This year has an added bonus because we actually have two really good teams to follow. Both the Husky Hoopsters and their professional brethren, the Seattle Super Sonics, are off to unbelievable starts in this already interesting 2004-05 basketball season. They certainly contrast the fortunes or rather misfortunes of all the other local teams for the last year.
It was beginning to look like 2004 was the all time worst local year until basketball finally came. First the Storm and now the Sonics and the Huskies all proved that there is hope. We actually have winning teams that we and they realistically expect to win.
Both teams are playing with great confidence and mixing their man to man and zone looks with their pressure defenses. They are doing all the little things right, like screening out and rebounding regardless of how tall they are. Both teams are pushing the ball up and shooting the three point ball with accuracy. They both pressure the ball and pick up early and try to work the clock defensively. It's a joy to watch and certainly a well needed boosts to an otherwise extremely dismal northwest sports scene.
What has been particularly interesting is watching their tremendous group and team working dynamics. Of course, that is based solely on the media interpretations as I know only their coaches and very few of the players. Both teams have a real positive public persona. They really seem to like each other and have great bench chemistry to go along with legitimate stars coming in pairs. The Huskies' Nate Robinson is worth the price of admission but with Brandon Roy, they make up an explosive tandem that combines well with the other pieces on their team. Roy's unexpected appearance against North Carolina State was both inspirational and well timed.
The Sonics feature Ray Allen but he, too, has Rashard Lewis, and they likewise can take over games either together or by themselves.
I personally think Ray Allen is one of the classiest players ever to play for the Sonics. He's got Game. His court demeanor is second to none and there is certainly no doubt about his shooting ability. He may flat out be one of the very best shooters in the game, ever! Yet, it is how he handles himself and his team that really makes him stand out. They need to sign him to the max deal and go with it. He is the rock of the franchise and he is the leader of the clubhouse and he should be paid accordingly.
The Sonics gathering together at the end of games makes it very clear who their leader is. They now have toughness and class.
The Huskies are just the same except they are a little banged up. Roy playing against North Carolina State was huge. His presence was obvious and he had a chance to get back into the flow by playing up speed and hard. He is an effortless player and can create with ball as good as any of them.
Still, the key ingredient to both teams is their depth. Both teams play 9 to 10 deep and when Rollins returns to the Dawgs' inside rotation, the Huskies will be greatly improve. As it is, the smoothest player on the Huskies just might be Trey Simmons. He is their "Ray Allen" type shooter, and when he gets it going, he can dominate a game with his jump shot. He is proving more rugged this year and together with Bobby Jones have those long, quick bodies that are effective in defense and pressure. They are also both quick jumpers and like to take the tough shot.
There have been times over the years when either the Sonics or Huskies were good in basketball but rarely ever in the same year. This is just about fun enough for one to forget about the terrible football and baseball seasons. These guys just might keep it going and both get into the post-season. There has not been this kind of mutual buzz about both teams for many years and certainly there are more and more people jumping on their bandwagons.
How about a run deep into the NCAA March Madness? How about a repeat of 1978-79 Sonic run? How cool would that be for the local fan base? I, for one, don't miss a chance to see either in person. This is why we were so tortured in football. This is why we a suffered through all those bad years by both programs not to mention everything else beside the Storm Championship run.
Football is already a distanced memory and as soon as the Seahawks can complete their implosion, we will be ready to get completely into basketball. Come on hoopsters. Feed our need for a winner. It's been an awfully long year for us northwest sports fans.
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