Cougs lose two more recruits?; Kahn RIPS Sonics; A case for Iavaroni?

First off, Cougs look to be losing two recruits from the 2005 class due to academic reasons. Bummer.

“In response to Internet rumors about academic hurdles, the sports information office cautioned that it’s too early to definitively say James Bradley and Joseph Townsend will fail to qualify for the 2005 season, but given the cyber chatter on the matter, they acknowledged that Townsend and Bradley have an uphill climb to get to Pullman this fall.”

Bradley has big-time speed and played really well in Texas, and he chose the Cougs over ASU and Colorado among others. They have been really high on the idea that he might compete for playing time immediately, given that Brackenridge will now probably redshirt due to academic woes. Not good.

Nor is it good about Townsend. He’s cat-quick on the interior for a 6-4, 280 lb kid. Then again, his two finalists were San Jose St and WSU, so he wasn’t your typical 5-star special. He was, however, a kid Walker was REALLY high on for his upside, but there are now rumors that he’s going to ask for his release and go to San Jose St. What’s tough is that he’s qualified via NCAA standards, but like Lawrence Ball who was a stud DE from Fresno last year, he wouldn’t make it through the admission board. So the ’05 class is taking some hits.

Next, Mike Kahn just KILLED the Sonics about Nate! Kahn has covered the Sonics since the ’80’s, and next to Frank Hughes, he’s about as dialed in as it gets, and he’s the one I heard over the weekend giving major warnings that Nate would bolt.

After reading that? I know you can’t get too worked up over every internet report, and I want to believe that Wally and Sund know what they are doing, but, man, it really looks like they threw him under the bus, only to find him fight his ass off and shove it up their butts on the way out of town! Now, he’s the mayor of Portland, shaking hands and kissing babies. VERY DISHEARTENING that they would do that to Mr. Sonic. Of course, there are two sides to every story, and Nate isn’t perfect by any stretch, but this doesn’t make me feel warm-n-fuzzies over the front office.

Finally, an interesting look at the idea of Mark Iavaroni. John McGrath takes a look, and it’s a good one:

Enough with the why, when and how Nate McMillan left the SuperSonics.
A sound businessman came to the conclusion he could accumulate a fortune faster with Paul Allen’s paychecks in Portland than Howard Schultz’s paychecks in Seattle. Furthermore, McMillan’s heartstrings were loosened by a simple case of middle-aged restlessness.
When “Mr. Sonic” insists his 19-year marriage with the team that drafted him in 1986 had grown stale – “I was bored with myself,” he said Wednesday night, “and I’m sure the fans were bored with me” – we should take him at his word, wish the gentleman well, and then shift the focus of the investigation toward finding a head coach who won’t be bored by the challenge of guiding an exciting team beyond the second round of the playoffs.
Meet Marc Iavaroni.
The right-hand man to the Suns’ Mike D’Antoni, Iavaroni has been labeled a rising young star among NBA assistants. Truth is, the 48-year-old is young only by Supreme Court Chief Justice standards. And though the 6-foot-10 forward started for the world champion 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, Iavaroni never has been a star.
He spent four years banging elbows in an Italian professional league before he got a job in the NBA. After retiring from a seven-season career that found him bouncing from Philadelphia to San Antonio to Utah, Iavaroni worked for Mike Fratello in Cleveland and Pat Riley in Miami before hooking up with D’Antoni, his former Italian League teammate, in Phoenix.
The Suns didn’t reach the NBA Finals last season – they were defeated by the Spurs in the Western Conference finals – but their metamorphosis from a lost-cause lottery team to the powerhouse that used a full-tilt boogie style to captivate fans might’ve been the league’s most intriguing story. And while credit for the turnaround was given to point guard Steve Nash (MVP) and D’Antoni (Coach of the Year), Iavaroni’s contributions were tangible.
He took Amare Stoudamire under his wing. A 6-10 power forward chosen out of high school in the 2002 draft, Stoudamire shot 60 percent from the floor during the regular season before performing a spot-on impersonation of a 23-year old Wilt Chamberlain in the playoffs.
“He’s been invaluable,” D’Antoni has said of Iavaroni. “He prepares every game. He’s been really great with Amare and the big guys, but he’s not limited to do just that. Somebody said he’s a big-man’s coach. He’s a ‘coach’s coach.’ He does a great job preparing a basketball team to get ready to play in all areas, and he’ll do that as a head coach.”
A few weeks ago, when Seattle made 7-foot Frenchman Johan Petro it’s first-round draft pick – a year after selecting 7-foot Robert Swift – it was tempting to envision the SuperSonics someday powered by a “Swift-Petro” front line.
The marketing possibilities are rich, and Iavaroni could make it happen. An imposing, no-frills big man during his playing days, he has embraced run-and-shoot dimensions as a coach. In terms of a franchise philosophy, Iavaroni is a better fit for the Sonics than McMillan, who reacted to the controversial trade that brought Ray Allen to Seattle for Gary Payton by enduring a press conference as if a large insect were crawling on the back of his shirt collar.
There are other candidates the Sonics might consider, such as Tom Izzo, the acclaimed Michigan State coach who’s been a friend of Schultz since their days as students at Northern Michigan. Izzo is a staple of the rumor mill – he turned down the Atlanta Hawks five years ago, and has been linked to pro job offers ever since – but the track record of college coaches jumping to the NBA is dismal.
Other names linked to the Sonics opening: Flip Saunders, Paul Silas and Doug Collins.
Their positives? They’ve all been head coaches in the NBA.
Their negatives? They’ve all been head coaches in the NBA.
Whenever there’s a head-coaching vacancy, fans clamor for a familiar face. A young team, the thinking goes, needs an experienced coach to take it to the next level. A veteran team, the thinking goes, needs an experienced coach to take it to the next level.
It’s easy to forget that experienced coaches needed a first shot, too. Gregg Popovich, whose head-coaching résumé boasted seven seasons at Pomona-Pitzer, was 46 when he was hired by the Spurs, three NBA championships ago.
Had ex-Chicago general manager Jerry Krause not identified the leadership potential in a 44-year old assistant named Phil Jackson, the Michael Jordan-era Bulls might have lost focus under Jackson’s high-strung predecessor, Doug Collins. (Lost focus: It’s a nice way of suggesting they might’ve killed each other.)
As the Bulls once gave a chance to an inelegant, board-crashing, overachieving role player, the Sonics should target another inelegant, board-crashing, overachieving role player. Iavaroni will figure to get an interview – he’s known Sonics president Wally Walker since they were teammates at the University of Virginia – but he can bring quite much more to Seattle than a familiarity with his boss.
He’s a tough guy fascinated by skill and finesse, a native New Yorker who labored in Italy, won over fans in Philadelphia and played a part in amping up the tempo in Phoenix.
Marc Iavaroni wouldn’t make anybody forget about “Mr. Sonic.”
Iavaroni’s jersey number – whatever it was – isn’t retired, and it’ll never hang from the rafters in KeyArena.
That’s OK. Besides, the Sonics might want to put a freeze on retiring the jerseys of fan favorites.
The last one got bored.

Further, I heard the play-by-play TV voice of the Suns on the radio this AM, just RAVING about Iavaroni. He’s now known as the #1 “bigs” coach in the NBA, and several people credit him with his hard, constant, non-stop work on Amare. This might be the absolute best option out there, no doubt about it. The voice also said that Iavaroni would bring the Suns style of play with him, which I’m mixed about. No defense and 100 shots a game? Can that win you a ring? Hopefully the no defense thing will be left with D’Antonio, but the more I read and hear about Iavaroni, the more I like it.

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