Monday, March 26, 2007

The Monday Morning Wash

It was an interesting week for the Pac Ten in the NCAA Basketball Tournament as three schools made it in to the Sweet Sixteen, and two as far as the Elite Eight. With the Final Four coming up next weekend in Atlanta UCLA will wear the banner for the Pac Ten, and have a better than average shot at taking the title home this year since all the teams seem pretty even heading for the finish line.

This was a tough year for Washington to sit on the sidelines to watch it since they split with UCLA, Oregon, and USC, while taking Pittsburgh, another Sweet Sixteen opponent, to the wire on the road. This season of course was a rebuilding year, but it certainly was a missed opportunity.

The Pac Ten ended up as being as tough as advertised when it hit the tournament despite Stanford, and Arizona going out in the first round. Four league teams had what it took to go deep this year, and that is a strong finish. UCLA it seems has climbed over that hump once again and has replaced Arizona as being the conferences elite program.

Talking about Arizona you have to wonder when Lute is going to hang it up. Olson, 70, has given no indication that he is near retirement, and he hasn't been giving any hints about his personal future. Since Lute is healthy, in pretty good shape, and the fact his wife passed away a couple of years ago, he might be inclined to be the Joe Paterno of his sport as long as his health lasts. I for one like the fact that your working life no longer has to end at 65 if you don't want it to. Mike Lude, and Marv Harshman are classic example's of guy who were forced out with at least ten strong years left in them. UW would have been much better off letting them pick their own time of departure, but that is something that never has historically happened at UW.

Lorenzo Romar has his work cut out for him in the future at UW. The Pac Ten is going to continue to be a a power in the future, and I think all ten schools have the ability to compete for a tournament berth each year. That means 4-5 good teams are going to be disappointed every year. WSU is going to start competing again for local players with UW, and Gonzaga. Don't forget that Seattle U is considering moving up too, even though the chances for that were lessened when the WCC did not extend them membership.

Gonzaga had a disappointing season because they started the season looking like they could make some noise in the tournament. They had some big wins including beating Texas, North Carolina, and losing a close one to Memphis. The loss of Heytvelt was felt deeply. The big question of course is will Mark Few be drawn to Eugene sometime in the near future? I think clear sign that won't happen is that his longtime assistant Bill Grier has moved on to head the San Diego program int he WCC. If Few had Oregon on his mind he certainly would have wanted Grier to take over at Gonzaga. It is looking more, and more like Mark is going to be a lifer in Spokane.

Oregon is going to build a fantastic new gym which should keep them among the elite for awhile as that program continues to sell the sizzle. Speaking of Oregon, will Ernie Kent return to coach the team next year after he led the Ducks to an Elite Eight appearance before bowing out to defending National Champ Florida? You would think that was a sure thing, but as we have alluded before, Kent was most likely on his way out before the season started. I think Ernie may be pondering the fact right now that he may never be more desirable to another program. I think he is pondering that he is one average season away from getting canned. I think he will leave Oregon if the right opportunity pops up, just a gut feeling.

I would have thought that this year would be the year that Cameron Dollar would move on to run his own program. There have been plenty of openings, and Dollar has been given serious consideration, but he hasn't been able to land it yet. At 31 Cameron still has a lot of time left, but you have to think that the violations in the first months he was here at UW have held him back from faster advancement. It's a shame, because while he was guilty, all the other coaches who were doing the same thing he was doing, and turned him in, were doing the same thing he was doing.

I think Lorenzo Romar is finding it to be more of challenge molding these current thoroughbred's together as a unit then he did than the previous junk yard dogs he molded successfully early in his tenure. Washington's best days are ahead of them, but the challenge is going to be great in an increasingly competive conference. Washington has the horses, but so does everyone else. The best coaches are going to make the difference.

Husky Football

Most of the country has started Spring football, and the schools that haven't such as UW will be starting in the next couple of weeks. I am pretty excited going into this Spring and can hardly wait to see Locker run the offense against Bonnell in the Spring game. The squad will be hapered by a lack of RB's this Spring, but Hasty, and Rankin anre going to get a lot of much needed work. The major question is how much is Willingham going to let us see this year? Will he continue to open it up more to help create a positive buzz?

Spring Sports

Shortstop Danny Cox led off the eighth inning with a triple and scored the go-ahead run on a single from Michael Burgher as the Washington baseball team completed a three-game sweep of Washington State with a 6-5 win Sunday at Bailey-Brayton Field. Cox, a sophomore from Chehalis, lofted a fly ball to deep right-center that dropped just in front of diving center fielder Zach Borba. After a groundout, Burgher singled through a drawn-in infield, scoring Cox to break a 4-4 tie. Burgher scored an insurance run on a double from Bradley Boyer. Cox finished the game 2-for-5 with a double, a triple, two RBI and a run. The Huskies (14-9 overall and 3-0 in Pac-10 play) have now won 12 of their last 13 games while the Cougars dropped to 13-10 overall and 0-3 in the conference.

For the second-consecutive match, Mathilde Cor and Joyce Ardies won in singles for the Husky women's tennis team, but visiting Boise State (11-2) won 5-2 over Washington (1-13) at the Nordstrom Tennis Center on Friday.

Washington's track and field teams added 13 NCAA Regional qualifiers and put five athletes on its all-time top-10 list Saturday, as split-squad action at Arizona State and Auburn Universities represented the first significant weekend of the 2007 outdoor track and field schedule.
Washington's throwers were in top form at Auburn's Springtime Invitational, with sophomore Mart Israel making his Husky debut with a sweep of shot put and discus titles. Israel's respective winning marks of 56 feet, 9 ¼ inches and 200-0 each bettered NCAA Regional qualifying standards, while his mark in the latter represented the sixth-best mark ever by a UW thrower.

While the throwers competed in Auburn, the remainder of the Huskies' track and field teams traveled to Arizona State for the Sun Devils' annual Clif Bar Invitational. Eight Huskies earned regional marks at ASU, led by a history-making double for sophomore Dani Schuster and junior Amy Lia. The half-mile tandem each clocked times among UW's top-10 all-time in the 800 meters, with Schuster's 2:07.39 ranking sixth all-time and Lia's 2:07.48 ranking seventh.

Husky Crew

Husky crew opened the 2007 seasons with an exciting slate of races for the 106th-Annual Class Day Regatta. A new men's champion was crowned, with the juniors, Class of 2008, claiming the George M. Varnell men's eight trophy while the seniors, Class of 2007, defended their title and captured The Seattle Times Women's Eight trophy for the second year in a row.

Saturday's event was the 106th running of the Class Day Regatta, which began in 1901, two years before Washington's first-ever intercollegiate race against California on June 3, 1903.

In a very close and competitive men's race, the Class of 2008 edged last year's winners, the Class of 2009 by five tenths of a second, as the juniors completed the 2,000-meter course in 6 minutes and 15 seconds. The sophomores, who became the first freshman boat to win the race since 1947 last year, came in second in a time of 6:15.5 and were followed by this year's freshman boat at 6:17.1 and the seniors at 6:31.0.

The Huskies will officially open the 2007 season next weekend, competing at the Husky Invitational, Saturday, March 31 on Montlake Cut.

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