The Huskies Are Going Dancing As I’ve Completely Given Up On Trying To Think Of An Interesting Title For This Post

Hi. I’m 38 years old today.

Well, it was kind of a strange Pac-12 Tournament, but in the end the Huskies did just enough. After narrowly edging out USC, we struggled in the first half against Colorado before turning on the jets in the second half and coming away with a 5-point victory. That set the stage for – who else? – the Oregon Ducks in the championship game, because of course. There was no way ASU was going to beat them, not with the way they’ve been playing of late. The Dawgs were able to keep it close in the first half, down only 2 at the break, but we had our doors blown out the rest of the way in what ended up being a 20-point drubbing.

What does it all mean? Well, the Pac-12 gets three teams in the NCAA Tourney (when no one would’ve been shocked if it was just one for most of the season), as the Sun Devils are an 11-seeded play-in team, the Ducks are a 12-seed looking to upset 5-seeded Wisconsin, and the Huskies land in that 8/9 game against 8-seeded Utah State.

We’re early underdogs (opened at +3, now at +2.5), but if we somehow succeed on Friday afternoon, North Carolina will be our reward. Considering the Tar Heels are my pick to win it all, that feels like a bad sign. My hope – at least heading into Saturday – was that the Huskies could reach the Sweet 16, but that’s looking impossible now. We’ll never know, but I wonder how high our seed would’ve been had we beaten the Ducks. Could we have climbed to a 7? Or, could we have at least gotten a better draw in the 8/9 game? Maybe earned a chance to play Gonzaga in the second round?

I’m also curious to know what would’ve happened if we’d lost to Colorado or USC. Could we have dropped down to 10 or 11 like I was hoping? Or, would that have been one loss too many and dropped us into the N.I.T? That feels unlikely, but you never know.

I guess no one but Duke is really happy with their draw; you just gotta go out there and play the games.

Without knowing a whole lot about Utah State, my initial reaction is to wonder what the big fuckin’ deal is. Looks like they score a lot, but Sam Merrill accounts for 21.2 of those points. Seems to me if you can find a way to shut him down, the rest of the team will topple. The Huskies have a lot of flaws, but one of their strengths is being able to take out the other team’s best player and forcing them to beat us in other ways. I have to imagine this whole week is going to be devoted to stopping Merrill, and as long as we can do so while staying out of foul trouble (looking at you, Thybulle), we should be in good shape.

Regardless, I think the game will be close, but I also think it could be a lot uglier than expected. My initial thought was to pound the under on this game, but they set the line at a reasonable 135. That feels VERY attainable. 70-65? You’re telling me we can’t get over that hump?

I fully expect Utah State to have most of the love heading into this one, but I think there’s a better-than-50% chance the Huskies pull the upset. This has been years and years in the making; we’ve put up with a lot of bullshit to get to this point. With the veterans on this team, we should be able to find a way to pull it out in the end. And, while we’re not going to be a Sweet 16 team this year, getting to the Round of 32 is a nice consolation prize.

Bigger and better days are ahead of us!

The Huskies Advanced In The Pac-12 Tournament For The First Time Ever

That feels accurate; I’m not changing it.

I was – as I noted on Twitter yesterday – extremely nervous about the Huskies’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team (thanks for fucking nothing, Gonzaga) had they lost in the quarterfinals to USC yesterday. It just felt like, with the way things were trending (that would’ve been 3 losses in our final 5 games, all to just awful teams), combined with the many upsets in various conference tournaments across the college basketball landscape, that this would’ve been the second time in school history where the Huskies were regular season conference champs who failed to make the Big Dance.

I mean, how snakebit could one school be?

As it is, I don’t know if we’re QUITE out of the woods just yet, but I do feel like it’s tough to keep a 25-win team out of it, regardless of how terrible their conference is.

The next hurdle is to make sure we’re not one of the four play-in teams. The last thing I want is for the Huskies to play next Tuesday! But, that’s getting ahead of things.

The good news is, the Dawgs beat the University of Spoiled Children (I don’t know how I lived my entire life until yesterday having never heard that phrase before, but I LOVE IT!) Pretty bad week for the Trojans, all things considered, and this was the cherry on top.

Noah Dickerson had as bad of a game as you could have (1/7, 2 points), but he chipped in with 11 boards and I fully expect him to bounce back in a BIG way tonight. The fact that the Huskies were able to score 78 in this one essentially without him is pretty remarkable!

Pac-12 Player of the Year Jaylen Nowell led the way with 24 points and 8 boards, as he showed why he’s our go-to guy. Pac-12 Snub of the Year David Crisp chipped in 18 and 6 assists, as he set the tone with 3/6 from behind the arc (the team hit 13/28 overall, and was particularly hot in the first half).

Across the board, we had guys having big moments. Naz Carter dropped 13 and 4 boards; Dom Green added 9 and 3 assists; and Hameir Wright exploded early with 8 points (including 2/4 from behind the arc to get things going in the opening minutes).

Not to be left out, Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle had 5 more steals to take sole possession of the most steals in a season in Pac-12 history! And, if the Internet is correct, that brings him to 320 career steals, which is 1 behind Gary Payton for the most in Pac-12 history, SO WATCH OUT TONIGHT!

This was a game full of streaks, which meant it was tight at the finish. Fortunately, we hit just enough shots and made just enough plays to grab a 3-point victory.

Colorado took care of business against Oregon State, so we dodged one bullet, as we set up to face the Buffaloes at 6pm tonight. On the other side of the bracket, Oregon will take on ASU. The Sun Devils are still on the bubble – many have them playing as an 11-seed in one of those play-in games – so beating the Ducks would be very much in their best interest. Oregon likely needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament to get in, and with the way they’ve been going lately (6 game winning streak), it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest.

To be fair, the Buffaloes are on a 5-game winning streak of their own, but they definitely shouldn’t win tonight. I wouldn’t say I’m confident, but I saw that next up in my rotation were the maroon boxers, and instead of picking a different pair, I’m wearing them right this second. Either we break the curse tonight, or I single-handedly send the Huskies to the N.I.T.

A Special Seahawks Post About Guards

Earlier this morning, it was reported that the Seahawks are bringing in familiar name Mike Iupati on a 1-year deal. Terms are yet to be disclosed, but given his injury history of late …

  • 12 games in 2013
  • 15 games in 2014
  • 13 games in 2015
  • 15 games in 2016
  • 1 game in 2017
  • 10 games in 2018

… you’d think the guarantees are minimal and the incentives are extensive. Iupati – when he’s healthy – is a tremendous left guard in this league. He’s a 4-time Pro Bowler (from 2012-2015), he’s got experience playing under coach Mike Solari, and he’s EXACTLY what this team looks for in an offensive lineman. More run blocker than pass protector, but I would argue he’s probably better at both than J.R. Sweezy and he’s only 2 years older.

That’s what I like most about this. He’s better than Sweezy and he’s cheaper than Sweezy. The fact that they flip-flop teams (Sweezy to Arizona, Iupati from Arizona) is a nice little bonus. The Cardinals are run by morons, so doing the OPPOSITE of the Cardinals is always a good thing.

My concern after hearing about it was that the Seahawks would stop there. When Sweezy signed with another team, the thought was the Seahawks could still sign Fluker, but they’d likely go young with the other guard spot. Ethan Pocic has a high pedigree as an interior lineman, and while he’s looked like a bust in his first couple years, you never know when someone is going to put it all together. We thought Ifedi should be thrown off a bridge, and look at how much better he got in his third year! Jordan Simmons was obviously the more exciting name for Seahawks fans, as he played tremendously in his couple of starts last year. But, he too has been injury prone in his career dating back through college, so trusting him to be a 16-game starter in 2019 didn’t feel too realistic.

Iupati brings some insurance to this spot. I certainly won’t believe he’s a 16-game starter either, until I see it, but maybe Iupati AND Simmons combined could be that stopgap. Either way, it was looking like a good possibility that we’d still see plenty of Pocic … that is, until later this same morning when it was reported that the Seahawks brought back Fluker on a 2-year deal.

Now, don’t get me wrong, all three of these guys – Fluker, Iupati, and Simmons – have had their share of injuries, so avoiding Pocic is far from guaranteed. But, the DEPTH at this position is staggering!

Guards in the NFL get short shrift compared to tackles, and even centers. But, I would argue they’re pretty vital, especially in a division like the NFC West, which houses so many superstar defensive tackles. Russell Wilson has proven to be pretty elusive in his tenure thus far, but he doesn’t stand a chance when guys are allowed to run free up the middle. He at least stands a chance at avoiding a defensive end – particularly as most teams scheme the Seahawks to keeping him in the pocket, and not over-pursuing around the edge – but the shortest distance between two points is a straight line between wherever Aaron Donald lines up and wherever Russell Wilson lands on his ass. So, stocking this position group is of utmost importance! I’m happy that the Seahawks are taking this as seriously as they are.

With Fant in the fold as a third tackle, the Seahawks are as strong across the offensive line as they’ve ever been. I would argue the Seahawks are as good as any team in the league at this spot! Who would’ve thunk it even a year ago?

The Seahawks Signed A Kicker, Earl Thomas Signed With Baltimore, And Other Stuff Happened

I didn’t really intend on writing a new Seahawks Free Agency Tracker post every single day this week, but shit happens (specifically in the NFL, and specifically not in the other major sports).

Remember when the Seahawks had a 2018 kicking competition between Jason Myers and Sebastian Janikowski? Remember when both players were about the same through the first however many weeks of the pre-season, and I argued that the Seahawks should keep the younger, cheaper guy over the fucking 40 year old, if all things were equal? Remember how the Seahawks opted to keep the fucking 40 year old while Myers signed on with the Jets and made the AFC’s Pro Bowl team?

Well, Janikowski’s gone – felled by an injury in his final game – and Myers is back, only this time on a 4-year deal worth upwards of $4 million per year. Considering Myers was destined to be a free agent either way, and since we weren’t one mediocre kicker away from winning a Super Bowl, I guess you could say the decision Pete Carroll made last year isn’t the WORST move he’s ever made. But, we could’ve saved a lot of time and agita if we’d just done the right thing the first time.

What sucks, obviously, is the cost. No more going cheap on the placekicker, which I suppose is a smart thing to do, but is Myers worth the investment? His three seasons with Jacksonville revealed a booming leg with plenty of flaws. While his lone season with the Jets is promising – 33/36, including 6/7 from 50+ – was it a fluke? Kickers, like relievers in baseball, tend to be pretty volatile from year to year. On top of that, it’s not like we have a good handle on how he’d perform in the thick marine air of Seattle. At least, you’d think, he faced his fair share of elements kicking in New York, but we’ll see how good he is on the west coast.

Ultimately, this looks like an upgrade over 2018, which is really all I’m asking for out of this offseason. Improve at as many spots as possible, and let’s get this Wild Card team into a playoff BYE week situation!

***

In other news, Earl Thomas signed a 4-year, $55 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Obviously, this is good for him – as he gets considerably more than I would’ve given him, and more than the Seahawks were willing to fork over – and probably good for the Ravens. I’m just not a believer in the passing ability of Lamar Jackson, and don’t think they’re a viable Super Bowl contender with him being mostly a running back; but at least their defense is jacked. Maybe they can pull off a Trent Dilfer 2.0 thing, if indeed their D is dominant enough.

Pierre Desir found a home in Indianapolis recently, and this off-season they rewarded him with a 3-year extension. Pretty good for a guy who’s built in the Seahawks Cornerback mold, and a guy we discovered first. Look at the league getting fat off our sloppy seconds!

Mychal Kendricks looks like he’s coming back on a $4 million deal; that’s exciting! It’s, of course, contingent on him being able to play football and not wallowing in prison, so fingers crossed. If it works out, it’ll be a serious boost to our linebacker room.

A room that got a little fuller with the re-signing of K.J. Wright. This just came down the pike this morning. I have to believe it’s a low-guarantee deal with lots of incentives based on number of games played. In total, I can’t imagine the max value is all that high, but I guess we’ll see. I would think given his age, his recent injury history, and the market for outside non-pass-rusher linebackers, that there weren’t a TON of teams lining up for the Pro Bowler, regardless of how good he is in coverage.

I read that George Fant was given a 2nd round tender, which makes literally all the sense in the world. I read a blog somewhere that opined he wouldn’t be tendered at all, or if he was, it would be an original round (i.e. the lowest one, with no draft pick compensation, since he was undrafted), but that was asinine. If anything, I wondered if we’d place a 1st rounder on him, but this feels more appropriate. It’s win-win for the Seahawks. Either he stays, and our O-line depth gets a boost, or some team blows him away with a deal and gives us a 2nd round draft pick in compensation. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what the Seahawks were angling for all along with this move. With three starting-calibre offensive tackles on the roster, you’d think we’d opt for the draft capital.

Finally, a little OOOOOLLLLLDDDDD Seahawks news: Brandon Mebane re-upped with the Chargers for two more years. As the oldest-drafted Seahawk (2007), he’s 34 years old and still going strong. Good for him! I’m glad to see some of these old timers still holding it down. Old.

Keeping An Eye On Seahawks-Related Free Agents

The moves are coming fast and furiously, so here’s a quick breakdown of any Seahawks-related signings to date, as well as where certain ex-Seahawks are now calling home.

Mike Davis just signed a 2-year, $6 million deal with the Bears, which feels like a great move for him, a great move for that team, and a solid fantasy football sleeper for anyone who needs a quality all-around back to stash on their bench. The RB room in Seattle was too crowded as it is, and that’s money that can be better spent elsewhere, as far as I’m concerned.

Mark Glowinski isn’t really a RECENT ex-Seahawk, but he did just get extended for 3 years and $18 million with the Colts, which sort of sets part of the market for guards. Might that be something close to what Sweezy and/or Fluker will get? We’ll see.

Frank Clark was obviously franchise tagged recently, and now we play the waiting game. Will he be signed to an extension? Will he be traded? Will he play it out on a 1-year deal? Will he hold out of OTA’s and/or Training Camp and/or the pre-season and/or the regular season? Boy howdy, do I dread the rest of this nonsense.

Sheldon Richardson played a year with the Vikings, and now has signed a 3-year deal with the Browns, so his career is going great.

Shamar Stephen just signed to return to the Vikings on a 3-year, $12.45 million deal. At best, he made no real positive impact last year; at worst, he helped drag down this team’s run defense to its lowest depths in the Pete Carroll era. Nothing about his signing makes any sense, but more power to the Vikings, I guess.

The inside linebacker market has exploded this year, which doesn’t DIRECTLY involve any Seahawks-adjacent players, but indirectly sets the market for what Bobby Wagner will be demanding next year. So, that’s fantastic.

Justin Coleman made the biggest splash so far among the ex-Seahawks, signing in Detroit for 4 years and $36 million, in becoming the highest-paid nickel corner in football. The Lions are in the process of signing literally anyone who has ever even looked at a Patriots jersey, so it should only be a matter of time before they’re in the market for a new rub n’ tug joint in the Miami area.

No word on Earl Thomas yet (other than some rumors he’s headed to Cleveland), but a couple safeties have already signed their big-money deals, and there are plenty more available safeties where that came from. I’m seriously beginning to wonder if ET will get even close to the money he was banking on.

James Carpenter signed on with the Falcons for 4 years and $21 million. He’s made a nice chunk of change for himself after his rookie deal with the Seahawks expired lo those many years ago.

Much more closer to home is the news last night that J.R. Sweezy signed a 2-year deal with the Cardinals, so that’s a bummer. Money’s looking a little tigher around Seahawksland than once thought! I also guess this means one of the younger guys will be slated to step up into a starting role. This could get dicey.

Finally, before anything else happens, Brett Hundley signed a 1-year deal with the Cardinals to be their backup. He got $2 million for his trouble, which is obviously more than the Seahawks should be willing to pay (especially considering they already brought in Paxton Lynch). The fact that the Seahawks traded a 6th round pick for a guy who never played a snap for us is pretty galling to most fans out there. It’s not that we don’t understand the logic behind the move; it’s that we disagree with the logic employed. I’m with most other Seahawks fans out there: if Russell Wilson goes down for the season, then I want to tank AS HARD AS POSSIBLE. The fact that the people in charge don’t agree is troubling to say the least.

This Felix Hernandez Thing Feels Like It’s Going To Go Sour In A Hurry

This thing has been bad for a while now. Obviously, it stems from the simple fact that Felix Hernandez’s stuff just isn’t what it used to be. Part of that is overblown. People make it sound like Felix was throwing 94 mph smoke as recently as two years ago, but he hasn’t been THAT Felix for a while now. He wasn’t even THAT Felix when he won his Cy Young Award in 2010! Even then, he was barely scraping by on 91 or 92 mph fastballs, but his changeup was so unhittable that it didn’t even matter that there was hardly any difference in speeds between the two.

That’s what’s so frustrating about the narrative around Felix’s decline of late, that almost everyone gets wrong. It’s not the quality of his stuff that’s changed, it’s the accuracy behind it, and the simple fact that the book on him has been figured out. Lay off the changeup, because he rarely ever throws it for strikes. Wait him out on the fastball, then pound it into submission. He can get by on a pretty good curveball to make people look foolish a time or two, but eventually he’s going to run into a bad inning. It’s just a matter of getting him out of there before he can do too much damage to himself.

Maybe it starts with a bad call from the ump. A blown called third strike that keeps an at-bat alive, long enough to see that batter walk because Felix will do a lot out there, but give in isn’t one of them. He’s not going to throw you a 3-2 fastball in the zone when he can try to fool you with his bread n’ butter changeup. Only, like I said, guys aren’t falling for that line anymore.

Or maybe it starts with a booted ball in the infield. Felix does his job, gets them to hit it at someone, but Kyle Seager has it go off his glove. Seager seemingly makes that play 9 times out of 10, but for whatever reason, when Felix is on the mound, the ball finds a hole in his glove.

Maybe it’s a bloop that drops carefully into No Man’s Land. Maybe it’s a seeing-eye grounder up the middle past two diving middle infielders. Maybe it’s a line-drive rocket off of Felix’s hip. Or, maybe it’s a matter of Felix thinking he can steal a quick strike and get ahead in the count. Maybe the book on a certain hitter is that he always takes strike one in his first at bat of the game, except this time the batter flips the script and mashes that two-seamer for a 400-foot blast to left-center to lead off the game.

There’s no telling how exactly it’s going to happen, but it happens just about every single game now. The Unravelling. In the good ol’ days, Felix would find a way to bulldog his way to 6 or 7 innings, limiting the damage to just one or two early runs. Now, he’s lucky to finish his final inning without giving up a matching number of runs. He usually at least figures out a way to string some zeroes together, but there’s almost always that one crooked number that severs the artery and sends his performance to the morgue.

He can’t be trusted to be what he was. He’s reduced to being this team’s #5 starter. His streak of Opening Day starts is slated to end this year, with Marco Gonzales set to make the first start in Japan next week. We’re famously in the final year of his contract that sees him making $27 million, and at this point we probably shouldn’t even count on him seeing it through to the end.

Jerry Dipoto and Scott Servais were brought in prior to the 2016 season and they’ve literally never seen Great Felix. He’s been good at times – mostly in that very first year – but never really great. Not like he was. In that sense – and many others – they don’t have the ties to Felix that we, the fans, do. Sure, it’s hard to move on from a local legend, not the least of which because he makes a prohibitive amount of money and has a full No Trade Clause. At this point, with the relationship as soured as it is on both sides, I’m sure he’d be as willing to waive that clause just as the team would be willing to take on whatever cash it would take to get him in another environment. You have to figure, the only reason why he’s still here isn’t some obligation to the type of fan who only clings to the old timers like he and Ichiro and the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr., but because no other team would have Felix in this current incarnation. MAYBE, if he flashes some of that old swagger for long enough in the early portion of this season, some playoff-starved team with pitching issues might take a flier on a rejuvenated vet. But, I wouldn’t count on it.

I can already see how this is going to end. It’s not with some triumphant return to glory. It’s not by the Mariners saving a few shekels or weaseling a low-level prospect away from another team. It’ll happen sometime in late April or early May. It’ll follow yet another disaster of a start. He won’t be offered a role in the bullpen; he certainly won’t transition into a full time closer like so many erstwhile greats before him. He won’t be granted a stint on the Injured List to clear his head or give some arm “injury” a chance to heal.

He’s going to be DFA’d.

He’ll be dropped to the wolves, he’ll find no takers for his salary as it’s currently constructed, and the Mariners will end up paying all but a pro-rated veteran’s minimum as some other also-ran gives him a change of scenery to see if there’s anything left in the tank. And the 33 year old baseball player will throw his first pitch for an organization outside of the Mariners’ purview since he turned 16 years of age. Think about THAT; he’s been with the Mariners’ organization longer than he HASN’T been with the Mariners’ organization. It’s going to be weird and depressing and ultimately a relief.

I hope he never leaves. But, failing that, I hope he leaves as soon as possible, finds success with another team, and gets his first-ever start in the post-season. I hope he finds a way to move on and I hope we find a way to move on. Regardless, I’ll be rooting for him every step of the way.

I’m a Felix Hernandez fan first, and a Mariners fan second. I’m one of a dying breed around these parts. I’ll cherish every moment like it’s my last, because at any moment it very well could be.

Should The Seahawks Trade Frank Clark?

It kinda hit me not too long ago. On paper, it looks like the Seahawks have a lot of cap room to wheel and deal, but in reality they’ve got a lot of money tied up in players currently on the roster, and a lot of the free money we’ve got is earmarked to re-sign or extend players – again – currently on the roster. Sweezy and Fluker. Justin Coleman. An early extension for Jarran Reed before it costs us a mint to keep him around. And, of course, our all-world quarterback, among others. For a 10-6 wild card team that lost in the first round of the playoffs and never seriously contended for a division title, how exactly are the Seahawks supposed to better themselves? Particularly when there’s only 4 draft picks to play with, one of which will need to be traded down multiple times to hopefully get a normal allotment of choices.

Heading into this offseason, the Seahawks’ number 1 priority – and my number 1 priority FOR the Seahawks – was to extend Frank Clark. But, considering we’re going into the final year of Russell Wilson’s latest deal, and considering what the going rate is for a premiere defensive end, is it smart to have two guys taking up such a large percentage of the team’s cap? Wilson’s going to be angling for $35-$40 million per year as it is; should we also have a second guy getting $20 million per year? Even with the salary cap going up every year, that seems like a ridiculous figure.

At the same time, unless this team is sold on some rookie who’s the second coming of Patrick Mahomes, I don’t see any way this team can rid itself of Russell Wilson without setting the franchise back a decade or more. So, that leaves us with the option of trading away Frank Clark.

As things stand now, he’s already been franchised. That’s over $17 million for this one year alone. A second tag comes with, what, a 10% raise? Then, a third tag is a prohibitive amount of money beyond that. So, that’s sort of the baseline, and you’ve got to try to find a way to pay off his sense of security. Frank Clark doesn’t seem like he’s going to be afraid of the injury bug shortening his career; he’s willing to take this thing to the mat like more and more players are doing nowadays. Which is obviously well within his rights and probably a smart thing to do. He wants to get to real free agency, where his ultimate value is open to the highest bidder, because the lifespan of a professional football player is so short, and you’ve got to get yours while the getting’s good.

My question is: is he worth it?

Don’t get me wrong, Frank Clark is great. He started off his career pretty good, and he’s gotten better every year. I think he’s also got a lot of great years to come. I think we’ll see tremendous production out of him for at least the next 4-5 years. But, is he one of the 5 best defensive ends in the game? Is he 17-times better than someone we could select in this year’s draft?

I would argue it’s in the Seahawks’ best interests to trade him for a bevy of draft picks – ideally two first rounders, but at least a first, a third, and a sixth or something – and use that money and those picks to re-stock the team. Try to fill the Frank Clark-sized void with two or three guys.

More and more, I’m coming around to the thinking: is this something the Patriots would do? I think, without question, the Patriots never would’ve franchise tagged Clark, or if they did, it would be for the express purposes of trading him to a willing sucker for more draft picks. Or, at the very least, they’d find a way to pay him under the table like they’re doing for Tom Brady.

The point is, you have to keep emotions out of it when you’re making personnel decisions. And you can’t have too much money tied into too few guys. The Patriots would never give a guy like Frank Clark a max contract; instead they’d wait for someone like Michael Bennett to become available, trade a low-round draft pick for him, and pay him significantly less to get pretty close to the same production.

Now, of course, all that being said, it looks like the Seahawks are going to do whatever it takes to make Clark happy. It’s not the first time they’ve done something I thought was a mistake, and they’ve consistently proven me wrong time and time again. So, I’ll be curious to see how the dumpster diving goes for the rest of this off-season, as the team tries to improve over last year’s surprisingly positive record.

Then again, the Rams have already made a few moves to better themselves in what we thought would be an impossible cap situation. So, maybe it’ll all be pointless and we’ll be fighting for yet another wild card spot.

The Huskies Are 1 Win Away From Their Best Conference Record Since The Tippy Dye Era

Who’s Tippy Dye, you ask? If that sounds like a name from a million years ago, you’re not too far off. Back in 1953, the Huskies – then a member of the Pacific Coast Conference with the likes of Cal, the Oregon schools, Stanford, the SoCal schools, Wazzu, and Idaho – finished a robust 15-1 in conference play, en route to a 28-3 overall record. The NCAA Tournament looked a lot different back then, with only 22 teams involved. That Huskies team beat Santa Clara and Seattle U to reach the Final Four, before losing to Kansas (who would go on to lose the National Championship game to Indiana). For some reason, they included a Third Place game, where the Huskies beat LSU to achieve their best-ever finish in program history.

Getting back to the original premise, the Huskies have never had a better finish in conference play since. In 1984, the Dawgs lost three regular season games (ultimately reaching the Sweet 16), the best Romar teams still managed to lose four Pac-10/12 games. But, today, after beating the Beavs last night in overtime, 81-76 (and, of course, after taking down Stanford last Sunday, 62-61), the Huskies stand at 15-2, with one game to go (this Saturday, vs. the Ducks).

How far will THIS team go in the NCAA Tournament? I can’t wait to find out!

Joe Lunardi still has us as an 8-seed, in the West, all set to play Gonzaga in the second round if we make it that far. I still find it hard to stomach that we’d have to play the Zags in the second round – considering we’d be the only two schools in the Pacific Northwest in the Tourney, plus the fact that we already played one another earlier this season – but I do find it VERY interesting that he has us matched up against possible 9-seeded Syracuse. How much fun would THAT game be?!

Actually, now that I think about it, probably not that much fun at all. The biggest upside to running a zone like this is that most teams in the Tourney aren’t used to playing against it, so if things break right and you make shots, you can go pretty far even if you’re not so elite. But, Syracuse knows the zone backwards and forwards!

No no no, Lunardi better not be right about this. I want no part of his bracket coming true.

I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this recently; ever since we lost to Cal last week. The worst-case scenario is finishing with an 8/9 seed; you’d rather actually be the 10-seed if anything, considering the level of talent between the 7/10 teams isn’t too disparate. If that’s the case, here’s what I hope happens: the Huskies beat the Ducks to secure the at-large bid without a shadow of a doubt (also: Fuck The Ducks). Then, proceed to lose their first game in the Pac-12 Tournament to some garbage team. That should leave a bad-enough taste in the mouths of the committee to drop us down to 10, or even 11.

Honestly, an 11-seed might even be better than a 10-seed! We’d play a 6-seeded team, which won’t be remarkably better than the Huskies. Then, that sets us up for a second round matchup with a 3-seed (or a 14-seed if all hell breaks loose). Plus, making the Pac-12 regular season champion an 11-seed should put a pretty big chip on our shoulders. Considering this will be our first Tourney appearance with this group of players, I think we could use all the help we could get.

My rationale behind this type of thinking is that even if we win out, and even if we somehow manage to play both Arizona schools en route to a proper Pac-12 championship, I still don’t think it’s going to be enough to get us to a 6-seed. That loss to Cal REALLY screwed the damn pooch! There aren’t enough words to describe how bad that team has been this year. Heading into that game, you could make a legitimate case that the Huskies – while not having a quality win on the resume – at least never had a bad loss. Now, they’ve got one of the worst losses you can possibly imagine, and still zero quality wins. The first game this Husky team wins in the NCAA Tournament will be the first win this Husky team has against a Tournament opponent this season (unless one of the non-ASU teams in the Pac-12 somehow wins the conference tourney). So, even winning out, this feels like a 7-seed at the very best; at this point, I’ll take my chances being a promising underdog 11-seed.

The Huskies Are Somehow The Only Team Not To Sweep The Cal Golden Bears 2019

What if I told you that I owned anywhere from 18-21 pairs of the same brand of boxer shorts by Hanes? And let’s say the vast majority of them were either black or shades of gray, with three of them being this reddish/maroon color. Now, what if I told you that I have this pet theory where whenever I wear the reddish/maroon boxers, the sports team I like loses that day? You’d probably immediately start poking holes in my theory, like so many holes worn into these boxers I’ve had for years and years.

For starters, it’s not like the teams I root for are undefeated when I wear the boxers with shades of black or gray! And, I HAVE to believe there’s been a point where the red boxers have seen victory and I just don’t remember. But, I’ll tell you, lately I’m beginning to wonder. I’ve wondered so much that I’ve kept track throughout the Pac-12 conference season. Can you guess which two days I’ve worn the maroon boxers that coincides with a Husky gameday?

Look, it’s not my fault! If there was ever a day to disprove a theory, it was yesterday! The Cal Bears were 0-15 in conference play! They are the single worst Power 5 basketball team in the entire country! This was my chance to break the curse!

Instead, it appears I’ve only reinforced the bad mojo in these reddish boxers. I can’t bring them with me to Reno in three weeks; I just can’t!

Thankfully, I didn’t bother to stay up and watch. Because who needs that noise? On a night where David Crisp came up huge with 32 points, and a night where Jaylen Nowell did everything he could to pull us out of the fire (22 points, 8 boards, 5 assists), the defense was a God-damned trainwreck. Cal shot 55.6% from the floor and 53.3% from long range. From the sound of things, the Huskies were as lethargic as they’ve ever been, and if Crisp didn’t have the game of his life, this one would’ve been severely ugly.

So, I guess we can forget about 17-1 and running the table through the conference tourney. Not that we can’t achieve 16-2 and still run the table, but this loss is as bad as it gets. If there was ever a glimmer of a hope of landing on the 4-line in the NCAA Tournament, that’s over. I would argue that even the 5-line is off the table, which is probably for the best, because if there was ever a 12-seed to upset a 5-seed, it would be the team that got to face the Huskies. At this point, winning out MIGHT get us a 6-seed, but I won’t be holding my breath. This team still has another loss or two in it; the 8/9 game is on the horizon.

We all probably should’ve seen this coming, right? I mean, maybe not Cal, but also maybe Cal. This is the usual stupid type of game even the best teams in the conference lose from time to time. What’s surprising is that this hasn’t happened more often. The ASU game was a logical defeat on the road against a Tourney-ish team. To have only lost one bad game (so far) is still pretty remarkable.

But, let’s not make this a trend.

The Huskies Swept The Buffaloes 2019

Another game, another sweep of an inferior Pac-12 foe. This time, the Buffaloes met their maker, as the Huskies’ defense was overwhelming in a 64-55 victory.

Matisse Thybulle was once again the catalyst, with 17 points, 6 steals, 5 blocks, and 3 boards. Nowell and Crisp also finished with double-digit points.

In the end, the Huskies forced 19 turnovers and limited the Buffs to 41.5% shooting (only 30.8% from three). Colorado was able to sort of hang around, but the Huskies stretched their lead out heading into halftime, and just after the break. Suspect shooting from the Dawgs ultimately kept this game closer than it needed to be, but in the end it was a comfortable victory never REALLY in doubt.

Final road trip of the regular season, to the Bay Area schools this week. A chance to complete two more season sweeps before the final homestand against the Oregon schools. Then, the fun beings in earnest.