Sunday, February 26, 2012

Huskies rally from 13 down to defeat Cougs 59-55 for season sweep!

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(20-8,13-3) led by freshman Tony Wroten scoring a game high 21 points rallied from 13 points down to once again shock their cross state rivals Washington State Cougars(14-14,6-10) for the season sweep. The Huskies remain tied for first place in the Pac-12 with this comeback victory over the Cougars which marked the second time this year the Huskies trailed by over 10 points against the Cougars with 10 minutes to go and won. Free throw shooting was the story this game and it was the Huskies who shot well making 15-19 free throws in the second half while the Cougars made only 6-20 at the line in the second half. The Huskies have now won four games in a row and 9 out of 10 games overall. On a night when Terrence Ross fouled out scoring just two points the Huskies found a way to win the game. Trailing 47-34 with a little over 10 minutes left in the game the Huskies appeared headed towards a disappointing loss. Instead the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie the game and saw their junior point guard Abdul Gaddy take over down the stretch scoring six straight points for the Huskies. This was a total team effort for the Huskies as they won their 20th game for the fourth straight season for the first time in program history. In the previous five seasons Lorenzo Romar has won 20 games or more his team has made the NCAA tournament.

The game started off well for the Huskies as they sprinted out to a quick 6-0 lead over the Cougars who were playing in front of their home crowd for the last time this season. After that the Cougars responded with a 14-0 run to go up 14-6 over the Huskies as the Cougars started to smell the upset. The Huskies would respond with an 8-0 run of their own as Wroten ended the run with a layup then C.J. Wilcox hit back to back three pointers to tie it up at 14. Wilcox would hit two more three pointers to give the Huskies a 20-18 lead. Trailing 28-26 before halftime Wroten tied it up with 10 seconds to go in the half with a layup.

The numbers weren't pretty for either team. For the Cougars they shot just 8-30(26.7%) from the field, 1-11(9.1%) from three point range but made 11-12(91.7%) from free throws and out rebounded the Huskies 26-16 including 10 offensive rebounds. They were led by Brock Motum who scored 10 points but made just 4-11 shots while grabbing four rebounds. Marcus Capers scored six points on two for three shooting with four rebounds and three assists. Abe Lodwick scored two points with five rebounds.

For the Huskies they shot miserable as well making 11-30(36.7%) of their field goals, 4-12(33.3%) on three pointers and just two for five(40.0%) on free throws. They were led by C.J. Wilcox off the bench with 12 points making all four of his three point attempts. Tony Wroten scored 10 points on 4-11 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. Aziz N'Diaye scored four points on two for three shooting with three rebounds but also had three fouls. Terrence Ross was held scoreless missing all three field goals as he had three fouls as well. In the second half Ross would immediately pick up his fourth foul and the Huskies were in trouble early.

In the second half after Ross immediately had to sit with his fourth foul it appeared the game was getting away from the Huskies as the Cougars went on a 12-0 run to lead 45-32 which included a Huskies technical foul. Leading 47-34 with about 10 minutes left the Huskies appeared dead. That is when the comeback started to take place as Wroten kept driving to the hole. Gaddy threw a beautiful alley-oop to Ross to pull within 47-40. Wroten would have a three point play and then N'Diaye would as well. Darnell Gant would sink a free throw which tied the score at 47 as the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie it up. Trailing 52-50 Gaddy had a layup to tie up the score. Gaddy then drove to the hole drawing a foul sinking both free throws giving the Huskies a 54-52 lead with 3:43 left. After the Cougars had tied it up Gaddy again would have the goahead layup to give the Huskies a 56-54 lead with 2:13 left in the game. After Reggie Moore made one of two free throws then Tony Wroten made one of two free throws the Cougars had the ball trailing 57-55 with 24 seconds left. Ken Bone designed the play for Patrick Simon to shoot the goahead three pointer. Simon who hadn't played all game long and has made just one field goal in the calender year of 2012. Simon would air ball the corner three pointer which was wide open. Wilcox would sink both free throws to give the Huskies a 59-55 lead with 10 seconds left. Simon would then miss another three pointer as time had expired. The Huskies had stormed back to defeat the Cougars once again. Dating back to last year this is the third straight win for the Huskies against the Cougars and all three games the Cougars had double digit leads.

For the Cougars this loss has to sting as this was their national championship game. Sitting at 14-14 now and 6-10 in conference play with two games left on the road where they are just 1-6 on the road in conference play doesn't look good for the Cougars. The Cougars twice this year had the Huskies right where they wanted them and just couldn't finish the deal. The Cougars for the game shot 18-52(34.6%) from the field, a dreadful 2-18(11.1%) from three point range and a miserable 17-32(53.1%) from free throws including 6-20(30.0%) in the second half. Despite outrebounding the Huskies 38-33 with 12 offensive rebounds the Cougars they couldn't pull this one out. They were led by the conferences leading scorer in conference games Brock Motum who had to work for his 17 points shooting just 7-19 from the field, making one of four from three point range and two for four at the free throw line. Motum did grab eight rebounds and had three block shots. Marcus Capers had a terrific game for the Cougars scoring 14 points on six for seven shooting but was two for five on free throws. Capers did  have six rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block shot. Abe Lodwick scored eight points and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out. Reggie Moore struggled scoring just four points missing all six field goals. He was also just four for eight on free throws with six assists but four turnovers. The Cougars after defeating the Huskies seven straight from 2006-08 have now lost seven out of nine since then. This will also be the fourth straight season barring a Pac-12 tournament championship win where the Cougars will be left out of the NCAA tournament.

For the Huskies this was a real gut check win on the road in a hostile environment. They had shot poorly, saw their best player foul out scoring only two points while their best big man fouled out as well as he also fought foul trouble in the first half. The Huskies won this game because they simply have too many weapons when you shut down one weapon another emerges. The Huskies won despite shooting 19-53(35.8%) from the field, 4-17(23.5%) on three point range but did make 17-24(70.8%) from the free throw line. They were led by Tony Wroten who scored 21 points on 6-18 shooting but made 9-12 from the free throw line. Wroten also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals. C.J. Wilcox scored 16 points off the bench on five for nine shooting including four for seven on three pointers while sinking both free throws. Wilcox also added five rebounds and a steal. Abdul Gaddy scored 10 points on three for nine shooting missing all four three point shots but was four for five at the free throw line. Gaddy had four assists and two steals as well. Aziz N'Diaye scored seven points on three for six shooting making his only free throw attempts while grabbing seven rebounds with a block shot before fouling out. Darnell Gant started for the second straight game scoring three points on one for three shooting and made just one for four on free throws but did have seven rebounds while playing good defense on Motum holding him to 7-19 shooting. Terrence Ross struggled having his worst game of the season scoring just two points on one for five shooting missing all three of his three point attempts before fouling out in just 21 minutes. For the Huskies this was a big win on the road as their hopes of winning a Pac-12 regular season championship remain alive and well.

For the second time this year the Huskies survived the Cougars as they stormed back from a double digit lead. The Huskies will now head down to L.A. hoping to take care of business with the sweep which would clinch at the worst a Co- Pac-12 championship in the regular season. The Cougars once again prove to be a hard matchup for the Huskies playing them tough defensively holding them to under 30 points in the first half once again. The Huskies are simply more battle tested than the Cougars as this year they win the close games. The Huskies are now 12-4 in games decided by 10 points or less and 5-3 in games decided by five points or less. Despite being such a young team the Huskies win the close games and after starting off 0-5 away from home the Huskies have since won five of six games on the road. This was a huge win for the Huskies who have came around as a team this season which has been fun to witness.

Observations:

- Shooting slump? What shooting slump? C.J. Wilcox who had been in a shooting slump before the Arizona State game has now had three straight solid games. Wilcox carried the Huskies in the first half drilling all four three point field goal attempts. In fact Wilcox was the only Husky to hit a three pointer as the Huskies were 0-10 outside of Wilcox from three point range. Wilcox who missed the first meeting was pivotal in this game in scoring 16 points with four three pointers.

Wilcox is averaging 13.8 PPG on the year shooting 42.4% from the field and 41.3% on three pointers making 2.3 a game. After making just one three pointer in his first four games back from injury he has now made at least two three pointers in five straight games. During that five game stretch(Huskies 4-1) Wilcox has hit 12-30(40.0%) from three point range which is an average of 2.4 a game while scoring 13.6 points per game so Wilcox is basically back to playing like he has before his injury. With a healthy Wilcox that gives the Huskies three scorers who are capable of carrying them at long stretches throughout the game which most teams in the conference simply don't have. The Huskies survived Wilcox's injury going 2-1 but that one loss was a 69-66 loss at home to California Golden Bears who own tiebreaker due to that. The good news is if they meet again Wilcox is back and healthy.

- Every Romar team who has made the NCAA tournament has had a slumping player emerge down the stretch which leads into a big season the following year. This year that appears to be Aziz N'Diaye and Abdul Gaddy who are both juniors. Gaddy who is a five-star recruit has been a bust to date but lately has been playing solid. He still isn't shooting very well but he is being more agressive attacking the hole. In the last two games he has attempted 11 free throws while going four straight games prior to that with zero free throw attempts. Today's game Gaddy scored six straight points for the Huskies down the stretch including the go ahead field goal to give the Huskies the lead for good.

In his last four games since the disaster in Eugene Gaddy is averaging 7.5 ppg and 5.5 APG to just 1.8 TO's which for a five star recruit isn't very good. Considering where Gaddy was at the start of the year if he continues to put up those numbers while shooting slightly better the Huskies will continue to win games. It has been nice to see Gaddy being more agressive and driving to the hole. Like Wroten he shouldn't ever shoot a three pointer as he is shooting just 29.9% on three pointers for the year. He has made just 3-17(17.6%) in his last nine games on three pointers but has made 9-11(81.8%) on free throws last two games. Gaddy needs to continue to drive to the hole for the Huskies to be successful.

- I feel like Reggie Moore and Abdul Gaddy are always going to be linked together. Had Gaddy stayed true to his committment to Arizona there is a good chance Moore is playing for the Huskies. At first Moore appeared to be the much better player after they were freshman. Now Moore appears to be sort of an egnigma for the Cougars as this year was supposed to be "his team" instead his lack of leadership has shown. Moore against the Huskies didn't make a shot in six field goal attempts while missing four of eight free throws including two straight technical fouls as the Cougars had all the momentum. Shortly after the Huskies went on a 13-0 run to tie it. Moore for the year is averaging only 9.4 PPG, 5.6 APG and 2.5 to's. He is shooting 37.6% from the field for the year as well. In seven games against the Huskies now Moore is averaging 9.6 PPG but averaging only 5.5 this year. In his career against the Huskies so far he has shot miserably making only 14-49(28.6%) from the field. Moore appears to have regressed with the Cougars and is a lightning rod for his fan base on why the Cougars continue to blow games down the stretch. Moore after a promising start to his career just like that is ending his junior season with only one year left. Moore is in danger of being like so many other players in college which was a guy who peaked as a freshman and could never quite reach that level again. Moore struggled today and Gaddy got the better of him today which if you had told me that a month ago I wouldn't have beleived you.

- A picture says a thousand words and this is Brock Motum after the Cougars once again choked to the Huskies. The Cougars are now 6-10 in games decided by 10 points or less and 3-6 in games decided by five points or less. The Cougars who are 14-14 overall but 3-10 away from home have been competitive this year just can't close games. Today was a prime example of that as they had the Huskies on the ropes. Terrence Ross was taken out of the game due to foul trouble and the Cougars were leading 47-34. The Cougars were also controlling the glass as well which was a shocker considering the last meeting. The Cougars lost due to unforced errors mainly 6-20(30.0%) at the free throw line in the second half. That is the defination of "Coug'd it" which is exactly what they did. On senior night where they had been 11-3 at home and having their rivals on the ropes this had to be a crushing defeat for the Cougars. When you lose by just four points and miss 14 freebies in the second half those are the type of losses that can destroy a team. With USC having six scholarship guys but the Cougars struggles on the road I expect them to split and go 15-15 heading into the conference tournament. The Cougars lost Klay Thompson  to the draft which hurt as they don't have a finisher on their team. Gant took away Motum leaving the Cougars with no other go to guy down the stretch. This was probably one of the more crushing defeats the Cougars basketball program has experienced in quite some years.

- In big time atmospheres Tony Wroten always seems to thrive on the pressure. Today was no different as the Huskies trailed by 13 points and Ross was out due to foul trouble. The freshman guard took it upon himself to take over the game which he did scoring 21 points, grabbing six rebounds, dishing out five assists and made 9-12 at the free throw line including seven for nine in the second half. Wroten proving why the Huskies are so dangerous because if you stop Ross you still have to worry about Wroten who is a future NBA player as well. Wroten with his size and quickness is a matchup nightmare for any team. Wroten made plays when the Huskies needed him to especially when the game appeared to have been slipping away. Wroten's play is reminding Huskies of the main he essentially replaced this season.

- There was a special guest at this game for the Huskies which was former Husky great Isaiah Thomas who is enjoying a fine season with the Sacramento Kings. Thomas this year is averaging 8.8 PPG and 2.9 APG in only 19 minutes. Since being named starter the last four games Thomas has averaged 19.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 6.5 APG while knocking down 2.3 three pointers a game.

For Lorenzo Romar his players always come back to the program as his program is just one big family. Thomas left early but as you can see there are no hard feelings here. Romar becomes the first Huskies coach in program history to win 20+ games four years in a row. The Huskies also have won 96 games which is tied for the most wins in a four year stretch from 1950-1953. Romar is looking to make the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons. He also improves to 12-10(6-4 at home, 5-5 on the road and 1-1 in Pac-10 tournament) all-time against the Cougars having won seven out of the last nine after the Cougars had won seven in a row. Romar has done his best coaching job since the 2008-09 team who I felt overachieved. This team has the talent but they are so young and immature at times. I feel like Romar is headed towards his third conference coach of the year award title which he deserves.

The Huskies are inching closer and closer to the NCAA tournament. Unless the Huskies lay an egg against the outmanned USC Trojans I don't see how the Huskies miss the NCAA tournament. The Huskies are playing well and winning in ways nobody thought was possible. The three point shot isn't falling at all for the Huskies this year and especially lately. The Huskies instead are winning with defense and improvement from the free throw line. Every player in the rotation appears to have improved as the season has wore on. In the past in a hostile environment on the road the Huskies would have folded the tent down 47-34 but not these Huskies. These Huskies overcome big deficits against the Cougars and UCLA to win. These Huskies win in hostile environments in Pullman and more importantly Tucson, Arizona against the Wildcats. These Huskies have so many weapons where if one has an off game(Ross) others(Wroten and Wilcox) can pick up the slack. This is a team that nobody will want to face come NCAA tournament time. The Huskies are going to be a dangerous matchup for a high seed much like last year when they gave the 2nd seeded North Carolina Tar Heels a huge run for their morning in basically a road game. These Huskies are more talented than last year and now they are playing good fundamental basketball. Romar deserves all the credit for this teams turnaround and the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight year is starting to become a reality.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Greg Oden faces third microfracture surgery; career could be over

By Kshell

In Portland you have four guarantees in life which is being born, taxes, death and a Greg Oden injury. Sadly for Portland Trail Blazers fans the picture to my right has been seen far too often in Portland. Greg Oden who hasn't played a game since December 5th, 2009 will undergo his fifth surgery and third microfracture surgery of his career. Despite having just turned 24 years old Oden is facing the possibility of retirement. Oden should be entering his fifth season with the Blazers. The Blazers led by Greg Oden and Brandon Roy(Who also retired too young) were supposed to be contending for championships right now. Instead the Blazers are faced with losing two of their main guys they were counting on to win a title in the same season.

When Oden was selected to the Blazers with the top pick in the 2007 NBA Draft he was supposed to be that once in a generation center. He was supposed to be giving the Blazers what Dwight Howard gives the Orlando Magic every night. Oden immediately was injured at Portland missing his entire rookie season. In what should have been his second year in the NBA Oden played in 61 games for the Blazers averaging 8.9 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 1.13 blocks per game in only 21.5 minutes. In a six game series playoff loss to the Houston Rockets Oden averaged only 5.0 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 0.83 blocks per game in only 16 minutes. Oden's first year of playing in the NBA was a total bust. His third year in the NBA and second full season of playing was finally his breakthrough season. During his first 21 games of the season Oden was averaging 11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG and 2.28 blocks per game in just 23.9 minutes. Oden was one of the most valuable players in the NBA during those 21 games then on December 5th, 2009 against the Houston Rockets it all came crashing down on Oden. Oden who was coming off of a 13 points, 20 rebounds and four blocks game against the Miami Heat went down early against the Rockets. He only played in 4 mintues and 15 seconds before going down. Oden would finish his last game with the Blazers like his first game scoring zero points and getting injured. There is a good chance Oden is never going to play again as he missed the final 61 games of the 2009-2010 season, all of 2010-11 season will miss all of 2011-12 season. Good chance he will miss all of next season and the start of the 2013-2014 season. What makes this injury to Oden even worse for the Blazers is the player they passed on Oden for is lighting it up in Kevin Durant.

That year in a fluke the Blazers jumped up to the #1 pick in the draft lottery while the Seattle Supersonics had the #2 pick. That year the choices for the top spot was Center Greg Oden from Ohio State who led the Buckeyes to the National title game averaging 15.7 PPG, 9.6 RPG and 3.3 blocks per game in only 28.9 minutes. The other option was the electric Kevin Durant from Texas university. Durant averaged 25.8 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 1.9 steals and 1.9 blocks per game. I thought Durant was the better player and was less of a risk than Oden so I was hoping the Blazers would choose Oden over Durant. Having said that I thought the Blazers were passing on a Lebron James type of talent for Dwight Howard. Meaning I thought both were going to be all-stars. I figured Durant would win MVP's while Oden would win defensive player of the year awards. The Sonics gift of Durant was quickly stolen to Oklahoma City. Durant in his five seasons has been named Rookie of the Year and is going to his third straight all-star game. Durant who led the Oklahoma City Zombie Sonics to the Western Conference Finals last season now has them with the best record in the Western Conference at 26-7. Durant in his career is averaging 26.1 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 Steals and 1.0 blocks per game. He is shooting 46.7% from the field, 35.9% on three pointers making 1.4 a game and 87.7% on free throws. He has led the NBA in scoring the past two years and this year is averaging 27.7 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks. He is shooting 51.6% from the field, 36.7% from three point range making 1.7 a game and 82.9% on free throws. Blazers management ignored their team doctors opinions on Oden suggesting he would break down after three years.  Durant appears headed towards being an NBA superstar while Oden most likely won't ever play a game again. This isn't the first time this has happened to the Blazers either.

In the 1984 NBA draft the Portland Trail Blazers had the second pick in the draft. They passed on five-time NBA MVP and six-time finals MVP Michael Jordan who is perhaps the greatest player to ever play the game. Instead they chose center Sam Bowie who had missed two whole seasons at Kentucky with injuries. Bowie played only four years with the Blazers having played in just 76 games his rookie year, 38 games his second year, five games his third and 20 his fourth. Bowie averaged in those years 10.0 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 2.67 blocks per game his rookie year. After that it was all downhill for Bowie as he played in just 139 out of 328 games(42.3% of teams game played) in his career with the Blazers. The Blazers would lose to Jordan in the 1992 NBA Finals where he was named finals MVP. The Blazers franchise would never live this moment down and when they had a chance to re-write history instead history just repeated itself.

The anger towards Oden is unfair but I understand it. The Blazers have a great fanbase and they feel like this is unfair. Twice now the Blazers have chosen the injury plagued center who had shown signs prior to the draft of being injury prone. Twice now the Blazers have passed up on a prolific scorer and superstar for the center. The Blazers franchise has nobody to blame but themselves for ignoring the warning signs which was right there. Hopefully in the future if the Blazers do get a third chance to re-write history they take the advice of the warning signs and go with the future superstar. Now the Blazers who already lost Roy and most likely won't ever see Oden play in a Blazers uniform again are only left wondering what if? History has repeated itself once again in Portland which has been a sad pill to swallow for such a loyal fanbase. Even more sad is that basketball fans will have lost out on the chance to ever see what Oden could have done in Portland. Once again the Blazers are left with what if?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ross & Wroten help Huskies sweep Wildcats 79-70; win fifth straight at home against Wildcats

By Kshell

On senior night Terrence Ross who also might be playing in his final game at home scored a game high 25 points as the Washington Huskies(19-8,12-3) swept the regular season series of the Arizona Wildcats(19-9,10-5) for the first time since 2004. The Huskies have defeated the Wildcats four of five the last two years and have won five years in a row at home against the Wildcats. This was easily the most complete game the Huskies have played all season where their offense at times resembled an NBA all-star game with all the high flying dunks while their defense was stingy. The Huskies controlled the paint, controlled the glass and played smart basketball for a full 40 minutes. Lorenzo Romar improves to 8-2 on senior night home games as Darnell Gant ended his Husky career with a home victory. In the four seasons Gant has been a member of the Huskies they are 64-7(90.1%) at home including 8-0 against the normal powerhouses of the conference Arizona and UCLA. This win also has the Huskies still remain tied for first place but now they are two games up on Oregon and Arizona who are both in fourth place. In the Pac-12 tournament top four seeds get a bye which is so important. Due to Ross scoring 25 and Wroten's 22 the Huskies once again defeated the Wildcats to earn the season sweep.

In the first half the Huskies featured a new starting lineup with this being senior night. Darnell Gant who has started in the past before started in front of redshirt freshman Desmond Simmons. The shocker was Romar rewarded Brendan Sherrer the walk-on over Aziz N'Diaye. The Huskies quickly fell behind to the Wildcats 7-2. After trailing 14-12 the Huskies would go on a 9-0 run highlighted by Aziz N'Diaye getting the steal at mid-court and going down for the jam take a 21-14 lead. On that play Sean Miller received a technical foul which Wilcox sank both free throws. Wroten later on in the half had an alley-oop pass to Ross for the dunk to extend the Huskies lead to 31-20. Solomon Hill would drain a three pointer to pull within 35-30 as the Wildcats were on a 10-4 run. Brendan Lavender would hit a three pointer to pull within 38-35. The Huskies would lead 39-37 as the Wildcats practically erased that 11 point lead ending the half on a 12-4 run.

The Wildcats were fortunate to be trailing by just two points at halftime after falling behind by 11 points. The Wildcats shot 11-30(36.7%) from the field but made four for eight(50.0%) from three pointers and 11-17(64.7%) on free throws. They were led by Kyle Fogg who scored nine points on three for six shooting including a three pointer. Solomon Hill scored seven points on just one for six shooting but had a three pointer with five rebounds. Nick Johnson scored six points on one for three shooting. Brendan Lavender had six points making two of three three pointers. Jessey Perry had six points on three for six shooting. The Huskies meanwhile shot 15-43(34.9%) from the field, 1-12(8.3%) on three pointers and 8-12(66.7%) on free throws. They did outrebound the Wildcats 16-13 with eight offensive rebounds. They were led by Terrence Ross who scored 15 points on 7-13 shooting but was just one for seven on three pointers. Tony Wroten had 10 points on just 3-16 shooting but made four of six free throws. He also had four offensive rebounds. Abdul Gaddy provided six points on two for six shooting including four assists. Aziz N'Diaye scored six points off the bench on three for seven shooting with five rebounds. The Wildcats had survived the Huskies best shot and had all the momentum heading into the second half then Wroten took over.

In the second half after the Wildcats had tied it at 39 the Huskies went on a 6-0 run led by Wroten scoring four points. The Huskies would maintain that six point edge most of the half. The Wildcats had pulled within 56-52 when senior Darnell Gant missed a three pointer but Ross was there for the tip in to extend the lead to 58-52. Leading 60-54 after a Wildcats miss Wroten got the rebound as he headed up court he had a two on one fast break. The defense had closed in on Ross so Wroten put his head down and drove harder going for the dunk and then finally gave Angelo Chol(who chose the Wildcats over the Huskies then smacked talk Wroten on twitter) a facial as he dunked on Chol to give the Huskies a 62-54 lead. The crowd went from going crazy to a nervous silence as Terrence Ross picked up his fourth foul as the Huskies led 62-56. That is when C.J.Wilcox who hadn't attempted a field goal until nine minutes left in the game finally came to the party. Wilcox hit a three pointer to give the Huskies a 66-57 lead. Wilcox again would hit a three pointer to 70-61. After a missed layup Wilcox would tip it in to give the Huskies a 72-61 lead. The Huskies would then cruise to the 79-70 win over the Wildcats making sure the seniors would end their career properly.

The Huskies won 79-70 over the Wildcats. The Wildcats shot 22-56(39.3%) from the field, 6-21(28.6%) from three point range and 20-29(69.0%) on free throws. The Wildcats were led by Nick Johnson who scored 20 points on 6-14 shooting with two three pointers and four assists. Solomon Hill who torched the Huskies last time had just 13 points on 2-7 shooting but made 8-13 free throws and collected 10 rebounds.

For the Huskies they shot 28-67(41.8%) from the field, 3-18(16.7%) from three pointers and 20-30(66.7%) from free throws. The Huskies out rebounded the Wildcats 40-35 with 16 offensive rebounds. The Huskies also had seven blocks to the Wildcats four, eight steals to the Wildcats zero and just seven turnovers to the Wildcats 13. This was a total team effort led by Terrence Ross who scored 25 points on 11-19 shooting with a three pointer. Ross also added five rebounds, a block shot and five steals in possibly his final home game as a Husky. Tony Wroten scored 22 points on 8-22 shooting including six for nine on free throws. Wroten added two assists but nine rebounds including five offensive. C.J. Wilcox scored 11 points on three for five shooting including two three pointers and was three for four at the free throw line. Abdul Gaddy scored nine points on two for eight shooting but was five for six at the free throw line. Gaddy also had six assists to zero turnovers. Aziz N'Diaye making the rare appearance off the bench scored eight points on three for eight shooting but grabbed 12 rebounds. He also had four block shots and a steal as he dominated the paint. Darnell Gant playing his final home game scored just three points on one for five shooting but had four rebounds. He also had a steal and two block shots. This was a huge win from Romar's team over the Wildcats.

This was a big win for the Huskies who have won more conference games than they have the last two years with their 12th conference win. This is also the eighth time in the last nine years the Huskies have won at least 19 games in a season. Heading into the year this team had so much hype and promise despite losing their top three leading scorers along with another key player. The Huskies have really grown up from that 5-5 start that saw them drop four out of five games. Since that terrible the stretch the Huskies are 16-3 playing like the team everyone had hoped for. The home schedule is over as the Huskies went 15-2 this year at home meaning this is the seventh season in the last eight years the Huskies have lost two or fewer home games. The Huskies have a true home court advantage like no other in the Pac-12. The Huskies have now swept the season series from the Oregon State Beavers, Arizona State Sun Devils and now the Arizona Wildcats. The Huskies won a crucial game which keeps them tied for first place in the conference as they try to raise their fourth straight conference championship banner.

Observations:


- Tony Wroten is a special talent and like Ross might have played his final home game for the Huskies. I think Wroten should come back but my opinion much like everyone else doesn't matter. Wroten finished the game with 22 points and nine rebounds on 8-22 shooting. Don't be fooled by Wroten's poor shooting line as most of his misses he follows up with the put-back. Wroten is probably the best guard I've ever seen at following up his own miss with the put-back. Wroten proved who the best point guard on the court was this game and that wasn't Nick Johnson or Josiah Turner who he got the best of in both matchups. Wroten had the game saving block shot down in Tucson and this game had the terrific dunk on Angelo Chol proving that you shouldn't smack talk Wroten on twitter.

Wroten should run away with Pac-12 freshman of the year as well as be selected on the first team Pac-12 team. He should also be first-team all-american all-freshman team as well. Wroten is averaging 16.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 3.5 APG. He is also averaging 2.0 steals per game while shooting 46.5% from the field. He's scored in double figures in 25 of the 27 games he's played in this year. Wroten has surpassed Isaiah Thomas 2008-09 season as best freshman season ever at Washington. Wroten is having a terrific year and if not for teammate Terrence Ross he'd be a strong candidate(still is actually) for Pac-12 player of the year.

- Winning is fun and no team has more fun than the Washington Huskies. The building has a great atmosphere that only the Wildcats can match in this conference. For the second straight game the bench provided the lift for the Huskies outscoring the Wildcats bench 20-10. The Wildcats played just seven guys while the Huskies played 10 guys. As the game wore on the Huskies appeared to be getting stronger as the Huskies simply had more weapons than the Wildcats did. You need stars to carry you throughout the game but every title contending team as a quality bench they can rely on. The Huskies have that as they always have an ace up their sleeve in sixth man C.J. Wilcox who appeared to have broken out of his slump this game.

- This was a weird game for Wilcox as he was passive for the first time in his career. Wilcox normally the gunslinger that he is won't be so passive but he didn't attempt a single field goal until nine minutes left in the game which he missed badly. With the Huskies up only six and Ross sitting on the bench with four fouls someone had to step up. That is when Wilcox took over as he passed up a mid range shot passed to Gaddy who immediately passed to Wilcox in the corner for a wide open three pointer which he drilled. Soon after Wilcox hit another three pointer in the opposite corner. After a missed shot Wilcox tip the ball in to score eight straight points for the Huskies. He would finish with 11 points on three for five shooting while going two for three from three point range.

Wilcox had a long stretch last season where he slumped but snapped out it late in the year. The Huskies are hoping Wilcox can repeat that once again this year. This is the second straight game he has shot over 50.0% which has to make Husky fans happy. After making just one three pointer in the first four games back from injury Wilcox has now made at least two three pointers in four straight games. For the year Wilcox is averaging 13.7 PPG while making 2.2 three pointers a game at a 40.5% clip. Wilcox is capable of more and I think he is about to breakout for a big game anytime now.

- One thing all Romar NCAA tournament teams have in common is they play good defense to great defense. This team early on was terrible defensively and at times acted like they wanted no part of that. Well that mindset has changed in conference play and that was evidence by the Arizona game this Saturday. The Huskies held the Wildcats to 39.3% shooting from the field and 28.6% from three point range. In the second half the Wildcats shot 2-13(15.3%) from three point range. The Huskies outscored the Wildcats 40-33 in the second half as well.

The Huskies out rebounded the Wildcats 40-35 including 16 offensive rebounds. The Huskies also had eight steals to the Wildcats zero and had seven block shots highlighted by four by N'Diaye. N'Diaye was the difference maker on defense in the win with 12 rebounds and four block shots. Solomon Hill who killed the Huskies last game with 28 points and 14 rebounds made just two for seven from field goals. Kyle Fogg was 4-12 shooting including one for six in the second half. The Pac-12's leading three point shooter Brendan Lavender was just two for six from three point range including missing all three in the second half. The defensive intensity for the Huskies was the difference in this game which was led by N'Diaye.

- Aziz N'Diaye who came off the bench so senior Sherrer could start  on senior night. N'Diaye played terrific scoring eight points with a thunderous dunk in the first half. He also grabbed 12 rebounds and had four block shots. For N'Diaye he has improved a lot from last season. I think many rival fans who mocked N'Diaye last year forgot he was only a sophomore coming off major knee surgery where he had to miss the entire previous season. N'Diaye is fully healthy now and it shows. Last year in 35 games N'Diaye scored in double figures just three times all were non conference games. He grabbed double figures rebounds in just six games. He averaged 4.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 1.1 blocks in 17.4 minutes per game.

This year in only 25 games so far he has scored in double figures in 10 games(five in conference play). He has grabbed double digit rebounds in seven games. He is averaging 8.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG and 1.2 blocks in 23.7 minutes per game. As you can see N'Diaye is a vastly improved player from last season which is huge for the Huskies. No other team in conference has a seven footer so that is an advantage the Huskies have over every team this season and should have for next season as well.

- There was chants of  "One more year" for Terrence Ross and with good reason. Ross if he did indeed play in his final home game went out with a bang scoring 25 points with five rebounds and five steals. We had always wandered what would happen if Ross finally had a good first half? Well he did this game scoring 15 points on 7-13 shooting. Ross fills up the stat sheet now, is freakishly athletic, can shoot with the best of them and really has no weakness in his game. I stated I felt Wroten should come back well I see no reason for Ross to come back. Ross has showed the scouts more than enough this year to be a lottery pick and a future NBA All-Star.

For the year Ross who will be named first team all Pac-12 has a chance to be the conference player of the year. Ross is averaging 15.6 PPG, 6.8 rebounds per game. He is also averaging 1.2 steals and a full block per game. He is shooting 45.3% from the field, making 1.8 three pointers a game on 35.8% shooting from beyond the arc and making 74.7% from free throws. Ross when he came to Washington was the "other" Terrence as Terrence Jones and him were supposed to both go to Washington. Instead looking back it was the Huskies who got the better Terrence as Jones might have to come back another season. Ross had a great game against the Wildcats as he is averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG. He is averaging four steals and two blocks as well. Ross has finally emerged as the go to guy for the Huskies and has embraced that role. If this was his final home game what a way to go out.

- The home career of fifth year senior Darnell Gant is finally over. During Gant's four years at Washington the Huskies went 64-7(90.1%) at home. Gant didn't have a strong game as he scored just three points but he did have good defense with four rebounds, two blocks and a steal. So far in Gant's four years the Huskies are 95-38(.714) which includes a Pac-10 regular season championship, two Pac-10 tournament championships and so far the Huskies are tied for the regular season crown once again. Gant is looking to become the first ever player in this entire University of Washington basketball program to play in four straight NCAA tournaments. Gant has played in 132 out of 133 possible games in his career at Washington. He has started 71 games in his career including three NCAA tournament games and two Pac-10 tournament games. Not bad for a guy who has only scored in double figures in his career 11 times. This season Gant is averaging 7.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG. His career hasn't been flashy but the thing fans will remember most about Gant is when he was part of this team this team won a ton of games.

- For Romar his dominance over the conference continues. Romar improves to 13-10(7-3 at home, 3-7 on road, 3-0 in Pac-10 tournament) all-time against the powerhouse Arizona Wildcats. He is also 11-9 against the UCLA Bruins the other powerhouse in the conference. Romar in his career at Washington is 107-70(.629). You take away his first year where he went just 5-13 in conference play and Romar in the last nine seasons at Washington is 102-57(.641) in conference play. That also doesn't include his 13-5(.722) record in the Pac-10 tournament which is of course against fellow Pac-10 teams. Romar has a winning record against everyone in conference play but the California Golden Bears(10-11 all-time against them). Romar's dominance of the conference is the main defense for the Romar defenders as it should be. He has also pumped up the talent pool at Washington with having seven guys drafted into the NBA including four in the first round. That list will be growing soon with Ross and Wroten as both are destined to be first round picks. That isn't up for date that is just a matter of when. The Huskies have a winning record over Arizona and UCLA during a 10 year stretch which prior to 10 years ago would have been laughed at. That is how much times have changed at the University of Washington.

This was a huge win for the Huskies and what made it bigger is the fact the Huskies defeated the Wildcats and there was no surprise. The Huskies have defeated the Bruins eight straight years at home and now the Wildcats five straight years at home. The Huskies have also won four of their last five against the Wildcats while also winning four in a row against the Bruins. The Huskies taking care of the two traditional powers in the conference has paved their way into proving they are a program that isn't going away anytime soon. The Washington-Arizona rivalry is the best in the conference in my opinion as they have produced the best games during this past decade. This game provided a ton of highlight reel dunks by the Huskies as they took care of business. The Huskies win over Arizona and with California defeating the Oregon Ducks means the Pac-12 race went from five teams going for a title to just three with Washington, California and Colorado. Unfortunately for the Huskies both those teams have defeated the Huskies and there will be no rematch either not in the regular season that is. The Huskies now go on the road to finish out their season as they are just 4-6 on the road but have won four out of five on the road since starting off 0-5. The Huskies sent Gant out with a win now it's time for the Huskies to take care of business on the road. Winners take care of business at home while champions win on the road. We'll find out soon if the Huskies are champions. One thing that we do know is that they are definitely winners as this has been the greatest four year stretch in Huskies basketball history.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Sounders make a suprise move: Acquire Eddie Johnson from Montreal for Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle

By Money Mike



Well I don't think this was in anybodys mind. We already knew this guy signed with MLS, but none of us tought that he would end up here in Seattle, but it turns out to be the case. Earlier this afternoon, the Seattle Sounders have acquired U.S. veteran Eddie Johnson from the Montreal Impact. In exchange, the Sounders have traded Mike Fucito and Lamar Neagle to the Expansion Side. This move was made about an hour after Johnson was acquired by the Montreal Impact through the Allocation process. Johnson joins the Rave Green shortly after his contract with Mexican club Puebla was cancelled due to his low fitness levels.

Johnson began his professional career with the Dallas Burn (now FC Dallas) in 2001 and he was inconsistant at the start of his career, scoring only seven goals in 43 matches. In 2004, he had a breakout year making 26 appearances for Dallas, scoring 12 goals and setting up three others. In 2005 however, Eddie Johnson suffered a foot injury and he didn't make much of an impact with Dallas since then. In 2006, Johnson was traded to the Kansas City Wizards and it didn't start out the way he would've wanted to, scoring only twice in 19 appearances. In 2007, Johnson returned to form and had a career year, scoring 15 goals in 24 appearances with the Wizards. In 2008, Johnson left Kansas City to join Premier League club Fulham and since then, this guy has basically disappeared. His time with Fulham has been unsuccessful, he was loaned out to three clubs and had unsuccessful stints with them. In order, 18 appearances and no goals with Fulham, 30 appearances and two goals with Cardiff City, 16 appearances and five goals with Aris Thessaloniki and 16 appearances and no goals for Preston North End. On December 22, 2011, Johnson agreed to join fellow American teammate DaMarcus Beasley at Puebla F.C. However, Johnson was released just days after signing with the club.

Going into the 2011 season, Fucito was recovering from a foot injury and Neagle, who didn't make a single appearances during his first stint with the Sounders in 2009, re-joined the club on trial after spending 2010 with USL club Charleston Battery and IFK Mariehamm in Finland. These two weren't expected to do much during the 2011 season, but after Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White suffered injuries that kept them out for the rest of the season, both Neagle and Fucito stepped up and made a huge impact. Fucito made 19 appearances and scored two goals and Lamar Neagle finished with 23 appearances and five goals including a hat-trick in a 6-2 beatdown of the Columbus Crew.


Thoughts on this move:

I'm really shocked about this move. I'm not going to tell you guys whether or not I think this is a good trade. Eddie Johnson's had his ups and downs during his career. Lately his fitness levels have been down. Adrian Hanauer and Chris Henderson must have a reason that we don't know about for acquiring Eddie Johnson. If Johnson stays healthy, I think he'll have a pretty good season. Right now, I'm just going to keep my opinion to myself and wait and see what happens.

Huskies use big first half to defeat Sun Devils 77-69

By Kshell

The Washington Huskies(18-8,11-3) remain tied for first place with a 77-69 win over the struggling Arizona State Sun Devils(8-18, 4-10). The Huskies saw four guys score in double figures as they used a 17-2 run towards the end of the first half to build a 44-26 lead over the Sun Devils. In the second half the Huskies simply coasted to the victory as they remain tied for first place in the Pac-12. The Huskies were led once again by Terrence Ross scoring 18 points and Tony Wroten recording six steals for the Huskies. The Huskies this Saturday take on the Arizona Wildcats as they go for the first season sweep of the state of Arizona since 2004(5-0 against that state). The Huskies have just one home game left after defeating the Sun Devils once again.

In the first half the game started off as a shootout as Ross hit his first two shots but Jonathan Gilling of the Sun Devils hit two three pointers to give the Sun Devils a 6-5 lead. The Huskies would go on a 6-0 run to lead 11-6. After the Sun Devils tied the game up at 13 the Huskies would go on a 10-3 run to lead 23-16. Leading 27-22 the Huskies would go on an 8-0 run to lead 35-22 which they continued that run to stretch it out to 17-2 leading 44-24 before the Sun Devils made a basket before halftime. The Huskies took a 44-26 lead into halftime over the Sun Devils. The Sun Devils had shot just 11-29(37.9%) from the field, 2-11(18.2%) from three point range. Their leading scorer was Jonathan Gilling who scored six points on two for five shooting all were three point shots.

For the Huskies they shot 19-32(59.4%) from the field, four for nine(44.4%) from three point range. They were led by senior Darnell Gant who scored nine points off the bench on three for five shooting including a three pointer while also grabbing five rebounds. C.J.Wilcox off the bench scored nine points on four for five shooting making a three pointer while having two assists. Tony Wroten scored eight points on four for six shooting with three rebounds. Terrence Ross scored seven points on three for nine shooting including a three pointer. Aziz N'Diaye scored six points on three for five shooting. Abdul Gaddy scored three points making his only shot which was a three but had five assists. The Huskies put the game away in the first half but would just cruise in the second half.

In the second half the Sun Devils had outscored the Huskies 43-33 as the Huskies coasted in the second half. The game was never in doubt. The Sun Devils had made the game interesting  going on a 13-2 run pulling within 56-45. The Huskies then put the game away with a 10-3 run to led 66-48. Lorenzo Romar emptied the bench and the Sun Devils scored some points at the end to make the game look closer than it was. For the Huskies this was a good win although the second half could have been better. The Huskies shot 29-59(49.2%) from the field, 8-25(32.0%) from three point range and 11-15(73.3%) on free throws. They were led by Ross who had another strong second half scoring 18 points on 7-13 shooting including four for eight from three point range. Ross also grabbed five rebounds and a steal. C.J. Wilcox scored 14 points off the bench on 6-11 shooting with two three pointers. He also had three assists, a steal and a block.  Tony Wroten scored 13 points on four for eight shooting from the field and five for eight from the free throw line. Wroten also added four rebounds, four assists and six steals. Aziz N'Diaye scored 12 points on five for nine shooting and was two for three on free throws. He also added four rebounds with a steal. Darnell Gant scored nine points on three for six shooting including a three pointer with five rebounds. Shawn Kemp Jr. scored six points on two for three shooting and swishing both free throws. He also added a block shot as well in 11 minutes. Abdul Gaddy scored three points on one for two shooting with a three pointer but added eight assists and a steal. Desmond Simmons scored two points on one for four shooting but had six rebounds including a block shot. The Huskies bench provided the boost as their bench outscored the Sun Devils 29-21 which was the difference in the score.

The Huskies took care of business on their home court which is what teams do who are looking to win a Pac-12 championship. Now comes the big test as they take on the Arizona Wildcats at home this Saturday in the final home game for Darnell Gant and possibly Terrence Ross and/or Tony Wroten. The atmosphere will be incredible for that game as the Huskies have defeated the Wildcats four straight years at home. The Huskies have now defeated the Sun Devils eight out of nine years at home with the lone Sun Devils win coming in 2008. The Huskies have dominated the Sun Devils in the Lorenzo Romar era. The second half was played sloppy and I'm sure Romar will get on his guys about that. Overall this was a great team victory as the Huskies are trying their best to keep pace with the California Golden Bears.

Observations:

- Last year when Matthew Bryan-Amaning graduated there was great concern about the Huskies post play. Many figured Darnell Gant would emerge but he hasn't as most of his points come from the outside. Insead Aziz N'Diaye has emerged into that guy. Once again scoring in double figures as he scored 12 points against the Sun Devils on five for nine shooting. N'Diaye has scored in double figures in 10 games this year out of 24. He has grabbed double figures in rebounds in six games. He's also had 13 games with at least one block shot. For the year N'Diaye is averaging 8.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG and 1.1 blocks per game while shooting 53.8% from the field. His production has almost doubled from last year despite only playing six more minutes a game. N'Diaye has been a big reason for the Huskies success this year inside and he still has one more year left with the Huskies program which is huge.

- The Huskies defense was terrific against the Sun Devils holding them to under 40.0% shooting in the first half and less than 20.0% on three point shots. Tony Wroten led the defensive charge with six steals as the Huskies had 10 steals and three blocks during the game. For Wroten he is now averaging 2.1 steals per game as he broke Justin Dentmon's record for most steals in a season for a freshman with 54. He still has four more regular season games plus one Pac-12 tournament game as well.

Another bright spot on the defense is the play of two freshman big men in Desmond Simmons and Shawn Kemp Jr. Simmons who has started 11 games(9-2 in those games) is averaging 5.0 PPG but 5.7 RPG in only 20.1 minutes not to mention 0.9 steals. As for Kemp Jr. he is averaging only 2.0 PPG, 0.8 RPG and 0.7 blocks per game but in just 7.3 minutes. In his last five games Kemp Jr. is averaging 5.0 PPG in only 10.6 minutes per game. These guys are showing a flash of their future with the Huskies. Both guys aren't lighting up the scorboard like Wroten does or like Ross or Wilcox did last year but they are providing defense which the Huskies need. Along with N'Diaye who has always been a factor in the paint the Huskies aren't as weak inside as people may think.

- Nice to see C.J. Wilcox get going last night shooting wise. Since returning from his injury Wilcox has shot over 40.0% in just two of his seven games back. In fact he is only averaging 10.0 PPG during that stretch. Wilcox against the Sun Devils though scored 14 points on 6-11 shooting from the field. Last year he had slumped from three point range for a long time then snapped out of it which the Huskies are hoping will happen soon. Since returning from his injury Wilcox is only 7-28(25.0%) from three point range. For the year Wilcox is still having a nice season scoring 13.8 points in 28.4 minutes shooting 41.6% from the field and making 2.2 three pointers a game. Wilcox has yet to hit a red hot streak like he did at the end of last season. Wilcox has shown in the past he can deliver in crunch time for the Huskies. If Wilcox can get going the Huskies can go very far in the tournament. Hopefully Wilcox starts his hot streak this Saturday against the Wildcats.

- Lorenzo Romar continues his dominance over the Sun Devils improving to 18-5 all-time against them since becoming the Huskies head coach. The Huskies are 8-2 at home against the Sun Devils, 8-2 on the road and 2-1 in the Pac-10 tournament. During Romar's first year the Sun Devils swept the Huskies since then the Huskies have won 18 out of 21 games against the Sun Devils. Unless the Huskies collapse they should finish in the top three of the conference for the seventh time in the last nine years under Romar. This team isn't your typical Romar team as they don't have that three point fire power or that intensity on defense every possession like years past. Where they make up for it is talent as Romar has never had a more talented 1-2 combo than he has now with Ross and Wroten. The next four teams the Huskies face though Romar hasn't dominated like he has the Sun Devils and Beavers the last two teams they've face. Should be interesting where the Huskies go from here.

The Huskies improve to 18-8 now which makes that 5-5 start seem like a different season ago. Nice to see the Huskies keep playing well as they strive to make the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season for the first time in program history. If the Huskies can accomplish that feat that would be a huge moment for Romar and this program. The Huskies are tied for first place in the conference with four games to go including Arizona the big one this Saturday at home. Should the Huskies win they can make some noise although ending the season with three on the road is tough. This was a good win for the Huskies taking care of business against an inferior opponent. Hopefully the Huskies clean up their second half play this Saturday against Arizona. With four games to go the Huskies are tied for first place which at the start of the year we all would have accepted.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Should the Seahawks look to the draft to solve their quarterback problem?

By Kshell

The Seahawks this offseason have a very serious problem at the quarterback position. I examined if the Seahawks should sign Matt Flynn or sign Peyton Manning . If the Seahawks strike out on either they can still salvage that position with the draft. The draft could still be an option even if they sign Manning who will be 36 years old. The draft is a necessary move for this franchise moving forward into the future. The draft has great reward if you draft the right guy you should have him for the following decade. The fall back to the draft is that this is a move for the future which means Pete Carroll who is 14-18 heading into season three will be yet another rebuilding year or two. The Seahawks if they choose the draft route will likely choose between Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill or take a sleeper later in the draft.

The first guy the Seahawks will be looking at is Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin won the heisman trophy and ended his career by defeating the Washington Huskies 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl giving the Baylor Bears their first ever 10 win season. Griffin had a terrific career at Baylor completing 66.5% of his passes for 10,366 yards(8.6 YPA) with 78 touchdowns to just 17 interceptions. He also ran for 2,081 yards with 33 rushing touchdowns. Griffin won the heisman last year completing 72.4% of his passes for 4,293 yards(10.7 YPA) with 37 touchdowns to just six interceptions. He also ran for 699 yards with 10 touchdowns. If Griffin III falls to the Seahawks I believe they will draft him regardless if they sign Manning or not. Griffin III is the type of talent you just don't pass up with the 12th pick. The problem is there is a 99.8% chance he won't be there. That means if the Seahawks were to land Griffin III they will have to trade up to land him. Is Griffin III worth giving up future draft picks to land? That will be up to Carroll and John Schneider to make that decision. If they feel Griffin III isn't worth trading up for there is other options.

If the Seahawks determine that Griffin III isn't worth the price of trading up for they could select Ryan Tannehill out of Texas A & M. Tannehill was only a full-time starter his senior year while leading the Aggies to only a 7-6 record. Tannehill is 6'4" and for his career completed 62.5 % of his passes for 5,450 yards(7.4 YPA) with 42 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. His senior year he completed 61.6% of his passes for 3,744 yards(7.1 YPA) with 29 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. He also ran for 306 yards with four touchdowns. Tannehill is a big physical quarterback who is also athletic as he can move in the pocket. Drafting him with the 12th pick overall might be a reach so to maximize taking Tannehill the Seahawks might have to trade back a few spots to acquire an extra draft pick before taking Tannehill. If the Seahawks can't find a willing trade partner they might go a different route in the draft.

The Seahawks if they choose to take a project later in the draft will have some options. I think the best offseason would be to sign Peyton Manning and draft Nick Foles in the third round. Foles comes from the Arizona Wildcats and was a three year starter there. In his career he completed 66.4% of his passes for 10,067 yards(7.1 YPA) with 67 touchdowns to 33 interceptions. The Wildcats went 4-8 last season during Foles senior year but that was no fault of his own. Foles during his senior year completed 69.1% of his passes for 4,334 yards(7.7 YPA) with 28 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. Foles is very accurate and standing at 6'5" 245 lbs has the size to be a successful quarterback. He isn't the only option late in the draft but he is my favorite option late in the draft. The problem is the Seahawks have had a poor history in the draft with quarterbacks.

Here are the following names the Seahawks have drafted in their franchise history Steve Myer(1976, 4th round), Sam Adkins(77' 10th round), Frank Seurer(84', 3rd round), John Conner(85', 10th round), Davie Norrie(86', 11th round), Sammy Garza(87', 8th round), John Gromos(90', 12th round), Dan McGwire(91', 1st round-16th overall), Rick Mirer(93', 1st round- 2nd overall), Brock Huard(99', 3rd round), Josh Booty(01', 6th round), Jeff Kelly(02', 7th round), Seneca Wallace(03', 4th round), David Greene(05', 3rd round) and Mike Teel(09', 6th round). Not one of those players went on to do much in the NFL. In 1991 the Seahawks chose Dan McGwire over Brett Favre with the 16th overall pick. McGwire the brother of Mark was a bust for the Seahawks. He played in only 12 games making just five starts for the Seahawks. He completed only 50.3% of his passes for 745 yards(5.1 YPA) with two touchdowns to six interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 62.1 for the Seahawks. He was so bad that two years later with the second pick overall the Seahawks had to go the quarterback route again. This time the Seahawks selected Rick Mirer from Notre Dame university who was taken right after the New England Patriots selected Washington State Cougars quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Mirer played for the Seahawks for four years starting 51 games(20-31 as a starting quarterback) completing 53.4% of his passes for 9,094 yards(6.0 YPA) with 41 touchdowns to 56 interceptions. He had a quarterback rating of 65.2 . In 2005 the Seahawks took David Greene in the third round and he was cut before the 2007 season began never appearing in an NFL game in two years. This franchise for whatever reason has failed miserably in the draft when it comes to the most important position in football.

The main problem with going with the draft is that means Tarvaris Jackson will be your starting quarterback in 2012. Pete Carroll is 14-18 as head coach of the Seahawks and although he took over a rebuilding project this is still professional sports. Paul Allen is more patient with coaches than most owners but there will come a time when Carroll has to start producing winning seasons. By drafting a quarterback to develope that means you're rebuilding as Jackson who is very limited will be your starting quarterback in 2012 and possibly even in 2013. With the exception of Andrew Luck who the Seahawks have no shot at drafting there isn't a quarterback in this draft who can step in right away and lead a team to the playoffs in my opinion. So if the Seahawks choose to draft a quarterback that means they are punting 2012 away.

I've now gone over the three options the Seahawks have to solve their quarterback dilema. I think the safest option is signing Matt Flynn. I think the best option is signing Peyton Manning and drafting Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles. I think by signing Manning that gives you the best chance to win now while also developing the future in Tannehill or Foles. I think the worst option is trading picks away to land Griffin III. I also think just drafting Tannehill or Foles and going into next year with Jackson as your starting quarterback is a terrible move too. We'll see what the Seahawks do this offseason but realistictly I think they only have three options to improve the quarterback position going forward. The draft is a move for tomorrow but I think signing Manning and drafting is the way to go. Why not win now and tomorrow? Hopefully Carroll and Schneider make the right decisions as this is a critical offseason for the Seahawks.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Does Peyton Manning have one last hurrah in him?

By Kshell

I mentioned yesterday the Seahawks have three options this offseason to improve the quarterback position. Yesterday I talked about if Matt Flynn is the answer for the Seahawks? Now today I'm going to talk about option number two which is signing Peyton Manning. Yes I'm talking about that Peyton Manning who has won four MVP's and a Super Bowl MVP. There is a good chance the Indianapolis Colts will be releasing Manning as they'll take Andrew Luck with the #1 pick overall in the draft. Manning despite all his great play comes with some risk as he didn't take one snap last year. Manning will also be 36 years old this March. I think Manning's risk shouldn't overshadow his ceiling which including Flynn I think he has the highest ceiling of the three options. If Manning can somehow have one last run in him the Seahawks could be Super Bowl champions in 2012 or 2013. If Pete Carroll and John Schneider decide to go with Manning this is obviously a win now move while Flynn is a win now and tomorrow move. The draft would be a win tomorrow move. Manning is a win now type of move as he might have just two years left if that of being a successful quarterback.

What the Seahawks would be gaining in signing Manning can't be described in words. They've only had one quarterback ever win a Super Bowl before coming to Seattle and that was Trent Dilfer. They've only had one for sure Hall of Fame quarterback play for the Seahawks which was Warren Moon. Only had one Super Bowl MVP play for this franchise which was Deion Branch. Manning has had a much better career than all three. Manning won back to back MVP's just two years ago. This franchise would go from being in South Alaska to being on the national spotlight with several Sunday Night and Monday Night games. What the Seahawks would get in Manning is a four-time MVP, 11-time pro bowler and five-time first team all-pro. For his career Manning has completed 64.9% of his passes for 54,828 yards(7.5 YPA) with 399 touchdowns to 198 interceptions. Manning has a quarterback rating of 94.9 and has won a Super Bowl and been to two. The Seahawks have a top 10 defense already and a pro bowl running game in Marshawn Lynch. With a good quarterback Sidney Rice has proven to be a pro bowler while Mike Williams and Zach Miller proved to be good. With this crowd noise and Manning running the offense the Seahawks could easily go from 7-9 to 12-4 and nobody would be surprised one bit. Carroll has proven he can take anything and turn it into a good defense. What hasn't been proven is acquiring a good quarterback. Of course when signing a player about to be 36 years old there are always risks.

Peyton Manning who will be 36 years old in a month is coming off a season in which he missed the entire season due to neck surgery. This isn't a torn ACL or a broken bone. This is a life and death injury that can impact Manning who has kids negatively for the rest of his life. There is a chance Manning will never play in the NFL ever again. He accomplished a lot and will go down as one of the all-time greats. He has nothing left to prove now other than that competitive fire that still obviously drives inside of him. Signing Manning could be a risk as he might never actually take a snap for the Seahawks in a regular season game. On the flip side the great quarterbacks always have one last run left in them. Manning doesn't want to go out this way where he stood on the sidelines in street clothes. This reminds me of another legendary quarterback in Joe Montana.

Back in 1990 as Joe Montana was experiencing his second straight MVP season at the age of 34 years old. During the NFC title game as the San Francisco 49ers were going towards a three-peat Montana was knocked out of the game. Montana would miss all of 1991 and only play in the last game of the 1992 season. During that time Steve Young had emerged winning the MVP in 1992. After the 49ers were upset in the NFC title game to the Dallas Cowboys at home in 1992 Montana had to be dealt. At 37 years old he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs. Having only played in one game in the two years prior Montana went to the pro bowl in 1993 with the Chiefs and led them to the AFC championship game where they lost to the Buffalo Bills. During that season Montana led two fourth quarter comebacks during those playoffs which is the last time the Chiefs have won a playoff game. The following season Montana  led the Chiefs to the playoffs again. During his two years in Kansas City Montana started 25 out of 32 games where the Chiefs went 17-8. He completed 60.7% of his passes for 5,427 yards(6.9 YPA) with 29 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He would have a quarterback rating of 85.0 which is very solid. Montana wasn't at his level he was with the 49ers but he was a very capable quarterback for the Chiefs despite missing so much time prior to arriving in Kansas City. The Seahawks know first hand about acquiring an aging hall of fame quarterback as well.

The Seahawks franchise had struggled in the 1990's. After giving up on the Rick Mirer experiment after just four seasons in 1996 the Seahawks signed futurer hall of famer and ex-Husky Warren Moon to backup John Friez. After Friez went down after the first game of the season Moon took over as starting quarterback. During that season the Seahawks went 8-8 despite an offense and defense ranked in the top 10. Moon that year was selected to the pro bowl as he completed 59.3% of his passes for 3,678 yards(6.5 YPA) while leading the NFL is passing yards per game at 245.2 . He also had 25 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. Moon was also named pro bowl MVP at the age of 41 years old. Moon was pretty successful for the Seahawks during that 1997 season. We have also seen Brett Favre in 2009 with the Minnesota Vikings lead them to the NFC championship game at 40 years old as he threw for 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. Favre was also selected to the pro bowl that year for the Vikings and his previous year with the New York Jets as the Jets went from 4-12 to 9-7 under Favre. Kurt Warner at the age of 37 years old led the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2008 leading the Cardinals to the Super Bowl. He also led the Cardinals to a division title the following year. These quarterbacks have proven that they still had a little bit left in the tank. Which is what Manning can provide for the Seahawks as well.

The Seahawks have a great opportunity to land a future hall of fame quarterback who has proven he is capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl before. Manning comes with great risk but a high reward which no other quarterback in this free agency or draft can provide. If Manning is healthy the Seahawks instantly become a Super Bowl championship team. If Manning can't play then the Seahawks will be going back to the drawing board this offseason having lost out on Matt Flynn and every quarterback in this draft. The question for Carroll and Schneider is will the upside of Manning outweigh the risk of his injury? Is Manning worth the risk of losing out on Flynn? Those are the answers that are needed before going after Manning. With Manning the Seahawks can win a title right now something this franchise has never done before. Something this city hasn't experienced since the 1979 Seattle Supersonics won a championship. This city is starving for a championship and Manning can end that dreadful streak.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Is Matt Flynn the answer to the Seahawks quarterback problem?

By Kshell

Last week I wrote a piece on how only elite quarterbacks win in the NFL and how the Seahawks right now don't have that quarterback. The Seahawks are left with three choices this offseason which is to sign Matt Flynn who the Green Bay Packers announced they won't franchise, take a risk on Peyton Manning or draft a quarterback. In this piece I'll explore in my opinion the best option which is going hard after Matt Flynn. Just like with the other two options Flynn can offer up a high ceiling but can also blow up in the Seahawks face. I personally feel Flynn is the safest option. I don't know if he is a future hall of famer but I would guarantee he'll play in a few pro bowls with the Seahawks. Despite making only two career starts in the NFL(both were great) Flynn is in high demand as the Seahawks will be competing with the Miami Dolphins, Washington Redskins and a few more teams for his services.

What has teams excited about Flynn is what he did in those two starts specifically his last start against the Detroit Lions in the last week of the season. For his career Flynn has completed 82 of 132(62.1%) passes for 1,015 yards(7.7 YPA) with nine touchdowns to just five interceptions. He has a quarterback rating of 92.8 for his career. The former seventh round pick from LSU has been backing up Aaron Rodgers for the past four years. After playing well in his first career start last year at New England this year Flynn really got everyone excited after his week 17 pefromance against the Detroit Lions. In that game the Packers defeated the playoff bound Lions 45-41 as Flynn completed 31-44(70.5%) passes for 480 yards(10.9 YPA) with six touchdowns to just one interception. Flynn's rating for the game was 136.4 as he beat out Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers for most passing yards and touchdowns in a single game for Packers history. Flynn has proven in his limited playing time that he is capable of producing at the NFL level. The Seahawks have also had a good history with quarterbacks from the Packers system in years past as well.

Back in 2000 the Seahawks were in a similar situation trying to find a quarterback. That is when Mike Holmgren made the risky move by trading for Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck who had only completed 13-29 passes for 145 yards with two touchdowns as he was Brett Favre's backup with the Packers. The Hasselbeck move backfired on Holmgren at first as he struggled in 2001 and 2002 losing his job to Trent Dilfer. Towards the end of 2002 Hasselbeck finally started to reward Holmgren's faith and he carried that into 2003 with a pro bowl season and leading the Seahawks to the playoffs for the first time in four years. Hasselbeck would lead the Seahawks to the playoffs five straight years and six out of eight seasons. Hasselbeck went on to play in three pro bowls including the Super Bowl in 2005. When it was all said and done nobody was laughing at Holmgren for making the risky move of acquiring the unknown backup quarterback from Green Bay. Holmgren didn't just randomly go after a backup quarterback like Pete Carroll had done with Charlie Whitehurst. Holmgren drafted Hasselbeck in Green Bay in 1998 in the sixth round. Holmgren knew who his quarterback was when he traded for him. Just like the Seahawks are now in a similar situation in their current front office.

The Seahawks current general manager John Schneider comes from the Packers organization and was part of drafting Matt Flynn from LSU. Flynn only started one year at  LSU but that year he won a national championship that year. Despite that he was only a seventh round pick. If the Seahawks decide Flynn is the guy you have to like the fact that Schneider like Holgmren with Hasselbeck knows this player first hand. Schneider has had a good track record on players so far and if he feels Flynn is the guy I trust that decision. Carroll knows the Seahawks need a quarterback as they had five guys make the pro bowl but only went 7-9. Flynn could be the answer the Seahawks are looking for at the quarterback position. Flynn may be inexperienced but has proven in limited time he can be a successful quarterback in the NFL. Schneider has already drafted two pro bowlers, signed an unknown as a pro bowler while trading for another pro bowler. Schneider has proven track record in his short time in Seattle and if he feels Flynn is the right guy then so do I.

The Seahawks have three options this offseason on the quarterback position and I've answered one of them. I'm sold on going after Matt Flynn as I think he can be another Matt Hasselbeck for this franchise. He can be that guy who leads the Seahawks to the playoffs for consecutive years just like Hasselbeck did. Can Flynn lead the Seahawks to the ultimate prize? Perhaps. He could end up being like a Roethlisberger or Eli Manning where he is a lower tier on the elite scale. If the Seahawks sign Flynn remember the guy who is signing him knows him first hand as he drafted him in Green Bay. That has to have Seahawk fans happy knowing that. Signing Flynn is a risk but in this league you have to take risks to win titles and I believe Flynn can be that guy.