Archive for the ‘Sonics’ Category

Are Coug Fans Sinking Sonics 2.0?

April 23, 2009

So late yesterday, there was some news on the controversial bill, SB6116. One of the bill’s sponsors, senator Ed Murray, declared to the Seattle Times that “the bill is dead”. The bill is a wide-reaching piece of legislation designed to allow King County to allocate some existing tax money when it becomes available in the near future, for a renovation of Key Arena, affordable low-income housing, the arts…..and POSSIBLY Husky Stadium. We say possibly, because, well, the bill doesn’t actually say “and Husky Stadium”. Instead the bill talks about maintenance for other sports “stadiums” in the county. Obviously Husky Stadium would fall into that category, but so does Safeco Field and Qwest Field, two venues that are terrific today, but will also need some work in the years ahead.

But to break it all down, the bill gives King County the ability to decide for themselves if they should funnel some of the tax money to Husky Stadium. If anyone remembers the pain of the M’s and Seahawks stadium issues, and how the King County council nearly blew both of those situations, you have to wonder if UW would ever see the money. Or at the very least, it’s possible that the County, in total and complete COVER YOUR BEHIND mode, would simply push it to a public vote (much as we saw with the M’s and Seahawks). They don’t want the ill will from the anti-everything crowd by authorizing tax money for a college stadium in an economy like this.

Anyway, all that out of the way, the bottom line is that the bill looked promising, but now has hit a road block. Why? According to Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics, they are lining up to blame YOU, Coug fans. Check it out:

This thing passed rules because they had the votes. It got put to the floor waiting for a vote that had already happened behind closed doors like they always do. The straw count had shown that it would pass so they allowed it to be put to vote.

Suddenly we had the worst case scenario. A split caused when eastern district republicans started to feel some pushback from WSU alumni. It wasn’t really that much, but enough to start getting questions asked. When questions got asked people started to wonder “is this worth it?” The momentum that had built stalled.

Then Ed Murray sent his message that it was dead to (Jim) Brunner. To put it really simply he was willing to carry the weight, but he didn’t want to carry it uphill. He said to Brunner clearly “it is dead.”

Let me be clear on one thing – I love the work of Brian Robinson. Nobody has done more for the cause to return the NBA to Seattle than this guy. He’s the one who has taken the whole effort on his back, rallied the fans, and tried to do everything he can to point out what a fraud the OKC owners were at the time they were playing their get out of town game. But to then shift gears and try to put the proper pressure on the state to get this thing done is very admirable. And I don’t believe he hates the WSU fan. But it sure seems like some of the blame game is starting. And when Cougfan goes out of their way to fight this thing, well, we are the easy targets. Don’t say you weren’t warned IF this thing doesn’t come to fruition.

THAT SAID, even after yesterday, it’s really, truly NOT DEAD YET. As Tim Ceis of Seattle said last night, it is still alive, and won’t be dead until the entire legislative session shuts down. And even then, it’s not truly dead. The settlement with Clay Bennett says that in order for Seattle to receive another $30 million, the city must have approval for funding by 12/31/2009. I’m no expert (CLEARLY), but it is always possible something could happen, like a special session or something, before the end of the year?

Moving on, WSU Nation is still dealing with our own shocker yesterday in that less-than-uplifting chat with Jim Sterk. If you didn’t see it, please do yourself a favor and check it out here. Lots of things to be concerned about, but basically a sledgehammer reminder about where we are in the PAC, where we need to go, and most of all, why we are moving the Apple Cup to Qwest. It’s the money honey, pure and simple. We don’t have much, and we need more if we want to even attempt to level the playing field.

The issue of getting booted from the PAC-10 has many layers. But as one person told me late last night, the thing the conference is looking at with our situation is the gate, season ticket sales, and donations. It’s no secret that we are behind the rest of the PAC, but, to see it stated by Jim Sterk himself that we are $14 million in budget…behind the NUMBER NINE team in the conference? That’s a lot of ground to make up. And in no uncertain terms, Jim Sterk and the rest at WSU were told several years ago to get going on that stadium expansion to keep their standing in the conference. And if it didn’t come together? Well, there COULD be another vote.

It’s not like teams get booted from BCS conferences all the time. If anything, the conferences have gone the other way, where they have grown or expanded (BIG 10, BIG 12, SEC, ACC all in the last 10 or so years have changed). But it’s not like teams NEVER get kicked out of said BCS conferences. Some quick searching last night found one recent team booted from a BCS conference, in Temple from the Big East.

The reasons for their ouster were many, according to ESPN:

“The Owls were kicked out of the Big East after 13 years for failing to meet minimum requirements for membership, most notably in attendance, facilities and fielding a competitive team.

The Owls were overmatched in the Big East and haven’t had a winning record since going 7-4 under Jerry Berndt in 1990. They went 2-9 last season and are 19-60 in seven seasons under coach Bobby Wallace.

Big East teams decided in 2001 that it was no longer worth the automatic win to keep Temple around. The conference gave the Owls a shove out of the nest and told them to look elsewhere.

Even when the Big East was fighting high-profile defections, they never gave Temple another look.”


Suddenly the Qwest Field Apple Cup for six years doesn’t sound so awful, does it? What I hope here is that Sterk is giving us the full picture. I HOPE this isn’t an empty threat to spur donations. When you are trying to recruit high-quality student athletes to your university, and you have your AD going on a chat to say that we are on shaky ground to even stay in the conference? Doesn’t exactly help the cause, does it? But for him to go public with this, when everyone is paying attention? It’s probably a very real possibility that unless we get our act together, the PAC-10 will give it a serious look.

That’s about it for a downer of a Thursday. ENJOY IT, and as always, GO COUGS.

Monday Morning Catch-up

June 16, 2008

Some quick things to get your week going:

Jeshua Anderson is an NCAA champion. I know this isn’t breaking news, as it happened on Saturday, but still worth a big mention. That kid, man, he is really, really special. From the article:

Before the Men’s 400 Hurdles, most observers felt that Washington State freshman Jeshua Anderson had a brilliant future. Third coming into the last hurdle, Anderson seized the future by the throat, running a sensational final 40 meters to win with the fifth-fastest time in history by an athlete under 20 years of age. Auburn’s Rueben McCoy ran a personal record to finish a close second; another freshman, Robert Griffin (Baylor), finished third.

Fifth-fastest in history under 20 years of age? WOW. We went over this before a few weeks ago, about his long climb to the Olympic Games for ’08. He still has a lot of work ahead, but winning an NCAA title is a nice way of announcing his presence in pursuit of summer glory!

As a football fan, I can’t help but feel conflicted here. I want the kid to do as best as he possibly can, for his glory and for WSU. But at the same time, out of pure fear of not seeing him on the football field again, I don’t want him to do TOO WELL! Not that I would ever root against him, but, well, I have to admit it – I want to see him running under Gary Rogers home-run balls thrown deep down the sideline this year, don’t you? If he makes the Olympic team, his football future has to be at least somewhat in doubt, doesn’t it?

Cougfan has fired up the player diaries. This year we get Gary Rogers and Mike Graise providing regular updates. You know the drill. They’ll rave about how great it is that everyone is sticking around Pullman to work out, everyone seems together, everyone looks great……we’ve been here before. But seriously, I enjoy the first-person takes on what is going on with the team during these times. And this passage from Graise caught my eye:

Last year, in retrospect, there were some guys who didn’t shine as brightly in that first week due to poor training in May…and I was one of them. But looking around now, I can really see the fire in our eyes. You can see us competing with one another and making everyone better.

And to answer one of your questions that I know will come up: Yes, it is all due to coach Paul Wulff and his staff.

From the moment they stepped foot on the practice field, we as players have found ourselves in uncharted territory — the winter workouts we had with these coaches were the most intense workouts I have ever done in my life.

I think we all like to hear that! As coach Wulff has said from the beginning, things need to change on a variety of levels, things that we’ll see on Saturdays of course, but mainly things that go on behind the scenes. And the early returns sound positive.

Meanwhile, coach Wulff continues to make the golf/banquet rounds. This time in Yakima, and Wulff gave a quick interview to the Yakima Herald. Pretty good/quick read, including some material provided by our own Todd Thrasher.

The Seattle game tickets are moving fast. We’re already up over 25,000 sold, including student tickets, after only a few weeks of sales. To put that number in perspective, we had that many sold in mid-August last year. We’re 65% ahead of last year’s pace. The reasons for this are plenty when you think about it – new coach making his WSU debut, decent opponent, no competing game that day (UW is at Oregon), etc. Plus, with gas prices out of control and $5.00/gallon coming soon to a pump near you, this might be the only shot for some west-side fans on a tight budget to see a game in person this year. With the way things are going now, I think it might be an upset if Qwest isn’t sold out by kickoff.

Finally, non-Coug related but that Sonics trial is starting up today. I won’t waste much time on this as I know many of you simply do not care, but it is a big deal in Seattle. I have to admit I’m surprised that this thing is seeing the inside of a courtroom. I thought we would have a settlement by now. But I guess when you take each position, you realize that both sides have too much to lose by settling at this point. The city loses the team if they take the payoff now, no matter how many zero’s are in the amount payable line of the check. And what would Bennett gain by settling? The only thing the city sees as an acceptable settlement now is if they get to keep the team here, or at least gets an iron-clad guarantee of a replacement team as soon as possible. Bennett is dug in and lawyered up, so he’s not going to give it up without a fight. And he obviously needs the NBA’s help to give Seattle another team. So thus far, nobody has blinked in this stare-down. Save Our Sonics is holding a rally this afternoon at 4:30 at the courthouse, where between 500 – 1000 people are expected.

We’ll see what happens, but it should be an interesting ride over the next week or so. If you are interested, check out for regular updates and excellent commentary and coverage by people who’s blood runs Sonics green-n-gold. They have done a fantastic job keeping everyone updated on what’s going on.

HAVE A GREAT MONDAY! And stay tuned for more Spring Fish Wraps, as we are down to the final four opponents for 2008.

Big Week for Wulff

April 1, 2008

So while we divert our attention away from Tony Bennett for the moment (and if you noticed, the story still isn’t 100% dead, as Howie Stalwick wrote today), lo and behold the FOOTBALL team is on the 3rd week of practice already?? How did that happen? I have no idea. Maybe because coverage has been so sparse, what with the Bennett’s run into Sweet-16-ness coinciding with 2/3rds of spring ball?

Whatever the reason, it’s a new week and spring ball is in the home stretch. While spring has been “OK”, according to some, Wulff weighs in today in the Spokesman about how important this week really is. For a quick recap, here’s where we are with one week left:

  1. The defense is ahead of the offense. BIG-time. Proof is in the pudding, and the defense allowed only 2 TD’s in 90 minutes of action last week. Both were rushing TD’s, and the D racked up 4 sacks and a couple of picks.
  2. The QB’s have been OK, but there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of separation at this point. There weren’t any TD passes in the last scrimmage, and the yards and completions were pretty low across the board. (here’s a full recap of the scrimmage) Rogers is still the #1, and most likely things will stay that way once spring wraps up. But there are rumors that another young QB has done pretty well, and might really make a case for the job this fall (think RS-frosh young). None other than Marshall L has looked pretty good. Who knows, maybe we’ll have the first QB controversy in the Wulff era before the first game?
  3. This team is thin, thin, thin. Wulff has mentioned it all along, from the first couple of weeks after he took the job, to interviews prior to spring ball. That view hasn’t changed in any way. Based on some hints Wulff dropped at the Seattle football dinner, we may see new recruits pressed into action immediately this year, and not necessarily by choice. I can’t tell you how many times Wulff would talk about a prospect during the video clips, and then drop in “we’d like to redshirt him this year and get him to gain some weight, but…”
  4. Someone on the blog asked Vince today what he thought about this year’s team. In a nutshell, he thought we would be OK. Check it out (*but here’s the quote): “Paul Wulff is trying to change the program in his image, which would be a rebuilding job even if 50 good players were returning. His philosophy is just different than Bill Doba’s. Whether it’s better or not is up for others to decide, but it is different.

    As for next year, the cupboard isn’t all that bare with a good offensive line, strong receivers and experienced linebackers returning, along with some possible stars at other positions. But there is no depth, a new quarterback is taking over a new system and 2009? Watch out. That could be tough one as the upperclassmen move on and most of Wulff’s guys will be young.”

That’s about it for now. You can get more from the Cougfan premium stuff, but they are the only ones that are really giving much on the football team at this point. Players are still getting to know the coaches, and still trying to learn new offensive and defensive playbooks in the process. No matter the situation, it can’t be easy. The important thing to remember is that no matter how rough the edges are right now, there’s still a long way to go until the opener vs. Okie State.

Moving on, some weirdness on the Sonics front. A group is going to announce at 11 AM a potential new arena option in Seattle, possibly down on the pier area across from Qwest Field and Safeco. A very strange press release was issued yesterday that the press conference would be today, the Governor knows about it, even the NBA has been briefed on it and it’s been in the works for months. That is all that is known at this time. More to come on that. Otherwise, the Key Arena renovation plan seems to have hit the wall in trying to get the last $75 million needed. With the deadline just 10 days away or else the Ballmer deal evaporates, it really does appear the franchise is yet another step closer to the dust bowl.

M’s notch a solid 5-2 win. Bedard struggled with his command and a wicked-tight strike zone, but he kept busting guys inside and never gave in. He battled through 5 innings and kept the damage to just a solo homer in the first inning. Not a great beginning, but still, not bad. And before you get uptight about Bedard? Don’t. Just remember the Jeff Weaver/Horacio Ramirez train-wreck of starting pitching last year before you complain why he didn’t throw a complete-game shutout! Personally I think opening day is beyond overrated, so it really doesn’t matter. The good news is 1 game in, 1 game lead in the AL West over the Angels! Better than the other way around I guess.

Good riddance Lopez twins. You’ll be taking your chest-thumping show to the NBA next year. No, we won’t miss you. And speaking of the NBA, a quick glance of and you realize the Pac-10 landscape could be drastically different next year. Lopez (the good one) is already rated as the #3 pick in the draft. But look at the rest – Jerryd Bayless of Arizona #4? OJ Mayo of USC #5? Russell Westbrook of UCLA #10? Kevin Love, also of UCLA, #13? Darren Collison at #14? The other Lopez at #18? Even guys like Taj Gibson of USC are listed as 2nd rounders/underclassmen. Pretty remarkable at how the Pac-10 is going to show this year.

Also does you proud to see both Weaver AND Low listed as draft picks! Weaver as a late first-rounder, Low a mid/late 2nd rounder. Nice job.

Trufant Surrenders!

March 26, 2008

NIIIICE. Trufant has re-upped with the Hawks in a cap-friendly, long-term deal that brings smiles all around. Nice job Tru. You’ve freed up some $4 million in cap space for the team to use as it needs to the rest of this offseason. Plus, no more drama to worry about. Will he hold out and skip mini-camps? Is he unhappy being the franchise player? Will we simply lose him down the road because of this? All speculation is officially GONE. Welcome home Tru!

On the Tony Bennett front, no, I’m not going to link to wild rumors. But there is a decent read from Jerry Brewer of the Times, in a Q & A about Tony and the possibility of Indiana. It’s a good 7-question deal with a writer who knows Indiana, and I thought there were some interesting things to take from it. Brewer has done a good job on covering the Cougs’ run in the midst of UW country, and I’ve heard him on the radio a few times. He is extremely impressed with Bennett and the WSU program. Brewer, by the way, you might recognize the last name. He is the cousin of former Florida superstar Corey Brewer, who was a lottery pick last year and is toiling for the T-Wolves. The guy knows college hoops, no doubt about it.

Meanwhile, yes, we’re in the Sweet 16. But last I checked, this is a FOOTBALL blog, so, here goes.

Paul Wulff had an online chat prior to the start of spring ball. Nothing earth-shattering, but I thought it would be of some interest. Check it out here. And if you read closely enough, you’ll see our own Kaddy reveal himself! Cool.

Practices have been moving along, now 6 full ones in the books. Unfortunately there just isn’t a lot of free content out there right now to get a read on how things are going. Cougfan has daily recaps, but, they are premium stories. We hear bits-n-pieces, but it’s hard to get good info right now. Here’s a story from the Times earlier last week, as well as the P-I, and the News Tribune. There are some good nuggets in there. Otherwise it’s pretty quiet, but the hoops team is kind of making it so. It’ll pick up soon.

Finally, the Sonics. It sounds pretty dire right now. But what did everyone expect David Stern to say at a press conference with Clay Bennett, the mayor and the governor of Oklahoma? Forget it, we’re keeping the team in Seattle?? Whatever. All I now is from hearing from Brian Robinson of Save Our Sonics, this thing isn’t dead. Far from it. Look for something to come out of the city this week that, potentially, they’ve found the bridge money of $75 million to make the $300 Key a reality. And then, let’s just see what the NBA says to a massive renovation as well as an ownership group approaching $20 BILLION in net worth. I’ll say this – if they say no to that group? Then adios, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya. Good luck in the dust bowl, trying to attract free agents in the least-appealing market in the NBA. And also enjoy watching Kevin Durant grow up and, of course, bail for a bigger market (New York, LA, even DC?). Be careful what you wish for!

Tuesday Ramblings

March 11, 2008

Rambling about the Sonics mess was something I was going to lead off with, but you know what? I’m tired of it already. Yesterday both sides fired off letters, first Ballmer and the rest of the A-team signing an April 10th deadline to get this Key Arena deal done or else their $500 MILLION dollar gift disappears. Of course the state responded in their usual, BS way, this time hoping that a non-binding letter proclaiming that they will form a committee to review the idea sometime “next year”?? Uh, no. Not going to fly. Basically the statement is if they wait until next session, there won’t be anything to study. As Ballmer has said, the “moons are aligned” for this thing to happen now, but it must be fully in place by 4/10, a week before the board of governors meet to decide the Sonics request to move. Here’s a direct link to the letter. These guys are beyond serious here, and there is very little grey/gray area to what their intent really is.

What I found interesting is the Dino Rossi angle. Here’s a guy who barely lost to Gregoire and many to this day still claim he should have won. And he came out swinging yesterday after meeting with the A-team, convinced like the rest of the general public that this is such an overwhelmingly amazing option for all citizens of King County that they just can’t possibly pass on this…..can they???

I guess either the state is playing major politics here, waiting until the 11th hour to agree and look like heroes? Either that or our elected officials are certified morons that fit the image of bloated, slow-moving government to a T. I’m not fully giving up hope, but this ship sure seems to lack not only a rudder, but it’s clear now that the captain has completely frozen in her tracks.

Moving on, and yes, FOOTBALL related stuff here! Most of you know that the school has released the spring depth chart. Cougfan does a great job of running it down here.

The thing that caught my attention the most is what Wulff has been saying all along, and that is we are not good on the defensive line right now. How bad is it? Stud LB Andy Mattingly is actually moving to defensive end (gasp!). Mattingly had a fantastic run once he took over as a starter 5 games into the season, and finished the year with a remarkable 91 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss including 8 sacks, an INT, 4 pass-breakups, 4 forced fumbles and a partridge in a pear tree. I think Mattingly was sighted selling popcorn in the stands when the offense had the ball. And he’s moving to defensive end? I can’t say I’m all that thrilled with the idea. Mattingly has NFL linebacker size at a legit 6-4, 241 lbs. He’s already rated by as the #11 linebacker eligible for the 2010 NFL draft, and they have him as a “rising” player.

I guess Wulff and Sears and Ball are going to do what’s best for the defense, but I just hate the idea of having him not playing in space. Then again, Mattingly doesn’t appear to have the top-shelf speed burst in him that the great outside linebackers have. He’s listed as having a 4.74 40-time, and that’s clearly too slow for the NFL. But 4.7 is sure as hell quick enough as a defensive end.

Another thing that shows you how bad the d-line is? Andy Roof, who’s now back in the program, is shifting to d-tackle. Roof is generally regarded as the strongest guy on the team, and he’s got a nasty edge to him, no doubt, so maybe this move is OK. Just seems unusual given he’ll be a senior and there seems to be an opening at left guard, but instead they are projected to go with Andrew Roxas.

One more thing here – I think spending too much time on the pre-spring depth chart this year is a little foolish. We know that by fall, when things get serious, it’s going to look a lot different. We also know that other than Broussard and Levy, we have a brand-spanking-new coaching staff. They’ve barely got to know this new group of players, and this will be their first hands-on experience coaching them. We don’t know how everyone is going to fit into Wulff’s new system. So I think the thing to pay attention to here isn’t so much what the depth chart looks like now, but instead to focus on what it looks like coming OUT of spring and in particular how it looks towards the end of fall camp. I think right now there are just too many unknowns to get bent out of shape about anything!

Finally, the Quacks are on the hoops radar for Thursday. Woody commented yesterday that Lunardi is doing some back-peddling on our Cougar seed, now firmly as a 7 in Raleigh, starting at a 2nd-round match-up with the Dukies. So maybe it is more important than we thought to go out and win a couple of Pac-10 tourney games after all? That appears to be our best hope of improving that seed. The thing is, I know I’ve heard Lunardi say before that when he does this thing, he gives it thought about not only where teams are now, but also he tries to project where teams will be by the time the brackets are announced. So maybe he’s got us pegged for a 7 no matter what? I don’t know, but we’ll see how it all plays out. Personally I think the 3rd place team in what is regarded as the best conference in America should be better than a 7, but I don’t spend any time studying how the hell this all breaks out, and that’s basically Lunardi’s full-time job!

Enjoy your Tuesday. Oh yeah, if you haven’t already, e-mail the governor and Frank Chopp. Give a quick call at 800-562-6000. Tell them to do the right thing and save the Sonics. It’s right there in front of their big, fat, bloated faces.

Sonics New Mission…Impossible?

March 7, 2008

It’s now out there for full consumption – there is new local money that is burning the hole in the pocket of Steve Ballmer, among other big players, to not only buy the Sonics but give $150 million dollars towards a massive Key Arena renovation. You’ve seen all the particulars so I’ll spare you the further details as to why this thing makes so much sense. But the quick, official breakdown is $150 million from the new ownership group, $75 million from the city that is all but guaranteed at this point, but the sticking point is the last $75 million to come from the stadium tax that’s already in place. The plan has been to retire the stadium taxes for the M’s by 2012, as it was doing so well it was set to finish 4 years ahead of the original 2016 date. This group is simply asking the state to not retire the tax early, in 2012, but instead let it run it’s course as it was originally designed. They would take $75 million of it for the Key, but anything left over in that time period would go to other causes, however the state saw fit.

Seems like a home run. But the resistance looks like this thing is going to be a long-shot to come through.

So far we’ve had house speaker Frank Chopp cowering in the corner, so unsure of what to say or do that he’s actually deferred his comments to his mouthpiece named Jeff Morris from Anacortes. Morris threw cold water on the idea yesterday, saying that it’s far too late in the session and that he doesn’t see much support for something being introduced so late in the process. Meanwhile, the governor’s spokesperson says hey, great. But we’re not going to commit to anything for this session and it’s unlikely a special session will be called after next week.

Finally, the ultimate fly in the ointment, crap-with-feet-Bennett. The word is he’s still partying from Tuesday night’s election victory in OKC and is dying to bring “his” Sonics “home”. Last night, Bennett’s office wouldn’t comment, and the NBA flatly said “Mr. Bennett has stated the team is not for sale.” Maybe it’s just part of the dance, and for now he’s got to say it. What, did you expect he’d just bend over and pull up his skirt? Of course not.

So, add it all up? There’s a lot of opposition here. Maybe it is too much to overcome in such a short time. Or maybe, just maybe, this power group is so used to getting what they want that they don’t know how to take no for an answer?

I mean think about the players in this – Steve Ballmer, the friggin’ CEO OF MICROSOFT, the most successful software company in the world. Ballmer’s net worth is $15 BILLION. To put that in proper context, he is only about $1 billion behind Paul Allen. That number would easily place Ballmer as the #2 richest owner in pro sports behind only Allen. Even further, everyone brags about Bennett’s wealth and his group has billions. Yet Ballmer’s net worth is FIVE TIMES that of Bennett’s entire ownership clan.

And don’t forget the political power of Slade Gorton. He’s been talking to the NBA since December about this possibility. He’s been in the middle of so many successful things in Seattle and oh yeah, he’s going to help defend the city in court in June for the Sonics lawsuit. Remember, Gorton is responsible for the M’s, saving them TWICE – once by suing MLB and getting the M’s in ’77, and then again helping the sale to Nintendo of America and also playing peacemaker between the M’s and the state over Safeco Field in ’95 – and of course the Seahawks, who actually moved to Anaheim before he got involved with Paul Allen, and ultimately Qwest Field!

I guess the real question for the state to answer is, well, OK, this thing is being unveiled late in the session. It’s not ideal because of the timing. But what is the alternative? What if they play politics and throw out resistance-type quotes, and hem and haw about there’s not enough time? Well, if that happens and they let this thing go, then the NBA board of governors has a choice to make next month. They have the OKC situation sorted out with their latest upgrade to Ford Center. Then they look at Seattle and see a state legislature opposed to a silver-platter style offer for the arena? That this state can’t even bring themselves to consider letting a stadium tax run it’s course?? There wouldn’t be any public vote on this thing. The usual anti-stadium suspects have already weighed in, saying they are in favor of this plan. They have one of the top-30 richest human beings on the planet with 6.5 billion people as a potential owner of the team, and is a major force in the pacific NW. And the state is thinking of saying no??

If they say no, it’s simple – the NBA board will vote to allow the relocation if this thing isn’t approved and Seattle has nothing on the table. This deal evaporates in the wind and will never come back. The Sonics court case will play out, and the city will ultimately win. But that will only delay the inevitable. Oh, there will be other, lesser plans floated by the state next legislative session, but it won’t matter. It won’t come close to what is on the table. As every second goes by, the Sonics are closer to OKC. And then, after the 2009 – 2010 season, the team is gone. The city not only loses a big part of it’s culture, but is then stuck with an outdated arena that has debt still unpaid from the last time the renovation happened. And, yes, they lose their major tenant for at least 41 nights from November – April, the dreariest time of the year to exist in Seattle.

We’ll see how it plays out, but this next week is going to be a potential roller-coaster. If you’ve ever wondered if you should contact the powers-that-be, this is the time.

Lunardi: 6 Seed the Worst Case Scenario for WSU?

March 6, 2008

At least that’s what ESPN’s bracket guru claimed yesterday. Every week, Joe Lunardi appears on KJR and gives an analysis of his weekly bracket. The guy is regarded as the most accurate projector of these kinds of things, so you have to respect his opinion. But what was a big surprise to me was that he said that our 6 seed could be regarded as the WORST case scenario. Mitch Levy asked him for WSU’s seed range, and he said best case, 3-seed, worst case, a 6-seed. You can hear the interview here. Check it around the 12-minute mark and he gets into the Pac-10. He’s got UCLA as a likely 1-seed (shocker), Stanford a 1 if they win out but probably a 3, and WSU is “awkward” but even if they lose to UW and the first Pac-10 tourney game, they would fall no further than a 6.

One of the biggest reasons is our conference, but also earlier in the interview he mentions how so many bubble teams have been struggling. There just aren’t many teams that we would fall past, even IF we lose out! Makes you feel like it’s really going to be a wild tournament this year (but can’t you say that every year?).

On the Sonics front, things are hopping. It looks like Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is a big name in the potential new ownership group trying to save the team. And today’s P-I profiles the story with native son Matt Griffin as well as an update on the deal. And on the same KJR theme, Mitch Levy gives a rant and a breakdown of the Key Arena situation.

This is beyond crucial for the hopes of pro hoops in Seattle. The current local plan is a slam-dunk. If you haven’t read up on it, here’s the details:

  • $300 million renovation for the Key.
  • $150 million would be from purely private investors. These same private investors would either buy the Sonics from the current owner, or they would attempt to buy a franchise in trouble in another city (New Orleans?).
  • $75 million would come from a facility fee, naming rights, etc at Key Arena. One scenario floated by Brian Robinson at Save Our Sonics says that it would be roughly a $5 facility fee on a ticket.
  • $75 million would then come from the state taxes, the existing stadium taxes being extended. In other words, there wouldn’t be a need for ANY NEW TAXES, merely an extension. And some extra money created from the existing tax could go to other causes like low income housing, etc.

And finally, this deal would pay off the outstanding Key Arena debt from the last time they did their half-assed renovation. Even the anti-stadium guys, Nic Licata and Chris Van Dyke, are quoted as being potentially IN FAVOR of this kind of a plan!

You just hope that the legislature realizes what is being handed to them. This is the ultimate bailout for them. This is an offer that very likely won’t be there in the future as well. And they must do something, quickly, before the NBA Board of Governors meet in late April to vote on the Sonics move. The Oklahoma vote for their $120 million arena upgrade passed with flying colors on Tuesday, so the board could have an easy “yes” vote knowing an upgraded building will be waiting for them in OKC.

I urge any of you, if you care about the future of pro sports in Seattle, to simply send a quick 2-or-3 sentence e-mail to the governor and house speaker. You can do that with this link. Just quickly tell them you are a voter, and you are in support of them going with this plan. That’s it. They must hear from as many people as possible in order to enhance the sense of urgency. Don’t let them off the hook, blowing a fantastic deal in the process!

Last item of the day – Tony Bennett. Jim Moore goes through a quick rundown of Tony being a candidate at Anywhere U, for all the obvious reasons. Moore also weighs in on the idea of why Bennett won’t say he’s interested, and gets some comments from Lorenzo Romar as to why he would say what he’s saying (or isn’t saying?). WSU Hoops founder Jeff Nusser gave his own view of the situation, and it’s somewhat out-of-the-box from what you might think? But I guess the thing I take from it is what Sterk said at the end of the article:

“One year ago this month, Sterk extended Bennett’s contract through 2014 and gave him a raise to an average salary of $800,000.

“He asked for seven years,” Sterk said Wednesday. “He wanted to build this. It’s not like I have blinders on. I feel good about him and where he wants to be and what he’s doing.”

Sterk said there has been “no contact with him or me or anyone” from Indiana. He also pointed out that Mark Few is everyone’s annual candidate to leave Gonzaga, but he’s still in Spokane. And in spite of courtships from other suitors, he expects Bennett to stay in Pullman.”

Baby Trufant the Best One Yet?

February 19, 2008

As we bask in the glow of the Oregon win (more on that in a moment), some actual football recruiting buzz is starting to percolate. What do you know? Desmond Trufant has been making a name for himself down in Tacoma, and is drawing raves from all over. And I guess Wulff meant it when he said that right after signing day they are already working on next year’s class. Wulff has already stepped up and offered Trufant a full ride (what a difference with this coaching staff?).

Yes, that is Trufant, as in the Tacoma Trufant’s. Do the Cougs’ have a leg up in this fight? Well, as of today, young Desmond is wide-open in the recruiting battle. We’ve offered, but so has Ty Willingham. And Oregon is interested as well.

Maybe Wulff has an edge here, not only with the WSU lineage with Marcus, but we all likely know that the middle Trufant, Isaiah, played for Wulff at Eastern. So we’ll see how it all plays out.

Trufant is an interesting prospect. Good size for a high school junior at 6-0, 170, and reportedly runs a 4.5. But his coach at Wilson already says that he’s better at this stage than his older brothers in terms of making big plays and showing pure athletic ability. He’s also a heck of a guard on the hoops team. He made second team All-Narrows league this season and will be a likely first-team candidate next year. He also ran track in ’07, running in the 4×100 relay. And as a frosh, he even triple-jumped over 40 feet, good for 5th best that year against a bunch of upper-classmen.

You know what’s great though? Wulff is out there fighting for this kid, regardless of his name and the possible “ins” we have here. Can you imagine the former staff actually offering a kid this early?? Never would have happened. I think back to losing Cameron Elisara to UW and how that former staff handled a player that many thought would be a sure thing to WSU. After all his dad played on the ’81 team, he was playing in Spokane, he had interest in WSU. But while we collectively fell asleep at the wheel, he chose UW because they were after him, showed him the “love”, that sort of thing. I can’t WAIT to see what sort of classes Wulff can put together over the next couple of years once he has a chance to establish his product!

So the latest polls have our hoop team at #17 in the AP, #19 in the coaches/USA Today. Seems about right. You can’t help but feel good about how they’ve righted the ship. I’ll let Brinkhater go off about the x’s and o’s, but from where I sit they seem to have that swagger back that they were lacking there for a tough stretch. That same swagger they had earlier in the season while winning close road games at Gonzaga, Baylor and UW, it all seems to be coming back. The health of Weaver is a concern, no doubt, and that seems like it might be something to really keep an eye on down the stretch. But it’s also a situation that appears to have let Rochestie take more of the offensive load? He has stepped up his offensive numbers lately, and was huge at the stripe down the stretch on Saturday. Finally, LOVED TO SEE LOW get off! I told Brinkhater last week that I am still waiting anxiously for him to just get it rolling, and the start of that Oregon game was huge for him. He is so streaky, but he has moments where he’s really, really special and looks like he could take over a game at any time. He shows those flashes of big-time scorer and you wonder where it is all the time, but that’s just the nature of being a fan I guess.

The Arizona schools are up next, starting with the Sun Devils on Thursday. Oh those naughty Sun Devils!
Then of course it’s Arizona on Saturday.

A sweep of the desert schools would sure be nice. But for some reason I suddenly don’t hate them all that much, do you?

On the Sonics war front – Can David Stern please SHUT THE F*CK UP? More rhetoric, more saber-rattling, more sky is falling. Yet you still hear and see no sign of panic among the Seattle “leaders”. Why? Because for one simple reason – they KNOW they won’t lose in court! The NBA and the Sonics ownership is screwed and they know it. The NBA doesn’t want to be drug through the mud which, coincidentally, this case would start during the NBA Finals, when the whole nation is watching the league. Their only hope is to try and buy out the city so they can get the hell out of here, but the city knows how strong a case they have. They know it, you know it, I know it, Bob Dole knows it. The thing to be a little uneasy about however is the story today that says “we won’t settle…..for now.” Let’s hope they do the thing that is in the best interest of the fans, and that’s stick to the outcome of the court case, period. And if the city somehow loses? Just appeal, appeal, appeal, and delay their departure. Make it painful on Clay-Clay.

The other side to this is that there are strong rumors that a local group is forming, all behind the scenes, to make a tremendous offer to buy the team. But that offer won’t come until after the case is heard. The other part of that equation is that a huge Key Arena remodel package is also in the works, one that would come right along with the new ownership group. But again, all that is behind the scenes and kept private until the outcome of the court case. It’s a frustrating way to play it, all the silence, but it’s the way it should be done for now.

Here’s the thing. The city has Slade Gordon on the roster to fight for this thing. I can’t think of anyone better to be on our side than Stud Gordon. Do you know why we even have the Mariners right now? Slade Gordon sued Major League Baseball after the Pilots bolted for Milwaukee, and WON Seattle a franchise! Do you know why the Seahawks are here? Slade Gordon was part of the group that stood up to Ken Behring and helped play a role in getting Paul Allen to the table with Behring. Today the Seahawks are a model NFL franchise. Slade Gordon doesn’t lose to professional sports leagues, PERIOD. So let David Stern say there’s no hope, no miracle. Let them flap their wings about settlements and such. But at the end of the day, they are staring at a losing cause in court, and they know it.

Enjoy your Tuesday!