BY Art Thiel 07:40AM 02/09/2011

Water Cooler Cool: The weekend scene

Some UW fans jumping off Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbow Express

Lorenzo Romar's Huskies are riding a three-game losing streak / Getty Images

Each Thursday, Art Thiel checks out the weekend sports scene locally and offers more casual sports fans some observations that can get them in and out of conversations without anyone catching on to your, ahem, casualness.

Whether at the water cooler, bus, lunchroom, frat kegger or cocktail party, you can drop in a riposte, bon mot or bit o’ wit to start a conversational conflagration, or put one out.  Then walk away.


Huskies basketball: California (13-10, 6-5) at UW (15-7, 7-4), Hec Ed, 6 p.m. Thursday (FSN/ROOT);  Stanford at UW, Hec Ed, 5:30 p.m. Saturday — Three consecutive defeats have some fans jumping off the Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbow Express that used to be the Huskies hoops program. Those fans tend to forget one thing: Kids are weird. All of ’em. Hormones, sex, tattoos, Twitter, and now they are expected to manage 4G when nothing seemed wrong with 3G.

In the 18-22 age group, consistent concentration is harder to come by than a sentence that doesn’t include “like” or “y’know.” In basketball, defense is all about concentration, and the Huskies aren’t playing defense as they had.

Coach Lorenzo Romar is all about long, lean athletic guys who accept orders to play man-to-man defense first, second and third before they even think about things like air and water. The fact that Romar has resorted to playing occasional zone defenses is a testament to how far adrift this team is mentally.

How much of has to do with the injury loss of starting guard Abdul Gaddy and how much has to do with loss of pride over the now-ended police investigation of a sexual-assault allegation against one of the team members is hard to say. But to say it has nothing to do with their current state is a plain repudiation of what the average fool knows about human nature.

It’s been a huge distraction that no one dares admit. But at some point, the players will reach agreement that there’s nothing to be done, so they may as well just ball.  Always easier to do that at home than when the crowd is heckling players with “No means no.”

Shortly after the back-to-back doses of bad news last month, the Huskies lost at Stanford 58-56 Jan. 13, and three days later beat Cal 92-71, which became the first of three consecutive wins. Just when it seemed the Huskies suffered only a minimal emotional setback, they played perhaps their three worst games of the season. That’s what is meant by the vulnerabilities of youth and the absence of concentration.

The most remarkable part of the mood swings that take 3×5-foot sheets of graph paper to record is that adults bet on college-game outcomes. Even though the big-time programs are professional in all but name, that doesn’t change the fact the 18-year-old kid at the free throw line with two seconds left and the game in his hands was texted at halftime by his girlfriend to tell him she just missed her period.

So should you encounter a gambler agonizing about an error or misplay by a teenager that just cost him large coin in a three-game parlay, it is important, even imperative, to say, “Why don’t you just tack those $20 bills to the trailer door of the meth lab near the woods? At least the money will go to someone who needs it more than the casino or your bookie, and it will go to someone smarter than you.”

The Rotation’s weekly schedule:

  • Monday: That Was The Week That Was — A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
  • Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historian David Eskenazi’s deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
  • Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us — We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
  • Thursday: Water Cooler Cool — Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
  • Friday: Top 5 List — The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as we’re concerned.


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