Saturday, March 18, 2006
It's been a good day for northwest basketball. The ninth-seeded Husky women beat 8th-seeded Minnesota 73-69 to advance to the second round. The Husky men are in the Sweet 16 for the second straight year, but this year they had to run through Illinois to get there, and they did so, winning 67-64. Just a few minutes ago, Gonzaga beat Indiana 90-80.
What a huge win for Lorenzo Romar's Huskies. With everyone that graduated last year, how the season transpired, and the seed they got in the bracket, the way they got to the Sweet 16 this time is a bit more impressive. The Huskies went through Montana and Pacific last year. They beat Utah State and Illinois to get there this year. The Illini led by double digits in the second half, but the Huskies nipped away and the key play came when Justin Dentmon converted the four-point play after getting hacked on a three-ball. What would be even sweeter than all of this would be if the Huskies drew Connecticut in the next round and exacted revenge for Rip Hamilton's jumper.
As for Gonzaga, they've made it to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2001. It's weird -- even with their rise to the national radar over the past few years, they'd never gotten further in the tournament since 2001. What we found out today, though, was that the supporting cast stepped up when Adam Morrison wasn't having his best game. Sean Mallon contributed greatly, and Erroll Knight augmented his defensive reputation with some above-the-rim offensive play. JP Batista picked up some slack as well. Gonzaga is one step closer to shutting up their doubters. At least more of them, anyway.
So, the Husky men are drawing the Kentucky/UConn winner next weekend, Gonzaga is drawing UCLA next weekend, and the Husky women are drawing 1st-seeded LSU on Monday.
If I actually filled out a bracket this year, it'd be completely messed up. I definitely wouldn't have had the Shockers going to the Sweet 16. I totally would have had Bucknell in the first round though.
Friday, March 17, 2006
Canucks 3, Blue Jackets 2
[initial partial post]
The Canucks needed in the worst way to end their five-game losing streak. It made for a free-fall in the Western Conference standings as other teams got better around them. Worse yet, another loss would make it all the more difficult to right their ship since the upcoming week's schedule is tough and might decide whether or not they go to the playoffs.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 10 (Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund) 17:22
»» 2, COLUMBUS, powerplay, Ron Hainsey 2 (Pascal Leclaire) 5:55
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 27 (Henrik Sedin) 7:56
»» 4, COLUMBUS, Manny Malhotra 4 (Jason Chimera, Trevor Letowski) 8:36
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 13 (Matt Cooke, Trevor Linden) 13:49
Three stars -- (1) Morrison, (2) Columbus' Pascal Leclaire, (3) Ohlund
H Sedin 0-1-1
The win snapped a five-game skid for Vancouver, bumping their record to 36-26-6 (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses), good for 78 points and fourth place in the Northwest Division. Edmonton also has 78 points but is ranked ahead of Vancouver by way of having a game in hand. Thusly, Vancouver is seventh in the Western Conference. The Los Angeles Kings are a point back in eighth place. The Canucks are two points behind the Colorado Avalanche and four back of the division-leading Calgary Flames. The reward for finally ending the skid? The Red Wings come to Vancouver on Sunday night and the Canucks follow with three straight games (one road, two home) against the Edmonton Oilers, whom they have yet to beat this season.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
But that's life.
2006 NCAA TOURNAMENT
Southeast (Atlanta) - Duke
---I don't want to pick Duke, I really don't. Their road to the Final Four, however, makes it hard for me to pick against them. But this is the one Final Four pick I wouldn't mind being dead wrong about.
West (Oakland) - Gonzaga
---This has to be Gonzaga's year to finally get to the Final Four, right? Earning the #3 seed instead of a #2 may be to their advantage. And yes, this would set up a J.J. Redick/Adam Morrison matchup. If that does come to fruition, look out.
East (Washington, D.C.) - Connecticut
---UConn is the best team in the country, not Duke. Yet the Blue Devils got the overall #1 seed. Figures. As much as I don't care for the Big East hype, the Big East has been the best conference in college basketball this season.
Midwest (Minneapolis) - Villanova
---The Wildcats get to play their first two rounds in Philadelphia. I'll go as far to say that if they don't get to the Sweet 16 it would be the biggest choke-job in NCAA Tournament history. And I don't like to throw around the term "choke-job" very often. Seriously though, Villanova is the best team out of the Midwest Region by far. Ohio State? Please.
Cinderellas: South Alabama (Minneapolis), Wichita State (Washington, D.C.)
Sleepers: West Virginia (Atlanta), Georgetown (Minneapolis)
Disappointments: LSU (Atlanta), Indiana (Oakland), Tennesssee (Washington, D.C.)
Best First Round Game: Southern Illinois vs West Virginia (Atlanta)
First #1 seed to be eliminated: Memphis (Oakland)
How far will Washington go?: Sweet 16, lose to UConn (Washington, D.C.)
Is Jeremy full of it? We'll see after this weekend
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Final Four: Gonzaga d. Duke, UConn d. Villanova
National Championship Game: UConn d. Gonzaga
Just 12 hours away!!!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Predators 5, Canucks 0
[initial partial post]
My goodness, this team sucks. There are fifteen games left after this one, and three are against the Oilers, and they're pretty much make-or-break. Sigh...
»» 1, NASHVILLE, shorthanded, Dan Hamhuis 3 (Adam Hall, Scott Hartnell) 3:05
»» 2, NASHVILLE, Jordin Tootoo 2 (Brendan Witt, Paul Kariya) 8:28
»» 3, NASHVILLE, Scottie Upshall 7 (Hamhuis, Steve Sullivan) 15:55
»» 4, NASHVILLE, Jerred Smithson 5 (Sullivan) 8:28
»» 5, NASHVILLE, Hartnell 22 (Sullivan, Marek Zidlicky) 10:31
Three stars -- (1) Nashville's Steve Sullivan, (2) Nashville's Tomas Vokoun, (3) Nashville's Dan Hamhuis
none for Vancouver
The loss leaves Vancouver on the brink of being out of the top eight in the Western Conference. The Canucks are tied with Edmonton for seventh-most points in the West (76 pts, third place in the Northwest Division) with a 35-26-6 record (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses). However, Edmonton has a game in hand and the Oilers have swept the Canucks so far this season. Vancouver has Edmonton next week for three straight games, and they'll probably dictate whether the Canucks make it to the playoffs or not this season. Vancouver is a single point behind Los Angeles for the sixth spot in the West, four behind Colorado for fifth spot in the West (and second in the Northwest), and five points behind Calgary for the division lead and the third seed in the playoffs. It's no secret -- the Canucks have to find their groove and find it immediately.
But I'm not THAT busy where I can't at least comment on this year's NCAA Tournament.
Consider this a "Free Ramble" on the NCAA Tournament.
2006 NCAA TOURNAMENT
ATLANTA REGION (SOUTHEAST)
---Hey, Duke has an easy road once again. They could lose 10 games one year and still get a #1 seed. The joys of being a Dukie, I guess.
---Congratulations, George Washington. Two losses gets this team...a #8 seed and a date with UNC-Wilmington...in Greensboro, North Carolina? There's no justice here. (For the record, I'm picking UNCW; they're the Seahawks, after all.)
---As much as I want to pick against Syracuse in the first round, I can't do it. I blame it on religious reasons. Yes, my Seahawks fandom extends to the NCAA Tournament. I would have picked Texas A&M two months ago...until they bitched and moaned about the whole 12th Man deal. Too bad, so sad.
---Lock of the region: Cal over Texas in the 2nd Round. Leon Powe, baby.
OAKLAND REGION (WEST)
---Memphis is by far the worst of the #1 seeds. Since I'm only an hour away from Memphis, I have to hear about the Tigers day in and day out. There isn't a team I'd love to see go out early than the Memphis Tigers. Please make this happen, basketball gods. (That being said, I love the city of Memphis.)
---Kent State over Pittsburgh is my only 5/12 upset.
---If there ever was a year for Gonzaga to get to the Final Four, it's this year.
---UCLA as a 2 seed? I don't know what to think about that.
WASHINGTON, D.C. REGION (EAST)
---Connecticut is the best team in the country. So tell me why they didn't earn the overall #1 seed? They should be the ones playing the winner of the "play-in" game.
---Washington-Illinois may be the best potential second-round matchup.
---So shock me! Wichita State over Tennessee in the second round. Tennessee as a 2 seed? Now I REALLY don't know what to think about that. At least UCLA won their conference tournament. The Vols couldn't even win one stinking game...in Nashville!
---How in the hell did Seton Hall and Air Force make it into the tournament?
MINNEAPOLIS REGION (MIDWEST)
---Villanova gets to play their first two games in Philadelphia. Hello, Sweet 16 (at least).
---Maybe it's just me, but I think that the tournament committee was banking on Northern Arizona winning the Big Sky Tournament. If NAU had won the Big Sky, then I could live with the Lumberjacks being a 12 seed. Montana as a 12 seed? I don't think so.
---Pacific has defeated two Big East teams in the last two years of the tournament. 2004 Providence (Miah Davis, baby!) and 2005 Pittsburgh. And guess what? The Tigers get another Big East 1st round opponent in Boston College. BC always flames out early. That's not going to change this year.
---South Alabama can play, folks. I saw them at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn. and I was impressed by the Jaguars and John Pelphrey. They're my Cinderella for a reason. Speaking of Pelphrey, he will be a hot commodity in the offseason. Don't be surprised if he ends up at Ole Miss.
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I'll have my bracket up before 9 a.m. Pacific Thursday morning.
This is a hard bracket, let me tell ya.
Monday, March 13, 2006
Stars 4, Canucks 2
[initial partial post]
This game in Dallas finished off a home-and-home series with the Stars. The Canucks hoped to get something going on the road after losing all three games of a homestand and picking up a mere one of a possible six points. They'd have to seriously break trends to do that, though. The Canuck power play came in 4 for their last 59 chances. The Canucks had gone six games without scoring a first-period goal. Though the Canucks managed to beat him once this year, Dallas goalie Marty Turco came in with a career 27-7-1 record against Canadian teams. Also, Vancouver needed to be more than just a one-line team. In so many years past, it was the Naslund/Morrison/Bertuzzi line that was doing all the heavy lifting, but now it's the Sedin twins and Anson Carter doing everything. They need secondary scoring in the worst way.
Hockey fans in the states would see this game on OLN, the Canucks' only appearance on the network this season. How would they do?
»» 1, DALLAS, powerplay, Jussi Jokinen 15 (Mike Modano, Sergei Zubov) 0:59
»» 2, DALLAS, Jere Lehtinen 29 (Jokinen, Modano) 5:03
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 26 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 11:10
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, D Sedin 17 (Carter, H Sedin) 13:24
»» 5, DALLAS, Modano 24 (Zubov) 3:08
»» 6, DALLAS, powerplay, Jason Arnott 25 (Jokinen, Zubov) 14:10
Three stars -- (1) Dallas' Mike Modano, (2) Dallas' Jussi Jokinen, (3) Dallas' Sergei Zubov
[the Rogers SportsNet telecast chose Modano, Zubov, and Daniel Sedin as 1-2-3]
D Sedin 1-1-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
The loss dropped the Canucks to 35-25-6 (3-3 shootouts, three overtime losses), good for 76 points and third place in the Northwest Division. Calgary got a regulation home win against Colorado, so those teams flip-flopped atop the division. The Canucks are five points behind Calgary and four back of Colorado. Calgary has two games in hand on Vancouver, and the Canucks have a game in hand on Colorado. Edmonton is two back of Vancouver. The Canucks are seventh in the West and two points up on Brian Burke's eighth-place Anaheim Mighty Ducks. Basically, the Canucks just have to take care of themselves, and things will take care of themselves. They need to stop taking dumb penalties, they need to clean up their play in the defensive end, they need to not let opposing players skate from the bench to the net untouched, they need to put more pucks on the net, they need to play with purpose, etc., etc., etc.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I was half-watching the Japan/USA ballgame in the World Baseball Classic and boy, would I be ticked if I'm a Japanese player and see the replay after the game of the tag-up play that would have put Japan up 4-3. To those who didn't see it, Buck Martinez argued the call saying that the Japanese runner tagged up too early, and that the wrong umpire had the angle. Japan was originally awarded the run until Martinez won the argument after already having the on-field appeal denied by the third-base umpire. The crew chief overturned the call. The USA ended up winning in the bottom of the 9th by one run. Dicey.
Speaking of dicey, the Seahawks' situation during the first few days of free agency is getting increasingly, well, dicey. As per Sando, Joe Jurevicius bolted for Cleveland, and Marquand Manuel appears on his way to Green Bay (though with possible tampering). Cleveland got Jurevicius on the hometown discount, and I was kinda hoping that depth at wide receiver didn't have to become a bigger issue this offseason. More snaps for Big Play DJ Hackett, I guess. I work with a Redskin fan over here, and they've been wondering who the heck they were going to get for receivers, and they got their answers in a big way over the weekend (Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El). About Marquand Manuel, he did a hell of a job last year, and I'm sad to see him go. The other thing is that I hope Ken Hamlin gets healthy fast.
Even more dicey, the Vikings had Steve Hutchinson come in and visit and offered him a crazy offer sheet, which some team was probably going to do with him anyway. Still, it's a matter of how much you want to pony up for a damned good offensive guard, and how well you think you might be able to replace it. Still, I can't help but think that the success of both Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck are highly correlative of whatever happens with this move. ITIT still, but man, this is going to test me. I'm really looking forward to the draft, though.
Another thing, I need a crazy-ass pass rush from the Seahawks next year since Edgerrin James signed with the freakin' Cardinals. Edgerrin didn't forget that the Cardinals have no offensive line, right? Gun for Kurt Warner all day, I say. Nine-man blitz.
I watched most of the Sonics/Lakers game today, and I for the most part liked what I saw. It was my first look at the new-look Sonics, and it'll be interesting to see how they develop their rotations and identity and whatnot. God only knows when they'll ever hold a team to under 100 points again, but hey, if they can still shoot the crap out of the ball, then great. The entire starting lineup scored in double figures, and Earl Watson dropped 14 off the bench. They have an interesting combination of big men with Chris Wilcox, Robert Swift, and Johan Petro, with a dash of Mikki Moore. It's fun, if anything. I can say the team didn't defend well, which would and wouldn't be fair. The Lakers scored 113 points, but the pace of the game was pretty quick, and they did hold Kobe Bryant to 8-for-29 shooting. If you ask me, though, 20 points out of Chris Mihm is unacceptable. Still, nice win for the Sonics, and the ABC crew had something other than Kobe Bryant and Bill Walton's son to talk about. The Sonics' future will be interesting, wherever they end up playing after this arena situation does/doesn't get solved.
Also, this may be the first time in a couple years that I don't have more than a little NCAA tournament material, though Jeremy will probably have more. The Huskies are the fifth-seed and drew Utah State from the WAC. The four higher seeds in the region are Connecticut, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Illinois. The Huskies didn't help themselves out by losing to Oregon in the Pac-10 tournament, but I guess they get some rest, or at least that's the positive spin. Maybe Ryan Appleby will heal a bit from that Aaron Brooks elbow.
Anyway, it's been good to finally spew a bit about sports. Also, the Canucks have their only OLN appearance of the season on Monday night in a game at Dallas. I only worry about that since I don't get the CBC where I am and where I'm going.