Sunday, February 21, 2010

Hoops: The Boys Help QPon Go Out In Style!

UW 97 - UCLA 68
Yesterday was Senior Day at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. One team manager and Quincy Pondexter were the only seniors celebrated.

Quincy has been having a great season and I've written a bunch about him in past posts. He has led the team as well as he has been able, doing it by example, playing defense, scoring, rebounding, the whole package. When the rest of the team shows up to support him, there aren't any teams in the Pac-10 that can hang with us. As evidence, you only have to look at yesterday evening's game.

The team came out on fire! They played excellent defense from the very beginning and their shooting was on. UCLA shot 36% in the first half. I have to give credit for that to the Huskies defense. They are one of the best teams I have seen at closing off passing lanes. Lorenzo Romar recruits highly athletic guys in the 5'8" to 6'8" height range. All of them possess an above-average wingspan, though. Lorenzo teaches them to disrupt passing lanes really well. This means that whoever has the ball usually has an extraordinarily hard time getting the ball to the man he originally intended it for. When the Dawgs defense is hot, their offense gets hot at the same time.

We had great shooting from all over. Q had 14 points in the first half including 2 3s (he finished with 20 again). IT had 13 points in the first half and finished with 17. We got great scoring from the second tier of players as well. MBA has continued to step up his game; he scored 12 last night, all of them in the second half. Suggs had 9, Holiday had 11, Elston Turner had 9, Breshers had 6, and Venoy put up 7 (all in the first half).

UCLA was shell-shocked. No matter how many timeouts they took trying to regroup, when they came back on to the floor we continued to crush them. By the end of the 1st half we were up 49 - 26. The second half was more of the same; crushing defense and efficient offense. The game ended with the Huskies up 97 - 68. We'd have gone over 100 if we hadn't held the ball for the final possession without even attempting to score.

Quincy Pondexter, you were great to watch this season. I especially liked how you really manned up and led the team. I'm disappointed that some of them were not capable of following your lead (yes, I am talking directly to you, Zeke) and others just have some more growing to do. Lord knows I have been frustrated with you in past seasons. I'm so glad I got to witness this one, as this is the way I'll remember you. I wish you a successful NBA career. I certainly think you have what it takes to make it.

Hoops: You Can't Win If You Nap Too Long

Washington Huskies 64 - USC Trojans 67

The Dawgs came out of the gate for this game on fire. After the first couple of minutes they were up 12-4. Then a combination of things happened. The officiating crew produced some of the most lopsided calls I have ever seen. Unfortunately, they ran against UW most of the way. Once that happened, the Dawgs fell apart. They shot 38% from the field, had 9 turnovers in the first half (3 on bad passes by Justin Holiday), and shot 28% from behind the 3 point line (2/7). Good defense by USC? Maybe some. Implosion of a team that lacks some mental toughness? I think so. At the half they were down 32 - 24.

USC, to their credit, ran a really good offense. They used most of the shot clock on every possession. They seemed to be playing with the UW defense in a lot of ways, letting it look as though the Dawgs were doing a great job, then scoring in the last 3-4 seconds of the possession. They were able to do that on almost every possession, keeping the score 8-12 points out of reach for the first part of the second half.

The Huskies just seemed to be going through the motions until the 10 minute mark of the second half. At that point they woke up, started playing intense, full-court press defense and scoring at will. Unfortunately, they had dug themselves a very deep hole. Mike Gerrity, the USC point guard showed incredible toughness down the stretch. Without him, USC might have lost that game. As it was, they hung on to win 67-64. This was UW's second home defeat of the season. Coupled with our 1 win road record, that means we're below .500 in the Pac-10. Bummer.

I'd be very surprised if we got an NCAA tournament bid at this point. It'll depend how we finish the last 4 games of the regular season (UCLA at home and then WSU, Oregon, and Oregon State on the road) and the Pac-10 tournament. Who knows? Maybe they'll wake up for good.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tunes: Tierney Totals Tuesday (Fatly)!

Last night was Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Bernardo took the train up from Portland and we had dinner with Joe & Sharon at their house. Afterwards, as part of the celebration, we went to Dimitriou's Jazz Alley to listen to the Tierney Sutton Band.

The TS band has been together for 17 years and it certainly shows. Piano, bass, drums and vocals all blended seamlessly together into one lush whole. Tierney is certainly the star here. She is a fabulous vocal talent and has a style that is absolutely her own; a high, clear, breathy mixture of scat singing, unique phrasing and absolute technical brilliance. She has such a reverence for the work of songwriters and lyricists that comes through in her between-song comments. She knows the details of their lives and how that influenced their art as it also informs and influences hers.

She is one of the top-tier female jazz vocalists, not just currently, but all-time. Yet, she is smart enough to let her band mates shine in solo spots that are as long as they want. Her drummer, Ray Brinker, is fascinating to watch. He is the quietest, most intense drummer I have seen in a long time. Much of his work is done with brushes; his touch is unerring and the beats he lays down combine with the bass to lay a solid foundation for Tierney to soar over the top. In many jazz groups the players look at one another for the subtle cues about where the song is going next, who's soloing next, etc. These guys have been together so long that the eyes are no longer necessary; they just listen. Ray kept his head turned away from his band mates for most of the night, not because he was ignoring them, too-cool-for-school style, but because he was pointing his ear at them so he could hear better.

Trey Henry, the bass player (Tierney said of him last night, "He's funkier than you are." - no brag, just fact), had the most animated face. It was really cool to watch him as he laid down the beat. He and Ray combined to lead off a version of Fever that was absolutely smoking. I do not think I have heard a hotter version than that anywhere, anytime.

Christian Jacob, the pianist, is an accompanist of amazing skill, but also a soloist of great virtuousity. It was cool to watch he and Tierney trade licks back and forth. In fact, it was a great pleasue to watch her interact with all of them, together and separately throughout the night. You might be thinking, "The drummer? Really?" The answer is yes. Tierney does a version of Surrey with the Fringe on the Top that is fired off by, led, and accompanied only by Ray Brinker, the drummer. He sets a blazing pace and she manages to keep up. She recorded it on the band's 2005 I'm With The Band and, at the time, I thought, " Well, yeah that's stunning, but I wonder how many takes it took." The answer, boys and girls, is, probably one. She was certainly able to repeat the performance live last night. Truly amazing.

I'm so glad Bernardo suggested going to Jazz Alley for our Fat Tuesday celebration. It was a great treat.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hoops: Getting Better

Washington 79 - Arizona State 56

Yes, the team that beat us by 17 (though that score makes the game seem closer than it really was) got beaten by 24. The Huskies beat ASU like a big bass drum, pounding them all night. The Husky defense was stifling. ASU could not get the ball to the spots on the floor where they wanted it shooting just 37.5% in the first half and we took advantage of turnovers for quick fast break buckets. By the 10 minute mark in the first half we were ahead 21-6, ahead by 15. The Sun Devils never got closer than that. We led at the half by 17, 42-25 and kept stretching the lead from there. The most we led by was 27 with a couple minutes to go (77 - 50).

Quincy Pondexter played his usual solid game, scoring 17. The biggest difference though was the support he got from Isaiah and MBA. Zeke ended the game with 17. He played much more efficiently on Saturday than he did on Thursday, but his play is still not totally within the team's game as he seems to think "Me first, then you (maybe)" is the way it should be. In the first half, he was running a 2 on 1 fast break from the middle. Q was on the right wing with his hand out calling for the ball. Zeke ignored him and took the ball straight at the defender. When your big guys make the effort to get out on the break like that, you reward them. It will come back to you later because they'll be much more inclined to have your back when you need them. Lucky for him, he put the shot down, but it was an indication to me that he still hasn't learned all the lessons that Lorenzo Romar has to teach him.

Matthew Bryan-Amaning played the best game I have witnessed this season. He was solid on defense, active on the offensive and defensive boards (9 in all) , and a more effective scorer finishing with 12. Thank you, sir, for showing up. That is the performance we need from you every night. It is a sight I could get used to seeing.

Venoy added 9, Scott Suggs got 8, Justin Holiday had 7, Elston Turner had 5, Tyreese Breshears had 3 and Clarence Trent got 1 to round out the scoring.

We shot much better from the free throw line and from the field overall.

Before the game we were the only Pac-10 team in second place with four teams tied for first. At the end of the weekend because of losses by 3 of those 4 teams (Arizona, ASU and UCLA) there's only 1 team in first (Cal) and 4 tied for second (including us). We play Cal on their court on Thursday. We beat them by 15 here last month, we are certainly capable of doing that again. After all, we just beat 2 of the 4 teams tied for first.

Unfortunately, we have yet to play a road game the way we play our home games. In the comfy confines of Hec Ed with the band playing, the student section rocking, and most of the crowd roaring approval, they play well. Out on the road in unfriendly territory, not so much. If UW is to play well in the post season (or play at all, for that matter) then they will have to figure out how to win on the road. I'd say that this week is a good time to do that, with Cal on Thursday and Stanford on Saturday. We've beaten them both before; do it again, Dawgs!

Good luck to you, men.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Raisin' Fish: Mid-Season Maintenance

Saturday was a gorgeous day along McAleer Creek. Relatively clear skies, temps in the high 40s, bright sunshine; a great day to play in the water alongside the creek.

I knew that by now all of the coho that were going to hatch had already done so. The guys at Issaquah Salmon Hatchery had told me that the eggs were 2-4 weeks from hatching when I got them on January 6. Now that a month has passed, only the ones that had died should be left on the trays, along with a few of the lazier alevin that hadn't made it down through the screens yet.

My nephew, Stephen, and I made our way down to the incubator and clarifier intending to pull the trays out of the incubator, clean the dead eggs off the screens and then replace one screen on top of the net bag (to keep it from rising up to the top of the barrel, which it will if left unimpeded). We found that we have had an excellent hatch this year.

You can tell how successful your hatch has been by counting the dead eggs left in the trays at the end of hatch time. Just subtract that number from the total of eggs that got put in at the beginning and you have a reasonable estimate of the number that hatched. We didn't really count the individual dead eggs, rather we estimated. I was really surprised when I pulled the first tray up as it had fewer dead eggs on it than I had seen in any previous year. I estimated that there were no more than 100 - 150 eggs there. When you consider that there had been about 23,300+ eggs on there to begin with, then you get an idea of how good the hatch rate was this year.

The next two trays held more dead eggs than the first, but even the last tray, which had the most of the three, didn't have more than 150-200 eggs on it. In all we figure that at most 500 eggs didn't hatch, which means 69,500 did. That's a 99.3% hatch rate! (99.2857% if you're looking for the significant digits). That is quite a tribute to the consistency and constancy of the water flow we've been able to acheive.

Speaking of water flow, this morning when Francis came to work we noticed that there was no water spilling out of the clarifier, which is the norm for the system. That means that there is as much water flowing through the incubator as possible and the excess is going out of the top of the clarifier barrel. While I was working on the incubator, I shut off the water flow valve at the entrance to the clarifier so that I could lower the water level in the incubator. When I opened it back up, I noticed that the flow never returned to its previous strength. My theory, supported by subsequent discoveries today, is that when you shut the valve at the lowest end of 500' of pipe with water flowing through it, that column of flowing water has a certain amount of inertia and continues to move with gravity down the pipe. This will force any small air pockets in the pipe to 'migrate' up stream and collect in the high spots. If there's enough air in the high spots, the flow of water is restricted at that point unless you bleed the system.

This morning, Francis and Stephen bled the system and found several 'angry' air pockets, ones that hissed very loudly when a stainless steel screw holding the pipes together was removed. This confirmed my moving air pocket theory pretty well. We always bleed the system from the upper end to the lower, getting rid of air pockets all the way down and not encouraging them to migrate further up.

When they got to the bottom of the system, they found that two 10' sections of pipe close to the clarifier had 6' long cracks in them and were leaking significant amounts of water. They did not appear to be leaking on Saturday. I think I would have noticed that quantity of water. We had a really hard freeze in December. I'm guessing that the ice in the lines expanded enough to start the cracks and then increased pressure of shutting the valve/bleeding the system was enough to open them up. They replaced both sections and the water flow has returned to its previous level, flowing over the edge of the clarifier barrel.

When I was cleaning out the trays on Saturday, I noticed a couple of alevin that were pretty far along in their growth. Their bodies were beginning to develop and they had almost entirely absorbed their yolk sac. Other alevin were much closer to the beginning of their process, looking as though they had just recently hatched. I think that through a bit of luck and some experience with the process we chose the best weekend to clean the trays.

So, 69,000+ coho salmon alevin reside in the incubator barrel along McAleer Creek. They will probably be there until some time in April when we let them go.

I haven't done anything with the videos Gwynedd shot of loading up the incubator. I'll try to get them posted. If anyone is anxiously awaiting them, I'd appreciate you posting a comment letting me know. That will provide me with some extra motivation.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hoops: Gutting out another close one with Jekyl & Hyde

Washington 81 - Arizona 75
Well, last night's game was an emotional roller coaster. The Huskies came out on fire, went to sleep, woke back up for a little while to keep it close, shot horribly from the foul line in the first half (8-19, 42%), shot very well from the foul line in the second half (21-24, 87.5%), went into the locker room at half time down by 6, came out on fire in the second half, slacked off enough to allow a young and talented Wildcats team to stay close and then finally finished it off up by 6 for a 12 point swing in the second half.

Quincy Pondexter has proved himself to be the heart and soul of this team. It's obvious that he worked his ass off during the off season to develop a reliable 12-18' jumper. When he goes up with that shot, it is going down. Although he was one of the most Jekyl&Hydey players for his first three years (alternately brilliant and disappointing(when he didn't show up for the game mentally)), he has manned up and become the most consistent thing about the team. You can depend on him to drop 20 points a night, work the boards hard, stop his man on defense and in general be everything you could want for a team leader. Good job, Q. Last night he dropped 30; 20 from the field and 10 from the free throw line. He struggled at the line in the first half, shooting just 50%, but brought his average up in the second half finishing 10-16, 62.5% (well below his normal shooting average).

Isaiah Thomas seems to be in a sophomore slump. He could be the second half of a reliable 1-2 punch and he was that last year with Johnnie B. This year, not so much. He spent most of the second half on the bench after displaying amazing stupidity in his drives to the basket in the first half (drive in against 4 defenders, get up in the air, try to force up a shot or (rarely) look for someone to pass to). He did play excellent defense on Kevin Parrom, helping to hold him to 5 points while giving away 10 inches (5'8" vs 6'6"). He ended the game with 7 points. Zeke, you are wasting Q's senior year! He's not going to get another chance and he deserves better, smarter, more complete play than this. Get it together and be the man Q needs.

Justin Holiday and Tyrese Breshears showed some awesome two-man game action in the first half. Very entertaining stuff, but they were not on the floor together long enough to do it more than twice. If Tyrese B can learn to keep himself out of foul trouble (how about staying on your feet and not jumping for every shot that goes up?), he is the John Brockman replacement. He is very tough inside, works the boards hard and doesn't get moved around by many guys. He had two great blocks in the first half on Nic Wise on two consecutive possessions. Both of them on the same side of the court, both of them sent into the stands. If he can learn the Bill Russell, tip-it-to-a-teammate trick, that will be great. As it was, I wouldn't have wanted to face him again if I was Nic.

Scott Suggs posted 13 points; 3 3s and 4-4 from the free throw line. Good stuff, and the sort of contribution we need from the younger guys.

At the beginning of the season lots of ink got spilled on Isaiah Thomas and Abdul Gaddy. Venoy Overton got overlooked by everyone (except for Sports Illustrated) but has proved to be another reliable presence for us. He makes life hell for opposing guards and usually drops 10 points. Last night he ended up with 12, one 3-pointer and 9-10 from the foul line. He was the man who kept the game out of reach for the Wildcats at the end. Every time they fouled him (and then seemed to foul him most at the end of the game (well, he did have the ball most of the time as IT and Gaddy were on the bench)), he stepped up and sank his shots. He missed one in the first half, but that was the only one he missed all night. Good Job, V.

MBA, where are you? We need you to have a monster season and support Q. It's not happening, but it could. Get it together. 3 points and four fouls isn't cutting it.

In the second half after a particularly egregious call by one of the officials, some misguided soul up high in Section 12 (kitty corner from my seats in 6) launched a water bottle at the court. It landed at the end of the Huskies bench about 6-8' in on the court and had enough force to skid way past half court. Play stopped, the miscreant was identified and hustled out of the arena in short order. There is just no room in an arena the size of Hec Ed for the start of hooliganism. I'm glad they dealt with that guy as quickly as they did. Dude, yes, the call was particularly bad in a game littered with bad calls at both ends. Yes, it was quite frustrating to see guys get paid to do such a lousy job (Pac-10 officiating supervisors, do you look at the tapes? Do you do anything to help these guys develop their skills? It appears not), but remember, this is just a game. There is no point in getting tossed out for something stupid like that (and besides, if you had hit someone with that half full water bottle from that high up, it would definitely have done some damage). When they suggest anger management classes, take them. It can only help.

The Wildcats are a talented, young team. They had pretty balanced scoring, getting double figure performances out of 5 of the 10 guys that scored. Derrick Williams got alot of press before the game, but he did horribly last night and played like a petulant child. You are probably good, Derrick, but last night will never make your highlight reel and you handled it with no class at all. Nic Wise, the only senior on the Arizona team, played well, providing some needed leadership to all those talented youngster. If Sean Miller can keep this group together, they are going to be trouble for everyone in the Pac-10 for the next few years. Good luck to him.

Well, let's see what we do with Arizona State on Saturday night. Should be interesting.

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


About Me

My photo
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.