The big topic this morning is Washington's draw of SEC tournament champion Mississippi State in the first round of the Big Dance. The 13th seeded Bulldogs are a pretty good team and Washington is going to have some problems going against their big man Jarvis Varnado who blocks around five shots per game.
Just to put his talent into perspective he has more blocks this season then the entire Washington team. That is impressive and it means Washington is going to have to make some adjustments to its game to be successful.
One thing that is going to be difficult to accomplish is successful penetration from Dentmon and Thomas. Chances are if Thomas goes inside the key and tries his signature drive the ball is going to be rejected into the tenth row. I am sure Lorenzo Romar is very aware of this and will work on a game plan to combat it.
One thing you can do is shoot well from the outside. That tends to draw the defense out to open up the middle. Washington has not shot well from the outside this season. Their best bread and butter is when they get it inside to Brockman and let him draw fouls against the opponents.
I don't think Brockman's offense will suffer in this one. I do think the guards need to play a lot more cautiously then they have on offense than they have been lately. Isaiah Thomas is a wonderful player but he still has a lot to learn. He has a tendency to try to do too much at this point and that needs to stop on Thursday if Washington is going to advance.
As far as the draw is concerned Washington obviously was given the toughest 13th seed on the planet. As Romar says Mississippi State is way better than a 13th seed. You don't win the SEC tournament by playing like a 13th seed.
All that being said nobody guarantee's a fourth seed an easy game in the the first round. If Washington is good enough to advance they need to be able to beat teams like Mississippi State. Washington State beat them easily this year on a neutral court so obviously it isn't an insurmountable obstacle.
As far as the SEC goes this year the conference is down basketball wise. One person I respect figures that MSU would be no better than a 7th place finisher in the Pac 10. All I can say it thank god we aren't playing Valpo. You remember Valpo? They beat UW at Hec Ed in the first round of the CBI last year. What I am saying is that no matter who the opponent is you better show up with your "A" game at this point of the year.
If Washington can get by Mississippi State the next likely opponent will be Purdue. I would rate the Boilermakers and the Huskies pretty even at this point. I would have to give the Dawgs the nod since they will be playing the game closer to home. Having your fans in the stands is a big advantage in a format like this. Expect plenty of Husky fans to make the trip South.
After that the likely opponent would be U-Conn. Last time we played the other Huskies they beat us on a last second buzzer shot and proceeded to go on to win it all. That was a lost opportunity the program will never get back. That particular Washington team had the makeup to get into the Final Four.
(Editors note: I screwed that one up. We lost on that buzzer shot back in the McCullough/Femerling days. Thanks for pointing it out you guys! It was Richard Hamilton wasn't it?)
As far as this years edition goes I wouldn't bet on a final Four appearance. I think getting to the Sweet Sixteen is about as far as these kids will go. That being said when you are breathing that rarefied air sometimes the ball can take funny bounces and the program is due a positive bounce one of these days.
One more day for the Seattle PI
The print edition of the Seattle PI is down to one more day. The paper announced that Tuesday will be it for the 146 year old newspaper. The PI will continue to live online witha staff of around twenty. Don't expect much or any sports news from the new version which will concentrate mostly on Arts and Entertainment. I am sure it will evolve in coming years as they test out different revenue streams but this is basically just the mothballing of a 146 year old brand.
All of the columnists have been asked to have their good bye columns ready for this issue so stop by one last time and buy one on the news stand to put away as a reminder of days gone by.
The Hearst Corporation its new management did a shoddy job of treating long time employees on the way out the door. They didn't show a lot of class which is typical of New York corporate types.
The newspaper or portal will be very blog heavy. Bloggers of course aren't usually paid even though I do receive small stipends from SBN and the Seattle Examiner. Don't look for the PI to follow that model.
In a news release, Hearst CEO Frank Bennack Jr. said, "Our goal now is to turn seattlepi.com into the leading news and information portal in the region."
Steven Swartz, president of Hearst Newspapers, said in the release the Web site "isn't a newspaper online -- it's an effort to craft a new type of digital business with a robust, community news and information Web site at its core."
He continued: "The Web is first and foremost a community platform, so we'll be featuring new columns from prominent Seattle residents; more than 150 reader blogs, community databases and photo galleries. We'll also be linking to the great work of other Web sites and blogs in the community."
So in other words Hearst is going to try to get as much content as they can for free and pass it off as an online newspaper.
Most of the people offered jobs in the new venture are under 35 years old and were forced to take cuts in salary and benefits to continue. They also had to give up any form of severance.
It will be interesting to see how this concept evolves but I don't think it is off to a positive start with all the blood Hearst has left flowing on Elliott Avenue.
As for the Seattle Times they are going to lose a lot of immediate revenue which could force layoffs over at that paper as well. Over the long term the demise of the PI should help them survive but in the short term they lose their share of ad revenue from the JOA which will be tough to handle.