Archive for January, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys? Hardly.

January 31, 2008

So now that the Times has finished serving it’s 4-course meal of UW thugism (plus one inspirational story of Anthony Kelley’s success, despite the program) , what do we as Cougar fans think? Plenty, obviously. But I’m going to take a slightly different angle.

No jokes or barbs tonight. Why? Too easy to kick a dog while it lies in the gutter? Too easy to laugh and make fun of a program that was out of control because this level of thugism hasn’t happened at my school? Nope. I’m not going there, because it doesn’t feel right. At all. The jokes aren’t very funny when you think of the victims in all this. Like the girl who was raped by Jerramy Stevens, only to have the case hidden away from public view and Stevens got to keep playing. Or the battered women in the lives of Pharms or Curtis Williams. Or how about the regular, non-football people that were beaten senseless in all the assault cases and fights?

More than anything, I’m just embarrassed in reading all that stuff. I’m embarrassed for the victims of these thugs. I’m embarrassed that prosecutor Norm Maleng in King County chose to look the other way in many instances, if not bury evidence that only recently came to light due to the Times reporters requesting that records become unsealed. Like Vince said earlier in the week at SR.com, I’m mad too that people that were trusted in authority acted like complete idiots when they should have done the right thing, time and time again.

I’m embarrassed that 25 players from that 2000 team were arrested at some point or another during their stay at UW. That’s not boys being boys. That is much, much worse. I’m embarrassed for Rick Neuheisel. He should be, without question, absolutely ashamed of what happened on his watch. The element that was rampant during his run as head coach is pathetic and inexcusable. I seriously wonder what UCLA officials might have thought if these details came to light before they hired old Rick. He might still be a QB coach in the NFL right about now. Who knows, maybe Roger Goodell would suspend him if he were currently on an NFL staff! What a joke.

But most of all, I’m embarrassed for family and friends associated with UW in one form or another. Family and friends that adored that 2000 team, with all their Tui-led comebacks, and how tarnished that must feel now. I mean put yourself in their shoes for a moment – what if, say, the Spokesman suddenly rolled out a series of F-UPS from the 1997 WSU Rose Bowl team, or the 2002 Rose Bowl team? And what if it happened the week before letter-of-intent signing day, as well as in the drive to get the stadium renovated? I’d be bitter, angry, defensive, probably a little in denial. But most of all, EMBARRASSED AND ASHAMED THAT IT HAPPENED AT MY SCHOOL. I would only hope that we could learn from history, for those that don’t are doomed to repeat it.

Some of you know I have family with very deep UW ties, family that have donated and supported the UW program since before I was even born. Without question, I’m embarrassed for them, and I hope beyond anything else that they were as unaware of these things as you and me.

Ok, down off the soapbox.

A’i Ahmu got arrested for mixing it up at Pike’s, including underage drinking and busting a window. That’s now two projected starters, Xavier Hicks the other, that have screwed up in the last month. As Vince says in his blog, all eyes – including the eyes of players – are on the coaching staff to see how they handle these things. Wulff said himself the day he took the job that there needed to be a culture change in the program. Not to speculate – but that’s all blogs really do, speculate based on what’s in the news? – but maybe there is some deeper problems with this program other than changing the culture? All I know is that in light of these recent UW stories, the media near and far is going to be on high-alert in scouting out player indiscretions. Let’s hope Wulff and company do the right thing, no matter the caliber of player, if they cross the line that we all know is out there.

On a much better, happy note, I heard a great Wulff recruiting story today. Turns out that after the big recruiting weekend after the Oregon basketball game, a bunch of recruits and their families took a bus to Spokane on Monday to catch their flights home. Well, halfway to Spokane, the bus breaks down. They are in the middle of nowhere (you’ve made that drive a million times, so you can picture exactly where I’m talking about), and not only is the bus broken down, but there’s NO HEAT on the bus. Our Pullman source says it was 29 degrees INSIDE THE BUS. So Wulff gets the call that the bus is broken down. But what does he do? Yes, he gets the wheels in motion, so to speak, to have a replacement bus sent right away. But he also hits the road and drives out to where they are and waits with the players and families the whole time until the replacement bus arrives and takes them on their way! No way was he just going to sit there in his office while his recruits and their families shivered in the cold. And how did that work out? Every player on that bus – every one – ended up committing to WSU! Well, ok, that’s not 100% true. There was one player who did commit, but ended up changing his mind and is now headed for USC (you can probably figure out who). But otherwise, every other player is set to become Cougs! I couldn’t help but be impressed by that story. I know it’s not THAT big of a deal, but that kind of stuff goes a long way in the eyes of players and families. It shows what kind of guy Wulff is, and that uh, yeah, I think we’ve got ourselves one hell of a recruiter running the show! Major hat-tip to coach Wulff on that one.

I look to my left, I look to my right, I look straight ahead, and still no Erik Bedard. What a soap opera. Tonight, Geoff Baker has the audio clip of Adam Jones over the weekend telling the reporter that he had been traded in the Bedard deal and that he was headed for Baltimore the following day. Wow. What a weird story this has become. Why can’t trades just get done anymore? Now many claim that Angelos is upset that Jones spilled the beans and is trying a last-ditch effort to ink Bedard to an extension. Yet the offer of 4-for-Bedard, headlined by Jones, is by far the best the O’s are going to get. Especially when you look at the haul that the Mets gave the Twins for Santana, without giving up their top hitting or top pitching prospect? I guess there’s a reason the O’s have had 10 straight losing seasons, and really have zero hope for any success for the next several years. Angelos is borderline-insane in his mini-Steinbrenner ways, and he’s on the verge of seriously blowing it!

Advertisements

Monday Morning Information Overload

January 28, 2008

Lots of stuff buzzing so we’ll get right to it:

  1. Win some/lose some department – Cougfan has been all over the Cougar recruiting news, and there was some new info trickling out yesterday. Basically we stole one from UW (Cory Mackay, 6-4 WR, officially verballed to WSU); grabbed a 4-star JC defensive lineman (Bernard Wolfgramm, a pass-rusher everyone thought was headed to K-State); and finally, lost a possible diamond in the rough in Brian Baucham to USC. Baucham, you’ll remember, looked pretty good on tape last week. Only a 2-star prospect, but a kid with what looks like big-play ability. Come on Peter Perfect Carroll, you just had to steal one of ours? Didn’t you do that last year? Oh well. Maybe he’s mad about Bumpus refusing his grey-shirt offer in ’04 and coming to WSU when they kicked him to the curb for Dwayne Jarrett?

    There is some news that Kent WR/Safety Brandon Turner returned from his trip to the Palouse, but still no commitment. Turner is a 2-star player who interests WSU, but our own “source” in Kent says he’s good, yet not exactly a game-breaker. In fact, our source went on to tell me that WSU can probably go better and he’s a borderline D-1 player. Hmm, 6-3, 197, runs a reported 4.46? Sounds good to me!

  2. Yes, Brinkhater, we saw a return to Bennett Ball on Saturday. 56-55 is much more like it, but my God, I was sweating the last few minutes. Yikes. I really wonder where our heads might have been today had ASU won that game. Still, 4 homes games in a row coming up and a shot at 7-2 for the first half of the season if we can sweep the Bay Area schools. 7-2 when 5 of 9 games are on the road?? HELL YES I’ll take that!
  3. Speaking of the hoops team, looks like we’re #9 in the latest polls. Seems about right. A 1-1 split in the desert isn’t easy. And further, on the Arizona game – PLEASE STOP all the “we suck” talk. We don’t suck. But Arizona is better than we think they are. They had a white-hot weekend sweeping the Washington schools, as they blew out the Dawgs on Saturday. No matter what anyone says, they are still Arizona. We’ll see what happens when they cool off a bit and hit frosty Pullman next month!
  4. So, Erik Bedard – is he or isn’t he a Mariner? You hear Geoff Baker of the Times talk, the deal is now done and will be announced probably tomorrow afternoon after Jones passes his physical. I heard him on KJR this AM and he says it’s done. He also says that the M’s will sign Brad Wilkerson to a 1-year deal as soon as the deal is done to at least platoon in right field. The other names in the deal are George Sherill, and then it gets a little cloudy. Probably a combo of Tillman and Butler, a couple of minor-league arms with upside. Some had said it’ll be a 5-for-1, with another high-ceiling prospect going to Baltimore, but that isn’t clear yet. We do know that Jones has been yanked for good from winter ball, and Jones said in an interview that Bavasi told him to go to Baltimore for a physical and he was the centerpiece of a trade for Bedard. Hmm. Yet Baltimore denies it right now, and the windbag Peter Angelos hasn’t made up his mind yet?? He’s famous for pulling the plug on deals, he’s done it in the past and you know he’ll do it again. We’ll see, but stay tuned.

    I’ll say this – I heard Mitch Levy on KJR say it this AM, and I totally agree – the hardest things to find in sports are 1) a franchise QB, 2) an all-star NBA center, and 3) a legit ACE on an MLB staff. Those things don’t grow on trees. So when you find yourself at a moment that could see it happen, well, you go for it. I love what I’ve seen of Adam Jones, and I think he’s going to be a wonderful player. Better than Mike Cameron, and probably a parallel to Torii Hunter, if not even better when it’s all said and done. But Erik Bedard, my God, how do you pass on that? You know he was better than even the great Johan Santana in a lot of categories last year? And he’s 28, with 2 more years at least under contract? Jayson Stark said that he’s easily right there with Santana as the best lefthanded starter in BASEBALL. And he’s recently said that he’ll be open to talks of a contract extension? The very thought of pairing Bedard with Felix at the top of the rotation is really, really exciting. And the staff, 1-5, rounds out nicely with Bedard, Felix, Batista, Silva and Washburn. I’d put that 5 up against a lot of staffs in the AL, and it certainly matches up better with the Halos. And who knows, if these guys can get deep into games, the bullpen stays fresher, etc. It could be one interesting summer at the Safe IF this deal happens!

  5. So how about that UW story in the Times?? The story stinks so badly that they have to spread it out over FOUR DAYS of in-depth sleeze. Wow. And they want $150 million of King County tax money?? How many soccer moms in King County, who had no clue about any of this, are throwing up in their morning latte’s? Rape with Jerramy Stevens, among a long list of F-UPS?? Shootings with bloody fingerprints of Pharms, yet they let him play?? What’s next? It’s obvious the state reps have heard from some registered voters over the last week or so, hence the about face of Dr. Evil himself, Frank Chopp. But, remember, this isn’t just front-page sports page news. This is TOP FOLD, A1, front page news on the most circulated paper in the pacific NW. Hard to ignore these kinds of stories. I don’t know how much of you have read it so far, but it’s pretty disgusting. A fan of UW, WSU or Spokane Falls CC, the thing is an embarrassment for college sports.
  6. Have you heard the one about the most hated owner in the NW mocking a Sonics fan at the Key last night, to the extent that he did a “boo hoo” face to him and then had him ejected from the arena?? What a pile Cash-us Clay has turned out to be. No matter what happens, be it the city loses the case and they are out of here, or they are here for 2 more seasons, or he eventually sells, at least we know we won’t have to look at “crap with feet” forever. I just want the damn thing to be over with.

Enjoy your week!

The 4 B’s (Bring Back Bennett Ball!)

January 25, 2008

Happy Friday, Cougar Nation. Hope you all are ready for your weekend.

As for Ole Brinkhater, I am nursing a MAJOR hangover from the loss of my perfect season. So, forgive me if it seems as if I am on the “Rome is Burning” bandwagon.

But first, let us all spend a moment taking a long, good look at our beacon of hope moving forward:


(It makes you feel better, doesn’t it?_

You see, there was a reason why Dick Bennett was the perfect choice to turn our program around. And, yes, there was a reason (other than Ivory Clark) about why last year’s team went 26-8 (or whatever) and made more talented teams go nuts the whole darn season long. And that reason was….

BENNETT BALL.

Yep, the drag down, drag you out, work-fest that makes only Cougar fans excited: the world of 51-49 basketball.

At its core, Bennett ball is about defense and control of tempo. On defense, the name of the game is help defense that takes at its base a systematic unwillingness to give up the middle of the floor. The idea: make other teams take contested jump shots all game long. Although there are some exceptions, the bottom line of the defensive philosophy is that a) most college teams don’t have shooters that are good enough to beat you in a jump shooting contest over 40 minutes; and b) you don’t have to be outrageously athletic to be good defensively if you play good position defense and get a lot of help.

On offense, the name of the game is control tempo and get easy shots. As most know who played the game of basketball, ANY TEAM can play great defense for 20-25 seconds, but it takes a special, disciplined team to complete each possession by playing defense for the FULL 35 seconds. As Pete Carrill and Bennett showed consistently, a patient offensive team gets easy buckets IF it makes the defense work long enough.

The thing that was and has been GREAT about Tony Bennett is that he has not been as rigid as his Dad when it comes to offense. For the most part, his kids have been able to keep the general Bennett philosophy without succumbing to the type of passive play that can make a conservative team downright awful. That’s to his credit.

Tony Bennett has also been WONDERFUL up until recently of keeping his dad’s defensive philosophy. We’ve been mean in the middle and have had a really nice shot-blocking presence from both the weak and strong side. UNTIL recently.

But for whatever reason, the last two games have largely represented a RADICAL departure from who we are and what made us a good to great team. Make no mistake about it Cougar Nation, if the Oregon game had been at Mac Court, we would have lost by 25 points last Saturday. Defensively, we are in shambles.

As I noted last night, the Defense that you are seeing right now is a dummy version of the defense that the Sonics used during their great years in the 1990’s. Unfortunately, our Cougar team doesn’t have Gary Payton or Vincent Askew to run it. Instead we have four guys who look and play like this:


Moreover, the ENTIRE reason for the Sonics trapping style was to SPEED UP TEMPO and create more possessions. IN our case, our entire system has been the exact opposite: we wish to slow down tempo and create FEWER POSSESSIONS in the game.

In my view, the result of this change in scheme could be a disaster for us and our lofty hopes. No longer are we seeing Cowgill or Baynes asserting themselves from the weakside. The reason: they are too busy running to their next rotation to be in possession to challenge turnaround jumpers from the strong-side block. No longer are we seeing Kyle Weaver tip-block opponents’ three point shots or stealing entry passes into the post. The reason: he’s running at three point shooters because he is too busy chasing rotations. No longer are we seeing defensive rebounds from Rochestie and Low. The reason: they are running out at three point shooters instead of sealing off the outside part of the paint and are giving up the middle of the floor because their pressure is extended out too high.

And rest assured: All of this is happening because of that damn trap that they are running with Baynes up top.

THE HIGH TRAP DOES NOT AND WILL NOT WORK WITH THIS TEAM.

Moreover, it SPEEDS UP tempo, when we need it to be slower. It makes atheleticism of premium value, when we need to make basketball intelligence and TEAM BALL the deciding factor.

And so I say, GO BACK TO BENNETT BALL Tony Bennett!!!

If teams like Oregon and Arizona are going to beat us from three, then fine. But make them do it with contested shots with a guy who is standing squarely in front of them in stead of scrambling to run AT them…If teams are going to cut through the lane, then fine, but make them shoot over a shot blocker coming from the weakside in order to earn it.

And make teams play OUR stinkin game, gosh darnit. You saw the results in the last 5 minutes of the Oregon game; a 12-1 run (or whatever). Remember, that the ONLY time we run is when we get the ball in transition following a steal. Otherwise, make teams endure the 51-49 slug fest that only we as Cougars can love and 18-22 year olds across the country can’t stand to play.

ASU is our first shot of returning to who we are: A great basketball TEAM born out of a great basketball SYSTEM.

I am hoping and praying for a 49-39 victory.

Bring Em Out

January 24, 2008

Greetings Cougar Nation. Hope you all are having a great week. Fortunately, for you all, I am more than swamped, so this post will be like my underwear: warm and brief.

And since I’m into FULL disclosure today, I will reveal to you all a budding concern:

I CAN’T TAKE PERFECTION MUCH LONGER!!!!!

Although I don’t have all the posts to show it for this basketball season, it is true that I have yet to be wrong on prognosticating any Cougar football or basketball game this year.

Hopefully, I can rid myself of such an honor before I am wrong when it really matters–like the NCAA tournament.
With that in mind, I am going to continue to predict these games in bunches–knowing that the outcome and play of one game can have a profound effect on the next.

But this much I know: We WILL sweep the AZ schools this weekend.

On one hand, this is almost blasphemy since even with the sweep last year, I think we’ve beaten Arizona all of 3 times in our last 53 or 54 games. But, even outside of the X’s and O’s, the bottom line for tonight’s game is that AZ does not match up well with us and our style. Add to that, the moxy that we got that they don’t and you have a 71-57 win tonight.

ASU, on the other hand, is on their way to playing a really tough brand of basketball and they now have some pretty darn good players to boot. But, like us against UCLA where we lose on talent, ASU is just not as good as us. So, while the style is a good match-up for both teams, our wins at SC, UW, Baylor (16-2 Baylor, in case you haven’t noticed), and the Zags provides the type of experience to get the job done. We’ll win 59-54.

Enjoy this weekend and the subsequent return to the top 5. We are getting VERY close to that #2 seed, folks…And we’re #6 in the fricking country!!! Enjoy the ride
Lets keep it up.

Recruit Profile: Calvin Schmidtke

January 24, 2008

Ok, enough about Heath Ledger. Sorry to those of you that weren’t thrilled with that yesterday. But today, we move forward with a profile of QB recruit Calvin Schmidtke.

Schmidtke is an interesting prospect for this year’s class, mainly because of two huge things – 1) His success in a pass-happy offense, which fits the Wulff/Sturdy offense to a T, and 2) His lack of prototype size and recruiting attention for a player of his ilk.

In other words, Schmidtke is exactly the type of QB that WSU never would have given much consideration to in the past. If you’ve watched our offense since 1987, you know the type of QB that excelled in the one-back offense. The tall, strong-armed, NFL prototype passers like Rosey, Bledsoe and Leaf were the perfect fit. Not only were they big enough to see the mismatches with a spread-em-out offense under center and in the pocket, but they were also big enough to take the inevitable beatings that were frequent under a one-back offense. With zero help back there on passing downs, usually that QB was on an island and defenses brought the house. But it was all about our QB finding the mismatch and getting the ball off before the D could get to him.

Obviously there are exceptions. Gesser was 6-1 and while he didn’t have the size or the arm, he had not only an understanding of the offense but an extra sense to avoid the pass rush that the great ones have, ala Brett Favre. So many times Gesser would roll away from pressure when it looked like he didn’t even know it was coming from a blind spot, etc. If you are ever bored, pull up the 2002 USC game and watch how many times Gesser is rolling out or rolling away from pressure and making plays. And of course, the red-headed stepchild, Alex Brink, lacked the great size and arm strength, but he put up the best career numbers in school history in this offense. (NO, we will NOT debate Brink anymore. It’s done.)

So, Schmidtke basically goes against the grain of what we normally look for and, obviously, hope for in a QB. But you have to remember the kind of new offense we will be running, and why it makes so much sense for a recruit like him to be a guy that is high on our board, while other schools might not feel so inclined.

First of all, consider the numbers: Completed an astounding 76 percent of his passes as a senior — racking up 2,724 yards and 37 TDs with only 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 10 scores. 2007 Tacoma News-Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year, Seattle Times first team All-State. Earned Associated Press first-team Class 2B All-State honors following his junior season at Life Christian Academy when he threw for more than 3,000 yards, completing 66 percent of his passes, and posting 46 TDs vs. 15 INTs. Was an all-league choice as an LC sophomore after passing for a school record 2,379 yards with 23 TDs and 10 interceptions. Also plays safety. Grew three inches between his sophomore and junior seasons.

What does all that tell you? 76 percent of his passes in a pass-happy offense, with 37 TD’s and only 5 INT’s, is simply exceptional no matter how you slice it. Whether you are playing 8-man football, or even playing against air with your buddies in the street, seriously, 37 and 5?? WOW. That’s throwing a ton of strikes. And that’s all in an offense that is perfectly suited for him, not the traditional offense that might see him overwhelmed if he hung in the pocket every play.

Here’s a scouts read on Schmidtke, from ESPN.com:

Evaluation: Schmidtke is a productive quarterback prospect with the moxxy needed to move the chains and improvise when the original play breaks down. Lacks great size but is a crafty gunslinger who can buy extra time with his quick feet and throw on the run with above average accuracy. Ball handling skills and overall mechanics are adequate when he has time to settle his feet. Keeps the ball high upon delivery with an adequate release point. Flashes good wrist snap and rotation on intermediate-to-deep routes and shows good touch in the three-step game. However, he is not your prototypical drop back pocket passer lacking downfield arm strength and the velocity to fit the ball into tight spots in coverage. Tends to look at his intended target and flee the moment he feels pressure without going through progressions. Is a quick, decisive runner but does not warrant legit dual threat status that make him an ideal prospect in a zone read scheme at the next level. Bottom line, Schmidtke is a crafty quarterback prospect who takes command of the offense and is productive despite lack of ideal measurable; should excel in an open offense with the freedom to make plays.

Now, before you freak out over the line that says he does not warrant legit dual threat status in a zone read scheme, you should consider the numbers from Matt Nichols at EWU last year. Nichols threw from an astounding 3700+ yards, 34 TD’s and only 9 INT’s as a sophomore in ’07. It was the first year Nichols played in Todd Sturdy’s offense. But Nichols only rushed for 392 yards, so it’s not like you have to have the running ability of Jake Locker or Dennis Dixon to make an offense like this work. And Nichols is 6-2, certainly not the NFL scouts dream for size, but far and away good enough to just tear it up in this offense.

Here’s some footage of Schmidtke. The video is pretty grainy in spots, in fact it looks like some of it was taken with a cell phone camera(!), but you get the idea of the dual-threat he really looks like on a few of those runs. You also see him under center quite a bit, something he’ll never do in Pullman, and to me that makes him that much more impressive that he can be his size, yet still drop back and get the job done, even if he isn’t NFL-caliber:

Bottom line? In the new Todd Sturdy offense at WSU, Schmidtke looks like the perfect fit.

Damn

January 23, 2008

What a sad, sad story out of New York. Heath Ledger was a fine actor and I always liked what he did. He seemed to always pour himself into whatever he was doing, and Brokeback Mountain jokes aside, you couldn’t help but at least respect that about him. And man, I have been excited as can be for this summer’s new Batman, where the buzz on Ledger has been off-the-charts great about his performance as the Joker.

It sounds like this was kind of coming, too, if you believe the “internets and such”. This article from the NY Times a few months ago had some telling quotes and back-stories about his battle with insomnia, including the drain that was the Joker role on his life:

“I stressed out a little too much,” Mr. Ledger said.

He tends to do that. He is here in London filming the latest episode of the “Batman”franchise, “The Dark Knight.” (Mr. Bale, as it happens, plays Batman; Mr. Ledger plays the Joker.) It is a physically and mentally draining role — his Joker is a “psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy” he said cheerfully — and, as often happens when he throws himself into a part, he is not sleeping much.

“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” he said. “I couldn’t stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.” One night he took an Ambien, which failed to work. He took a second one and fell into a stupor, only to wake up an hour later, his mind still racing.

Even as he spoke, Mr. Ledger was hard-pressed to keep still. He got up and poured more coffee. He stepped outside into the courtyard and smoked a cigarette. He shook his hair out from under its hood, put a rubber band around it, took out the rubber band, put on a hat, took off the hat, put the hood back up. He went outside and had another cigarette. Polite and charming, he nonetheless gave off the sense that the last thing he wanted to do was delve deep into himself for public consumption. “It can be a little distressing to have to overintellectualize yourself,” is how he put it, a little apologetically.

There are also a lot of drug rumors beyond just the sleeping pills, such as the worst of all drugs, heroin. Who knows. You don’t want to read TOO MUCH into someone’s behavior during an interview….but….well….he looks a little “tweakish” here during this interview a few months ago, doesn’t he?

But all we do know is that the kid is dead and it’s a sad story. I really feel for his 2-year old daughter who will not have a father for the rest of her life. Sad, sad, sad. On a very selfish level, I wonder how they are going to handle the Dark Knight this summer. So much hype about Ledger’s performance, about how dark and twisted this version of the Joker is, but now that he’s gone you have to wonder what direction they’ll go with all this. The show must go on and all that, but still, it’s going to be weird.

Keeping up the gloom, sad to see about Rien Long. Hopefully he can pull through. As of right now it appears he’s still in critical condition but nothing more is known. The latest news as of yesterday had him in bad shape after a wreck in the middle of the night on Monday. Thoughts and prayers are with him right now, for sure.

Finally, some good news. A successful weekend of recruiting saw the Cougars haul in four new prospects to add to the growing class of 2008. We’re now up to 14 lads for this class as we come down the homestretch. Still not breakthrough superstar pledges at this point, and a lot of the 2-star variety. But there’s still time and still a chance for a few surprises this year. The buzz is good that Wulff and company are doing as good as can be expected with so little time to put things together, and it might end up being at least a respectable class after all.

Probably the most intriguing new prospect is running back Brian Baucham. Only a 2-star prospect, and not a huge guy at 5-10, 175, but he does have a reported 4.4 time, so that’s good. He looks good on tape too:

Bad Timing

January 22, 2008

Neu-weasil picked up Norm Chow as his offensive coordinator yesterday. Good timing for Rick bad timing for both Chow and the Cougs. As our source told me Chow was the Cougs second choice behind June Jones back in December. Since Chow never saw his firing coming, and it didn’t happen until Jan 15th, he probably never even read the offer letter he got from us.

I haven’t read a lot of quotes from Chow saying how happy he is to be at UCLA or working with RN but it does sound like he is happy that he will be able to go home after work. I doubt Chow would have taken the WSU job since he probably had an offer from UCLA at the same time he had one from us but it would have been fun to be in the running. But that is where the bad timing for Chow comes in. I’m sure, if he was going to be fired, he would have appreciated if they’d done it a month or so earlier so he could have taken the head job. I guess maybe the Cougs benefitted from Chow’s bad timing as I would rather see the weasil as the head coach than Chow for our sake.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m done with the “what-ifs” now. It’s time to look forward to the Wulff regime.

Don’t Be Fooled…

January 20, 2008

Don’t be fooled by the apparent docile nature of these fine feathered friends..


And don’t be fooled by the Quackers’ lame duck performance against the Puppies of Washington on Thursday night (you think that the Quack was just maybe overlooking the Dawgs a tad?)

Tonight, the Quack are going to be ready to play.

With regard to the keys of the game, well, there’s a pretty good post by the evil Vince Grippi over at the Spokesman. And while I think Vince has some solid points on the game to come, I offer a bit of a “counter” key:

PROTECT THE STINKING MIDDLE OF FLOOR.

Looking back on last year, a big key for us losing was not only great shooting by the Quackers but the ability of Porter and Brooks to get to the middle of the floor and kick out to Shooters who would then fake, cut, and BOMB with amazing success.

So, while Grippi is right that we need to defend the high screen tonight, what we really need to do is to keep Porter and company from breaking down the defense and therefore cause us to provide early help to the middle of the floor (which leaves the wings WIDE open for 3’s and additional drives to the rack).

With that in mind, the key, in my book, is the defensive play of Rochestie on Porter. in my view, Porter can get 18-21 tonight WITHOUT A DUCK WIN if Rochestie is able to keep him on the perimeter and away from the basket…In other words, give him three’s but make him and the Ducks live and die by them: Make them shoot 15-21 foot jumpers ALL NIGHT LONG.

And I think we will.

And I think they’ll make some at their own peril.

This game really has the making of a nightmare if the Quack are firing on all cylinders, but I think that this is a game where the better is team is going to win. And this year, we are unquestionably a better basketball team.

Cougs break the 13 game losing streak to Oregon 65-58.

We’ll be #6 heading into A HUGE weekend @ the Arizona schools

Enjoy it..

What About Milhouse??

January 18, 2008

So the story breaks this afternoon that UW wants $150 MILLION from King County to help pay for the $300 million total it will take for Husky Stadium. This is the same tax package that the Sonics asked for – twice – and were shot down – twice – and is why we’re about to see them leave as soon as humanly possible.

I voted for the Mariners stadium, and I voted for the Seahawks stadium. Sports teams add to the quality of life, and I had no issues with either team asking for public money. The Seattle area is better off having the Mariners and Seahawks and playing in great facilities, just like I believe the Sonics would be in a great situation if they could get the Key thing done.

But that was one thing. But for a private institution, for amateur athletics, to ask for this kind of money from King County residents seems pretty nuts to me. What if UW doesn’t get their way? Do they threaten to move to Spokane? How can any lawmaker approve something like this without taking into consideration that yes, there is another school in this state that is trying to finish a renovation of their own right now? Isn’t this providing a huge competitive edge to a school that goes out of it’s way to boast about how many millionaires they have that are season ticket holders? The big, powerful Huskies asking for tax money for their playpen? Can’t they just be like everyone else and try to, oh, I don’t know, get their own to pay for their luxuries?

Ok then. If you are going to open the state coffers for UW, well, the natural question is, what about Milhouse? What about the Cougs?? We’d only need about $40 million and things would be fantastic in Martin Stadium. How about making it a joint request for WSU and UW to upgrade their football stadiums and ask for a cool $200 million? Or should we send Jim Sterk to Olympia right now with a plan to say “excuse me, but I GOTTA GET MINE!”

Maybe this doesn’t bother you, or maybe you just don’t care, but I can’t believe this is even going to be seriously considered. UW can spin this any way they want, about how this is about the safety of King County residents or whatever else they are going to have Dan Evans pitch to Christine Gregoire and the rest (Gregoire is a Husky btw). But isn’t this just UW elbowing their way past the Sonics situation? There are rumors percolating that in a very short time, a new Key Arena renovation plan will be announced that will be double the square footage, and double the revenues of the old barn. Doesn’t UW asking for this just muddy the water and potentially make it even that much more difficult for the Key Arena renovation that is about to come out?

So consider this – not only would UW be 1) hurting the Sonics chances of staying, 2) creating an unfair competitive advantage by getting the County to help them recruit athelets, but also, 3) what about WSU???

I also don’t know if anyone was paying attention, but Gregoire told state legislators yesterday that this is going to be a tight year in Washington. That this will very much be a time of not a lot of lavish spending. I wonder if that tune will change with her beloved UW now with their hands out?

IF you live in King County, call or e-mail your reps. Tell them you are against any public funds for a college football team. Or better yet, remind them that it’s an election year and you will be watching very closely what happens this session. Amazing how little can get done on anything close to a controversial issue in election years?

Is YOUR Popcorn Ready??

January 15, 2008

Hey Jerry Jones, how’s that TO experiment working out in Dallas? Ohhh, too soon?? BURN.

Actually you have to admit, TO showed some moxie playing on a high ankle sprain just 3 weeks after the injury. He showed it in Philly, too, in the SB on basically a broken ankle. The guy has amazing healing ability, and he does situps in his driveway so he’s pretty special. But once again, the Cowboys are out. And I think America is a much better place for it too. Just think of all the TO/Romo/Jessica Simpson/Jerry Jones BS that we would have had to stomach for the next 3+ weeks if they would have made it. Thank you NY G-men!

On to business – Our Cougs had some recruits in on visits this last weekend, and the news has been fairly positive. The Times has a quick run-down of the newest Cougar pledges, all of which are JC kids. Not sure I’m excited about a bunch of JC’s at this point, but we may not have much of a choice. They are so behind the 8-ball with this recruiting class, not only with the lateness of the new hire but the lack of progress under Doba, that it’s really a scramble to the finish line.

A big-time JC safety has suddenly shown interest in WSU and was on his visit. Cougfan has a free story about David Sims and his trip to Pullman and how the process is going. But is there a Terry Mixon-like story here? Should WSU just avoid the 4-star JC’s due to potential baggage?

A JC running back did just commit last night to WSU. Chantz Staden, a 3-star player from Arizona, looks pretty good on tape. This is from his 2005 senior year and it’s impressive. Check it out:

He’s got some pretty good hands, as a lot of his highlights are catching the ball out of the backfield. With Wulff’s offense, running backs probably will need to have the ability to do multiple things, so you have to like that. Good cutback ability too on a few of those runs. Not to get too pumped over a high school highlight tape! He doesn’t look like he has blazing speed, but there’s a few plays where he outruns everyone. Could be a nice get for this year’s class.

I hate to be down on JC’s. Dennis Erickson has done well going that route, especially early on the job to get some instant success. And Jerome Harrison was a JC, remember him? It’s not like they never work out. I guess I’m gun-shy over the JC’s that just never pan out. I would think that based on some comments Wulff has made since taking the job, that we’ll likely see a heavy lean towards high school players in the future. But this year is more about just getting some talent, any way you can, and hope things will work out. More visits are set for this coming weekend, so again, we’ll see how it all shakes out.

Finally, we’re number EIGHT in the latest polls! Yep, we fell 4 places after the UCLA loss. No biggie. We are better in the hunter role anyway, and not the undefeated, “hunted” team with a big fat target on their backs. We all know this is going to be a grind of a season, and to steal a line from Brinkhater, quite simply we just don’t match up well with UCLA. Period. Let’s see, they basically play the exact same style of defense that we do, only they are bigger, faster, stronger and better. It’s not a good matchup. And as Brinkhater said last night, we actually have a better shot at the Kansas and Memphis teams of the world, rather than a team like Ben Howland’s Bruins.

Speaking of Ben Howland – you have to just tip your hat to what he’s accomplished down there. Really, to think that he can reel in the McDonald’s All-Americans, and then get them to buy into the team-first, defensive approach? It’s a recipe for many Final Four’s. It must be pretty hard to get kids focused in LA-LA land, with so many distractions at every turn, but he’s getting it done in a huge way. They have become like USC has become in football, where you get all the stars, yet get them to buy in.

Enjoy your Tuesday.