Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hoops: What is that Foul Smell?

U of Washington Huskies 123 - Seattle University Redbirds 76
No matter who you were rooting for at last night's game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, you were bound to come away with a bad taste in your mouth.

I know that I complain about basketball officiating a great deal. I also know just how hard it is to call a decent game. Earl Strom, the great NBA ref, once wrote in an article published long ago in Sports Illustrated (and I'm paraphrasing a bit here), " Reffing a good game is like having a good marriage. It's a day-to-day proposition. Some days are good; some days are not." So, even the best (and Earl was, if not the best, certainly on any reasonable person's short list) can have a lousy game.

Last night all three officials had a lousy game. Couple that with a Husky team that was hungry to prove itself after losing a last second heartbreaker at UCLA and then getting thumped at USC and you have a buzz saw all ready and waiting for Seattle U to step into. And step into it they did.

I don't think I have been at a game where more fouls were called or more players were fouled out. In all, 8 players had to sit down; 6 from SU(Gweth, Broussard, Harris, Gilmore, Boxley, and Jones), 2 from UW (Overton and Bryan-Amaning). This created a real problem for Cameron Dollar, the SU coach, at the end of the game as he had only brought 10 players. The game ended with Seattle, already beleagured by 37 minutes of punishing defense, having to put only 4 guys on the floor, playing 4 on 5.

UW games usually last 2 hours. They called so many fouls that the game went 30 minutes over that. I can't say I understand why they called so many fouls. It looked to me like they lost control of the game early and then tried to get it back by penalizing people at the line. UW certainly benefited as we shot 60 free throw attempts by my count (which could be off by 1 or 2). By my count Seattle U also shot 43 attempts. 103 free throws in a game! Are those guys crazy? incompetent? blind? some combination of the three?

The Huskies played great defense, cutting off passing lanes, keeping in front of their player, generally harassing them. Seattle U responded in the first half by falling apart. Charles Garcia, an extremely talented 6'10" junior transfer from Los Angeles (who couldn't get into UW for some reason) tried to take the whole team onto his shoulders and force the game inside. He banged in there with a great deal of ferocity, but little effect. He is obviously quite talented. Last night will not make it onto his personal highlight reel. He may have felt he had something to prove to the Huskies. It certainly looked as though they had something to prove to him. Until later in the second half, the only points he made were from the free throw line. He scored 18 in all, 12 from the stripe.

The Huskies got good contributions out of the players you would expect; 27 from Pondexter, 19 from Overton, 10 from Gaddy. But there were some unexpected ones as well: 12 from Suggs, 16 from Holiday, 20 (!!) from Elston Turner. Isaiah Thomas had stomach flu and didn't suit up or play. Last night, they didn't really miss him.

At the end of the game, I felt bad for Cameron Dollar, his Seattle U team and their fans. They got thumped really hard in a ugly, ugly game. They are probably a much better team than they showed last night. It's unfortunate that they ran into UW when they were smarting after two tough losses.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hoops: Two Games in a Row!

UW Huskies 84 - U of California Golden Bears 69

Well, they did it again. The Huskies won this game in much the same fashion as Thursday's; excellent defense relentlessly pressuring the passing lanes and good shooting (though not as good as Thursday from the 3 point line).

Quincy Pondexter has raised his game up a notch this year, perhaps several notches. He has a consistent 15-18' jumper, he attacks the rim relentlessly and he has been awesome from the foul line (11-11 in this game). As the only senior on the team and the captain, he has stepped up in a major way, leading by example, which is always best.

Lorenzo Romar's teams have always played an athletic, active style of man-to-man defense. They help each other out alot, but are generally capable of standing on their own and guarding their man. What they are fantastic at is playing ball-denial defense. They make it extremely hard for other teams to move the ball around into the spots they like. This constant frustration really wears on them. It causes shots to be taken from unfamiliar spots and moves the other team way out of its comfort zone. You can see it in the low shooting percentages and low scores of the opponents these past two games. Cal was behind by 19 at the half (50-31) and ended up losing by 15. The score would have been much more lopsided than it was had Romar left his starters in. As it was, many of the guys deep at the end of the bench got playing time. That's when Cal began to make up some ground.

Another standout had been UW free throw shooting. Isaiah Thomas (20 points) was 8-10 from the line. Pondexter was 11-11. Suggs was 1-1, Bryan-Amaning was 0-2. As a team we were 20-24:83%. That's a marked improvement from years passed.

Scoring was again fairly balanced; Quincy got 25, IT got 20, MBA had 10, Holiday had 6, Gaddy and Overton both had 4, though Venoy contributed a massive amount at the defensive end. Suggs had 6, Turner 3, Breshears 2 and Gant 4.

The Huskies are now 3-3 in Pac-10 play. They needed to get these two wins. Next week they go on the road to SoCal, visiting UCLA on Thursday and USC on Saturday. They need to prove that they can win on the road if we are going to be a better-than-.500 club. Given the way they played this week, I think they can do it.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Hoops: Better Late Than Never

U of Washington 94 - Stanford 61

It has been a long while since I posted anything about hoops, partly because my attendance has been spotty, partly because my mind has been occupied by other things (thinks?).

The Huskies seemed to be in Pac-10 free fall. They had lost their last three games to Oregon (at home), Arizona and Arizona State (both on the road). The guards were not shooting well, our interior presence was absent. Teams could play a solid 2-3 zone against us, pack the middle, let us shoot from outside and then collect the rebounds.

Seemed to be working, and would continue to work, as long as we weren't hitting our shots. Well, last night showed just what kind of trouble the rest of the Pac-10 will be in if we continue to make our shots. Last night the Huskies came onto the floor at Hec Edmundson Pavilion in a mean mood. They played aggressive, hounding defense, made shots from the outside (which opened up the middle) and then slashed to the basket for buckets. Abdul Gaddy scored 10 points, all in the first half; most of them were drives to the hoop finished with a teasing little floater that would consistently clear the outstretched fingers of the defense. It was good to see him scoring. That's the most I've seen him score so far this season (admittedly poor sample, I've missed 6 home games and don't watch any games on TV (so the Huskies are not being boycotted any more than anyone else)).

We scored 6 3-pointers during the night. The shooting was ON. Quincy Pondexter had 6 points in the first half and then exploded in the 2nd, scoring 21 (27 in all). He lit up Stanford at the start of the 2nd half; during the first 6.5 minutes of the half he scored 10 points on 2 3s, a turnaround jumper along the baseline and a monster jam in traffic (which caused Johnny Dawkins to call time out, AGAIN). We got solid contributions from Overton (9), Thomas (15), Bryan-Ammaning(6), Suggs (11, including 3 3s), and Holiday (6).

Lorenzo started a combination I had not seen before; Thomas, Gaddy, Pondexter (all consistent starters), Breshears, and Holiday. It was a pretty effective unit until Breshears got in foul trouble (early), then MBA came in and the subbing began. Our defense was stifling; the only guy who scored anything from the field for quite a while was Landry Fields and he only had 6. We led them at the half 41-22 to lead by 19 and then pounded them even further in the second half to stretch that lead to 33. Isaiah Thomas should get some credit for stopping their leading scorer, Jeremy Green who only scored 7 all night. That a 5'8" (really? he doesn't look that tall) guy could effectively guard a 6'4" guy and hold his numbers that low, speaks very highly for the defensive pressure applied. He worked at denying him the ball and worked at it really hard. It certainly paid off.

It was good to see the Huskies get a quality win in coference play. I'm looking forward to Saturday to see what they do with Cal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Raisin' Fish: A new season starts

This morning I left the house and drove to Issaquah Salmon Hatchery to pick up this year's allotment of 70,000 coho salmon eggs. I don't see any point in re-hashing the process as I did a fairly complete job last year. If you'd like to read it, go to the archive at the bottom and start reading the Raisin' Fish headings from the bottom up.

This year's new wrinkle is video. I have a Flip Mino HD that I picked up recently. It's a pretty cool little device. It's about the size of an iPod and relatively light, yet it will hold 2 hours of high definition video and it is powered by a lithium-ion battery that can be recharged through a USB port (which is also how you download the video) that 'flips' out of the top of the device. Gwynedd was my camera person this morning.

I still have to load the videos to my home computer and then stitch it all together. That may not happen until this weekend. Stay tuned though, as it should be pretty cool.

These are the things that interest me. If any of them are of interest to you, great. Read along


About Me

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.