Archive for the ‘Chima Nwachukwu’ Category

Young Secondary a Primary Concern?

August 4, 2009


Good morning Coug Nation. Hope all is well in your corner of the world. As you may or may not be aware/care, we’ve looked at the ’09 Cougs among the positional previews, and so far, so good. Now we come to the last group to check out, and that is the secondary.

Err…maybe not. Some of you already saw it, but, WSU has put out their own pre-camp depth chart, complete with an analysis of the candidates to start at each position. And new and improved, NOW WITH comments from coach Wulff! It’s a really good read, so if you haven’t already clicked over, check it out.

That said, we’ll still weigh in and offer up our own opinions. Hey, we’re a blog. It’s what we do. So let’s scan the secondary, and see if things are going to be better in ’09? Or, are we doomed for more struggles in the last line of defense? Let’s see….

To get the obligatory “2008 was a disaster” out of the way, yeah, the secondary had their issues too. But it’s not as bad as you might think, at least on paper anyway. They finished 6th in the PAC-10 in passing yards allowed per game, just a couple of yards per game more than 5th place Cal. But they gave up the 3rd-most TD passes in the conference(22), and at 7.8 yards per attempt, were just ahead of UW for ninth place.

While this isn’t good, well, I don’t think it’s entirely the fault of the secondary. The sack totals were really down, just 16 as a team, tied with UW for dead LAST in the conference. Can’t get any pressure on the QB, give him time to set up, make a ham sandwich, and still deliver the ball wherever he wants? Not good. And then you consider the lack of takeaways, where the Cougs averaged one takeaway a game (13 for the entire season), and you can see it wasn’t exactly an opportunistic group.

Wow, 16 sacks and 13 takeaways for an entire 13-game season. Just thinking back to the early part of the decade, WSU’s defenses used to pride themselves on two things – SACKS AND TAKEAWAYS! Think about that great run from ’01 – ’03. In ’01, they had 40 sacks and grabbed 26 INT’s, second only to Miami in the country. In ’02, they had a school-record 55 sacks(!), and led the PAC-10 in rushing defense. In ’03, Doba’s boys led the nation in takeaways (48), tops in fumble recoveries (24) and second in interceptions (24). They were also in the top 10 in rushing defense and pass-efficiency defense.

So you can just take a peek back into our own history to remember and realize how important sacks and picks are to a defense, hell, to an entire football team overall. And the Coug D in ’08 didn’t do much sacking or taking away of the football!

The lack of pressure up front really trickled down. Even the best defensive backs in the country can only be expected to hang with the coverage for four or five seconds, but after that, even the best are going to give up plays. It’s the nature of the beast, but the secondary without a pass rush really has no chance to thrive…let alone survive.

Obviously the numbers can sure be skewed, too, can’t they? For example, Oregon gave up nearly 1,000 MORE passing yards on the ’08 season than WSU, and they surrendered 25 TD passes, the worst in the conference. In fact, Oregon gave up 270 yards per game in the air, also worst in the entire PAC-10! Not what you would assume, just thinking of their strong pass-rushers like Nick Reed and Will Tukuafu, and a stacked secondary with Jairus Byrd, Patrick Chung, Walter Thurmand III, etc. But as you know, Oregon won 10 games last year and were Holiday Bowl champs. So, trying to swallow the entire stack o’ pure passing D stats and justifying things isn’t the best route to go. Just look at WSU’s rushing defense, or lack thereof, and you can see there’s always two sides to the argument. The Cougs, after all, allowed SEVEN opponents last year to rush for at least 317 yards a game! Why should the opponent do anything but run the heck out of the ball, especially when staked to early lead after early lead?

Anyway, that was last year. Let’s just leave it where it belongs. There was a problem. But it’s gone. And there’s nothing we can do about it….

Cornerbacks
Starters: Aire Justin (soph) and Brandon Jones (redshirt junior).
Key backups: Daniel Simmons(redshirt frosh), Anthony Hayward (redshirt frosh), Anthony Houston (junior, switched from WR last couple of years), Shane Thomas (junior).
New faces: Nolan Washington, Anthony Carpenter.

Analysis: Well, right off the top a pair of experienced starters – Devin Giles and Romeo Pellum – are gone. We won’t rehash all that. But clearly the door is wide-flipping-open for any of these youngsters to run right through. Justin (previously known as Tyrone) got a lot of PT last year, six starts plus other action. Justin’s on the light side at 156 pounds on a 5-11 frame, but he did alright in his first shot at playing time as a red-shirt frosh last season. His three pass-breakups are the most among all the returning players contending at corner…..but that’s because, uh, NOBODY else in the mix for cornerback besides Justin actually played a single down of football last year! Brandon Jones has PAC-10 experience, playing in 12 games from his ’07 season at CAL, but that’s about it. Everyone else is brand new to this caliber of play, coming off redshirt seasons or even true frosh right out of high school in Carpenter and Washington.

I guess the corners are similar to what we saw along the defensive line – the faces are new, but, it might not be too big of an issue since the newest kids may be better/more talented than those they are replacing anyway? We won’t really know until things get serious, but it’s an awfully young group of corners. While the PAC-10 might not be what it once was in the air-it-out department, the lack of game experience could be an issue out of the chute. I know, for example, SMU wasn’t very good last year, nor are they thought of as any type of breakthrough candidate for the upcoming season. But they throw the heck out of the ball in that June Jones run-n-shoot, and you better believe these inexperienced corners are going to be tested.

Now, Wulff did mention when talking about the corners that Chima Nwachukwu has some starting experience at the position, and could possibly move back there this year if necessary. I guess it wouldn’t be a shock to see Chima slide over if some of the young guys aren’t quite ready, or we see some injuries pile up.

I know a lot of people really like Nolan Washington, the true frosh. A highly rated kid coming out of Kennedy high school, the early buzz on what he could become has been extremely positive.


You hate to throw out any type of expectation for true frosh, but this could be a different story. He was labeled “a divison I prospect with outstanding speed and great instincts” by the Seattle Times, and it isn’t a stretch to think he could see some early PT. You would hope a talented true frosh like Washington could redshirt that first year, then you cut him loose in 2010, but his performance in camp and the subsequent performances of those in front of him may dictate that he see the field this year.

Safeties
Starters: Xavier Hicks (senior) at strong safety, Chima Nwachukwu (junior) at free safety.
Key Backups: Tyree Toomer (soph), Jay Matthews (redshirt frosh) at strong safety; Eric Block (redshirt soph) and Leandre Daniels (redshirt frosh) at free safety.
Newcomers: Jamal Atofau, Casey Locker

This area looks pretty strong. Hicks is set for his senior year, and maybe this is the season it all comes together for him. Big hitter and the leading returning defensive player on the entire team in terms of tackles (78), interceptions (2) and pass breakups (5), this is it for Hicks. There never has been much doubt that the kid could play the position. We all remember the de-cleater vs. UCLA where he absolutely destroyed WR Brandon Breazell over the middle….


He has a nose for the ball, and even in just three starts back in ’07 he logged 60 tackles primarily as a backup. That’s taking advantage of limited playing time and making the most of it, no question. Nothing else to really say about his off-the-field stuff, so we’ll leave it at that. They MUST get a huge season out of Hicks – HUGE – to have a respectable defense. Every good secondary needs an intimidating presence of sorts, someone to set the tone with aggression and strike a little fear for those who dare to venture over the middle. Hicks has that ability.

Chima is an interesting player. I still can’t believe he’s only a junior, as he’s been starting since he arrived in Pullman. He already has 25 starts under his belt and he’s still got a couple of years of eligibility left! Smart, strong, and not afraid to get his hands dirty with 57 tackles last year, he will be a crucial piece for the entire secondary. It’s not too crazy to say that the combo of Hicks and Nwachukwu could be one of the best safety duo’s we’ve had in some time, and maybe one of the better sets in the conference?

Eric Block is a guy to keep an eye on. Especially if Chima has to slide over to corner to provide some veteran experience and leadership, but Block, if healthy, could be a rising member of the secondary. Just a redshirt sophomore coming into this year, he’s dealt with some injuries and illness in his time in Pullman, but it sounds as though he’s ready to go. As to the other new faces, I would bet Wulff has designs on redshirting both Atofau and Locker if he can help it. There is depth at the safety spots, but with Hicks graduating after this season, it would be wise to preserve some future eligibility on the talented youngsters. Let’s hope they aren’t forced to play out of desperation.

That’s it for the secondary, and our ’09 pre-camp positional previews are now complete. I hope you enjoyed them. After all those smelly spring fishwraps, it was fun to kind of dig in and see how things are looking for the crimson and gray lads, right on the eve of camp.

I have to admit, overall, I’m encouraged and excited to see what happens next week. We’ve heard so much about the improvement in size and strength, all the gains made by so many, all that noise. They should be a much better equipped football team to handle the rigors of the PAC-10. Look for some first-hand coverage of fall camp from our own Longball in the weeks ahead. Here’s hoping for a productive, HEALTHY, high-energy month of practices, and a mentally and physically prepared football team ready to hit Stanford with all they have on 9/5.

Enjoy your day, and GO COUGS!

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When All Else Fails….

September 15, 2008

Three games in, and nobody’s happy. Obviously there are issues, and they are plenty. But don’t fret, as you are not alone in your unhappiness. Coach Wulff is right there with you, and because of the inept performances thus far, changes are a brewin’ on the Palouse. And rightly so. Per Bud Withers in the Times today:

1) Xavier Hicks is back. You may remember him from his off-the-field, uh, slip-ups. But the kid is a big-hitting safety who only started three games last year, but had 53 tackles and some huge hits that separated man from ball. UCLA remembers him, I’m sure, from last year’s 27-7 win:

Hicks coming back means that the secondary will likely do some shuffling, with potentially Chima going back to corner, and Alfonso Jackson moving back to safety. Remember those two had switched positions, but due to injuries and other issues, it wasn’t exactly working out. Go back and watch the first play vs. Cal, when Jahvid Best took the ball 80 yards. Look at the last line of defense on that play, and see the safety who completely whiffed on the tackle attempt. That’s just one example, but it shows that a change needs to be made.

Having Hicks and Jackson in the middle of the field makes a heck of a lot of sense. Jackson had 65 tackles as a safety last year, and even though he’s been beat up this year, he just didn’t look like corner was the spot for him in that first game.

2) Myron Beck, who did a fair job as a safety, has been moved to linebacker. Makes sense. He’s shown a nose for the ball and with his quickness, he could be a pretty good, quick outside linebacker. He’s well-built at 6-0, 210, so it could be a really good move for him as well. And with all the issues we had trying to slow down Baylor’s running game – QB Robert Griffin had over 200 yards himself, remember – Beck is probably going to eat into some of Kendrick Dunn’s playing time at weak side LB.

But no matter what, we’ve GOT to stop the run, whether it’s Beck’s speed at linebacker, or if the tackles are going to be pushed out of the way, you better be strong up the middle in other areas with the safeties. Hopefully this change will help Trent man the middle of the field, because right now he’s all we’ve had out there!

3) The o-line is going to shuffle again, and this time it might be for the better. Vaughn Lesuma will move inside to guard, and that could be the best for him. Lesuma isn’t fully healthy, and even when he is OK, he’s always had some issues with the speedier rush ends out there. He’s a huge dude at 6-5, 330, so he might be better suited to be a road grater inside and lean on some defensive tackles with all that girth. Steven Ayers and Joe Eppele will fight it out for the left tackle spot. This is big news, as Wulff has mentioned in his radio show how high they are on Joe Eppele’s ability as a tackle, but his knee injury has held him back thus far. It sounds as though he is now ready to compete, so, we might see him play for the first time this year.

4) At QB – even with the turnovers shown by Lopina – Wulff made it sound like IF he’s good to go, he will start on Saturday. The wrist is sore, but it will likely be Lopina if he’s ready. We all have opinions on the QB, and the question can’t be fully answered yet if you ask me. I would be fine if they continue to split time this Saturday, and then see what happens. But in true foundless, blog-style rumor mongering…..we’ve heard a few things about the QB situation recently, and well, let’s just say it isn’t a shocker that Lopina is getting a long look.

Finally, Vince has a good round-up of the different positions Wulff spoke about yesterday. Check it out here (but you probably already have by now…)

So there you have it. If you keep failing at something, well, what do you do? You try something else. It’s pretty basic. But now that we are three games in, the coaches have found out quite a bit about the players they have and what they do on game day. And most of all, how they fit into what they are trying to accomplish. It’s been a tough three-game stretch, almost like a mini-NFL-preseason audition if you want to know the truth. But the first three games are now in the rear-view mirror, and these guys can now make some adjustments going forward. Let’s see how it all plays out on Saturday. I’m sure as hell hoping they taste victory, for everyone involved! These guys need a win right now.

In other news, the postings might be a little light this week. Real life is more or less getting in the way this week of our massive output of daily content…..we’ll try to stay on top of things, but it might be a lighter-than-normal week. But just know we aren’t going anywhere. Sorry. 🙂

Enjoy your Monday/week, and GO COUGS!

Wulff Radio Show Recap, Plus Links

September 3, 2008

A different feel/tone to this week’s radio show, so, we’ll get right to it in a condensed version:

  • Wulff said things still felt new after the first game, and there is still so much work ahead. We have one game under our belts, and obviously it didn’t go how we wanted it to, but as always, there was good and bad with week one.
  • Good: the defense. Bad: Offense, in particular the passing game early, and special teams struggled on all the units.
  • Felt that we had serious jitters on offense from some new faces. Also spilled over to kicking and coverage issues. But Wulff also said to look around the nation and you’ll see a lot of teams with special teams issues in week one (Cal blocked punt for TD, Missouri ran back a kickoff for a TD, etc). More on that later.
  • Wulff went out of his way to say how special Martin Stadium can be when it’s packed and it’s loud. All things considered, it is one of the tougher places to play on a visiting team, fans/noise/atmosphere can be a headache. Most of all, we NEED A GOOD CROWD this weekend!
  • Wulff was happy with the Seattle crowd. There were moments when it got pretty loud. But he also said their extremely slow start didn’t really give the fans a reason to make a bunch of noise early.
  • Basically felt that the lack of maturity, youth and inexperience had big reasons to do with the loss.
  • Wulff felt the turning point was the long return for a TD after they cut it to a two-score game in the third quarter. Just like that it was back to a three-TD lead and it was an uphill battle.
  • But Wulff was also frustrated by some of the smaller things. For example, right after we got the INT to start the second half, we get a false-start penalty to start the drive. Also something about a personal foul penalty on Karstetter after a first-down run by Dwight Tardy earlier in the game. Just little things added up as well.
  • A caller asked why so many starters are on special teams? Wulff was clear that he felt the vast majority of special teamers should be backups, but, we just don’t have the depth/talent level to get away with it right now. He said going forward, he wants his backups to be dying to get on the field in any way, shape or form, and he wants kids to be excited to play special teams. He pointed out that it isn’t always an easy thing to sell to kids, to get them excited to play special teams when some of them believe they should be starting. He said it can be a hard, humbling experience for “high school stars” to come in and be on special teams. He also made it clear that in the future, they might recruit a kid with a tick less talent than the next guy, but if the character and heart is there, they want that kind of kid. That will help special teams.
  • Wulff made an example that they are already changing special teams, and Andy Mattingly has been moved to kickoff coverage. He said in practice Tuesday, Mattingly was the first guy down the field. He has the heart and character and wants to play, period. Wulff also said that special teams are difficult to practice. It’s a very violent play, and it is always very hard to simulate in practice vs. what you see in games. That’s why there are so many issues usually around the country in the first few games.
  • Reid Forrest very well could punt this week. He kicked in practice yesterday and looked good.
  • Also another injury good-news department- Jeshua Anderson practiced, albeit on a limited basis. Wulff felt that he’s nearly ready to go, but the doctors haven’t cleared him yet. He then said that the Baylor game looks “very promising” for Anderson’s return. Personally, I say don’t rush it and make sure he doesn’t come back too early….but at the same time….wow, does that position need him right now!
  • Wulff talked about the deep balls and the lack of the ability to stretch the field. He felt the two plays with Gibson were balls that he probably should have had, but, they didn’t work out. He also said that we will go deep more often as the season goes on. Also said that if Rogers ever sees Gibson in “zero coverage”, meaning one-on-one without any apparent safety help, then check into something and go for it down the field.
  • Wulff was overall pleased with the offensive line, but he didn’t exactly gush about their performance. He felt they can play much, much better. Bob pointed out that we likely started one of the youngest, if not THE youngest, offensive line in the country with four underclassmen and junior Kenny Alfred at center. Wulff also pointed out that losing Lesuma for now and also Rowlands hurts. But also not having Joe Epelle hurts the tackle situation. But Wulff talked to Rogers after the game and Rogers felt the line did a good job, and aside from a few shots early, didn’t really get hit too much. Wulff stressed that they will get a lot better up front as the season goes on.
  • He believes that we have our hands full in a major way this week, and that Cal already looks better than OSU. He’s very happy to get them in Pullman, and again asked for crowd support. He cited Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen as two of the fastest backs in the conference, hands down. Also likes the way Kevin Riley handles the QB position. Doesn’t try to do too much, and avoids the huge mistake. Also said that their linebackers are excellent, four seniors with tons of experience. They are really, really physical and this game overall will be extremely physical.
  • Recruiting: Wulff talked about how hard they are working in recruiting right now. They have all types of contacts with high school coaches and are always getting tapes and updates from coaches. Right now, as of 9/1 they can call a recruit once a week. But they are also taking time to send hand-written notes and e-mails to players all the time. Also, the kids have every coaches cell phone numbers and can always call them. Wulff said they are also selling the idea of early playing time to recruits, and while they still have to come in and prove themselves, they will get a chance if they are better than what they’ve already got. Wulff cited that five true frosh will play this Saturday as Louis Bland will get in this week, and that proves that young talent will get the chance to play.
  • Biggest jump in improvement: Wulff said the game one to game two jump can be a little misleading, and he thinks it’s more the first two or three games before you can start to see that improvement. He said health can be a big part of the early improvement, but also who you are playing, where you are playing them, etc, but generally he thinks it’s two-to-three games before you might see a big leap forward.
  • Finally, Wulff was asked about the new clock rules, and the way Okie State handled it. He didn’t feel that the clock rules had much of an impact on what they did, but going forward it could make it tougher to come back late in games. Adding those additional 15 seconds per play could really add up if it’s in the 4th quarter and the other team is running the ball and milking clock. Might see fewer chances to come back. And, if you weren’t at the game Saturday and didn’t see it on TV, Okie State would come to the line of scrimmage in a quick fashion, and get set. Then, the entire team would turn and look at the sideline, and a player would hold up these huge flash cards for some sort of signal to either change the play or stick with what they called. Wulff said our defensive coaches should be commended, because they were ready for it and they did a great job of disguising what we were doing on defense. He said initially we wouldn’t tip our hand in any way what we were going to run. Very much a cat-n-mouse type game. He again praised our defense, and how well they stood up given the situations they were put in. He felt we defended them basically as well as anyone did all of last year, so, it’s a good sign.

Really quick, some other links. Chima Nwachukwu said that people will be surprised by how good we will be this year, and that forecasters are basically wrong.

“People are picking us last and next to last in the Pac-10. That’s definitely not where these coaches expect to be and not where the players expect to be.”

Love the optimism. And not a surprise, really. You would hope he wouldn’t say “gosh, y’all were right about us!” But still, the defense did look better and I don’t think there is much disagreement from anyone who watched the game. Get some more consistent offense, improve the special teams so we can at least keep the field position game under control, keep the defense off the field a little more, and who knows what can happen? But there does seem to be a bit of a swagger on D that wasn’t there before.

In the same article by Howie Stalwick, the injuries were addressed. Andrew Roxas went down with a knee injury in practice, and Wulff said it doesn’t look good in Vince’s early-bird piece today. Yet more shuffling up front. But the good news is that Vaughn Lesuma returned to practice Tuesday, so that could be a huge boost by Saturday.


A good read on WSU recruit Geoff Meinken in today’s Seattle Times. He looks like a real rising player in the state, and set for a huge senior year. We wrote about him before here, as he was the first verbal commit to WSU for the upcoming recruiting class. Smart and incredibly strong, probably the perfect “Paul Wulff” type player that we are trying to get. Let’s hope we can stay on him and get his signature next February!

In national news, there’s a new number one team in the land, and it’s no surprise. But I guess the surprise is that USC actually moved up to number one. It appears that there is more thought being put in to the early voting, as SI’s Stewart Mandel said in the article. Georgia and Ohio State dined on cupcakes on Saturday, while USC went to Virginia and just destroyed. Nice to see some teams getting their due if they earn it.

Finally, what did you think of the Pac-10’s first weekend? The desert schools had layups, but Cal, USC and UCLA all scored good OOC wins. I guess we were the only team that lost an OOC game. I think coming into the year we thought the Pac-10 was going to be down, and many of the preseason rags saw a conference rated third, fourth or even fifth among the BCS schools this year. But maybe we aren’t the weak sister of the BCS this year??

Enjoy your Wednesday, and GO COUGS!

Jackson, Chima Secondary Swap Permanent?

April 9, 2008

Per today’s TNT, that’s the deal. Alfonso Jackson and Chima Nwachukwu switched positions early in camp, and things have gone so well according to coach Ball that it will stay this way into the ’08 season.

At first glance, this was puzzling. Chima was picked on early and often last year, but really showed improvement as the season wore on. I remember seeing him against Idaho in the first home game, and I was really impressed by things like his footwork and instincts. He looked like a natural corner and given a few seasons to get experience and put on weight, he was going to be a good player in the system. Doba was always high on Chima. Jackson, on the other hand, struggled with injuries (concussions) and he seemed to be a little lost early on. I think part of it was the overall choice made by Doba to play SUPER SOFT cover-2, with the safeties and corners so far off the ball in pure fear of getting beat over the top, that it was designed to make anyone look bad. Remember the USC game, where all Booty would do was take the snap and throw 8-yard quick hooks or outs or whatever, and the defensive backs weren’t even on the TV screen after the catch was initially made? Talk about soft. Jackson also had a really insane personal foul in the Apple Cup that COULD have blown that entire game! Ugh.

Anyway, what’s interesting is how pleased Chima sounds with this move. I didn’t know this, but he had 3 years of starting safety experience in high school before moving to corner as a senior:

“I like playing safety a lot. It’s really different from playing cornerback. You get to play in the open field,” Nwachukwu said. “My body size, I’m growing (at 5-11 and 195 pounds) and my weight has been going up. This is what spring ball is for. I can get used to the learning curve before fall camp.”


What’s also interesting is how Chima says he’s growing. If you remember last year, he was about 175 and looked skinnier than that. He really looked like a kid right out of high school. But if he’s already at 195 right now, he may end up well into the 2-bills area. Jackson doesn’t sound quite as happy with it, but has eventually come around to the idea. Hey, if he wants to start, and as he said, “they’ve put a lot of dudes out to the next level”, then sign on to the idea. He’s a senior so this is his last shot to make in impact, and better yet, an impression on what he could do if the NFL takes a look. We’ll see how it goes once things get real. Worst-case scenario is they could always switch them back!

Moving on, the Spokesman’s Nick Eason writes about how thin the running backs are right now. How thin? Well, there’s redshirt-frosh Joe Campbell……that’s it. Seriously. Tardy we know is out with the knee, Ivory is out with academics, Marcus Richmond has a sore hammy, and now Logwone Mitz has come up lame with a bad toe. At this point it’s probably not a bad thing that spring ball winds down this Saturday??

Eason goes on to write about the role the running backs will play next year, and how important it is for them to learn this new offense. OC Todd Sturdy has said repeatedly on the banquet scene that they are committed to running the football and will do everything they can to be a 50-50 run/pass ratio offense. But you can only do so much with the talent that’s available. The good news is of course Montgomery coming in, but that’s for 2009. JC transfer Chantz Staden has looked good on film, per Steve Broussard, but uh, that’s just on film. Let’s see how things go when he straps it on in August!

So Tony is staying. Yaaaawwwwnnnn. Actually I’m glad he finally put the rumors to rest. Why did it take so long? That’s a good question and a point of a lot of speculation. Personally, I think he didn’t say anything over these last two weeks because he’s just so honest and a man of his word. And I think, as much as it hurts, that it was in his best interests to listen to Indiana, and also speak with LSU at the Final Four. The last thing he was going to do was sit at a press conference immediately after the season ended and say that he was happy in Pullman and going on the record as saying he was staying, but then also turn around and talk to Indiana and/or LSU. What if word got out that he spoke to these schools after he affirmed his desire to stay? His best move was to keep quiet until he was sure he was coming back. I do believe the odds were always strong that he was coming back anyway, and like you, we heard from some “sources” that said he was staying, but still, the door was open a tad.

Now we can focus on next year and, hopefully, a few years after that as well. We have our top recruiting class, maybe ever, coming in, and possibly some more surprises after the upcoming signing period (Casto??). It will be a lot of fun to watch things grow, on and off the court. The encouraging part is that the program is going to evolve along with this incoming class. Sterk said as much today, talking about the facility improvements, charter flights or some arrangement with Horizon Air, etc.

Finally, the Sonics are another step closer to the dust bowl. The city couldn’t find the extra $75m in the couch cushions, and in an election year the governor or house speaker weren’t about to do anything that could be a lightning rod this November. The mayor pledges to keep fighting, and Slade Gorton, never to be under-estimated, is chomping at the bit to get these A-HOLES into court this June. The last hope appears to be a combination of forcing them to honor the lease in court, and also for that 1.2 BILLION dollar facility to somehow happen with private funds (don’t hold your breath). The Times has a good write-up today on the 5 stages of grief, and part 1 is Denial. I think personally I’m past denial at this point. I’m more towards the depression stage. This has been in the works for so long that denial disappeared a long time ago. It’s just the point of sadness right now. At least we’ll always have Youtube clips of super-freak Shawn Kemp and GP back in the glory days! And believe me, those were wonderful times to be a fan of basketball. That’s life though. Things change.

ENJOY YOUR WEDNESDAY!