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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 March, 2011

UW football: Top spring storyline centers on QB battle

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Most of the attention at Washington’s spring football practices will be focused on the quarterback battle between redshirt sophomore Keith Price and redshirt freshman Nick Montana. Price got some experience as Jake Locker’s backup a year ago and made his only start against then-No. 1 Oregon. Montana’s got genetics on his side, being the son of former NFL great Joe Montana.

I caught part of today’s press conference and here’s some of what head coach Steve Sarkisian  had to say about the quarterback situation (you can watch the whole press conference here):

“I think it’ll be a great battle. Both need to focus on their job and their role and not worry about the other guy,” he said. “The real goal should be to compete against themselves to give ourselves the best (chance to win).”

Sarkisian talked highly about their intangibles. Both are over 3.0 students, both work hard in the weight room, both are well liked, both are bright.

Sarkisian said there would be “no rush to judgement to name a starter” and it’s possible he won’t name a starter until September. “We made decisions when it feels right and that’s what we’ll do here.”‘

Sark said he would name a starter, and that platooning probably wasn’t an option although he reserved the right to change his mind on that.  “Whoever is the starter, we need to develop a really good backup who ultimately will have to win us a game or two next fall.”

He said both quarterbacks “have been groomed since junior high,” to be passing quarterbacks, so “from a comfort level,” both are ahead of Jake Locker at this stage in their careers.

Sarkisian implied that the Huskies will be more of a drop-back passing team than they’ve been in the past with Locker. “They might not be big-arm, play-action passers,” he said of Price and Montana. “They like to be a little more spread out and they like to play catch.”

Here’s some things Sarkisian and his staff will be judging Price and Montana on:

1) taking care of the football.

2) understanding the offense and decision-making at critical times

3) managing the team; looking players in the eye in the huddle and convince them that the play is going to work

4) learn to throw the ball away (“that’s the hardest thing for a young quarterback to do,” Sark said.)

Pro Day

Locker and other Huskies will work out for NFL scouts on Wednesday at Husky Stadium. It’ll be televised by ESPN3. Go here for more information.


UW spring football is upon us

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian meets with the press Monday and the first of 15 spring practices are scheduled for Tuesday. Washington will enter the 2011 season on a four-game winning streak, capped by the 19-7 win over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.

As in the past, spring practices are open to the public. Weekday practices start at 4 p.m., Saturday practices at 11 a.m. except for April 16 (1 p.m. because a coaches clinic is held on that day).

Here’s a link to the UW site that has parking info, rosters and more.

We buy most of our Husky coverage from the Everett Herald. You can read Scott M. Johnson of the Everett Herald in our print pages and online. Here’s 10 questions the Huskies must answer this spring, according to Johnson. Look for Johnson’s dispatches throughout the spring.

Here’s a story by Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times that targets some issues going into the spring.

Condotta also blogged on incoming freshman tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who has graduated from Gig Harbor and is enrolling at the UW for spring quarter. I think it’s still possible that you’ll see Seferian-Jenkins playing basketball for the Huskies. He’s a big-time rebounder with incredibly strong hands and an above-average passer. I know he’s never been dominant in the Narrows League, but I saw him two summers ago in Las Vegas when he was playing with Total Package and he was a beast.


Nothing mid-major about VCU and Butler

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I’ve got Butler in a Final Four “Oddity Lottery” I entered. Got ‘em with the 25th overall pick. Sixteen participants each drafted four teams.

I was secretly hoping to get Old Dominion, too, but the Monarchs were gone before I could make my third-round pick. Butler and Old Dominion opened the tournament against each other so I figured I’d at least have one good mid-major with a decent shot of advancing a ways in the tournament.  Butler ended up beating Old Dominion at the buzzer and continued its march by taking out Pitt, Wisconsin and Florida to get back to the Final Four for the second in a row. Wonder if Old Dominion could have done the same?

Why not?

The mid-majors have arrived. The No. 11-seeded Virginia Commonwealth Rams will join Butler at the Final Four in Houston after stunning another Kansas.

Actually, the mid-majors arrived long before 2011. George Mason crashed the Final Four party in 2006 when it was a No. 11 seed and I read where coach Jim Larranaga gives his Patriots a lot of credit for breaking down the “psychological barrier” for teams like Butler and VCU.

Gonzaga has done its part to put the mid-majors on the map. Gonzaga beat No. 7 Minnesota, No. 2 Stanford and No. 6 Florida during a fun run in 1999. They were eventually stopped by No. 1 Connecticit 67-62 in the Elite Eight. Gonzaga was down by one with 36 seconds left in that game at Phoenix. That’s as close as the Zags have come to getting to the Final Four. Who knows, Gonzaga might have won it all that year if they could have held off UConn.

Maybe this is the year a mid-major finally wins a national championship? The talent level between the top mid-majors and the blue bloods like Kansas, Kentucky, UConn, Arizona, Florida, Ohio State and all the others is as close as its ever been.

This is what Kansas coach Bill Self said after losing to VCU: “If we played shirts and skins today, you wouldn’t have much of a difference on players or how they look.”

VCU and Butler face off in the semis, so one team will get the opportunity to change the landscape of college basketball forever.

Wouldn’t it be cool if VCU, one of the four teams that had to play-in to get into the draw of 64, won it all? A team with a coach named Shaka Smart. A team that finished fourth in the Colonial Athletic Association — the same league Old Dominion plays in — with a 12-6 league record. A team that beat teams from the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 to get to the Final Four. A team that should not have been included in the tournament, according to a lot of the talking heads when they talked on Selection Sunday.

It would be even cooler if its Butler can pull it off. It nearly did a year ago, losing 61-59 to Duke in the national title game. It’s got a coach, Brad Stevens, who looks like a librarian. They’re from the Horizon League. They’ve got a 6-foot-8 power forward, Matt Howard, who doesn’t look powerful at all. He wears old saggy socks and has floppy hair. At a glance, he looks like he belongs in the NWAACC, but he has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and winning games.

Butler and VCU are both in the right place. They belong in the Final Four with UConn and Kentucky. Put ‘em in the Big East or SEC and they’d finish in the upper part of the league. Put Gonzaga in the Pac-10 and they would be a top-3 team most years, winning it on occasion. Hopefully, the selection committee will start giving the mid-majors more respect. St. Mary’s of the WCC should have been in the tournament this year. The Big East might be the best conference — UConn did finish ninth in that league — but it didn’t deserve 11 of the 68 NCAA berths.

If teams from the power conferences filled their non-league schedules against the best of the mid-majors, you’d find out a lot of so-called mid-majors are every bit as major as they are.


Sports biz: M’s franchise 15th most valuable in Forbes ranking

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

Forbes magazine ranks the Mariners as the 15th most valuable franchise in baseball.

Former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton takes the fans side in the NFL labor suit. And he’d get the lawyers out of the negotiating room. “They jsut much things up,” he said.

The NFL’s not the only league facing a labor crisis. The NBA seems headed toward a lockout, too. The current deal expires at the end of the season.

The Mets and the Dodgers, two of the most important franchises in baseball, are in financial turmoil because of the debt-fueled financial recklessness of their owners, left unchecked by the league. That’s the angle of this piece in Forbes.com. A day later, the New York Post reported that baseball was going to come up with a rule on how much debut its teams can carry.


Can you stomach this Mariners’ lineup?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

If center fielder Franklin Gutierrez isn’t available because of his on-going stomach problems, here’s a projected starting lineup and possible batting order for the Mariners when they take the field in Oakland on Friday, April 1 (no April Fool’s jokes, please):

RF: Ichiro Suzuki

3B: Chone Figgins

LF: Milton Bradley

DH: Jack Cust

1B: Justin Smoak

C: Miguel Olivo

CF: Michael Saunders or Ryan Langerhans (I said no April Fool’s jokes)

SS: Brendan Ryan

2B: Jack Wilson

P: Felix Hernandez


The end of Qwest Field as we know it?

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

John Boyle of the Everett Herald, whose byline appears in The Sun regularly, filed this report on a possible name change for the stadium that serves as home for the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC.

By John Boyle
Special to the Kitsap Sun
When does a telecommunications merger constitute sports news? When it could mean a name change for the stadium that two of Seattle’s professional teams call home.
The FCC approved a merger late last week between CenturyLink and Qwest, which own the naming rights to the stadium that is home of the Seahawks and Sounders FC.

It’s not a done deal that Qwest Field will become CenturyLink Field or CenturyLink Stadium, but a statement from CenturyLink said sponsorship deals will remain in place, which would almost certainly indicate that a name change is coming. .
“All existing sponsorship contracts (including Qwest Field) that are in effect at the close of the transaction will remain in place,” CenturyLink said in a statement. “Each venue and the terms of the related contract will be evaluated to determine the appropriate re-branding implementation.”
In a story published Thursday in the Omaha World Herald, CenturyLink spokesman said that All Qwest properties will transition to the CenturyLink name.
The stadium currently known as Qwest Field opened as Seahawks Stadium before Qwest bought the naming rights in 2004. That deal was a 10-year sponsorship with an option for five more years.

For more Seahawks coverage, check out the Seahawks blog at heraldnet.com/seahawksblog


Brockman’s a Trick Shot master

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Jon Brockman’s Trick Shot video is making the rounds. The former University of Washington star from Snohomish and son of former South Kitsap star Gordy Brockman insists that all of these shots are real. You make the call.


Updates on SK’s major leaguers: Bloomquist, Cunningham and Hammel

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Updates on Kitsap’s three major leaguers, all South Kitsap grads:

Willie Bloomquist is having another sensational spring. He was 2-for-3 for the D-backs on Wednesday and is hitting .411. Bloomquist has been used almost excluisively at second base and has been batting leadoff for the D’backs when he plays. Kelly Johsnon (.288, 26 home runs a year ago) is Arizona’s starter at second. But Bloomquist’s versatility — he’s played every position except pitcher and catcher — should get him a lot of playing time on this team.

Padres outfielder Aaron Cunningham was scratched from Wednesday’s game against the Brewers because of a high calf strain. It’s not a serious injury and he could be back by the weekend.  Cunningham’s hitting .321 and is in the  hunt to be the Padres’ fifth outfielder, but it looks more and more like he’ll start the season at Triple-A Portland because San Diego wants him to play everyday.

Jason Hammel is entrenched as the No. 4 starter for the Colorado Rockies. He’s a strike machine who gets a lot of groundballs. The 6-foot-6 right hander won double digit games the past two seasons, and his ERA has been below 5.00 since 2007. After signing a two-year, $7.75 million deal, this could be a breakout year for the pitcher who pounds the strike zone and gets a lot of groundball outs.


Silverdale’s Norm Johnson named to Seahawks 35th anniverary team

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Norm Johnson, who’s ingrained himself into the West Sound community since moving to this side of the water more than a decade ago, was voted to the Seattle Seahawks’ 35th Anniversay team. The team was voted on by fans at Seahawks.com.

Silverdale’s Johnson has a worked as a realtor, was part of the group that helped bring the Boys & Girls Club to Kitsap County and volunteered to help the Kitsap Stampede become one of the top rodeos in the country. He was instrumental in getting his former teammate, and then-UW football coach Rick Neuheisel, over to a Kitsap Athletic Roundtable event that remains one of the most successful fund-raising and fun meetings in club history.

Johnson currently works with the Green Product Line, a company that produces all-natural products.

Here’s a story on the former UCLA kicker by Seahawks.com writer Claire Farnsworth. The complete 35th anniversary team is listed.


Tuesday links: Hasselbeck, Kolb, Palmer, Whitehurst — who is gonna QB the Seahawks?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

There’s been a lot of speculation about the Seahawks trading for Cincinnati QB Carson Palmer, which would reuinite the former USC player with his college coach, Pete Carroll. Palmer has requested to be traded. But Mike Brown, owner of the Bengals, says Carson’s not going anywhere.

Matt Hasselbeck’s future with the Seahawks continues to be debated. Pete Carroll said contrct negotiations with Hasselbeck, who is a free agent, broke down before the lockout and deal wasn’t made. Will ever be made? There’s also speculation that Seattle has discussed giving Philadelphia a first-round pick for QB Kevin Kolb, now a backup to Michael Vick. Kolb, like Palmer, is familiar with the West Coast offense the Seahawks are reportedly moving towards. Maybe the Seahawks make another run at Hasselbeck, sign him for a year and keep Charlie Whitehurst as backup and go for a QB in the next draft.

How’s your NCAA bracket? Probably not as good as the one filled out by 5-year-old Henry Hasselbeck, the son of Seahawks quarterback. Young Henry ranks No.103 out of 5.9 million who entered a contest on ESPN.com.

Charles Barkley reacts to criticism from Billy Packard by telling him to “shut the hell up.”

Spanish announcer goes loco and is reduced to tears while broadcasting the end of a thrilling Euroleague basketball game. 

The local newspaper is calling Richmond, Va., Hoopstown USA. For good reason. The Richmond Spiders and Virginia Commonwealth Rams both hail from the city. The 12th seeded Spinders and 11th seeded Rams are both in the NCAA Tournament. Sweet stuff, huh?


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