Home > Uncategorized > New Hope in Pacific Northwest

New Hope in Pacific Northwest

March 2, 2009

After a long year in 2008, the start of the new year has proved to be a good one for fans in the Pacific Northwest. Though there may be one less team calling Seattle home with the Sonics packing up and moving to the Sooner State, things certainly seem to be improving.

Beginning in the pro football ranks, the Seahawks are among the teams acting quickly with the opening of free agency this weekend as they look to improve some glaring holes. They signed former Green Bay defensive lineman Colin Cole to a five-year deal worth $21.4 million in an attempt to shore up the league’s 30th-ranked run defense of a year ago.

Also on the radar for Seattle is wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who is expected to make a decision soon between the Seahawks, Vikings and Bengals.

If the ‘Hawks could land the former Oregon State standout, the outlook for the 2009 season would be very bright for a team that ranked 29th in passing with a lack of any major weapons for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

Moving down First Avenue from Qwest Field to Safeco Field, the Mariners have made several moves in the offseason, including signing Jack Zduriencik, former scouting director for the Milwaukee Brewers, as general manager and Don Wakamatsu, former bench coach of the Oakland Athletics, as manager. 

The Mariners’ 2009 slogan, “A New Day, A New Way,” emphasizes the changes that have taken place and the positive outlook for the future.

Yet, as they move forward and rebuild, many fans are most excited about a blast from the past: the signing of former Mariner great Ken Griffey Jr., to a one-year deal.

With “The Kid” back in the what some have called “The House That Griffey Built,” the stage has been set in Seattle for a memorable, if not successful, 2009 campaign.

Beyond professional sports, however, there lies an even greater success story.

In the latest polls, the Washington Huskies earned the No. 13 and No. 16 rankings from the ESPN/USA Today and AP polls, respectively.

Just over a year ago, Washington was one-and-done in the Pac-10 Tournament, losing 84-81 to Cal in the first round. The Huskies then were invited to the inaugural College Basketball Invitational, only to lose to Valparaiso in a heartbreaking 72-71 home loss and end the 2007-08 campaign with a disappointing 16-17 record.

Now, the Washington men’s basketball team has clinched at least a share of its first regular season Pac-10 title since 1985 with an 83-78 come-from-behind victory over Arizona.

Not only is Washington among the Pac-10 elite, but the Huskies also have risen to a No. 3 seed in Joe Lunardi’s most recent Bracketology update.

After a forgettable 2008 football season — the Huskies went 0-12 — in which UW’s closest game of the season ended in a 16-13 double overtime loss to in-state rival Washington State, the success of the basketball program has revitalized the Husky fan base.

At 22-7 with two regular season games remaining, Washington has a chance with a strong showing in both the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournaments to break the school record of 29 wins in a season, which the Huskies have done twice, most recently in the 2004-05 season.

UW head coach Lorenzo Romar has elevated the status of the Washington basketball program since his arrival in 2002, but the 2008-09 squad appears to be his best yet with the Huskies.

Washington is led by an impressive triumvirate offensively, with all three averaging over 15 points per game, contributing to the Huskies Pac-10 leading 79.3 points per contest.

Leading the way is freshman guard Isaiah Thomas, a Tacoma, Wash., native who averages 15.8 points per game for the Huskies.

Behind him is a pair of seniors, guard Justin Dentmon and forward Jon Brockman, averaging 15.6 and 15 points per game, respectively. Brockman also averages 11.3 rebounds per game to lead the Huskies on the boards.

On the season, Thomas and Dentmon rank sixth and seventh in the Pac-10 in scoring. In conference play, both players have increased their scoring output, with Dentmon leading the team at 17.8 points per game — second in the Pac-10 — and Thomas behind him with 16.6 points per game, good for fifth in the conference.

With seniors Dentmon and Brockman leading the way and the ever-increasing experience and confidence of Thomas, the Huskies have the tools to be a major player in not only the Pac-10 Tournament but the NCAA Tournament as well.

Hopefully the Seattle faithful will get the opportunity to watch this trio lead UW deep into March or even April, but if not, it looks like the Mariners and Seahawks will give them plenty to cheer about in the near future.

Categories: Uncategorized
%d bloggers like this: