. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Thursdays With Raider: Part Of The Solution


Raider Thoughts

Words, words, mere words, no matter from the heart: 

The effect doth operate another way”

-Shakespeare’s “Troilus and Cressida, Act V Scene 3″

I will be more than gracious enough to give you the opportunity to vent about Denver’s loss onSaturday and how we probably should have seen this coming from a former assistant of ChuckStobart, but after this weekend of Ute basketball I feel as though I need to get some things off of my chest.

Thursday night as I’m walking into the Huntsman Center for the UCLA game I realized that perhaps I’m part of the problem.  While I am firmly entrenched in the “Larry critic” portion of Utedom, I like to think I’m at least going out of my way to gin up some excitement about the current direction of Utah basketball.  Yes, there are 11 newcomers on this roster and I think Jordan Loveridge could develop into a very good player, so maybe I should stop worrying and learn to love all that we have seen in Larry’s brief tenure here?

It could also be that I’m being selfish in my desire for the Ute hoops I enjoyed in the 90′s to make itstriumphant return, but let me ask you this: does it seem like Larry is the only coach that takes timeouts of his own just before his team hits media timeouts?  I’d love to ask a Montana fan if he did that up there, because that just seems so unorthodox to me.  From a purely rank amateur‘s viewpoint, I’m just not sure why you’d use a timeout when you’re practically given one.  Any of youout there that have an explanation that didn’t originate in an insane asylum, I’d appreciate it.  Thanks.

Now, the fact that we had not one but two golden opportunities to at worst send that game into overtime didn’t get to me as much as a couple of the guys I went to the game with (that you and I both know very well) came away thinking that a) we’re so close to being a good team, b) this team is fun to watch, and c) we have a great chance to beat USC.  Being the diplomatic sort of person that I am, I just can’t agree with much of any of it.  This team is often frustrating to watch, and that all came to a head with the USC loss.  The Trojans looked every bit the athletic, physical team that iskryptonite for this team, so why should I have thought a win was a sure thing?  Their record and the fact that they’re supposed to be every bit the doormat that we are?  

So hopefully my fellow Ute fans at large can forgive me if a lot of this era of basketball grates on me.  It’s hard for me to endear myself to something that has been better than this and ought to be better than this.  The promises of future glory just seem to ring hollow, that‘s all.

MAC Thoughts

First as for my beloved Broncos.  Sometimes things are just so very strange, maybe you’re just not meant to win.  Like one of those Madden games on NFL where you start with three turnovers and then your QB tears his ACL.  Only you just can’t hit reset.  The defense looked out of sync and maybe Champ Bailey just got old.  The decision to kick a 50 yard field goal when you’re playing on Hoth.  Still the Broncos escape if only Rahaim Moore doesn’t give the worlds biggest brain fart ever.  So by the time Manning throws that pick, I knew it was coming.  Total gut punch.

I finally understand the Larry Lapdogs (as coined by our friend Pat), and it’s understanding was given to me by none other than our friend Colo Ute.  This is a battle of science versus religion.  Now as a somewhat religious person let me explain.  Now I personally don’t think creationism and evolution have to be at war.  Maybe the world was created in seven days but those are seven God days and don’t mean seven man days.  Things evolve before our eyes so its a fact.  And we know the world is older than three thousand years.  (OK and if you’re one of those hard core creationists who things science is a lie, you’re wrong and free to never read my blog.)  Have you met one of those hard core creationists who deny any evidence of evolution or science in general and any evidence you present them just makes their faith stronger.  Well those are the Larry Lapdogs.

The Lapdogs are convinced of a few things.  That Larry is a great coach and the way this team is being coached so much better is so obvious it must be self evident.  Now the fact that this team doesn’t win means nothing, we’re just snakebit.  Remember how these same folks would have reacted if Boylen had lost a game?  Second the fact that we’re unless something changes, not going to do better than our previous coaches last year means nothing, because we’re so obvious playing better, except it can’t actually be measured in any way other than they just feel it.  Somehow the comparison is made to last season, which might be vaild, you know, if Larry didn’t go and get a whole new team, which should in my mind do things like win home games against USC.

Now if you do something like point out facts to these folks, they’ll argue for a minute, then call you name, then question your fandom.  In fact I’ve got my own fan club on twitter who suggest that I’m jumping for joy every time we lose.  You know anything not to face their own collapsing belief system.

My criteria is simple.  We have 14 games and a season to become an NCAA bubble/NIT team or we know exactly what Larry is about.  I’m not asking for a miracle, I’m asking for mediocrity by year three.  What say ye?

Raider Thoughts

If you all saw my piece(s) on the demise of my Raiders, you would have noticed the overarching theme of us completely botching draft picks, specifically first round picks.  One thing I couldn’t help but wonder about after that game was thisif Denver had to do it all over again, would they pick Patrick Peterson in 2011 instead of Von Miller?  Granted, they needed a LB in the worst way with that pick and Miller is by no means a draft bust, but Champ Bailey isn’t the “shutdown” corner he used to be, so why not groom a potential replacement?  And as we have proven, drafting a LSU standout fixes everything!

Let me put not just those of us who are the skeptics but the true believers on the spot with a simple question.  Can Larry make get the Utes to the NCAA Tournament?  And if he can do it without some sort of fortuitous “getting hot at the right time” situation (i.e.: a team similar to this year’s team making it by winning the Pac 12 Tournament), how long will this take?  Next year?  Two years from now?  Five years from now?  By my own admission, I fell for the Jim Boylen hype early on in his tenure, so maybe I’m doing the opposite of that to wash that stain ofmy conscience.  But I simply can’t see what the true believers do.  It could be that their faith–to sort of apply your analogy of the day–lies in the fact that anything we do that even appears remotely competitive in the Pac 12 gives a lot of our fans a weird sort of arousal.

At some point in the not too distant future, some program in this athletic department is going to have to step up.  I’m just kind of tired of this illusion of being competitive.  

(Note: I would go further here and make this a diatribe about Dr. Hill, but I’m going to save that for a really bad day.)

Now that we will have an NHL season, I’ll take this opportunity to discuss how the Sharks may have missed their window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup.  Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle and Douglas Murray are getting pretty old, and the younger guys like Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture won‘t be enough in theory to keep the Sharks a playoff contenders without some other parts.  Namely, some defensive pairings that aren’t lackluster.  I’m excited to see what will happen once Alex Stalock, the Sharks top goaltending prospect, makes it to the NHL, but I don’t have the greatest of feelings about a weird lockout shortened schedule.  

You knowI’ll end this portion with this…sometimes I wish I had a talent for filmmaking, because nothing would be better than knowing full well that you can embarrass yourself for all the world to see and just say “oh, it’s no big deal, it’s just the Golden Globes.”

Mac Thought

The Larry-ites are a fascinating group indeed.  Lets not forget my final banishment from a message board we both used to frequent came essentially because I failed to fall in lock-step with the Boylen hating and Larry loving.  Before this season and especially when we were almost beating good teams, they would still find me on twitter and tell me how we were really going to make some noise this year, could be the edge of the NCAA’s.  Then Saturday happened.

Now, we’re 2-3 years away and we should have always known that.  And Larry had nothing to work with and there could be major changes in the off-season and wasn’t this how Majerus did it?  Ignoring the facts that Larry ran off a bunch of guys and was totally incompetent in keeping the rest.  Then he brought in a bunch of new guys who were his guys and supposed to be awesome.  Now we’re 2-3 more years and more major changes away.  Well FAN-TAS-TIC.  BTW, here are some fun facts.

Ray Giacolletti’s last year 13 losses w/n 11, 8 of those w/n 5

Jim Boylen’s 3rd year 13 losses w/n 13, 9 of those w/n 7

Now those are the horrible years that the Larry-ites claim now is SO MUCH BETTER THAN.

As for the NHL, I am nominally a Washington Capitols fan, for reason’s I’m not sure other than I think Olvechkin is cool.  I get the sense that he might not be a winner, but I’ve made my choice with the Caps so c’est la vie.  I should probably learn the names of some of the other guys.

Finally this is kind of the last pass year I’m giving for all of our athletics for our transition to the Pac-12.  It was going to be tough, especially in the Olympic sports but it’s time we start stepping up across the board or heads need to start rolling.  You on board with this?

Also, Spring Training is just around the corner.  How about your Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.  BOOM BABY.

And an addition to the bottom, Jason Sudekis of SNL has both nailed January Jones and is now engaged to Olivia Wilde.  Girls like guys with a sense of humor or he has a really big penis?

Raider Thoughts

Truth be told, I think guys with senses of humor do pretty well with the ladies.  Of course, there’s always the caveat that the humor ought to be at least a little mature.  Quite often, my girlfriend will just shake her head when I‘m reading some kind of fart joke somebody forwarded to my inbox–and many times it’s from my brother.  It still hasn’t stopped her desire from wanting to join my abnormal family, so at least I have that going for me.  

Let me see if I can pick your brain a little about the Angels for a minute.  This team has to win the AL West this year, don’t they?  They pluck Josh Hamilton from Texas, no free agent on the market right now seems to want to play for the Mariners and the Astros argood for at least 13 wins for the Halos this year.  I’m not sure if the A’s are going to be able to catch the division napping again this coming September–and I‘m convinced that if Justin Verlander is anywhere near human in Game 5 of the AL Division Series this year, we’re discussing the aftermath of a Bay Bridge World Series–but heads would have to roll if they don’t get so much as a second Wild Card berth, wouldn’t you say?  

Our fellow hockey fan friends will probably have a few words to say about this, but I think the problem with the Caps is that they don’t seem to have supporting cast that’s good enough to take them very deep in the playoffs.  Crosby v. Ovechkin really should have been the Bird v. Magic of the NHL, but look at what the Penguins had the year they beat Ovechkin on the way to the Stanley Cup.  You had Evgeni Malkin, Max Talbot, Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, Rob Scuderi and a solid enough of a goaltending performance from Marc-Andre Fleury to get them a Cup.  The Caps, for whatever reason, haven’t really had that in the same way the Pens hav

Here’s some potential future blogging fodder, or at least something we’ve talked about in the pastwhich we can revisit.  A while back, I made a comparison that I think Chris Hill may become what Al Davis was at the end of his life and career if he’s not careful.  In fact, I drew my line in the sand while Al was still alive that whatever Al did was fine with me, and look what that got me.  It wouldbe very fascinating to see Ute fans in the not too distant future divide themselves on pro-Hill and anti-Hill lines, just like Raider Nation divided itself when it came to Mr. Davis.  I think the argument can have this kind of rhetoric: yes, Hill hired Rick.  He hired Urban Meyer.  He kept Kyle away from BYU.  Zoobs think that Dr. Hill hates Latter Day Saints, which is the most irrational fear in the longand storied history of irrationality.  That’s all fine and dandy.  But can the man who by and large got us here keep us here?  That might not be a question most of us want to answer, but it’s going tohappen at some point.  You and I might be a vocal minority right now, but don’t say you weren’t warned.  

I’ll end my portion of this week’s feature by wondering to myself that we have to win one of these conference games, don’t we?  There’s just no way we go winless in league play…is there?  I’m looking for hope just as much as you are.

Mac Thoughts

To start my conclusion, I will say that we must be close to the end of the tenure of Dr. Chris Hill, and not because someone is forcing him out, because he’s 63 and retire soon.  I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the good doctor, he’s done some good, gotten some credit for stuff that was already there, but he’ll leave the place generally better than he found it, except for basketball.  But more Ute fans worship him than not so he’ll leave on his terms.

As this relates to Larry.  Well I’m told that many remain in love with him under the if we just set enough screens and run enough inbounds plays well, we’re going to be awesome.  I call it the Hoosiers theory of basketball and something Spike Lee was right about.  You see Utah fans have talked themselves into the idea that it was all screens and defense that was part of our big run and they leave out the sheer amount of talent we had.  Just like people want to pretend that it was Jimmy Chitwood who made Hickory.  Now how long this delusion lasts, I don’t know.

Finally as for my Angels, they have to make it this year.  Honestly if the A’s don’t have their freak fall the Angels would have run them down.  They need to not start slow.  But looking at the talent this team has, it feels pretty good.  I’m just looking forward to some spring training.  As for mentioning Mr. Crosby, it’s injuries like this that are slowly going to kill contact sports.  Just like they have in the NFL, maybe its time to make the NHL more like international hockey.

Until Next Week, Sir.

Tags: Basketball Pac 12 Utah Utes

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