Washington head coach Chris Petersen watches the scoreboard during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Washington won 19-7. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

Washington head coach Chris Petersen watches the scoreboard during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Washington won 19-7. (AP Photo/Amanda Loman)

Patterson: Catching up on the news while I was away

Thoughts on Chris Petersen stepping down from UW, Jake Christiansen returning to the Tips, and more.

It seems to happen every time, doesn’t it?

You may have noticed I’ve been largely absent the past couple weeks, which is because I’ve been listed on the weekly report for personal reasons. And wouldn’t you know it, big news on the local sports landscape once again dropped while I was unplugged.

So here’s some quick hitters as I try to catch up:

Chris Petersen steps down as UW football coach.

Just how much did I not see this coming? I needed to be informed by the gentleman sitting in the plane seat next to me that it happened — two days after the fact.

This is a complete shocker. I thought Petersen was the next Don James. The Huskies had good teams after the Dawgfather stepped down following the 1992 season, but Petersen is the coach who finally returned Washington to being a program. Under Petersen it didn’t matter who the Huskies lost to the NFL, Washington plugged in new players and was just as good if not better. Who else since James could have gone 7-5, earned a bowl bid, and had the season considered a massive disappointment?

Petersen’s successor, defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, has a tough act to follow, and it will be a major challenge to maintain the standards set by Petersen — when defensive coordinator and Everett native Jim Lambright succeeded James in 1993 he wasn’t able to do it.

One also has to wonder how this affects starting quarterback and Lake Stevens native Jacob Eason’s decision on whether to declare for the draft or return for his senior season.

— Jake Christiansen returns to the Silvertips.

Much of the talk surrounding the overage defenseman’s return to Everett from his lengthy AHL tryout centered on the fact the Tips faced a conundrum in trying to figure out how to deal with being over the limit of three 20-year-olds. But the headline after the fact should be that the team with the best record in the WHL just added a dang good player.

Christiansen’s return prompted Everett to trade overage center Max Patterson to Seattle, and losing Patterson is significant because he was a contributing player at a premium position. But with all due respect, Patterson is not the same kind of impact player as Christiansen, who’s a legitimate top-of-the-line overager as demonstrated by eight points in his first three games back. Indeed, in Christiansen, Bryce Kindopp and Wyatte Wylie the Tips now have three overagers who could have been playing professionally this season, had the cards fallen a little differently.

The swap of a defenseman for a center leaves Everett’s roster a little unbalanced, so general manager Garry Davidson has some work to do before the Jan. 10 trade deadline. But Everett now has elite goaltending, an elite defense and a terrific first line. Championships can be built upon that foundation.

By the way, enjoy Tips coach Dennis Williams while you can. Given what he’s done during his three years in charge, turning unheralded teams into championship contenders all three times, it won’t be long before the pro ranks come calling.

— Corey Kispert shines for Gonzaga.

Sunday night was my first time watching any kind of sports for about two weeks, and naturally I found myself switching back and forth between the Gonzaga-Washington men’s basketball game and the Seahawks-Rams game. The less said about the Seahawks the better, but the Bulldogs-Huskies game was a real treat, and what I enjoyed most was watching King’s High School product Corey Kispert.

Kispert, the Zags’ junior starting small forward, put up a productive line of 15 points and four rebounds. But the box score doesn’t even begin to describe Kispert’s contributions, particularly on the defensive end. With about 50 seconds remaining and Gonzaga leading by three, the ball came to Washington’s Nahziah Carter at the 3-point line. Carter had just hit two big 3s, so Kispert raced out to run Carter off the 3-point line. Carter pumped and began to drive, but Kispert changed directions on a dime, stayed in front of Carter, and forced a missed jumper in the lane. Joel Ayayi’s 3-pointer moments later sealed the game for the Bulldogs.

Whenever I’m watching a game in which one of our local players is involved I inevitably find my eyes drawn to our player, and Kispert is a player I can appreciate even if he never takes a shot.

— EvCC hoops flying high again.

If you happen to have a free Wednesday or Saturday evening this winter, might I suggest heading to the Walt Price Student Fitness Center on the campus of Everett Community College for some high-quality basketball action.

The Trojan men have become an annual contender under coach Mike Trautman, winning the past two Northwest Athletic Conference North Region titles, and early signs suggest this may just be his best team yet. Glacier Peak High School graduate Bobby Martin leads the way with 18.7 points per game, and unlike the past two seasons Everett has size inside to complement its guard-oriented motion offense. The only team in all of NWAC with a better record over the past two seasons is North Idaho, which was forced to vacate its 2018 and 2019 championships because of rule violations. The Trojans are off to an 8-1 start, and with North Idaho banned from the postseason Everett just may be the front-runner.

Meanwhile, the Trojan women somehow survived last season despite playing much of the campaign with just five players. Four of those players are back, including reigning North Region MVP and Mariner High School graduate Hannah Hezekiah, and Everett now has the bodies to give those players a spell. The Trojans are back to respectability at 5-3 and should be in the mix for a return to the NWAC tournament.

Region play begins Jan. 8, with the women and men playing doubleheaders, so come check it out.

Follow Nick Patterson on Twitter at @NickHPatterson.

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