Matisse Thybulle


It seems to me that conservative play-calling was the villain in the Seahawks being knocked out of the NFL playoffs by Dallas. I started yelling at the TV early. What are they doing? Quit running the ball on first and second downs, and sometimes on third down. It isn’t working. You got to throw the ball.

Unfortunately, Pete Carroll could not hear me through the TV.

The Cowboys were stuffing the run. So why would you continue to try it? How stubborn can you get?  When the Hawks finally woke up and started to rely on the arm of Russell Wilson, good things began to happen. Unfortunately, the air attack came too late and the Hawks are sitting home now.

As somebody who has been around sports and coaching for over 60 years, coaches often out-think the game. Teams adjust all the time, often on the fly. And over the years I believe Carroll and his coaching staff have done a great job making half-time adjustments. It’s one of the reasons the Hawks have had the success they have.

But, sometimes it takes somebody from the outside slapping them upside the head to knock some sense into them. That would have been proper response Saturday in Dallas. Wake up. You can’t run the ball against a cement front. Throw over that front.

It’s a good thing I didn’t have a rock Saturday or I would be looking for a new TV today.

And I don’t want people to write or talk about how the Seahawks did better than expected. I already have seen one such story. No, they didn’t do better than expected. They should still be in the playoffs. They still should have a chance at a second Super Bowl win. They had the will, they had the defense, and they have the coaching staff.

They just needed somebody to knock some sense into them.

Oh well, we still have the helter-skelter, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Washington Huskies men’s basketball team to look forward to for the rest of the winter. Don’t get me started on the Syracuse 2-3 zone that coach Mike Hopkins brought with him to Washington when he left after 23 years as Jim Boeheim’s assistant at Syracuse. Boeheim is the master of the 2-3 zone, and has won with it … still I have a problem with it.

I don’t think you can be successful being one dimensional. Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense is great. But you can match up against it – as Washington has done under coach Chris Petersen — and beat it. And you beat it because Leach won’t deviate from it no matter the game situation. When an opponent like Washington rushes three and has eight back, it’s time to adjust the Air Raid and do something different. Maybe, like running the ball? But Leach refuses to change. He sticks stubbornly to it and, yes, he will win games with it, but I argue he will never win a championship with it.

Same with the 2-3 zone. It may slow down some teams. It may be an effective defense in the long haul (especially if you have Matisse Thybulle), but in game situations when the other team is poking holes in it with an effective shooter form the elbow, or from the corners or by sneaking a player along the baseline for a bounce pass and easy layin, it’s time to make a change.

But, no, Boeheim won’t change, and either will Hopkins. I remember watching a Syracuse game a couple years ago and the Orange were down by about 10 points and Boeheim did something he rarely does: He went to a man-to-man press. And what do you know, the Orange came roaring back and took the lead.  But once they had the lead, Boeheim went back to the 2-3 and the Orange lost.

That’s stupidity. That’s over thinking the game.

I believe ‑have always believed – that you build your team around your players. You don’t build your players around your system. Sure, you can structure your team around a system, but I don’t believe that is the best way to be successful.

The situation the Orange found themselves in during that game a few years ago makes my point. His man-to-man press was awesome. And it was awesome because he had the players to make it work. But he took away that by going back to his 2-3. Why would you do that? Utilize the best ability of your players the best way. In this case, it was obvious that the Orange would be much, much better playing man defense.

Oh well, I’m just a small voice in the middle of the largest forest in the world. Nobody listens to me.

The other thing I would do if I was to coach now is to concentrate on the mental. There is so much we do that is almost all mental. I don’t know how many times in my long life I have seen a player that didn’t have the best ability do amazing things. Why? Because that player had the mental attitude that he/she could not be defeated. That attitude is more than 50 percent of the deal.

On the other side of that, I have seen players with tremendous ability wind up doing nothing with it. Why? Because that player didn’t have the conviction of his/her ability. He/she didn’t have the mental toughness to play up to the potential.

So if were coaching I would spent at least half the time drilling the mental side of life into my players. You can do anything you want as long as you believe you can. Nothing can hold back those who have that deep desire to succeed.

I got off that 2-3 Husky zone, didn’t I?  Well, the good thing about the Huskies and their 2-3 zone is that they are playing in a conference (the Pac-12) that is dreadful this year. Where is the super team? I thought Arizona State might be it until the Sun Devils got beat by Princeton.

So there is a good chance the Huskies will finish in the top half of the conference. When their helter-skelter play is working and Thybulle is filling the passing lanes and picking off passes and their transition game is working, the Huskies are as good if not better than any team in the conference.

But the Huskies can’t shoot it, can’t rebound it, and when opponents have the means to destroy the 2-3, they could be in big trouble. I figure the Huskies will go 10-8 in conference. Because the conference is tight top to bottom, they will likely finish in the top half somewhere.

Okay, enough. I’m going to go watch football. And hopefully I won’t have to scream at the TV.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.