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Husky Men's Basketball Blog

Seattle Times staff reporter Bob Condotta provides a running commentary on the Huskies.

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March 30, 2008 10:48 AM

Meet the new boss. ...

Posted by Bob Condotta

With much of the Pac-10 landscape potentially changing --- is Tony Bennett really thinking of leaving? --- one thing remains the same --- UCLA is the king of all it surveys in the conference.

By getting to its third Final Four in a row, UCLA is staking a claim as the most dominant Pac-10 program since, well, the vintage UCLA teams of John Wooden.

The Bruins have won three straight regular season titles, two of three conference tournament titles, and have advanced deeper into the post-season than any other conference team each of those years.

With three straight Final Fours, UCLA has as many Final Four appearances as the rest of the league combined since 1997 (Arizona two, Stanford one).

The Bruins also salvage what has to be considered a more-disappointing-than-hoped conference run in the NCAA Tournament.

Sure, three teams made it to the Sweet 16. But conference teams really looked bad at times in a year when the Pac-10 billed itself as the best conference in the country.

The five Pac-10 teams that bowed out of the tournament all lost their games by at least seven points, and an average of 14.2. No what-could-have-beens there. Conference teams appeared to reach their ceiling, and it wasn't as high as everyone thought it might be.

And there seems little reason to think anything is going to change at the top anytime soon.

With half of the coaching jobs in the conference in some kind of flux, UCLA's isn't one of them --- Ben Howland is probably a lifer in Westwood.

And while the Bruins will suffer some significant personnel losses (just how significant won't be known until the underclassmen declare) they are also bringing in what ranks as the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

The only thing Howland hasn't been able to do in his time in Westwood is win in Seattle --- he is 1-4 against the Huskies at Hec Ed.


---- All your Tony Bennett needs can be met here at the Spokesman-Review's Cougar blog, which figures to be updated throughout the day. I'll single out a column by our Bud Withers who states his case for why Bennett may stay.

--- Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle has a good look at all the potential change in the Bay Area.

--- The Chronicle also has this story on how different Stanford may look next season if both of the Lopez Twins head for the NBA, which is an increasing possibility.

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Posted by jed

1:55 PM, Mar 30, 2008

It seems to me that if Tony Bennett is going to leave Pullman now would be the time. To stay a short time longer, e.g. one or two years would not make much sense. His stock probably won't get much higher in the next couple years and could drop.

The only way I see him saying is if he ( and this would be inexplicable to most Americans who are all about money and visability) would commit to remaking the WSU program for the long haul. To make his mark for time immortal. Something akin to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse or Joe Paterno at Penn State. Where WSU would become a life's work. Not sure he could win a national title there but no question with Jim Boeheim stability he could consistently bring in quality individuals who would choose to play for him. As Bud Withers says this type of program and atmosphere and expectations would allow the patience and support to consistently develop a senior driven program which is more Bennett's style.

You wouldn't make quite as much money but with time you would be very well compensated; and hey the cost of living in Pullman is low. How much money does someone need? $1 million a year is probably enough for anyone. And at the end of your career you would have etched you name in the stuff of legend. It would really take a special individual to do this but if there is anyone out there who might it is Tony Bennett.

Posted by ozziecoug

3:18 PM, Mar 30, 2008

According to the Spokesman Review blog (2:52 PM), Vince Grippi has spoken to Tony who told him that he has turned down Indiana and will be staying at WSU.

Posted by Geno

4:27 PM, Mar 30, 2008

Jed….there is no mistaken that Bennett’s leaving WSU this year would be better than next but you also have to realize that Bennett is young in basketball coaches years….way young. Bennett is only 38 years old…and he has many many years ahead of him to make his mark in the coaching ranks. He is not a player making the most of his freshman and sophomore years after one…two great years in the college ranks and hoping for a high NBA draft pick. Tony can stay at WSU, lead to many sweet 16’s…elite 8’s. final 4, and ultimately be crowned champs and STILL be considered for any elite basketball coaching job that opens up during the next 5….6 years. Hell, in another 5 years Tony will be ONLY 43 and still have his mental capacity for yet another 20 great years of coaching should he choose.

Lute Olsen is what…74…75 years old and Tony is 38. Come on people, give me a break when you think Tony’s best shot at a high profile job is NOW??

Tony isn't going anywhere for the foreseeable future. He made promises to incoming recruits....he will keep them. Make no mistake, there will come a time when Tony packs his bags and moves on, after all he is from the Midwest…that’s where his roots are, that’s where his family lives. He will return but now – hardly. He started something special at WSU and he will continue to see this through for a while longer. He is totally unlike your coach Romar who is ‘all about the money and too hell with the players, the staff, the fans, and the school…as long as I have my money I am happy’

Posted by Geno

4:37 PM, Mar 30, 2008

By the way, it is nice to see Davidson OUT of the NCAA Tourney. It’s nice to see the ‘little boys’ scaring the big boys for a game or two but that’s it. No more after two…three wins. The tourney is more enjoyable to see when the playing field is equal and the freshman are gone.

Posted by Geno

4:45 PM, Mar 30, 2008

ozziecoug....your post was spot on....way to go!

Posted by johnnycougar

8:26 AM, Mar 31, 2008

Good thoughts Jed. I think that Bennett is the type of person you are talking about, and he certainly would be deified in Pullman if he stays for fifteen or twenty years and builds a successful program. I can only hope it all comes true! But even if he leaves after another four years or so, as long as he leaves a good foundation I won't begrudge him his shot at a national powerhouse.

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