BY Art Thiel 11:59PM 01/05/2011

Water Cooler Cool: The weekend sports scene

Art Thiel offers ammunition to start a conversational conflagration

Now that Abdul Gaddy has been lost for the season with a knee injury, Venoy Overton becomes the man / Sportspress Nothwest file

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.

Hasselbeck and Whitehurst

At practice Wednesday, Charlie Whitehurst (6) and Matt Hasselbeck were joined at the fist bump / Noel Zanchelli, Sportspress Northwest


Seahawks football — Vs. New Orleans Saints, NFL playoffs at Qwest Field, 1:30 p.m.  (NBC):  By Saturday morning, the sports world will have made every joke possible about efforts to keep the 7-9 record sported by the Seahawks out of the NFL playoffs. (OK, one more) Despite efforts by the CIA, Interpol, MI-5 and the Mossad to head off the event, based on the clear and present threat to world order should losers get into the NFL playoffs, the terrorists clearly have won. Or something.

Also by Saturday morning, sick unto to death will be followers of the saga of MattHurst, or if you prefer, CharlieBeck, the quarterback twins joined at the sore buttock by quandary, not controversy. A week earlier,  they were simply Matt Hasselbeck the Elder and Charlie Whitehurst the Nazareth Carpenter. The inability of Pete Carroll to choose one as a starter is a toxic dilemma that has vexed the entire species, and is believed to have been the source  of the sudden deaths of thousands of birds, which fell this week from the sky over Beebe, Ark.

So you, the casual arbiter, will take a different tack on this most unusual affair (the Saints are favored by 10 points, the largest spread for a road team in the history of the NFL playoffs). You will observe that the outcome of games is rarely decided in Las Vegas or at quarterback. You will note that the offensive line is where the tale will be told.

“Max Unger is out, now Chester Pitts is out and Russell Okung will sprain his ankle during the national anthem,” you say gravely. “The Seahawks can’t keep the same five guys together along the line if they used anchor chains. You watch: No runs, no rings. Just like baseball.”


Huskies basketball — vs. Oregon 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Hec Ed (FSN); vs. Oregon State  5:30 p.m. Saturday at Hec Ed, 3:30 p.m. (FSN) — Not too funny, these match-ups, because Monday, the Huskies lost starting guard Abdul Gaddy, a sophomore from Tacoma’s Bellarmine High, for the season when he tore up his anterior cruciate ligament in practice. His absence will cause Venoy Overton, a defensive whiz, to start instead of come off the bench.

The Huskies are a deep team, which is a big reason they were favored to win the Pac-10 Conference. But now they are not as deep, which means somebody has to step up. That somebody will be Terrence Ross. Mature beyond his freshman status, the skinny kid from Portland will seize the opportunity of more playing time as the season progresses. By March, he will be an offensive weapon.

“The light is on with this kid,” you say. “Ross is a hoss. Don’t doubt for a minute.”

Then when you are asked about the Huskies’ chances in the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments in March, pretend that your cell phone is ringing in your pants or purse and take the call in another room. Until the question is forgotten.

“Water Cooler Cool” is published every Thursday as part of Sportspress Northwest’s package of home-page features collectively titled, “The Rotation.”

The Rotation’s weekly schedule:

  • Monday: That Was The Week That Was (TW3) — A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
  • Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historial 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.


  • Brett Burton

    Woah, you’re getting way ahead of yourself.  Sark has never indicated that USC is his dream job.  The scholarship limitations are going to kill that program for the next 5-8 years, and by the time USC would come calling Sark should have UW rolling with a new stadium and football operations building.  He would be foolish to leave for that job, and I highly doubt he will.