they’d come over to Swogger’s for dinner one night a week, another night they might all go out for pizza. After Swogger’s surgery, the linemen kept coming.”It was amazing. The offensive line was always over, seeing how I was doing,” Swogger said. “And in the spring when I was on crutches, Nick Mihlhauser, Bobby Byrd, Charles Harris, Robbie Hyslop, all those guys came over and we’d hang out. That’s when you really know this is a special place.”At the end of the spring session, players have four weeks off before voluntary summer workouts begin with strength coach Rob Oviatt. Swogger opted to start immediately. Lifting, running, lifting, running.The foot’s flexibility is back and the soreness is a distant memory. “I’ve taken off. I feel I’m better than I was when we started off last year. I actually go home and my wife puts me to work around the house.”

SWOGGER ENTERS FALL CAMP as the starter. Though generally thought to hold a slight edge over sophomore Alex Brink, who threw for 1,305 yards last season, head coach Bill Doba has said the job is Swogger’s job to lose.The tight competition between the two QBs doesn’t strain the relationship. Swogger says they get along well and constantly talk on the field about what they’re seeing with each play.Behind Swogger and Brink, the stable is brimming. Second-year freshman Gary Rogers is No. 3 on the depth chart, with Cole Morgan and newcomer Arkelon Hall rounding out the staff. “They’re coming along really well,” said Swogger.

BESIDES THE SEEMINGLY endless hours of conditioning this offseason, Swogger has logged many more with receiver Jason Hill poring over game film. Given how they clicked on the field last season — 9 of Hill’s record 12 TD catches were delivered by Swogger — it’s probably no surprise to learn they’ve spent 10 hours a week together this summer breaking down defenses and seeing where the O can step up.As for his receiving corps, they appear to be nothing less than fully stocked with the likes of Hill, Chris Jordan, Michael Bumpus, Marty Martin, Trandon Harvey, Greg Prator and uber tight ends Troy Bienemann and Cody Boyd.The tight ends, he says, will be critical to the Cougars’ rebound in 2005.”A lot of people say those guys complement the offense but I think those guys are many times the center of the offense because of their size and speed,” said Swogger. “Troy runs some of the best routes on the team and Cody is just so big and so fast — if you throw the ball up to Cody, he’s going to come down with it.”The stats bear him out. A year ago, when Bienemann and Boyd were healthy, the Cougars moved the ball. When they went down, the offense ground to a halt.Like any good quarterback, Swogger gushes about his offensive line, but he also beams at the prospect of handing off to a guy who will help open up the passing game. Running back Jerome Harrison came on in spectacular fashion the second half of 2004 and followed it up with a stellar spring.”I think he’s the best we’ve had here in I don’t know how many years, maybe since Steve Broussard,” he said. Swogger was only 6 when “Bruiser” last donned the crimson and gray, but he knows what he’s talking about. His work in the film room has included some analysis of his position coach, Timm Rosenbach, when he shared the same backfield with Broussard.”I’ve watched some tape of him (Rosenbach) when he was a junior,” said Swogger. “I’ve had a lot of conversations with him about his sophomore and junior years. His sophomore year, he led the nation in interceptions with 24, then his junior year he led the nation in completion percentage. A total turnaround. I try to pick his brain all the time.”Swogger says Rosenbach, a first round draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals in 1990, is a great quarterbacks coach. “He cares about Washington State, and he cares about you as a person, and as a player.”

SWOGGER DOESN’T GO SO far as to envision an offensive onslaught in 2005 akin to the one Rosenbach orchestrated in 1988, but he and others do see shades of the high-scoring 2002 Cougars in this year’s club.In ’02, receivers Jerome Riley, Mike Bush and Devard Darling alone accounted for 160 catches, 24 TDS, and 2,438 yards as Washington State averaged 33.2 points a game. Last season, the Cougs averaged 25 points. Swogger said he’s not the only one seeing similarities between that Cougar offense and this year’s version.”It seems like we’re right on the brink of being really, really explosive,” said Swogger. “I was talking with (Will) Derting the other day and he was saying the offense hasn’t been like this in a long time, thinking back to Devard, Bush and Riley. And Troy Bienemann (15 catches in that ’02 campaign) is three years better now.””There were times last year when we felt we were one block away, one play way,” he said. “And it seems like everything just came together this spring . . . we were really clicking on all cylinders from the first snap to the last.””(The media) is saying our schedule is somewhat favorable and the first three games might allow some of our young guys to get accustomed to college football. That will only make us stronger. Because it’s a mental war every time you step on the field.”For his part, Swogger says he’s ready to lead.”I feel like it’s my time,” he said. “That’s just how I feel. I’m just trying to do as much as I can to put this team over the top. I think we’re going to be a great team.”

The cannon-arm has its pros and cons, so Swogger has focused this summer on something that every great Cougar quarterback has confronted and mastered: Touch. “It’s not necessary to throw the ball as hard as I can. There’s a time to do that and a time not to do that.”

He’s only started a handful of games, but Swogger already sits in rarefied Cougar company. His four TD passes against Idaho last season made him one of only eight quarterbacks in WSU history to throw four or more TDs in a single game. The others are Jason Gesser, Ryan Leaf, Mark Rypien, Drew Bledsoe, Timm Rosenbach, Jack Thompson and Mike Pattinson.
Since he spends so much staring the Cougar D in the face, Swogger is well qualified to assess the stop corps and says Cougfans are in store for some fun. “Our linebackers are so fast,” said Swogger. “Derting, Scott Davis and Steve Dildine, those guys are really fast and they cover really well.” He’s also has been impressed by safeties Eric Frampton, Michael Willis and Husain Abdullah, as well as the defensive line.

Swogger says one thing fans don’t see: Coaches like Rosenbach and George Yarno are intense, but they leave it on the field. “You’ll hear some fans yelling at coach Yarno because he yells at his offensive linemen. Off the field, the coaches are 110 percent different. Coach Yarno is an intense guy on the field but for example, I went with the offensive linemen over to his house and you will never meet a nicer guy. The coaches have the players over for dinner and during down time and they do care about you — (fans) don’t see that on the field. But the players know.”
Swogger said Bienemann has “put on about 5-7 pounds” and has added some speed, while Hill’s tweaked hamstring is shaping up nicely and Jordan is looking better and better. “We know what they can do,” said Swogger of Hill and Jordan. “They don’t need to prove anything in the summer. They just need to get their bodies ready for when it matters.”

Swogger and Mihlhauser have become fast friends. “I started getting really close with Mihlhauser this year,” said Swogger. “There’s a special bond that goes on between a center and a quarterback, and also the offensive line and a quarterback.”

Finally, it looks like Portland has chosen to go with Juan Dixon at a tune of 3 years, $8 million, eating up some of the space Portland was going to use for Wilkens. The thought last night was that because of Dixon saying no to the Sonics, that Wilkens would be back. Well, not so. Today, Locke is reporting that Wilkens turned down $16 million from Portland and might have another team on the hook for even more money.

It could be the Hawks, should they lose out on Joe Johnson. Plus, given the “Wilkens bloodline” down there, I guess it makes some sense? Since the Suns traded Jake Voskuhl today to free up cap room to match Joe Johnson, the Hawks may move on to another option, Wilkens.

Check out the best Sonics source ever created:

Again, Locke went on a diatribe about how truly interchangable an NBA bench really is. He used the Pistons, Spurs and Lakers, the last 6 NBA champs, as perfect examples that it’s all about the core, and NBA personnel regard the bench as very much fluid around the league. Go back and look at the benches for some of those teams, and realize how much they changed over the years….yet the core’s of those teams remained largely unchanged. That said, Locke went on to say that Vladi is in fact very important to what the Sonics did last year, and further, under Weiss, what they PLAN on doing next year. Locke theorizes that you’ll see many situations next year where Collison will indeed slide to the 5, Vladi will man the 4-spot, and the Sonics will be “virtually unguardable” with Vladi, Rashard, Ray and Luke around the perimeter. It won’t be all the time, but the minutes and shots will be there.

That said, Vladi may be on the move?

The fact that they could be entertaining sign-and-trade options is interesting. I’ve seen Jamal Magloire mentioned, as well as the big kids from the Baby Bulls, Chandler or Curry. Once this moratorium is lifted FINALLY, next week should be big.

It’s not the heat, it’s the HUMIDITY!

July 26, 2005

I’m writing today from lovely Pearl, Mississippi of all places. 98 degrees yesterday, and according to the news, with the humidity, it “felt like” 106! Just a wonderful part of the country…uh-huh. It’s a miserable state, one that hates all things that are non-confederate loving people, and needless to say, this NW kid is a fish out of water! Oh well, I fly home tonight, can’t wait to touch down in Sea-tac.

First of all, HOW FRIGGIN’ hot are the A’s??? Will they lose another game? They are amazing, and quite frankly, very fun to watch. They are very easy to root for. Maybe it’s because the M’s are finished already, but I’m absolutely amazed at their run. 13 of their last 15, they are finally hitting, their pitching is on fire, and they are CLUTCH. It’s just amazing to think how buried they were to start the season, now they lead the wild-card chase with a 16-5 July?? Wow.

On the Sonics, Locke is reporting that Damien Wilkins is about to get a prominent offer sheet from the Blazers. Maybe too much for the Sonics to match. I know it sucks, but again, taking the raw emotion out of it, is he really worth over-paying for? What is Damien Wilkins anyway? Is he a small forward? Well we’ve got that position covered, maybe two-fold if Vladi comes back in some capacity. Plus they love Gelabale, the french kid they drafted who they’ll have playing overseas that is an unbelievable athlete. Is Wilkins a 2-guard? Well, that’s hard to say too, as he’s not much of a shooter either, shooting 27% from 3. He’s just a solid bench guy, but the if Nate and company overpay for him, I think you have to let him go, unless you absolutely believe he’s going to be a huge cog in the engine next year. Plus, the Sonics are serious about bringing Flip back, AND they also are pursuing Juan Dixon who visited this weekend. They would add both Flip and Dixon, and letting Wilkins walk, as well as bringing back Vladi, might be part of the plan.

Nothing new on the Gooden rumors, although there was already a report that had him dealt to the Clippers for Marco Jaric and Chris Wilcox. The rumor was denied, but Jaric is visiting the Cavs right now. Since the Cavs lost out on the euro point guard to the Pacers (Jasicieviscus?) they might ramp up their interest big-time to get Jaric, and again, Gooden is their luxury they can move. Getting a starting point guard is probably a bigger priority now instead of a backup PF like Evans, so I’d bet the Sonics are falling in their pursuit. Besides, I read up a little more and found some Cavs fans online who HATE Gooden, saying he’s a selfish, stat-guy only and would never be a good center. So maybe it’s a matter of the stat sheet looking better than reality?? Who knows.

Here’s the story from Locke:

Reggie Evans for Drew Gooden?

July 22, 2005

Locke brought this up last night, and apparently it has legs. Cleveland Plain Dealer has a big story on how Drew Gooden trade rumors are getting hot, and there are rumors that he’s being shopped hard to three Western conference teams. Locke says the Sonics are one of those teams, along with Dallas and one other team. The deal on the Sonics end would be Reggie Evans for Gooden in a sign-and-trade. There are also talks that the deal could be expanded to include Luke Jackson, a player the Sonics really liked coming out last year, and the Sonics would send something else back, not sure who or what at this point.

The Cavs are supposedly interested in moving Gooden for a couple of reasons, 1) the signing of Donyell Marshall will make Gooden a guy to come off the bench, and they don’t believe he’s a very good bench guy and needs to start, and 2) Gooden is a free-agent after this year and they are going to want as much cap room as possible when LeBron hits the market in 2 years. While they value Gooden, they have basically made a pre-emptive strike against his departure by signing Marshall. That said, they don’t want to see Gooden just walk free next summer, so this is the time to move him. The Cavs have identified their “fantastic 4” to be LeBron, Hughes, Big Z and Marshall.

Locke in particular LOVES the idea of Gooden on the Sonics! He says that they could play him at center in the west, in the new up-tempo attack that Weiss will install, and Gooden would be perfect out here, teaming with Collison to run the floor. Gooden is a better athlete than Collison and can make up for giving away a couple of inches to 7-footers on a nightly basis.

Even a bigger reason is that based on the buzz from the summer leagues, there is a big belief that there is no way Robert Swift is ready to contribute anything more than 10 minutes and 6 fouls every night. He has looked extremely raw and however good he looked going one-on-one with Sikma in practice, it’s a whole different deal now that he’s actually playing. Meanwhile Petro has been a disaster. He’s athletic, sure, but he has ZERO clue in what to do and is years from contributing. The Sonics have re-evaluated their approach and instead of over-spending to get a backup point guard, they are shifting their focus to center.

Their ideal plan would be to do the Evans-for-Gooden deal, make Gooden the starter, and re-sign Vitaly to be the backup and keep Swifty as your 12th man.

Now, why do I also like Gooden? I looked at the numbers this morning, and, compared to Evans? There is no comparision.

Both guys were starting power forwards last year, obviously not guys that were the offensive focus, so in a similar fashion, they had to fight for scraps offensively.

That said, Gooden averaged 14.4 ppg, 9.2 RPG, 1.6 apg, 81% from the line and almost 1 steal and 1 block in 30 minutes per game. At 6-10, 245, he has passable size and good athleticism to at least get away with playing center out here. Gooden averaged those numbers in almost 30 minutes per game.

Something else of interest in regards to Gooden? He’s has some real good success against the West. Check it out:

Vs. Houston last year, averaged 20 and 9. Against Dallas he averaged 11 and 11, and against Denver and Kenyon Martin, he averaged 11 and 13!

The more impressive numbers to think about? Against the two highest seeds in the west, it’s eye-popping. Against the Spurs and Tim Duncan and co, he went for 19 and 10.5. But against the Suns and Amare?? Get this – in two games, he averaged 13.5 and 20 REBOUNDS! Are you kidding me?? TWENTY rebounds, on average, against Phoenix?? He has 21 rebounds in one game, 19 in the other against them. These are Shawn-Kemp-ish numbers.

Evans averaged 4.9 ppg and 9.3 rpg, 0.7 apg, 53% from the line, .73 steals and .19 blocks in 24 minutes per game.

The “bottom line” in all this? It’s very clear now that the Sonics biggest hole is the 5-hole. They have no center on their roster that is ready to do anything, and Nick Collison is not a center. The Sonics have no reason to bring back Evans, a guy who can only play one position, and with Danny Fortson still under contract, he’s going to be the backup to Nick. Drew Gooden could be the perfect fit. Reggie’s a high-energy guy, a guy you love to have in those long east coast trips when you have no legs in that 4th game in 5 nights, but besides rebounding, he’s not worth it when you have the chance to fill a major hole elsewhere.

Now, based on his season last year, why would Cleveland do such a deal? Well, a few reasons. They need exactly what Reggie does. They have enough low-post defense and scoring, now with the zasty Big Z, and the power-forward combo of Anderson Varejao, who they really love, and now Donyell Marshall. They wouldn’t ever start Reggie, he would just do in Cleveland what he did in Seattle, but he’d do it off the bench. They need his rebound-and-energy approach. Gooden is, bascially, a luxury that Cleveland can afford to move.

I say do this deal as quickly as the words “yes” can come out of your mouth! GO GET DREW GOODEN! I love the look of this group:

PG – Luke – Cleaves OR veteran pg? Watson? Dooling?
SG – Ray – Flip
SF – Rashard – Vladi (back on the one-year tender) – Wilkins
PF – Nick – Fortson – Petro
C – Gooden – Potapenko – Swift

Daniels REALLY that big a loss?; UW wins AGAIN?

July 20, 2005

I must have missed the part where Antonio Daniels was the key reason this team won the division last year?

Let’s look at the facts:

1) AD averaged 11 points and 4 assists last year, per game, in 27 minutes. Nice #’s, really, from a backup point guard. But break it down a little further –

  • A) He shot 27% from 3, his worst percentage since he broke into the league. Basically he gets his points going to the hole or shooting from 15 feet, provided he can break his man down or benefit from being wide open off Ray’s or Rashard’s constant double-teams.
  • B) He was, on average, 3 of 8 from the field on a nightly basis, equating to 43%. Not bad, but consider that it was the worst field-goal % of his career.
  • C) His 4-1 assist-to-turnover ratio was very strong, probably the best stat about him and a luxury coming off the bench.

Now, all that said, ask yourself this – do you really believe he wanted to return here to be the backup to Luke Ridnour as Luke’s game is on the rise? Luke averaged 31 minutes a game last year, and as a player coming into his 3rd year, he must continue to learn and build and bottom line, be THE MAN from here on out. Would Daniels really want to come back here to play, barring injury, what will likely be 10-15 minutes a night? Because that’s what the situation was on the table.

Now, compare AD to Luke. Luke is:
1) a better free-throw shooter than AD, at 88% last year, compared to 81% for AD.
2) Their assist-to-turnover ratio is nearly the same, AD averaged 4 assists and 1 TO a game to Luke’s 5.9 and 1.8, so that’s nearly a wash (slight lean to AD, but VERRRYYY slight).
3) Luke shot 37% from 3 point land, a little better than 1-for-3. Pretty respectable, and certainly better than AD’s 27%.
4) For the concern about Luke’s durability, well, Luke played in all 82 games last year….starting all 82. Yes, he was hobbled by various ailments, but who isn’t over the course of 82 games plus playoffs? Everyone is beat up, but it really didn’t have a negative impact on his game (see 20 points in the Game 4 win over the Spurs minus Rashard and Vladi, WOW).

The opportunity was NOT here for AD. Not next year, not the year after that, and probably not the year after that.

I’m not trying to slam AD on his way out of town, and I am really grateful he played his butt off this year. As much as I loved what we saw out of Luke this year, there were many moments that he played like a kid learning the game in his 2nd year, and it was nice to have AD out there to keep things under control.

But we need to get off the idea that he was the glue to this team. They said the same thing about Bones last summer, oh woe is me, whatever will we do without Bones?? Things worked out just fine. There are plenty of PG’s out there, both on the free-agent market and in possible sign-and-trade scenarios, that could produce very similar to what AD gave us for one year.

I’ll just flat-out say it from a completely different angle – in pure NBA standards, Antonio Daniels is a BUST. Don’t forget, this guy was the #4 overall pick from Bowling Green back in 1997 by the Grizz. The #4 pick overall, and the Wiz will now be his 5th team already!!?! If he was so great, why did all the other NBA organizations, including the best of all, San Antonio, miss out? Or are the Wiz just that much smarter than every other organization? The word is the Sonics had a 3 year deal on the table, for a very fair $3 – $5 million per year, based on performance. Very fair money for 10-15 minutes a night.

To give him 5 years at $30 million is just as bad as rewarding Big Snacks for 3 years of mediocrity with 1 good week against the man with one leg! Unbelievable. Bravo, Wally World, you guys made the right decision once you cut through the sentimental garbage.

Now the bad news – Another big win for UW in the recruiting wars. A 4-star, all-state CA running back, James Montgomery, verballed to Ty and co. Here’s a quick bio:

As a junior, he led the Sacramento area in rushing with 1,915 yards on 215 carries with 35 touchdowns. He also saw spot-duty at as a nickel back where he recorded 10 tackles. He ran for 380 yards and 9 TDs in a game against Vacaville. Montgomery was named the Sierra Valley Conference Offensive MVP and was a first team all-city selection by The Sacramento Bee, first team Sac-Joaquin all-section pick, 2005 Scholar-Athlete by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
Montgomery reports a 2.6 GPA/19 ACT–June retest/March 12 SAT scores unreported.

I’ll now fully admit it – WE’RE OFFICIALLY GETTING OUR ASSES HANDED TO US by Willingham! Come on, Dobes, let’s get some verbals ourselves.

The weird thing? I talked to Mead just yesterday about this, and the UW faithful are just as shocked as everyone else. They were blown away that they got a commitment from Elisara, especially, not just from the WSU angle, but from all the other schools too. The fact he picked a 1-10 team is just amazing. He also went on to say that Willingham is on par with Lambo as being a flat-out TERRIBLE recruiter! But, the flip side is that they got lucky on a few assistants and that has been huge. One guy, Lapano, was just a huge get for them and has been making huge inroads on top guys, and the work he’s put in on recruiting is remarkable.

The best news though is that Steve Shilling, the all-everything o-lineman from Bellevue, is probably headed to USC. Pete Carroll was up here two weeks ago, took him to dinner, worked him out, the whole 9. Turns out Shilling’s brother went to USC and he’s been down there several times, so the odds are very strong he’ll go down there. Mead went as far as to say we’ll probably see an early verbal to USC by Shilling, so at least UW won’t keep him in-state!

I also found out that there are 4 absolutely top, vital guys in the state that UW has targeted from the first day Willingham took the job. Shilling, Elisara, Taylor Mays of O’Dea and the biggest fish of all, Jake Locker, the tremendous QB from Ferndale. The UW camp now thinks that they will get 3 of those 4, losing out on only Shilling.

I know, I know, I’ll calm down. Even in the worst of times, UW has always out-recruited us in regards to “stars” and that will never, ever change. Not unless we can get that stadium renovation off the ground, which sounds pretty bleak depending on who you ask. We always have been able to turn over stones to find some real gems, so I’m not going to worry too much here. Then again, USC gets serious rock stars to commit, and they seem to work out just fine, so there might be a real good reason to fear what is going on over there!

Finally, caught a few minutes with Troy Bienemann on FSN last night. He said that “our goal is to win the Pac-10 and go to the Rose Bowl, period.” And the host goes “realistically, what are your goals?” And he repeated it, Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl. Why not have the ultimate goal!? Hell, that should be your goal every year, whether you are Stanford or the Beavs or Cougs or whoever. Anyway, a good thing was that Bienemann reported that EVERY single player on scholarship, plus several walk-ons, have been in Pullman all summer long, working out 6 days a week, doing drills, you name it. That stuff that Mkristo and Bumpus have been writing about summer drills, that stuff is all true.

Even MORE card tricks?

July 18, 2005

As Ray Allen said in his interview with the Go-To-Guy, we might be seeing those long flights across the country interrupted with “Have you guys seen this one?…..a slight of hand……nothing up my sleeve……and here’s your card!”

Actually I think Weiss is a decent hire. I’m not wild about it, I don’t hate it, it’s just a solid hire. Given that this is Ray Allen’s team, might as well have a guy that he likes.

That said, there are some real good things about Weiss, namely he’s been an assistant here for-EVER, even serving under George if you can believe it. A lot of others have written and said that Weiss was really a great gameday coach, especially with offensive ideas, and was a huge reason why Nate wanted him to go down to Portland with him.

Overall, I think when you look at the core today, you realize that the team is about 4 players – Ray, Rashard, Luke, and then Nick. I wouldn’t even count the Swift-n-Petro combo yet, they are too young and untested. You take that core, that 4/5ths of the starting lineup, and you compliment it. As Weiss said in an interview today, you look back at San Antonio the last 3-4 years, and they’ve had 4 constants – Duncan, Ginobli, Parker and Bowen. Those have been the core guys, and everyone else is there to feed off the “big 4”. This will be the same thing here, and like it or not, the next 3 years, it’s all about Ray, Rashard, Luke and Nick.

Why do I talk about the core? Because you want that core to be HAPPY, you want them to lead, and best of all, you want them to buy in to what the head man is doing! From EVERY account from these guys, no doubt about it, Weiss IS the choice of the Fantastic 4, so you go with it.

I also like this for one big reason – Had a new coach with new assistants walked in the door, it might have taken too long to mesh. This is a very delicate time for this team, and even wasting 1/2 to 1 full season trying to get familiar with each other would have been too much. The window of opportunity in the NBA is something that you MUST take advantage of, as we saw in the mid-90’s with the Sonics, when the window is open you go for it. When that window gets slammed shut, it’s a long climb back. With Weiss, things will be more of the same in regards to what happens on the floor and the attitude will be “let’s build off the huge steps forward we took last year”, not “I have to go out of my way to earn minutes from the new guy, and if that means more one-on-one offense, putting up better numbers, so be it. My family’s gotta eat Dawg!”

Hopefully it’ll be better off the court as well. As Ray alluded to, in the first post-McMillan interview, that Nate isn’t exactly sunshine and lollipops off the floor. Does that really matter? To some guys, sure. Not that they want to be best buddies with the head coach, but they certainly want a connection. I know in business, every manager I’ve had, the ones that are professional 100% of the time aren’t exactly comfortable to be around, and I’ve always responded better to a manager that actually shows they care about my family, or whatever. The focus doesn’t always have to be on work 100% of the time, and things still can be done at an extremely high level.

That said, let’s hope Weiss doesn’t transform into Westphal or Bo-Mel, with the country-club atmosphere and all. Let’s hope Weiss can show some backbone and put some guys in their places when it’s needed. Otherwise you’ll read lots of quotes come training camp of how “much more relaxed” everything is, how there is a lot less pressure, etc. When you see that, it’s “uh-oh, better start the pool of when he gets fired. Will it be when they are 12-18 after 30 games?? Or will it be at the all-star break?”

Some bad news for the Cougs – Backup o-lineman Eddie Vickers is withdrawing from school, which is a bummer, to go to a JC and get his grades up. The plan is for him to come back in January of ’06, but anything can happen. Once he leaves school, he’s a recruitable athlete again. A LOT of high hopes for this young OL prospect, and you better believe he’ll get some attention this fall.

In recruiting, things are somewhat quiet. The Cougs have offered, but the thought was there would be a handful of verbals after camp. Well, that didn’t exactly happen. Granted a lot of guys are probably pretty sure now that WSU is for them, but they aren’t announcing anything at the moment. I had heard/read that two campers in particular were expecting to commit, but for one reason or another, are holding off a little while longer. Both would be nice gets, and they hail from the east side of the state. They need to strike back a little after losing both Elisara and that elephant from Pasco.

Finally, COME ON MAN! Please leave some comments on these posts! I know you have thoughts you want to share. This was set up in the beginning to be two-three-way dialogue and avoid clogging up work e-mails with all things Cougs, but it’s been pretty one-sided. Even if it’s just an anonymous quote, I’d love to hear from you. Just put in the body of your quote who you are, that’s all.

Bob Weiss closer to the job?; Bumpus, Mkristo update their diaries

July 15, 2005

David Locke updated his blog re: the Sonics players and coaching search. Good read. Check it:

Locke also has a write-up of the current Sonics free-agency situation, with salaries. Interesting take on it all, but they might have a decent chunk of cap room to make a move or two.



RAY ALLEN – Signed deal with Sonics 5 year deal with incentives up to $80 million. Will become official on July 22nd.
Chance of Return: 100%

VLADY RADMANOVIC – The market for restricted free agents has been very quiet. Radmanovic is finding it hard to find a suitor that is willing to tie up their money in a restricted free agent. Any offer would be tied up until the 27th of July. The Sonics are trying to find a number above the mid-level that ties up Radmanovic before he gets heavy action in the market.
Chance of Return: 85%.

ANTONIO DANIELS — Daniels told me and others that he wants to be a starter. Ironically, the best spot for him may turn out to be Portland. The irony is that had the Sonics been able to sign Brent Barry or Derek Fischer a year ago, Nate McMillan and the Sonics were going to trade Daniels to Houston for a second round pick. Now McMillan is Daniels chance to start. He has also talked with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, his market is dwindling and Portland may be the stop. Chance of Returning: 0%
JEROME JAMES – The sucker has bit and his name is Isaiah Thomas. The Sonics had decided that they were willing to go to three years at the mid-level to keep Jerome, but Thomas put 5 years on the table and James has a new home. Wow what a mistake by the Knicks. This is why you draft 7 footers like Swift and Petro, because getting a center is almost impossible in the market.
Chance of return: 0%

REGGIE EVANS – Evans is a restricted free agent. The move of James may allow for Evans to return. However, where does he play? Nick Collison is ready to take the next step and Radmanovic is likely to return. There are 96 minutes to spread out between small forward and power forward. Lewis gets 38 a night and both Collison and Radmanovic are ready for around 30 a night. That leaves 6 other minutes. Unless, Collison plays some center their aren’t a lot of minutes for Evans. Look for someone, maybe Minnesota, to make an offer to Evans that is just good enough that the Sonics may have to let him go.
Chance of Return: 65%

FLIP MURRAY — Murray is getting a lot of action on the market and someone will make a mistake on Murray believing he can be a regular scorer in the NBA. He is a good sign and trade candidate for the Sonics. The Nuggets and the Wizards are the most active teams hunting for Murray.
Chance of Return: 15%

DAMIEN WILKINS – Wilkins has a very intense loyalty to Nate McMillan and would be interested in playing in Portland. However, the Blazers are over the cap and Wilkins is a restricted free agent. This means the Sonics can match any offer and unless the Blazers are going to use most of their mid-level exception on Wilkins he will be tough to pry away from the Sonics.
Chance of Returning: 75%

VITALY POTAPENKO – He will be one of the last moves of the off-season. If he drops to as low as the veteran minimum the Sonics may retain him. My guess is with James gone there is a chance he returns and plays. The Sonics are looking for a veteran to supplement to youth of Swift and Petro in the middle. Potapenko may become the answer.
Chance of Returning: 35%

Salaries (in millions)
Player 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
Allen 15.000 15.000 15.000 15.000 15.000
Lewis 10.714 11.688 12.662 13.636
Ridnour 1.638 2.425
Collison 1.815 2.501
Fortson 6.207 6.596
Swift 1.764 1.887 2.601
Petro 900 1.006 1.077 1.939
Kutalay 733
Radmanovic ????
Wilkins ????
Potpapenko ????
Total 38.771
Cap 49 to 50
Room 11 million

Allen’s contract has not been defined year to year yet. The 15 million is an estimate. If the Sonics re-sign Radmanovic they may front load the Allen contract, however if they lose Radmanovic they would likely start Allen at the lowest number possible to open up more cap room.
If they lose Radmanovic they could go under cap at 7.9 million, but still have to sign other players. To get under they would renounce all other players.

Finally, Mkristo and Bumpus have updated their diaries:


USC’s view of the 2005 Cougs

July 12, 2005

This is a pretty decent write-up from afar. I don’t know if it’s all THAT accurate, of course, and there are some errors in some stats and classes of incoming players, but that’s to be expected. Anyway, an honest look at the ’05 season from a USC point of view:

Personally, I think we’re a 9-10 win team waiting to happen. The Phil Steele line of the number of returning starters is true for us. If we return 14+ starters from the previous season, we win 10 games. Less than 14? Less than 10 wins. Last year we only returned 6 starters from the 2003 squad. This year? 15 starters are back. I’m not ready to predict 10 wins, but I do believe that 3-0 OOC record followed by 6-2 in-conference is possible. The safer pick is 5-3 in conference, 3-0 OOC for an 8-3 record and trip to El Paso, based on tiebreakers?

One thing that stands out about the 2005 schedule? The lack of a “get healthy” bye week. It’s the 3 OOC games, then a bye before the Beavs. That’s a run of 8 Pac-10 games in 8 weeks. That could be bad news as the season wears on, and if anyone should suffer an ankle sprain or a tweaked hammy where a week off could do wonders, well, just cross your fingers that things work out. It really feels like a big return to winning football this year, and you’d just hate to see it ruined by the injury bug!

Cougs lose two more recruits?; Kahn RIPS Sonics; A case for Iavaroni?

July 8, 2005

First off, Cougs look to be losing two recruits from the 2005 class due to academic reasons. Bummer.

“In response to Internet rumors about academic hurdles, the sports information office cautioned that it’s too early to definitively say James Bradley and Joseph Townsend will fail to qualify for the 2005 season, but given the cyber chatter on the matter, they acknowledged that Townsend and Bradley have an uphill climb to get to Pullman this fall.”

Bradley has big-time speed and played really well in Texas, and he chose the Cougs over ASU and Colorado among others. They have been really high on the idea that he might compete for playing time immediately, given that Brackenridge will now probably redshirt due to academic woes. Not good.

Nor is it good about Townsend. He’s cat-quick on the interior for a 6-4, 280 lb kid. Then again, his two finalists were San Jose St and WSU, so he wasn’t your typical 5-star special. He was, however, a kid Walker was REALLY high on for his upside, but there are now rumors that he’s going to ask for his release and go to San Jose St. What’s tough is that he’s qualified via NCAA standards, but like Lawrence Ball who was a stud DE from Fresno last year, he wouldn’t make it through the admission board. So the ’05 class is taking some hits.

Next, Mike Kahn just KILLED the Sonics about Nate! Kahn has covered the Sonics since the ’80’s, and next to Frank Hughes, he’s about as dialed in as it gets, and he’s the one I heard over the weekend giving major warnings that Nate would bolt.

After reading that? I know you can’t get too worked up over every internet report, and I want to believe that Wally and Sund know what they are doing, but, man, it really looks like they threw him under the bus, only to find him fight his ass off and shove it up their butts on the way out of town! Now, he’s the mayor of Portland, shaking hands and kissing babies. VERY DISHEARTENING that they would do that to Mr. Sonic. Of course, there are two sides to every story, and Nate isn’t perfect by any stretch, but this doesn’t make me feel warm-n-fuzzies over the front office.

Finally, an interesting look at the idea of Mark Iavaroni. John McGrath takes a look, and it’s a good one:

Enough with the why, when and how Nate McMillan left the SuperSonics.
A sound businessman came to the conclusion he could accumulate a fortune faster with Paul Allen’s paychecks in Portland than Howard Schultz’s paychecks in Seattle. Furthermore, McMillan’s heartstrings were loosened by a simple case of middle-aged restlessness.
When “Mr. Sonic” insists his 19-year marriage with the team that drafted him in 1986 had grown stale – “I was bored with myself,” he said Wednesday night, “and I’m sure the fans were bored with me” – we should take him at his word, wish the gentleman well, and then shift the focus of the investigation toward finding a head coach who won’t be bored by the challenge of guiding an exciting team beyond the second round of the playoffs.
Meet Marc Iavaroni.
The right-hand man to the Suns’ Mike D’Antoni, Iavaroni has been labeled a rising young star among NBA assistants. Truth is, the 48-year-old is young only by Supreme Court Chief Justice standards. And though the 6-foot-10 forward started for the world champion 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, Iavaroni never has been a star.
He spent four years banging elbows in an Italian professional league before he got a job in the NBA. After retiring from a seven-season career that found him bouncing from Philadelphia to San Antonio to Utah, Iavaroni worked for Mike Fratello in Cleveland and Pat Riley in Miami before hooking up with D’Antoni, his former Italian League teammate, in Phoenix.
The Suns didn’t reach the NBA Finals last season – they were defeated by the Spurs in the Western Conference finals – but their metamorphosis from a lost-cause lottery team to the powerhouse that used a full-tilt boogie style to captivate fans might’ve been the league’s most intriguing story. And while credit for the turnaround was given to point guard Steve Nash (MVP) and D’Antoni (Coach of the Year), Iavaroni’s contributions were tangible.
He took Amare Stoudamire under his wing. A 6-10 power forward chosen out of high school in the 2002 draft, Stoudamire shot 60 percent from the floor during the regular season before performing a spot-on impersonation of a 23-year old Wilt Chamberlain in the playoffs.
“He’s been invaluable,” D’Antoni has said of Iavaroni. “He prepares every game. He’s been really great with Amare and the big guys, but he’s not limited to do just that. Somebody said he’s a big-man’s coach. He’s a ‘coach’s coach.’ He does a great job preparing a basketball team to get ready to play in all areas, and he’ll do that as a head coach.”
A few weeks ago, when Seattle made 7-foot Frenchman Johan Petro it’s first-round draft pick – a year after selecting 7-foot Robert Swift – it was tempting to envision the SuperSonics someday powered by a “Swift-Petro” front line.
The marketing possibilities are rich, and Iavaroni could make it happen. An imposing, no-frills big man during his playing days, he has embraced run-and-shoot dimensions as a coach. In terms of a franchise philosophy, Iavaroni is a better fit for the Sonics than McMillan, who reacted to the controversial trade that brought Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton by enduring a press conference as if a large insect were crawling on the back of his shirt collar.
There are other candidates the Sonics might consider, such as Tom Izzo, the acclaimed Michigan State coach who’s been a friend of Schultz since their days as students at Northern Michigan. Izzo is a staple of the rumor mill – he turned down the Atlanta Hawks five years ago, and has been linked to pro job offers ever since – but the track record of college coaches jumping to the NBA is dismal.
Other names linked to the Sonics opening: Flip Saunders, Paul Silas and Doug Collins.
Their positives? They’ve all been head coaches in the NBA.
Their negatives? They’ve all been head coaches in the NBA.
Whenever there’s a head-coaching vacancy, fans clamor for a familiar face. A young team, the thinking goes, needs an experienced coach to take it to the next level. A veteran team, the thinking goes, needs an experienced coach to take it to the next level.
It’s easy to forget that experienced coaches needed a first shot, too. Gregg Popovich, whose head-coaching résumé boasted seven seasons at Pomona-Pitzer, was 46 when he was hired by the Spurs, three NBA championships ago.
Had ex-Chicago general manager Jerry Krause not identified the leadership potential in a 44-year old assistant named Phil Jackson, the Michael Jordan-era Bulls might have lost focus under Jackson’s high-strung predecessor, Doug Collins. (Lost focus: It’s a nice way of suggesting they might’ve killed each other.)
As the Bulls once gave a chance to an inelegant, board-crashing, overachieving role player, the Sonics should target another inelegant, board-crashing, overachieving role player. Iavaroni will figure to get an interview – he’s known Sonics president Wally Walker since they were teammates at the University of Virginia – but he can bring quite much more to Seattle than a familiarity with his boss.
He’s a tough guy fascinated by skill and finesse, a native New Yorker who labored in Italy, won over fans in Philadelphia and played a part in amping up the tempo in Phoenix.
Marc Iavaroni wouldn’t make anybody forget about “Mr. Sonic.”
Iavaroni’s jersey number – whatever it was – isn’t retired, and it’ll never hang from the rafters in KeyArena.
That’s OK. Besides, the Sonics might want to put a freeze on retiring the jerseys of fan favorites.
The last one got bored.

Further, I heard the play-by-play TV voice of the Suns on the radio this AM, just RAVING about Iavaroni. He’s now known as the #1 “bigs” coach in the NBA, and several people credit him with his hard, constant, non-stop work on Amare. This might be the absolute best option out there, no doubt about it. The voice also said that Iavaroni would bring the Suns style of play with him, which I’m mixed about. No defense and 100 shots a game? Can that win you a ring? Hopefully the no defense thing will be left with D’Antonio, but the more I read and hear about Iavaroni, the more I like it.

The end of Mr. Sonic

July 7, 2005

Some interesting stuff on the reasons why, per Frank Hughes in the TNT today:

“I feel like it was time for a change, to go in a different direction,” McMillan said. “It’s no more than that. I’m not basing my decision on the past season and what we did or what we accomplished. At the end of the year, I felt like I would have to maybe do something different.
“It’s been 19 years. Nineteen years on the same stage. Nineteen years of doing the same show over and over again. I was bored with myself. And I’m sure the fans were bored with me.
“I was wondering for a few years what it would be like to play somewhere different. Obviously, I didn’t get that opportunity when I was playing. But now that I am coaching, I can find out what it will be like to be working somewhere else.
“When I was talking at the beginning of last season about ‘the last ride,’ that was a message then that I thought this might be it,” McMillan said. “That was how I felt.”

This sure sounds like this has been on his mind for some time, and in that regard, I’m mad today. I’m mad because his delay cost us Dwayne Casey. Now we’re left with the usual candidates for the next head coach. A lot of names have been floating around, obviously, and this is the time when you’ll see every name in the book. It’s got to be considered an interesting job to many basketball people, and you just never know who is going to shake loose.

Also, don’t worry about Ray second-guessing his choice. Hughes said as much today, as well as Ray’s agent said all along those two decisions were independent of each other.

Just keep this in mind – they must make the right choice for this next hire. To put it in perspective? The Knicks are now paying THREE different coaches, coaches they have terminated along the way, and are now looking to pay a FOURTH coach! Crazy stuff.

Also, keeping some perspective. Coming into this year, the Sonics did NOT want to re-sign Nate to any long-term deal. And for good reason, when you look at his record:

2000-01 38-29 .567
2001-02 45-37 .549
2002-03 40-42 .488
2003-04 37-45 .451

Coming into 04-05, look at that record. Is that the record of a coach that deserves top-5 money in the NBA coaching circles? NO WAY. A year ago today, if you took a quick poll, you might have found 50% of the fans out there that thought he should be fired right then, or at least just given one more year, but the odds of someone saying “sign him up!” would be less than zero. When I read Steve Kelley’s horrible article today, saying the Sonics blew it, what the hell is he thinking??? I can’t stand that guy. He is the king of the emotional overreaction to everything that happens, and to sit there and say that the Sonics should have locked him up last summer is 100% wrong.