Lets start off the morning discussing the fall of the University of Washington men's basketball team which has dropped three games in a row. The Huskies fell to 1-3 this weekend by losing in the desert to the Arizona schools.
Most thought the loss to Oregon at home would serve as a wake up call but the only ranked team (as of last week) in the Pac 10 is in danger of falling apart. The decline reminds me of the one season stay of Spencer Hawes. teams packed in the middle because Washington wasn't doing a good job defending or shooting from the perimeter. This team looks worse because it doesn't have a set of twin towers in the middle. Washington needs to start shooting and moving the ball around better or this season will end up a disaster.
A slow start where Washington fell behind 8-0 seemed to be one of the culprits in this one. Washington came out cold and it set a tone that lasted the rest of the game. Abdul Gaddy (13) and Isaiah Thomas (18) ended up putting up some decent numbers but UW struggled to move the ball again on offense.
In the stands and on the message boards the fingers are pointing towards Coach Lorenzo Romar but 17 year old point guards like Abdul Gaddy lack the seasoning to dominate in this league even in a down year. Washington's woes of being able to direct a competent half court offense is wasting the tremendous potential of this team.
Another big key to the loss was rebounding which Washington has dominated in recent years. The Huskies haven't been able to designate a monster under the boards to take over for the departed Jon Brockman. This Husky team is made up of "Blue Blood" recruits but until they can rediscover some "Blue Collar" work ethic this season seems destined to be a struggle.
"Mental mistakes can be solved," Romar said after the game. "We've got to go into our own little basketball laboratory and we have to have more repetition. When you're in class and you don't quite get it, you get extra tutoring. That's how we've got to do it with this basketball team. We've got to spend extra time in those areas."
The Sky is Falling at USC?
If you read the LA papers you come away with the distinct impression that the sky is falling at USC and that Pete Carroll didn't do a very good job last season despite finishing 9-4 after winning eight straight conference championships and two national titles.
If you are somebody like Oregon State's Mike Riley you had to pay attention to what the scribes were writing. A season like you just finished at Oregon State and have been pulling off for the last half decade simply isn't good enough in Los Angeles.
In Corvallis that type of performance will earn you a lifetime coaching contract. That is something to consider deeply in what should be the glory years of your coaching career. Riley made the right decision in accepting a new contract with the Beavers which will assure that he stays in Corvallis until at least 2019.
"Due to the fact there is a lot of speculation on my future, I want to make it known that I'm very excited to be coaching at Oregon State University and I anticipate doing so for a long time," Riley said in a statement released by the school late last night.
The spectre of sanctions and a meddling Athletic Director hang heavy over the program at this point. Word from LA is that when Pete Carroll told AD Mike Garrett of the Seahawks interest he told him to take the job. While coming sanctions may have played a big part in Carroll's decision to move on the icy relationship that had developed between him and Mike Garrett seems to have played a bigger part.
The story to keep an eye on in LA in coming weeks is if AD Mike Garrett has the pull to keep his job. There are powerful forces behind the scenes that could take control of the Trojan program over the next few days after the quick and obvious names for the next Trojan head coach evaporated over the weekend.
This may end up being a search that lasts until around signing day and with Pete Carroll taking his top assistants to Seattle that delay could scuttle the strong recruiting class that the Trojans have in place. There didn't seem to be much damage this weekend but if Troy doesn't have a new coach by Friday to contain the damage a lot of these kids will be seriously looking at other options.
One thing that will seriously be written about this week are the coming sanctions. You have heard some whispers about it in the LA papers but the writers have shown respect to Pete Carroll by keeping it from becoming an all encompassing discussion. That changes this week because while the writers have affection for Pete Carroll they have none for Mike Garrett. Expect the heat to be turned up in an effort to get him knocked out of his job.
In essence Pete Carroll will earn $7 million per year from the Seahawks and Mike Garrett will be left behind in LA to pick up the pieces and shoulder the blame for the dreaded lack of institutional control charges the NCAA has waiting for the program.
As far as probation we are hearing everything is on the table at this point. That means the loss of future TV revenue, a bowl appearance, and a reduction in scholarships. It also could mean paying for the sins of the past by giving up BCS bowl money, a Heisman Trophy, and perhaps even a national title. USC is in Mea Culpa mode right now so the fight to void the coming sanctions seems to be over.
Is the sky really falling at USC?
Well if you are a bit of a college football historian or simply a Husky football fan you understand how the sudden loss of a legendary coach can effect your football program. You also know how tough it is for the guy who follows that legend and has to deal with the penalties that were left behind.
USC will always be USC but the days of dominating the Pac 10 in the way that Pete Carroll accomplished is over for now. The Trojans for all intents and purposes will be rebuilding their football program form the ground up starting today. They still have a lot of talent on that roster, and always will, but things will never be the same.
What does this mean for UW?
Initially this doesn't mean much since Steve Sarkisian says he is happy at Washington and has rejected an inquiry concerning his interest in pursuing the position. It could have meant the poaching of a coach such as Rocky Seto from Carroll's staff but Sark doesn't have any openings at this point.
On the recruiting trail it has little or no impact for the 2010 class. Washington currently has 26 players in the 2010 class with approximately four openings left to fill. Hayes Pullard seemed headed to Westwood anyway but it could tip Josh Shirley Washington's way over the next couple of weeks. A finish that includes CB Gregory Ducre, DE Haouli Jamora, LB Josh Shirley, and perhaps DT Rick Heimuli or Kerifi Taula seems to be the experts consensus on how Washington will finish this class at this point.
The true impact will start in 2011 on the football field as the Trojans get used to a new coach and system. It will also open doors in Southern California for the potential of a type of recruiting class we seldom see at Washington. That could also be said for UCLA. Expect Sark and Neu to have some epic recruiting battles in Los Angeles over the next couple of years.
That being said don't forget the rest of the Pac 10. Oregon, Cal, and Stanford are historically strong right now. Hard to remember when those three schools were as good as they are right now. They will also benefit from the lack of Pete Carroll sewing up the very best players in Los Angeles.
Tia Jackson's team on the serious rebound
Last year we wrote off Tia Jackson as being a coach who had one more year to show her mettle before being put out to pasture. I don't think anyone thought that there would be improvement this season or that she had a chance of getting it done. The Huskies and their coach have dispelled that notion by sweeping the Arizona schools at home this weekend to move to 3-1 in conference play and 8-6 overall for the season.
When Todd Turner fired June Daugherty after an NCAA tournament appearance he also ended up gutting a program that was forced to start over. The job handed to Jackson wasn't easy but her performance so far in her third year bodes well for the future. Her young team is beginning to play and well and even though they won't contend for a conerence championship this season she is planting some serious seeds for the future.