Category Archives: Pac-10 Basketball

Afternoon Notes: Huskies pull rank, Oliveira wins Super Search

Husky Men’s Basketball: The Washington men’s basketball team received more national recognition today, as they appeared in both the Top 25 AP and USA Today/Coaches polls for the first time this season. The Dawgs elevated to #22 in the AP poll, up from #23 last week. They also emerged at #25 on the Coaches poll, the first time they’ve appeared on that list all year.

Continue reading Afternoon Notes: Huskies pull rank, Oliveira wins Super Search

Morning Notes: M’s make a move, Huskies set to take on Arizona

Mariners: The M’s made a trade yesterday, sending recently acquired righthander Aaron Heilman to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for middle infielder Ronny Cedeno and lefthanded pitcher Garrett Olson.

Heilman, acquired less than two months ago from the Mets as part of the J.J. Putz trade, was an expendable veteran arm with no defined role headed into Spring Training.

Cedeno, who turns 26 on Monday, is a former top prospect of the Cubs who has yet to reach expectations in the big leagues. A contact hitter with a good glove up the middle (think a younger, slightly more talented version of Willie Bloomquist), Cedeno batted .269 last season in 99 games, receiving playing time at shortstop and second base. For one stretch lasting from mid-April until the beginning of June, Cedeno kept his batting average above .300, peaking at a sizzling .391 on May 2nd. There was even some speculation in Chicago during this time that Cedeno would supplant either Ryan Theriot or Mike Fontenot as the starter at second or short. He’ll look to do that this season to the likes of Jose Lopez and Yuniesky Betancourt.

Olson, a former “sandwich” pick in the 2005 June amateur draft (#48 overall), is another ex-top prospect who has yet to completely pan out. A slender lefty who throws his fastball in the low-90’s, Olson relies on a big breaking curveball (think Barry Zito) to get batters out, and complements his one and two with a solid changeup. He started 26 games last year for the Baltimore Orioles, posting a 9-10 record with a 6.65 ERA. Olson will be given every chance to crack the M’s rotation and would likely be used in the pen if he failed to impress in Peoria.

Husky Basketball: The Dawgs are in Tucson today to take on the Arizona Wildcats later this evening. The unranked Wildcats are coming off a non-conference home victory Saturday over Houston. Though they’ve struggled this season, Arizona is always tough at home and historically presents matchup problems for an undersized Husky team.

Junior forward Chase Budinger, recipient of an uncalled for head stomping over the weekend, should be fired up and ready to ignite his team against a first-place Washington team looking to extend their lead over the rest of the Pac-10.

The game is scheduled for 5:30 PM and can be seen locally on Fox Sports, or heard live on 950 KJR AM.

*One programming note regarding the site: We won’t be having a Top 11 list this week amidst the scrutiny of a number of other issues going on in the world of sports. Check back next Thursday for the Top 11 on its usual day and time.

Watch out for Hurricane Libbey

This is worth its own post. The good people at have picked up on our Dave Libbey article and are incensed that we would harangue The Great Dave Libbey. Their forum has turned into a veritable Seattle Sportsnet hatefest:

Personally, I don’t understand it. I can understand supporting a fellow official, but these guys apparently kneel at the altar of TGDL. No matter what logic, video evidence, or written evidence of Libbey’s transgressions they’re provided, they refuse to see the light.

For those of you who have questioned the pettiness of officials over the years, good news: these folks have resorted to personal attacks on my character and the website to express their displeasure with the harsh words directed at Libbey. All those times you chanted “Take his whistle,” “Bull-shit,” or “Worst refs ever,” there’s a good chance they heard you, took that venom home, bottled it up, and unleashed it in a message board.

One further note: for all the affection they show TGDL, they still can’t spell his name right. I’m not too sure “Dave Libby” would be pleased with their efforts.

Huskies ranked 23rd in AP poll

Two years have passed since the Washington men’s basketball team was last ranked in a national poll. That all came to an end yesterday as the Dawgs earned the number 23 spot in the AP Top 25 rankings. Unfortunately, they were left off the USA Today/Coaches Poll, but if nothing else it gives them something to shoot for.

The Huskies earned the right to be recognized over the weekend by knocking off UCLA and USC at home to emerge atop the Pac-10 conference. That ranking will be put to the test in the coming week, however, as UW travels south to face Arizona and Arizona State in two very tough road contests.

If the Huskies intend to capitalize on their national acclaim, they’ll need to ignore the number next to their name and not let the press affect them. Unless your a college football team in the BCS, rankings are worthless, save for inspiring the fan base and puffing up the ego a bit.

With that said, the Husky basketball team becomes the first major Seattle sports team of any kind to receive positive acclaim in the past year. Where others have failed, the Dawgs have thrived. Our football teams sucked, the Mariners sucked, and the Sonics are gone. What else is there to say? God Bless Husky Basketball.

It’s Dave Libbey’s world, we just live in it

Dave Libbey has no soul. I’m convinced of this. Don’t ask me why I’m convinced, I have no reasoning, but if you know who Dave Libbey is, there’s a good chance you might just agree with me.

For those of you who don’t know Libbey, he’s a college basketball referee that makes his home on the West Coast. Libbey has been an official since the early-1980’s, and over the years has worked his way up to a certain level of prominence in the world of NCAA hoops.

If you’re a hardcore Pac-10 basketball fan, you know Dave Libbey, and you subsequently hate Dave Libbey. Amongst his peers, Libbey may be viewed as a savvy veteran of the profession, but to fans and purists everywhere he’s more of a villain than anything else.

When it comes to college basketball, it’s all about Dave Libbey. If Dave Libbey is on the call, then Dave Libbey WILL BE the main attraction. You may not think that’s the case going in, but by the end of the game you’ll know it’s the truth. Libbey maintains an iron-fisted grip over his three-man officiating team and overrules anything and everything his minions attempt to do. You see a charge? Dave Libbey sees a block. You want traveling? Dave Libbey sees dribbling. For some refs, there may be such a thing as a no-call situation. For Dave Libbey, every situation requires his influence.

Dave Libbey is always right.

If you watched the Washington-UCLA game on Saturday, you witnessed Dave Libbey at his best. There were technical fouls, blatantly missed calls, questionably called calls, and even a sign in the Dawg Pack that read “Welcome to the Libbey show.” The billboard in his honor apparently brought out the best in Libbey, as he walked over to the students before the game, blew kisses, and thanked them for spelling his name correctly. As one fan put it, it was little more than “disturbing.”

On message boards around the nation, Libbey is trashed and lambasted by college basketball fans on a seemingly daily basis. However, I did find one message board where the man, the myth, the legend was praised. The forum on is a Dave Libbey lovefest. One user, under the handle “Stripes,” offered this praise of Libbey’s work: “I have been to Dave’s camp held at UCSD. I thought it was excellent. Dave is a great teacher and motivator. At the time I was a JV official…” And we’ll stop you right there. You were a JV official.

Just the fact that Libbey is as well-known as he is, is an indictment on his job and his personality. Officiating is a profession based on anonymity. The less people recognize you, the better. If fans can leave a game never knowing you existed, then that likely means you did a great job. Apparently Dave Libbey doesn’t play by these rules. He thrives on the attention, and he loves to be in control. He goes out of his way to chastise players, talk to coaches, exchange barbs (not necessarily in a friendly manner) with fans, and showcase his douchebag personality every chance he gets. Dave Libbey may be good for officiating, but he ruins the game of basketball.

*For stats on Libbey’s work, click here.

UCLA’s Dragovic redefines “greatness”

In case you need some bulletin board fodder to carry with you to Saturday’s Husky game against UCLA, here’s a tidbit on Bruin forward Nikola Dragovic.

Dragovic, UCLA’s token Serbian with the awkward-looking name (everyone who’s anyone has one!), is a 6’8″, 214-pound sophomore who may be best known to Dawg fans as the guy who put up two airballs and compiled an 0-4 shooting night in his first trip to Seattle last season. To Bruin fans, Dragovic is a contributing role player who mustered a career-high 20 points against Washington State on Thursday.

Nikola Dragovic, UCLA forward, Criminal

Oh, but there’s so much more to Nikola Dragovic than just numbers. For example, back in November, Dragovic was involved in a domestic dispute with his live-in girlfriend (now, presumably, his ex-girlfriend). The dispute occurred when Dragovic arrived home around 4:00 PM on the evening of November 8th to find his belongings strewn about the front lawn.

Likely bewildered (“I cannot say that I understand this custom of American culture”), Dragovic took out his rage on the only other person present, his girlfriend. A verbal dispute turned into an episode of Cops right after Dragovic shoved the woman to the floor and was subsequently taken into custody. Try doing that to Jon Brockman and see what happens.

Once safely behind bars, a judge set bail for Dragovic at $20,000. Somehow he managed to post bail and escape prison (ahem, NCAA rules violation, maybe?).

Shortly after being informed of his player’s incarceration, UCLA head coach Ben Howland went so far as to call Dragovic “a great kid.” Really? Would we call him great? Because let’s face it, 7.9 PPG is anything but great, so Howland couldn’t have been referring to that.

Maybe Howland was misquoted. Maybe what he meant to say was, “Nikola is great at shoving women to the ground. He may not be much of a basketball player, but you should watch him send ladies flying. Perfect form. Reminds me of the greats: Mike Tyson, Ike Turner, guys like that. He has a real future if he sticks with it.”

Always the ladies’ man.

Why couldn’t Howland just speak the truth? “Nikola Dragovic is a dumbass.” That’s all he had to say. Why does Ben Howland condone violence against women? Hard to say, but there’s no way we should tolerate the presence of Howland or Dragovic come Saturday. It’s an insult to the game and an injustice to society. Stop Violence. Stop Ben Howland. Stop Nikola Dragovic.

*Husky fan Joseph Wood contributed to this story.

Husky Gameday: Dawgs get inaugural look at Robinson’s Beavers

You can say this about the Oregon State Beavers basketball team. At least they try hard. Which is better than last year, when the only thing they did well was pick fights with their opponents. Like that one time, in Corvallis, when the Huskies came to town and were victimized during their afternoon shootaround, greeted by a gaggle of Beavs who wanted to take things out into the parking lot for no real reason at all. They even followed the Husky contingent back to the team hotel, willing to spar seemingly wherever necessary in order to prove their point. That beautiful moment was all of one season ago, but the Beavers are a changed organization these days.

These days, the once-proud program is coached by a relative newbie, one Craig Robinson (pictured left), who you may have heard is Barack Obama’s brother-in-law. It may be a neat, fun fact, but the reality is Robinson was Oregon State’s last hope to take over the floundering program. Everyone else approached about the job was hesitant to commit to a team of supposed thugs who couldn’t play basketball nearly as well as they could throw haymakers. But Robinson, previously head coach at non-scholarship Ivy League school Brown, couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity to advance in the coaching ranks. From a school not really known for their basketball prowess to a school that, at the very least, could claim their place in one of the nation’s power conferences, Robinson jumped at the opportunity to take over a Pac-10 program.

Now, after an entire decade of futility, the Beaver basketball team actually looks to have some purpose and direction each time they take the floor. After four unproductive years of over-confident, underwhelming swingman Marcel Jones, the Beavs have turned to a younger, better, more athletic star in sophomore guard Calvin Haynes (pictured right). Haynes, a 6’2″ score-first type of player, is averaging 15.3 PPG for OSU after a quiet freshman campaign last season (5.5 PPG). Unfortunately for Robinson and Co., Haynes is the only player averaging double-figures scoring in the newly-implemented slow-down offense. Right now, the team resembles Washington State circa 2005, meaning they’re destined to lose for the rest of this year at the very least.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not headed for greener pastures. Like the Cougars, if the Beavers can buy into Robinson’s style of play, they may find a fair amount of success in the coming seasons. Already, they’re doing much better than last year’s team that finished a miserable 0-18 in conference play. In just their second Pac-10 game of the year, Oregon State managed to knock off a powerful USC team in a 62-58 overtime nailbiter. So what if they haven’t won a game since. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

The Dawgs shouldn’t have too much trouble in dismantling the Beavers. Talent should reign supreme in this matchup of less-than-epic proportions. But for Husky fans who get a chance to see this game, take a good look at Oregon State. Who knows, they may be the future of the Pac-10.

Oregon’s Pit Crew: The answer to the question "Where does our trash go when we throw it out?"

If you’re a Northwest college basketball fan, you may be familiar with the University of Oregon student section, better known as the “Pit Crew.” The Pit Crew is an abomination to fandom in general, and especially to the intimate nature of college basketball. While other West Coast schools such as UCLA, California, Stanford, Gonzaga, and Washington have established some of the best, most recognized student sections in the nation, Oregon has attempted to undo all the creative, good-natured fun being had by their rivals with an out-of-bounds attitude towards opponents that crosses all moral and ethical lines of behavior.

To briefly sum it up, the Pit Crew is a waste of humanity. If you were to classify humans into two groups, those who to deserve to walk the earth and those who don’t, most members of the Pit Crew would fall into the latter. That’s not to say that they’re bad people when outside Oregon’s Mac Court, or in a one-on-one environment, but when they get together and form their ocean of green-and-yellow ugliness, bad things happen.

Perhaps their most notable transgression took place last season, when Pac-10 rival UCLA came to town. The Bruins were led by freshman center Kevin Love, a native of nearby Lake Oswego, who spurned the Ducks for greener pastures (no pun intended). Love’s decision to attend UCLA naturally didn’t sit well with Oregon fans. But instead of jousting the 6’10” NBA prospect with witty barbs or tongue-in-cheek chants, the Pit Crew led an all-out assault on the entire Love family. With Kevin Love’s parents, siblings, and even grandmother sitting in attendance near the UCLA bench, the Oregon students unleashed a wrath of abuse that no group of people should ever have to endure. They called Love, the player, names like “faggot,” “pussy,” and “cock-lover.” They offered to fight any one of the Love clan who dared bat an eye in their direction (for the record, I’d put my money on Grandma Love to bust the balls of some well-deserved Duck with a cane to the groin). They made signs bearing R-rated language that was condoned by the MacArthur Court security. They spewed epithets, insults, and basically made a mockery of the sport and of fans in general. The media, appalled by their actions, scolded the university for tolerating the behavior. Stan Love, Kevin’s father and an Oregon alum, publicly disowned his alma mater. None of it made any difference to the Pit Crew, with one Crew member going so far as to justify the behavior in print with this article in Oregon’s student newspaper just a few days later. Like I said, they’re the latter portion of humanity.

After the Huskies overwhelmed Oregon last night on that very same floor, Washington players walked away underwhelmed by the performance of the Duck students. “I just expected so much more, but it was nothing,” said freshman point guard Isaiah Thomas. Anticipating the same treatment that former Husky mighty-mite Nate Robinson received in Eugene four years ago (with chants and signs indicating Robinson’s supposed likeness to actor Gary Coleman), Thomas was entertained by little more than a less-than-creative Pit Crew, who have come to typify the fairweather nature of the Oregon fan base. I guess winning breeds confidence.

The Pit Crew likes to think they try hard. They have their own website, complete with all the Duck propoganda one could pull out their ass, and even go so far as to hold weekly leadership meetings, not unlike high school ASB officers or, perhaps, the mafia. In reality, the cowards who call themselves the Pit Crew are little more than a joke that embodies the lawlessness of the University of Oregon and reflects the less-than-ethical standards of their head basketball coach/Latin lover Ernie “Ernesto” Kent. Like Kent, maybe the Pit Crew would be better off taking a woman to Mexico and having sex with her before trying out some of their unimpressive tactics on opponents, because let’s face it, they’ve had very little to offer in their ten years of existence and I speak for just about everyone when I say we’re all sick of it. With any luck, MacArthur Court, scheduled for demolition after the season, will be taken down with the Pit Crew still inside. We can only hope.

Top 11: Seattle-area basketball players of the past 20 years

Today we begin the countdown of the eleven greatest basketball players to come out of the Greater Seattle area in the past two decades. From 1989 until 2009, we’ve witnessed an explosion of hoop talent emerge from in and around the Emerald City, and it’s time we chronicle the cream of that very impressive crop.

First, allow me to define the region of the state we’re examining. The Greater Seattle area extends as far north as Everett, as far south as Tacoma, east to the Cascades, and west to the Puget Sound peninsula. It means a city like Bremerton (home to Marvin Williams) is part of the equation, whereas a city like Mount Vernon (home to Mark Hendrickson) is not. It also eliminates anyone from the east side of the state (John Stockton and Adam Morrison of Spokane), the northern reaches (Luke Ridnour of Blaine), and the southern reaches (Dan Dickau of Vancouver).

Second, when creating this list, we’ve taken into account all levels of competition that a player has participated in. If he excelled in high school, but did not play in college or the NBA, then I’ll tell you right now that he’s not on this list. If he excelled in both the preps and in college, but couldn’t make the League, then he’s at an extreme disadvantage. If he played at all three levels with great success, chances are he’s near the top of this list.

Third, just an editorial note, we’ve reverted back to the standard three-part format for this Top 11. Numbers 11-7 will appear today, numbers 6-2 on Sunday, and number one in a special feature on Monday.

11. Michael Dickerson, Federal Way HS ’94, University of Arizona, NBA

Dickerson, a 6’5″ shooting guard from Federal Way, was one of the area’s brightest talents in the early 1990’s as a prep superstar in the South Puget Sound region. He attended Federal Way’s Decatur High School for one year before transferring to Federal Way High School for his junior and senior years. His greatest notoriety was attained on the summer traveling league circuit, where he was first spotted by University of Arizona head coach Lute Olson. Olson recruited Dickerson and got him to commit to the Wildcats in 1994.

At UA, he went from being a lightly-used freshman to becoming the go-to player by his senior season. He also helped lead the ‘Cats to a 1997 National Championship.

Drafted by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 1998 NBA Draft (No. 14 overall), Dickerson was quickly shuttled off to Vancouver in a trade for point guard Steve Francis. Dickerson would go on to be named All-Rookie Second Team in his inaugural season, and finish with a career scoring average of 15.4 PPG before being forced to retire in 2003 after suffering through chronic hamstring and groin injuries.

10. Martell Webster, Seattle Prep HS ’05, NBA

The 6’7″ Webster capped off a stellar high school career at Seattle Prep by averaging over 27 PPG as part of a team with two future NBA lottery picks (himself and center Spencer Hawes) that failed to make the Class 3A State Tournament. To local prep basketball gurus, that may be the crowning glory of Webster’s SPHS squad: their inability to even qualify for the state’s big dance with such a talented group of performers.

Undeterred, Webster went off as one of the nation’s best prep talents to participate in the 2005 McDonald’s All-American game. It was there that he sealed his fate as an NBA prospect. Despite a signed letter of intent to play basketball at the University of Washington, Webster instead opted to turn pro directly out of high school following his outburst on the national stage provided by the McDonald’s game.

The swingman was selected sixth overall in the ’05 NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers and immediately became a fixture in the Blazers gameplan. Unfortunately for Portland and Martell, the rookie failed to catch on in the pros and was later assigned to the the Blazers’ NBDL affiliate in the middle of the season. He eventually worked his way back to Rip City, but now in his fourth season has failed to reach the expectations placed upon him when he was drafted back in 2005.

9. Aaron Brooks, Franklin HS ’03, University of Oregon, NBA

Brooks, a lithe 6’0″ point guard, had a tough time getting attention in his own city while at Seattle’s Franklin High School. The talented Brooks grew up alongside Rodrick and Lodrick Stewart of nearby Rainier Beach High School, and competed for attention, headlines, and wins with his local counterparts. While the Stewart twins paced Beach to the ’03 Class 3A State Championship, Brooks did his part to help his Quakers win the Class 4A State Championship that same year. In an epic matchup of future NBA players, Brooks went head-to-head with Adam Morrison of Spokane’s Mead High School. Morrison ended up with 37 points in a losing effort. Brooks contributed 38 in the win.

After his prep days, Brooks spurned the in-state schools and headed off to the University of Oregon. There, he underwhelmed until his senior season, when he finally put himself on the map by willing the Ducks to an Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. During his junior year, Brooks was involved in an unfortunate incident in which he delivered a well-placed elbow to the face of Husky guard Ryan Appleby. The cheap shot distanced the Seattle native from a number of local fans and did little to ease the rivalry between Washington and Oregon.

Following his senior year at UO, Brooks took the next logical step and entered his name into the 2007 NBA Draft. The former Duck exceeded the projections placed upon him by draft experts and was selected in the late first round, 26th overall, by the Houston Rockets. The first-round selection netted Brooks a guaranteed contract and a role in the Houston rotation. After a quiet rookie season, Brooks has proven himself as a worthy contributor in his second year, coming off the Rockets bench to average double figures scoring in the process.

8. Rodney Stuckey, Kentwood HS ’04, Eastern Washington, NBA

In only his second professional season, Stuckey has a chance of moving up this list in the future. For now, he’ll have to settle for being number eight on our list.

Stuckey, a 6’5″ combo guard, attended Kentwood High School in Kent where he led the Conquerors to a Class 4A State Championship in his senior season of 2004. He was heavily recruited by the University of Washington and was prepared to play for Lorenzo Romar until grades interfered with his decision. Because of subpar academics, Stuckey sat out the ’04-’05 season before relinquishing his dream of being a Dawg, instead heading off to Eastern Washington University.

At Eastern, Stuckey was an instant sensation. A man playing amongst boys in the Big Sky Conference, Stuckey dominated the competition and put up just over 24 PPG in both of his first two seasons. With the NBA quickly taking note of his collegiate accomplishments, Stuckey opted to declare for the 2007 NBA Draft following his sophomore year.

The Detroit Pistons selected Stuckey 15th overall in the ’07 Draft and tabbed him as their point guard of the future. After a quiet rookie season, Stuckey was given greater responsibility this year, following a coming-out performance in the 2008 playoffs. By trading starting point guard Chauncey Billups for Allen Iverson back in November, the Pistons began the transition to the Stuckey era. The second-year player has responded by coming on strong as of late, and hopes to continue that trend as both the season and his career progress.

7. Spencer Hawes, Seattle Prep HS ’06, University of Washington, NBA

During his high school days, Hawes teamed up with the aforementioned Martell Webster to form one of the most dynamic duos in local basketball history. Unfortunately for the Batman and Robin of Seattle Prep basketball, they couldn’t win a state title together. Doing his best Justin Timberlake impression, Hawes found more success as a solo act, taking home the 2006 WIAA Class 3A State Championship for Prep, while Webster sat on the Portland Trailblazers bench.

The following season, Hawes made his way to Montlake to partner with longtime friend Jon Brockman in the Huskies frontcourt. The bona fide center put up decent numbers over the course of the ’06-’07 season, but couldn’t propel the Dawgs into postseason play. Despite a year of unmet expectations, Hawes chose to cut short the college experience and declared for the 2007 NBA Draft.

For the third consecutive year, a Seattle product was selected in the lottery portion of the draft with Hawes going 10th overall to the Sacramento Kings. In his second season with the Kings, Hawes has been given an expanded role in the offense with the decline of veteran center Brad Miller and is currently averaging just over 11.0 PPG.

Two and Oh!

Only three undefeated teams left in Pac-1o conference play and the Huskies are one of them. With a 2-0 record, the Dawgs are tied with the UCLA Bruins and the California Bears for first place in the league. By Saturday night, only two teams will remain undefeated in league play, as Cal and UW will square off for the right to remain unblemished (UCLA does not play until Sunday).

The Dawgs improved to 2-0 with a one-point win over the Stanford Cardinal last night. In a back-and-forth game that saw a number of lead changes and endured a frenetic final minute, Jon Brockman deposited the winning bucket with four seconds remaining as the Huskies survived a scare from the Tree. The Cardinal had one last chance to regain the lead but lost the ball out of bounds on the ensuing inbounds play. Justin Dentmon capped off the victory for the Dawgs by launching the ball into oblivion to avoid a foul as the clock ticked off the final two-and-two-tenths seconds.

The Huskies will face stiff competition on Saturday from the undefeated Cal Bears, who managed to upend both the Arizona schools at home last weekend, and knocked off the Cougs in Pullman tonight. Underrated entering the season, the Bears are 14-2 under the guidance of first-year head coach (and ex-Stanford head coach) Mike Montgomery. Behind a trio of tall, athletic guards that each average double figures in scoring, the Bears will provide tough matchups for the shorter, quicker Husky backcourt come Saturday.

In other news around the conference, Washington State and Oregon are now a combined 0-5 in Pac-10 play and occupy the ninth and tenth spots, respectively, in the standings.

Husky observations

Observations from the Huskies 68-48 thrashing of Washington State on Saturday afternoon (in chronological order):

  • Lenny Wilkens is the man. How many Hall of Fame coaches do you know who would make the trek to a rural outpost like Pullman to call a Pac-10 basketball game in the middle of winter for a network that is barely above amateur status (as evidenced by their broadcast feed that was slightly better than Public Access of 1992)? One, Lenny Wilkens, that’s it. That’s why Lenny is the man.
  • I love Kevin Calabro. No Brian Davis sightings, no Barry Tompkins, no Steve Physioc…it’s fantastic! Just pure old-fashioned goodness in the form of K.C.
  • WSU can still play good defense. They may not be as powerful offensively as they once were, but they have the ability to slow the game down and control the tempo in their favor. A single-digit scoring output from both teams by the 10:00 mark of the first half is evidence of this.
  • Did Taylor Rochestie discover the fountain of youth? The dude looks like he lost five years in the offseason. Maybe it’s the doofus haircut. How does he get what amounts to a buzz cut to stay matted down on his head? That’s skill.
  • Aron Baynes runs like a fairy. He flicks his wrists out and forms little circles with his pointer fingers and thumbs. His arms are straight down by his waist as he does this, hence it looks like he’s prancing up and down court like a spriteful little pixie. He also looks confused…always. Like he doesn’t understand life.
  • There’s a midget sitting behind the Huskies basket (first half) in an Atlanta Braves cap. Worth noting.
  • Quincy is playing like the Cougars just broke into his home and euthanized his puppy, Marley and Me style, with a five-minute Super Slo-Mo death scene. No one should see that movie, it will rip your heart out. Ask Quincy, he knows what I’m talking about.
  • Venoy commits a lot of turnovers, but he’s pretty much a G. So far in this game he’s a) looked directly in the camera and gave it a “Pssh” reaction when the entire WSU home crowd was clamoring for a foul call b) talked a lot of smack, which is highly underrated in college sports and c) broke down the Cougar defense by attacking the rim and forcing them to rethink their strategy (despite limited results on the finish).
  • Is there any school in the nation that pumps in more recorded music during timeouts than Washington State? Does their band even know how to play instruments?
  • Justin Dentmon used to have an ugly, inconsistent outside shot. This year, he’s Ryan Appleby without the happy trigger finger. We have a zonebuster.
  • Klay Thompson is ridiculously overrated. The kid has zero poise, doesn’t know when or when not to shoot, and rushes ill-advised shots on a regular basis. At this rate, his best-case scenario is Malik Hairston.
  • The off-the-backboard alleyoop from Dentmon to Pondexter may very well be the play of the season. Ignited by a steal which started a two-on-none fastbreak, J.D. had enough time to turn around and have a conversation with Quincy before laying the ball off the glass for a thunderous two-hand finish. This was a statement play. Already up by double digits at this point, the Huskies wanted to leave no doubt who the better team was. More athletic, more consistent, more disciplined. We can look back at this game and this play and view both as the turning points in the resurgence of the Husky basketball team.
  • The Huskies possess a toughness that has been lacking for the past three years. They talk, they swagger, they yell. WSU fans labeled them “thugs” after the game and they’re right–this is a team of thugs. This team sent a message Saturday that they won’t be messed with. For a program that has struggled on the road, to go into the den of their archrival who has beaten them seven straight times and lay a 20-point spanking on a team that has found a way to beat them in each of the past three years, that speaks volumes to the heart and grit and talent of this Husky ballclub. If you’re a Husky fan, look forward to a great 2009.

Husky Gameday: Washington State

The Husky Men’s Basketball team is ready to end the streak that has haunted them for the past three years. In Pullman to face the Washington State Cougars for the start of Pac-10 play, the Dawgs will look to end a seven-game skid at the hands of their archrivals and get out to an early lead in the conference standings.

After suffering a double-overtime, three-point defeat last year at Washington State, the Huskies have proven they can handle the noise at Friel Court. And with winter break still in full swing on the Wazzu campus, the Huskies will likely face a less-than-capacity student section and should be able to do something they haven’t done since Jon Brockman was in high school: beat the Cougs.

Position-by-Position Breakdown

Point guard: Isaiah Thomas (UW) vs. Taylor Rochestie (WSU). While the freshman Thomas has outscored the senior Rochestie so far (14.8 PPG for Thomas, to Rochestie’s 10.2 PPG), Rochestie has posted better numbers in nearly every other essential stat category. The heart and soul of this Cougar team, Rochestie has recorded a better assistant-to-turnover ratio and hauled in more rebounds than Thomas, while coming on as of late with three consecutive double-digit scoring games.

Thomas, meanwhile, is coming off a career-high 27 points in Tuesday’s game against Morgan State. The Husky frosh is quickly becoming the team’s second option behind Jon Brockman and is an early frontrunner for Pac-10 Freshman of the Year. Edge: Push.

Shooting guard: Justin Dentmon (UW) vs. Klay Thompson (WSU). The senior Dentmon has quietly put together a decent beginning to his final collegiate season. Despite a three-year tenure marred by inconsistency, J.D. has stepped up and recorded nice numbers for a ballclub in need of a leader to take pressure off Brockman. With 12.4 PPG and 2.6 APG, Dentmon has outproduced his counterpart Thompson in every essential category except rebounding, where the 6’6″ Cougar holds a 5.1-to-2.7 RPG advantage.

Thompson, a freshman who is as heralded a newcomer as the Cougs have ever had, is the son of former Los Angeles Laker Mychal Thompson and has NBA potential. So far, the first-year Coug has contributed 11.0 PPG, good for second on the team behind Aron Baynes, and has emerged as a go-to option on the offensive end. If nothing else, the freshman will hold a considerable size advantage over the 5’10” Dentmon, though contending with Dentmon’s quickness may be an issue for the youngster. Edge: Washington.

Small Forward: Quincy Pondexter (UW) vs. Daven Harmeling (WSU). The junior Pondexter has spent the first part of this season continuing a trend two years in the making. Nothing if not an enigma, the talented forward has been as inconsistent as anyone on the team and has done nothing to warrant the hype that preceded his venture to Montlake back in 2006. After recording a season-high 21 points against Portland State on December 14th, Q-Pon has followed up his most brilliant performance of the year with three straight duds resulting in 3 points, 4 points, and 4 points again. Averages of 8.8 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 5.7 RPG give him the statistical edge in all categories over his opponent.

Harmeling, who would be a decent bench option on a better team, has become a full-time starter for a Washington State team that prides itself on defense. The 6’7″ senior can step back and hit the three, but has trouble getting to the rim. With 7.3 PPG, 0.8 APG, and 1.8 RPG, Harmeling’s value is as a steadying presence on the court and he should likely concede stats to Pondexter in this contest. Edge: Washington.

Power Forward: Jon Brockman (UW) vs. Aron Baynes (WSU). A heavyweight matchup of powerful bigs that has resulted in an interesting power struggle over the previous three seasons that, if nothing else, is fun to watch. The 7-footer Baynes is the Cougars go-to presence inside and has proven valuable in slowing Brockman’s game over the past six matchups. As his team’s leading scorer with 11.4 PPG, the towering Aussie will undoubtedly create problems for a Washington defense unaccustomed to slowing down big guys.

Brockman (16.5 PPG, 10.2 RPG), like Baynes, will play a physical style underneath that will create problems for the Washington State defense. Despite giving up five inches in height to his Cougar counterpart, Big Jon should have no problem putting up his usual double-double averages as the Huskies look to pound it inside on the Wazzu defenders. Edge: Washington.

Third forward: Darnell Gant (UW) vs. Caleb Forrest (WSU). Gant and Forrest, despite bearing no physical resemblance to one another, are starters for the exact same reasons. Both are hardworking, scrappy players that have earned their roles due to sweat and effort. Neither are considered prolific scorers, neither pull in an obscene number of rebounds, and neither really do any one thing particularly well. But each player has earned the respect of his coach, leading to an opportunity to start ballgames and provide energy when needed to each of the respective teams.

Gant (3.8 PPG, 0.4 APG, 4.2 RPG), a redshirt freshman, has yet to record double figures scoring in his short career, and is little more than an afterthought on the offensive end. Forrest (6.2 PPG, 0.3 APG, 3.3 RPG) a savvy veteran in his senior season, can contribute inside and outside on offense and has even been known to attempt a three-pointer now and again. While both players stand 6’8″, Gant’s length should create a disruptive atmosphere on the defensive interior and disallow Forrest to play a role in the paint. With his ability to stretch the floor, however, Forrest should provide more value to his team in the long run of this one. Edge: Washington State.

Sixth man: Matthew Bryan-Amaning (UW) vs. Nikola Koprivica (WSU). Koprivica, a junior shooting guard, has become a key contributor off the bench for this year’s Cougars. After a disappointing sophomore season in which he averaged only 11 minutes per game, the third-year player has seen that number swell to over 25 MPG this year as his role has expanded. The 6’6″ Serbian is a three-point threat that can bust a zone defense and will allow the Washington State interior players to get reps on the block by extending the Husky defenders.

Bryan-Amaning, a 6’9″ sophomore, is everything but a starter for UW. The bruising forward has been a fantastic complement to Brockman’s physical style of play, and should provide severe matchup problems for a Cougar team with only one true big man in Aron Baynes. In tandem with Brockman, expect MBA to get his share of mop-up points off rebounds, and look for him to display his hook shot against the much taller Baynes. Edge: Washington.

Outcome: Washington breaks down a stifling Cougar defense to the tune of a 65-59 Husky victory.

League Bias: USC forward plays hack-a-sack with Griffin

For those of you who happened to be watching ESPN2 last night around 5:15 PM, you likely witnessed one of the rarer scenes in sports. It happened during the middle of the USC-Oklahoma basketball game, as part of the Pac-10/Big-12 Hardwood Challenge.

The play was dirty, and gave a whole new meaning to “hardwood challenge.” USC forward Leonard Washington (for those of you who are fans of “Chappelle’s Show,” the answer is yes, that is the same name as Chappelle’s Trading Spouses character) took his game to another level last night by striking Oklahoma superstar forward Blake Griffin in the groin region. That’s the politically correct definition of where Griffin was struck, however “groin region” can encompass a fairly large area. The inner thigh, for example, is part of the “groin region.” Some would say that the lower pelvis is also a part of the “groin region.” So to be more specific, Griffin got hit in the gonads, the balls, the nuts, the testicles.

It was the literal definition of a low blow. Washington, upon official review of the video evidence, was charged with a flagrant foul and ejected on the spot. Perhaps a female officiating crew would not have sent the freshman to the showers, but the all-male triumvirate of referees seemingly felt Griffin’s pain and sent the Trojan culprit to the locker room.

ESPN 2, for its part, chose to replay the savage belt shot about 50 times over the course of the rest of the game. Every time Griffin scored from there on out was an opportunity to display the super slo-mo version of Washington’s love tap. The announcers derided the play, but inside had to be jumping for joy at the chance to exploit a soon-to-be Not-Top-Ten video sensation.

Announcer 1: And there’s Blake Griffin with another two points, and if you happen to just be joining us we’re going to show you something you don’t often see in sports. Earlier this evening, Griffin was the victim of a well-placed Leonard Washington slap. Let’s have a look.

Announcer 2: Ok, now you see Griffin right there, he’s backpedaling…and now here comes Washington…and riiiiight….THERE! Right in the balls, Steve, did you see that! That was amazing! Let’s watch it again in slow motion! Can we get a spotshadow on Griffin’s junk this time? Somebody get me a telestrator, quick!

I’ll admit I laughed once or twice after they went nuts about Griffin’s, well, nuts. It was a painful experience but ESPN has a knack for making things humorous. Here’s the video, enjoy.

What’s up with the faux-hawk?

Former USC basketball player Nick Young deserves a lot of credit. He started a trend that no one in their right mind could have seen taking off. Two years ago, the Trojans star guard decided to grow a mohawk, or more appropriately a “faux-hawk.” Side note: A “faux-hawk,” for those not in the know, is like a mohawk in that longer hair is left to grow in the middle of one’s head, yet unlike a mohawk in that the hair on the sides is not completely shaven but is slightly shorter than the featured strip in the center of the scalp. Young’s faux-hawk was unique and unlike anything most basketball fans had ever seen before. The future NBA player endured good-natured taunts and abuse on the road, garnering national attention when he was labeled “Stegosaurus” by our very own University of Washington Dawg Pack. Needless to say, Young shed his cro-magnon coiff shortly thereafter.

Apparently, other athletes have banded together to bring back Young’s creation. Cincinnati Bengal wide receiver Chad Johnson was the first major athlete to don the ‘hawk, sporting a bleached-blonde landing strip last season. Chargers linebacker Shawne “Lights out” Merriman joined Ocho-Cinco in donning the hairdo in 2007 as well, though his was more of the traditional faux-hawk.

This year has brought metrosexuality to the forefront of the athletic world, with numerous athletes rocking the hairstyle once popular only amongst punk rockers and guys in Warren Miller videos. Take Seahawks running back Julius Jones (pictured left), for example, who began growing his ‘hawk before the ’08 season began. Unlike many of his constituents who have kept their hawks well-groomed and trim, Jones has opted to let his mane grow freely. After at least four months of bloom, Jones’ skull now houses what looks to be the ruins of a Mayan temple, or perhaps a budding chimney stack. It’s not the most beautiful mop in history, but the trapezoidal tuft atop Mount Julius is, at the very least, eye-catching.

While most athletes haven’t gone as far with their faux-hawks as Jones has, it certainly isn’t for lack of trying. Take Friday evening’s Miami-Phoenix NBA game, for instance. Three of the game’s biggest stars–Amare Stoudamire, Dwayne Wade, and Shawn Marion–could be seen with budding ‘hawks on display. A year ago, each of these guys was sporting some variation on the standard fade. Michael Jordan would be sorely disappointed.
A number of hairstyles have crossed the bridge between fashion and sports in recent history. The fade and the buzz have become standard, but we can’t forget about the Afro, dreadlocks, cornrows, and as Pete Rose will tell you, the bowl cut. The faux-hawk is just another rung on the ladder of fashionable hairstyles over the years. Will it last? Probably not, but who really knows for sure. Eventually, we’ll be able to look back at some of these athletes who have transcended pop-culture and laugh at what they’ve done to their domes. Julius Jones may be in style right now, but in the future we’ll likely only remember him as that Unicorn-headed guy. Sorry, Julius.

Huskies piece together historic win

The Husky Men’s Basketball team came back from a 26-25 halftime deficit to crush Florida International 74-51 last night at Hec Ed. In doing so, the Huskies improved their record to 2-1 on the season, one game over .500. The last time one of our major Seattle sports franchises was over .500 was way back on April 22, when the Mariners were 11-10. Almost seven months to the day, which has to be some sort of record for a major U.S. city.

It was a tale of two halves for the Dawgs, who shot only 22% from the field in the first frame against a tough FIU zone. The Huskies came out firing in the second half, led by Justin Dentmon, who scored seven points before the first media timeout. They finished the half shooting 66% and outscored the Panthers 49-25. Dentmon finished with 21 points, including 75% (3-4) from beyond the arc. Isaiah Thomas added 19, and the backcourt tandem took the reins as Jon Brockman had an off-night, finishing with just eight points.