Dec 31, 2011

Trade: A Bowl Loss for a New Defense


The other shoe has dropped with defensive coordinator Nick Holt officially being let go by the University of Washington.  Two other defensive coaches, Jeff Mills and Mike Cox, were also fired and with the departure of Demetrice Martin earlier this month, UW will now have a completely new defensive staff next year outside of defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, Johnny Nansen.

Before the Alamo Bowl, I thought that the only way Holt would get dismissed was if Baylor put up just ungodly, record-smashing numbers on this defense.  A school record 777 yards allowed and 67 points is just about as "ungodly" as it gets.  And on national television no less.  The defense looked that much worse when compared to the stellar play of the offense, which torched Baylor for 56 points and 620 yards.  In the understatement of the year, Holt was not getting the job done.


In many ways, this game shared similarities to the loss at Hawaii in 2007.  The Huskies raced out to a 28-7 lead in that contest, similar to the 42-24 lead they held in this game, but absolutely fell apart defensively and lost 35-28.  The silver lining was that many thought Tyrone Willingham would be fired after going 4-9 and losing back-to-back heartbreakers against Wazzu and Hawaii.  Unfortunately, Todd Turner kept him around for another year and you know what happened next.  So at least the pain of losing this game to Baylor results in a major change in the program.  I don't care what excuses for the defense you can come up with, this coaching staff was simply not getting enough out of their players, and the huge salary Holt was earning just made the situation that much more laughable.


Sark definitely made the right choice in cleaning house and keeping the Holt situation from becoming a major distraction next year. Washington is flush with cash from the new Pac-12 television deal and has shown a willingness to spend big dollars on a coordinator, so hopefully the new staff coming in will be proven teachers of the game.

A couple names that have been thrown around for the DC position are Jim Heacock (Ohio State's defensive coordinator) and Mike Stoops (former Arizona head coach/Dennis the Menace lookalike).  It sounds like former USC and current Seahawks assistant, Rocky Seto, could come over in some sort of capacity.  The word on the street is Seto is a great recruiter with a ton of SoCal ties, so he sounds promising for a position of safeties or cornerbacks coach.


But let's step away from the defensive changes conversation for a second and focus on this year's team and most notably, a Husky legend who most likely just played his last game as a Dawg.  Chris Polk had another big day in rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown.  Baylor did a nice job of wrapping up his legs and keeping him from a ton of yards after contact, but he still showed why he will be a capable runner at the next level.


His fourth quarter fumble was definitely a bummer, but it also served as a reminder of how few times he has fumbled considering the amount of carries he's had in his Husky career.  And don't get me wrong, I absolutely hope Polk returns for his senior year, but I just don't think he can raise his draft position too much more nor would it help his NFL career if he took another season of hits at the college level.  CP is one of my favorite Huskies of all time and will be remembered as one of, if not the best running back in the history of Washington football.


In many ways, Keith Price stole the show from Robert Griffin III on Thursday night.  His stat line was right out of a video game: SEVEN touchdowns (4 passing, 3 rushing), 438 passing yards, 39 rushing yards, and no interceptions.  After able to heal up for a month, KP was definitely more of a running threat in this game, particularly in the red zone.  Think of how effective he will be when he is finally a 100% after a little bit of surgery to clean up his knee.  Now he's just got to put on some more muscle, particularly in the lower body, so he can having a better shot at staying healthy through an entire season.  In this system with the offensive weapons around him, Price really could leave UW as the best quarterback of all-time.


It's hard not to be disappointed in a 7-6 season when the team loses five out of their last seven games.  Yes, the competition was quite a bit better in the second half of the year, but it's still a bummer.  There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the future though -- the offense should be very impressive next year and the big changes on defense showed that Sark realized he has to make tough decisions for the sake of the program.  If this new, highly-paid defensive staff can bring in and develop talent, the Huskies will take that next as a program (i.e. competing for Rose Bowls).

Now that football season is officially over, we turn our attention to basketball, and lost in all of this Alamo Bowl madness was the b-ball Huskies playing one of their best games of the year in downing Oregon St. by fifteen.  Tony Wroten put on a show with 26 points, 9 boards, 4 assists, only two turnovers, and 5-7 from the FT line.  It's becoming more and more clear that this team will go as far as Tone leads them (yes, that's a shot at you to pick your game up, Terrence Ross...)


Tonight the Dawgs take on Oregon at home in a little New Year's Eve rivalry game, and nothing would make NYE celebrating complete like a clown-stomping of the ducks.

It was a wild and fun football season!

Go Dawgs!

Game photos by Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times (football) and Elaine Thompson / AP Photo (basketball).
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Dec 28, 2011

Get to Know a D'Bag: Baylor Bears

Baylor's answer to Family Guy's evil monkey.

Finally, after waiting for over a month, the Alamo Bowl is upon us. Like last year, the Huskies take on a heavily-favored, Big 12 opponent, but unlike last year, the Baylor Bears have a Heisman-winning quarterback in Robert Griffin III.  RG3 has been ridiculously good this year -- he leads the FBS with a 192.3 passer rating, nearly 4,000 yards through the air, a 36-6 TD-to-INT ratio, and another 644 yards and 9 scores on the ground.  Ho. Lee. Shitzenburger.

To get an idea of how absurdly dominant Griffin has been, let's take a look at his stats in the first three games of the year: 321 passing yards/game, 56 rushing yards/game, 85% completion percentage, zero interceptions and more touchdown passes (13) than incompletions (12)... what?!!?!  Those numbers should make Nick Holt more scared than LaMichael James riding a roller coaster.

While RG-tres doesn't have the bearded Achilles' heel of an Andrew Luck to make of him about, he does have a penchant for wearing Superman socks and has a significant resemblance to Andre 3000:


But frankly, wearing Superman socks and looking like Andre 3000 are both actually quite fresh (and clean), so I really got no ammo here.  Luckily, I found this photo of Baylor's women's basketball coach:

Creator of the "Pick and Roll up some meth" offense.

Baylor fans have also provided some ammunition with their impressively ignorant attitudes towards the Huskies.  To be fair, these quotes are from soon after the bowl lineup was announced and some Baylor fans were disappointed not to be playing in the Cotton Bowl against #6 Arkansas, but still.  Here is one beauty describing Chris Polk:


Yeah, when I think of Polk, I definitely think "finesse back."  You, HEPBear, are an idiot.  This guy also managed to look up Wazzu instead of UW in finding his offensive stats.  Evidently stupidity is also bigger in Texas.

For a program that is going to its second bowl game since '94, this is an awfully arrogant post:


Thanks HardCoreBear, I will take UW at +62.  This kind of talk shouldn't be surprising coming from a fanbase that uses some sort of scrunched up hand as their school sign:

Is that Simple Jack trying to wave?

For the record, many folks over at BaylorFans.com have changed their tune after learning more about the Dawgs and most predict a hard fought game.  Obviously this one has all the signs of a shootout as Baylor's defense is statistically worse than UW's.  Another bright spot is that the Bears are 114th in the nation with 17 lost fumbles.

There is no doubt that RGIII, All-American receiver Kendall Wright, and 1300+ yard rusher Terrance Ganaway will rack up yardage, but trying to limit them to field goals and causing a few turnovers is all we can realistically expect from the Husky defense.  Ultimately Price, Polk and company will have to keep UW in the game with 40+ points. The 9.5 point spread is a bit daunting, but if the Husky offense can play nearly mistake-free and continue to put the pressure back on Baylor, UW has a shot at taking this game.  But I just don't see how the Dawgs will end up with more points than the Bears in this one, so I have to call it 48-38 Baylor.  I'd love for the Huskies to prove me wrong though.

And while I certainly hope the Dawgs prevail, I'm happy that Robert Griffin III won the Heisman and that Waco, the home of Baylor University, is now famous for something other than... yeah, you know...  Wait, some of the younger readers don't?  Seriously? Fine.  Here.  Yeah... yikes.

To quickly change the mood, here is the Baylor Bear in action:

Solid technique.

And who needs "twiiiiiins" when you have "triiiiiplets"?


Ah crap, my bad.  Here you go:


In conclusion, Dawg fans: hopefully UW shocks the world and prevails in what could be the most entertaining bowl game this year.  For those fortunate enough to have made it down to San Antonio, do your best to counter what will most likely be an extremely pro-Baylor crowd. And most of all, fill up your purple drank and be proud to root on the Huskies.

Go Dawgs!
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Dec 14, 2011

B-Ball Blues


After a string of brutal losses to Nevada, #11 Marquette, and #5 Duke, the Huskies return home for a five-game stretch and look to improve on their pedestrian 4-4 record.  Adding injury to insult, Aziz N'Diaye injured his knee against the Blue Devils and will miss the next few games, but hopefully will be available for the Pac-12 opener against Oregon State (which has the same 6pm start time as the Alamo Bowl... boo).

This could be Romar's most athletic team at UW, but clearly they are struggling with closing out games and finding that Isaiah Thomas-esque leader to make big plays in the clutch.  The Nevada game was particularly excruciating as the Huskies were in control for all of the second half and even led by five with 20 seconds remaining, but allowed Deonte "LeVar" Burton to drill big shot after big shot and eventually lost in overtime.  That is a game that could really come back to haunt the Dawgs in their bid to make the tourney for a fourth consecutive year.

Washington bounced back against Marquette at Madison Square Garden and gave the #11 Golden Eagles all they could handle, but a couple miscues (and questionable officiating) down the stretch kept UW from securing what would have been the best win by a Pac-12 team so far this year.  Terrence Ross was particularly impressive in this game with 19 points (9/14 shooting) and 9 boards, but unfortunately, Marquette and their leprechaun head coach got some payback for UW's upset win in the 2010 Tournament.

No joke, Buzz Williams really is a leprechaun. Look at his papers.

After getting smoked in the first half by Duke, the Huskies made an impressive run to make the game interesting in the final minutes, but once again, it wasn't enough and UW picked up their fourth loss in their last five games.  My first question after the game was, how did we lose to a couple of 13-year-olds?

Isn't the guy on the right a Jonas brother?  

While Stephen Curry's even younger looking brother didn't do much against the Huskies (8 points, 5 turnovers, and fouled out), Doc Rivers' kid torched the Dawgs for 18 points.  It seemed that once the UW players got over the "Duke mystique", they could hang with those guys, but the fourteen-point hole they put themselves in at halftime was just too much to overcome.  While losing by six to the #5 team in the country is nothing to be ashamed of, it was definitely more painful because it was Duke.  A quick internet search reveals what much of the country thinks about them:



Agreed.

One smidge of silver lining was how impressive Tony Wroten was with 23 points on 8/12 shooting and HOLD THE PHONE, 6/8 at the free throw line.  He still committed five turnovers, but the freshman has shown that he is a major game-changer and should continue to improve over the course of the season.  I would think that an improvement at the FT line and a reduction of his overly risky passes will make it very difficult for Romar to limit his playing time.

The good news is the Huskies play their next five games at home and have as good a shot as anybody in the Pac-12 to win the conference.  Plus this four-guard lineup while Aziz is out will be entertaining if nothing else.

To add to the depression, former Husky and all-around superstud Brandon Roy was forced to retire due to a degenerative knee condition.  After winning the NBA Rookie of the Year in '07 (with 127 out of 128 votes), it looked like Roy would become a perennial All-Star.  Unfortunately, the limited amount of cartilage between the bones in both of his knees derailed what may have been a Hall of Fame career.  The fact that Roy continued to play with his knee bones basically grinding against each other is a testament to his perseverance and will to win.


There is no doubt that Roy was one of the best ever at Washington and hopefully will have some sort of role with the program for years to come.

For the current Huskies, the Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara offer the opportunity for some redemption on Friday night at Alaska Airlines Arena.  And after all, who doesn't enjoy slapping that cocky grin off a guacho's face?

I hope we hit him so hard that his cookie-duster flies off.

Go Dawgs!
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Dec 3, 2011

The Leap, Leach, and Fat Little Girlfriends

Just a few notes today. Here is another look at "The Leap" by Kasen Williams in the Apple Cup with some reactions from Sark, Price, and KW himself:


Obviously this is old news, but former Texas Tech coach and current pirate, Mike Leach, was hired to be the new head coach at Wazzu. While this is a great move for the Cougs, it's even better for me as Leach is known to say some crazy shit and should inject some much needed entertainment into the UW/WSU rivalry.  This Leach video is my personal favorite:


I agree: fat, yet little, girlfriends are constantly screwing things up. Rumor has it that the FLGFs had a major role in the basketball Dawgs coughing up a ten-point 2nd half lead last night against Nevada. UW was up five with 20 seconds remaining in regulation, but a slew of mistakes allowed the Wolf Pack to take the game into overtime where they subsequently won and I subsequently threw up in my mouth. Romar should consider enforcing a strict "no fat little girlfriends policy" before the team heads to NYC to take on bball heavyweights Marquette and Duke.

"I'm not going to say this again: fat girlfriends are fine, little girlfriends are fine, but if I see any of you with fat little girlfriends, you're off the fucking team!"

Good call, Romar. A team needs rules.

Go Dawgs!

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Dec 1, 2011

Hardwood Huskies - Part II

Sarkisianity, Husky hoopologist and usher at Bono's third wedding, takes a look at each member of the 2011-2012 UW basketball team:

The Returning Players:

CJ Wilcox: We’ve seen a struggling CJ Wilcox and a lights-out CJ Wilcox.  Wilcox was voted the conference player of the week in Week 1 and at times has turned a basketball game into a YouTube trick shot video.  His shot is just as sweet as it was last year and it looks like he spent the summer working on other aspects of his game.  Romar seems to have given him more freedom to handle the ball and Wilcox has responded.  He’s also showing an athleticism that may be rivaled only by fellow teammate and known air-walker, Terrence Ross.

T-Ross climbing the Stairway to Heaven.

Terrence Ross: Everyone who hasn’t been in a coma, living in Antarctica, or is from Oklahoma knows about Terrence Ross.  His ability to create a shot from ANYWHERE on the court is unparalleled in the Pac-12.  He still has consistency issues with his jump shot, but has matured a lot since last year.  Instead of continuing to throw up fade-away half-court three pointers when he isn’t hitting, Ross has proven that he’s content to contribute in other ways.  He’s currently second on the team in rebounds and blocks and is fourth in assists.  If he can develop some offensive consistency he’ll be the conference player of the year (suck it, Jorge Gutierrez).    

Abdul Gaddy: He is the calming presence we missed last year.  Gaddy's court awareness and knowledge of the game is a thing of beauty.  His 5.2 assists per game and 2.9 assist to turnover ratio both lead the team by significant margins.  He has also continued the improved offensive confidence we saw at the beginning of last year.  Unfortunately, this has been tempered at times by a hesitancy to push the issue and be aggressive.  No doubt this is a lingering effect of the knee surgery he had less than a year ago.

Darnell Gant: The 5th year senior hasn’t improved as much as I had hoped.  His play has been frustratingly inconsistent.  He has the ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and open up the game for his teammates, but can’t seem to do it consistently enough.  At times he’s also shown impressive aggression on the glass, ripping down boards like his 6’8 230lb frame should.  Given the co-captaincy in the off-season, Gant needs to show more leadership with his play, especially in his 5th year.

Maybe tattoos would help, like that novella Simmons is rocking.

Aziz N’Diaye: Other than Gant, N’Diaye was the player from whom I was expecting the most improvement.  He hasn’t disappointed.  Aziz is averaging 9.4 points per game and has shown softness in his hands that simply didn’t exist last year.  I admit that he’s put on the brick mittens a few times, but those occasions have diminished significantly compared to last year and it’s clear that Aziz put in work in the off-season to fix that.  Aziz has even shown a scoring touch a few times, along with improved footwork.  If he can continue to build on this early success, he’ll open the game up for the best stable of guards in the conference.  Not only is Aziz the key to this team, he also still scares me so much, it took me six hours to write this paragraph as I ran and hid under my bed between sentences. 

Droppin' fools since '76.

Brendan Sherrer: Still White. Still doesn’t know how to Dougie.

"And one!! Oh... nevermind."

The Newcomers:

Tony Wroten Jr: The freshman is as advertised. Insane athleticism combined with ridiculous court vision.  He’s averaging 2.2 jaw dropping passes per game.  Unfortunately those passes have more often than not resulted in turnovers as unsuspecting teammates wonder what the hell just hit them in the chest.  Romar will need to keep Wroten on a short leash and get the talented PG to play within himself.  

Wroten performing his patented "opponent face dribble."

Desmond Simmons: Desmond Simmons will mean as much to this team as Justin Holiday.  He has the blue collar attitude of Jon Brockman and a sweet outside stroke.  He chases loose balls all over the court.  Pay attention if you sit court-side at a game this season, because you may end up with 220lbs of D-Simm in your lap at some point.   

Shawn Kemp Jr: The conditioning concerns surrounding Kemp before the season have evaporated. Kemp runs the floor well for a guy his size (6’9 265lbs) and has shown a willingness to get in the paint and throw his team leading weight around.  While his offensive skill set needs substantial work, he gives us some much needed size down low and a legit big man to back up N’Diaye.  Can’t wait to watch the N’Diaye/Kemp Smash Brothers Combo drop Josh Smith harder than the two dozen Animal Style Double Doubles he eats every night.  

Martin Breunig: Already leads the team in one category: Opponents Knocked Unconscious.  Thanks to the awesomely terrible television contract we are currently enduring (only one year left!) Breunig's bone-crunching (and legal) screen against Portland was only witnessed by those sitting inside Hec Ed Pavilion.  Breunig plays with intensity and aggression.  He has soft hands, attacks the rim, and hails from the German sister city of Chinandega, Nicaragua.  

Marty Breu Breu with authority!

Hikeem Stewart: Stewart has played sparingly but has performed admirably in that capacity.  He can hit the 3-point shot and has solid handles.  Hopefully Hikeem can get some good experience this season and become a prime contributor in the years to come.  

Alex Wegner: Brendan Sherrer, but younger and more 3-pointy.


Go Dawgs!


Game photos provided by The Seattle Times.

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