Seattle Sports Has Four New Head Coaches This Year

How will they all do? Who will succeed and who will fail?

Well, on a long-enough timeline, they all fail, don’t they? Except for the very extreme minority who get to go out on their own terms. But, success can be defined any number of ways, so let’s get into it.

The Seahawks, the Kraken, Husky football, and Husky basketball have all had to replace their head coaches for one reason or another. The Seahawks needed to move on from one of those success stories, probably a year or two beyond when was appropriate. The Kraken took a step backwards in their third season of existence, and have never really looked like they were well-coached. Husky football has tried to recover from the potentially-devastating loss of Kalen DeBoer after making a run at the national championship. And Husky basketball will be trying to recover from an extended run of incompetence (thanks to a contract they could ill-afford to get out from under until now). There are all sorts of different reasons teams move on from a coaching staff, but for the most part, the reason is: we want improvement.

The Seahawks had grown stagnant over the last decade, after making back-to-back Super Bowls; they needed a fresh voice and a total reset.

The Kraken never really seemed to get the most out of their players, particularly on offense. Which is funny to say, because in the 2022-2023 season, the offense was more-or-less fine, and we made the playoffs as a result. But, the step-back in 2023-2024 only solidified the fact that this team wasn’t making any progress. The young players weren’t developing, the scheme on offense never really took shape, they never improved in the areas they’ve always struggled (even in their playoff season, they sucked on power plays and in face-offs). This is a team that was built to succeed from within. Yet, the guys we’ve drafted a the top of the first three drafts haven’t done much of anything. That needs to change in the next couple years, or there will be a much bigger housecleaning coming. Getting the most out of the players we have is paramount; it’s less of a total reset, but still very much a fresh voice needed.

Husky basketball has been in need of a total makeover for a while now, but as I mentioned above, they were financially unwilling to take the hit needed to get rid of Mike Hopkins, until now. This is the biggest rebuilding job of the four, and yet it doesn’t feel as dire. Just because things are SO low for this program; there’s nowhere to go but up. We need a coach who knows how to recruit in this new era of college athletics. We need a coach who can take that successful mid-major mentality and carry it over into the power conference we’re joining. We need someone who’s adept at connecting to this relative hotbed of a basketball community, while at the same time able to bring in players from around the country, both developing them and getting them to gel as a unit. If it leads to a return to the Tourney, great. But, I would settle for baby steps. Just be fun to watch again!

Husky football arguably has the toughest rebuilding job of the bunch, because of all the players we lost – both to the NFL and the transfer portal – and because of the way we were left in the lurch by DeBoer. This is a team that can only go DOWN, at least in the short term. But, our new coach is tasked with trying to rebuild on the fly, to at least bring this team up to a competent level, and hopefully get us back to contending for conference titles and national championships sooner rather than later.

Oddly enough, I have the MOST confidence in Jedd Fisch with the Husky football team. It’s not that I necessarily think he’s the best coach or smartest guy or anything. I just think he’s a guy on the rise, we’re getting him at the absolute perfect time in his career, and he’s STARVING to both do well here and move on as quickly as possible to a better program. He’s the best Used Car Salesman we’ve ever had in Seattle; he’ll be able to extract the money we need to buy the players we need to bounce back in a hurry. I give him two glorious, better-than-expected years. If we don’t win it all in that time, I still think he will have done enough to earn a promotion elsewhere. That second year will really be the good one, I think. At the very least, look for the Husky football team to be in the 2025 Big Ten Championship Game, if not winning it and making it back to the playoffs.

I think I have the least amount of confidence in Danny Sprinkle, but that says nothing about him, and everything about the Husky basketball program. By all accounts, Sprinkle is great, and like Fisch, a guy on the rise who we’re getting at the exact right time. If I were to believe in Fisch as much as I do, I have no reason to doubt Sprinkle, who might not be quite the shyster, but is just as motivated to parlay this into bigger and better things. I just don’t think Husky basketball is ever going to be more than an occasional Tournament participant, and a Sweet 16 team once in a blue moon. It’s cool and all that we were able to sign Great Osobor to the highest free agent contract in college basketball history (or whatever the fuck we’re calling it, under the guise of NIL), but I’ve seen tons of elite-looking basketball recruits sign here. Only to accomplish nothing until they left after one season and turned pro.

Dan Bylsma, the new Kraken head coach – after his promotion from our Coachella Valley affiliate – is the biggest wild card to me, mostly because I know very little about hockey, and what makes a good NHL coach. He has prior NHL coaching experience; seems like a good thing. He also has experience coaching a lot of our younger players at Coachella Valley, which I feel like is a great thing. With the success that team has had, and their ability to score the way they have, it seems like he should be a perfect fit here. Someone to actually get the most out of these players. Someone who will hopefully turn Matty Beniers and Shane Wright into monsters. Someone who can jumpstart this offense while still getting the most out of our defense. I’m a fan of the hire, but obviously we’ll know a lot more once the games start this fall.

Potentially the most interesting hire of the bunch is Mike Macdonald. He seems like the one with the most potential for greatness, and obviously the one most likely to stick around the longest. If he’s as smart as advertised – if he’s the defensive version of Sean McVay – then we’re talking about a guy who can take us all the way.

It feels pretty rare to have so much coaching turnover happen in the same offseason. That makes this a really pivotal time in Seattle sports. Our lives could be changing drastically for the better … or it’ll just be a lot of the same mediocre bullshit.

The Husky Basketball Team Fired Mike Hopkins, Hired Danny Sprinkle

After a fifth consecutive season landing outside of the NCAA Tournament, and after a losing conference record in four out of the last five years, it was a foregone conclusion that Mike Hopkins would be fired prior to finishing out the last year of his contract. We were at a point in his tenure where the turnover was pretty massive from year to year, there hasn’t been a viable high school recruit since the Romar era, and there was a complete and utter lack of improvement among those who did end up returning. On top of everything else, Hopkins couldn’t even run his signature zone defense anymore, because of that lack of continuity.

It’s been pretty miserable to be a Husky fan, ever since the last remnants of the Romar era won Hopkins his second consecutive Pac-12 Coach of the Year award, in our last season in the NCAA Tournament in 2019. There’s been equal parts hopelessness and delusion, into thinking that whatever scrubs we were able to bring in via the transfer portal would somehow shake out into a winning basketball club. Ultimately, it’s been a consistent lack of consistency, other than the fact that we couldn’t win any big games against quality opponents, and frequently flubbed things up against lower-quadrant teams.

In the end, we had to very nearly run out the string, thanks to the other big coaching blunder we had to pay out, in the form of Jimmy Lake.

Now that the unpleasantness is behind us, let’s welcome Danny Sprinkle! That name sounding like a My Little Pony notwithstanding, it seems like we did good with this hire. He has a 109-50 record in five seasons, across two teams. He turned around a moribund program in Montana State (after two so-so seasons, he took them to the NCAA Tournament as a 14-seed in back-to-back years), then he flipped a Utah State team that returned zero points from its previous season’s roster into an 8-seed this year that beat TCU in the first round, before succumbing to the juggernaut that is 1-seed Purdue.

That’s three NCAA Tournament appearances in a row, for those keeping track at home. We haven’t had three consecutive Tourney appearances since the 2009-2011 seasons!

This, of course, feels like a Kalen DeBoer situation (or a Jedd Fisch situation, for that matter), where Sprinkle is a head coach on the rise, who will look to jump ship at the first opportunity. But, as is our lot in life, you kind of have to hope that’s the endgame, because it means we’ll actually see some NCAA success in the near future. It won’t be a lot of success, of course. But, just getting there feels like half 99% of the battle.

I don’t know where Sprinkle lands on the list of Best New Hires in men’s basketball this year, but it feels like he’s the best of OUR particular options. The former Coug head coach jumped ship to Stanford of all teams, which seems odd considering it sounded like he could’ve had his pick of any number of open jobs (after taking that team into the Round of 32 this year, when nothing was expected of them heading into this season). It’s even more remarkable that the Huskies were able to hire anyone, considering our Athletic Director left us last week to go to Nebraska of all schools (yes, the same AD who has been here for all of 6 months).

While I agree that the next AD needs to be someone with bona fide Husky ties (and not some dick in the yard from Tulane), I’m not buying that noise about Sprinkle potentially being a long-term fit because his dad played here, and because he was born in Pullman. That’s a tenuous fucking grip AT BEST on the reality of the situation. Washington is a Stepping Stone program (unfortunately for Hopkins, it was a stepping stone into a dark fucking abyss). We haven’t found the next Mark Few, so you can get that out of your heads right now.

I’m excited that we got a young and promising head coach who has had a lot of recent success, but my excitement is most certainly tempered. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m not interested in him doing everything he can to retain the players we have currently on our roster, or our assistant head coaches for that matter. I dunno, maybe I should be; maybe all these players need is just some semblance of competence among its head coach to bring in a winning scheme that works. But, this program has been a stone cold loser for half a decade, and I have no loyalty to ANY of these chumps. Sprinkle should do what’s best for Sprinkle, and if that means totally cleaning house, so be it. I’ll take his opinion over anyone else’s. If it were up to me, the assistants on this staff would be updating their resumes; maybe they can see if Seattle U is hiring.

No, In Fact, The Husky Men’s Basketball Team Is Not Good

I can’t remember the last time I was THIS unexcited about a Husky basketball team. Even in 2020, when we finished 5-21; even in Romar’s last year, when we went 2-16 in conference play, I at least watched a handful of games. I at least followed along, reading box scores and whatnot. All I’ve done this season is – once or twice a week – gone on this website and updated the information for our next game. That’s it! I looked at most of the scores, but I couldn’t even be bothered to click for more information.

When I wrote my previous Husky basketball post, we had just defeated Gonzaga. There was at least some semblance of legitimacy to the question poised in the title of that post. We’ve seen so so-looking teams come around towards the tail-end of the non-conference schedule, to go on a tear in conference play. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to truly gel. Sometimes a big win over a ranked opponent can propel you to new heights.

Or, sometimes, Gonzaga just has a down year – or a down game – and throws everyone off the scent for a little while. But, it’s confirmed. With a sub-.500 record in conference play, and an around-.500 record overall through the regular season, the Huskies are just bad.

You might be able to argue they’re bad, but also fun to watch. I couldn’t argue that, because I haven’t watched more than a few minutes this season; but YOU could, if you want. All I know is that they’re not even interesting-enough for me to make the effort to remember when their games are on. It costs me almost nothing to watch! And yet, nope.

And we all know why. It’s the program dragging Mike Hopkins’ withered carcass across a third straight lame duck year of his inflated contract. By all rights, he should’ve been fired after that 2021 season, yet here we are. We’re technically on the hook for another $3.2 million for the 2024/2025 season, but by all accounts the University of Washington should be fiscally sound-enough to fire him and hire someone else.

That being said, it’ll be interesting to see where we go from here. On the one hand, we’re heading to the Big Ten and it would be nice to make a good first impression. On the other hand, college basketball is so supremely fucked, and the Huskies are in about the worst spot you can imagine. Totally irrelevant, with no holdover from year to year, and I can only imagine fan apathy is at an all-time high. How do you juice up interest? How do you get good players to want to come here? How much do we have left in the coffers after the football program eats its share of the finances?

I don’t know how you fix it, without a total revamp of college football and basketball. Until, quite frankly, the schools get some semblance of control over their situation. I know it’s college and there’s a finite amount of eligibility. But, you can’t have players switching teams every fucking year! That’s no way to drum up interest and keep fans engaged.

And most fans like me aren’t that involved in the recruiting part of the equation. I don’t know these names being thrown around. I don’t know enough of the mid-tier players from other colleges who enter the transfer portal either. It’s all insanity.

The longer it goes like this, the less inclined I’m going to be to stick around and watch anything outside of March Madness. Maybe that’s just the Mike Hopkins-ness of it all talking. Maybe when he goes – and we bring in some fresh blood – it will rejuvenate my interest. We’ll see.

Husky Football Death Week: Kalen DeBoer, Jedd Fisch Poached

I think last week was, hands down, the worst week of my life as a Husky football fan. I mean, other than getting the Death Penalty, I don’t know how you can script a worse seven days.

It starts with us losing in the national championship game to Jim Harbaugh and Michigan of all people/teams. Not only that, but we weren’t even really competitive; we dug ourselves a huge early hole, clawed our way back to being within one score, but repeated mistakes and incompetence prevented us from overtaking them, only to fall apart in the fourth quarter and lose by multiple scores.

Then came the wave of seniors leaving (Michael Penix and the like), followed by the wave of predictable stars leaving who still had eligibility (Polk, Odunze, Johnson, and the like), followed by the wave of surprise people declaring for the draft, along with a smattering of new transfers opting to go elsewhere. Pretty standard stuff, all things considered, and nothing I wasn’t prepared for emotionally. The Huskies had spent the fall and winter going after some pretty heavy hitters in the transfer portal, so I figured while a 2024 downturn might be expected, there would also still be some hope that it wouldn’t be a total and complete collapse. With this coaching staff, maybe we find a way to claw to 9 or 10 wins next season. Something respectable, while we reload for another playoff run in a couple years.

It all started to go hopelessly south when Nick Saban announced his retirement. OF COURSE he would have to retire the same year Washington makes a surprise run for the championship, so Alabama would have his readymade replacement right there for the stealing. Name me a hotter college football coach than Kalen DeBoer; you can’t do it. Not even Deion Sanders is up there on his level.

Those days were bad, because as a Husky fan, all I’m doing is PRAYING that we go over the top with a deal that can’t be beat. Or, at the very least, would send Alabama looking elsewhere. But, it was all pointless. The same agent for DeBoer was also the agent for every other highfalutin head coaching candidate, who was able to leverage the Alabama opening to get his guys raises with their current teams. Everyone but Washington’s guy, naturally. Because he wasn’t going to be Washington’s guy anymore. Washington can go fuck themselves.

As soon as DeBoer was announced to be Nick Saban’s successor, the deluge of Huskies entering the transfer portal was as dizzying as it was depressing. Everybody you could think of suddenly wanted out, even guys who’d spent mutliple years here (like Asa Turner, over the past 5 seasons). No shock that the new incoming transfers suddenly decided to change their minds, but it was all so sudden and so relentless. We were a rickety raft made of bundled-together twigs and the college football universe just lobbed a massive cannonball right in the middle.

I don’t even remember what head coaching names were being bandied about, but it doesn’t matter, because none of them are even remotely inspiring. Ultimately, we landed on Jedd Fisch, the head coach from Arizona, who took the Wildcats to a 10-3 record with a win over Oklahoma in the Alamo Bowl.

Fisch’s only head coaching experience came in three seasons in Arizona (where he finished with a 16-21 record) and two games as interim head coach of UCLA (where he went 1-1).

The positive spin is that he took over a moribund Arizona program, endured a 1-11 first season with a bunch of terrible holdovers from the previous regime, improved to 5-7 in year two, before finally making the leap in 2023 to be the third-best team in a very good final Pac-12 conference. Making Fisch a head coach on the rise, who we’re getting at the exact perfect time to capitalize on his abilities.

The negative spin is that he lacks extensive head coaching experience. He lacks experience in running a football program, let alone one that has aspirations to be among the national elites. Anyone can luck into a double-digit win season when nobody sees you coming (and you don’t even have to play Oregon), but now you’re joining the team that finished 2023 #2 in the nation. Now you’ve got to stem the tide of suffering we’ve endured over the last week, try to retain as many players as you can, and somehow mold this team into something resembling a winner in our first season in the Big Ten.

If your glass is half full, maybe you see this as a similar outcome to what happened when we hired DeBoer. No one thought much of him coming out of Fresno State (even though, to that point, he had EXTENSIVE head coaching and program-building experience). But, if your glass is half empty (like mine), what are the odds lightning is going to strike twice? What are the odds we hire the best up-and-coming head coach two times in a row?

Also, even if we see the best case scenario come to fruition, that just means we’re going to be in this position again in two more years, when Georgia or Auburn or Florida comes sniffing around our campsite. It’s distressing that Jedd Fisch hadn’t even officially gotten the job and we were already talking about how he’d never stayed anywhere for more than two years, and is clearly always on the hunt for his next opportunity. There’s no WAY he’s sticking here long term, unless he sucks, and then we’re stuck with Mike Hopkins 2.0.

I hate all of this. I’m so disillusioned. Just when you think Washington has turned a corner. Just when you let yourself dream big, that maybe we can be the next Oregon, or Clemson, or Georgia, or Ohio State. If we can find a way to keep everything intact, this could be one of those dynasty programs that plays and recruits on a national level for the next couple decades. My biggest worry before this week was wondering what we were going to do when Ryan Grubb eventually took a job elsewhere, since he – at this point – seems overqualified to be a head coach somewhere.

Instead, Grubb announced that he had his hat in the ring, but Washington turned HIM down to be their next head coach. I’ll be honest, he would’ve been my first choice. It’s SO rare to have a competent – let alone an ELITE – offensive coordinator in college football. If we could’ve, at least, kept our offensive system intact, maybe the hit isn’t quite so hard to this program. Maybe we convince some of the portal guys to return. Maybe he partners with an up-and-coming DC and they take what he learned from DeBoer about running a program and keeps up the winning ways.

But, I understand the risk too. We JUST went through the first-time coach saga with Jimmy Lake, who was as up-and-coming as it got, only on the defensive side of the ball. I dunno, though. Is Fisch really that much of a step up from Grubb? I guess we’ll see.

Now what does this mean? We’re getting a bunch of Arizona transfers? I gotta root for a bunch of former Wildcats? Also, again, what happens in two years when these players move on and it’s time for Fisch to show what he can do on his own? Did he get lucky with his one great season down there? Or does he actually have what it takes to sustain success?

I’m not going into this next period of Husky football with a lot of hope and passion. Maybe things will change once I see how the team is being built. Maybe we’ll get some good-looking players to come in and I’ll get excited again. But, for now, I’m in a period of deep mourning.

Silly me, I had hoped DeBoer might be different. I had hoped he might want to set some roots down up here, rather than chase the easy payday down in the SEC. I had hoped he’d be interested in being the next Nick Saban for Washington, rather than following in his footsteps down there. It would mean so much more to do it for the Huskies. You’d be a legend; hell, you already kind of were! You turned this team around in two short years and led us to the championship game! You could do no wrong after that; except break our hearts.

In Alabama, it’s going to be different. If you don’t immediately take them back to the championship game, you’re going to have heat. You’re going to have boosters and fans so far up your ass, you won’t be able to shit right ever again. Washington was the cool, flashy, fun program in the northwest that everyone could enjoy. Alabama is the fucking Empire, and this is the moment where Anakin becomes Darth Vader. Sad, predictable, and poorly written (just like every disingenuous speech DeBoer has given since being hired away; I don’t believe for one moment he ever gave two shits about Washington).

But, the thing is, Jedd Fisch doesn’t give two shits about Washington either. That’s not what this is about anymore. It’s about getting mine while the getting’s good. As Washington fans, we have to hope we get ours while Fisch is still here in the next year or two. Otherwise, it’s either On To The Next (if he still finds success and jumps to a bigger program), or When Can We Get Rid Of This Fucking Guy (if he’s just mediocre and tainted to the point where any move would be lateral or worse).

Why do we even have contracts anymore? Like, what’s the point of teams requesting an opportunity to interview YOUR head coach to be THEIR head coach? I understand it somewhat if you’re interviewing a coordinator to be a head coach, that’s a promotion. But, did Washington actually have to give permission? If so, why did we do that? Fuck DeBoer, make him stay and finish out his deal! And if we didn’t have to do that, then what’s the point in even asking? What’s with the fake diplomacy or whatever?

It’s all so stupid.

Is The Husky Men’s Basketball Team Good?

I’m legitimately asking. I’ve seen very little of this team so far this year.

It’s been kind of hard to be a Husky basketball fan the last four seasons. We last made the NCAA Tournament in 2019; prior to that it was 2011. That’s one legitimate post-season berth in the last twelve seasons. The Mike Hopkins era started off with a bang, with him winning back-to-back coach of the year awards. Since then? Since Romar’s players moved on and he was left on his own? Diddly.

This has also coincided with a massive shift in how college athletics operates, with players getting NIL money, with the transfer portal making it open season on all players, regardless of whether or not they’re formally committed to or even attending another university. It’s been nothing but a complete shuffling of rosters every year. I don’t know how you build a program that way. I don’t know how you incorporate guys into your scheme or develop chemistry. There has to be a way, other schools seem to manage.

The Huskies have hovered around .500 in three of the last four seasons (with the other one being a total bottom-out job). There have been interesting players who’ve come through, but by and large, it’s a lot of inconsistency. We do okay against the bad teams – for the most part – but can’t buy a victory against a ranked opponent to save our lives.

But, that streak ended this past weekend, when the Huskies hosted 7th-ranked Gonzaga, and beat them 78-73. The Zags were favored by 3.5 points, and indeed had an 11-point lead in the second half. But, the Huskies chipped away and prevailed, shocking the college basketball world.

Gonzaga only fell to #10 in the rankings, which goes to show the respect that everyone has for them. This is interesting to me because it’s the first REALLY great win we’ve had in I don’t know how long. It’s one of those kinds of wins you can point to at the end of the season that actually helps our case for making the Tourney.

Of course, we’ll have to see where Gonzaga goes from here. Maybe they’ll have just an okay year. Their only other defeat so far is to Purdue, who is currently 3rd in the nation, and they still have bigtime matchups against UConn and Kentucky, so there’s plenty of opportunity for them to be in their usual spot near the top of whatever bracket they find themselves in.

As for the Huskies, we’re 6-3, with losses to Nevada, San Diego State (both unranked, but in the Others Receiving Votes pile), and Colorado State (currently 17th in the nation). Before beating the Zags, our best win was over Xavier, who is 5-5 and probably not going anywhere. So, to say we needed this win is a huge understatement.

But, will it make a difference? That’s for the rest of the season to decide. Our non-conference schedule ends next week; we have two games left (against Seattle U and Eastern). The only ranked team in the Pac-12 at the moment is #1 Arizona (who we play only once this year, in February on the road). Colorado is currently the 26th-ranked team, with Utah also receiving some votes. For what it’s worth, Washington just got a couple of votes after beating Gonzaga, so I guess people think we’re the 4th-best team in the conference so far.

Are we, though? Keion Brooks returned this year for (presumably) his final year of eligibility. He’s averaging 19.9 points and 7.9 rebounds to lead the team. Sahvir Wheeler, a transfer from Kentucky, is averaging a career-best 16.1 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.6 boards in spite of shooting well below his Kentucky 3-point percentage (25%, down from 36.6% last year). Moses Wood, a transfer from Portland, is averaging 10.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in spite of also being considerably worse from 3-point range (30.6% compared to 40.3% last year). Paul Mulcahy, a transfer from Rutgers, is chipping in 8.5 points, 5.4 assists, and 4.6 boards in 31 minutes per game to round out the regulars.

As for holdovers, Koren Johnson is averaging 9.9 points in 22 minutes. Franck Kepnang returned from missing most of last year due to injury; he’s averaging 7.9 points in just over 18 minutes per game. Braxton Meah has seen his role decrease, but he’s putting up 4.7 points in just under 10 minutes per game. Looks like we’re rolling with a 9-man rotation through non-conference play, more or less. Wilhelm Breidenbach and Anthony Holland round out the group averaging 10 minutes or more per game. I wonder if those last two guys will see their time diminish over the coming weeks and months. Can’t play everyone.

It’s hard to say what we do exceedingly well. We average 82.2 and give up 72.7, but that’s non-conference play, with a lot of cupcakes sprinkled in. We’re 52nd in assists and 78th in rebounds. We’re shooting 47.4, but only 32.5 from three. It’s my understanding that we’ve largely gone away from the zone defense that was Hop’s trademark coming in, which everyone agrees was for the best. I had written this team off before the season as just another .500 nothing, but at least we know they have this in them. You can’t dismiss beating a team like Gonzaga. For that reason alone, I’ll try to give them some attention, at least for a while.

Seattle Sports Hell Goes On His Honeymoon!

The blog will be dark for Thanksgiving week as I will, indeed, be on my honeymoon. Now, I know what you might be thinking: who in their right mind would get married to this jaded, bitter Seattle sports fan with all of his rational and irrational sports insecurities and delusions? Well, it helps that she’s not much of a sports fan! She doesn’t get to enjoy all of the mood swings and obsessiveness of my sports mania, which frankly is probably the best for all involved.

As a result, though, I’m going to miss writing about a pretty pivotal stretch in Seattle sports. The Huskies will play two football games in that span, against a Top 10 Oregon State team, and in a potentially all-important final Apple Cup as a member of the Pac-12 conference. As I wrote about previously, this game against the Beavers – while important, as all college football games are this time of year – isn’t necessarily a Must Win. That being said, you have to win ONE of these next two, to at least guarantee a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not to mention the fact that, as we saw in the latest playoff rankings, the Huskies don’t necessarily command the respect of the top four teams (the top four, as we all know, advance to those playoffs). If Florida State runs the table, if Alabama beats Georgia, and/or if the Ohio State/Michigan game is close, a 1-loss Husky team could find itself on the outside looking in, even if we manage to beat the Ducks a second time. So, you know, it’s tough to say. Maybe this Beavers game IS a Must Win affair. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch it from the cruise ship we’ll be on, but I’m going to try my damnedest.

I will also miss a couple of huge Seahawks games. You could argue – though they lack the importance of either of the Husky games – that these too are Must Win. The Rams, while not likely to be playoff-bound, still are a divisional and conference opponent, which makes it important for tiebreaking purposes. Then, there’s the 49ers on Thanksgiving night; it’s always fun to play on Thanksgiving, and obviously they’re our direct rivals for the divisional crown. I’ll try to at least watch that one, but again, I can make no promises.

There will be a number of Kraken and Husky basketball games going on – two teams I’ve written nothing about in the early going of their respective seasons – during pivotal seasons for their future growth. The Kraken seem to be swirling down the toilet bowl fast and furiously, and it’s fair to wonder where they’ll be by the time I get back. Will Dave Hakstol still have a job? Seems like, the way they’re playing – after an inspirational playoff run last season – he has to be on the hottest of seats. As for Mike Hopkins, his seat has been on fire for the last few years, and this thing feels as hopeless as it’s ever been. Feels like more than anything, we’re just waiting and riding out this string of seasons until it’s less prohibitive to shit-can him and pay off the remainder of his fully-guaranteed salary. With the way this squad turns over every year, there’s really no joy or fun to be had by Washington college basketball – let alone college basketball in general – so I’m hard pressed to say I’ll be missing it, Bob.

And you just know – what with me being on vacation and away from my computer – that the Mariners are poised to make a big move or two, that will rattle this region to its core. The Mariners are always interesting to think about, especially in the offseason, but even moreso when you factor in how they underperformed in 2023.

And that’s not even mentioning how much my fantasy teams affect my day-to-day life. I’ve got some humongous matchups coming up! In one of my leagues, I started out 0-4, biding my time until my studs got healthy (Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, Breece Hall), then I won 3 straight, before dropping the subsequent 3, putting me in a position where I pretty much have to win my last five games (and catch some breaks along the way) just to crack the playoffs. In another league, I’m in pretty good shape – having scored the second most points in the league – but I’m still only in third place at 6-4, and can ill afford to drop too many more winnable games. And, in my main league – that I write about on a weekly basis – I’ve fallen into the Consolation Bracket realm, and am in serious danger of suffering yet another lost season, with no end in sight to my quarterback woes (VERY serious woes when you consider it’s a 2-QB dynasty league).

So, yeah, my mind will still be here, at least in part. But, I’m not going on this honeymoon to try to recreate my sports life. It’s a chance to get away! A chance to be alone with the woman I love! If anything bad happens, so what?! I’m in a Caribbean paradise! But, if anything great happens with the teams I follow, it’ll be all the sweeter.

Until I get back home and am smacked in the face with stupid reality.

Have fun while I’m away. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, you know, do it anyway! Let me know how it goes, maybe I’ll join you.

More Pointless Husky Basketball News

While I refuse to get too “up” for any of these moves I hear about, I certainly believe there’s no limit to how “down” you can be on the Husky basketball program at the moment.

A while back, it was announced that Moses Wood is transferring here from Portland, who is 6’8 and apparently a good 3-point shooter. He’s averaged in the middle teens the last couple years, which is encouraging. But, again, it’s Portland, not exactly a hotbed of high-level basketball play.

This feels like exactly the kind of level of player the Huskies can get at this point, in the transfer portal anyway. I’m assuming he only has one year of eligibility left (which makes sense), and has decided to make the leap to a Power 5 school. The fact that the Huskies are one of the WORST Power 5 schools right now notwithstanding, at least he’s going to a place that desperately needs his game.

We’ll see if he’s any better than these other so-called “good shooters” we’ve brought in. Wood is being touted as a Cole Bajema replacement; couldn’t be worse, right? But, not necessarily the savior we’ve been looking for, to take the program to another level.

Then, it was announced Anthony Holland is coming here; he’s a grad transfer from Fresno State. He’s also supposed to be adept at the long ball, but I’m not holding my breath. He hasn’t even averaged double digits, so what are we supposed to expect from him when he comes to Washington, where we have no offensive gameplan to speak of?

While I was on vacation, it was reported Noah Williams has entered the transfer portal, a year after transferring here from the Cougs. He was hurt most of the season and therefore did jack shit. Since we were counting on him to be one of our main scoring threats and ballhandlers, it was a devastating loss to an already-mediocre squad. Nevertheless, even when he was out there, I never felt much of a positive impact, so I’m not counting this as any sort of big loss.

You’d think Williams would want to stick around, to play a fully healthy season in a place that would be all too happy to feature his talents. But, like I’ve been saying with all the other defectors, how can you blame him for wanting to leave? Either he wants a chance to play for a winner, or he wants to be around a less dysfunctional group/coaching staff.

Hearing about Williams leaving made it all the more surprising when it was announced that Keion Brooks would be coming back. What?! Why?!

Brooks was clearly the best Husky last season. He might not have flashed the potential of a Menifield, but he was a steady scoring leader game-in and game-out. Which, again, makes you wonder why he decided to stick around to play for a lame duck coach who has one viable guard on the team. He’s gotta be getting at least a little money out of the deal, right? Which makes me question why there’s money for Brooks, but not money to fire Hopkins’ ass.

Husky Basketball Is Falling Apart

Now, in all fairness, just because the rats are evacuating this sinking ship that is Husky Men’s Basketball doesn’t mean it’s bad that they’re gone.

Jamal Bey, for instance, is out of eligibility (thank Christ). He was a colossal disappointment for the duration of his Husky career. Langston Wilson has opted to transfer, but he was often foul-prone and never really developed a consistent offensive game. Jackson Grant is also leaving, but he couldn’t crack a weak front court. Tyler Linhardt is apparently a guy who was here, but I know nothing about him since he hardly ever played.

Then, Cole Bajema announced he was leaving, but that feels like addition by subtraction. He’s another supposedly-good three-point shooter who was streaky as all get-out. His good games were SEVERELY outnumbered by the ones where he was anonymous to outright atrocious (you shouldn’t have as many games as he has when he went 0 for 6 or 1 for 7, when you’re supposedly an elite outside shooter). It sounds like P.J. Fuller is also leaving, but with an expanded role, he did exactly zero with the opportunity (after having a solid 2021-2022 season).

And then you’ve got Keion Brooks and Noah Williams, who it sounds like are on the fence. Brooks was easily the best player on last year’s .500 team, but that’s not saying a whole lot. He has one year of eligibility left, and I don’t know why this is even a question. Why on God’s green Earth would he stay at Washington? Why wouldn’t he go somewhere where he actually has a chance to play some Tournament ball? I can sort of see why Williams might stick around; he’s a local kid who spent most of this past season injured. I don’t know if he has any value on the open market right now, unless he wants to go to a smaller school just to play a lot of minutes and fill out his stats. The thing is, if he’s healthy, he’ll have every opportunity to do that here, so why not just stay?

What kills me now, though, is hearing that Keyon Menifield has announced he’s leaving, after recently announcing he was coming back. He was far and away the most promising and exciting player on last year’s squad, and it’s truly devastating that he won’t be back. But, again, I get it. I loved watching him; he was fun as hell on the court. But, he’s never going to win here. He’s not from here. There are no ties whatsoever keeping him a Husky. It’s brutal, but that’s what you get when you refuse to fire a lame duck in Mike Hopkins.

Who does that leave us with? Two okay big men in Braxton Meah and Franck Kepnang (the latter coming off of a serious injury) and Koren Johnson (the other freshman guard who wasn’t quite as good as Menifield, but still looked promising last year). We have a couple of incoming freshman I’m assuming won’t reneg on their committment. And, I guess, we’ll have a whole new slate of underwhelming incoming transfer players no one else in college basketball wanted.

This just sucks. It’s not like I was even remotely excited about Husky basketball next year, but I dunno, at least we would’ve had Menifield. I can only imagine how big of an impact he’ll have in his second full season at the college level. I hope he kills it on his new team. I can totally see him being a star in the Big Dance next year.

Mike Hopkins Will Not Be Fired At This Time

As expected, the Huskies lost in the opener of the Pac-12 tournament. It was the very first game of the set, and I immediately stopped paying attention beyond that moment. *Checks notes* it looks like Arizona defeated UCLA to take the conference crown in a slight upset. Those are easily the best two teams in the Pac though, so don’t be surprised if they go relatively far. I was surprised to see USC as a 10-seed, after their pitiful showing in the conference tourney; I was less surprised to see ASU as an 11-seed play-in team. They’re not great, but they have a great win here and there.

This isn’t about the rest of the conference, though. This is about YOUR 16-16 Washington Huskies. It was announced over the weekend that Mike Hopkins would be returning. Normally, you don’t need to release a statement confirming someone still has his job when he’s got multiple years left on his contract. But, given the discourse of late – and the disappointing results we’ve seen since last making the NCAA Tournament in 2019 – it really felt like the Huskies were set to make a change.

As has been discussed, though, Washington still owes him a combined $6.3 million over the next two seasons. That by itself isn’t enough to dictate inaction, but when you throw in Jimmy Lake’s figure (over $6 million for the next two years), all his fired football assistants (and Hop’s basketball assistants), the cost of a new basketball coaching staff, and all the raises Kalen DeBoer and his staff have received after just one season (not to mention all the NIL money being raised to start paying these players, on the football team especially), there’s only so much a school like Washington can reasonably hope to do.

I wouldn’t call Washington a “mid-major”, but I would say we are a tier between mid-majors and true power five schools. We don’t have the reach of these national programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and the like. We don’t have the fans attending these games, nor do we have the television numbers to even remotely compete. But, we’re not chopped liver either. What we’ve come to terms with is that Washington is a football school. That’s not a knock; it’s not a bad thing. But, we’re NOT a basketball school. We’re not trying to be all things to all sports. We’re (smartly, rightly) putting all of our chips into the football basket. That’s where the bulk of our boosters live, that’s where the bulk of the money in college athletics lives, and that’s where we’ve traditionally made the biggest sporting impact (all apologies to the rowers and whatnot, in the lesser sports who win championships to zero acclaim).

So, the money is going to football. We’re shooting our shot – so to speak – on the football team making a serious run at the playoffs in 2023. And, somewhat as a consequence, we’re letting the basketball program stagnate under Mike Hopkins, either until his contract runs out, or until he becomes cheap enough to be fired without having to eat an unreasonable sum.

I thought the Hopkins debacle was all summed up perfectly over at UW Dawg Pound. I was happy to learn that Jamal Bey is, indeed, done with college basketball. I was a little dismayed to learn that even though he was celebrated on Senior Day, Cole Bajema is planning to return. Also, I find it incredibly interesting to discover we’re looking to convince Keion Brooks to come back.

Langston Wilson entered the transfer portal – to no one’s shock – and there might be others looking to leave. But I really wonder what this team might look like if most-everyone came back. Not that I think we’d be world beaters, or even contenders for the conference title, but it’s been exceedingly rare for a Mike Hopkins team to have any semblance of continuity. He had it in 2019 – again, with mostly holdovers from Romar’s regime – and we actually did something of value for once. Not that I think lightning would strike twice, but you never know.

I want to have strong feelings about the Huskies keeping Mike Hopkins, because I like Husky basketball. I like it when we’re good, when Hec Ed is rocking and rolling, and when we’re making our presence felt on a national stage. Winning that game in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 was a truly magical experience, and I want more of that!

But, I’m just so God damned beaten down. The atrocious Mike Hopkins “offense”. The zone defense that couldn’t catch a cold. His impotent sideline antics. Our piddling assistant coaching staff. Our non-existent local recruiting abilities.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been spoiled as a Husky basketball fan. I jumped on the bandwagon at peak Romar era. Even his most mediocre teams were somewhat interesting. He always had at least one or two interesting guys. And while his offense wasn’t any sort of great shakes, at least he had players with real offensive abilities. Guys who could drive the lane, create for themselves, or kick out to a bevy of three-point shooters.

There’s nothing interesting about the guys Hopkins has brought in, other than Terrell Brown. There’s truly nothing interesting about the transfer portal, now that we know what it really is. It’s just one more way to lose your very best players, while replacing them with lesser rejects who couldn’t hack it on relevant teams.

So, you know, I’ll go through the motions of paying attention to the Huskies when they’re on TV. But, I’m not getting my hopes up. We’ll continue to underwhelm in 2023/2024, and if Hop is still here on a final lame-duck season, that’ll be a disaster of all disasters. This is going to hurt his ability to recruit, his ability to keep our “committed” guys, and probably any chance of putting out a non-embarrassing product on the court. This could get REALLY ugly.

The last thing we wanted after Hopkins won those back-to-back Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards was for him to get poached to a bigger program. Who knew it would’ve been the best possible outcome for all involved? Certainly for us, but also for Hopkins. Ironically, the Syracuse head coaching gig just opened up for next season (for the first time in nearly 50 years). Maybe Hop can one day get hired on to be an assistant again.

This Stupid Husky Basketball Season Is Finally Almost Over

The regular season limped to a close last night, with the Huskies falling 93-84 to the Cougars en route to getting swept in this season’s Apple Cup series. We are 16-15 (8-12 in conference) and it’s now our fourth straight campaign without a post-season berth. We’re currently slotted in as the 8th seed in the Pac-12 Tournament next week, which means at best we could advance to the second round, where we’ll get destroyed by top seeded UCLA. But, I’m expecting we’ll lose in that first round, saving everyone the embarrassment of another double-digit defeat at the hands of the Bruins.

It’s been a VERY discouraging last week or so, as we also had the barn doors blown off of us against Stanford over the weekend. They’re one of the worst teams in the conference, and it’s sad that we couldn’t even put up a fight. There’s no good reason why we should be so mediocre; I find it difficult to pinpoint the reason, that’s for sure. Is it lack of talent? Is it poor coaching/development? Either way, that falls at the feet of Mike Hopkins, in the hottest of seats as he closes out his sixth season. He has two more years left on his deal, earning him $6.3 million.

For those who say, “Easy, fire him and buy him out of his contract,” it’s not exactly so simple. We also just got done paying Jimmy Lake $3.2 million to sit on his ass in 2022. Lake will also earn a combined $6.7 million over the next two years (we’ll see if we get to recoup that in any way, shape, or form as he finds work elsewhere), and that’s not even getting into whatever money we owe his assistants, not to mention the current football coaching staff (who have already gotten raises after one season), nor mentioning the NEW basketball staff that we’ll have to bring in to replace Hopkins.

I understand we’re talking about a university bringing in billions of dollars, and I’m not saying the Huskies should keep Hopkins. But, I would understand if we don’t want to keep compounding bad money decisions.

Here’s the thing, though: Mike Hopkins hasn’t shown he’s capable of doing anything other than win with Romar’s players his first two years here. He hasn’t recruited successfully from the high school ranks (nor does he really seem all that interested in it). He’s largely flopped with the transfer portal, other than lucking into Terrell Brown’s final year of eligibility. He CLEARLY has no idea how to craft a competent offense, other than “let guys shoot jumpers with defenders in their faces” (and, again, he’s failed in actually finding quality shooters to employ this asinine strategy). And his forte – defense, specifically a tricky zone defense – has also largely stunk, other than the two years he had Thybulle running the show (again, a Romar recruit). Here’s a thought: if your zone defense is so difficult to master, that you need multiple seasons of continuity to perfect it, then maybe you shouldn’t get stuck in a swirling toilet bowl of trying to reload the roster via the transfer portal every year.

I’ll say this: the transfer portal is a total disaster. Anyone who’s even remotely worth a damn isn’t IN the transfer portal in the first place. He’s locked himself down on a quality team. These are REJECTS, who couldn’t hack it elsewhere. So, what makes Hopkins think he has the special sauce to gather them all together here and win at a rate necessary to make the NCAA Tournament? We had our best roster in ages in 2021-2022 – with the aforementioned Terrell Brown leading the way – and we still couldn’t win more than 17 games.

The truth of the matter is, on this year’s squad, there was never anyone even close to Brown’s abilities in creating his own shot, leadership, ball handling, or determination to take this team where it needed to go. So, there was no way in hell we were ever going to IMPROVE over last year’s total. It’s, therefore, no surprise we’re at 16 wins and probably done.

Keion Brooks gave it a hell of an effort – averaging a team-high 17.8 points, to go along with 6.9 rebounds, while shooting 43% from the floor – but clearly we needed more around him. Freshman Keyon Menifield was a breath of fresh air, though predictably inconsistent – as you’d expect. Nevertheless, he finished averaging 10 points, 3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Koren Johnson was another promising freshman guard, whose playing time increased as the season went on.

But, this team was also beset with injuries. With the margin for error razor thin, this was the worst-case scenario for the Huskies. Big man Franck Kepnang only appeared in 8 games. Prized transfer Noah Williams has only appeared in 14 games. And apparently P.J. Fuller has been dinged up lately (he’s also been wildly disappointing when he’s been out there, which makes me wonder if he’s been dealing with these injury issues all season).

The bad news is that Brooks has no more eligibility left. The good news is, neither does Cole Bajema or Langston Wilson (who have NOT been worth a damn at all). The worst news I could possibly imagine, though, is that somehow Jamal Bey still has (at least) a year of eligibility left. Will he finally get the hint and transfer? God I hope so. Giving him 26+ minutes a game is the dictionary definition of a Waste Of Time.

Considering college basketball is what it is, I refuse to try to project how the Huskies move forward. I’m guessing we’ll bite the bullet and get Hopkins out of here. The tide has turned among Husky fans to the point that there’s really no salvaging things. Not that I believe it’ll matter. We have 1 NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 12 seasons (and counting). This is not a prime destination for coaches or player prospects.

I’m just glad it’s all almost over. Soon enough, we’ll turn our focus to the Mariners, and everything will be right with the world (is a sentence I never thought I’d write in my adult life).