Lock These People In A Room, College Basketball Would Change For Better

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Lock These People In A Room, College Basketball Would Change For Better

Attendance---When you get some brilliant people in a room, that are not afraid to express their opinion, lots of good happens.
That is exactly the scenario in Portland, Oregon over the weekend, when a TOWN HALL took place on how to increase basketball attendance on all levels of college and high school basketball. In attendance were coaches, media, athletic administrators, top flight marketing people and fans who care about the game of basketball.

The discussion was lively, spirited and full of great ideas. In case you have missed previous Crawford's Courts, for the fifth straight time in the 2011-12 season, attendance at D-1 basketball games decreased. It remains stagnant on the all levels of basketball for both men and women. So much so, that one out of four team in D-1 basketball in the last four years has seen at least a 20 percent drop in attendance. High school basketball by some accounts in the last 10 years has seen a decrease in attendance of at least 40 percent nationwide. This can only be described as a CRISIS on all levels and I am going to continue to write about it, because it needs attention.

Back to the weekend. The basic theme that came out of the TOWN HALL, which was open to the public, was that there needs to be a better experience created for the fan, who not only wants to see a great product on the floor but also wants to be entertained. And not necessarily by the cheesy promotions that some schools try to pass off year after year. No wonder the nation if overweight, with all these pizza promotions that every school seems to thrive on. Hey I like pizza, just like everyone else, but let's get creative people.

So if you would like to know more about the TOWN HALL you can email me, but out of respect for the people who did show up and also people that contributed ideas, but were not able to make it, I do not wish to spill all the beans here in Crawford's Court.
One more thing I can assure about, we all were unanimous as well, that if things don't change to make it a better experience for students and fans to attend games, you might as well play all your games on the road. Schools get with it, plenty of talented people want to work in the sports business, if you have someone in your area of marketing, promotion and ticket sales that is not cutting the mustard, make a change, it is that simple.

Seattle U---As a long time long time follower and admirer of Seattle University basketball, it is great to see the Redhawks playing in a league and actually a pretty good basketball league, the Western Athletic Conference. Even though the team is 0-3, I have to think for everyone league play sure as heck beats an independent schedule, which is mandatory for four years, when a team such as Seattle did, when they went from D-2 to D-1.

Mac's Message--- It is Monday, so time for another wonderful message, per a question from a reader, from Portland State assistant basketball coach, Andy McClouskey.

"Coach Mac, we have some athletes on the Viks basketball team, what is the thinking of a full court press and putting more pressure on the offense. Also, what makes a good full court press in your expert opinion?" Jason---Sellwood District---Portland, Oregon

"Jason, I appreciate you see that we do have good athletes on the Vikings team this season. It is interesting that you think of athletes and go to the next step to PRESS and apply more pressure. Going into the season we were thinking we might be able to press a little more with this group and use our speed and quickness to apply more pressure. We also felt that we might have the depth to play that way. Then as the pre-season practices came we had so many injuries to key players that getting that part of our defense in became lesser of a priority. We just could not expand our defense to include pressing on a full time basis. We have used the press to our advantage in a few games and it has been good to us.

I think what makes a good press is similar to what makes a good half court defense.
1. You must have great basketball protection so do not give up easy shots at the rim.
2. You must apply constant pressure to the ball-handler so they can't pass or advance the ball freely.
3. You must anticipate passes when the ball is double teamed so that interceptions or steals can be a result of the pressure.
All this has to take place with limited gambling and it is more the offense making mistakes as a result of the pressure as opposed to STEALING the ball. We are going to take advantage of the offensive mistakes when they occur yet not gamble to help the offense if that makes sense.

There are many ways to play and put together a team and sometimes team issues or injury situations dictate policy, so to speak.

Thanks, Happy New Year and Go Viks." Coach Mac---Portland State

Craw's Nine---Best nine teams in the six western leagues that play D-1 basketball. Remember, this is in the moment, record counts, but not the total way to get into the Craw's Nine.
9. Montana---Will Cherry is back for the Griz, do I need to say more.
8. Weber St.---No drop off, after losing maybe the best player ever in Big Sky
7. Arizona State--Good pre-league and off to fast start on Pac-12
6. Utah State----WAC is going to have tough time with these guys, this season
5. Oregon---They are deep, quick, great shooters and a wonderful team
4. Arizona---In the moment, not the best part of their season, still unbeaten
3. UCLA---I picked them in September to win the Pac-12 and sticking with it.
2. Wyoming---Big test, now they get the giants in Mt. West, but they earned number 2
1. Gonzaga---Final Four, I see it coming and big move to top of Craw's Nine

"100 in 90"---Big week, saw six games, moving my total to the year to 35, on pace. Really enjoyed watching the Clackamas Community College women's team this past week beat SWOCC in the opening of NWAACC league play.
Scores---I am slipping, bad week last week, especially picking the Beavers to beat the Ducks. I am 30-8 for the year, but I really finish strong, so watch out.
110 Arizona (62) at Oregon (78) Ducks are the better team after this one
110 Sacramento St. (60) at Portland State (94) PSU plays best game of the year.
112 Denver (64) at Seattle (69) Good chance for Redhawks to win WAC home game
112 Portland (58) at Loyola (59) Tough start for Pilots in WCC, road is brutal
112 Washington (83) at Stanford (73) Romar always wins big in January
113 Michigan (79) at Ohio State (77) OT--- This is the year for Big Blue.

GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twitter @wchoops askGregCrawford

Brackets Revealed for PK80

Brackets Revealed for PK80

The brackets for the much-hyped PK80 tournament have been released, and if you are a fan of college basketball you are in for a treat.

The tournament, boasted as one of the largest regular season tournaments in college basketball history, features 16 teams – a list that includes a combined 24 National Championships, three of last season’s Final Four teams, as well as five other teams that made the field of 64 last season.

PK80 will consist of two brackets, “Victory” and “Motion,” with each bracket crowning their own champion over the weekend. 

According to a press release, the names were chosen to pay tribute Nike and Phil Knight –

- “Victory”: In Greek mythology, Nike was considered the goddess of Victory

- “Motion”: The swoosh logo is not only meant to represent motion, but to also resemble the wings of the goddess Nike

Here is a quick breakdown of both:

VICTORY:

The “Victory” bracket will play host to local teams Oregon and Portland, 2017 National Champions North Carolina, as well as UConn, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Arkansas.

Round 1 will see North Carolina vs Portland, Arkansas vs Oklahoma, Georgetown vs Michigan State, and UConn vs Oregon.

MOTION:

“Motion” will be headlined by 2017 runner-up and Northwest favorite Gonzaga, along with fellow local school Portland State. They will be joined by Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, Texas, Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, and Butler.

Round 1 will see Duke vs Portland State,  Butler vs Texas, Florida vs Stanford, and Gonzaga vs Ohio State.

Click here to view a printable bracket

The two brackets will run simultaneously at Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum from Thursday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 26, with no games being played on Saturday.

Note: The champsions of the individual brackets will not play eachother, instead the brackets are being treated like two individual tournaments. 

For more information visit pkinvitational.com

 

 

 

Washington Huskies softball team closes home stand with win

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Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies softball team closes home stand with win

BY 

The sun was out and so were the fans as the University of Washington Huskies softball team defeated the Stanford Cardinals 10-2 in their final Pac-12 regular season home game last Sunday at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

The atmosphere was full of excitement as everyone seemed to enjoy the annual Fan Fest and emotion as they prepared to say good-bye to seniors Ali Aguilar and Casey Stangel on Senior Day.

Trying to keep emotions in check during Senior Day is always tough but Huskies head coach Heather Tarr kept the focus on what it’s all about.

“I think that it’s a challenge but I think it being Senior Day before our seniors are truly done…makes it a little bit easier,” said Tarr. “But it’s just more of trying to think of it as a celebration and you’re celebrating them before their gone…We never want them to leave but that’s the whole of college athletics is that you graduate.”

It was a rocky start for Washington pitcher sophomore Taran Alvelo (25-6) who gave up a home run to the Cardinal’s lead-off hitter senior Kylie Sorenson.

Alvelo got out of the inning and her teammates quickly brought the game back to their side.

After senior Ali Aguilar and freshman Sis Bates hit back-to-back singles senior Casey Stangel worked out a walk to load the bases. Sophomore Morganne Flores doubled to left field scoring Aguilar and Bates.

This brought up junior Taylor Van Zee who deposited the ball over the left field fence to bring the remaining Huskies home and extend to a 5-1 lead.

Seventh ranked Washington (40-11) never looked back as they continued to pound Stanford pitchers. The second inning saw Bates triple and come in on a sacrifice fly by Flores.-

The third saw junior Kirstyn Thomas lead-off with a double then stole third. She come in on a single by Bates and the Huskies had pushed their lead to 7-1.

The Cardinals (19-29) produced another lead-off home run in the top of the fourth by senior Lauren Bertoy but Alvelo once again stayed steady and kept Stanford hitless the rest of the inning.

Washington head coach Heather Tarr liked what she saw in Alvelo’s ability to keep the home runs from rocking her game.

“I thought she did a good job. She could have easily given herself a hard time after that leadoff home run (in the first),” said Tarr. But I think she knew that she made a mistake and it was a good hitter and she got through the next pitch and she worked it and found a way to win the game for us.”

The Huskies closed out the weekend series when junior Kelly Burdick took first base by a Stanford error, stole second and watched as both Aguilar and Stangel walked to load the bases.

This brought up Flores who collected her third hit of the game with a single that brought in two runs and gave Washington a 10-2 walk-off win.

The runs gave Flores five RBIs as she joined junior Julia Deponte and Bates with three hits apiece of the team’s 13 total hits. Alvelo pitched a complete game with three strikeouts and four hits allowed.

Washington completes the Pac-12 regular season this weekend with a three-game series against the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I'm not certain that every NBA franchise wants to have to listen to Old Man Ball

I'm not certain that every NBA franchise wants to have to listen to Old Man Ball

I'm not sure whether we should laugh or cry at all the preposterous stuff LaVar Ball is saying about his basketball-playing sons -- and even himself.

Here's a compilation of some of the things Old Man Ball has said recently and you can make your own decision about which is the most ridiculous. For me, it was the latest remark:

“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one."

How in the world am I supposed to buy into all the wonderful things he says about his basketball-playing sons when the man makes a stupid statement like that one? He played one season of basketball at Washington State and averaged 2.2 points per game. There is delusional and there is DELUSIONAL. LaVar is the latter. And it's obviously not confined to his own basketball talents.

This man once famously said his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry:

“I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”

Here's the thing about that: Even if his kid IS better than Curry, what's the point in saying it? Why put that pressure on his oldest son? If he's that good, he'll prove it.

People tell me that the dad's plan is to make sure his kids get attention through his remarks. But come on, they are going to get plenty of attention if they're as good as he says they are. And I'm not sure any teenager needs to hear all this stuff. To me, it's all about getting some attention for himself.

You can look back at parents/coaches like Richard Williams and Earl Woods and say that Ball's kids have a chance to be every bit as good as their dad says they will. Or you can look back at the sad story of Todd Marinovich and his father, Marv, and shake your head.

But there are unintended consequences to all the attention the daddy is getting. Basketball is a team sport, unlike tennis and golf, and these kids have to fit into a team. A franchise, even. I am hearing there are some NBA teams that are worrying about what kind of a problem LaVar would cause if they draft Lonzo. What I'm hearing is that if the kid is judged to be about the same ability as another player, the other player is more likely to be drafted first because of the possible pain in the backside the elder Ball could turn out to be.

You don't want this guy in the ear of the media if his son doesn't get to play as many minutes as LaVar thinks he should. Or he doesn't start right away. Or... whatever. NBA coaches have enough problems without this guy yelling at them to use his son in a different manner, get him more shots, etc. The father makes a lot of noise and I'm not sure coaches and general managers in the league want to put up with it.

And over time, I'm not sure what it's going to be like for young Lonzo to try to live up to his father's lofty and very public expectations. As good as Steph Curry? Well, if he falls a little short of performing like a two-time MVP will he be a failure? Probably not to you or me... but to his father?

It's going to be very entertaining to see this story play out over the next three or four seasons, as sons No. 2 and 3 show up at UCLA and then, the NBA. And at some point we'll find out the truth about that old NBA truism, "Ball don't lie."

 

Unsportsmanlike conduct? What about those raging coaches?

Unsportsmanlike conduct? What about those raging coaches?

The cameras Monday night at the College Football Championship Game were constantly drawn to the head coaches of the teams. Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban were certainly an attraction, for sure -- especially when a call went against them.

We watched them both screaming at officials with very animated, ferocious and even threatening displeasure. It was stuff you'd never see on the sidelines of a college basketball game or on the field of a college baseball game without some sort of punishment or ejection. Why football? Why are football officials so reluctant to throw a flag on a coach who is so obviously showing them up, impugning their integrity or just plain using them as an emotional punching bag?

I have no idea. But with all the lip service the NCAA pays to "student-athletes" and all the lessons they learn from college football, that's not exactly the behavior you'd wish to be projected by high-profile people in a leadership position. I was embarrassed for those guys in stripes, having to stand there and take that guff without any penalty.

But I will say that the astute observer I was watching the game with had the line of the night on Clemson's last drive. It was when an Alabama lineman was caught doing something illegal to a Clemson player.

"Unsportsmanlike conduct..." the referee began.

To which my friend added, "... it couldn't be worse than what we've seen the coaches doing."

And I agree. On college football's biggest stage, you don't need to showcase a couple of psycho adults blowing up on the sidelines without any punishment. And in the days of young players being penalized for merely celebrating their success, I would suggest that misbehavior by their coaches should be severely punished.

Skip bowl games -- heck yes, even if you aren't an NFL prospect!

Skip bowl games -- heck yes, even if you aren't an NFL prospect!

When Stanford's Christian McCaffrey joined LSU's Leonard Fournette in opting not to participate in their team's bowl games this season, it unleashed a controversy. A lot of people feel it's going to destroy bowl games if this becomes a trend. Or that it's a terribly disloyal decision to bail on their teammates for selfish reasons.

And of course, those arguments are a major load of baloney mixed with a ton of naivete.

Let's talk about McCaffrey. He's skipping the Sun Bowl to protect his NFL draft future, when getting hurt in a very meaningless bowl game could cost him millions. Just ask former Notre Dame star Jaylon Smith, who tore up a knee in the 2015 Fiesta Bowl and is still paying for it during his aborted pro career.

It's a business decision for these players, just like the ones college coaches make when they abandon their teams for a new job prior to a bowl game, leaving an assistant coach to clean up their leftovers.

I whole-heartedly endorse these players sitting out the bowl games and, in fact, I'll take it a step further.

If my son happened to be a fifth-year senior playing for one of these teams heading for a meaningless bowl game -- even if he had NO NFL PROSPECTS at all -- I'd hope that he'd sit out all the practices leading up to the game and the game itself.

Enough is enough. The only reason teams choose to participate in these dud games is to get the extra practices bowl teams are allowed. It's a chance to further integrate young players into the system. I'd tell my son, go ahead and give up your spot to one of those young players.

You put in four or five years to a college football program, you've sacrificed enough study time during final exams and subjected your body to enough bumps, bruises and painkillers. Get out while you can still have the hope to walk 18 holes on a golf course or play a couple of sets of tennis.

Loyalty? Come on, by the time these kids have played three or four seasons of college football they've generated enough money for their school. They've proved their loyalty over and over.

Man, the Sun Bowl? El Paso, Texas? I've been there, seen that.

And it is really not worth anybody's blood, sweat and ACL.

Have Ducks overestimated their appeal with coaching search?

Have Ducks overestimated their appeal with coaching search?

You are probably familiar with the word that pops into my mind when I take another tired look at the football situation at Oregon:

Hubris.

The definition is usually "excessive pride or self-confidence."

This is an athletic department that looks for all the world as if it dismissed a football coach without really understanding how difficult it was going to be to find a suitable replacement. That, I think, came from an overall arrogance in Eugene that believes the football program is one of the nation's elite and would be able to open the job and sit back and have its choice of dozens of quaified, big-name, experienced candidates.

While tossing all sorts of names out there for the local media to feast on, the Ducks' search group, led by AD Rob Mullens, was apparently working behind the scenes to bring in former Temple Coach Matt Rhule as the replacement for Mark Helfrich. CBS Sports reported today that not only was Oregon working hard to get Rhule, who today took the open job at troubled Baylor, but that he'd already had a key interview that most people believe would be the final one:

Before taking the Baylor job, Rhule had met personally with Nike CEO Phil Knight, the source said.

Why would anyone pass up a job at Oregon to take the same one at scandal-heavy Baylor? The CBS Sports piece has its own explanation:

Why would he turn down the riches of Oregon? Baylor may actually be an easier rebuild. Oregon suddenly finds itself in a loaded Pac-12 North with playoff participant Washington Huskies , Stanford Cardinal and a Washington State Cougars that has a chance to win nine two years in a row.

"It doesn't seem right but Oregon's not the job it used to be," said a person intimately involved with the Oregon program. "They have the greatest facilities in the world, but you still have issues there with recruiting and weather that you don't in the state of Texas."

It appears the Ducks let Helfrich go without having any real plan for his replacement -- which is a dangerous thing to do. Unless you're one of those elite schools such as Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, USC, etc., that is many coaches' dream job. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Oregon still does not have a coach and if there was a big-name, blue-chip candidate waiting in the wings to take it, that would have happened by now.

So now you run the risk of having to hire someone you've already dismissed as a candidate. A second choice. There is no way of knowing just how many people have been offered the job but Rhule is the only one who has been reported -- and he turned it down for a trainwreck of a program. I do not think the decision-makers at Oregon expected that to happen.

Hubris.

Portland State names Valerie Cleary as new Director of Athletics

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Portland State names Valerie Cleary as new Director of Athletics

Portland State University President Wim Wiewel has named Valerie Cleary the new Director of Athletics for the Vikings program. Cleary returns to Portland State after spending the past two years as AD at Willamette University in Salem.

Cleary replaces Mark Rountree, who is moving on to a role as Deputy Athletics Director of Georgia Tech.

"As our former associate athletics director who served as interim director before Mark was hired, Valerie Cleary has a keen understanding that academics and community engagement are a central part of the values of Portland State University athletics," said President Wiewel. "She also has deep experience and knowledge not only of athletics and athletes but of Oregon and the Northwest. We are thrilled that Valerie is returning to our campus as PSU's new athletics director."  

Previously, Cleary was the senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Portland State. She served in that capacity from September 2013 until she was named PSU's interim athletics director in the fall of 2014 as PSU was completing an AD search that led to Rountree's hiring. Cleary was named AD at Willamette in the spring of 2015.

"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to return to Portland State," Cleary said. "I feel fortunate to return to a campus and department where I learned so much and developed lifelong friendships. Most importantly, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to build upon the work of Mark Rountree and the fantastic staff in supporting exceptional Viking student-athletes."

Cleary takes over leadership of a Viking program that has won 28 conference team championships and made 18 NCAA post-season appearances since 2003. She will step into the development process of the Viking Pavilion, the academic and athletic center that will soon house the department upon its completion in approximately 14 months.

Cleary already has a working knowledge of the Viking program and most of its staff from her previous stint on the Park Blocks. During her tenure as interim AD in late 2014, she gave Bruce Barnum his initial one-year contract to be Head Football Coach and established other personnel changes.

Cleary has a significant range of experience. In addition to her time at Portland State and Willamette, she did admissions work at Pacific University, and director of student-athlete enhancement programs at Boise State University.

Cleary earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2000 from California State University, Chico, with a major in social science and an emphasis in sociology, multicultural and gender studies. In 2003, she received a Master of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach in counseling with a focus on student development in higher education.

While working at Boise State from 2002 through 2008, Cleary held several positions.

She was an educational specialist helping with BSU's Educational Talent Search for one year, then worked for three years as the coordinator of the TRIO Dissemination Partnership. She became the academic advisor and BroncoLIFE coordinator for the Athletics Department in 2006. Cleary was named the director of student-athlete enhancement programs in 2008.

At Pacific, she was the assistant director of undergraduate admissions from September of 2010 through October of 2012. She was promoted to associate director of undergraduate admissions in October of 2012.

Cleary is scheduled to begin at Portland State on January 1. Rountree will be leaving PSU on Dec. 16. Deputy AD Matt Billings will serve as interim athletics director during the two-week span.

It turns out that College Football Playoff just as messed up as BCS or polls

It turns out that College Football Playoff just as messed up as BCS or polls

It's fixed. It's all a setup.

College football set up a playoff system, ostensibly to fairly determine a national championship on the field, rather than by simply holding a beauty contest masking as a poll. But what we ended up with this weekend is another example of the sport being more concerned with TV ratings and ultimately cranking the money machine up even higher.

Ohio State meets Clemson in the first round. Alabama plays Washington. It's really all about trying to set up an Urban Meyer-Nick Saban matchup for the championship -- two superpowers and two supercoaches meeting in a ratings bonanza.

In a four-team playoff, Ohio State shouldn't even be in the mix. At least by the listed criteria of the College Football Playoff on its website. That website says:

The selection committee ranks the teams based on conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and other factors.

Conference championships won? What conference did the Buckeyes win? Penn State won the Big 10 in the conference's title game while Ohio State sat home watching. I'm actually shocked Washington got in because you know the committee was dying to put Michigan in, for the TV ratings a rematch with Ohio State would draw. But apparently winning the Pac-12 matters more than winning the Big 10, even though most people believed the latter was a more powerful conference this season.

Of course, the playoff should include at least eight teams with automatic berths for the Big Five conference title winners and then three wild-card teams. That would cover all the teams that belong in the playoff -- including, this season, the Buckeyes and red-hot USC. And not Michigan, which lost two of its last three games.

And it's silly when people make the argument that the controversy of having just four teams and the fuss over who gets chosen is good for the sport. No it isn't. It never has been. A whole lot of people complaining about what you're doing is never a good way to market your product. We heard the same excuse for the BCS system for years and that whole thing stunk.

For me, it's just one more example of why I've lost a degree of interest in college sports over the years. It's a bunch of kids working hard at their sport to enable a bunch of wealthy athletic departments and their administrators to generate as much money as possible off the sweat of those kids. Exploitation rules. This isn't about finding the best team, it's about making the most money.

That's fine if this is strictly business, but it isn't. This is supposed to be "student-athletes" competing on a level playing field. You know, the purity of sport. I can't even write that without smirking.

It's a mess.

 

UCF's Scott Frost proclaims he's 'not a candidate for Oregon'

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USA Today

UCF's Scott Frost proclaims he's 'not a candidate for Oregon'

If he was even on it, you might be able to scratch Scott Frost off of Oregon’s coaching to-do list.  Maybe.

Not long after Mark Helfrich was dumped by the Ducks, Frost’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement.  The connection made sense, given the fact that the UCF head coach spent seven seasons with the UO football program as an assistant.

There has been speculation, however, that the Ducks, who haven’t hired from the outside in four decades, may be looking to branch out with this coaching hire.

Even if they were interested in taking the same tack, Frost, at least publicly, is saying he’s not interested in returning to Eugene.

“I’m not a candidate for Oregon,” the 41-year-old Frost said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m happy right here. This is where I want to be. I started something here, and I feel like we’ve taken a lot of steps to get this program to the top of our league. I want to see that through.”

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