Thursdays With Raider: What If?

Editors Note: I scheduled this to post on Friday but some how screwed it up and made it for Friday a year from now.  So Sorry and yes I’m an idiot.

Raider Thoughts

Before I begin, I have to post this semi-random YouTube video, because I thought about howmuch you lament the elderly Caucasian folk in this part of the world and their penchant for theancient fundamentals of the game of basketball.  I present with minimal comment…Uncle Drew:

I must confess something about the Washington game this past Saturday.  I didn’t find out that we won until I woke up on Sunday at 4:30 in the morning.  As it turned out, I fell asleep sometime around halftime as I sort of got preoccupied with the Warriors coming back to beat the future NewOrleans Pelicans.  It was around this time that this dawned on me: “since when do I fall asleep sometime around 9pm?  The last time I went to bed that early on a weekend, I was a mild mannered fourth grade student at John Baldwin Elementary in Danville, California”.  There’s no feeling quite like the feeling that you’re getting old well before your time.

Allow me to consider for a moment the possibility of what if we’re all completely wrong about Larry and the victory against Washington (and in particular the players who made big contributions to getting that victory) was the sign of this program turning the corner.  Two of thegame’s key players for the Utes–Jason Washburn & Cedric Martin–won’t be back next year but certainly the play of Brandon Taylor and Jordan Loveridge might be enough to make my grouchy self eat well done crow before this season is said and done?  As your entry after that gamealluded to, we still aren’t quite out of the woods yet, especially since Stanford and Cal aren’t exactly Athletes in Action.  But let’s say that the Utes can string together another 6 wins to get to 15 wins this year.  More than doubling our win total from last year might do it for the rest of you, but there’s that creeping thought in my mind along the lines of ”what if I’m wrong about this guy?” Hopefully you will all forgive me for wondering if Larry is more Wayne Howard than Ron McBride.

While I’m at it, let me clue you in on, if not reiterate, the genesis of my particular brand of Larry skepticism.  My brother–who is a Boise State alum–sent me a text the day Dr. Hill hired Larry and said “you guys really hired him?  (Former BSU AD Gene) Bleymaier didn’t even consider him for our opening.”  Bear in mind here that my brother likes to…exaggerate.  He proposed to his current fiancee by using a fake ring he bought from the jewelry section at Wal-Mart before saying “oh, just kidding, here’s the real one” and he also convinced one of his middle school teachers that my Dad served in Vietnam as an ex-Navy SEAL, despite the fact that my Dad was all of 17 years old when the fall of Saigon happened.  Still, I can’t help but wonder why a basketball program like Boise State, which has a much different level of expectation–real or imagined–than we have, would not give him the time of day.  Any of you that want to fill me in on the inner workings of that theory of my brother’s, knock yourselves out.

I’ve given you the opportunity to vent with Denver’s playoff loss to Baltimore a few weeks ago, so I will now pick your brain about Gonzaga’s loss to Butler on Saturday.  I will refrain from posting the video of the last shot of the game because I still want to remain friends, but this article had a very fascinating quote from Butler’s hero, Roosevelt Jones:

“I heard their coach tell [Stockton] to throw a lob pass to [Kelly] Olynyk, so I got behind him,”

I think that has to be the very definition of a “head’s up play”.

And now for something different…do you look at couples, married or not, and say “you know what dude, if you share a Facebook page with your significant other, you should turn in your Man card?”  That has to be the 21st century version of couples who wear matching outfits.  Facebookin general can get kind of obnoxious, but of everything such passive aggressive humaninteraction entails, couples sharing a Facebook page is the most puzzling.  There has to be somereason I’m not completely aware of with that.  But I’m also going to be the ripe old age of 32 this week, so this is probably one of my first “you crazy kids” moment of my adulthood.

MAC THOUGHTS

I’ve always stated this about Larry.  That is, if I’m wrong and in two years we’re in the NCAA tourney with a bright future ahead, well I’ll never enjoy a plate of crow as much as that one.  That being said, Cedric Martin is doing a whole bunch of dirty work and Washburn has become something like the player we thought he’d be.  Next year I would assume the hope is that the Olsen kid can step up and something between the JC Transfer, Taylor, Dean and Dotson plus the young Van Dyke will provide guard play.  What that sounds like is a log jam and it makes me wonder if Larry decided to have Van Dyke stay a little too quickly.  Maybe next week we’ll start breaking down what Larryball edition 3.0 might look like.

Sadly the story about Larry is very very true.  That Boise lunatic from twitter confirmed that Larry went begging for that job and didn’t even get an interview and they ended up going with Leon Rice (whom I got a wedding present from if I may insert a brag).  Now considering Rice has Boise competitive in a shockingly tough MWC meanwhile we are 1-5 in an ok Pac-12, well…    If you want to know what my complete theory on how Larry is our coach, here it is.  A great deal of it is confirmed.

Chris Hill decided to fire Jim Boylen after the loss to San Diego in Maui. This despite the fact that Boylen’s wife had a miscarriage, so maybe we could have excused that weekend.  Now here it goes one of two ways.  When Boylen was hired Larry took the Bucks job or he’d have been our coach.  Of course he was a name then and not a guy that flopped with the Bucks and no one else wanted.  Either Hill just had to have Larry or Hill thought the boosters who forced Boylen’s firing would open up the check book and they didn’t.  Either way the interviews were minimal.  Randy Bennett would have taken the job for 1.3 million or so but we wouldn’t give it to him.  Mark Gottfried begged for the job and Hill wouldn’t talk to him, and despite several recommendations Hill also refused to talk to Dave Rice, whom as you know is kicking ass at UNLV.  Larry took the job for 900K, largely because we’re the only ones willing to hire him and he was the only one willing to take that little of money.

Finally getting old is a pain.  Even more as a guy who had a kid later, doing the math on how old I’ll be when he graduates high school and college, well man that hurts even more.  Every once in a while, my bones creak or I grow angry at the douchebag college kids who live below me and well, I know my dad is looking down laughing at me saying, now you know.

Raider Thoughts

Our old friend Pat (who you innocent readers of the Internet can follow on Twitter@100ThingsUtah) made a comment to me last season after we witnessed Jared Cunningham and Oregon State shred the Runnin’ Utes.  After three seasons, Hill is going to have to make a decision based on the team’s performance whether he should get an extension or whether he should be fired–because those are the most obvious choices at that juncture.  Based on that,Larry has to be playing for his job next year unless Dr. Hill starts showing up to work drunk every morning.  Let’s say this year’s team wins something like 15 or 16 games.  (Yeah, I know, winning 5 more games might be incredibly optimistic, but just follow me here).  Next year has to be “postseason or bust” given what returns, I would presume.

(By the way, I’m sure Pat is thrilled that we’re dragging him into our little internet discussion, but let’s just hope he doesn’t mind).

Speaking of coaches salaries and boosters and such, before the 2011 season us beloved Ute football season ticket holders got a flyer in the mail from the athletic department indicating that the U has the smallest athletic budget of all of the Pac 12′s member schools.  Even Wazzu has a bigger athletic budget than us, which sort of surprised and saddened me all at the same time. Which brings me back to Dr. Hill and Larry.  Let me throw in four of my own postulates and plug them into any of yours.

1. The flyers I and many others got from the U are gospel and we really don’t have the kind of money to pay Randy Bennett an extra $250K.  (What we still owe to previous head coaches notwithstanding).  Leading me to believe that we have a lot more poor West Valley drunkards in this fan base than we would really like to admit.

2. We’re sitting around waiting for a full revenue share in the Pac, which I can sort of understand, but if that’s true, why react when you can act?

3. Hill seemed to think that if he found diamonds in the rough before that he can do it again.  No one had ever heard of Urban Meyer when Hill hired him and certainly no one had ever heard of Rick when Hill hired him.

4. I’d be willing to wager one dinner at your favorite Pima County dining establishment that if Larry does end up canned after next season that Hill will hire Tommy Connor to replace him.  I mean, you know it’s bound to happen so I figure that calling my shot now is better thanspeculating about it later.

You live in Tucson and I’d always wondered how someone who may not be a senior citizen but has definitely grown out of partying 5 to 7 nights a week would like a place like that.  I’ve only been there one time and I was there after I graduated from high school, so back then it seemed like a great place to spend your 20′s drinking Corona and practicing the fine art of STD avoidance.  Now that sounds like a summer/offseason blog entry: the Hoyo’s Revenge Old Pueblo Travel Guide.

I’ll conclude with a tease for next week where I attempt to rationally explain what Tim Brown was talking about when he made mention of the quisling Bill Callahan and the unraveling that was supposed to be a Super Bowl XXXVII victory.  This could be a problem for me, as discussing my Raiders often makes me irrational and grouchy, so you should all be in for a real treat next week.  Unless of course you’re all wondering if I’ve ever had any fake girlfriends.

MAC Thoughts

I realized in my haste to respond to you, I forgot to respond to the gut punch loss from Butler.  The whiner side of me wants to point out that even Seth Davis said that Olynyk was shoved pretty good.  But I know you’re not getting that call at Hinkle and that in this world of ours, sometimes stuff happens.  The Butler kid let the ball go with 1/60 of a second to go.  What else ya gonna do.  I felt better after Gonzaga Curb Stomped BYU.

Second, to make Pat feel better about being drug into all of this, here is a promo for his book, 100 Things Ute Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, available at Amazon.com and other places that might still sell books.

I think Pat is right, we’re going to need to look at things after next season.  But there seems to be this group that the more Larry fails their faith in him just seems to grow stronger.  There must be at least some segment of the big boosters who believe this, so who knows how long he gets.  If we’re not dancing by year four, well, I’d guess that has to be it.

As for Hill finding diamonds, well Majerus was pretty well known in hoop circles and wasn’t on Hill’s radar till Jeff Jonas made the introduction.  And Urban Meyer had coached at Notre Dame and under Earl Bruce, so I’m guessing something similar holds true.  Maybe trying to shake out what Hill is and isn’t responsible for would be an interesting off-season topic as well.  I mean it’s that or Utah Baseball.

As for the next hire being Connor, I’m told if for some crazy reason if someone hired Larry, we’d promote Tommy.  And really if Tommy was the HC now and we got rid of Andy Hill and brought in two new assistants with more recruiting experience, would we honestly be worse off?

As for Tucson, yeah I’m happy to chat about the place.  Its an odd place but one I’ve grown to enjoy.

Until Next Time.

Topics: Basketball, Pac 12, Utah Utes

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