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September 2012 - Ketel One Vodka Major Championship Challenge Trip to Pebble Beach
By Miles Liatos Sports Radio KJR
Chris Williams is the player of the year in college golf after winning the Ben Hogan Award Monday. He is slated to be a PGA Tour player next year as well.
Here’s the kicker: he plays for the UW.
The Hogan Award is considered the Heisman of college golf by the golf community.
Williams joined Mitch today, and said he was excited to go the UW as a freshman in 2010. But it wasn’t a foregone conclusion he ever would. Mitch wondered how the UW, where the weather isn’t as golf-friendly as warmer-climate regions, could field the top player in college golf.
He also asked Williams where he would have played hadn’t he come to the UW.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” Williams said. “It was down to some places where I didn’t even really want to go.”
Williams said WSU was an option in where he might play. But that all changed after he met the UW golf head coach Matt Thurmond. Thurmond was the last coach Williams met with in his recruiting process.
“It was just an instant friendship,” Williams said.
Williams said he didn’t get a spot on the team initially. But Thurmond would eventually call the Moscow, Idaho native to tell him there was an opening for him, if he wanted it.
“I didn’t even hesitate. I took it right away,” Williams said.
The senior said it took awhile for him to get on the team because he didn’t believe in himself. But then-senior golfer and now-PGA Tour player Nick Taylor told Williams the UW needed him to win.
But Williams helped the UW do a lot more than win. He gave them the best player in college golf.
By Miles Liatos Sports Radio KJR
Antoine Winfield had a chance to return to the Minnesota Vikings for more money than he may have received anywhere else, but Seattle was still the most appealing option.
Winfield joined Mitch today to talk about his role on the Seahawks. He signed a contract with the Seahawks after the Vikings had released the cornerback and wanted to bring him back at a lower price. Winfield’s salary called for the highest amount he would have ever received with the Vikings, so the team opted out. But Winfield said signing with Seattle was not about money at all.
“I just want to compete for a championship, and I thought my best opportunity was here with the Seahawks,” he said.
The Seahawks will provide Winfield an opportunity to do what he does best: defend the run. He posted a grade of 14.6 in run defense last year, 6.9 points better than the next-best run defender at Winfield’s position, according to Pro Football Focus.
Winfield agreed defending the run is his biggest strength.
“I’m going to leave the big guys (Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner) on the outside where they can run with the Calvin Johnsons and the Brandon Marshalls,” he said. “I’ll man the slot.”
At 36, Winfield is the oldest player on the Seahawks roster. The distinction has helped him to earn the nickname “O.G.” (Original Gangster) from his teammates.
But Winfield isn’t ready to concede to his critics he’s lost a step, he said.
“I’ve been very successful in this league for 14 years and I don’t see it stopping in my fifteenth.”
Check out the whole interview here:
By Trenton Jocz, Sports Radio KJR
March 15, 2012 was rock bottom for the Portland Trail Blazers. They were fresh off a 42 point drubbing at the hands of the New York Knicks, who weren’t yet the fringe contender they are now, the night before. One might have thought the Madison Square Garden roof was leaking as the Knicks rained down 19 three-pointers on the Blazers, and when it rains, it pours. The next day, head coach Nate McMillan was fired.
Sitting at 20-23, the Blazers were going through another disappointing season. Brandon Roy’s all-time great Game 4 performance against the eventual champion Mavericks from the 2011 playoffs became his last stand rather than a reestablishment of a once great career and Greg Oden had long been reduced to a mythical creature who our grandchildren will be convinced was a figment of our imagination, leaving LaMarcus Aldridge as the only remnant of a trio once thought to be the core of a future Western Conference powerhouse. Taking their places were guys like Jamal Crawford, whose game appeared to be in decline, and Raymond Felton, whose waistline looked to be anything but.
Too long, didn’t read? Portland was going nowhere fast.
Rapidly approaching the perilous asymptote that is NBA mediocrity, the Blazers shifted their focus to the future. Looking to unload veterans, they found a more than willing partner for a Gerald Wallace deal in the Nets, a team eager to add established veteran talent in order to secure the return of impending free agent Deron Williams and to make a splash in preparation for its move to Brooklyn. The Nets offered up their 2012 first round pick to Portland for the former All-Star, also a free agent to be. Often teams will put protection on picks to mitigate its upside but the Nets only required top-3 protection for the pick, meaning Portland received the pick so long as it ended up being fourth or lower, a surprising development considering they could have just pursued Wallace in free agency just months later.
Despite the quality of the asset they had just acquired, not even the Portland brain trust could have known how much of the groundwork for their turnaround was laid that day.
Some 700 miles away in Ogden, Utah, Weber State senior Damian Lillard was likely preparing for what would end up being the final game of an illustrious career, a loss in the CIT to Loyola Marymount three days later. He too couldn’t have known how much his future changed that day.
Fast forward over three months and to, ironically, Newark, New Jersey, and Lillard was holding a Portland Trail Blazers jersey taking pictures with David Stern on the stage at the NBA Draft, having just been chosen with the pick from the Wallace deal, the 6th overall selection.
From the get go, Lillard made his mark. On a national stage against the ballyhooed Lakers, Lillard had, well, he can tell the story. Speaking with Mitch, he said, “Even when I played Kobe, because it was the first game of the season I wasn’t in awe. I was just more like, in my head, [thinking] ‘I’m about to really play against Kobe right now.’ First of all, we beat them, and I played a good game. I had 23 points and 11 assists […] It was my first game. I had a lot of family up here to watch and we won it […] How could I forget it?”
He proved to not be a flash in the pan either, maintaining a high level of production all season and avoiding the dreaded “rookie wall.” Of that production, Lillard said, “I surprised myself a little bit. Just as far as the numbers I surprised myself because I expected to come in and have an impact on my team and help us do better than people thought we would but I didn’t think I would get 19 and almost 7 assists.”
Lillard may not have expected to delivered numbers of that caliber, but he answered the call for a Blazers team that shouldn’t have been as close to contention as it was. Portland treated the 2012-2013 season as Year 1 of a rebuild. General Manager Neil Olshey essentially said as much when he noted wanting to get a core in place before building the rest of the roster. Along with fellow 2012 lottery pick Meyers Leonard, the Blazers let players like Victor Claver and Joel Freeland, both former first round picks who had been stashed over in Europe, soak up minutes to determine if they could be meaningful NBA rotation players.
That led to valuable experience for a lot of young players and an extended sample size for the front office to see who fits in the long-term plan, but it also put a large burden on Lillard, who responded by leading the league in total minutes (he finished behind Kobe Bryant and Tom Thibodeau’s personal security blanket, Luol Deng in minutes per game by a razor-thin margin). Portland remained on the edges of playoff contention until late in the season when injuries and a brutal schedule finally dashed their slim hopes.
Lillard, reflecting on the season, said, “I’m a scorer, so I knew that I would score some points but I didn’t set out any goals or anything because I didn’t know what to expect but the opportunities I was presented, how much time I got, how much of an impact I was able to have it really came from my role or the team and much trust they had in me.”
His standout campaign earned him the Rookie of the Year award, and to boot, he became just the fourth player to win it unanimously. How did a kid who played four years at mid-major Weber State accomplish such a feat though?
“The first thing that people get twisted is the fact that I wasn’t the player I am when I got to Weber State. When I got there I got a lot better each year. I improved and I think that was important to me to grow and I think being at Weber State I had a chance to do that because I had the opportunity to play. I had a lot of freedom and at the same time they challenged me to get better and I got better and better and eventually I was ahead of everybody in our conference and the game got a lot easier and then I was able to make the NBA so it seemed like, why is this guy at Weber State? Coming out of high school that’s probably the level I should have been at,” Lillard said.
Lillard may be well on his way towards being one of the biggest names in the league, but that doesn’t mean the Oakland product plans on ditching what got him here.
“I keep my closest friends and family around me because they’re not afraid to stand up to me and tell me when I’m doing something wrong, so I don’t plan on that ever changing,” he said.
That might be the only thing that won’t though, because March 15, 2012 changed the future of the Blazers, and if Lillard’s star keeps rising, it might just change the course of the entire league.
Hear the interview with Lillard in its entirety here:
Geoff Baker joined Mitch in the Morning today to talk about the first three games of the Cleveland Indian series. To give you a picture of how well we have done so far, the Mariners have struck out 28 times, the team has struck out more than they have hits (23)., this according to Mitch.
In the first two games, the Mariners lost at the end of the games. The first one in the 10th inning and the next in the bottom of the 9th, the reason is they cannot hit with runners in scoring position. It seems like that is the theme for the M’s struggles this year is being able to capitalize when they have players on base.
“There getting the guys on base, they really are, they have been for a solid month now and I would be really worried if they weren’t. The problems we’ve had in the past three years have been the constant inability to get guys on base. They were some of the lowest on base totals in the history of the game. They are getting the guys on they’re just not driving them in,” said Baker.
Baker explains that it could be tightening up in key situations, some can be due to luck, but if they’re getting on base he believes they will start bringing the runners in. Don’t expect them to be the best offense in the league, but they will compete.
During this series, the Mariners have struck in the double digits twice, but Baker doesn’t believe it should be looked into as bad as it sounds.
“I don’t mind the stuck outs so much, and if you look around baseball now a days there tends to be less emphasis on the negativity on strike outs as long as you get on base,” Baker told Mitch.
Now we move onto Jesus Montero’s plays on Saturday. The play they talk about happened during the bottom of the 9th with a force out at home. Brendan Ryan makes a great diving effort and throws it home for the out and Montero leaves his foot off of the plate and the Indians win.
When asked what Geoff Baker thought of Montero’s efforts, he simply answered with, “It was no good, it was bad.”
With every negative there are always some positives. One positive and surprise is how well Raul Ibanez has hit during this road trip so far. He has hit five homeruns in five days at age 40.
The Mariners have their last game today and have Iwakuma pitching. They are trying to avoid the sweep and hopefully get back on track and playing like how they were before this road series.
By Miles Liatos Sports Radio KJR
Mike Holmgren had something to say about Bruce Irvin and Adderall on his weekly visit with Mitch Monday morning.
He said the players know what they are getting themselves into when they take PEDs banned by the NFL, but they are willing to “roll the dice.” Holmgren said his daughter, who is a doctor, told him signs of Adderall leave the body in a week. Players are therefore able to take the stimulant with only some risk of being suspended.
Holmgren said he dealt with a similar situation in Cleveland with a player he didn’t identify. The player said he had taken Adderall, but told Holmgren he didn’t know it was a banned substance. Holmgren said that’s what all players have told him after being found to have taken a banned substance.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know. Ignorance is not an excuse,” Holmgren said. “They do it because they think they’re not going to get caught and they like the feeling.”
Mitch then asked Holmgren how a coach is to deal with a suspended player like Irvin. Holmgren said he couldn’t fine the player any money, but he could “Scare the heck out of him,” by giving him a kind of ultimatum.
“If he does it again … If he doesn’t care about me, if he doesn’t care about his teammates, I don’t want [him] here,” Holmgren said.
Mitch pointed out Carroll is a player’s coach, and questioned if such a mentality can be detrimental to a team. But Holmgren said trust is important in a player-coach relationship.
“When they get farther from arm’s length from you, all you can do is educate them the best way you can, and then pray for them,” he said. “Because they’re going to be out there and they’re eventually going to have to make choices themselves.”
Mike Holmgren was on the air for his weekly segment during the 9am hour.