SPORTS by Jack Kintner
Blaine’s Ridnour and Paciorek face changes
With Luke Ridnour having been traded last week, two Blaine graduates currently playing pro sports are now in Milwaukee uniforms.
Ridnour was part of a six-player trade involving Milwaukee, Cleveland and Oklahoma City, the former Seattle Sonics where Ridnour’s last year was beset with injuries and a coach who demoted him to play behind Paul Watson.
Joey Paciorek graduated a year ago and was drafted into the Milwaukee Brewers farm system where he continues to master the big league game at the Brewer training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Brandon Newell, the scout who tipped off Brewer’s management to Paciorek’s potential, said that despite being put behind by a broken bone in his hand and other nagging injuries, “the team is willing to wait for him to be healthy and develop.
“We all know Joey can hit but with an injury like that your average can drop. But once he’s over that hurdle he’ll be fine.”
Paciorek is at the beginning of a career that will probably see him playing in major league baseball in a few years.
Ridnour, on the other hand, a 2000 Blaine graduate, is roughly at the mid-point of a career that began in Seattle and has now moved to another so-called small market team, the Milwaukee Bucks.
Where Paciorek went to Arizona out of high school, Ridnour’s move marks the first time he’s played outside the northwest, except for road games, since he began dribbling a basketball.
In Milwaukee, Ridnour will be playing for former Michigan State star Scott Skiles, star of his own small town high school basketball team in Plymouth, Indiana, and one of the few NBA regulars who went to a high school even smaller than Blaine.
As a senior, Skiles put the state title game into overtime with a 22-foot shot, well beyond the three-point line, in the days when all Indiana high schools played in one state tournament. Plymouth ended up winning.
As a 10-year pro Skiles set a record that still stands for assists (30) in a game, and it’s that ability to dish the ball and create an offense, what he called an old-fashioned approach to being a point guard, that drew his attention to Luke.
“Luke’s a player that I’ve liked for some time,” Skiles said, adding that both he and Brewers general manager John Hammond see him as a pure point guard, pushing the ball as well as anybody off the dribble, but particularly by his ability to make accurate, pinpoint passes.
“Luke had his best couple of years when he had Rashard Lewis on the wing and Ray Allen at the two guard. We don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to look at Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson in that same regard,” Stiles said.
“I feel like Luke’s always been a good decision-maker,” Skiles continued, “and those are not easy decisions to make; they’re split-second. The better decision-makers you have out there, the better offensive team you are.”
Luke played high school ball for his dad, Rob Ridnour, who is no longer coaching basketball but still teaches physical education at Blaine high school.
During the four years Luke played, Blaine had a 97-11 record and won state championships in 1999 and 2000.
He averaged 23 points and seven assists over four years and was a three-time AA state player of the year as well as a 2000 McDonald’s and Parade All-American. He still holds Washington AA tournament records for career points and assists.
At the University of Oregon Ridnour was named Pac-10 Conference Freshman of the Year in 2000-2001, becoming the first Duck to earn that distinction.
Rob Ridnour said that had Luke not played for Ernie Kent’s running offense at Oregon he probably would not have been drafted as a pro.
Ridnour and teammate Luke Jackson led the Ducks to the NCAA Tournament twice, including the Elite Eight in 2002. He set a school season record for assists (218) and made a Pac 10 record 62 consecutive free throws.
He was named Pac-10 Player of the Year following his junior season, in which he averaged 19.6 points and 6.7 assists per game.
He left Oregon after his junior year to pursue his goal of playing in the NBA. By this time 6-2 and 175 pounds, he was drafted by Seattle in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft (14th overall).
The five-year pro appeared in just 61 games last season, eight fewer than as a rookie, and got only five starts for the Sonics as new head coach P.J. Carlesimo, his fourth coach in five years, demoted him to playing behind the clumsy but higher scoring guard Paul Watson.
This was not helped by injuries, a broken nose and a torn quad.
In the three seasons prior to the 2007-08 campaign, Ridnour started in 217 of the 232 games he appeared in and averaged 10.8 points, 6.0 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals.
He has shot over 85 percent from the free throw line in three of his five seasons and owns a career percentage of .855. In 362 career games, the 27-year-old has averaged 9.1 points and 5.0 assists.
His team’s front office quoted Ridnour as understandably glad to hear the news of his trade to the Bucks, for several reasons.
“Just knowing, first of all, what’s been going on here this summer, with coach Skiles coming in, and Mr. Hammond here,” Ridnour said. “And knowing that Richard Jefferson was coming. And knowing the guys that they had here. There’s a lot of talent here. And for me, just getting a fresh start. I’m looking forward to playing with these guys. It’s something that, for me, is a real blessing and something that I’m excited about.
“I can’t take anything away from what I had there [with Seattle]. It was a great experience for me. But I’m ready to move on and excited to be in Milwaukee with a new start, a new opportunity, and something that I’ve been looking forward to.”
Ridnour, of course, doesn’t expect anything to be handed to him. “I think like anything else, you’ve got to come in and earn it,” he said. “You’ve got to show guys that you’re here to compete and you’re going to work hard.”
Slivers from the bench
New season promising for Lady B’s
Blaine lost just two seniors, Wren Baldwin and Alison Raine, off last year’s team that missed post-season tournament play by one shoot-out goal, so this next season should show some improvement.
Last year’s fabulous four freshmen are now sophomores. Sam Nault, Katey Conway, Bethany Dahl and Chanel Colinares were joined in the late season by a fifth on the varsity, Emily Flint.
These five will provide good support for seniors Bailey Richardson, Sarah Feenstra, Kristen Elsbree, Carley Schmidt and Breanna Adams. Standout forward Bre Olason, probably the fastest player on last year’s team, opted for a fall season in Germany as an exchange student, where she undoubtedly will play soccer anyway.
Conway will likely draw the role of filling the hole at mid-field left by the departure of Raine, something she’s well capable of doing. Schmidt and Elsbree will work defense in their take-no-prisoners style, while Nault and Richardson will carry the attack up front.
On last year’s 6 & 11 (4 & 9) team, Nault scored nine goals and Richardson led the team with 14.
The sixth senior on the team is arguably the best goalie in the league, certainly if measured by hustle, and that’s Janelle Gobbato, who last year chalked up six shut-outs.
“We had a good camp in July, at Western,” said head coach Dan Steelquist, who added “We have a better chance of winning if we can keep the other team from scoring. That’s Janelle’s job in the back, and lucky for us she’s one of the best in the league.”
Stacy Schraeder is the new JV coach this year, bumping Mike Couto to the assistant varsity coach position, where he and Steelquist will again be joined by the effervescent Gary Dunster as a volunteer assistant.
Steelquist set the tone for this season by saying “if we can keep the other team from scoring we’ll win. These girls are jelling and are hungry.” First game is Tuesday, September ninth against Lynden at the Pipe.