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- Written by Donovan Brink
- Published on October 31, 2006
- Hits: 6216
After a one-week suspension, the econo-model Sportster returns to dial up his weekly rant, including one highlight from last week's blog which was banned by the Island Internet Union.
I stand before you, the Internet blog-reading public, shamed. The act I committed during last week was reprehensible, and I fully accept responsiblity for my actions. So, since the IIU (Island Internet Union) has been gracious enough to reduce my suspension from four weeks to one, I intend to be on my best behavior -- which was never that good to begin with -- while presenting my 10 topics of the week. Oh, and as part of my IIU probation, I have been required to add at least one piece of bonus footage for the next three weeks.
So, here we go:
11. New England in the fall? Yes. Sauvie Island in the fall? No thanks!
Sauvie Island -- located just north of Portland on Highway 30, for those unfamiliar -- is indeed a scenic locale. But for a three-week period in October, all Hell breaks loose, literally.
Within a mile or two of the bridge leading onto the island, there are now three farms which feature pumpkin patches, rides for the kids and two with Corn Mazes. But the most popular over the years has been the original Pumpkin Patch. With parking for close to 500-600 cars available, the Patch is jam-packed from open to close for the first three weekends of October. This being my first fall living on the island, I finally understand what it means to be held hostage in my own home.
Case in point: On the first busy weekend, my friend left for work at 3:20 p.m. in order to get to work by 6 p.m. The 11-mile trip to the highway takes on average 15 minutes. At 4:30 she called to inform me that she was still three miles from the bridge, having hit a traffic backup, and had just completed one mile over the past hour. The next day, I had to leave the island mid-morning to go to town. When I returned, traffic onto the island spilled a good mile onto Highway 30. Traffic already on the island was something that Wes Craven could envy. I don't know if it was the Halloween spirit or what, but since traffic TO the Pumpkin Patch was backed up to the bridge, I went the "long" way home. Hardly a hiccup on my drive, but I found myself counting the number of cars parked in traffic, going absolutely nowhere thanks to the logjam on the bridge and onto the highway. I lost count at 700!
The following weekend was even worse. After having both of my local football teams lose, my Ducks lose and my Eagles lose, the rest of that Sunday afternoon would be spent at Chuck E. Cheese for a birthday party. Fortunately, my three-day depression had made me numb to anything around me, which also made me oblivious to anything around me, which in turn made me just like the other 500 people crammed into that glorified mouse hole. After three hours of blood-curdling screams and crying children left unattended, we made our way back onto the Island. Taking the same route I had taken the night before, I again lost track of the number of cars lined up in the jam. But the back-up was another mile-plus longer than the night before. If you want a perspective, picture the closing scene in the "Field of Dreams," when people come to the Iowa cornfield for no apparent reason. Or, picture the Sunset Highway inbound on a weekday morning when there's a wreck near the Sylvan Tunnel. Yeah, it was something like that.
And to think the local governmental knuckleheads -- who by the way are about two steps shy of being Jack-o-Lanterns themselves -- fought for two years to bring a major motor speedway to this area? They can't even get people off an island. If there is ever an emergency, I hope my neighbors know how to swim.
Then last week, to top things off, not only did we have the zoo known as the city-folk picking pumpkins (if you haven't seen this, it's a hoot; 5 pounds of make-up, hair perfect, pleather jackets and boots, complaining about the mud on the bottom side of a pumpkin; it's priceless). We also had a two-day loss of telephone service due to an equipment upgrade. The outage only effected the "outer" parts of the island, which is where my suspension comes into play.
Last Wednesday evening, the IIU received word that yours truly was attempting to do "valuable" work on the Internet with a 56K dial-up connection (which usually peaks at 24K anyway). The following days, there was no Internet service. The only service we had was sporadic, and the lone times I was able to connect were to announce the delay. But the real reason behind that delay was an e-mail from the IIU:
It has come to our attention that, despite repeated warnings from cable and satellite companies, you insist on using an unreliable dial-up Internet connection -- or UDIC -- to access the worlds of sports, blogs and message boards. This is in clear violation of the IIU, and as a result you have been suspended for four weeks for using a Performance-Reducing Service (PReServ).
Have a nice day.
Island Internet Union
cc: everyone else on the island, so they can point and laugh at you."
"Performance-Reducing"??? Who do they think I am, the Canadian snowboarding team?!?!
Well, thankfully, I pleaded my case with the IIU and had the suspension lowered to just one week -- with conditions. So, that being said, let's get on to this week's 10 things:
10. Good sportsmanship gone bad?
Every week we hear people complaining about teams showing a lack of good sportsmanship. There are always disgruntled fans -- usually those on the losing end of the game -- complaining that the winning team should have done more to keep the game close. There is no reasoning with these people. To some degree, their complaints about the "sportsmanship" are as equally appauling as the actions of the team they're complaining about.
If there is one thing I have learned in 16 years of sports writing (last week was my anniversary), it's that no matter how hard a coach tries, the last thing he will do -- or admit to doing -- is intentionally keeping the score as close as possible in blowout games. With the exception of Bandon's Don Markham, whose teams routinely scored in the 60s, 70s and even 80s while giving up very little, most coaches will do ANYTHING to avoid having to write that blasted letter to the OSAA explaining why the other team was so horrid.
"Take a knee. Take a knee. Take a knee." That's right, with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter of a 55-0 ballgame, the winning team should just start kneeling on the ball right there, even if the kneeler is the second- or third-string quarterback. Sure that scenario is a little extreme, but I'm sure it won't be long before we start hearing that complaint.
And by the way, when did taking a knee all of a sudden becoming the international signal for good sportsmanship. Don't get me wrong: I think it's great that teams show respect for injured opponents by kneeling on one knee while the player is attended to. But I have seen on several occasions this year where one player on the sideline had not taken a knee, and was ridiculed by teammates and fans alike. I have seen another where teammates on the field were screaming at their own quarterback -- on a conference with the head coach on the sidelines -- for not taking a knee. I even saw kids on one team scream at a teammate to take a knee: THE KID WAS ON CRUTCHES AND IN A STRAIGHT-LEG KNEE BRACE!!! If I were him, I'd have taken the crutch I didn't need and put this little loudmouth (kid looked like a JV call-up thinking he'd made the big time) in the same condition I was in.
Did failure to take a knee somehow become the 11th Commandment? If it did, I never saw the memo. Maybe another one of those things President Bush back-doored into law (see this week's No. 1 for an explanation). I'm waiting to see the first time a player is flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct for not taking a knee. Or the first time one of the kids on a team holler at the photogs and writers roaming the sidelines to take a knee. I think you know what's going to happen if one of them throws that edict my way.
But getting back to sportsmanship "in-game" and the complaints about teams running up the score. There are some instances where this is completely unavoidable. Take for instance Baker's 43 points in last week's 63-8 win over Mac-Hi. I doubt there were any cries of poor sportsmanship. Seriously, should coach Dave Johnson have yanked his starters after the first quarter and been kneeling on the ball the entire second half? Nearly as ridiculous as the earlier-mentioned scenario, but it won't be long until someone insists on it.
9. Football season in Bizarro World
If you are a fan of the Superman comics, you've no doubt heard of "Bizarro World", an alternate dimension where everything is actually the opposite of what it seems.
Over the last two weeks, that's what this football season has seemed like to me. Not so much at the high school level, but most definitely in the college and pro ranks.
For example: Oregon "couging" it against Washington State (and destroying their BCS hopes in the process), and the following week Oregon State -- of all teams -- shocking USC. Sure the Trojans were ripe for the picking, but the Beavers were the last team I thought would clean off the vine. Michael Vick doing his best impersonation of an NFL quarterback. The Eagles losing a "sure thing" on the third-longest field goal in NFL history. The Raiders winning back-to-back games, including Sunday's upset of the defending Super Bowl champions. The Chicago Bears, period.
And finally, Saturday's victory by Temple over Bowling Green, ending the Owls' 20-game losing streak. This may have flown under most peoples' radar, but as a weekly reader of ESPN.com's "Bottom Ten", the Owls were a regular part of my scoreboard checklist.
I mean, this team finally winning game isn't just your everyday victory.
It's Prairie View A&M snapping an 80-game skid.
It's Northwestern, which snapped a 34-game streak by beating Northern Illinois. That Northwestern team was so bad the students once stormed the field in a 61-14 loss to Michigan State and tore down the goalposts, chanting "We're the worst! We're the worst!"
It's Columbia University, which lost 44 straight in the 80s with a team so poor that the CU marching band used to play the theme to the "Mickey Mouse Club" when the team took the field.
Even in its own little corner of the college football universe, it's a piece of history.
8. Cardinals win the World Series!
Whoop-dee-doo. Proud to say I didn't watch a single inning. Did you?
The only thing I really recall are the Sportscenter highlights of Detroit Game 1 starter Kenny Rogers' left hand. Was it dirt? Looked more like pine tar to me. You know, "George Brett's Miracle Power Cure"?
Whatever it was, the good folks at ESPN's Page 2 threw in their two cents with this postgame press conference.
Without that, this World Series would have been as forgettable as all of the others that didn't include the Yankees or Dodgers. Oh, wait a minute, it was.
7. NBA tips off
Speaking of who-gives-a-damns, the National Bangers, er Basketball Association opened its season on Halloween Night. Did anyone else notice? Fraid I didn't. All I noticed was another 20 minutes of sports highlights that didn't involve football, and a four-page sports spread about the "new and improved" Trail Blazers. I'll give the Blazers my usual two weeks of disinterest before dumping the NBA season entirely.
6. Bledsoe's goose cooked?
Looks that way, if new Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo's performance against Carolina was any indication. In that game, Romo did two things: he had the kind of consistency that Bledsoe hasn't shown in years, and he made T.O. happy, temporarily. "T.O. and Romo sittin' in a tree ..." Kind of has a ring to it, don't it?
But here's the one thing I haven't heard the girthy Bill Parcells -- or anyone else -- ask about. Romo might be a good quarterback, but how good are his ribs.
5. Class 4A Coach of the Year
OK, time to get down to some high school business.
This past week, the question was posed as to who the leading candidates were for the Class 4A Coach of the Year, and of course, the "usual suspects" were named. Bob Macauley at Sisters, Tim Dodson at Siuslaw and Sean McNabb at Scappoose have been in the running seemingly every year of this decade. One fan threw out Ontario's Randy Waite, a nomination which may be picking up steam after last week's win over La Grande.
But, just like last year, my vote would go in an entirely different direction. You see, last year I thought the best coaching job was done by Yamhill-Carlton's Allan Boschma, who took a team which had gone winless in 2003 and sent them to the second round of last year's state playoffs. Granted, Boschma had plenty of talent to use -- see this year's team, it's basically all of the same guys -- but in coaching, there's more than just developing talent. There's also overcoming that stigma of losing. Teaching kids how to win, and how to believe you can win, can be almost as difficult as teaching them traps, dives and SAM stunts. Boschma did that, and as a result, this year's team was feeling pretty invincible before a couple of losses.
This year, I would definitely cast my vote for Astoria's Howard Rub. I mean, his Fishermen were 3-0 before packing it in with six straight losses. Basically, Rub's 2005 Astoria team was this year's Seaside (won four of first five, then lost four straight). Granted Rub has some outstanding individual athletes, but no team does what the Fishermen have done this year without having a few ponies to pull the wagon.
I like the "usual suspects" and respect their work. But I don't necessarily believe that the top honors should always go to the team who makes it the furthest in the playoffs. Sometimes, the best work is done before the season even starts.
4. Ranking the 4A leagues, skill position style
I've been trying to keep a running list of the top quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers in Class 4A, but due to some sporadic listing of statistics through other media, those lists are somewhat incomplete.
But here's what I do know as we wrap up the regular season this week:
Best RBs: Sky-Em. DUH!!! I think you'd have to go a long way back into the record books (and do some serious digging) to find a league which had two 2,000-yard rushers in the same season. But between Sisters junior Cory McCaffrey and Marist senior Brandon Jackson, that's almost exactly what the Sky-Em features. Through last week's games, McCaffrey has 2,250 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. Jackson has more than 1,800 yards and 21 TDs in two fewer games. McCaffrey has had just one game all season where he didn't run for at least 200 yards. That's a combined 4,000 yards between the two backs, and those teams have at least two games apiece left to play. The only time I've personally seen two backs from the same league even come close to those numbers was ... oh, that's right. I haven't.
Best QBs: Cowapa League. On nearly as staggering a pace as the Sky-Em's running backs, Yamhill-Carlton's Zach Anderson and Scappoose's Justin Engstrom are logging similar numbers this season. Both are completing passes with near pin-point accuracy (Engstrom 148-232, 63.8 percent, and Anderson 146-234 with one game unavailable, 62.4 percent). Anderson is doing most of the "heavy lifting" in the yardage and touchdown departments with nearly 2,500 yards and 36 TDs, while Engstrom has thrown for 1,700 and 17 TDs. Anderson has more interceptions (12) than Engstrom (5), but the Tigers are also quite a big more pass-wacky and vertical than Scappoose's short-strike attack.
Oh, and lest we forget the one kid who is raising more eyebrows than either of the league's yardage leaders: Astoria sophomore Jordan Poyer, who gets stronger by the week. Passing and running, the double-threat speedster has accounted for more than 2,100 yards of total offense and 28 touchdowns, and has been intercepted just five times.
There appears to be a bit of a quarterback controversy brewing in the Cowapa League. The all-league team in the Cowapa traditionally consists of just one all-league team, with two positions available at quarterback. Since Poyer is drawing league MVP talk, that means Friday's game with Scappoose at Yamhill-Carlton could decide who the second all-league quarterback will be. Add to that, all three quarterbacks likely will be on the all-state ballot. Might the Cowapa sweep those three all-state team spots?
Honorable mention: Capital Conference. The Capital also has a pair of pretty decent pigskin chuckers in Cascade senior Tommy Coleman and Molalla junior Joshua Haqq. Although Haqq's official season stats were unavailable, he has surpassed the 1,500-yard mark and is nearing 20 TDs, while Coleman is over 1,900 passing yards with 20 TDs as well.
Wide receivers: With the strong numbers being put up by their QBs, is it any surprise that the Cowapa wins this category as well?
The two-headed target of J.T. Sorenson and Tony Perry has been huge for Anderson. Entering this week's game, Sorenson has 69 catches for 925 yards and 12 TDs, while Perry's incomplete stats account for 34 catches and 772 yards (rec-yds unavailable for Taft game; sat out two games). Perry is averaging 22.7 yards per catch (anyone remember James Jett???) and has 16 TDs, including four games of three scoring catches or more.
At Scappoose, senior Weston Powers is approaching his school's single-season receiving record (70) set by Brett Maloy in 2000 when Maloy had 139 receptions in back-to-back years while chasing down balls from another big-name Cowapa QB. Powers had five catches for 107 yards Friday against Banks, marking his third consecutive 100-yard game and giving him 61 receptions on the season. Powers has logged more than 700 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns as well.
3. Comeback for the ages?
Taking a trip into the 3A ranks, did anyone happen to see the carnage which was the second half of Friday's Warrenton-Rainier game?
Warrenton took a 30-0 halftime lead, but the Columbians used their "Diesel" offense to rally and post a 32-30 win to keep alive their hopes for the Lewis & Clark League title.
A 30-point comeback? That's almost unheard of at the high school level, outside of maybe the 8-man ranks.
As that big lead continued to collapse, the Warriors must have felt like they were trying to plug a leak in the Titanic using Hubba-Bubba. Or, like "Black Sheep" and "Candycane" trying to escape from homicidal trucker "Rusty Nail" in "Joy Ride".
2. Now I know how Jake Plummer feels
Being a bit of a gamer, something caught my eye Monday as I logged onto NFL.com. It was one of those irritating expanding ads for another Web site, but this "accidental" click turned out to be worth its while.
The site was www.nflrush.com. Kind of like SI Kids, only NFL. On that site I found links to several fun little games, and Tuesday afternoon found myself spending a couple of hours screwing up games any 10-year-old would have mastered in the same amount of time.
The two I recommend most are one where you try to take the kid to school, and another called "Backyard Passer." Basically because those are the easiest.
The two most frustrating games were Moe Lawnmower and Perfect Throw. On Perfect Throw, you are automatically the character of that week's featured passer, who in this case was Denver's Jake Plummer.
How fitting that was: it took me several attempts to finally throw a pass in the direction of my own receiver, and when I finally did, even that pass was intercepted.
1. Wasn't the U.K. once our ally?
Intergovernmental relations between the United States and United Kingdom took a big kick in the stones this past month, and the damage may be irreparable.
On Oct. 13, President George "Dubya" Bush signed into law a bill entitled the "Safe Port Act, HR 4954." But, beginning on page 213 of this 244-page document was legislation that sent aspects of the UK's economy plummeting and angered some 10 million Americans in the process.
What, you may ask, was the big deal about trying to secure our ports? Well, if that had been ALL that was included in the bill, nothing. But beginning on page 213 of the document is the "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006."
The day after the bill was signed, I tried to log onto my Internet poker game of choice, Paradise Poker, to see if there was a cheapy game I could get into. Paradise Poker is operated by sportsbook.com, which I have used in the past for football betting and generally keep a small balance in my account. Upon trying to log in to Paradise Poker, I receive the following message: "Due to changes in United States legislation, this site no longer is permitted to provide service to our U.S. customers."
Needless to say, this got my attention.
The UIGEA prohibits any form of online gaming in which real money is transferred into accounts hosted by offshore companies. In essence, some of the most popular online poker sites in the world would no longer allowed to welcome players from the United States with this legislation, which officially goes into effect next Monday.
I consider myself a recreational poker player. No high-roller, by any stretch of the imagine. I find it enjoyable and relaxing. And, like millions of others, I don't have your standard "brick and mortar" game readily available. So, the easy solution was playing online. After the 2003 World Series of Poker, when accountant and poker amateur Chris Moneymaker won the $2.5 million championship, poker interest in the United States exploded. Moneymaker survived a field of nearly 900 players (each paying a $10,000 entry fee) to win the event. By 2004, that field grew to 2,500 players, and Greg Raymer won $5 million. In 2005, it was Australia's Joseph Hachem outlasting more than 5,800 to claim a $7.5 million first prize. And this past year, professional player and film producer Jamie Gold won $12 million by beating a field of 8,000-plus players.
Notice how large those fields grew. More than half of those players didn't come close to spending $10K for a seat. They were online qualifiers who earned their spot by winning a series of qualifying tournaments online, and the site host ponied up the full entry fee on that player's behalf.
Online poker has become perhaps the single largest form of online economy in the world. During the first fiscal quarter of 2006, one online site reported average earnings of $2.7 million PER DAY, garnered from "rakes" (percentage of live-game pots) and portions of total tournament entry fee pools.
When news first broke that the "Safe Port Act, HR 4954" had in fact been signed into law, stocks in several European online gaming companies fell nearly through the floor, and the United Kingdom's Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell expressed her country's anger, comparing it to the Prohibition of the 1920s.
After checking around, I was able to find that at least a few online sites are still welcoming U.S. players, which may ease that sting a little bit.
Had this bill gone to a vote of the people, it would have been beaten like the Washington Generals. Just one more great example of the government made of the people, for the people and by the people.
OK, now to meet the conditions of my probation, I offer you the best weekly football postgame report I've seen all year.