Archive for the ‘March Madness’ Category

How U Doin’?

March 20, 2009
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So how’s the bracket after day one? I have to admit I did pretty well – as in 16-for-16 – but so did about a billion other people. While there were some real interesting contests early, kind of a “chalk” first day though, sans the needle-moving upsets? WKU over Illinois was your usual 12-tops-5 deal, but that wasn’t all that surprising was it? A lot of people I talked to in the office had that as their 12-5 special, so there you go. But alas, as is usually the case, I’ll probably take a bath today (meaning: I’ll lose HUGE!).

But hey, at least I’m up BIG on Barack Obama! He only rolled out an 11-5 day one score. What’s odd is that Barry hates the PAC-10, even though his bro-in-law coaches in the conference?

Out of the six PAC-10 teams, Obama didn’t have a single one advancing out of the first weekend. I guess he was close with the UCLA-VCU game that was awfully tight, but still, where’s the love for the west coast? Even Obama has an east coast bias?

So, we made the move to the next millennium….finally. Yep, we joined Facebook. Well, at least I joined Facebook as I really don’t know what I’m doing. I tried to join it for our site but instead it’s just my own name. But I will update it constantly with blog-related stuff, so check it out if you want. Our little Facebook “badge” is now over on the right sidebar of the site, next to our “followers” section, below the archive. ALL ARE WELCOME!

Speaking of the new millennium, we were invited to join Twitter. But I don’t know. I mean Twitter is kind of cool if you want to see what a celebrity is up to, right? But honestly, who really cares about what regular Joe’s are up to on a moment-by-moment basis?

10:30 AM – Thirsty. Time to refill the water bottle.
12 Noon – Lunch time. Turkey? Tuna? PB&J? SURPRISE ME!
2 PM – Time for a snack.
4 PM – Traffic sucks today.

THAT is interesting? Maybe if I was Sean “P-Diddy” Combs it is. But Twitter isn’t for nobodies like me/us (and please, no offense if you do Twitter!).

Finally, in case you were wondering, we ARE winding down the photo contest. Look for a post in the next few days outlining what we are doing next. And thanks for all your entries! We got quite a few good ones, so coming up with the finalists was difficult. And please, even though we aren’t technically doing the contest right now, feel free to share. We have decided just to keep the photo album going forever, so if you have some great pics, please feel free to forward them on and we’ll put them right in. It’s a cool little personal touch and I have received a lot of great feedback on them. Keep it up.

That’s it for a Friday. ENJOY YOUR DAY, enjoy March Madness, and as always, GO COUGS!

Even Video Games Love Carolina

March 25, 2008

With our biggest hoops game since the 1941 NCAA title game coming up Thursday, the experts are coming out of the woodwork to pick North Carolina. Dickie V, Digger, you know the usual suspects. I haven’t seen any projections yet that say we will be blown out of the basketball universe, and everyone expects it to be a bit of a grind for the Heels, but in the end they’ll be 8-10 points better. What, did you expect that anyone would actually pick WSU this week??

That said, even the video games are against us. EA Sports’ NCAA March Madness ’08 has simmed the tourney, and has the Heels taking down our Cougs (pictured above). You can see the entire tourney here via ESPN Videogames, but they have Carolina 69, WSU 62. But with that, I wasn’t exactly satisfied, so I thought what the heck, I’ll sim it myself and let’s see what happens. After all, I’ve got an XBox 360, and while I don’t have March Madness, I do have College Hoops 2K8, which is widely regarded as the superior title (it really is fun, and very realistic).

What happened? Well, 2K8 lets you set up the entire tournament, from 1-to-65, and you can let things play out, or take control of any game you choose. For accuracy sake, I decided to just let the CPU play itself to see what happens. And guess what?? THE COUGARS ARE HEADED FOR THE ELITE 8!

That’s right – The Cougars strolled into Charlotte and pulled off the stunner, taking down Carolina 66-61. Derrick Low and Aron Baynes both had 15 points, with Low drilling a big 3 with 34 seconds left to seal the deal. As in real life, WSU was very patient with the ball offensively and shot 47%, a decent percentage overall. They played stifling, switching, “pack” defense to frustrate Hansbrough, keep Ty Lawson from penetrating, and just played a heck of a game. The Heels shot 41%. All that said, unfortunately, Tennessee ended the WSU title hopes on Saturday, winning a tough game 71-68.

Ok, I know, just a video game, right? Well, 2K8 also did it right with Davidson, placing them in the Sweet 16, as well as Villanova and Western Kentucky. In the end of my sim, Kansas cut down the nets with a big win over UCLA. We shall see what happens, but hey, I’ve got some hope!

Speaking of Charlotte….what the heck has happened to Adam Morrison??

They say he’s a free spirit and really his “own guy”, but geez. He looks like he’s somewhere else. Or maybe he’s simply realizing that Gonzaga is now going to be 2nd fiddle in Eastern WA to the surging WSU Cougar hoops program?? I guess he’ll just have to get by with several piles of cash and NBA groupies at every turn. Poor guy!

Speaking of Gonzaga, KJR was talking yesterday that Mark Few rumors are starting to percolate. This time it’s his alma mater calling, as Ernie Kent is going to get fired chatter is increasing by the day. People take shots at Gonzaga, as they aren’t exactly the cute, cuddly little engine that could as they were when they first burst on the scene. But Few has done a hell of a job building something out of nowhere. They’ve now been to 10 consecutive NCAA’s, and I don’t care what conference you play in, that ain’t easy! We shall see what happens there. If Few did land at Oregon, I would expect a lot of the same thing, honestly. Few’s teams play fast and love to shoot the rock, but they aren’t exactly a defensive team. But it would also be interesting to see what he could do with Oregon’s resources.

Thanks to Atlanta Coug, but ran a story about Gary Rogers from spring ball. Not bad. Ted Miller has moved on from the P-I, and now does the .com thing full-time, so it’s nice to have a NW presence on the national scene for good.

Another day, more Tony Bennett coaching fodder. We mentioned yesterday in comments that IU was rumored to have narrowed their choices down already to either 2 or 3 main candidates, specifically Rick Barnes, Rick Pitino and Thad Motta. This came via Andy Katz and later Pat Forde of ESPN over the weekend on ESPN radio (sorry, no link). You can check out some of the’s IU message boards for more. I think those names show you one thing – IU has some major fish they are trying to land. While we love Tony and know what a fantastic thing he has going here, on the national scale he doesn’t exactly measure up to those names on the IU radar. We’re talking Final 4’s, national titles, and deep, deep runs and consistent tourney appearances, time after time after time.

But as “PTownCoug” mentioned in comments yesterday, just because IU is looking at those big fish doesn’t keep us in the clear here. As is usually the case, when a big coach moves on down the road, the domino’s usually fall. And that means that if, say, Barnes goes to IU, well, Texas is now open. And if Tony doesn’t go to Texas (and I DOUBT he would), but let’s say Mike Brey goes from Notre Dame to Texas. Suddenly Notre Dame is open. And on and on it goes.

It is the oldest Mike Holmgren saying, but it is very true here – “IT IS WHAT IT IS.” And this is the way it is going to be with Tony. I think it’s several things, mainly he’s young, successful, has a sparkling image, and the hoops “genes”. He’s a lot of things that AD’s around the country would love to associate with their programs. And you also get the NCAA writers from everywhere taking a look at young, talented guys and say “why the heck would he want to coach in frosty Pullman??” and of course, write articles that are more speculation than fact. It is just something we have to get used to, and every year when some tasty jobs open up, Tony’s name is going to be thrown against the wall to see if it sticks. Just keep thinking of Holmgren’s catch-phrase, “IT IS WHAT IT IS!”

Quickly speaking of the Seahawks, nice move to keep Lofa a Hawk For Life! What a fantastic player and leader of a still-rising defense. No better move than to lock him up now before the world of NFL free agency poisons the water. As Lofa said, it wasn’t Good Friday, it was Great Friday. I would say the same thing if I signed a $42 million dollar extension with a bunch of guaranteed money!


Bad Omen for Pac-10?

March 20, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

March Madness – WSU Football Blog Style

March 17, 2008

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

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

1) Who’s the QB?

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

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

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

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

3) How About the WR’s?

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

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