The Stark Truth

Former Kitsap Sun sports editor Chuck Stark shares insight, laughter, news, views and analysis of Kitsap sports and beyond.
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Archive for December, 2010

Dawgs Get More Than Revenge in Holiday Bowl

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The Washington Huskies didn’t have a turnover.

Didn’t give up a sack.

Only had three penalties for 30 yards.

Held Nebraska to 91 rushing yards, despite missing three defensive linemen.

Rushed for 268 yards (177 on 34 carries by Chris Polk, 83 on 13 carries by Jake Locker).

That’s how the Washington Huskies upset No. 18 Nebraska 19-7 on Thursday at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.

That’s the same Nebraska squad that humbled the Dawgs 56-21 in Seattle on Sept. 18. Nebraska finished with 533 total yards that day, 368 of it on the ground.

Nobody saw this one coming. Washington, playing in its first bowl game since 2002, beat Nebraska at its own game. The Huskies won the battle in the trenches; they played with more passion and hit harder. Washington outplayed Nebraska in every aspect of the game.

Locker caught a pass, but didn’t complete one in the first half and Washington led 10-7. He was just 5 of 16 for 56 yards overall, but he threw about five passes away and did a masterful job of managing the game.

Finishing the season with a four-game winning streak, capped by this inspired performance, brought back memories of what it used to be like at Washington when it routinely competed for the Rose Bowl and Pac-10 titles.

This win should be enough to convince even the cynical among us that the Huskies have taken their biggest step yet toward returning to that level.

Washington earned more than revenge on this night; it earned back some national respect and just made itself a lot more attractive to potential recruits.


East-West Alumni Game Raised $4,877

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Counting ticket sales and donations, the East-West Alumni basketball game held on Tuesday raised $4,877.

That’s the word from Rick Walker of Sports Beyond, the former East High star who was instrumental in organizing the game.

A total of 531 tickets were sold, he said.

BKAT will air a delayed broadcast of the game on Saturday, Jan. 1 at 9:15 a.m. and again at 12:30 p.m. It will also air on Sunday, Jan. 2, at noon. Watch it on Channel 3 on Wave Cable or Channel 12 on Comcast.

You can also watch a replay of the Kitsap Sun’s live streaming video of the game here: http://www.kitsapsun.com/videos/detail/east-west-alumni-game/

WestSoundTV has DVDs of the game for sale. Call (360) 613-9734.

Walker said the majority of the money raised would go into the Les Eathorne Scholarship Fund, which will award a Bremerton boy or girl basketball player a financial gift to help with college expenses.

Contributions will also be made to Bremerton cheer for uniforms and the Bremerton band for their upcoming trip. “The game would not have been as spirited or entertaining without them,” Walker wrote in an e-mail.

Walker said expenses for the event will be covered by sponsors Art Anderson Associates, The Toad House, Cooper NW, Inc., Watson Furniture and Noah’s Ark Restaurant.

More information on the game can be found at www.easthighknights.com


Do the Huskies Have a Chance?

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Week 3 of the 2010 college football season wasn’t a memorable one for the Washington Huskies.

Nebraska came to Seattle and embarrased the Dawgs, 56-21.

It was the day Jake Locker’s Heisman Trophy hopes died. He completed 4 of 20 passes for 71 yards and was intercepted twice.

It was a game in which the Huskies needed to get off to a fast start to have a chance to win. Locker’s first pass was thrown into double coverage and Nebraska scored two plays later and the rout was on.

Is there any reason to believe that things will be different tonight in San Diego when the Huskies face Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl?

Of course there is. Week 3 was a long, long time ago. Nebraska looked like a national-title contender that day. But the Huskers stumbled a bit down the stretch. They blew a 17 point lead against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game and finished 10-3. They lost two players to DUIs and coach Bo Pelini stopped talking to reporters after being linked to other coaching jobs, so there’s been a bit of turmoil in Huskerland.

Washington, meanwhile, won its last three games. The opponents — UCLA, Cal and Washington State — weren’t all that opposing, but the Huskies finally figured out a way to win. They were able to run the football and the defense played its most inspired football over that stretch while salvaging the season. Who would have thought the 6-6 Huskies would tie for third in the Pac-10 and land in the Holiday Bowl?

Getting back to a bowl game is huge for the Washington program, but can the Huskies make a game of it or will Nebraska toy with the Dawgs again? It’ll be interesting to see what kind of stuff UW coach Steve Sarkisian draws up for this game.

After that Week 3 loss against Nebraska, a  disappointed Sarkisian said the Huskies, on a good day, should be able to play with the Cornhuskers.

It’ll take more than a good day for Washington to play with Nebraska. Washington’s defense can’t let Nebraska run wild. On offense, Washington has to establish an inside running game with Chris Polk and Locker might need the best game of his career.

If all of that happens, Washington has a chance … to keep it close.

In the end, the best team wins again: Nebraska 35, Washington 24.


How to Find the East-West Video Replay

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Another East-West Alumni basketball game is in the books and it was another success. The game was more competitive than a year ago, and the after-game smack-talk and celebration was just as good. A lot of the fans and players headed to the watering hole after the game.

There were some pulled hamstrings and a lot of bodies crashed to the floor Tuesday night. The falls aren’t so graceful anymore. I apologize for chuckling a few times during the broadcast — I was kidding — but some of those falls were pretty funny. But that’s what you get when a bunch of 50somethings and few 60somethings try to play basketball.

If you missed it, you can watch the video replay here: http://www.kitsapsun.com/videos/detail/east-west-alumni-game/

ALSO

WestSoundTV also broadcast the game. It has DVDs of the game for sale. Call (360) 613-9734.


Check Out Tonight’s East-West Alumni Game

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

If you can’t make it to tonight’ s (Tuesday, Dec. 28) East-West alumni game, you can follow the action on Kitsap Hoops Live! I’ll join Mark Bergsma in the broadcast booth.

OK, there won’t be a booth but I’ll be there with Bergie, a former East High and Bremerton High hoops star. I was a bench warmer at West a long, long time ago.

Anyway, check us out online at prepzone.kitsapsun.com. We’ll try to provide some insights and color into this rivalry that ran from 1956-1977. The game starts at 7:30 p.m. and we’ll start streaming about 7:20.

If you’re going to the game, tickets are $8. Stop by and say hello and bring your favorite East-West story that we can share during the broadcast. We’ll be up high in the west grandstands.


Carroll Sticks With Hasselbeck; I’d Go With Charlie

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Who gives the Seahawks the best chance to win, struggling veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck or backup Charlie “Clipboard Jesus” Whitehurst?

The quarterback situation is the topic of the day. The Seahawks are down to their final two games, and despite a 6-8 record, still find themselves with a chance to win the NFC West and advance to the postseason.

I’m not sure why people think Hasselbeck can suddenly turn things around. Here’s what he’s done in the month of December, when the Seahawks needed him most:

Dec. 5 vs. Carolina: he completed 17 of 30 passes for 229 yards and was intercepted twice and threw no touchdown passes. His passer rating: 53.3 percent. Seattle won 31-14, but it was Carolina, the worst team in the league and it was a home game.

Dec. 12 vs. San Francisco: he was 27 of 42 for 285 yards with four interceptions and two TD passes. He fumbled twice, losing one. His passer rating: 60.2 percent. The 49ers humbled Seattle 40-21 at Candlestick Park.

Dec. 19 vs. Atlanta: He was 10 for 17 for 71 yards with two TD passes and a key fumble that Atlanta recovered in the end zone. His passing rating: a career-low 28.9 percent. The Falcons flew home with a 34-18 win. Coach Pete Carroll pulled Hasselbeck, who was the difference in the football game, and let Whitehurst finish the game for the Seahawks.

I think you’re fooling yourself if you think Hasselbeck will regain the magic that he had in the middle of the decade when he was one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks. Perhaps if he was on an elite team, one with strong protection and veteran receivers, he could still get the job done.

Does Whitehurst give you a better chance? I’m not sure, but I don’t think Seattle’s chances are any worse with him behind center. We don’t really know Charlie Whitehurst. Until this season he had never thrown a pass in a regular-season NFL game. In his only start against the Giants, when Hasselbeck was out with a concussion, Whitehurst didn’t do anything to make you think he was the quarterback of the future. And it’s not really fair to judge him on what he did against Arizona or Atlanta when the games were decided before he took a snap.

What we do know about Whitehurst is that he’s got a quick release, pretty good mobility and one of the strongest arms in the league. Is he a leader? Can he deliver in a pressure situation? It’s time to find out.

The Seahawks, as Carroll has repeated over and over again, are fortunate to be in the position they are in. Considering how Hasselbeck has played, especially of late, they’re really fortunate.

He’s been given ample chances and Carroll said Monday that’s he’s going to give No. 8 the opportunity to play his way out of this slump while the Seahawks are trying to play their way into the playoffs. But he also said he wouldn’t hesitate to use Whitehurst if Hasselbeck isn’t getting the job done.

It comes down to this: Carroll believes Hasselbeck gives the Seahawks the best chance to win.

We’ll see.

I won’t be surprised to find Whitehurst on the field at some point against Tampa Bay.


Steven Gray Leaves Games With Back Spasms

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

The Gonzaga-Baylor basketball game is on ESPN right now and if you’re wondering why Steven Gray — the 6-foot-5 guard from Bainbridge — isn’t playing, it’s because he left the court with about five minutes left in the first half with what’s been reported as back spasms.

Gray had two points, two assists and two steals when he left in obvious pain. He appeared to hurt himself by either reaching down to pick up a ball after helping 7-foot teammate Rob Sacre to his feet. Gray was averaging 16.8 points and 5.2 assists for the 5-5 Zags.


Bremerton’s Schaaf Posts Another 5th-Place Finish

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

Bremerton bobsled driver Bree Schaaf and teammate Emily Azevedo produced their second straight fifth-place finish in a World Cup race at Lake Placid, N.Y., on Saturday. Schaaf’s now ranked No. 3 overall after five races. Here’s the press release from U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation:

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (Dec. 18, 2010)-Two U.S. sleds posted top six finishes in the women’s bobsled World Cup event at Mount Van Hoevenberg today.  Bree Schaaf (Bremerton, Wash.) piloted her Susan G. Komen sled to fifth, while Elana Meyers (Douglasville, Ga.) threaded her way down the course to finish sixth in her World Cup debut as a driver. 

Schaaf teamed with Emily Azevedo (Chico, Calif.) for a total time of 1 minute, 55.04 seconds.  In a tightly packed competition, team USA II clocked runs of 57.56 and 57.48 seconds for their fourth consecutive top six finish this season. 

“We came into today wanting that podium, especially after yesterday,” said Schaaf, who was fifth yesterday as well.  “We wanted it so bad, and we’ve got enough experience now. This year is about learning how to win and attacking from the start.”

Schaaf believes that a mistake leading into corner one cost them enough time to block them from the medals.

“I went really late into one and you can feel your velocity (drop),” Schaaf said. “The exact sound is like Obi-Wan shutting down the Death Star in ‘Star Wars.’ That’s what happens when you scrub into one. You power down and try to play catch-up and try to stay alive and make up some time in the second heat.”             

After today’s finish, Schaaf is ranked third in overall World Cup points.
Just 0.02 seconds behind USA II was the third U.S. sled entered into the competition.  Meyers began driving just weeks after winning the 2010 Olympic bronze medal with pilot Erin Pac.  Pac retired earlier this season, and Meyers was named as the USA III pilot based on her America’s Cup success.  After qualifying during a Europa Cup race last week in Germany, Meyers made her World Cup debut today with Jamie Greubel (Newtown, Pa.).

“It’s a lot fun racing with Jamie,” Meyers said. “She’s another developmental pilot and a great brakeman. She’s really the one that put us in contention. Without those starts we wouldn’t be close to where we are. I’m really thankful she was in the back of my sled. Jamie’s got some wheels.”

Meyers was gunning for the start record she set with retired U.S. pilot Jamia Jackson in Oct. 2009.  Meyers and Greubel clocked start times of 5.55 and 5.58 seconds, first and second best of the day.  The pair was in eighth position after the first heat.

“A lot of people were talking about our first push time, but we really tried to just put it out of our minds and get ready for the second run,” Greubel said.” 

It worked.  Meyers navigated her KOA sled to the finish with the fourth fastest time of the second run after posting a time of 57.35 seconds, moving the team into sixth with a total time of 1:55.04. 

“The second run was better,” Meyers said. “I was just kind of loose. I didn’t feel like I had anything to lose so we just figured we’d go after it. This track is tricky and I’ve still got so much to learn, but I feel like we got a great start to our driving career.”

Shauna Rohbock (Park City, Utah) and Valerie Fleming (Park City, Utah) were hoping to celebrate Fleming’s birthday today with a gold medal.  The pair claimed silver yesterday, and were willing to put it all on the line today to cap the first half of the season on top. 

Rohbock and Fleming were in the running for gold after clocking a first run of 57.28 seconds.  Rohbock was piecing together splits that would put her in the lead, but she made a mistake in the labyrinth that caused the sled to roll.

“That was the worst crash I’ve ever been in, ugh,” Rohbock said.  “I’ve been in a lot and that’s the worst. I got a little late into 11, and then drove it. When I was coming out of 11, I was drifting away from 12. I already knew I was in trouble. You can’t go that late into 12 and hope it will be OK. I didn’t make it out of 12.” 

Canadian Helen Upperton was standing in the leader box at the finish watching Rohbock’s run, and was nearly in tears watching her competitor and friend walk up the finish.   

“It was a horrible ride,” Rohbock said.  “I’m going to need all four weeks we’ve got off. My neck and chest really hurt.”

Sandra Kiriasis extended her World Cup lead by winning again today with Stephanie Schneider after clocking a total time of 1:54.08.  Cathleen Martini and Christin Senkel from Germany were second with a combined time of 1:54.41, while Upperton and her brakeman Shelly-Ann Brown moved into third with a two-run total of 1:54.60.

Watch today’s race on Dec. 26 at 6 pm EST by tuning to Universal Sports.  World Cup action continues tomorrow with the men’s four-man bobsled race, and then tour will resume after the holiday in the mountains of Igls, Austria in Jan. 

For media inquiries, please contact Amanda Bird, USBSF Marketing & Communications Manager, at abird@usbsf.com, or at (518) 354-2250.  Follow the team on the USBSF Twitter page at http://twitter.com/USBSF, or on the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation Facebook group page.  Watch athlete interviews and check out the action on the abirdbobsled YouTube channel.

Results:
1. Sandra Kiriasis and Stephanie Schneider (GER) 1:54.08 (57.06, 57.02); 2. Cathleen Martini and Christin Senkel (GER) 1:54.41 (57.08, 57.33); 3. Helen Upperton and Shelly-Ann Brown (CAN) 1:54.60 (57.34, 57.26);…5. Bree Schaaf and Emily Azevedo (USA) 1:55.04 (57.56, 57.48); 6. Elana Meyers and Jamie Greubel (USA) 1:55.06 (57.71, 57.35);…Shauna Rohbock and Valerie Fleming (USA) (57.28. DNF);


Links About the Mariners

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

According to this post on Lookout Landing, new infielder Brenden Ryan isn’t going to hit. ” … Ryan’s essentially the same hitter as Willie Bloomquist, and I remember how people felt about Willie Bloomquist. People on the internet, anyway.”

Joe Posnanski writes that Ryan is a defensive marvel and makes a case that the Cardinals might have made a mistake by getting rid of him and giving the job to Ryan Theriot.

Larry Stone of the Seattle Times had an wrote an interesting blog on what the Mariners might get from the New York Yankees in a trade for ace Felix Hernandez. The Yankees are desperate for an ace after losing out on the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. Stone made it clear that nobody in the Seattle organization, or out of it, had told him that the M’s were interested. It was pure speculation. Read his story here. M’s GM Jack Zduriencik was quick to squash that rumor, telling SI.com that he had no interest in trading Hernandez.

Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald, whose reports appear regularly in the Kitsap Sun, wrote this:
“If you think the Mariners’ coming season is scary enough without a bona-fide power threat, consider what it would be like without Hernandez atop the rotation. As the team sets up now, that would make Jason Vargas the staff ace with some awfully high hopes (or prayers) riding with Doug Fister, Erik Bedard, Michael Pineda, Luke French and David Pauley.” Read the full post here.

There’s been no word on who might take Dave Niehaus’ spot in the Mariners’ broadcast booth. Should they keep things intact, going with the threesome of Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers. I thought Dan Wilson did a nice job in the games he worked. Got any thoughts or suggestions?


Roger Underwood: Still Cranking Out Good Stuff

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Roger Underwood’s one of the my favorite guys. Some of you remember Roger. How could you forget a guy who  said there was a reason he was always buying cool cars instead of a house: “You can live in a car, but you can’t drive a house,” he’d say.

And how could he afford those cars? “I”m in publishing,” Roger was fond of saying.

Rog worked here when we were known as the Bremerton Sun. He did a lot of really good work while covering the athletes and teams in our area.

He’s still churning out good work, now for his hometown paper, the Yakima Herald. Here’s a column that caught my eye and I think a lot of you will enjoy it. He writes about the night Lawyer Milloy, then a Lincoln High standout, stood out in a loss against  South Kitsap in a 1991 game against the big, bad Wolves. He also writes about covering Aaron Sele, the former North Kitsap athlete who went on to a successful big-league career as a pitcher, during the  state baseball semifinals and finals in 1988.

Roger does this while writing about Kellen Moore, the Boise State quarterback. Underwood covered Moore when he was leading the Prosser Mustangs to state glory. Anyway, he ties Milloy and Sele and Moore all together like only Roger can.

Roger gets back to this side of the water once in a while and we share stories and tell lies about the good old days. We met while covering the Sonics, me for The Sun and Roger when he was with The Daily Olympian. When Dan Weaver, the former Sun sports editor I learned so much from, left for Spokane, I became the editor and my first move was to lure Underwood to Bremerton to take my place on the Sonics’ beat.

When we talk, he always asks about Barry Janusch, the Olympic College men’s coach he got to know; and Scott Alexander, the director of golf at Gold Mountain, and many others, too. If you know Roger, he’s got a funny story for just about everyone he ever met.

You’re a good man, Roger Underwood.

Merry Christmas.


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