Saturday, December 31, 2011

Huskies win Pac-12 opener 95-80 over Beavers

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(7-5,1-0) defeated the Oregon State Beavers(10-3,0-1) 95-80 in their Pac-12 opener. The Huskies under Lorenzo Romar have made the NCAA tournament the last five times they have won their conference opener. The Huskies were led by freshman sensation Tony Wroten's 26 points as the Huskies finished the game on a 12-0 run to put away the Beavers. The Huskies bench outscored the Beavers bench 30-9 led by C.J. Wilcox who scored 15 points making his first appearance off the bench of the season. For the Huskies who had gone through a rough stretch losing four of five have now won two games in a row. They have also defeated the Beavers at home for the ninth straight year. Overall the Huskies have defeated the Beavers 9 out of 10 as they have had the Beavers number lately. Romar is 16-4 against the Beavers in his career as the Huskies have dominated this series.

Going forward the Huskies must play like they did today to maintain their streak of going to the NCAA tournament which is currently at three. The Huskies were off to a wonderful start in the first half as they controlled the game which is what they must doing going forward.

In the first half the Huskies led 50-39 over the Beavers. The Beavers shot 15-31(48.4%) from the field, two for six(33.3%) from three pointers and 7-12(58.3%) from free throws. They were led by Jared Cunningham who scored 13 points on 5-6 shooting including a three pointer. For the Huskies they shot rather well shooting 19-41(46.3%) from the field, 3-9(33.3%) from three pointers but made all nine free throw attempts. They were led by Tony Wroten who scored 12 points on five for seven shooting including a three pointer. Abdul Gaddy scored nine points on four for six shooting including a three pointer. Aziz N'Diaye in his second game back from injury scored six points on three for five shooting. Terrence Ross added six points on two for seven shooting. C.J. Wilcox coming off the bench shot bad making just one for eight but did score six points as he made all four free throws. Wilcox would show up in the second half as the Beavers would make a run but the Huskies would sustain that run.

The Huskies in the second half outscored the Beavers 45-41 in winning 95-80. The Beavers had closed the game to within 83-80 when Wilcox hit a huge floating jumper to extend the Huskies lead 85-80. With a little over two minutes left Wroten took on two Beavers defenders as he scored the layup plus got the and one to put the game away. The Huskies ended the game on a 12-0 run to win by 15 points. The Huskies held Cunningham to just two second half points as he finished with 15 points for the Beavers. For the Huskies they shot 37-72(51.4%) from the field, only 4-18(22.2%) from three pointers but did make 17-20(85.0%) from the free throw line.

The Huskies were led by Wroten who scored 26 points on 10-16 shooting including a three pointer. He also grabbed nine rebounds, four assists and had a steal. The Huskies as a team had six guys in double figures. The next leading scorer was C.J. Wilcox who scored 15 points on 4-13 shooting but made a three pointer and was perfect six for six from the free throw line. Abdul Gaddy scored 13 points on 6-10 shooting including a three pointer and six assists. Desmond Simmons provided 13 points off the bench with five for nine shooting including a three pointer while pulling down eight rebounds. Terrence Ross scored 10 points on 4-11 shooting with three rebounds, three assists, two blocks and two steals. Aziz N'Diaye provided 10 points and seven rebounds on five for seven shooting. Darnell Gant scored only six points on three for six shooting with just two rebounds.

All in all, this was a good win for the Huskies over a much improved Beavers team. The Huskies needed to start conference play off hot after a rough non conference schedule. This was an important win for Romar as history shows when he wins the conference opener the Huskies are dancing in March while if they lose they aren't dancing. The Huskies are 1-0 in conference play and have 17 more games left in conference play to show if they are for real or aren't for real going forward.


Tony Wroten is starting to look like the Huskies best player with each and every game. Wroten led the team with 26 points and rebounds with nine. He also shot over 70% from free throws while only turning the ball over two times. Wroten took over the game down the stretch making the biggest bucket off the night to put the game away. Wroten is fast and talented while showing improvement on his at times sloppy play. Wroten is headed towards a Pac-12 freshman of the year award.

For the season Wroten is averaging 16.8 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds. He is also shooting 50.3% from the field with 1.7 steals per game. If he can cut down on his turnovers and start making his free throws he could be the most unstoppable player in this conference by a long shot. With the way Wroten has been playing the Huskies future for this season appears to be pretty bright.

Huskies fire Nick Holt plus two other defensive coaches

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies have announced that defensive coordinator Nick Holt, linebackers coach Mike Cox and safeties coach Jeff Mills have all been fired. After the debacle of the Alamo Bowl where the Huskies scored 56 points and lost this was a move Steve Sarkisian had to make. The Huskies offense in year three under Sarkisian showed great improvement as quarterback Keith Price threw for a school record 33 touchdowns while rushing for three. The Huskies also saw running back Chris Polk rush for a career high 12 touchdowns yet the Huskies still only went 7-6 losing four of their last five games. The defense was bad all season long allowing 35.9 points per game and went 0-5 against ranked opponents allowing 51.4 points per game.

When Nick Holt came to Washington there is plenty of hype surrounding his hire. Sarkisian referred to him as the top defensive coordinator in the nation. Scott Woodward made him the highest paid coordinator in the conference making more than Washington State Cougars head coach Paul Wulff.  During Holt's first season the defense improved greatly including the first shutout of the Cougars since 1964. Since that first season the Huskies have regressed each year. During 2009 the defense allowed 26.66 points per game and 389.5 yards per game. In 2010 despite making a bowl game the defense regressed allowing 31.2 points per game and 401.2 yards per game. In 2010 the defense did finish strong holding their opponents to seven points in three of the final four games. In 2011 though the defense struggled all season long having just one game where they allowed fewer than 20 points. For the year the defense allowed 35.9 points per game and 453.3 yards per game. The defense regressed each season under Holt which meant a change had to be made.

Sarkisian showed guts in firing his friends who he had begged to follow him from USC. Sarkisian showed how important this job is to him. Sarkisian also isn't off the hook quite yet. Firing Holt was one of many steps that needs to be done in saving this defense. Who Sarkisian hires as his next defensive coordinator will utlimately decide his legacy as Washington. He has built up a 10 plus win offense already. With just an average defense the Huskies go 10-3 this year in year three which would have gain Sarkisian national attention. As head coach Sarkisian is in charge of the entire football team. He must also help out his defensive coaches by recruiting better defensive players. Sean Parker and James Sample who are both young safeties appear to be the only studs that Sarkisian has landed on the recruiting front. If the defense isn't saved with the new coordinator then it will be Sarkisian who will be asked to turn in his coaching whistle at the university.

In conclusion, Sarkisian did the right thing and handled it with class. Instead of letting the media decide the fate of his coaches he personally told them. This was a tough move as this program was 0-12 just three years ago and this staff has led them to back to back bowl games. I'll thank Holt for the 2010 Holiday Bowl which was won by the defense and his three apple cup wins. However, this was a move that had to be made. This program is at a point where they are ready to take off and must have a quality defense if they ever want to be where they once were. This next month will be the biggest month in the Sarkisian era which will forever determine his fate at this program. Sarkisian made the bold move but next time he won't be able to blame the coordinator. He just used up his one free fire the coordinator card next time this will fall squarely on his lap.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Alamo Bowl preview

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(7-5,5-4) are set to take on the #12 Baylor Bears(9-3,6-3) in the Alamo Bowl set in San Antonio, Texas which is three hours from the Baylor campus. Both teams feature explosive offenses led by Baylor's Robert Griffin III who won the heisman trophy. The Baylor offense is averaging 43.5 points per game which is good for seventh in the entire nation. While the Huskies offense which is led by Chris Polk is averaging 31.5 point per game which is good for 36th in the nation. This should be a high scoring game with two quality offenses going up against two weak defenses. The Bears defense is allowing 35.7 points per game which ranks 109th in the country while the Huskies defense is allowing 33.3 points per game which ranks 99th in the country. For what has been a boring bowl season so far this game should generate plenty of excitement to the casual fans.

You can't talk about the Bears mighty offense without first talking about heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III who if he leaves for the NFL would be a top 10 pick in the draft. Griffin is trying to lead the Bears to a 10 win season which was once unthinkable. For the year he completed 72.4% of his passes for 3,998 yards(10.8 YPA). He threw for 36 touchdowns to only six interceptions during the season. His passing stats alone are terrific then you factor in his 644 yards rushing(4.0 YPC) with nine touchdowns and you can see why he won the heisman trophy. His favorite targets are Kendall Wright who hauled in 101 receptions for 1,572 yards(15.6 YPC) with 13 TD's. The second weapon for this passing offense which ranks fifth in the nation is Terrance Williams who caught 53 passes for 895 yards(16.9 YPC) with 11 touchdowns. The Bears have a third receiver who is having a fine season in Tevin Reese who has caught 46 passes for 811 yards(17.6) with seven touchdowns. The Bears can also run the ball as they feature Terrence Ganaway who rushed for 1,347(5.9 YPC) with 16 touchdowns. The Bears offense features plenty of weapons on offense and for the Huskies to win they must keep that offense on the sidelines.

The Huskies need to do what they did last year in the Holiday Bowl win. Last year Sarkisian fed Chris Polk the ball over and over again as the Nebraska offense sat on the sidelines. Polk on the year has rushed for 1,341 yards(5.1 YPC) with 11 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 29 passes for 324 yards(11.2 YPC) with four touchdowns. Which earned Polk first team all pac-12 selection.  Polk currently trails Napoleon Kaufman by 200 yards for the all-time rushing lead in school history. Polk also has quality backup running backs if he needs a breather. Jesse Callier for the season has rushed for 264 yards(5.9 YPC) with a touchdown. He has also caught six passes. Remember last year in the Holiday Bowl Callier completed a 14 yard pass to Jake Locker to set up the first score. Bishop Sankey has ran for 187 yards(6.7 YPC) with a touchdown and also has caught six passes. Sankey is pretty quick and can bust a long run everytime he touches the ball. The Bears defense allows 198 yards rushing per game so the Huskies should pound the ball on them. If the Bears decide to stack the box well the Huskies also have a good passing game too.

The Huskies passing offense is led by sophomore quarterback Keith Price. Price who is filling in for Jake Locker who set plenty of records at Washington. For this year it was Price who set a record for most passing touchdowns in a single season. Price for the year completed 67.4% of his passes for 2,625 yards(8.1 YPA) with 29 touchdown passes(school record) to just 11 interceptions. Price has plenty of weapons to throw to as well as he spreads the ball around the field to multiple talented receivers.  Price was selected to honorable mention all pac-12 and in a normal year could have been more but with Andrew Luch and Matt Barkley that makes it tough. His two leading receivers are both seniors and honorable all pac-12 receivers Devin Aguilar and Jermaine Kearse. Aguilar caught 36 passes for 521 yards(14.5 YPC) with four touchdowns. Kearse caught 42 for 501(11.9) with six touchdowns while also rushing for a touchdown as well. Freshman sensation Kasen Williams has emerged lately and has caught 33 passes for 408 yards(12.4 YPC) with six touchdowns. James Johnson added 26 receptions for 330 yards(12.7 YPC) with three touchdowns. The Huskies also feature honorable mention all pac-12 freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins who caught 36 passes for 479 yards(13.3 YPC) with six touchdowns. The Huskies also have plenty of offensive weapons to compete with the Bears. The key to this game will also be how the defense responds.

Last year when the Huskies won the Holiday Bowl all the attention was on the offense. When in reality the Huskies won 19-7 as the defense stepped up setting up the first score and eventually getting a safety. Mason Foster was the defensive MVP as he was all over the field. While Alameda Ta'amu just as easily could have been the MVP as well. He recovered the fumble that set up the first score, recorded two sacks and was also held which allowed the safety. Ta'amu who is a projected late first or early second round draft pick is playing his final game as a Husky. Ta'amu was honorable mention this year as he was injured throughout the season. Another Husky defender playing in his final game is Cort Dennison who led the Pac-12 in tackles and earned second team all pac-12 selection. The defense must step up if they expect to pull off this upset. Nobody is expecting them to shut down Baylor like they did last year with Nebraska but nobody will accept games where they allow over 40 like they did against Nebraska, Stanford, and USC. The defense must play tough in the redzone and hold the Bears to three points instead of seven points that could be the difference between winning and losing.

In conclusion, with Griffin winning the Heisman this will be the featured bowl game amongst the games not in the BCS. The Huskies have a great chance to impress the nation with a win against a quality opponent for the second straight year. For Sarkisian who is having a rough day losing out on an in-state recruit earlier today he can remove the doubt that he is the guy with a win today. With a win today Sarkisian will tie Jim Owens for second all-time in Huskies history for most bowl victories with two. With a win today the program will have made progress improving their win total each season under Sarkisian. With a win to day the Huskies will have won back to back bowl games for the first time in 20 years. This game is huge for the Huskies and their opponent for the second straight year is favored to destroy them. This is a huge test for the Huskies who failed so many throughout the year. Maybe tonight is the night the Huskies finally pass that final exam.

Huskies take on Heisman Trophy winner

By Kshell

For this bowl game Washington Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian will be under the spotlight of the nation. The nation won't be watching the Alamo Bowl tonight to watch the Huskies though as they'll be watching Robert Griffin III who is the heisman trophy winning quarterback from Baylor. This will be the first time since Tim Tebow won the heisman in 2007 that a heisman trophy winner isn't playing in a BCS game. RGIII which is what most call him led the Baylor Bears to a 9-3 record as he completed 72.4% of his passes for 3,998 yards(10.8 YPA). He threw for 36 touchdowns to only six interceptions during the season. His passing stats alone are terrific then you factor in his 644 yards rushing(4.0 YPC) with nine touchdowns and you can see why he won the heisman trophy. This won't be the first time the Huskies have faced a heisman trophy winner in fact the Huskies have only beaten the Heisman twice in their history. They have lost five games in a row to the Heisman trophy winner which had three of them being coached by Sarkisian at the time.

The Huskies recently haven't played well against Heisman trophy winners as they've been blown out as well. The last time the Huskies played an eventual Heisman winner was in the trainwreck season of 2008 when Sam Bradford  came to town. Oklahoma destroyed the Huskies 55-14 as Bradford was 18-21 passing for 304 with five passing touchdowns and also rushed for a touchdown. In 2005 the mighty USC trojans came to town featuring eventual heisman winner Reggie Bush. The Trojans won 51-24 as Bush ran for 51 yards on just eight carries with a touchdown, also caught two passes for 18 yards. He also electrified college football with a spectactular 84 yard punt return for a touchdown. The year prior the Huskies faced the Trojans again losing 38-0 in 2004 as Matt Leinart who won the Heisman that year was 24-43 passing for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. In 2002 the Huskies faced the Trojans losing 41-21 as Carson Palmer was 21-34 passing for 348 yards with four touchdowns three of which were to Mike Williams. The Huskies faced a Heisman winner seven years prior in Eddie George as the Ohio State Buckeyes defeated the Huskies in 1995 over in Columbus 30-20. George ran for 212 yards with two touchdowns and ran for 149 with a touchdown at halftime as the Buckeyes led 23-7 over the Huskies. The two previous times the Huskies faced a heisman winner though they actually won those games.

Heading into the 1992 Rose Bowl the undefeated Washington Huskies led by Don James were hoping to win back to back Rose Bowls and win a National championship. Standing in their way was Heisman Trophy and future Super Bowl MVP Desmond Howard of the Michigan Wolverines. The Huskies won that game 34-14 as Howard was held to just one catch which was late in the game too. Mario Bailey of the Huskies scored a touchdown and he possed for the Heisman. Despite having 18 receiving touchdowns Bailey was snubbed from being invited to New York that year. Howard was the first heisman player the Huskies had faced in a decade as in 1981 Marcus Allen and the USC Trojans came to town again with the Rose Bowl on the line. The Huskies won 13-3 in a rain storm as Allen had 155 rushing but would lose to the Huskies for the second straight year after scoring the winning touchdown in 1979. That year the Huskies lost to the Trojans and eventual heisman trophy winner Charles White. The Trojans won 24-17 at Husky stadium as White ran for 243 yards on the day but was held out of the endzone. Don James actually went 2-1 against Heisman trophy winners while no other Huskies coach has defeated a heisman trophy winner.

In conclusion, every heisman winner with the exception of Howard had a good game against the Huskies. Look for Griffin III to have a good game as well. Sarkisian is hoping Griffin III has a good game instead of a great game as the Huskies pull off the upset. Defeating a heisman trophy winner is difficult but that is mainly because they are also on the national championship team. That isn't the case this game as the Baylor Bears already have three losses. The Huskies are going up against College Football's best and were already routed by the runner up Andrew Luck 65-21. The Huskies defense has been scary bad this year which will be quite the test given this is best player they have faced all year which is saying something considering they already played Luck, Matt Barkley and LaMichael James. Hopefully the Heisman jinx starts a little bit early at 6 p.m. PT tonight in the Alamo Bowl and Sarkisian can join James as the only Huskies coach to defeat a Heisman trophy winner.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Earl Thomas named to pro bowl, five other Seahawks named alternates

By Kshell

For the first time in three seasons the Seattle Seahawks will be sending a player to the pro bowl. When the Pro Bowl teams were announced second year safety Earl Thomas was selected to the pro bowl while five of his teammates could later join him as alternates. Last season as a rookie Thomas was named an alternate while this year he is finally going to the pro bowl. Of the six Seattle Seahawks honored five of those players were acquired by Pete Carroll through the draft, trade or free agency showing you the job he has done shaping this roster. Thomas who was a first round selection last season along with Russell Okung is part of a solid Seahawks foundation for years to come. Thomas becomes the first Seahawks safety selected to the pro bowl since Darryl Williams in 1998.

When the Seahawks selected Thomas last year in the first round he changed the Seahawks defense. The Seahawks for the past decade have struggled at the safety position but finally had a youngster in Thomas. He was paired up with veteran Lawyer Milloy as Milloy taught him the game well. Milloy also mentored pro bowl alternate Kam Chancellor last season as well. For a franchise who hadn't had a pro bowl safety in 13 seasons in one draft selected a pro bowler and an alternate. Thomas statistically had a better season last year than this year although this year he hasn't allowed any long touchdown passes. For the year Thomas has recorded 90 tackles, two interceptions, while recovering two fumbles.

Thomas has been all over the place in helping shape the Seahawks new identity. The Seahawks under Carroll are now a physical team that thrives on good defense instead of the Mike Holmgren era where it was all about the offense. Thomas has transformed this secondary which features him as a pro bowler and two alternates which many saw as a weakness heading into the season when in fact turned into a strength. Carroll has made so many changes to this team that there isn't really a face for this franchise. Well I think there is a face now and his name is Earl Thomas the safety from the University of Texas. Hopefully Thomas will be joined by some of his other teammates in Hawaii as well.

The other alternates were safety Kam Chancellor, cornerback Brandon Browner and fullback Michael Robinson were first alternates. Second alternate was running back Marshawn Lynch while punter Jon Ryan was third alternate.  I'll start with Lynch who has rebounded from a rough start to have rushed for 1,118 yards(4.2 YPC) with 12 touchdowns. Lynch has rushed for a TD in 11 straight games for the Seahawks which is a record. Chancellor on the season has been great along with Thomas in recording 87 tackles, four interceptions, a sack, forcing two fumbles and recovering a fumble. Browner is a great story as he played in the CFL for six seasons and Carroll discovered him out of nowhere. Browner this year had six interceptions which were returned for 220 yards including two touchdowns. Michael Robinson and Jon Ryan have been solid as well this season. Carroll other than Ryan has drafted Thomas and Chancellor, traded for Lynch and signed Browner and Robinson.

In conclusion, I'm so happy for Earl Thomas couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. When hearing the news that he had made the pro bowl Thomas tweeted this "Bout to go to dinos pub and order ever drink they got 12th man come join me it's on me..." which for those who took him up on his offer I bet had a great time.  Also during preseason this year I attended a practice where let's just say the guys who stuck around to sign autographs are no longer on the roster. Then one guy came out and that was Thomas who signed for everyone. It was worth the wait too as I also own his jersey as well.

Thomas is one of those guys who will be a household name in Seattle and throughout the nation. He just turned 21 years old too and doesn't appear to have a big head which most people often complain about when it comes to athletes. Earl Thomas is not only a great player but also a great human being as well. For the other alternates hopefully they can somehow make the pro bowl as well to join Thomas who is the first Seahawk in the pro bowl since 2008. A franchise that had multiple pro bowlers from 2003-2008 was shutout for two straight years showing the job Carroll inherited and has now done. Congrats to Earl Thomas on making the pro bowl he definately deserves it!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sounders acquire Swedish right back Adam Johansson

By Money Mike

Coming into this offseason, GM Adrian Hanauer said the main focus was signing a Goalkeeper and a couple of outside backs after Kasey Keller retired, James Riley was taken by the Montreal Impact in the Expansion Draft before being traded to Chivas USA and Tyson Wahl was traded to the Montreal Impact. You can consider all those holes being filled in now. The Sounders already signed Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning and selected Left Back Marc Burch in the Re-Entry Draft. Now the Sounders have signed a Right Back. Earlier this morning, the Sounders have signed Swedish international Adam Johansson after his contract with IFK Goteborg expired.

According to reports, Johansson has agreed to a three year contract with the Seattle Sounders and will join the club in late January due to the fact that he was called up by Sweden. Otherwise he would've joined camp on time.

Johansson began his professional career with local club Vastra Frolunda which is also where former Sounder Erik Friberg, who revealed this signing with a series of Tweets, began his footballing career. Johansson spent three seasons with Vastra Frolunda and made 66 appearances for the club with a goal to his credit. He joined IFK Goteborg in 2005 and didn't feature regularly in this first two seasons there. In 2007, Johansson finally established himself as a starter for Goteborg. Johansson started 24 of 26 matches as Goteborg won the 2007 Allsvenskan title. In his seven seasons over there, he made 129 appearances and scored one goal.

Johansson has also capped 9 times for the Swedish national team. His first cap came January 2009 against the United States.

Thoughts on this move:

Well I would still consider looking for another Right Back in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft because Sweden qualified for EURO 2012, which means he could be in consideration for that squad that will participate in the European Championship in June. That was the question I had with myself on Michael Gspurning, but Austria didn't qualify so I don't need to worry about that. Anyway, this is a great move. This guy comes in with good technical ability and should help meet one of the biggest offseason goals for the Men in Rave Green which is better possession from their fullbacks.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas everyone!

By Kshell

Today is a special day for people throughout the entire world. This is the day where people who normally don't get along tolerate each other, where you actually look forward to spending time with your family. Today is the one day where you don't even complain about your sports teams. Today is also a great day for sports fans as myself. The NBA started back up today with plenty of great games and as I type this there is currently an NFL game going on. I also love about Christmas is that everyone has a place to go. For me it was back at my parents house as I recently moved to Edmonds, Washington.

While back home I got to see all my friends this week which was nice. Then today I spent time with my family including my pregnant sister, my grandma(dad's side) and my grandpa(mom's side) plus my aunt(mom's side). For Christmas without sharing all my gifts I received two Washington Huskies Alamo Bowl T-shirts which alone represents how things changed. I remember growing up the only Husky bowl shirts I'd receive for Christmas were Rose Bowl shirts. Now after that terrible stretch of football from 2004-2009 I appreciate every bowl game. The most rewarding gift was the gifts my sister received which was all baby clothes. I bought her a cute outfit that said "mom's pal" and the thought of being an uncle is still strange to me.

My blog has been pretty successful in the past year and I would like to thank everyone for continuing to read my work. I'm aware my opinions are strong and not everyone agrees but you guys continue to read which has been greatly appreciated. Although I must admit writing about Seattle sports teams these past few months has even worn on me a bit which is why I haven't been posting as much. The only wish I have for next year is to have just one all I ask is one good team who won't let me down. Tired of these average teams to down right terrible teams(Mariners).

In conclusion, today was a good christmas as Lebron James had a big day, Kobe Bryant choked the game away and most importantly spent the day with some of the most important people in my life. Christmas whether you are a believer or not is a wonderful day. I wish Christmas was more than just once a year because it really is a special time. Then we all go back to our old ways of living for the next year until Christmas comes around again. Hopefully enjoyed my rather sappy Christmas post as this day has been a wonderful day for me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sounders reportedly sign 19-year old Cordell Cato

By Money Mike

Well there's no confirmation of this deal, but according to Trinidad and Tobago Express, it looks like the Seattle Sounders have or will sign Trinidad and Tobago U20 international Cordell Cato who was on trial with the Sounders last summer. Right now, I found five sources regarding this move. The Sounders are set to have a three day combine in Trinidad and Tobago from January 2-4 and I would assume that Cato will attend the combine. If the deal is confirmed, Cato will join the Sounders on a one-year contract with an option of an additional two years and will be listed as a Developmental player for the Seattle Sounders. Again, I have found five links regarding this deal which has yet to be confirmed. This would be the Sounders third signing this offseason and I would expect a few more to be made when the International Transfer Window for this winter opens in January.

Cato's agent Evans Wise, a former MLS player, told reporters that they still need to complete some final documents as well as a medical before the deal can be made official. Sounders GM Adrian Hanauer and Technical Director Chris Henderson said pretty much the same thing along the lines, saying that nothings official yet.

Hopefully this deal will be completed soon. Of course it's only a one-year developmental contract, but I think Cato will stick around longer than that. He's an exciting young player with a ton of potential. I mean, I haven't seen him, but Hanauer has seen him, Henderson has seen him and the coaching staff have seen him play obviously because he was on trial, so they know a lot more than I do, but hearing what Cato brings, I think he's gonna be an exciting player to watch in the future. I'll have more information about this deal soon when it's officially completed.

Dear Nintendo: Please sell the team to somebody who cares

By Kshell

As I'm sure most Seattle Mariners fans are aware by now this offseason has been a complete bust. We have watched our division rivals the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sign C.J. Wilson and the best hitter of the past thirty plus years in Albert Pujols. Meanwhile the two-time defending American League champions Texas Rangers just signed Yu Darvish from Japan. While the Mariners despite losing 196 games the last two years are in no hurry to do anything. They offered Prince Fielder supposedly a five year 90 million dollar deal which is PR move. That is the type of offer that isn't serious about landing the power hitting first baseman. Mariners beat writer Geoff Baker has already revealed that the Mariners are having some financial troubles lately and our wishes could be coming true very soon. The Mariners ownership who also owns Nintendo could possibly be selling this franchise which is exactly what this franchise needs.

This organization has been ran by morons since day one. Chuck Armstrong leads that group of morons in fact he's been team president since 1993 and was part of the team in the 1980's as well. Howard Lincoln is also part of the ownership group as well. When this ownership group first bought the team there was great success in fact from 1993-2003 the Mariners record was 933-780(.544) which in those 11 years including four playoff trips and eight winning seasons. Considering prior to 1993 this franchise had seen just one winning season that was impressive. The fans started to turn on ownership around 2002 and 2003 when they refused to expand payroll to make significant deadline moves to improve this ballclub. Which meant future hall of fame manager Lou Piniella and hall of fame general manager Pat Gillick left the franchise in disgust. That is when the franchise started to fall apart and the heat on this current ownership group grew.

The Mariners turned to failed Angels General Manger Bill Bavasi to run this ball club from 2004-2008. During the Bavasi years the Mariners were horrible sporting a 359-451(.443) record which saw the Mariners finish in last place in four of those five seasons. Bavasi didn't value sabermetrics at all and ignored age. The Mariners ownership also stepped in by extending Kenji Johjima and Ichiro to a five year 90 million dollar deal. Ichiro has only led the Mariners in WAR during one winning season which was 2007. Translation Ichiro can't be your best player on a successful team. The Mariners fired Bavasi after 2008 hoping to find the next quality GM. Several people said at the time it won't matter who the Mariners hire as long as Armstrong and Lincoln are running the show.

The Mariners replaced Bavasi with Milwaukee Brewers old scout Jack Zduriencik. Zduriencik could do no wrong that first year taking over a club who had lost 101 games the Mariners won 85 games that first year. Since then the club has regressed under Jack Z's watch as the team is just 213-273(.438). The Mariners are actually worse off record wise than they were under Bavasi. Zduriencik is building the team the right way but he is also making plenty of mistakes at the major league level. He signed a 31 year old Chone Figgins to a four year 36 million dollar deal. He is constantly going for the cheap bargains and that is why the Mariners offense under Jack Z has been terrible every single season. Then he traded away Doug Fister despite the fact he is pretty cheap and under club control. Fans still believe in Jack Z but if he doesn't sign Fielder this offseason that will be the second straight offseason where Jack Z failed to improve a team who lost over 95 games.

In conclusion, you don't win titles with bargain deals. You win titles with position players whether you find them at a discount or overpaid for them. There is no salary cap in baseball and if these owners don't want to spend they should do the right thing and sell to a guy who will. Nintendo should be thanked first of all for saving baseball in Seattle back in 1993 and providing the Mariners their only taste of the postseason. I feel like they don't get enough credit for doing just that. The Mariners ownership has come now to finally let it go as they tried and failed to deliver a World Series title. First thing new ownership will do is clean house which means no more Armstrong, Lincoln and probably Zduriencik who has proven he is just a scout only not a general manager. So I'm begging you Nintendo please sell the team to a passionate billionaire in Seattle who wants to win a title as much as every fan does. The problem with building with prospects is you are constantly building while the Angels will have bad contracts they'll stay competitive every single season because they spend money. Hopefully the Mariners sell the team to a guy who has no problem dishing millions and millions of dollars to provide a winner in Seattle finally.

South Dakota State stuns Huskies 92-73

By Kshell

The South Dakota State JackRabbits(10-4,2-0) dominated the Washington Huskies(5-5,0-0) on their home court 92-73 in a game that was never close. The Huskies a team with so much promise heading into the season has now lost four of their last five ball games. For the first time since losing to top 10 Pittsburgh back in the 2007-08 season the Huskies lost a non conference home game. For Lorenzo Romar this could very well be the worst loss since he has taken over this program. This was no fluke as the JackRabbits outplayed, outcoached, and outhustled the Huskies all game long. For the Huskies they have just one more non conference tilt before Pac-12 season begins. This team which I said last game was finally gaining an identity has appeared to have lost that identity in allowing 92 points at home to a team that was playing division-2 ball just a few years ago. For the Huskies this was the lowpoint in a season that is already in danger of being flushed down the toilet.

In the first half the JackRabbits were hot from the start of the game jumping out to a 9-2 lead. They quickly increased their lead to double figures and at times led by over 20 points as they couldn't miss meanwhile the Huskies were struggling. The JackRabbits led by Nate Wolters led at halftime 51-33 over the Huskies who didn't know what had hit them. The JackRabbits in the first half shot 19-32(59.4%) from the field while draining 8-11(72.7%) from three pointers. They were led by Wolters who scored 16 points on 6-12 shooting including a three pointer and also dished out four assists. The JackRabbits also saw Chad White score 12 points on four for seven shooting but was four for five from three pointers. Griffan Callahan scored eight points on three for three shooting including making two three pointers.

For the Huskies they struggled shooting only 11-27(40.7%) from the field and made just 3-10(30.0%) from three point range. They were led by Tony Wroten who scored 10 points on four for eight shooting including a three pointer but once again struggled at the foul line making just one for three free throws. C.J. Wilcox scored seven points on two for five shooting including a three pointer. Abdul Gaddy scored three points on one for three shooting including a three pointer but had four assists. The Huskies dug themselves too big of a hole that they couldn't recover from it.

In the second half the Huskies would turn up the heat and go on several runs but could never pull the game within single digits. Whenever the Huskies pulled to within 10 or 11 points the JackRabbbits would score a crucial bucket. In the end the JackRabbits also won the second half as well outscoring the Huskies 41-40 winning the game 92-73. They shot 28-51(54.9%) from the field, 10-16(62.5%) from three pointers, 26-32(81.2%) from the foul line. They were led by Wolters who scored 34 points on 10-20 shooting with a three pointer and was also 13-16 from the free throw line. He also dished out seven assists while grabbing five rebounds. Callahan scored 16 points on five for six shooting including being perfect on all three three point attempts. Overall the JackRabbits had five guys in scoring figures as they dropped 92 points on the Huskies.

For the Huskies the shooting continued to struggle and the defense was even worse. The Huskies shot 26-63(41.3%) from the field and even worse from three point range making only 5-18(27.8%). The Huskies did make 16-22(72.7%) from free throws which was the only positive. They were led by Wroten who scored 23 points on 8-17 shooting including a three pointer but was just 6-11 from free throws. Wroten had four rebounds, three assists and three turnovers as well. The second leading scorer was Darnell Gant who scored 15 points on five for eight shooting including a three pointer and was four for five from free throws. Gant also grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. C.J. Wilcox scored 12 points but continued his shooting slump making only 4-15 field goal attempts including two for six from three point range. Desmond Simmons provided another strong game off the bench scoring eight points on three for seven shooting but grabbed 11 rebounds including seven offensive. Abdul Gaddy scored only seven points on two for eight shooting including a three pointer but did dish out seven assists to only one turnover. Terrence Ross had a frustrating game fouling out in 23 minutes scoring just six points on three for four shooting.  For the Huskies if they expect to win ballgames in the future they need to find a way to get Ross involved or this will be a long season.

All in all, this was an unacceptable loss especially for a program who has made the NCAA tournament the past three seasons. This loss appears to fall on the players shoulders as Romar teams are known for their defense and team play which this team lacks at both. This team is playing too much one on one ball trying to impress their future NBA teams and not the current team they play for. Romar takes on blame for not controlling his team as this season which is young is appearing to slip away from him much like the 2006-07 season did which also featured plenty of young talent. Romar needs to start taking control of this team even if it means sitting some future NBA players to send a message. This loss will be a black eye on a future NCAA tournament resume down the road. The Huskies are playing like a team you would see at a YMCA pick up game not a team who is hoping to play meaningful games in March.


- Tony Wroten is appearing to be the most talented player on the roster and also the best player on the roster. He also could be hurting this team in some ways as he is attempting more field goals and passing less. C.J. Wilcox last game had just five field goal attempts and this game Terrence Ross had just four field goal attempts. Those two are the Huskies best scorers so they should be shooting the ball the most. Wroten isn't making his free throws either this year despite going to the hole so much. Wroten for the year is making 51.4% of his free throws despite shooting 7.2 a game.

I haven't given up on Wroten by any means unlike most ignorant fans on the Seattle Times message boards. Wroten with his size brings a lot to the table and with his quickness he attacks the hole so much that if he starts making his free throws he can be unstoppable. Wroten for the year is averaging 16.4 points per game, 4.7 rebounds but only 3.0 assists per game compared to 4.3 turnovers a game. Wroten is a fine player but he must cut down on his mistakes if the Huskies are to be dancing in March Madness. Wroten isn't the only player who deserves critism though as I think another player is getting too much of a free pass as of late.

- Abdul Gaddy is the junior point guard who is a former five star recruit. He hasn't even came close to living up to his expectations which is what is really killing this team. Gaddy has actually regressed since last season which could be due to his injury he suffered last year. Either way Gaddy has been slow on defense and despite playing 35 minutes last game scored just seven points.

In the past four games Gaddy is averaging 33.3 minutes per game yet is only averaging 8.8 points per game on 12-33(36.3%) from the field and just 3-11(27.2%) from three pointers. Gaddy's lack of an outside game is hurting an offense which without Scott Suggs is hurting on scorers. Whether Gaddy is injured or not he is hurting this team on both sides of the ball and I think Romar should start Simmons over him next game and slide Wilcox to the shooting guard position. Make Wroten focus on being a point guard that is the best possible lineup for the Huskies to start the game.

- Every year I complain about Lorenzo Romar's coaching and he keeps proving me right which is too bad. I like Romar and think he has taken this program to heights they have never seen before. I feel like Romar is a terrific recruiter when it comes to guards. I also think Romar is proving he isn't the guy to ever lead this program further than what they are currently. In today's college basketball you must win with young talent and Romar to date has yet to show he can win with young teams. He has always needed a stud senior or junior to carry his team. This team has neither as their three best players are two sophomores and a freshman which for any other coach would be no big deal. For Romar that means an underachieving season is expected to happen.

The Huskies don't run an offense with Romar as his X's and O's appear to be lacking. The program offensively hasn't quite been the same since Ken Bone became a head coach at Portland State. Bone was the offensive mind behind those Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy teams. The Huskies can score points on bad teams but against any decent team the offense struggles. Romar needs to take control of this team by banning twitter and being harsh on these guys. Like what happened last year when Romar had the statement "Don't play defense come sit next to me" I think he needs to go back to applying that rule as the defense was horrible. Something is missing with this club and this isn't all on Romar either. Ultimately as head coach he must find a way to get this talented team to play to their abilities.

In conclusion, this was a disgusting loss for a team that features two five star recruits on their roster. NBA pro scouts were at the game to check out Ross, Wilcox and Wroten instead saw them get embarassed by Wolters instead. An NCAA tournament type of team doesn't get killed at home to South Dakota State. Even in Romar's worst  years they were always tough at home while this team just dropped a home game to a lesser opponent. The Huskies are now 5-5 and hopefully they rally like they did back in 2003-04 when they were 5-8 and still made the NCAA tournament. Romar's teams do play better as the season progresses. Hopefully that is the case this year or else the Huskies are going to be in for a long disappointing season ahead of themselves.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wroten scores career high 27 as Romar wins #200 as Huskies head coach

By Kshell

Tony Wroten tied Isaiah Thomas freshman record of 27 points as the Washington Huskies(5-4,0-0) snapped a three game losing streak defeating the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos(5-3,0-0) 87-80. The Huskies who trailed at halftime came back in the second half to give Lorenzo Romar his 200th win of his Huskies career becoming only the third head coach in program history to win that many games. Romar won his 200th game due to the fact he finally started Wroten who made his first career start with the Huskies and he shined scoring 27 points with seven rebounds. The Huskies also saw Abdul Gaddy snap out of his slump tying his career high with 17 points.

The Huskies had their backs against the wall as they trailed at halftime. Then after blowing a 10 point lead with three minutes left in the game this time the Huskies were mentally tough enough to close out the game. Unlike the previous three games the Huskies were the team making plays down the stretch against a team who has made the NCAA tournament the past season .The Huskies were missing Aziz N'Diaye especially in the first half as the Gauchos had their way in the paint against the Huskies.

In the first half the Huskies struggled as they trailed the Gauchos 47-44 at halftime. The Gauchos shot 20-36(53.6%) from the field while making thee for six from three pointers. They also outrebounded the Huskies 22-14 while having five block shots to the Huskies zero. They were led by Orlando Johnson who scored 12 points on four for eight shooting including a three pointer with five rebounds.

For the Huskies they also shot well making 17-34(50.0%) of their shots including 5-10(50.0%) from three pointers. The Huskies weren't hitting their free throws making just 5-11(45.5%). They were led by Wroten who scored 13 points on 6-14 shooting including a three but was just one for three from free throws. Abdul Gaddy scored 12 points on four for four shooting including two three pointers and was two for three at the foul line. They also got a spark off the bench from Desmond Simmons who scored seven points on three for three shooting including a three pointer with three rebounds. Once again Terrence Ross struggled in the first half but would turn it around in the second half.

The second half the Huskies outscored the Gauchos 43-33 as the defense tighten up for the Huskies. Wroten continued to shine in the second half while Ross stepped his game up. The Huskies in the second half started to pull away up 77-67 then with two costly mistakes by Wroten the game was slipping away as the Gauchos went on a 10-0 run to tie it up. Gaddy drove to the hole missed the layup but Darnell Gant the lone senior on the roster hit the putback and made the free throw to give the Huskies a three point lead. The Huskies would earn the victory 87-80 as they were led by Wroten scoring 14 points in the second half giving him 27 for the game.

For the game the Huskies were led by Wroten who was 11-21 shooting but made just four of nine free throws. He did however collect seven rebounds during the game. Abdul Gaddy was next with 17 points on 6-10 shooting with two three pointers. Terrence Ross woke up scoring 16 points including another 360 alley oop dunk from Wroten on 5-12 shooting including two three pointers. He also added five rebounds, two steals and a block shot. Darnell Gant scored nine points on two for seven shooting with eight rebounds including the games biggest play. Desmond Simmons scored nine points on four for five shooting with eight rebounds. Like Gant he also made a three pointer. C.J. Wilcox struggled with foul trouble scoring just seven points on two for five shooting including a three pointer. The Huskies as a team shot well making 30-63(47.6%) of their field goals including 8-15(53.3%) from three pointers. Once again the struggles from the free throw line shooting just 19-30(63.3%) has already cost them games and almost cost them this game.

All in all, the Huskies are starting to grab an identity. With the absence of so many key players from last year it was hard to tell who the "alpha" dog of this team is. Now that is pretty clear the alpha dog is both Terrence Ross and Tony Wroten. It is also clear that Abdul Gaddy and C.J. Wilcox need to play well in the same game for once. The Huskies when healthy have three nice bigs they like in Darnell Gant, Aziz N'Diaye and Desmond Simmons. The Huskies were short this game due to injuries but found a way to win. For Romar this was win #200 which took him four tries to achieve but still is quite the accomplishment. The Huskies are starting to come together as a team and if they can solve the free throw woes they could be the favorites to win the regular season title.


- I love the play of Desmond Simmons who redshirted last season as a freshman. Simmons has provided the type of toughness that Romar teams need to be successful. Simmons has also shown the ability to knock down the open jumper meaning he can stretch the floor. With N'Diaye out today that forced Wroten into the starting lineup which meant Simmons was the only bench player. Simmons played 25 minutes scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds.

For the season in nine games Simmons is averaging 17.8 minutes per game. He is averaging 4.9 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game while shooting 48.3% from the field and has made four of six three pointers this season. In the last five games Simmons has averaged 7.0 PPG and 6.4 RPG in 19.8 minutes per game. Simmons is taking advantage of his increased playing time and is exactly the type of player this program needs if they expect to make it to another NCAA tournament.

- Darnell Gant the lone senior on the roster who has started all nine games this season. Gant has seen his role increase each year due to graduation and now has improved his game. Gant is now counted on for rebounds and scoring. This game Gant struggled shooting making just two of seven but did score nine points as he pulled down eight rebounds. Gant also had the play of the game putting back the Gaddy miss after the 10-0 run. Gant also made the free throw making the kind of big play the Huskies desperately were missing the last three ball games.

For the season Gant is averaging career highs 8.9 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game and 24.2 minutes per game. He is making 53.6% of his field goals while making 6-14(42.9%) from three point range. He is even shooting 73.7% from the free throw line as he made four of five free throws in today's win. Gant has seen his role increase and is taking advantage of it although he must improve on his rebounding especially if N'Diaye isn't playing.

- The Huskies haven't had a freshman impact their program like this since Isaiah Thomas did during the 2008-09 season when the Huskies won the Pac-10 regular season title. Wroten equalled Thomas freshman record for most points in a game with 27. Wroten in his first career start responded with 27 points while also grabbing seven rebounds including four offensive. This wouldn't be a Tony Wroten game without some flaws like 4-9(44.4%) from the free throw line and five turnovers. The last two games Wroten is averaging 25 points per game but he also has just one assist combined. Wroten is a playmaker this program needs as he is quick off the dribble and when the Huskies go through scoring slumps Wroten can end that attacking the hole. If he can make 75.0% of his free throws he can be unstoppable. As is the only defense teams have on him is fouling him.

For the season Wroten is averaging 15.7 points per game, 4.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals. He is averaging only 25.1 mintues per game while shooting 49.5% from the field and 4-11(36.4%) from three pointers. The bad news is Wroten is averaging 4.4 turnovers and shooting only 50.8% from the free throw line. The more experience Wroten gains the better the Huskies will be as a team. At times him and Ross can be unguardable which is what wins in the NCAA tournament even if at times Wroten can frustrate you. The sky is the limit for him talent wise as he is already reminding me of Rajon Rondo of the Boston Celtics.

- Lorenzo Romar earns win #200 which is quite the accomplishment. He came to Washington during the 2002-03 season a program who was terrible for four straight seasons including his first year at Montlake. This is his 10th season at Washington and in his first nine seasons the Huskies program has accomplished quite a bit. They have been to the NCAA tournament six times, won the Pac-10 tournament three times, won the Pac-10 regular season once, finished in the top three of the Pac-10 six times, went to the sweet 16 three times and won an NCAA tournament game in five seasons. Romar more so than even Mike Holmgren I've never had more of a love-hate relationship with. He has done a lot of great things for this program yet you are left wanting more. Maybe with Wroten and Ross come March when they have experience this can finally be the year for Romar to take that next step.

In conclusion, this game was a lot closer than it should have been. The Huskies should have blown this quality opponent away had they just played better fundamentally. The Huskies as a team has a habit of making dumb turnovers with missed free throws. That cost them the Nevada game and now the Huskies who are 5-4 could easily be 7-2 will have two more non conference games before the Pac-12 regular season begins. The last five Romar teams to have made the NCAA tournament won their conference opener while the last two teams who dropped the opener failed to make the NCAA tournament. So that is something to keep on an eye on for the December 29th clash against the Oregon State Beavers. For now due to Wroten being a gifted superstar in the making the Huskies ended that losing streak and are above .500 once again.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Washington loses another tough test to #7 Duke

By Kshell

The #7 Duke Blue Devils(9-1,0-0) defeated the Washington Huskies(4-4,0-0) 86-80 at Madison Square Garden at New York City Saturday morning. The Blue Devils showed why they are a top 10 team due to their fundamental play while the Huskies showed they have talent just a matter of applying that young talent. The Huskies have now lost three games in a row all games they could have won. During this loss the Huskies did grow as a team as a young freshman Tony Wroten had a breakout game on the big stage. The Blue Devils were helped by a fast start as they took a 40-26 halftime lead over the Huskies then hung on for the late victory with 44 free throw attempts against the Huskies.

The first half was dominated by the Blue Devils as they led 40-26 over the Huskies. The Huskies shot poorly from the field, three pointers and free throws. The Blue Devils also dominated the Huskies at rebounding in the first half as well. The Huskies couldn't stop turning the ball over either and their transition defense was terrible. This looked like another game where the Huskies were going to lose big against a top tier opponent which last year they didn't do. The Blue Devils in the first half shot 15-35(42.9%) from the field, just 2-10(20.0%) from three point range and 8-9(88.9%) from the free throw line while grabbing 24 rebounds. They were led by Andre Dawkins who scored 14 points on 5-9 shooting while making two three pointers. Mason Plumlee scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds on 4-5 shooting. While Austin Rivers scored eight points on three for seven shooting.

For the Huskies they shot terribly 10-32(31.2%) from the field and just 2-9(22.2%) from three point range. Even struggled from the free throw line making only 4-9(44.4%) from the charity stripe. The Huskies were led by Tony Wroten who scored nine points on three for four shooting including a three pointer with three rebounds. C.J. Wilcox scored seven points on three for eight shooting but just one for four from three pointers. Terrence Ross had a horrible first half scoring just two points on one for nine shooting. Aziz N'Diaye score just two points on one for six shooting but did grab six rebounds.

The second half was a different story for the Huskies who found their offense. They also featured their youngster Wroten a little more as he continued to attack the hole setting himself up and his teammates up well. The Huskies shot 21-33(63.6%) from the field in the second half as they outscored the Blue Devils 54-46 but ultimately that wasn't enough as they lost 86-80. The Blue Devils did just enough to hang on which was mainly shoot 38 free attempts in the second half. The Blue Devils for the game shot 27-57(47.4%) from the field while making just 5-17(29.4%) from three pointers. They did make 27-44(61.4%) from free throws and outrebounded the Huskies 37-33. They were led by freshman Austin Rivers who scored 18 points on 6-13 shooting.

For the Huskies they shot 31-65(47.7%) from the field only 5-17(29.4%) from three pointers. They made just 13-23(56.5%) from the free throw line. They were led by Wroten who scored 23 points on 8-12 shooting including a three pointer. He was also 6-8 from the free throw line with five rebounds. C.J. Wilcox scored 22 points on 10-19 shooting with two three pointers. Terrence Ross rebounded from his disaster of a first half with 17 points on 7-17 shooting with two three pointers and seven rebounds. Abdul Gaddy chipped in with seven points on two for four shooting with seven assists. Darnell Gant added six points and four rebounds. Aziz N'Diaye scored four points with five rebounds. Desmond Simmons off the bench scored two points but added six rebounds with three assists. The Huskies had N'Diaye leave the game due to injury with Gaddy, Gant and Wroten also all fouling out.

In conclusion, this was a tough loss for the Huskies program but a good loss. The Huskies saw a star emerge in Tony Wroten. I think it is time for Lorenzo Romar to finally start  his young freshman star Wroten. Whether that means going with a four man guard lineup or simply benching Gaddy. The last two losses to ranked opponents were lost due to slow first half performances. Romar has also developed a bad habit of losing to ranked opponents out of conference away from home. The Huskies haven't beaten a team in this scenario since the Great Alaska shootout in the 2004-05 season. Romar needs to go with talent over experience if he expects to win these type of games. The Huskies will be without N'Diaye until Pac-12 play so look for Romar to experiment with the four guard lineup. This loss will only help the Huskies down the road as they realized they can go toe to toe with Duke with Wroten being the best player on the court. The Huskies have lost three in a row but they are in a lot better shape now than when they left for New York City.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Erik Friberg heads back home to Sweden after one season with the Sounders

By Money Mike

Unfortunately, another Sounder is packing up and leaving Seattle. After one season with the Seattle Sounders, midfielder Erik Friberg is heading back to Sweden. The 25-year old midfielder has transfered to Swedish Allsvenskan club Malmo FF and will officially join his new club on New Years Day 2012. Reports are saying that Friberg is starting a young family. And honestly, I don't know what they mean by that. All I know is that Friberg wants to be close to his family and is officially transfering from the Sounders on New Years Day when the International Winter Transfer period officially opens.

This move now puts an end to the Brad Evans-Erik Friberg contriversy, but not the way anybody would've hoped. Friberg made 28 appearances for the Sounders (including the playoffs), scored one goal and assisted on two others and he was just about 10x better and more consistant than Brad Evans. Evans these past couple of seasons has been injury prone and on the pitch, he's made some sloppy passes. He really shouldn't be in the starting 11 next season, and with Steve Zakuani returning next season, I don't even think that Evans will be in the starting 11. They may move Mauro Rosales to an attacking midfield position or maybe they'll spend money in the transfer window and pick up an attacking midfielder. Whatever it is they'll do, I doubt Evans will be a starter and I don't think he should be a starter because this guy sucks.

Here's what Friberg said in a statement......

"I am very proud to have played for Sounders FC and our tremendous fans. It's been a fantastic year for me, one that I will never forget. I want to thank my teammates, the coaches, the club officials and our supporters for all their help and encouragement. Perhaps in the future, there will be an opportunity for me to come back and play again for the Sounders."

I'm shocked to hear that Friberg's leaving because he was an asset to the team and everyone who has been watching should agree with this statement. I don't think it's that big of a loss for the Sounders, but I didn't see it coming at all because they protected him in the Expansion Draft, they exercised his option for the 2012 season, but as said on the statement, Friberg isn't ruling out a return to the Sounders in the future, and I hope he comes back to Seattle.

Sounders acquire D.C. United defender Marc Burch in the Re-Entry Draft

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps swapped Re-Entry Draft spots prior to the draft, so my thoughts after hearing that were that they were actually thinking about drafting somebody. I'm still waiting for information about the trade with the Whitecaps, wondering if a player being traded was part of the deal or not. But instead of picking 14th, the Sounders were first in line in the second stage of the Re-Entry Draft and they wasted no time picking up Marc Burch who spent the last five seasons with D.C. United. The Sounders also lost a couple of forwards who were just completely worthless on this team, Nate Jaqua to the New England Revolution and Pat Noonan to the LA Galaxy.

Marc Burch was drafted in 2006 by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the second round. He actually began his career as a forward. He made three appearances for LA before being traded to the Columbus Crew on July 11, 2006. In his short stint with Columbus, he made seven appearances. On April 4, 2007, Burch was traded form Columbus to D.C. United where he was converted from a striker to a left back and he became an asset to D.C.'s backline. In 07', Burch made 18 appearances with one goal and three assists. From 08-09', he made 54 appearances, tallying another goal and five assists. In February of 2010, Burch suffered damage to his right foot and was out until July 31st when he made his return against Real Salt Lake and made four consecutive starts before re-aggrevating his foot that resulted in season ending sergery. In 2011, Burch missed half of the season with another injury, but still made 17 appearances with one goal and one assist.

Of course, Seattle lost Nate Jaqua and Pat Noonan in the Re-Entry Draft. Jaqua made 66 appearances for Seattle in League play and scored 9 goals for this team (all in 09'). Noonan wasn't any better, making 21 appearances in his two seasons with Seattle and scoring only one goal.

As for Burch, he still has to agree to terms with the Sounders before he's officially added to the roster, which is more likely to happen than not since they traded picks with Vancouver to get him. It's just a question if he can stay healthy because he had his injury problems in his past two seasons with D.C. United. If he can stay healthy and perform the same way he did with United prior to 2010, I think he'll fit in very well here in Seattle.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

UCLA hires Mora as new head football coach

By Kshell

The UCLA Bruins(6-7,5-4) have announced who their new football coach is. Their new coach will be former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim L. Mora who will be attempting to coach college football for the first time in his career.  The hiring of Mora is an interesting move for the Bruins but a move that they had to make. The Bruins who will be going to a bowl game with a losing record ranked 85th in the nation in scoring and 96th in defense scoring as well. Mora who was only 31-33 in the NFL in four seasons as head coach will hope to pull a Pete Carroll(who was just 33-31 in four seasons as NFL head coach) and take over the Pac-12 in a big market. Mora is taking over a sleeping giant in UCLA who has experienced success in the past and is an easy sell for recruits.

Mora while in the NFL did experience some success as a head coach. During his first season in Atlanta Mora led the Falcons to the NFC championship game with an 11-5 record. The reason Mora was fired after just three seasons in Atlanta was due to controversial statements he made about leaving them for the Washington Huskies job. While with the Seahawks Mora was fired after going 5-11. Mora was head coach in Seattle for just one season which is hard to pin that season on him considering he took over a 4-12 team who still hasn't produced a winning season. Mora will be trying to take his NFL experience to the college game for the first time. Mora will try to bring UCLA Bruins football back on the map like it was under Terry Donahue when the Bruins were a top tier Pac-10 team. Mora is defensive minded which in a league that features Chip Kelly, Steve Sarkisian, Lane Kiffin, Rich Rodriguez, and Mike Leach will be important.

The program Mora is taking over is a quality program. When Terry Donahue coached the Bruins from 1976-1995 he won more Pac-10 games than any coach in conference history. Donahue compiled a 151-74-8 record while going 8-4-1 in bowl games which included two Rose Bowl wins. Donahue led the Bruins to three Rose Bowl appearances. After he retired the Bruins had back to back 10 win seasons in 1997 and 1998 including another Rose Bowl appearance. You can win at UCLA and recruit well there. Although the recruiting has been bad the last two years the Bruins in 2010 had the 8th ranked class in the entire nation which was 2nd in the conference. In 2009 the Bruins had the 5th ranked class which was fanked first in the conference and in 2008 10th ranked class which ranked 2nd in the conference. From 2002-2010 the Bruins had seven ranked recruiting classes including four top ten classes in the nation. The Bruins have won before and with all that talent in southern California recruiting has never been an issue.

In conclusion, I fear Mora going to UCLA more than I do Mike Leach going to Washington State. Mora is entering a better situation for one. He is taking over a team who is going to a bowl game and taking over a program which actually has tradition. He is also taking over a place which is easy to sell recruits and I feel being defensive minded will help him as well. Look at the teams who dominate the conference in years past like the Pete Carroll USC teams or the Don James Huskies teams they had one thing in common which was defense first. Offense is exciting but defense still wins championships which is why Mora will be successful at UCLA. As a Huskies fan it will be tough rooting against Mora but I'm happy for Mora that he finally has a chance to be successful. I have no doubts in my mind that Mora will find success with the Bruins. For the rest of the Pac-12 they better watch out as the Bruins and Cougars will be significantly better over the next decade than they were this past decade.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Brandon Roy retires from the Blazers at 27 years old

By Kshell

The shocking news today rocked the Portland Trail Blazers as former NBA all-star Brandon Roy has suddenly announced his retirement. Roy who has won the rookie of the year award and been selected to three NBA all-star games will be forced to retire due to his bad knees. The former University of Washington star helped changed the Blazers from a floundering franchise into a team that returned to the playoffs in 2009 when they won 54 games. Now just three seasons later Roy will no longer be playing for the Blazers. At the age of 27 Roy was supposed to be entering his prime years for this franchise instead he is retiring which is a major blow to the Blazers.

When Roy first came to the Blazers they had missed the playoffs three straight seasons after setting an NBA record for making the playoffs 21 straight seasons and 26 of 27 seasons. Roy was acquired on draft day trade which was a terrific move for the Blazers franchise. Nate McMillan was entering his second season as the Blazers were a struggling franchise. During Roy's first season in Portland along with Lamarcus Aldridge the Blazers appeared to have erased the "jail blazers" image they had. Roy won the rookie of the year when he averaged 16.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 4.0 APG. He shot 45.6% from the field while making almost a full three pointer a game. The following season saw Roy make the all-star team where he led the Western Conference in scoring that game scoring 18 points on 8-10 shooting while pulling down nine rebounds with five assists.

During Roy's third season the Blazers finally returned to the playoffs as Roy made his second straight all-star team. During the 2008-09 season Roy averaged 22.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG and 5.1 APG. He shot 48.0% from the field, made a little over a three pointer a game shooting 37.7% while making 82.4% of his free throws. In the playoffs against the Houston Rockets the Blazers lost in six games but it wasn't Roy's fault as he had a terrific series. During that six game loss Roy averaged 26.7 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 2.8 APG. He also shot 45.9% from the field, 87.0% from free throws and 47.1% from three point range. Roy was rewarded with a 7 year 84 million dollar deal after that season. Roy was going to turn 25 years old that offseason as the future appeared bright for him and the Blazers franchise which featured other young stars like Aldridge and Greg Oden. Little did anyone know that was the peak of the Brandon Roy run in Portland.

The following season the Blazers had great expectations then Greg Oden went down early playing only 20 games(still hasn't played since). Roy was enjoying another all-star season until he injured one of his knee's forcing him to miss the final 17 games of the season. Roy then missed the Blazers first three playoff games against the Phoenix Suns. As the Blazers trailed the Suns 2-1 in the series they pressed the panic button deciding to play Roy. Roy provided great inspiration as the Blazers beat the Suns in game four to even the series at two games apiece. The Suns would eliminate the Blazers in six games that year as Roy probably should have sat out that series.

The next season Roy continued to get injured playing in only 47 games most of which saw him come off the bench. Roy in the playoffs struggled in the playoff series loss to the Mavericks in six games. Although Roy did provide some moments scoring 16 points in a game three win. Then in the fourth quarter Roy led a huge comeback for the Blazers scoring 24 points as the Blazers overcame a 23 point deficit. Little did anyone know that would be the last great moment Roy would provide the Blazers as the eventual world champion Mavericks defeated the Blazers in six games. Now Portland is probably regretting pushing Roy out there in the 2010 playoff loss to the Suns as his career has been cut well short.

In conclusion, I've been a fan of Roy's since his days at Washington. I remember during his junior year the Huskies were the #1 seed and he was coming off the bench telling my friends that the best player on the team doesn't even start. I remember arguing with my friends how Roy is better than Adam Morrison of Gonzaga. I also recall when he went to Portland and it appeared the Sonics were leaving town I adopted the Blazers. It was an easy adoption as I lived 50 miles from Portland and their best player was my favorite player in Roy. Not to mention their head coach Nate McMillan was Mr. Sonic. Roy like the Blazers had such a bright future ahead of themselves in 2009 and now just two seasons later it appears all for nothing.

Now Roy is retired while the Blazers franchise has hit a major wall. Aldridge is a fine player but he isn't the best player on a championship team. Also bad  news for Blazer fans continue as it appears Greg Oden might miss yet another full season. Roy is one of the good guys of the NBA who is a hard worker and never hear about in the offseason. This wasn't supposed to happen to a player like him. The Blazers a franchise who has passed on Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant appear to be a snake bitten franchise who just simply can't buy a break. What appeared to be such a bright future for the Blazers and Roy has turned into a nightmare scenario. This doesn't even feel like reality this is simply a sad day for fans of the Blazers, Huskies and Garfield High School community who will never get to enjoy watching the greatness of Brandon Roy again.