It's time to replace the dogs of eastern Washington with the dawgs from western Washington as the premier basketball program in this state.
Before writing this, I had just watched Gonzaga take apart Portland State, 89-80, but not without a struggle. There can be no doubt that the Portland State's coach, Ken Bone, just might be the secret to Washington finally beating the Bulldogs. His years with Lorenzo Romar at Washington have to count for a little loyalty, right? There is no question the Huskies can use every edge they have to finally end this drought, so I've got to think that the UW coaches have already picked Ken Bone's brain for that scouting report that could assist in a Husky win.
It won't be easy. This Gonzaga team is outstanding, and deserving of their lofty national ranking.
I appreciate the rise of Gonzaga over the past ten years. It's been fun to watch and they play a wonderful brand of basketball, but I can't say I'm a big fan of their fans. Those that I am acquianted with have trouble shedding that ‘small school' chip on their shoulder.
They have an excellent basketball program, but they don't have to act so arrogant. They win, and winning garners respect. So why the attitude?
I need to state here that I'm only talking about their fans. Mark Few's players are a classy bunch of hard workers. They play the game the right way, and represent their school in a manner in which they can be proud. Every year they turn out a good professional prospect. Every year they win their conference. Every year they win their first game of the tournament.
Still, the whines of "we get no respect" come out of the woodwork. Every year we have to watch their Camden Yard wannabes jumping up and down and being abusive to opposing players.
Sunday's game will be in Hec-Ed where the Husky crowd is slowly learning the same obnoxious bounces and the taunts toward the opponents.
Adam Morrison will get his points. He is a wonderful player who looks and plays like a throwback from the seventies. He has a Larry Bird type magic about him. Husky fans can always hope that he has an off night. Point Guard Derek Ravio can shoot but he is no better deep threat than our own Ryan Appleby.
The difference this year might be inside, where the Huskies can finally compete on the boards and should be able to match up with Gonzaga's interior players. That is an area Gonzaga has owned against the Dawgs.
The Vikings of PSU did a great job of shooting the three-ball and their point guard did a wonderful job of pressuring the ball.
If Washington is to win they will have to hpe that the officials that let them play physically. Gonzaga coach Mark Few works the officials hard in every game and hopefully it doesn't turn into a free-throw shooting contest - Gonzaga is one of the best in the nation from the charity line.
The game is already a sell-out and will be watched by most all of the sports fans in the region on television. The Huskies have had a week to prepare and that alone should have them familiar with the Bulldog patterns and tendencies. This is easily the most anticipated college basketball game in many pre-seasons for the Huskies. Washington fans have to face facts; Gonzaga is the big dog in this state until the Huskies finally win a game.
This might be their best shot in almost 8 years.
Publisher's Note: Dick Baird was a UW football coach and recruiting coordinator, but many don't know that he also coached basketball for 10 years, helping Lenny Wilkins run his summer camp in the 1970s and 1980s. Baird also was the recruiting coordinator for former UW basketball coaches Marv Harshman, Andy Russo, and Lynn Nance.
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