The Husky Basketball Team Needs To Rebuild In A Hurry

Last I wrote about the Dawgs, I was telling you about how much this team has sucked over the last season and a half. My feelings have not changed since then.

What has changed is the team itself. The Transfer Portal giveth and the Transfer Portal taketh away!

Erik Stevenson was the first domino to drop. We got him just last year as a transfer from Wichita State, so I guess he was another underwhelming One & Done!

Then, the under-used (question mark?) Marcus Tsohonis opted to leave the program. He was an offensive sparkplug in some of the games he played in, but also was total shit offensively in some of the games he played in. Obviously, there were a number of games he either hardly played or didn’t play at all, which ultimately led to his leaving; why he was utilized so is probably due to his defense being lacking. All right.

The Huskies followed this up by getting someone to FINALLY come here, in an international recruit by the name of Samuel Ariyibi. He’s a small forward type with long arms and proficient at defense, with limited offensive abilities. As long as he can do SOMETHING well, I guess I’m okay with it. I’d rather have defense than nothing.

Then, there was the double-whammy of Nate Pryor and J’Raan Brooks leaving the Huskies. I don’t think they did anything, so no big loss there. On the same day, it was announced the Dawgs were bringing in erstwhile highly-touted recruit Terrell Brown, who was a star for Seattle U, then got limited action with Arizona. He could be a centerpiece for the Huskies next season, which is something we’ve sorely needed. As the starting point guard who will almost certainly replace Quade Green, learn all you can about Brown, because we’ll be seeing him a lot.

Finally, RaeQuan Battle opted to leave. I don’t know why this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Husky fans, but dude, he was terrible! Ostensibly, he’s supposed to be this sharp-shooter from long-range, and we built an offense that allowed guys to shoot the three as often as they liked. He had free-rein to shoot and shoot and shoot, and all he did was lay brick after brick after brick! Fuck that. Good riddance. I’m sure he’ll figure it out for his next team, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he totally flamed out. If you can’t improve your jumper after two straight years – especially when that’s ALL that you do – then I’m sorry, but this is not a loss. This is addition by subtraction.

Other than Stevenson – who, again, was just okay – I don’t see the big deal here. None of these transfer guys did a damn thing to help the Huskies win last season. The loss of Green will be a minor blow, but also he was the best of a very bad group, so it’s hard to tell how good he really is. I could shit-can the entire roster and not feel one iota of remorse or ill-will towards Mike Hopkins. Hop is our guy, for better or for worse, at least for the time being.

As the winner of back-to-back Pac-12 Coach of the Year awards, I still think he’s earned the right to try to turn this around. The Transfer Portal is bigger and more robust than ever. There are talented guys out there. He just needs to find an offense and stick with it, and then recruit like hell to get guys who FIT that offense (while, obviously, finding guys who will buy-in and execute his defense). There’s a path back to respectability as early as next season. The Pac-12 is suddenly killing it in the NCAA Tournament right now, and Washington is a medium-profile program in that conference.

Offering, I might add, ample minutes to any disgruntled transfer candidates who felt shaded by their previous teams. It’s the wild west out here! Come get your minutes!

I’m excited by the Huskies having their dead weight shed for them. I don’t see this exodus as a problem in the slightest. I see this as an opportunity to immediately turn the program around.

And, if Hop can’t do it, and the Huskies continue to dwell in the cellar, welp! We tried. But, you almost certainly have to cut him loose if it happens again, regardless of how many millions of dollars he’s still owed.

It’s Been A Very Rough Start To The Husky Basketball Season

Husky basketball has been tough to watch this year! For a couple of reasons, in fact. First of all, the first two games weren’t even on television! Because Larry Scott is terrible at his job, the only deal we could work out was with some random for-pay website I’d never even heard of before that I’m not even going to promote on this little-read blog because who in their right mind would pay a subscription for that nonsense?

It turned out to be money well saved, because the Huskies got summarily crushed against Baylor (the #2 team in the country) 86-52, and also by a probably-not-good UC Riverside team 57-42. Both of these games were on a neutral floor in Las Vegas, and both were scheduled on short notice (which you could argue is a point in Larry Scott’s favor, but don’t forget that we have the Pac-12 Network at our disposal, and also if he had ANY positive relationships with some of the other networks, he would’ve found a way to get these games on something people can actually find).

There really isn’t anything positive to say about these first two games. The Huskies got absolutely murdered on the boards, and couldn’t hit an outside shot to save their lives.

Then, a couple days later, we kicked off our conference schedule at Utah. The Utes were playing their first game of the season, while the Huskies were playing their third game inside of a week. We managed to keep it moderately close in the first half (down five at the break), but went a LONG time in the second half without a bucket, resulting in a 76-62 defeat. Quade Green has stepped up to be the offensive leader so far this season, but no one else through three games was able to do much. The only bright spot was 7’4 center Riley Sorn coming out of nowhere to provide some beef in the middle.

We finally got some much needed rest (and home cooking) over the last week before playing Seattle U last night. In that interim period, though, we all got some terrible news. Remember that Naz Carter suspension? It turns out it was a lot more sinister than we expected, as he was involved with two alleged sexual assault incidents on campus. So, that’s obviously fucked up. I guess all this time he had been appealing his suspension – meaning there had been some hope for him to return to the team – but then he opted to leave the program and seek a pro career overseas, which is definitely for the best. Not for him, of course, as his deal with some league in Australia fell apart as soon as the sexual assault allegations came to light. So, he’s going to have a lot of work to do on himself to find his way onto a professional basketball court again (or, of course, he can decide to play in one of those countries that doesn’t give a shit about women; they need basketball players too).

It turns out, all the Husky basketball team needed was the breath of fresh air that is Seattle University! We dismantled them 73-41. For some reason, Quade Green came off the bench, but still put up 18 points (on 6/7 shooting) in 18 minutes. Nate Pryor started in his place and it sounds like he was a real spark for this team, scoring 13 in 31 minutes. The team shot over 46% from the field, including 8/15 from long range.

It sounds like the Huskies have been built as a shooting team this year, so obviously hitting outside shots will be priority #1. Teams often live and die by the jumper, but it looks like this year will be an extreme example of that. It’ll be important that these shooting guards we’ve got on the roster (I’m looking HARD at RaeQuan Battle, who never met a basketball he didn’t immediately chuck towards the basket) start making baskets more consistently. They get way too cold way too often, and it’s killing this team.

But anyway, it’s probably best not to get your hopes up or get too frustrated with this team. They’re just not good. It’s fine. What I’m hanging my hat on is the hope that they get better over the course of this season. There will be a lot of players likely to return next year, and we want THOSE guys to be in a much better place than they are right now. Hopefully, with experience, we can look forward to more enjoyable basketball in the future.

2020/2021 Husky Basketball Starts To Come Into A Little Bit Of Focus

Lots of dribs and drabs coming in lately, so let’s talk about it.

In Least-Shocking News In The Entire Universe … News: Isaiah Stewart has declared he’s leaving college and entering the NBA Draft. Much like the last time we had a big man of his calibre one-and-done it for the Huskies – Spencer Hawes – the team struggled mightily in spite of the tremendous play of the recruit. Here’s to hoping Stewart has a better pro career than Hawes (who I think kept suffering freak injuries?).

Next up on this Leaving For The NBA list: Jaden McDaniels.

In Somewhat-Surprising News: Quade Green is apparently set to return to the Huskies. You’ll remember he became academically ineligible midway through the season. Did that TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY derail our season? Look, I’m not throwing that idea out of bed for drunkenly urinating everywhere in its sleep, but obviously this was a more-flawed team than any of us realized, and I don’t think ANY one player – even someone of Green’s potential – could’ve single-handedly kept this season on track.

This’ll be big, because word just came down that Elijah Hardy is entering the Transfer Portal (which I assume is some alternate dimension where those whom you once wished well disappear from the face of the Earth, never to be seen nor heard from ever again). Not to pile onto an undergrad, but Hardy kind of sucked for the Huskies in his two seasons here. It’s hard (!) to see a significant boost in his production coming; odds are a change of scenery would do everyone some good in this situation.

On the flipside, Nate Pryor is set to transfer TO the Huskies, from Junior College. If the name sounds familiar, it apparently should, as he was originally set to sign here a couple years ago, but didn’t have the grades or something. I don’t know if anyone thought too highly of Pryor when he was originally supposed to be here, but he’s been a nice little shooting guard for North Idaho College, so that’s cool.

Probably the biggest development was the transfer of Erik Stevenson, from Wichita State. He’s another shooting guard, and as a Sophomore last year, had a decent season (for what appears to be a dysfunctional team who gave up on their head coach for reasons I’ve yet to really want to explore). So, if nothing else, the backcourt for the Huskies figures to be a lot better than it was this past season.

It’s obviously WAY too early to speculate on how good or bad the Huskies will be. If nothing else, we just have to hope that the younger guys who got their feet wet in our lost 2019/2020 are able to parlay that into bigger success in the coming years.

My Completely-Uninformed UW Men’s Basketball Preview 2017-2018

The first game of the non-conference slate starts on Friday.  But, with the Seahawks going through a Thursday game this week, I’m bumping this up to Wednesday to even out the week.

As the title alludes to, I don’t know much about this Husky basketball team.  None of us really do, though you’ll find more informed previews elsewhere.  We have a new head coach, obviously, in Mike Hopkins.  This is the first season since 2001 where we’re going into it without Lorenzo Romar, so that’s going to be different.

The hope is that Coach Hop can coach these guys up.  At the very least, I’d like to see some intensity on the defensive side of the floor, but if that exhibition game last week was any indication, we’re going to be in for a bit of a wait in that regard.  Part of that, quite frankly, will have to do with this transition period, and the players who are carrying over from one regime to the next.

This team is going to have to rely on the likes of Junior guard David Crisp, Junior forward Noah Dickerson, and Junior swingman Matisse Thybulle.  Those guys – along with incoming Freshman Jaylen Nowell – are going to carry this team, for good and for ill.  The holdovers haven’t been asked to play much defense thus far in their careers.  So, the question becomes:  do they buy in?  Or, do they go through the motions because they know this team can ill afford to bench them for any great length of time.  Without those three guys, this team might go winless this year, or damn near close to it.

Then again, even WITH those guys, the team likely won’t be very good.  That’s what happens when you’ve only got two Seniors on your roster, one who has 46 career minutes at the college level, and the other who is Dan Kingma.  And, after the big three, the other two Juniors on the squad are Dominic Green and Devenir Duruisseau.

So, yeah, young this team is.  Young and inexperienced and mediocre.  And, on top of that, lacking in quality big men!  There are four players who are 6’8 or taller.  One is Noah Dickerson, who will start, but who is also prone to foul trouble.  One is the aforementioned Duruisseau, who hasn’t done much of anything in his first two seasons, other than emergency fill-in duty when one (or, more likely, more than one) of our other big men got in foul trouble.  Then, there’s Sam Timmins, the center from New Zealand, who averaged 14.6 minutes last year, but never really made much of an impact.  And then there’s a Freshman by the name of Hameir Wright, who I don’t even know if he’s going to play this year or not.

I think, what’s going to end up happening, is you’re going to see a lot of small ball out of this team.  I think you’re going to see Dickerson at the 5, and some of our taller swingmen like Thybulle or Green playing at the 4.  But, essentially it’s going to be a 4-Guard situation, and oh by the way, can’t forget the fact that this team doesn’t really have a true quality point guard either.  Crisp will most certainly be the primary ball-handler, but he’s not a guy who can really create off the dribble.  I guess we’ll see about Nowell or the two Carter boys, hopefully that works itself out before we start conference play.

It doesn’t look like we’ll have Nate Pryor, who apparently isn’t academically eligible I guess?  That’s a bummer, I guess, but what can you do?

I don’t totally know where to peg this team as far as how it will rank in the Pac-12, but they were 11th last year, and that feels about right for this year too.  What I worry about, more than anything, is that there really isn’t one of those Take Charge type of players.  That guy you turn to when you need a big bucket at the end of the game.  The closest thing to that is probably David Crisp, and I’ve seen him clang more rushed jumpers off the rim to last a lifetime.  If that’s the guy we have to turn to when we’re tied, or down by 1-3 points inside a minute, we’re going to lose A LOT of games.  Prove me wrong!

It’s actually too bad this team won’t be good, because the schedule is pretty enticing.  We kick off the season this Friday against Belmont, who is a perennial Tournament darling.  Next week, we have the 2K Classic in Madison Square Garden against the likes of Providence, Saint Louis, and Virginia Tech.  We go to Kansas City in early December to face the Jayhawks in the Sprint Center; then on the 10th we come home to take on Gonzaga at Hec Ed.  Oh sure, THIS team will get killed by all those teams; but a GOOD team might be a lot of fun to watch against such robust competition.

As it stands, remember how the 2008 Husky football team had one of the toughest schedules in the entire league, with a non-conference slate against #3 Oklahoma, #15 BYU, and Notre Dame?  Remember how Oregon and USC were both really great that year and we ended up going 0-12?  Well, it’s damn near impossible for a basketball team to do something like that, and aside from Arizona, I’m not really sure how great the rest of the Pac-12 is in basketball this season, but a non-conference slate that features Kansas and Gonzaga, among those other teams, is a doozy for a rebuilding program like Washington.

It’s almost as if that non-conference schedule was built for a certain Lorenzo Romar-coached team, featuring a certain future #1 overall draft pick who now plays for Missouri.  But, I guess that’s not important.

You want something to root for?  Root for steady progress.  Root for this team building a real identity.  Root for the Huskies to pick up the intensity on defense.  Ultimately, root for this team to be better in March than it is right now.  So that maybe NEXT year we can dream a little bigger.  Dream about a spot in the NCAA Tournament in 2019 or 2020.  That’s not too much to ask.

It is too much to ask this team to be good right now.  So, don’t get your panties in a wad when they look awful.

Coach Hop Is Rounding Out His 2017 Class

After all the defections and transfers, we’re finally at a point where a team is starting to take shape for the 2017/2018 season.  First, there were a couple of lower-level pick-ups in Michael Carter III and Nate Pryor, both guards.  Then, they were able to hang onto erstwhile Romar recruit Jaylen Nowell, who is also a guard.  In lieu of going after some JuCo transfers (who are notoriously difficult for the Huskies to bring in, due to our stupid high academic standards), Coach Hop has opted to poach from his old New York stomping grounds, in picking up shooting guard Nahziah Carter (who just so happens to be Jay-Z’s nephew), and 6’8 small forward Hameir Wright (who was thought to be a 2018 recruit, but is planning to reclassify to this year).

What this continues to emphasize is the Huskies’ considerable lack of big men.  Dickerson is the only real true power forward on the roster, and our two centers are a couple of nobodies in Sam Timmins and Devenir Duruisseau.  Which means that we’re either going to be playing A LOT of small ball, or we’re going to be giving considerable playing time to a couple of ineffective centers just to play defense and hopefully not get in anyone’s way.

Ideally, the Huskies would find a way to make quasi-small ball work, with Dickerson at center and Wright at power forward, but that’s going to hinge on those two not getting into constant foul trouble.  If they can manage that, this isn’t as crazy as it sounds.  Mostly because the Huskies have a lot of good height among their swingmen.  Nahziah Carter is 6’5, Nowell is 6’4, Thybulle is 6’5, Green is 6’6, Carlos Johnson is 6’4, Carter III is 6’4.  The only guy who really figures to get a lot of playing time who’s under 6’4 is David Crisp.  As long as we defend well and give a lot of effort in the rebounding department, we shouldn’t get too killed for being undersized (except when we play the Arizonas of the world, which is what it is).

I’m keeping my expectations pretty low in his first season, understanding that these types of transitions take time to really make an impact.  At this point, I’d settle for a team that’s fun to watch and maybe wins a few games it shouldn’t, but ultimately loses too many games it should, and finds itself in the N.I.T. range.  With the way the NBA is turning into a long-range shooting league, you’d think that sort of strategy would be ideal for a small-ish team like the Huskies, to just spread everyone out, drive the lane, and pass the ball well.  Ultimately, where size might kill us is defensively, if teams continuously decide to go after the likes of Dickerson to get him into foul trouble.  Hopefully, the coaching staff is working on making up for this deficiency somehow.

Noah Dickerson Is Staying With The Huskies

By crikey, it’s been nothing but reasonably good news for the Washington Huskies men’s basketball program since its nadir about a month ago!  I mean, honestly, how could it get much worse?  The Dawgs just finished the season 9-22 (including only a whopping 2 wins in conference play).  They fired longtime head coach (and one of the best-ever in program history) Lorenzo Romar.  They lost out on 4/5 of their top-notch recruiting class (and one of the best two or three in the entire nation).  And, they were looking at a bevy of potential defections from last year’s team, including the aforementioned Noah Dickerson.

Well, after testing the waters as it were, including a trip to the University of Virginia (where I’m certain the chances of playing for a winning program and an NCAA Tournament berth were paramount among the coaching staff’s sales pitch), Noah Dickerson has indeed decided to stay with the University of Washington.

WHEW!

I know that looked sarcastic, but it actually is a relief that Dickerson is staying.  Obviously, Husky basketball has been on a downward spiral for a while now, but Dickerson is still a capable and productive big man at the Pac-12 level.  Among returning players, he’s second in scoring and first in rebounds from last season.  He also – as has been pointed out in various articles and blog posts – really came on late in the season, particularly in the last four games where he averaged 21 points and 10 boards in the absence of Markelle Fultz.  Now, obviously, you could look at that and say, “Of COURSE his numbers went up with Fultz going out!  Who else was going to pick up the slack on that team?”  And, obviously, the answer is no one.  The Huskies had no one else last year.  Not a God damned person.  But, you know, from the eye test, if nothing else, it looked like Dickerson really made some strides in his game.  Now, we’re going to pair that with a fresh set of coaching eyes in Mike Hopkins, who will hopefully be able to bring out even more in a talented ball of clay like Dickerson.

So, looking at the 2017/2018 Huskies now, we have an even clearer picture.  Returning, we have:  Crisp, Thybulle, Dickerson, and Carlos Johnson.  We’ve also got Dominic Green, who from what I’ve read, appears to be some sort of special project for Coach Hop.  He was quoted as saying something to the effect of how fans won’t even recognize Green next season, with all the improvements to his game.  If that’s the case, color me intrigued.  Also, for what it’s worth, Sam Timmins returns as another big man to throw onto the pile.  As has been noted pretty much everywhere, the Huskies have room to recruit more big men – almost certainly from the JuCo Transfer scrap heap – so stay tuned there.

On top of those returning players, we have Jaylen Nowell, who most certainly has the talent to step in and start right away.  You can pair him with Crisp at guard, with Johnson as a spark off the bench, with Thybulle and Green as your swing men, and Dickerson as your forward (or center, if you want to play small ball), on top of whatever we’re able to get out of our two other recruits – Michael Carter and Nate Pryor (who I still contend will be bench guys who hopefully see more playing time as the season progresses) – and I’m still not going to go overboard on this team’s potential, but I could be talked into the Huskies being something of a “surprise” team.  One that’s projected to be among the dregs, but out-plays its projections to be middle-of-the-road.

Obviously, without seeing these guys in action, I’m making some HUGE assumptions here.  I think a lot of it depends on what we’re able to get out of Timmins in his second season.  I highly doubt Romar ever wanted him to be our starter, but with the Dime injury in the middle of the season, Timmins got a lot more minutes than he probably deserved.  And, quite frankly, he didn’t look good at all.  You’re certainly not counting on him to be a heavy scorer, or even get a lot of looks down in the post, but you need Timmins to play good defense and clean up on the boards.  If you can just get that, and something similar from the JuCo ranks, and you can get the rest of this team to really buy in to the whole “playing defense” thing, I think that’s really your best bet for a fun and exciting Husky basketball season.

Somewhere out there, there’s an alternate universe that’s almost exactly the same as this one, except in that universe Lorenzo Romar didn’t get fired, and we’re looking at a team with his recruiting class coming in.  I feel like the alternate universe version of myself would be about as jacked up as can be about the prospects of that team; either it would be fantastic, and we’d ride that wave into the Tourney, or it would be a disaster, and we’d be out of our minds with fear and loathing.

In this universe, I’m still pretty jacked up for the upcoming season, but for very different reasons.  I can’t wait to see Coach Hop in action, I can’t wait to see how the players respond, and I really can’t wait to see the Huskies start winning some games they’re supposed to lose.  It’s been a while since I can remember the last honest-to-goodness upset go in our favor; usually it’s the other way around and it’s the Yale’s of the world upsetting us on our home court.  Any way you slice it, there’s going to be a lot to discuss about the Washington Husky basketball season later this year, and when was the last time you could say that?

Mike Hopkins Has A Couple New Recruits For Husky Basketball

Things were looking pretty dire a couple weeks ago, when I last looked over the state of Washington Husky basketball.  So, how are they looking now?

Well, for starters, there are conflicting reports out there about Noah Dickerson’s future.  People are saying he’s still weighing his options, but from the look of the Husky basketball twitter page, I see he’s been involved in some off-season program work under coach Hopkins.  So, we’ll see, I guess.  There’s no way the fate of next season hinges on Dickerson’s staying or leaving – the Huskies are still bound to be pretty terrible – but it will mean the difference between being bad vs. one of the worst teams in the entire country.  At least with Dickerson and some of the holdovers in the fold, we should be able to stay in some games anyway.

In other news, considering most of the erstwhile Romar recruits have gone on to other programs, what’s Coach Hop doing to further this program right now?  Well, for starters, he got local product Michael Carter III to switch from the University of San Francisco to the University of Washington.  Carter is a shooting guard who has had a recent growth spurt (up to 6’5 now) and has really buckled down on his game.  I have no idea what that will translate to at the Pac-12 level, but I don’t think we’re talking about a superstar here.  He’s anywhere from Unranked to 2-stars coming out of high school, so obviously there’s work to be done.  I think, best case scenario, he develops slowly over time, to become a big contributor as an upper classman.  I’d say the better his outside shot, the better his chances of playing right away as a Freshman.  Dear lord, please tell me he has an outside shot!

I like that he’s coming in with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.  It’s served the Seahawks well, anyway.  But, here’s a guy who couldn’t get a shot with a major conference basketball team – hell, not even with the Cougars! – who now has his life turned around thanks to this coaching change at Washington.  There are no delusions that Carter can even hold the jock of Michael Porter Jr., but that’s not really the point right now.  He’s someone who wants to be here, right now that has to be enough.  As Washington fans, we’ve had a pretty crappy last few weeks in the wake of Romar’s firing, with guys wanting out.  It’s nice just to have a couple guys who want to come in.  Carter sounds like a kid who will come in, fight hard, compete, and if he puts in the work, should develop into a nice player for us down the line.  So, I’ll take it.

The other recruit we were able to snag was Nate Pryor, who had committed to Seattle U back when Cameron Dollar was still their coach.  As Dollar has since returned to the Huskies in an assistant capacity, this was a no-brainer.  Pryor is a 6’1 point guard out of West Seattle and appears to be a prototypical floor leader.  Again, though, we’re not talking about a guy coming over from a major conference team; this is a case of the Huskies targeting some local guys Romar had passed over in favor of some more athletic and talented options.

What that doesn’t tell us though is who will be better.  Obviously, high school scouting is an inexact science, but more often than not 4- and 5-star guys end up being worth the hype.  That doesn’t mean that guys like Carter or Pryor are destined to stink, but it probably does mean the learning curve is greater, and that they might not make a big impact on the program until later in their careers.  The question we’ll always be asking ourselves is:  will Coach Hop get more out of guys like Carter and Pryor than Romar would’ve gotten out of guys like Porter and Davis?  In Year 1, you’d have to think Romar would’ve had the edge.  But, considering those guys were likely to be One & Done, maybe in the long run Carter and Pryor pan out?  Or, shit, maybe the Huskies still would’ve stunk with Porter and Davis this year; the point is, we’ll never REALLY know.  But, we’ve got the next four years to speculate.

In Erstwhile Romar Recruits news, apparently Jaylen Nowell hasn’t made a decision on where he’ll be playing basketball next year.  Which means, technically, he’s still a Husky recruit.  And a pretty great one at that.  4-stars, 6’4, out of Garfield High, with a quality dribble drive, but some work to do on his outside shot.  I’m not holding my breath on this one, but it would be a real boon to the program if we could get him to stay.  Particularly considering WSU recently hired his old high school coach to be an assistant over in Pullman.  I could see that committment flipping anytime now, which would be a real drag.  It’s one thing to lose the Porter Brothers to Missouri and their dad’s new sham assistant coaching job, but to lose a highly-rated Seattle kid to Wazzu?  I mean, is there any coming back from that?

From here, it looks like the Huskies need to get one big man to round things out (two big men, if Dickerson decides to jump ship).  Pickin’s are pretty slim, this late in the recruiting period, so again, I wouldn’t expect a whole lot.  Let’s just hope Coach Hop and Co. are better able to recruit big men than Romar was.  For my own sanity, if nothing else.