Monday, February 28, 2011

Cougars end Huskies unbeaten streak at home in shocking 80-69 win.

By Kshell

The Washington State Cougars(18-10,8-8) swept their cross state rivals the Washington Huskies(19-9,10-6) for the fourth time in six seasons. Just like the previous game the Cougars did a terrific job of defending the three point shot by the Huskies. The Cougars kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive led by Klay Thompson who scored 26 points. As for the Huskies they were led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 21 points but that wasn't enough. The Huskies at the start of the year had people talking about final fours. Now their hopes of making an NCAA tournament are definately in jeopardy. The Huskies for the second straight year will finish below where they were picked to finish in the preseason polls. The Huskies a roster full of scorers had just three guys scorer in double figures. The Cougars are the only team in college basketball to win have a winning record at Hec Ed in the last six seasons. During that span no team has beaten the Huskies more than twice at Hec Ed while the Cougars have done it four times now.

The first half featured some of the ugliest basketball you could have witnessed. Both teams looked CBI bound let alone tournament bound. The first half saw a combined 41 points, 16-61(26.2%) shooting from the field and 3-21(14.3%) shooting from three point range. This was the type of pace which favors the Cougars as the Huskies struggle in these games. After the Huskies fell behind early 11-4 they fought back to take a 15-13 lead after a Thomas layup. Then Abe Lodwick hit a three pointer to give the Cougars the lead 16-15 where the Cougars would never trail again. The Cougars took a 24-17 lead heading into halftime. The Cougars were up seven points despite shooting just 8-25(32.0%) from the field, 2-8(25.0%) from three point range but 6-7(85.7%) from the free throw line. The Cougars were led by Klay Thompson who scored eight points on two for six shooting but was three for four from free throw's. Thompson did have five turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.

The Huskies were lucky to have been trailing by just seven points. The Huskies shot 8-36(22.2%) from the field and just a ridiculously low 1-13(7.7%) from three point range. The Huskies only attempted two free throws missing them both. The Huskies were led at halftime by Justin Holiday with five points on two for six shooting including a three pointer. Thomas scored four points on two for seven shooting. Venoy Overton provided a spark off the bench scoring four points on two for four shooting. Matthew Bryan-Amaning was held scoreless missing all five field goal attempts. Fellow big man Aziz N'Diaye scored two points on one for five shooting. The Huskies big men just like the previous meeting were letting them down.

The second half saw an increase in the scoring but unfortunately for the Huskies it was mostly done by the Cougars. Klay Thompson scored 10 points right off the bat in the second half. In fact the Cougars stretched their lead to 21 points in the second half. Not only were the Cougars upsetting the Huskies in their own building they were destroying the Huskies. The Cougars led 60-42 when the Huskies finally went on a run. The Huskies went on a 15-4 run which saw them nail three straight three pointers on three straight possessions to cut the lead to 64-57. Then Thompson committed a foul after an Overton free throw the Huskies trailed by just six points. Then the Cougars simply put the Huskies away and clinched the win 80-69.

The Cougars were led by Thompson who scored 26 points 5-13 shooting from the field, hitting three three pointers and was 13-14 from the free throw line. Thompson also turned the ball over just once after turning the ball over five times in the first 10 minutes. DeAngelo Casto had a strong game as well scoring 20 points on 6-10 shooting and was a perfect eight for eight at the foul line. Casto also pulled down 13 rebounds including four offensive. The Cougars also received 10 points from Reggie Moore on three for nine shooting. The Cougars as a team shot 21-53(39.6%) from the field, 6-21(28.6%) from three point range but won the game at the foul line. The Cougars were an amazing 32-36(88.9%) from the free throw line.

The Huskies blew a great opportunity. After the Arizona Wildcats were swept to have the Huskies be within one game of first place the Huskies laid an egg. The Huskies had a great run in the second half but the game is 40 minutes long not five. The Huskies in the second half shot better but the damage was already done in the first 30 minutes of the game. The Huskies shot 23-68(33.8%) from the field, 8-27(29.6%) from the three point range and 15-24(62.5%) from the free throw line. When the game was within six points the Huskies were 12-20(60.0%) from the foul line while the Cougars were 19-20(95.0%) from the foul line. The Huskies just like last game outrebounded the Cougars 42-35 including 23 offensive rebounds. The Huskies just like last game couldn't take advantage.

The Huskies were led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 21 points on 8-16 shooting including three three's but was just two for six from the foul line. Thomas dished out five assists in the loss. The next leading scorer was Matthew Bryan-Amaning who scored 14 points on 3-11 shooting but was eight for nine from the foul line. Bryan-Amaning did add 10 rebounds including four offensive. Justin Holiday finished with 11 points on 4-11 shooting including three three pointers with five assists. Aziz N'Diaye added six points on three for eight shooting and nine rebounds. Venoy Overton scored eight points on three for seven shooting including a three pointer. Ultimately the Huskies didn't get enough from an already thin roster that has seen two starters go down to injury.

The Huskies once again must dig themselves out of a hole they have created for themselves. For the first time all year the reality has to hit that the NCAA tournament isn't a guarantee which seems stunning. The Huskies active roster has played a combined 29 NCAA tournament games including 13 starts so there is plenty of experience on this roster. The Huskies thought they had a special season going into the year and they still could. For the second straight year it appears the Huskies backs will be against the wall for the NCAA tournament. Last year's run was nice but many forget how much they underachieved throughout the season. Now this year's group seems determine to follow that same pace but what if they don't win the Pac-10 tournament? A season which saw them ranked in the top 10 could go down the drains. What could hurt the Huskies even more is if somehow the Cougars make the NCAA tournament over them. The Huskies have two regular season games left at home against two teams who are better than Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon and Washington State you know teams who have given the Huskies fives losses already.


- Remember when the Huskies owned Klay Thompson? yes feels like a lifetime ago doesn't it? Thompson in his first four games against the Huskies shot 10-47(21.2%) while scoring just 29 points(7.3 PPG) which were all four losses. Well now Thompson has turned that around this year scoring 51 points(25.5 PPG) while shooting 14-31(45.1%) from the field. Thompson has turned it around against the Huskies. As a Huskies fan knowing that he is a Junior I hope he goes off to end the year so he can leave early.

The scary thing for the Huskies and well for the rest of the Pac-10 is if Thompson comes back. The Cougars start four juniors and one sophomore. If Thompson were to come back they would be on the short list of favorites next year to win the Pac-10 championship. Pretty funny how things change in a short time. This is the same Cougars team that lost to Stanford at home, lost to Arizona State but can sweep the Huskies. Thompson has two home games left to prove his legacy at WSU. If the Cougars win both games they'll be 10-8 with some impressive wins. If the Cougars sweep they might have to just win one Pac-10 tournament game and they'll be going to the NCAA tournament for the third time in five years.

- Matthew Bryan-Amaning for whatever reason has struggled this year against the Cougars. On the year Bryan-Amaning is 4-19(21.0%)from the field against the Cougars. Bryan-Amaning is averaging just 10.0 PPG but 10.5 rebounds a game. This is by far the team that has given Bryan-Amaning the most trouble.

At one point it appeared to be a mental thing for Bryan-Amaning as he was missing easy layups that he is capable of making. I'll give him credit for hustling down the court and blocking shots. He was strong on the rebounds again he just had a bad game. He also logged the most minutes playing in 36 minutes. Unlike games in the past Bryan-Amaning brought the effort just couldn't hit such easy buckets while Castro got the better end of the matchup.

- Isaiah Thomas played a good second half but in the first half he was terrible. Thomas in the second half did shoot six for nine with 17 points including three three pointers. For the game Thomas finished 8-16 with 21 points hitting three three pointers and dishing out five assists. He was also two for six from the free throw line.

Thomas in the last four games has shot 12-25(48.0%) from the free throw line. Thomas who is a career 71.2% free throw shooter needs to start knocking down these FREE throws. He attacks the paint so much and he needs to make teams pay for fouling him. He is too good of a shooter to be shooting that terrible from the foul line. Free throw's has been a problem for the Huskies the last couple of years. Makes you wonder if they even practice free throw's during the practices.

- For the Lorenzo Romar critics out there this loss put more fuel to the fire. Romar in the last six years is 4-9 against the Cougars despite outrecruiting them each and every single year. This year really hurt as Romar was swept by Ken Bone who was his assistent when the Huskies were the #1 seed in the 2004-05 season. Bone many believe was the offensive geru for Romar. Romar has also lost assistent Cameron Dollar who the Huskies just defeated on Tuesday. That is the price of being a successful program other schools will snatch up your assistents. Romar has a losing record against just one Pac-10 team which is the Cougars he is now 9-10 against the Cougars.

The blueprint has been set on how to defeat the Huskies. Run a good zone and you will defeat the Huskies. Romar has done a lot of good things at Washington while he's been the coach. One thing Romar hasn't done a good job of is running a half court offense. He needs to find an offensive geru to help him out. Remember Phil Jackson who has won 11 championships needed Tex Winter to help him run the triangle offense. If Jackson needs an offensive geru than anyone can. The Huskies struggle against teams who run a good zone, slow the game down, and still can't hit their free throws. If the Huskies ever wish to go that next level Romar must swallow his pride and admit he needs help on offense.

All in all, the team takes on the personality of the leaders of the team. Two years ago Jon Brockman was that leader and everyone knew that. That team wasn't the most talented team but they overachieved to win the Pac-10 regular season championship. They were are a hard working tough team who won the close games. Last year the leader was Quincy Pondexter who may have worked even harder than Brockman. Pondexter busted his butt to improve as a player from freshman year to senior year and carried the Huskies. He took the Huskies on his back and even hit the game winning shot in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Now the leaders are all cocky. The upperclassman spend most of their time on twitter and flexing than practicing the fundamentals. These Huskies would rather look good first then win second. The Huskies need to realize that fundamentals is why the Cougars have defeated them 9 out of 13 times. The Huskies need to take a look in the mirror and less on their blackberries or iPhone. These Huskies need to get to work and they need to realize they can't afford to lose another game. One more loss and their NCAA tournament hopes could be dashed. We'll see who is going to step up on this team and be the leader. As of right now I see no leadership at all which isn't a trait of Romar teams. Romar teams always have the Seniors step up as the leaders but this group has shown no leadership. Hopefully somebody steps up and becomes a leader before this season goes down in flames.

Living The Dream


      What does it truly mean to live the dream? Maybe we should take a glimpse into the life of former Mark Morris High School and Northern Arizona University basketball standout Josh Wilson.

Wilson, who is currently playing basketball for Kaposvari KK which is a professional team in Hungary, is averaging just over 19 points and four assists per game. He is not only quickly making a name for himself. In just his second season (averaged just over 14 pts. per game in his rookie season playing in Germany) he earned a spot in the Hungary Division-1 all star game where he tallied 16 points! Scoring 16 points in any professional game is implausible itself, but let alone a game in which the best of the best come together to show off their skills.

This is without doubt a product of god given talent, correct? Wrong, while we spend our summer days complaining about the blistering heat, (85 would be considered blistering here in the Northwest) Wilson is making sure that he can rest easy at night knowing that not a single player on the planet worked harder than he did. It all starts at 6:00 a.m. when he runs through a rigorous series of drills to shape every piece of his game with mentor and friend Coach Roosevelt Smith Jr. After spending hours working through these drills Josh can finally go home and relax, right? You guessed it, wrong again! While most of us would be drowning in a pile of our own sweat by now, Josh is focused on another aspect of his game, shooting. He is now busy putting up shot after shot until he gets above 500, often times hurling as many as 1,000 shots! Believe it or not, Wilson manages to go through a second workout after this is completed. What generates this type of motivation? What makes this guy tic?

Josh was born and raised in Longview, Washington and believes that having a sports oriented family and being the youngest of 3 children helped fuel his hunger to become what he is today. “My brother and sister and I would put wire hangers in the closet door frame and use a balled up sock as a ball. If you got dunked on you’d get a door knob in the back. Being the youngest I had to scrap and fight for everything and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.” Josh also shows admiration towards his parents in molding him into the man he is today. “We were taught to do what’s right, work hard, believe in ourselves, and to never ever quit. I apply these lessons to all facets of my life. Without the constant guide and example of my Father and the unconditional love of my Mother I would not be near where I am today.”

Wilson whom like I mentioned previously is currently playing professional basketball almost had his dreams crushed when he suffered an injury to his foot his senior season at Northern Arizona University. Wilson broke his foot coming down from a rebound in a regular season match-up against Big Sky rival Eastern Washington University. After experiencing a number of un-characteristic injuries his senior season this injury was not only more serious than the others, but an injury of this nature is extremely tough to come back from.

His foot wasn’t the only thing broken that evening, Wilson’s spirit was also crushed. “Needless to say I was worried about whether my professional dreams had ended that night in Cheney, Washington.”  Josh went on to add, “I had a terrible senior year and to make it worse I broke my foot a second time that summer.” But you don’t think that Josh is going to let a broken foot or two get in his way of accomplishing his life-long dream, right? If by now you can’t see what kind of determination and resolve this guy has then you are sick!  Wilson battled back from injury through a long rehabilitation process and in the mean time spent hours marketing himself through the internet to show off his talents to professional teams overseas. “I googled and searched for any and every agent and team I could find and emailed them my information. My website has highlights, full games, and stats from my career so anyone interested could immediately see if I was for them.”  Well we obviously know by now that Wilson’s hard work and resilience paid off yet once again.

       Wilson, like most basketball players have the ultimate dream of lacing up his sneakers in an NBA locker room and taking his skills and showcasing them in front of millions of fans. For those of you who doubt that a small town boy from Longview, Washington could ever achieve an accomplishment of that height, if I were you I would not bet on it. The passion that this man shows for his love of basketball is unlike anything I have ever seen. And for those kids who watch basketball on TV. and want to one day be like them, turn off the TV. and go work harder than anybody else could even imagine of doing. It’s what Josh Wilson did, and it’s what it takes if one day you want to truly live out your dreams.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Birmingham City claims the Carling Cup after a terrible mistake in the last minute

By Money Mike

Just when you thought the match was going to go to extra-time, a missed clearance by defender Lorient Koscielny and a spill by goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny resulted in a late goal for Birmingham City as Obafemi Martins capitalized on the mistake and scored the game winner in the 89th minute as Birmingham City stuns Arsenal 2-1 and Arsenal's trophy less drought continues.

Birmingham started to put pressure early on the Gunners in about the 3rd minute when Nikola Zigic's ball found Lee Boyer behind the defense. Boyer was brought down in the box by Szczesney, but the linesman's flag was up for offside. But the replay showed that Gael Clichy played him onside and that the challenge by the Arsenal goalkeeper would've resulted in a penalty had the linesman kept his flag down.

Birmingham continued to put all the pressure on the Arsenal back line and in the 28th minute, it payed off as the corner fell to defender Roger Johnson who's header found the 6' 8' Serbian international striker Nikola Zigic and you knew that would be a goal if he got a head on it and that's what he did as his header found the back of the net and Birmingham City struck first and took a 1-0 lead. Nothing new to Arsenal, going down 1-0 because it's happened to them numerous this season and they've been able to come back and win in those games.

A minute later, Arsenal nearly pulled one back as Bacary Sagna's cross found Robin van Persie, but his header was just inches wide. Birmingham had a chance to extend their lead to 2-0, when Nikola Zigic was clear in front of goal but his shot was denied by Wojiech Szczesny. Arsenal had a huge chance to pull level in the 39th minute when Jack Wilshere's strike from about 19 yards out beat Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster but hit the crossbar.

Arsenal were givin a second chance after Birmingham failed to clear and they took advantage of it as Andrei Arshavin's chip found Robin van Persie who volleyed it home and the momentum shifted Arsenal's way as van Persie goal tied the game up at 1. van Persie however, needed treatment after that goal because he picked up a knock after he kicked Roger Johnson's leg in the process. Fortunatley, he would return to the game a couple minutes later. Arsenal had a chance to take the lead at the end of the first half when Samir Nasri's shot from 25 yards was well saved by Ben Foster. That was just about the last best chance of the first half and the two teams headed back to their locker rooms at halftime tied at 1-1.

Arsenal began the second half as they ended the first and had an early chance to go ahead when Bacary Sagna's ball found Tomas Rosicky at the top of the area and his volley just flew wide of goal. Despite being put under a lot of pressure, Birmingham nearly snatched another goal when Keith Fahey's first attempt from 20 yards hit his own teammate. The ball fell to Fahey again and he lashed a shot that hit the left post.

With about 20 minutes to go, Arsenal again had a couple of chances to go up 2-1, but were denied again. Nasri forced another save from Foster and then Nicklas Bendtner, who replaced Robin van Persie, ripped a low shot, but Foster did well to deny him. 10 minutes later, Nasri gave it another go from outside the area but again, Ben Foster was perfectly positioned to deny Arsenal a 2nd goal.

But in the 89th minute, disaster struck for the Gunners as Ben Foster's freekick from his own area found Nikola Zigic's head. Lorient Koscielny failed to clear and the ball slipped out of Wojciech Szczesny's arms and Obafemi Martins, who joined the club last month on loan from Russian Club, FC Rubin Kazen, took advantage of the error and tapped it into an empty net and Birmingham City came away with the Carling Cup as they upset heavily favored Arsenal 2-1.

It's really disappointing to see a team, who are favored to win, who have all the momentum, who are stronger than their opponents, make a costly mistake and end up losing, and it's nothing new to us in Seattle. As a matter of fact nothing new to anybody at all in any sport.

Congrats to Birmingham City, they won the cup and they're also guaranteed a place in Europe next season. As for Arsenal, they're trophyless drought continues. The last time they won a trophy was in 2005 when they defeated Manchester United in the FA Cup on Penalties. They had a couple other chances to win a cup in this skid. In 2006, they had a very rough year in the league, but they did well in the UEFA Champions League. They made it to final only to lose 2-1 to Barcelona, who are their opponents right now in the round of 16 of this years stage. Then a year later, they made it to the Carling Cup final against Chelsea, but again, another 2-1 defeat. But they still have a few more opportunities to lift a trophy this season. Will it happen, or will they have to wait another season?


Birmingham City - Nikola Zigic (Roger Johnson) 28'

Arsenal - Robin van Persie (Andrei Arshavin) 39'

Birmingham City - Obafemi Martins 89'


Arsenal: 53-Wojciech Szczesny; 22-Gael Clichy, 3-Bacary Sagna, 20-Johan Djourou, 6-Lorient Koscielny; 7-Tomas Rosicky, 23-Andrei Arshavin (29-Marourane Chamakh: 77'), 17-Alex Song; 8-Samir Nasri, 19-Jack Wilshere, 10-Robin van Persie (52-Nicklas Bendtner: 69')

Birmingham City: 26-Ben Foster; 5-Roger Johnson, 2-Stephen Carr, 6-Liam Ridgewell, 28-Martin Jiranek; 12-Barry Ferguson, 4-Lee Bowyer, 18-Keith Fahey (17-Obafemi Martins: 83'), 7-Sebastian Larsson, 8-Craig Gardner (23-Jean Beausejour: 50'); 19-Nikola Zigic (10-Cameron Jerome: 90')

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Huskies big men destroy Redhawks 95-74

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(19-8,10-5) behind their two big men destroyed cross city rival Seattle University Redhawks(10-17) 95-74 behind a record crowd at Key Arena. In front of a Seattle University record home crowd of over 11,000 fans which had plenty of purple the Huskies were quite dominant with Matthew Bryan-Amaning and career game from Aziz N'Diaye. This was the type of game Lorenzo Romar's team needed after a heartbreaking loss to Arizona on Saturday. The Huskies besides the bigs scored plenty of points with six guys scoring in double figures. Most of those points were scored on fastbreak dunks as the Huskies once again have continued their trend of having a block party. In fact the Huskies set a school record for most block shots in a season. The Huskies also won their first non conference road game since December of 2007 when they defeated the LSU Tigers. Now the Huskies must maintain their focus as they have three critical home games left in the Pac-10 season.

The Huskies got off to a fast start never once trailing to the Redhawks. In fact the game started off with two quick dunks by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye which saw Redhawks coach Cameron Dollar call a timeout 30 seconds into the game. After that the Huskies let the Redhawks and at times looked like they didn't want to be there. Unlike last year when the Huskies led by 40 points at halftime they only led 37-29 at halftime. The Huskies were 14-30(46.7%) from the field but just 1-9(11.1%) from three point range and 8-14(57.1%) from the free throw line. The Huskies led because of good defense holding the Redhawks to 10-31(32.2%) from the field, 2-8(25.0%) from three's and the Redhawks shot just 7-13(53.8%) from the foul line. The Huskies also controlled the glass outrebounding the Redhawks 28-15 while blocking six shots.

The Huskies were led by Bryan-Amaning who was wearing the number 55 because he forgot his usual number 11 back home at Hec Ed. Bryan-Amaning scored 12 points and pulled down seven rebounds. Isaiah Thomas also scored seven points to help the Huskies in the first half. Off the bench Darnell Gant scored seven points for the Huskies. N'Diaye also added five points and two blocks in the first half. The Huskies were letting the Redhawks hang around in the first half. However in the second half the Huskies would ride the big men to victory.

The Huskies began the second half with a 20-6 run that stretch their lead to 57-37 and the Redhawks never pulled within 20 points. The Huskies were still struggling with their three point shot but that didn't matter as they dominated inside. Bryan-Amaning added another 12 points in the second half along with N'Diaye who scored 10 points as well. The Huskies even got a spark off the bench by Terrence Ross who hit two three pointers as the Huskies cruised to a nice 95-74 victory over the Redhawks. The Huskies in the second half outscored the Redhawks 58-45 which saw a combined 51 free throws attempted in the second half. The Huskies for the game shot 31-60(51.7%) from the field, 4-18(22.2%) and 29-42(69.0%) from the free throw line. Unlike last game the Huskies dominated the glass outrebounding the Redhawks 47-23 including 19 offensive rebounds, six of which were by N'Diaye. Overall it was a good victory for the Huskies who got a nice bounceback win and now will focus on their true rival the Washington State Cougars.

The Huskies were led by Bryan-Amaning who scored 24 points on 9-11(81.8%) from the field while pulling down 13 rebounds. Now for stat geeks like myself I can quote the all-time scoring and rebounding average for a guy wearing number 55 is Bryan-Amaning with 24 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas broke out of his mini slump by scoring 20 points on 7-12(58.3%) shooting from the field including a three pointer with four assists. Then the Huskies received a career game to date from N'Diaye who scored 15 points on 5-7(71.4%) shooting from the field and 5-6(83.3%) from the free throw line. N'Diaye also pulled down 10 rebounds including six offensive and blocked three shots. Then the Huskies got 10 points from Justin Holiday on three for eight shooting but had five rebounds, two steals and a block shot. Off the bench the Huskies got 13 points from Terrence Ross who was three for five shooting while making two of three three pointers. Ross was also a perfect five for five from the foul line. Ross also had one of nine block shots as well. Then the other contributer for the Huskies off the bench was Gant who scored 10 points on three for seven shooting while pulling down four rebounds while blocking two shots. All around it was a good team win for the Huskies as they saw six of their eight scholarship guys score in double figures.

Overall this was a good game given the timing. I think after a tough loss like the Huskies experienced in Arizona it was good to get back out there and get a victory heading into the Washington State game. Also in blowouts sometimes you can build some confidence. Take the California game for an example where C.J. Wilcox hit four three pointers. Wilcox went on a roll for four games and made his first career start today. Wilcox although had just three points on one for eight shooting still had six rebounds and two steals with a block. Just like today hopefully broke Ross and N'Diaye's slump. N'Diaye was a monster and it was nice to see him shoot so well from the free throw line. The Huskies won't beat their chest over this win and this win won't raise them at all in bracket. What this win will do is put that past tough loss behind them and focus on the Washington State game. The Huskies won in a fun atmosphere at Key Arena and now must regain focus for the Pac-10 schedule and ultimately the NCAA tournament.


- The Huskies big men were just to much for the Redhawks. First of all the Huskies blocked nine shots today. The Huskies set a school record with 152 block shots. Bryan-Amaning averages 1.7 blocks a game in 27.9 minutes a game. N'Diaye averages 1.4 blocks a game in just 17.2 minutes a game. Two years ago when the Huskies were led by Jon Brockman they rarely got any blocks. For all the good Brockman could do blocking shots wasn't one of them.

In fact the Huskies have been on a block party roll since the disasterous three game road losing streak. In the last five games the Huskies have blocked 44(8.8 blocks) shots during that stretch. In four of the last five games the Huskies have blocked 41 shots. The Huskies with Bryan-Amaning, N-Diaye, and Gant have some block shot guys. The Huskies also have athletes like Holiday, Ross and Wilcox who are getting blocks as well. Just remember come tournament time when teams want to drive the paint the Huskies will be sending some of those shots into the stands.

- Which brings me to today's game. The Huskies big man trio of Bryan-Amaning, N'Diaye and Gant combined to score 49 points on 17-25(68.0%)shooting from the field. They also combined to pull down 27 rebounds including 11 offensive rebounds and had five block shots.

The bigs since the fiasco in Oregon have played well. First I'll talk about the career high in points by N'Diaye. N'Diaye was simply taller and more physical than the Redhawks. He was also getting to the free throw line and making his free throw's. The big mystery will be his free throw percentage same with Isaiah Thomas both guys have nice strokes yet shoot below their capabilities. I feel the Huskies need to feature N'Diaye more as he is pretty accurate in the paint. In N'Diaye's last nine games he is shooting 19-26(73.1%) from the field. During this five game block streak N'Diaye also has 12 blocks(2.4 per game) so it appears N'Diaye is slowly coming around.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning has been a man amongst boys the last six games dating back to the Oregon game. During that stretch Bryan-Amaning is averaging 20.7 points per game on 53-80(66.3%) shooting from the field. He is pulling down 8.8 rebounds per game while blocking 2.7 shots a game. During that five game block fest for the Huskies Bryan-Amaning has 15 blocks(3.0 blocks per game). So it appears the Huskies big man duo have been stepping their game up lately which is critical in the NCAA tournament as the game tends to slow down a bit.

- This game had a different feel to it than your typical powerhouse playing a small team. First of all the atmosphere at Key Arena was pretty electric. The Redhawks came out to a light show with the Chicago Bulls song of the 1990's playing in the background it was great. Then before both halves the Redhawks blared Zombie Nation by Kernkraft 400. The Seattle U crowd was pretty loud and into the game.

Also saw some famous faces in the stands. First saw Seattle Supersonics legend Slick Watts sitting courtside at the game. Then the picture to my right in the purple coat was former Washington Huskies quarterback Brock Huard(1996-1998). Then to cap off my night I saw Sonics legend and six time NBA all-star Shawn Kemp. Kemp in fact came up through my section as he was leaving and high fived us. I was lucky to have sit on the aisle so I shook one of my childhood hero's hands.

Seeing Slick Watts, shaking Kemps hand, seeing Lenny Wilkens telecast the game while being in Key Arena brought back some great memories. Like I said hopefully the city of Seattle steps up and gets a team. I don't want guys like Watts, Wilkens and Kemp to be forgotten for the next generation of sports fan in Seattle. That was the common thing that brought Redhawks and Huskies fans together at the game was bring an NBA team back to Seattle! The ball is in your court lawmakers because the fans have spoken now for a while. We want a team and not just any team but the Sonics and our history!

There was some debate on why the Huskies play Seattle University so late in the year(which we have the last two years and have Pac-10 championship banners hanging up so maybe it's working just a thought). Well one of the reasons is Lorenzo Romar is trying to help out former Huskies assistent and current Redhawks head coach Cameron Dollar out. You think 11,000 fans show up if this was in December? Not to mention some pretty big names in the audience.

I also think Romar is thinking big picture. That game had a great atmosphere and everyone knew the Huskies would win in a blowout. Romar knows in five years maybe even 10 years this could be a decent rivalry. A rivalry which will benefit both programs as the whole Seattle of Seattle will be rocking hopefully in our new NBA arena. I also think Romar realizes it's best to stay in rhythm by playing two games a week at the end of the year. No sense having an eight day lay off heading into a critical home game against the Washington State Cougars.

Romar is helping his team stay in rhythm while gaining some confidence. If Aziz N'Diay or Terrence Ross(Future NBA Slam Dunk champ) go off at the end of the year you can look at this game was the start of something. Ross has shown flashes but was in a slump. Hopefully this was the start of something for both guys going forward. This game will help the Huskies out like it has the last two years which saw them beat the Washington State Cougars.

All in all it was a good win for the Huskies. The Huskies at times didn't look interested but still won by 21 points. The Huskies scored 95 points mostly on defense like I said and unlike previous games didn't jack up three's. The Huskies have actually been pretty disciplined on their three point shot attempts the last three games. That could be because Suggs is hurt or they finally realized in March that will equal an early exit.

The game experience for myself was pretty fun and had good seats. I had a good time and I hope the Huskies continue this series. Due to the Huskies being so good finding tickets at Hec Ed can be tough so I hope they keep playing every other year at Key Arena. The Huskies are also one win away from another 20 win season under coach Lorenzo Romar. With this win against Seattle University Romar has won at least 19 games in seven of his past eight seasons. The Huskies won and the common theme from all the fans walking out of the gym was bring our Sonics back! It felt good to be back in Key Arena hopefully I can watch NBA basketball soon in Seattle!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Williams steps up huge as #12 Arizona survives 87-86 over Washington

By Kshell

In a game which featured a "white out" theme the atmosphere was electric in Tucson, Arizona. When a game lives up to the hype you have an instant classic which was the case today as Derrick Williams led the 12th ranked Arizona Wildcats(23-4,12-2) to a controversial one point victory over the Washington Huskies(18-8,10-5). This win by the Wildcats basically clinched the Pac-10 title for the Wildcats while the Huskies will have a long plane ride home wondering what could have been. The Huskies once again couldn't come through down the stretch falling to 0-5 in games decided by less than five points. Unlike last game where Thomas pulled ahead in the player of the year race, Williams probably clinched the award. Williams scored 26 points including a huge three pointer to give the Wildcats the lead and grabbed 11 rebounds. Williams also had two blocks including the game winner which had some controversy on it which I'll talk about later. Just like in games past in this rivalry the Huskies and Wildcats put on another instant classic and showed the nation the Pac-10 can play good basketball. The Huskies showed they can hang tough on the road now they need to finally win one of these games.

The Arizona Wildcats shot lights out in the first half. The Huskies simply couldn't keep up. The Wildcats led by as many as 12 points and if not for freshman C.J. Wilcox keeping the Huskies in the game the Huskies could have been blown out. The Huskies hung tough in the first half but found themselves trailing 49-40. The Wildcats shot 15-37(40.5%) from the field but an unrealistic 8-11(72.7%) from three pointers and 11-13(84.6%) from the free throw line. The Huskies didn't shoot bad though shooting 13-28(46.4%) from the field but just 3-12(25.0%) from three point range and just 11-16(68.8%) from the foul line. In the first half Williams was the star for Arizona scoring 11 points on three for eight shooting including a three pointer while grabbing seven rebounds. The Wildcats dominated the rebounds in the first half.

For the Huskies they were led by freshman C.J. Wilcox who overcame two air balls to score 11 points on four for eight shooting including hitting two three pointers. Isaiah Thomas scored eight points on two for two shooting while dishing out six assists. Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored six points on three for seven shooting and Justin Holiday scored five points on two for five shooting including a three pointer. The Huskies were getting killed on the three pointers and rebounds. In the second half they would correct that which would make for a terrific second half.

In the second half the Huskies started to penetrate the Wildcats defense. Several times Thomas or Venoy Overton would drive the rim and dish to Bryan-Amaning for an easy dunk. Bryan-Amaning scored 18 points on 9-12 shooting in the second half. Wilcox continued to be on fire scoring eight points and nailed both three point attempts. The Huskies in the second half 21-35(60.0%) from the field in the second half. The Huskies even took the lead and stretched it to four points. Then in the final two minutes the Wildcats trailing 84-82 Williams showing why he is the player of the year hit his second three pointer of the game as he scored 10 points in the final six minutes. Then Darnell Gant scored on a putback to give the Huskies a 86-85 lead with 40 seconds to go. With 24 seconds left after a Wildcats miss Solomon Hill scored the putback to give the Wildcats a 87-86 lead. After Lorenzo Romar called timeout the Huskies fed the ball to the hot hand in Bryan-Amaning which the refs called a controversial travel with three seconds to go in the game. The Wildcats failed to inbound the pass so the Huskies had one last chance. Thomas inbounded the ball to Gant who put up the shot and it was apparently blocked by Williams. The Huskies had 0.2 seconds left. That blocked looked more like a goaltending call and if it was a block there should have been 0.9 seconds left. As is the Huskies lose another close game.

The Huskies finished with a tough loss but showed once again they can hang with the best teams in hostile environments. The Huskies now must learn to win these games as they fall to 0-5 in games decided by five points or less. For the Huskies Matthew Bryan-Amaning was the star of the game scoring 24 points on 12-19(63.1%) from the field while grabbing eight rebounds. Bryan-Amaning also tied a school record with seven block shots, stole four passes and dished out four assists. Considering he was going up against a lottery pick both games this year Bryan-Amaning held his own against Williams. Once again for the fourth straight game C.J.Wilcox had a big game scoring 19 points on 7-11(63.6%) from the field and 4-8(50.0%) from three point range. Isaiah Thomas finished with just 12 points on four for nine shooting but did dish out 10 assists. Justin Holiday added 11 points on four for eight shooting. Darnell Gant making his first start since early December scored seven points on three for six shooting with seven rebounds. Venoy Overton scored six points on two for four shooting with three assists. The Huskies played a pretty good game blocking 11 shots, stealing eight passes and committing just 11 turnovers. For the game the Huskies shot 34-63(54.0%) and 13-18 from the foul line(72.2%) when you see those stats that usually results in a win. The Huskies battled and came up short nothing to be depressed about.

The Huskies must come to grips with reality that they won't win the Pac-10 regular season title. The Huskies played a close game and could have easily been blown out given that the Wildcats haven't lost a game at home all year. The Huskies have now lost by a combined two points to two top 15 teams(Texas A & M and Arizona) on the road. The Huskies have proven they can play with anyone in the country now they need to prove they can beat those teams. Hard to be to upset with this loss which the game came down the final possession which in Seattle they call goaltending and the Huskies win. The Huskies won't be playing a true road game rest of the year and won't face a hostile crowd until possibly Pac-10 tournament(semifinal matchup with UCLA potentially). The Huskies are playing well as a team and with Overton and Wilcox appearing to have turned the corner the Huskies should be fine. If the Huskies win out they'll take second place in the conference which means for the fifth time in the last eight years the Huskies will have finished in the top two in the conference.


- Once again Matthew Bryan-Amaning played a really good game. Yet the same fan base who will get upset if you don't say Jake Locker is the greatest quarterback of all-time in Huskies history will continue to bash on Bryan-Amaning I simply don't get it. Does Bryan-Amaning miss some easy shots? Probably but he is still shooting close to 60.0% on the year and played perhaps his best game of his career.

Bryan-Amaning who was going up against Derrick Williams who will be a top five lottery pick in this years draft had another good game against Williams. Bryan-Amaning finished with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 7 blocks, 4 steals and 4 assists. Look at those numbers again before you rag on Bryan-Amaning. Against Williams this year the best big man he has faced all year Bryan-Amaning in two games averaged 21.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 5.0 blocks per game. He also shot 19-32(59.4%) from the field against Williams. Williams against the Huskies this year has averaged 24.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 1.0 BPG while shooting 16-31(51.6%) from the field. So Williams is slighty getting the better of the matchup and considering he is a lottery pick Bryan-Amaning is doing just fine in this matchup.

- Once again C.J. Wilcox appears to be finally healthy or over the freshman wall. Whatever it is this makes the Huskies a dangerous team going forward. If you are going to be a three point shooting team you need Wilcox to be that guy. Wilcox and Scott Suggs I have no problem with jacking up a bunch of threes because they are shooters. Wilcox kept the Huskies in this game with his shooting scoring 19 points one shy of a career high and easily his best Pac-10 game.

Wilcox in the past four games is averaging 14.8 points per game. He is shooting 20-37(54.0%) from the field and shooting 14-31(45.1%) from three point range during this four game stretch. As you have noticed Wilcox on two point shots is a perfect six for six. He is starting to drive a little bit and pull up for the easy two point shot. He has hit 44 three pointers already and considering he had a 11 game stretch where he made just five three pointers that is pretty impressive. When Suggs returns the Huskies will have two great three point shooters which should open up drives by Thomas and Overton.

- The officiating in this game was downright horrible. I didn't want to blame the refs and by no way am I blaming the refs but star treatment towards Derrick Williams was ridiculous. Williams played 35 minutes and didn't record a single foul despite being a big guy who bangs inside. I'm sure the argument will be "well they let the kids play". Not exactly since Aziz N'Diaye had four fouls, Darnell Gant had four fouls and Matthew Bryan-Amaning had three fouls. Williams went to the foul line nine times while Bryan-Amaning despite attempting 19 field goal attempts which are all short range didn't shoot a single free throw.

The final three seconds also said a lot about the refs. After all game the Huskies getting bodied they called a suspect traveling call on Bryan-Amaning. Then the non goal tending call on Gant from the Williams block. If you are letting the kids play then don't call a suspect traveling call on Bryan-Amaning. Like I said the refs didn't lose the game for the Huskies but it sure felt like the Huskies were robbed. Oh by the way the Huskies shot just two free throws in the entire second half.

- The main reason the Wildcats won the game was because of rebounding. The normally good rebounding Huskies were outrebounded 35-22 including the Wildcats grabbing 16 offensive rebounds. Williams also wrapped up the Pac-10 player of the year award.

When the game was on the line Williams came up huge scoring 10 points including a three pointer. He also had the block that ultimately won the Wildcats the Pac-10 regular season title. This will be Arizona's first Pac-10 regular season championship since the 2004-2005 season which saw the Wildcats go to the elite 8.

The Sophomore forward on the year is averaging 19.7 points per game, 8.1 rebounds a game and shooting 63.1% from the field. He was also 2-2 from three's against the Huskies which was no accident. He is 27-40(67.5%) on the year from three point range. In Pac-10 play he is 14-21(66.7%) from three point range. So him shooting open three's isn't just some regular big guy shooting from the outside. This is why Williams will be a lottery pick because he is such a good scorer. He is the best player in the conference and is on the Pac-10 championship team. Open and shut case Derrick Williams will be the Pac-10 player of the year and should be.

- Whenever you lose a close game the first person to be second guessed is almost always the coach. In this game I won't second guess Lorenzo Romar although the Huskies fall to 0-5 in games decided by five points or less and 1-7 in games by 10 points or less.

However if you look at Romar's record in such games he is 28-26(.518) in games by five points or less and is 65-54(.546) in games decided by 10 points or less. Obviously those records aren't great but they aren't as bad as most would think. Before this year no Romar NCAA tournament team had ever had a losing record in these close games. So obviously this year is the exception and not the rule. Last year the Huskies were 4-2 in games decided by five points or less and 10-4 in games by 10 points or less.

The reason the Huskies don't win close games this year isn't because of Romar more so they don't have a go to guy. For an example when Brandon Roy was a Junior and Senior the Huskies were 12-2(.857) in games by five points or less and 22-8(.733) in games by 10 points or less. However the Huskies are just 11-20(.354) in five points or less and 35-34(.507) in games by 10 points or less. Romar didn't suddenly forget how to coach games down the stretch but he didn't recruit a player who be that go to guy. Quincy Pondexter was last year which is why the Huskies did well in those close games. This year they don't have that guy hopefully next year Terrence Ross or Tony Wroten who are both big guards can be that go to guy.

All in all the Huskies played a good tough game on the road and came up short again. The Huskies will finish the year with a game at Seattle University which will see plenty of Purple at Key Arena. Then the Huskies will close the year out with three straight home games. Unless the Huskies fall apart for the third straight year they'll be playing in the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are starting to come together as a team and the only concern is finding a go to guy. The Huskies can still take second place in the conference which wasn't the goal but still better than last year. The Huskies will be in good shape and this loss proved that the Pac-10 is back and the Huskies are starting to play well as a team. I'm not a believer in moral victories but the Huskies showed a lot more in losing than they had the previous three losses. The Huskies will be fine and this season will ultimately be judge based on what they do in March whether that is fair or not. The Huskies must learn to win these close games if they want to reach their first elite 8 under Lorenzo Romar.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Bryan-Amaning dominates Sun Devils again as Huskies earn season sweep 79-62!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(18-7,10-4) led by Matthew Bryan-Amaning who had another strong performance proved to be to much against the struggling Arizona State Sun Devils(9-16,1-12). The Huskies took care of business winning on the road 79-62 despite having early troubles. The Huskies overcame an early eight point deficit and the injury to starter Scott Suggs to cruise to an easy win on the road. Just like the last game where these two teams played Bryan-Amaning was just simply to much for the Sun Devils. Bryan-Amaning led the Huskies in scoring and rebounding with 22 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four block shots. The Huskies were also helped out by the resurgent C.J. Wilcox and Venoy Overton who both played their third consecutive good game. The Huskies will now travel to Arizona short handed but the roster appears to be playing well at the right time just like they did last year.

The Huskies began the game pretty slow to the struggling Sun Devils. Remember back in January the Huskies led over the Sun Devils at home by just one point. To make matters worst starting Junior guard Scott Suggs suffered an MCL sprain in the first three minutes and will miss two to three weeks. The Huskies also found themselves trailing 15-7 that is when Bryan-Amaning and C.J. Wilcox took over. The Huskies went on a 16-4 run to take a 23-19 lead. The Huskies continued that run into halftime leading 43-33. The Huskies after struggling offensively ended up shooting 15-32(46.9%) on field goals and 5-15(33.3%) on three pointers. The Huskies were actually attacking the basket and making their free throws shooting 8-11(72.7%) from the charity stripe. The Huskies outrebounded the Sun Devils 20-15 and played better three point defense allowing the Sun Devils to only shoot 3-10(30.0%) from three point range.

The Huskies were led in the first half by Matthew Bryan-Amaning who took a while to get going but once he did it was all over for the Sun Devils. Bryan-Amaning scored 13 points on four for eight shooting and five of six shooting from the foul line. Bryan-Amaning also had a team leading six rebounds in the first half. The Huskies also got a big boost from C.J. Wilcox who filled in great for the injured Scott Suggs. Wilcox scored 11 points on four for seven shooting including three three pointers. Isaiah Thomas struggled in the first half scoring just seven points but had four assists. He only shot three for nine and just one of five from three's. Venoy Overton provided good minutes off the bench scoring five points but grabbing five rebounds and dishing out four assists. Once against Ty Abbott kept Arizona State in the ball game scoring 13 points on 6-11 shooting including a three pointer. The Huskies used that first half momentum and carried it over to the second half.

The Huskies in the second half played terrific defense to wrap up the victory. The Huskies held the Sun Devils to 13-36(36.1%) shooting from the field and just 1-7(14.3%) from three point range. The Sun Devils also hurt themselves shooting just 2-12(16.6%) from the free throw line. The Huskies also slowed down Abbott holding him to four points on just one for three shooting. The Huskies also went to the free throw line 19 times in the second half as well. The Huskies outscored the Sun Devils 36-29 and led by more than 20 points throughout the second the half. The Huskies ended the season sweep of the Sun Devils with a 79-62 win over the Sun Devils. The Huskies shot well from the field making 25-56(44.6%) of their field goals including eight three pointers. The Huskies won by getting to the free throw line making 21-30 free throws(70.0%) and also recording 10 block shots to go with 21 assists on the game. The Huskies played one of their best road games in years even though the opponent wasn't very good.

You can't talk about this game without talking about Matthew Bryan-Amaning. Bryan-Amaning like he did in the first meeting destroyed the Sun Devils. Bryan-Amaning scored 22 points on 7-11 shooting and 8-11 from the foul line. Bryan-Amaning grabbed 12 rebounds including six offensive he also blocked four shots on the game showing he was a man amongst boys. Considering this was a conference game this was probably C.J. Wilcox's best game as a Husky. When Suggs went down someone had to step up and Wilcox did just that scoring 16 points on 6-11 shooting including four for nine from three point range. Wilcox also grabbed eight rebounds, dished out three assists and blocked two shots. An all around great game by Wilcox which the Huskies will need in the next coming weeks. Isaiah Thomas struggled this game scoring just 11 points on 4-12 shooting including two for eight from three point range. Thomas did dish out six assists to just one turnover though. Venoy Overton continuing his strong play scored 10 points on two for four shooting including a three pointer grabbed eight rebounds and dished out five assists to just one turnover while recording a steal. Then Justin Holiday for the second straight game struggled scoring just nine points on three for seven shooting including a three pointer. The Huskies took care of business and now must hope this three game winning streak carries over to Tucson where they take on the 13th ranked Arizona Wildcats.

The Huskies showed some good things today for the third straight game. The Huskies attacked the rim and went to the free throw line. The Huskies are also featuring Bryan-Amaning and not becoming so dependent on Thomas and Holiday. The Huskies are getting good play from their bench especially Overton and Wilcox which one will have to start this Saturday. The Huskies have now appeared to have rebounded from that rough patch at Oregon and must show they can beat a quality opponent away from Seattle. With the way the Huskies manhandled the Wild Cats up in Seattle and with the way the Huskies are playing I think they have a shot. The Huskies lost a great three point shooter in Suggs but they have Overton and Wilcox playing well now. Lorenzo Romar's team appears to be making that late season surge as they typically do. This team unless they lose out will be going to the NCAA tournament for the third straight year. They have turned it around and have one last chance to still win the Pac-10 regular season title this Saturday in Arizona.


- It wasn't all smiles in the Huskies win over the Sun Devils as they lost junior guard Scott Suggs for 2-3 weeks due to an MCL sprain. That is a shame as Suggs was playing well as of late and for the year. For the year Suggs has made nine starts and is averaging 7.3 points per game in only 17.8 minutes on the year. Suggs is a terrific shooter too as he is shooting 45.5% from three point range making an average of 1.7 three's a game.

Suggs was playing really well the last six games too. In the last six games Suggs has averaged 10.2 points per game while shooting 14-32(43.7%) from three point range which is an average of 2.3 three pointers a game. Since Suggs has been in the starting lineup the Huskies are 6-3 on the year. Now someone like C.J. Wilcox today or Terrence Ross will have to step up. For the next 2-3 weeks the Huskies will only have eight scholarship players who are active. This isn't a killing loss but this loss will hurt more than people can even imagine especially if the Huskies get in foul trouble.

- Beware Pac-10 Venoy Overton appears to be back. Overton who had struggled terribly in a 10 game stretch in the bulk of the Pac-10 schedule appears to have turned it around. Overton after scoring in double figures just once in the first 12 Pac-10 games has scored in double figures back to back games. Overton was struggling and we can all speculate why which I don't feel like talking about.

Overton the last three games has been producing averaging 10.0 points per game, 5.3 assists to 1.0 turnovers a game. Overton is also shooting 8-18(44.4%) including hitting a three pointer in three straight games. Overton has also gone to the free throw line 16 times the last two games showing he has been agressive. He has also recorded a steal the last three games as well.

The Huskies getting production out of the active conference leader in assists and steals is so huge. He was a guy the Huskies were counting on as he was the fourth leading scorer last year and third in minutes. With Overton playing like the Huskies expected they could make a run.

- The Huskies have also received great play from C.J.Wilcox and given Suggs injury they'll need him to continue that. Wilcox in the first 11 games of the Pac-10 season was shooting just 4-21(19.0%) from three point range. Wilcox only played in nine of those games scoring just 22 points combined which was an average of 2.4 points per game.

Well in the last three games Wilcox has turned it around. He is averaging 13.3 points per game and made 10-23(43.4%) from three point range. He is averaging 3.3 three pointers a game during that stretch. Wilcox overall is shooting 13-26(50.0%) from the field and perfect on his four free throw attempts. He also has three blocks and two steals during that stretch. It appears Wilcox has turned it around. Sometimes hitting some garbage time three pointers can be the start of good things to come. Wilcox only played 13 minutes in that blowout win over California last week but he hit four three pointers and has played himself back in the rotation. He'll be asked to duplicate Suggs terrific three point shooting.

- Matthew Bryan-Amaning dominated the Sun Devils once again. For the year against the Sun Devils Bryan-Amaning is averaging 26.0 points per game, 10.5 rebounds a game, 3.0 blocks per game while shooting 18-27(66.7%) from the field and 16-19(84.2%) from the free throw line. Now Bryan-Amaning isn't a guy who just dominates the worst team in the Pac-10. After a mini two game slump he appears back on track.

In the last four games Bryan-Amaning has shot over 60.0% in all four games. During that four game stretch Bryan-Amaning is averaging 19.0 points per game, 8.0 rebounds a game, 2.3 blocks per game while shooting 32-50(64.0%) from the field. The Huskies are starting to finally featuring Bryan-Amaning again and he is starting to connect on his field goal attempts.

On the year Bryan-Amaning is having a first team all pac-10 type of season. Bryan-Amaning is averaging 16.0 points per game, 8.0 rebounds a game, 0.9 steals a game and 1.6 blocks a game. He is shooting 57.7% from the field on the year. In Pac-10 play Bryan-Amaning is averaging 17.7 points per game, 9.1 rebounds a game, 0.57 steals a game and 1.7 blocks a game. He is shooting 100-171(58.4%) from the field during this 14 game stretch for the Huskies. Bryan-Amaning is a Senior and I feel as if our fan base doesn't appreciate how well he is playing this season.

- The Arizona State Sun Devils probably wish Lorenzo Romar would be fired. Since Romar has arrived at Washington the Huskies have dominated the Sun Devils. Romar began his career getting swept by the Sun Devils but ever since then he has only lost to the Sun Devils just three times which is tied for the fewest losses to any Pac-10 opponent. Romar in nine seasons against Arizona State is 7-2 at home, 7-2 on the road and 2-1 in the Pac-10 tournament against them. Add it all up and Romar is 16-5(.761%) against the Sun Devils. Romar winning percentage against the Sun Devils is the best amongst all Pac-10 teams. To say he has their number would be a slight understatement.

All in all the Huskies blew out a pretty crappy team on the road. The Huskies current three game winning streak has been against the seventh, eighth and now last place team in the Pac-10. The Huskies aren't exactly beating stiff competition but they were swept down in Oregon to the current ninth and sixth place teams. The Huskies took care of business and did what they had to do. By winning this game they avoided another black eye and unless they lose their remaining Pac-10 games or to Seattle U they will go back to the NCAA tournament. This Saturday is huge because if the Huskies lose they won't realistictally have a chance to win the Pac-10 regular season championship. The Huskies win or lose this Saturday showed they are moving in the right direction on the season. The slump appears to be over and the Huskies are playing well as a team. Should be fun this Saturday as the Huskies hope to win in Tucson for the first time since 2006 when Brandon Roy was a senior. The Huskies are playing good ball and if they win this Saturday it should surprise nobody.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mat Classic this weekend brings back memories

By Kshell

Throughout the state of Washington in several gyms ranging from Seattle to Spokane, to Aberdeen to Longview wrestlers completed their last practice of the season today in their gym. Today is the last day wrestlers who fought to qualify for state will practice in their practice rooms. On Thursday they'll get one practice at the Tacoma Dome then on Friday the quest for a state championship shall begin. The Washington state tournament is unique in that this is the only state wrestling tournament in the country that has all qualifications under one roof. With the Tacoma Dome getting up there in age who knows how many more years we'll be able to say that. For now it's great as my high school is in 2A while my old college roomate's school is 4A so for now I can watch my old school and watch his kids. In this following post I'll talk about my memories from what I've gathered over the years of watching state and talk about how my current school is sending 11 kids to state the most in over 30 years!

First I remember going to state when I was in eighth grade. At the time I had never wrestled in my life before. I went to see my cousin wrestle who had basically wrestled his whole life and it was his Senior year to that point he had only lost once. My cousin made one mistake that match and cost him five points. He ended up losing by a score of 5-3. My cousin would bounce back and take third at state. Although that didn't involve me I'll always remember that night. I was up there with my dad and two uncles and of course my cousins dad as well so in all one aunt, three uncles and my dad. I never thought in a million years one year later I would be wrestling. At that time I wasn't interested in wrestling and only went because my cousin was wrestling.

The following year at the football awards banquet the R.A.Long wrestling coach Darrin Dollemore aproached me about wrestling. I kindly told him no thanks that isn't my sport. The following weeks I kept being called in to the principal's office(I had never been before in my life) and each time Dollemore was there asking me to wrestle. In a small town people find out who you are related to pretty quickly. So tired of being bothered and my uncle was the assistent coach at the time I decided I would wrestle. I would say that is one of my best decisions of my life. Like I do with everything I've ever done when I do something I let it become my life. Well the first two years at R.A.Long we were a struggling program going 3-8 my freshman year. For me being a first year wrestler I won just three matches the whole year. As a team for the first time in our coaches career nobody went to state as well. My sophomore year was a get over the hump year for my and my team. That year I finished 9-8 to record a winning season which was a big deal considering the year before. I finished that year finishing second place at a J.V. tournament that had a 12 man bracket. My team went 8-8 which was the first non losing season for my head coach in his fourth year there. Due to some unfortunate things outside the mat we would once again have nobody at state.

Then my Junior year came which saw more progress happen. As a team we finished with a winning record and defeated our cross town rival Mark Morris for the first time in 10 years. I also cracked through the varsity lineup that year in spot duty. I struggled big time individually that year so that was frustrating but gaining the varisty experience helped me the following year. That year we finally had someone make it to state which was and is a good friend of mine. I went up Saturday with my dad to watch him wrestle. He would end up upsetting a returning state finalist by pinning him. He would eventually take fourth at state. I remember trying to vision myself at the Dome the following season. My friend who took fourth by the way is an assistent coach for my old school and was one of many college roommates I had at the party of 805.

Then my Senior year finally arrived. I had put in all the work in the offseason to make this my year. I was cutting down to 103's, benching 155 and had 5.5% body fat at the time. I was primed for a big year unfortunately so were other kids in my same city. I ended falling a match shy of going to state which shattered my hopes and dreams. In my area alone there was a state champion at Kelso, then at Mark Morris they had a fifth and a sixth(I'm in the black and the guy who took sixth is in the red on the left) at state guys as well. I still went up to state that year which I'll admit was tough but I wanted to support a fellow classmate who I had gone to elementry school with. My friend like the year before took fourth at state. I was really happy for him as he defeated this kid who had beat him in the district and regional finals. As I left the Dome I was happy for my friend but disappointed I'll never have the opportunity to wrestle there on the 24 mats on day one and 12 mats on day two.

The following two years I was in college but for wrestling weekend I would go watch state. In 2005 these two brothers placed at state. The oldest one took fourth while the younger one took seventh. Then in 2006 they switched the younger one took fourth while the older one took seventh. In 2005 after watching state I just came home to visit my friends and family. In 2006 because I had came home the week before I just went straight back to Ellensburg. I remember on the drive home listening to the Washington Huskies basketball team destroy the Oregon State Beavers. Both years I left the dome thinking what if? How would have I wrestled under the dome lights. Not going to state used to bother me a lot. Then in the last year or so I realized going to state, placing or even being just J.V. my senior year wouldn't have changed my life in any way. Wrestling doesn't define who I am today. I wish I had known that at 18 years old so I wouldn't have put so much stress and pressure on myself and my body from cutting at times 10 pounds in a span of 24 hours.

This Friday you'll see 16 wrestlers in each weight class in four different classifications all going towards one goal which is to be called a state champion. For some kids this weekend they have already achieved their goals, for others the goal is to at least place and for a select few the goal is state championship or bust. The wrestling tournament is a two day tournament if you win two matches on Friday you will place and survive to see another day. If you lose two matches your season will end that Friday night. The sad truth is 50% of the wrestlers on Friday will not make it to Saturday and 75% of the wrestlers will have a loss. At the state tournament I'll look forward to seeing several friends I made at Central Washington and root for all their kids. I hope the best for my former school R.A.Long who has 11 kids going to state. I will root for all the local kids as well this Saturday. I love seeing state champions come from this area even if they are my rival schools. No such thing as rivalries at the dome I always root for my league to represent.

So much emotion from the winners and sadness from the losing wrestler. So much joy from the state champion and so much heartbreak from the kid who finished second place. For all the Seniors win or lose the finality of it all hits home as well. You'll never see a place full of tough guys have so much tears fall but at wrestling state you have it all. You have kids thrilled to take seventh at state while kids who take second are disappointed. Coaches who are all fired up to get as many kids to place as they can and hopefully even coach a state champion. At the time this seems like the holy grail for all wrestlers in high school and coaches to be part of a state championship. Some will achieve their goals this weekend while others will ultimately fail and think it's the end of the world for them.

This weekend is a special weekend for all the wrestlers and the coaches in this tournament. This weekend also isn't the end of the world either. The journey to where you arrive is more important than the final result itself. Whether you go 0-2 BBQ or win a state championship that may seem like a huge deal at the time but that shouldn't define your life one way or the other. What is most important is the competition itself and the good memories that one gains from such an experience. The friendships that you have gained with your teammates and relationships you have made with your coaches should be priority #1. So yes placing at state and for those lucky enough to win state is great but it's not the most important thing in the world.

All in all I've come to grips on not going to state. I love the sport of wrestling and wish I had appreciated my four years more as they were going on. I was too caught up in results such as going to state instead of sitting back and enjoying the journey. Unlike some people who didn't go to state I can go to the Tacoma Dome this weekend with no regrets. I love the sport of wrestling and I'm very excited to see how my friends do this weekend with their kids at state. The state tournament is my favorite event to see which is why I have no problem missing the Washington Huskies at Arizona Wildcats game to watch the tournament. I'm also content finally that I did my best I could do and made several great friends. I still have a friendship with my former head coach Darrin Dollemore and get to watch my old college roommate coach at R.A.Long as well. It was a special year for R.A.Long and regardless of what happens this weekend the kids should appreciate what they have done along with the coaches. At the end of the day it doesn't matter what happens this weekend. Just remember the journey to the Dome is the fun part. The end results are just extra icing on the cake but does not define who you are. None of the kids will realize that now but someday this will all make sense. Good luck to all the wrestlers this weekend and great job coaches if you have any kids at the state tournament!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Huskies improve to 13-0 at home with 87-76 win over Stanford!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies extending their home winning streak to 14 games dating back to last season. The Huskies avenged an earlier loss to the Stanford Cardinal which you can read about here. The Washington Huskies(17-7,9-4) defeated the Stanford Cardinal(13-11,6-7)87-76 in a game that wasn't as close as the scoreboard showed. The Huskies led at halftime 48-31 as they had made 8-20 from three point range including four by Thomas in the final three minutes. The Huskies were once again led by Isaiah Thomas who scored 22 points in the victory. The Huskies also received a season high 12 points from Venoy Overton over the Cardinals. Thomas scored 12 of his 22 points in the final three minutes of the half turning a close game into a blowout. The Huskies will now hit the road down in Arizona for a key matchup that will decide if they have a shot at winning the Pac-10 regular season championship or not.

The Huskies got off to a slow start in the first half but had the lead due to the defensive pressure. The first half was highlighted by Terrence Ross dunk where he was on the right baseline drove to the hoop and threw down a monsterous dunk. Showed great display of athletic ability. Then with about three minutes to go in the game Isaiah Thomas took over drilling four three pointers the last two were even deep by NBA standards. Those three's by Thomas turned a five point lead into a 17 point lead at halftime as the Huskies led 48-31. The Huskies once again in the first half thrived on the three point shot making 8-20(40.0%) from three point range and 17-37(45.9%) from the field.

The Huskies were led by Thomas who was scoreless until the three minute mark then erupted for 14 points. Thomas scored 14 points on four for nine shooting including four for eight from three point range. His backup Senior guard Venoy Overton who is starting to play well was the next leading scorer with eight points on two for six shooting including a three pointer. Scott Suggs added seven points on three for four shooting with just one three pointer. Suggs was attacking the hole more than usual. Then the other two stars Matthew Bryan-Amaning scored six points on three for five shooting and Justin Holiday scored six points on two for four shooting from three point range. The Huskies for the second straight game at home turned it into a blowout. The Huskies for the second straight game didn't look like the team who had lost three in a row to middle of the road Pac-10 teams.

In the second half the Huskies played extremely well. Don't be fooled by the Cardinals outscoring them 45-39. Most of those points came at the end of the game in garbage time. In the second half the Huskies only attempted nine three point attempts. The Huskies instead focused on working the ball inside to Bryan-Amaning and Aziz N'Diaye. In the second half Bryan-Amaning scored nine points while N'Diaye scored six points. The Huskies also had a new face running the point this game. Overton who had been in a long slump finally busted out of it this week. Overton was creating easy buckets for the Huskies big guys. Overton was often seen slashing to the hole creating opportunities for others. The Huskies also shot 21 free throws in the process by being agressive in the second half. Three pointers are more flashy but lay ups although boring are a higher percentage shot.

The Huskies in the second half received two highlight worthy dunks. First N'Diaye caught the ball three from the bucket and threw it down monster jam style. N'Diaye got a technical for hanging on the rim for to long. Another highlight dunk was when Bryan-Amaning missed a hook shot Terrence Ross came flying in for the dunk off the backboard. The Huskies would cruise to an 87-76 win. Thomas led all scorers with 22 points on 6-12 shooting including 4-10 from three point range. Bryan-Amaning scored 15 points on 6-10 shooting while grabbing six rebounds. Overton then scored a season high 12 points on three for eight shooting while dishing out four assists to zero assists. C.J. Wilcox may have broken out of his slump and he played a good all around game as well. Wilcox scored 10 points on three for eight shooting including two for seven from three point range. Wilcox also added two steals and a block shot. N'Diaye finished with nine points on four for four shooting with six rebounds and three blocks. Suggs finished with seven points while Holiday just six as both were scoreless in the second half. Ross may have had just four points both on highlight type dunks but he also added six rebounds with three assists. Overall the Huskies once again with balance prevailed at home as they improve to 13-0 this year at Hec Ed.

What does this week mean for the Huskies? Well that is hard to tell as the Huskies are 13-0 at home with all 13 wins coming by double digits. I don't think this week tells us anything since everyone already knows the Huskies are tough at home. The Huskies can take comfort in knowing that Venoy Overton appears to have put the off the court issues behind him this week. The Huskies can also take comfort in C.J. Wilcox and Isaiah Thomas shooting slumps appearing to be over as well. The Huskies hit tons of threes this homestand and of course that will get all the attention. The Huskies won by blowout fassion by playing some great defense. The Huskies had six blocks and six steals while forcing 19 turnovers by Stanford. When Lorenzo Romar teams are playing at their top potential defense is the catalyst that leads the charge. The Huskies will have a chance to show the nation and especially a certain recruit who was in the stands tonight that next week they are the team to beat in the Pac-10.


- Venoy Overton had one of his better games of the year. In today's contest Overton scored 12 points, had four assists and no turnovers. Overton played very smart in his 23 minutes. Overton was a big part of last year's sweet 16 team averaging 8.5 points per game in 23 minutes a night.

Overton prior to this homestand was struggling. Averaging just 4.1 points per game, with 2.6 assists and 1.7 turnovers in the previous 10 games. On this homestand though Overton averaged 10.0 points per game, 5.5 assists per game and one turnover a game. Not jaw dropping numbers but key contributions. Overton is a key 6th man for the Huskies and with Abdul Gaddy gone he can't afford to struggle. With two road games remaining and only one in a hostile environment hopefully Overton's struggles have gone away.

- As I noted last game when Isaiah Thomas shoots well the Huskies win. Today he made 6-12 shots including 4-10 from three pointers. Thomas who is only a career 32.6% shooter from three point range was an outstanding 10-18(55.5%) from three point range after shooting 4-17(23.5%) from three point range the previous three games all of which were losses.

I'd like to see Thomas penetrate the basket more often instead of relying on only three point shots. Thomas is most effective when he is doing that instead of jacking up three's the whole game. As you can see the three ball comes and goes but high percentage two point shots are much more consistent. Thomas only had one assist today to five turnovers but he was mostly playing shooting guard today as Overton ran the point.

- Aziz N'Diaye played his best game in Pac-10 season. He hit all four field goal attempts, scored a league high nine points plus he blocked three shots while pulling down six rebounds. N'Diaye has now blocked three shots in back to back games. After hitting a low point in the season at Oregon State where he scored zero points and didn't even attempt a shot in 12 ineffective minutes he has played well the last three games.

In the last three games N'Diaye is averaging 6.7 points per game shooting an amazing 9-10(90.0%) from the field while grabbing 6.3 rebounds a game. He also blocked two shots a game in that span while averaging 19 minutes a game. Like Overton not jaw dropping numbers but if N'Diaye can at least be a threat to score and stay out of foul trouble the Huskies can go far in the tournament.

I'd like to see the Huskies feature our two big guys more this year. N'Diaye is shooting 60% on the year while Bryan-Amaning is shooting 57% from the field this year. When the big guys are involved they also rack up fouls on the opposing team so more free throw attempts for the Huskies guards. When you get the big guys involved that will draw double teams which will allow open three pointers. On this homestand N'Diaye and Bryan-Amaning combined to shoot 22-31(70.9%) from the field.

Overall this week was nice for the sake of confidence. The Huskies may have cost themselves a chance at winning the Pac-10 regular season title. The Huskies can't worry about the past but about improving their play going forward. Even if the Huskies beat the Arizona Wildcats next week the Wildcats could still win the Pac-10 championship even if the Huskies don't lose another game. The Huskies can't worry about that just about playing good ball which involves Overton, N'Diaye and Wilcox playing like they did this homestand. Thomas to continue shooting well because when he shoots well the Huskies win, when he shoots bad they lose as is mostly the case with most teams star players. Romar teams have been here before and unless the Huskies collapse once again they should make the NCAA tournament for the sixth time in the last eight years. Before we get ahead of ourselves it feels good to win again. Now the Huskies will have a huge test down in Arizona this week especially on Saturday at Tucson where the Huskies haven't won since 2006.