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Archive for December 2006

EWU gets a weekend split

EAGLES

Behind Rodney Stuckey’s 28 points and seven assists, Eastern Washington earned a split Saturday night of its Big Sky-opening homestand. The Eagles rallied from a halftime deficit to top Montana 74-71. Eastern had lost its conference opener to Montana State on Thursday night.

You can read the AP story here.

WSU leaves Los Angeles 1-1 in the Pac-10

COUGARS

As Glenn Kasses writes on his blog, the Cougars won a close one in Los Angeles. And that’s not a typo.

Here’s a link to the game story. If you want to share your comments with Glenn, click on his blog and hit the comment line.

Zags collapse against Nevada

WOLF PACK 82-74

There have been some memorable collapses by Gonzaga over the years, but Saturday’s in Seattle was - well it was another one.

Here is the game story. We’ll be back later for more commentary on those last few minutes.

The end is near but will seem a long way away

WOLF PACK, 58-57

The last eight minutes of this game may take a while. After spending three-quarters of the game not calling much, the three officials have decided to blow their whistles.

Maybe not for the right calls, but they are blowing them.

Which will make the final stretch seem interminable.

It will seem like that for Nevada if GU keeps up the run it’s on, a 7-0 stretch that Kemp will try to stop with his free throws after the break.

How long will Fazekas sit?

Raivio finding holes as tempo speeds up

ZAGS, 43-40

The tempo is changing, It’s getting more up and down and there’s no way that is bad for GU, no matter who they are playing.

Add that to Raivio heating up and this is more of a GU-preferred game than the first half was.

The rebound battle is still being won by the Pack, however, and that doesn’t bode well for GU down the stretch.

A run for GU

ZAGS, 30-18

The game plan defensively for Gonzaga is working well, though Kuso is in foul trouble, Mallon is coming off a concussion, according to the TV guys, and Pendergraft is one missed call away from being on the bench as well.

Maybe we will see David Burgess today.

The Nevada defense – especially the 3-point defense – has been OK. But the Zags are starting to attack better, thus picking up fouls and getting cleaner looks. Nevada even played a possession of zone, and Heytvelt, who now has a team-leading eight points (with Mallon), converted a three-point play.

By the way, USC leads WSU 25-21 at the half.

Couple of early surprises

ZAGS, 9-5

The first surprise was starting Abdullahi Kuso instead of Sean Mallon.

The second surprise was Matt Bouldin scoring GU’s first five points.

Sorry, surprise isn’t the right word to use in conjunction with Bouldin. Nothing Bouldin does is really a surprise anymore.

We saw, right off the bat, Nevada guarding Heytvelt with Ikovlev, who just picked up a foul, and the Zags try to get the ball inside to Heytvelt when that happens. When 7-1 David Ellis came in, the Nevada offense stalled, so Ikovlev came right back.

Nevada has a big man; Gonzaga has a big game

ZAGS

As Steve Bergum noted in last night’s blog post and today’s story, when GU scheduled the Battle in Seattle with Nevada (3 p.m.; ESPN2; 1510-AM), it looked like Wolf Pack (11-1) big man Nick Fazekas would be going to the NBA.

That didn’t happen, so another scenario popped up: Two ranked teams meeting (Nevada is 24th in the AP poll, 18 in the coaches’) in KeyArena to close out 2006. Back-to-back losses last week by GU to Georgia and Duke blew that apart as well.

The unranked Zags (9-4) have lost three of their last four games, and are trying to avoid three consecutive losses, something that hasn’t happened since 2000.

With the game in Seattle, and Nevada featuring three local prep standouts (Franklin’s Lyndale Burleson and Richie Phillips along with Garfield’s Marcelus Kemp) there are plenty of stories in the Puget Sound papers.

We’ll start with the News Tribune piece on Josh Heytvelt being prepared to play against Fazekas (though my guess is, defensively, Sean Mallon will start on Nevada’s 6-foot-11 center) and this one on their schedule, then move to the Times’ story on the local Nevada players (and this capsule preview) and finish with the P-I’s stories, one on Gonzaga’s tough December and the other on Kemp, Nevada’s second-leading scorer.

We’ll be back before game time to give a rundown of what to expect, then we’ll be posting throughout the game. After it’s over, we’ll link you to the game story and follow with a final note or two. If you have any questions or comments, post them and we’ll see if we can get them answered. See you then.

Second conference game is a must win for EWU

EAGLES

Eastern Washington hosts Montana tonight (7:05; 1050-AM) in what has become, already, a must-win Big Sky basketball game.

The Eagles are in turmoil after Thursday’s home loss to lowly Montana State and probably no amount of player meetings will cure what ails them – unless they want to fix it. They must show more discipline – and not just during the games – if they are going to win the conference title.

Speaking of discipline, the Eagles will see it from their opponent tonight. The Grizzlies, who are coached by an old Grizzly, Wayne Tinkle, have played in the last two NCAA tournaments, including winning a game last year.

John Blanchette profiled Tinkle and the job he’s charged with in today’s S-R.

Tinkle, who attended Ferris High, had to wait to get the job, but he showed patience and finally earned the position last spring.

Akey makes another addition to staff

VANDALS

We start this post with football news.

New coach Robb Akey is starting to fill out his staff, with the latest addition not really an addition at all. It’s current Vandal coach Johnny Nansen, who has coached Vandals linebackers the last three seasons. You can find more at this link (it’s the second item).

The mens’ basketball team will face South Dakota State today (7; 1080-AM), the only team the Vandals have defeated this season.

The UI women’s basketball team fell to Canisus 66-61 Friday night and its record fell to 3-8.

For more, make sure you check Jim Meehan’s Vandal blog.

Battle in Seattle should be a tall order for GU

ZAGS

Steve Bergum has posted his advance of tomorrow’s game with Nevada (3 p.m.; ESPN2; 920-AM) at his GU blog.

With that in mind, I thought it was a good time to remind you or our on-line coverage tomorrow here at SportsLink. Before you turn on the game we will have some pregame notes and comments, then we will be back at times throughout the game with observations.

At the end, we will link to the game story, which will be updated throughout the afternoon, and we’ll post a column.

So check back in and leave any questions or comments you might have.

GSL back in action tonight

PREPS

Our prep roundup with Thursday night’s games is here today, mixed in with results from the Community Colleges of Spokane mens’ win.

The Greater Spokane League returns to action tonight, with the key games at Shadle Park (where Mead visits) and Ferris (where G-Prep will challenge the Saxons). The boys are scheduled to start at 5:30, the girls at 7. The Mt. Spokane vs. North Central games will be covered on 790-AM.

But there is more on the prep plate, including a rant (patent-pending) by the SportsLink guy. Just read on.

Spokane moves into second place

CHIEFS

Make it two in a row. That’s how Spokane has opened the post-Christmas segment of its schedule following a 6-2 win over Prince George.

The win sends the Chiefs home for a Saturday night game (7; 790-AM) with Tri-Cities in a tie for second place in the WHL’s U.S. Division. The Americans defeated last-place Portland on Thursday night and sit in a tie with the Chiefs and idle Seattle for second behind Everett.

••••••••••

The Chiefs also made a trade Thursday, which we covered here yesterday. You can find Jeff Bunch’s story here, and more on his Chiefs’ blog.

••••••••••

The Everett Herald has a feature on the Tips’ newest defenseman, 6-foot-3, 202-pound Jesse Zetariuk.

Eastern falls flat in Big Sky opener

EAGLES

There’s something missing in Cheney. It’s hard to figure, but there has to be something.

Because games like Thursday night are causing Eagle fans everywhere to pull out their hair. Playing at home, where it hasn’t lost all season, against a Montana State squad that came in with a 3-10 record, in the Big Sky Conference opener for goodness sakes, Eastern found a way to lose.

Lose a game it probably should have won.

So the Eagles (6-7, 0-1) should be focused Saturday night against Montana (7:05; 1050-AM), right? We’ll see.

Here’s correspondent Jason Shoot’s game story.

And if you have anything you would like to say, please do. Just click the comment bar and let us know.

Eastern falls at home

EAGLES

Despite 26 points and seven assists from Rodney Stuckey, Eastern dropped its Big Sky Conference opener at home to a four-win Montana State team.

You can read the Associated Press story here.

Cougars don’t wilt under Bruin pressure

UCLA, 48-45

No matter what happens down the stretch, this WSU team is for real.

Many teams would have folded when UCLA gained the lead and put the pressure on. But this Coug team didn’t. This team has staying power.

That’s not to say there won’t be bumps, but Cougar fans, this is a team worth getting behind.

We’ll be back at the end of the contest with a link to the game story.

WSU leads but Bruins are lurking

WSU, 28-24

The tempo is good. The defense is nearly impregnable. The turnovers non-existent.

So why are the Cougars only up by four? Two reasons. They are playing the No. 1 team in the country, which means that even its worst game will still be pretty darn good. And Robbie Cowgill and Derrick Low have had to sit much of the half with foul trouble.

Low has been nearly perfect in the first half – other than the two silly fouls – with no turnovers and no misses from the field (3 of 3) en route to a team-high eight points. Josh Shipp leads UCLA with nine.

The Cougars are shooting 41 percent from the floor, unofficially, while the Bruins are hitting just 27 percent of their shots. Plus, WSU has been getting to the free-throw line, with 14 attempts (nine made), twice as many as UCLA has had.

We’ll be back midway through the second half, then again at the end of the game with a link to the game story.

No turnovers means no problems for Cougs

WSU, 19-12

The bad news first: Low has two fouls, both of the ticky-tack variety (that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have been called, but just means they were not hard, “worth it” fouls).

The good news: The Cougars’ offense is running smoothly, with everyone coming open off back cuts from weak side screens. The other good news? Taylor Rochestie has done a nice job filling in for Low. Until the final possession before the media break, when he took his eye of the ball and the Cougs had their first turnover of the half.

A start that wasn’t unexpected

UCLA, 4-3

The game started just like we expected, with neither team scoring for more than 2 minutes. The Cougars had good looks, including two open jumpers for Daven Harmeling, who came in shooting better than 52 percent from the floor, but couldn’t cash in.

In fact, they were 0 for 5 to start the game before Derrick Low, WSU’s leading scorer at 15.5 points per game, was able to lose Aaron Afflalo and can a 3-pointer with 16:21 left in the half.

They also have been able to make UCLA play a halfcourt game because they haven’t turned the ball over.

Zito to sign with Giants

NEWS

Looks like the M’s are out of the Barry Zito sweepstakes. The left-hander has reached a preliminary agreement with the Giants on a seven-year, $126 million contract. Sorry, but $18 million a year is a little out of the M’s range.

So is Randy Johnson, and that’s a good thing, according to the Times’ Larry Stone. The Zito comments in this column are already, sadly, out of date.

Almost ready to get back to normalcy

PREPS

The Christmas break means just that: A break from the regular schedule of games and coverage.

But there were a few prep contests in the area last night, and they are covered in this Idaho edition roundup and the one from the Washington edition. And there were games outside the area as well.

Over in Seattle, the T-Mobile Invitational was covered on the Versus Network (watched a little between yelling at the TV during the UCLA football game) and I was struck by how well the girls’ teams in our area match up with what is considered the nation’s best.

The three ranked girls’ teams that traveled to Seattle are not all that much more talented than the best of the Greater Spokane League and, Wednesday night at least, don’t play with the intensity we see here on a night-by-night basis.

The tournament was covered by the Times, with a story on the girls and one on the boys. The P-I did four stories, with another one on Maya Moore, and game stories from the other girls’ and boys’ game.

There are other big tournaments going on around the nation as well, with Kentwood’s girls earning a big win in Phoenix. Closer to home, Inglemoor’s boys defeated Meadowdale, the ranked 4A team prevailing against the ranked 3A squad, while Snohomish won easily over a visiting Hawaiian team. And Skyview’s girls routed Enumclaw.

All I want for Christmas is …

ZAGS

Here’s an interesting post from Gary Parrish of CBS Sportsline.com on what five teams - including Gonzaga - needed Santa to bring.

The Zags’ entry is right below Memphis’ Christmas list. The Tigers are the last of GU’s high-profile non-conference games.

What was the top sports story of 2006?

STORIES OF THE YEAR

Not only do you get to share your opinions about 2006’s Best Player, Best Team, Best Coach, Best Game and Best Bad Move, now we want to know what you think was the one overriding local sports story of 2006.

You can see the nominees here. You can vote in our poll here, and those results will help us determine the Top 10 Inland Northwest sports stories of 2006 (you can see the running tally on the same spot, just follow the link).

And you can explain your vote right here, on the comment link below. Make a persuasive-enough argument, and maybe everyone will vote your way as well. Convince us.

The road to the NCAA tournament is paved with good possessions

COUGARS, PAC-10

On their way to the NCAA tournament, the WSU Cougars must make it through the gantlet that is the Pac-10 Conference season. And that 18-game test starts Thursday night in Los Angeles.

Against the No. 1 team in the nation, the UCLA Bruins.

That is the subject of a lot of word processing this morning, starting with John Blanchette’s column in The Spokesman-Review.

John talked with Coug coach Tony Bennett, who seemed just as worried about Saturday night’s opponent, USC, or even next Thursday’s foe, Arizona, as he was about the Bruins (7:30 Thursday; FSN; 920-AM), which is part of the Pac-10 conundrum this season. There are relatively few mark-‘em-in-the-win-column-right-now games.

Of course, there have been none of those in the past couple years for the Cougs, but with an 11-1 non-conference mark – against a decent schedule – you would think WSU would have a decided edge a few times in the conference. And they will. Just not during the first three games.

From the West Side, the P-I’s Dan Raley writes about the Pac-10’s strength, and how this year it isn’t just a mirage, while the Times’ Bob Condotta posts his Pac-10 preview. He has the Cougars picked to finish sixth, which should be good enough for an NCAA berth.

For more Cougar – and Pac-10 – information, don’t forget to check Glenn Kasses’ blog. And read on for more conference news.

I also have a question for you: Where do you think the Cougars will finish in the conference race? I’m leaning toward fourth or fifth, but am not really sure. Give me your thoughts, so I can incorporate (read: steal) them into mine. Just click the comment link and let me know.

GU and WSU projected as decent seeds in NCAA field

ZAGS, COUGARS

Bracketology 101, which bills itself as the most-accurate of the NCAA seeding sites (how accurate can it be, when there is still more than half the year to go yet?), has its most recent field of 65 posted.

Of note is Gonzaga is now listed as a five seed, Washington State is an eight, UW a three, UCLA a one, Arizona a two, Oregon a four and GU’s opponent Saturday, Nevada, a seven.

The Pac-10 teams will never end up that high, as they will beat up each other throughout the course of the conference season. Plus, with the West Coast bias (and there is one), every loss they suffer to each other will count almost double.

For more Zag news, check Steve Bergum’s blog. For WSU happenings, check in with Glenn Kasses and his blog.

The best make a trip to Seattle

PREPS

A light day in the prep world, with even the Times taking a break from its Tuesday prep page.

The P-I has a feature on girls’ basketball star Maya Moore from Collins Hill High in Suwanee, Ga. The 6-foot post, who has signed with Connecticut, and her No. 1-ranked team (by USA Today) is in Seattle to play in the T-Mobile Invitational at the University of Washington.

In other parts of the state, where the big schools don’t fill up their schedule with league games, this is tourney week. The Vancouver Columbian lays out all the tourneys in its area.

The Herald has a feature on a talented Everett wrestler.

Pick 2006’s Best Player

2006 IN REVIEW: BEST PLAYER

In my Tuesday morning column, I asked for your comments on the year that was 2006 in Inland Northwest sports.

There are five categories for you to pontificate upon. This post is dedicated to the Best Player.

Click the comment link and let us know who you think was the Inland Northwest’s Best Player in 2006.

And don’t forget to comment on the other categories here.

Pick 2006’s Best Team

2006 IN REVIEW: BEST TEAM

In my Tuesday morning column, I asked for your comments on the year that was 2006 in Inland Northwest sports.

There are five categories for you to discuss. This post is dedicated to the Best Team.

Click the comment link and let us know who you think was the Inland Northwest’s Best Team in 2006.

You can also comment on the other categories.

Pick 2006’s Best Bad Move

2006 IN REVIEW: BEST BAD MOVE

In my Tuesday morning column, I asked for your comments on the year that was 2006 in Inland Northwest sports.

There are five categories about which you can share your thoughts. This post is dedicated to the Best Bad Move.

Click the comment link and let us know who you think executed the Inland Northwest’s Best Bad Move in 2006.

We also want your comments on the other categories posted here.

Merry Christmas, but it’s not going to be much a new year for Hawks

SEAHAWKS

It’s Christmas morning, so nobody is probably going to read this, but …

If there is one person out there looking for Seahawks stuff, here is the place for it.

We’ll start with the game stories – actually we started with some commentary last night on the post directly below, and we asked what you thought if you want to vent – from the West Side and move on to the columns and features.

Stories: News Tribune, P-I, Times, and Herald.

Columns: The Times has Steve Kelley on the sad nature of the defeat and Jerry Brewer writing Seattle played its best, and it wasn’t enough; from the News Tribune, Dave Boling on the Hawks looking for a silver lining and John McGrath on Michael Boulware; the P-I’s Art Thiel on the wreck that’s been Seattle’s season; and Everett’s John Sleeper trying to figure out the Hawks.

Features and sidebars: The Herald has a Boulware story, one on Deion Branch’s drops and a notebook starting with Shaun Alexander’s day; from the Times there is a piece on San Diego celebrating and one on Boulware’ lamenting; the P-I has a story on San Diego quarterback Phillip Rivers and a notebook; from the News Tribune, there is a story on Alexander, one on the special teams, a piece on LaDainian Tomlinson’s game, a notebook on injuries and another on Rivers.

That’s it on the Hawks. They have one more game remaining, are stuck in their playoff spot (fourth in the NFC with one home game either Jan. 6 or 7) and probably have no hope of returning to the Super Bowl (yes, they can defeat the Eagles at home – if that’s their first-round opponent – and possibly – the Rex Grossman factor – the Bears in Chicago, but to get by either New Orleans or Dallas on the road, that’s tough).

The last three weeks have been killers. Not only to Seattle’s playoff chances, but to everyone’s blood pressure as well.

Merry Christmas and don’t forget to check in here later tonight and read the S-R tomorrow morning for an interactive end-of-the-year column.

Will the Hawks ever clinch the West?

NEWS

The biggest game today is in Seattle, as the Hawks host San Diego (1:15 p.m.; CBS) trying, for the third time, to clinch the NFC West.

My guess is they lose, but clinch anyhow when San Francisco is upset at home by Arizona (OK, that’s more a heart-inspired pick than a head-driven one).

Here’s Mike Sando’s Seahawks’ preview that we ran in The Spokesman-Review.

From the West Side, here’s is the Seattle Times’ story, a glance at the game and Jerry Brewer’s column; the Everett Herald’s advance; and the News Tribune’s columns, one from Dave Boling and one from John McGrath.

Seahawks prepare for LT and the Huskies win again

NEWS

With the Christmas weekend upon us, instead of breaking the posts into different schools or interests, I’m going to just touch on the top news stories of the day.

Actually, I’m taking some time to be with the family, and watch UCLA demolish my son’s favorite team, Michigan. Which, as an aside, I’ve never understood, but just accept. The Bruins look like national title contenders, that’s for sure.

Back in the Northwest, the biggest event this weekend probably would be the Seahawks game with San Diego. You can read features about it, with stories from the News Tribune, Times, Everett Herald and P-I.

The Huskies won last night, with our story (from AP) here and the gamers from the P-I, News Tribune and Times (along with this sidebar) available.

Otherwise, I like this prep piece about the all-state volleyball team, and this good news for prep wrestling fans.

Also, Prairie lost to Lewis and Clark in last year’s 4A girls’ championship game, and, though the Falcons lost some key players from last year’s team, they are expected to challenge again. So the showdown at Roosevelt Friday night was worth watching. The undefeated Roughriders handed Prairie its first loss.

On the Mariners’ front, the team reportedly signed former phenom – and Little League hero – Sean Burroughs to a minor-league contract.

That’s (probably) it for this Saturday. I’ll have something up Sunday and Christmas, but not in the usual depth.

GSL winds up pre-Christmas schedule

PREPS

A quick post before I finish my Christmas shopping.

The Greater Spokane League finished pre-Christmas play Thursday night with one upset: Mt. Spokane boys defeated visiting Shadle Park in double overtime, dropping the Highlanders out of a second-place tie.

Elsewhere, the CV boys exploded in the final 11 minutes and raced past University in a Valley battle. There were no surprises in girls’ play.

Beyond the GSL, we had a girls’ roundup and a boys’ roundup of games outside of Spokane.

One note from the West Side, the Kentwood’s girls, one of the state’s top 4A teams, got past a tough Monroe team.

Eastern flies past UI

EAGLES, VANDALS

There’s not much to say. The Eagles played great last night, and the Vandals didn’t put up much of a fight.

Add it up and it equals the biggest win for EWU in this long-time series between two schools an hour and a half apart (I know, I’ve made it in that time before).

Jim Meehan was in Cheney and he filed this report. If you’re an EWU fan read it and smile. A Vandal fan? Well, you might be tearing up.

Eastern (6-6) is off now until it opens Big Sky play next weekend with the Montana schools. The Vandals (1-10) will have to regroup before they play South Dakota State (the one team they’ve defeated) next Saturday in Moscow. WAC play opens the weekend after that.

For more on UI, check Jim’s blog. With Dave Trimmer on vacation, check here for more Eastern news.

Everyone has something on the Bulldogs

ZAGS

We’ll be posting an analysis of last night’s college basketball featuring teams from around the Inland Northwest, but for now let’s get to the links.

Gonzaga’s loss to Duke, being it was in New York, was covered by everyone from the New York Times to Women’s Wear Daily (not really but it seemed like it).

Here’s John Blanchette’s column from the Garden and the AP game story we ran. That’s about the only thing you are going to get in Washington.

But from the East? Well we can start with the Times’ story, Newsday’s piece, the Post’s story and then work our way down the coast to North Carolina, where the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer had this, the Greensboro paper this story and the Durham Herald Sun this.

For more, check out Steve Bergum’s blog.

What a run

COUGARS, 48-37

The first 12 minutes of the second half couldn’t be much better for WSU.

The Cougars are on a 25-4 run and have a chance to add to that as Weaver will be shooting two free throws when the game resumes.

The defense is stifling, the offense productive and, when WSU misses, it gets the offensive rebound.

Cougars try to rally in the second half

SAN DIEGO STATE, 37-33

In the Cougars biggest win of the year, against GU, they shot the lights out in the second half, especially from beyond the arc.

If they are going to make their biggest comeback of the year, they may have to repeat that performance tonight against San Diego State.

At the very least they’ll have to shoot better than the 29 percent that they shot in the first half, including 1 of 12 from beyond the arc.

And they’ll have to limit the Aztecs to less than the 52 percent they shot in the first half.

Kyle Weaver is doing his best early in the second half, scoring three early buckets and playing his usual excellent defense.

Duke leads heading down stretch

DUKE, 48-44

The worst part of this game is not how poorly the GU bigs are playing. It’s not the officiating, though Teddy Valentine is the most over-rated official in America.

No, it’s we have to listen to Dick Vitale, the nation’s No. 1 front-runner.

It’s almost enough to make me want to throw my computer through the big screen.

By the way, Nelson’s fifth foul was a good illustration of how the Blue Devils have been able to “hold” down Derek Raivio tonight.

There are less than 4 minutes left, and we’ll be back at the end of the game with a link to the story and some commentary. Then we are switching over to the WSU game.

The Duke lead widens

DUKE, 39-32

The GU coaching staff must have seen the same thing I did with Heytvelt. He begins the stretch of the game after the 16 minute media time out on the bench. He can’t be tired. And he hasn’t picked up another foul.

Instead Kuso and Pendergraft have stepped on the court, replacing Heytvelt and Mallon.

The energy is now there, but there is no way GU can win without Heytvelt playing with his own energy.

Of course, he comes back in and the first free throw he doesn’t block out and Duke get the offensive rebound. As the 12 minute time out comes, he’s still hasn’t found the rhythm.

At the half, GU has the slimmest of leads

GONZAGA, 21-20

Neither team really did what it wanted in the first half – but that’s the beauty of basketball, even this game.

Ya, the score isn’t what, as fans, we would like. But still, the Zags’ defense has been fun to watch – other than the close outs on Greg Paulus, who has eight.

But, despite an 8 minute stretch without a basket, Duke puts together a 10-0 run late in the half to take the lead – until Raivio grabbed it back with a 15-footer from the free-throw line.

The good news for GU in the first half?

- Kuso gave them the spark they needed off the bench. He grabbed rebounds (six), scored inside (with a team-high eight) and blocked shots (five).

- The Zags lead despite Heytvelt and Bouldin barely playing, both getting hit with two fouls early.

- The same can be said about Raivio not scoring. Despite his two points, GU still has an edge. That’s what defense can do for you.

But there was bad news.

- The Zags are still struggling on the boards. The Blue Devils are getting too many second chances - they lead the rebound battle 25-20. Duke is only shooting 23 percent from the floor, but the Devils have more chances.

- They aren’t finishing, but a lot of that can be attributed to the physical nature of the game. Still, they have to cash in their opportunities. GU is shooting just 35 percent itself, only one of five beyond the arc.

Final thought: GU shot one free throw in the first half.

Once again, GU has early foul trouble

GONZAGA, 14-10

The first stat ESPN showed coming out of the 12 minute media timeout was points in the paint, with GU having a 12-2 edge. So Duke puts in 7-foot freshman center Brian Zoubek. Does anyone else think he looks a little like Will Foster?

The Blue Devils are shooting a little like Stevie Wonder but are staying close because of their defense and some “interesting” calls on GU’s defensive end.

The Zags are in foul trouble and it may not show now, but it will as the game goes on.

Finally on TV

DUKE, 6-4

Like you, I’m stuck watching the officials argue over a 3-point shot and the clock in the Pitt-Oklahoma State game, while the radio gives us Tom Hudson’s description of the Gonzaga game.

In the past, there have been games switched in the local area, but I guess ESPN is not doing that this time. Now the Pitt game is going to overtime.

So we’re sort of stuck. No we’re not. ESPN2 has switched for us.

Boulware back in lineup for Seattle

SEAHAWKS

The Hawks will try something somewhat new to stop LaDainian Tomlinson on Sunday: Michael Boulware at safety. The third-year player has been moved back up to the starting spot at free safety.

But stopping Tomlinson, who is having the best season any NFL running back ever has, won’t be easy, despite the added weight of Boulware. The Hawks defense will need a lot of Pro Bowl play from Julian Peterson, and the offense will have to keep the ball away from the Chargers.

Idaho, Eastern meet in Cheney

EAGLES, VANDALS, HUSKIES UPDATED: 1:10 P.M.

Lost in the hype over GU-Duke and WSU playing in Seattle is a little backyard brawl going on in Cheney tonight (7:05; 790-AM).

Though there isn’t a long story dedicated to tonight’s showdown between 1-9 Idaho and the 5-6 Eagles, Jim Meehan has this interview with UI guard Keoni Watson. He also has more on his blog.

There’s also our usual Thursday Big Sky roundup and the WAC roundup. And all the local games are previewed in our week ahead summary.

UPDATE: This mock draft from a couple of days ago at HoopsHype.com has Rodney Stuckey in the 24th slot in next spring’s NBA draft. There will be more of these, of course, as the season goes on, but it’s funny to see Stuckey’s name out there when no one has a clue whether he – or any of the over underclassmen – will even be available.

Take some time and read all that’s out there about GU vs. Duke

ZAGS

For once, there are more Gonzaga stories and posts from outside the area than from the Northwest, and it’s taken me awhile to get through them all. But using sheer dogged effort – sort of like what the Zags (9-3) will have to show tonight against sixth-ranked Duke (6; ESPN2; 1510-AM) – I was able to do it.

Being the lazy fellow I am, however, I started with this advance from our John Blanchette and this link to Steve Bergum’s blog. There is also this roundup of WCC action. That covers Spokane.

Except for this: Don’t forget to check in here before, during and after the game for analysis and reporting. And, if you have questions or comments, chime in. We’ll try to answer them.

Now on to the never-ending stories and posts about this game …

Akey’s hiring well received in area

VANDALS FOOTBALL

Robb Akey’s hire received all types of coverage around the Northwest, with Jim Meehan leading the way with this story in today’s Spokesman-Review.

My favorite quote from Akey: “If I got the job or didn’t get the job, they knew what they were going to get from Robb Akey.” Sounds like a guy who is going to be straightforward and honest with his players.

Anyhow, there’s more. From the Idaho Statesman, there’s this piece from Jesse Zentz and this column from Brian Murphy.

In the Seattle Times, there is this story from Craig Smith. And the news Tribune had this piece from Todd Milles.

So we’ve heard a few comments about Akey’s hire. Now that you’ve had a chance to listen to him (and if you want to hear the entire press conference, click here), what do you think now?

I’ll tell you I was impressed with his mixture of down-home friendliness sprinkled with his football philosophy and tempered by his concern for the players. At first glance, it’s a heck of an impression.

For more on the hiring and all things Vandal, check Jim Meehan’s blog. There’s also some thoughts on how WSU will replace Akey on Glenn Kasses’ blog.

M’s meet with Zito

MARINERS

We haven’t gotten to your M’s opinions yet - we will - but this piece of news concering Barry Zito is interesting.

I like the the line where the Mariners admit they are longshots for the left-hander. Longshots have paid off before, and for the M’s to get Zito they will have to pay.

High school seniors commit to Huskies, Eagles

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Washington Huskies received a commitment from one of California’s highest-rated defensive tackles, 6-foot-6, 272-pound Nick Wood. He’s rated as the 36th-best defensive tackle in the nation by rivals.com.

••••••••••

The Eastern Eagles also received a couple of commitments Tuesday, though both have the same name. Twins Zach and Matt Johnson from Tumwater High committed to the Eagles according to Tumwater coach Sid Otton.

••••••••••

The college bowl season opened Tuesday night, with TCU stopping Garrett Wolfe and Northern Illinois.

This Ft. Worth Star-Telegram story tells how Washington State would have been in Northern Illinois’ spot if not for an NCAA rule.

Cougars put 10-1 record on line in Seattle

COUGARS, ZAGS, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Washington State will take a 10-1 record into Thursday’s “home” game against San Diego State (7:30 p.m.; 920-AM) at Seattle’s Key Arena, the Cougars’ last non-conference game before Pac-10 play kicks off.

The Aztecs are a tough out. Though unranked, they have played a decent schedule and still have amassed a 10-2 record. They have lost to Arizona and at Eastern Michigan, but have gone into St. Mary’s and won, the only team that’s done that this season.

Glenn Kasses has a story planned for the paper tomorrow, plus a web-only piece on Robbie Cowgill. Check his blog for more information.

The News Tribune’s Todd Milles took a look at the Cougs’ penchant for changing lineups in today’s paper. The Times has a short preview.

Akey will be officially introduced today

VANDALS UPDATED: 11:20 A.M.

There he was, eight miles down the road. After a wide-ranging search, which included, but was not limited to, talking with John L. Smith, Mike Kramer and Tim Walsh, the Vandals picked their guy.

From Washington State, just across the border.

Robb Akey will be introduced today as Idaho’s new football coach.

Akey will take over a program that won four games last year under veteran coach Dennis Erickson – we could have written something mean there, but it’s time to close that book – and will be experiencing its third coach in three years and fourth in five.

Besides the story linked above, Jim Meehan, who was the first to confirm the Akey hiring, will have more on his blog today, along with posting a story on our web site right after the press conference. We’ll link to that, plus we posted a commentary last night.

UPDATE: Idaho has confirmed Akey’s hire, according to this AP story.

Feel free to weigh in here or on the post below with your thoughts on the Akey hire.

Will he even have to move?

VANDALS

The choice has been made. It’s Washington State defensive coordinator Robb Akey. Jim Meehan has the news here, and we’d like to know what you think.

Is he the right choice to replace Dennis Erickson?

Let us know. Click the comment link and weigh in. Follow the full entry link to see my first thoughts.

From east to west, Zags are in the public eye

GONZAGA

With Duke up on Thursday – the Blue Devils play Kent State at home tonight before heading to New York – the Zags are getting plenty of ink on the East Coast.

This blog post from the Raleigh-Durham News & Observer is typical. No matter what happens Thursday, everyone in North Carolina is going to want to know how GU rates UNC and Duke.

Then there’s this from Fox Sports.com writer Yoni Cohen, rehashing all the arguments why the UW vs. GU series should continue. The piece is a little late, but if someone at Fox Sports – or as some call it around here, the Huskies Sports Network – wants the series to continue, maybe it will.

Roundups and news from around the Northwest

PREPS

There were a few prep basketball games in our area last night – here is the Idaho roundup along with the Washington roundup we ran – but most of the high school news comes from elsewhere.

The Times’ prep page includes the Sideline Smitty column and a feature on Federal Way’s Terrell Smith, along with a notebook.

The P-I has a feature on a Eastlake High girls basketball player and one on an Eastside Catholic boy. There’s an irony here, but you would have to read both stories to figure it out.

The News Tribune has a piece on 2B state contender Tacoma Baptist, which contains a huge mistake concerning Northwest Christian. The writer got the NW Christian in Colbert mixed up with the one in Lacey.

Len Bone, the former University coach, is now coaching his son Kegan at Snohomish High, and the Everett Herald used the circumstance to examine the challenge of parents’ coaching their child in high school.

Bracketology isn’t a science, it’s an adventure

EASTERN, GONZAGA, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

I have a goal this week to watch a live basketball game every night, which is going to be tough on Friday. But I’ll find something. Got a suggestion?

To get back to my point, that’s one of the reasons I was at Eastern last night to watch the Eagles host Davidson’s women. The Wildcats won, 67-58, and I was able to fulfill the first step in my goal.

••••••••••

Anyone can put together a predicted NCAA Tournament bracket that has as much chance of being correct as I have of writing Shakespeare, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun. So anytime I find one, I’ll try to pass it along. Which leads into … here’s one I found that has Gonzaga as a three seed, playing in Spokane.

••••••••••

The Huskies will get their second stern test of the season Wednesday night, when LSU invades Hec Ed (7:30; FSN – hey, I thought they wanted to play all these intersectional games for national exposure?). The 12th-ranked Tigers (6-2) are led by Glen “Big Baby” Davis.

UW guard Adrian Oliver was held out of practice Monday (concussion), but hopes to play Wednesday. The Huskies (8-1) will need his speed against the Tigers’ brawn.

••••••••••

The second college women’s basketball game to be played outdoors was called on account of rain Monday night. The game, won by host Arizona State over Texas Tech, 61-45, started in 57-degree weather and ended when the Chase Field roof couldn’t be closed quick enough.

No Harbaugh as the search goes on

VANDALS

Jim Meehan has the news on his blog that University of San Diego coach Jim Harbaugh is off the Vandals’ football coaching wish list.

It seems Harbaugh got a higher-paying job. He’s headed to San Francisco to take the Stanford head coaching position.

Zags drop a little in AP poll

GONZAGA

The Associated Press poll is out, and GU fell to 22nd (from 16th) after the loss to Georgia.

From the West, UCLA is still No. 1, Arizona ninth, Washington 17th, Oregon 21st, Air Force 24th and Nevada 25th.

Add this with the coaches’ poll, and GU is barely hanging in the rankings. On the other hand, the Zags are the only three-loss team in the top 25, which is a tribute to their schedule.

If you were ranking GU, where would you put them? Let us know prior to the Duke game Thursday.

NBA comes down hard on Anthony, Robinson

NEWS UPDATE: 11:35 A.M.

The NBA handed out the punishments for Saturday night’s brawl at Madison Square Garden. Nuggets’ star Carmelo Anthony was hit with the biggest suspension, 15 games, but former UW guard Nate Robinson wasn’t far behind with a 10-game suspension.

••••••••••

USA Today has a piece about Arizona State’s women’s basketball team in the wake of the tragedy which hit it earlier this year. It’s a good story, but not nearly as touching as the one Dave Trimmer wrote for us following the death of Aubree Johnson’s brother Jordan.

••••••••••

The USA Today coaches poll is out, and Gonzaga dropped eight spots, to 24. Thursday night’s opponent in New York City (6; ESPN; 1510-AM) Duke stayed in the sixth spot. North Carolina moved up to second, Butler to 16th, Washington, which won its only game of the week in a rout, dropped from 14 to 17, Memphis moved up to 18, Nevada to 20th and Oregon to 23rd. UCLA stayed atop the poll and Arizona moved into the top 10 at No. 9.

Despite a 7-1 record and having run away from Gonzaga, Georgia remained unranked and received just two votes.

UPDATE: Fox Sports has named Georgia its team of the week after the upst of GU. There’s that and more on this notes column.

A full slate of college games on Sunday

WHITWORTH, GONZAGA, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Whitworth women won two games in their Ramada Inn Whit Classic over the weekend, the only school in the four-team, round-robin tournament to do that. But that’s not the only news contained in this roundup, including the CCS men winning and the Washington State women winning for the third time in their last four games, defeating visiting Northwestern State 72-70 in overtime Sunday.

Speaking of the women’s game, the Huskies (7-4) are playing their best basketball of the season, as evidenced by their 84-65 win over Florida State on Sunday night, only the Seminoles second loss in 12 games this year.

Marquette takes down GU women

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Gonzaga women, playing their second road game in three days, lost 74-60 at 21st-ranked Marquette in the first meeting ever between the schools.

The Gonzaga men meet Duke this week, and the two programs share something in common. According to this Chicago Tribune story, they are the only two programs in the nation to win at least 24 games for each of the past nine years.

The Eastern women host Davidson on Monday (7:05 p.m.), and Dave Trimmer has a story on former Ferris center Brynn Kelly, in her senior year at the North Carolina school.

GSL basketball heads to break

PREPS

The Greater Spokane League had a rare Saturday night of basketball prior to Christmas break, with the games going mostly according to form.

Mead’s boys held on to second place (by a half-game over Shadle Park) with a 57-46 home win over Gonzaga Prep (you can find the boys standings here and the girls’ here).

The league leaders at the break are preseason favorites the Ferris boys and Lewis and Clark girls.

There was also a lot of hoop going on in the area, with the boys’ roundup here and the girls’ roundup here. The Idaho roundup can be found here.

Sedro-Wooley took the team title in the Tri-State wrestling tournament in North Idaho, with Sandpoint’s fourth-place finish the best by an Inland Northwest team.

From the Columbia Basin – there wasn’t much prep action on the West Side due to the weather – they held the 16th SunDome Mat Classic with Olympic winning, and Ike’s boys win over Eastmont leads this Yakima Herald-Republic’s roundup.

Cougars take another step toward the postseason

COUGARS, VANDALS, HUSKIES

We posted the Associated Press stories about the two Palouse schools last night (click here if you want to read them), but there’s more available on the WSU win.

Glenn Kasses covers it here. The victory gives WSU its best start since the elder Bush’s administration, with a tough game looming Thursday night in Key Arena against San Diego State.

A win there would boost the Cougs’ non-conference record to 11-1. Even if they go 9-9 in the Pac-10, they would end up 20-10, easily good enough to earn an NCAA berth.

For more, check Glenn’s blog.

••••••••••

We ran the AP story on Idaho’s loss at North Dakota State, the same story we posted here last night.

For more on the Vandals, there’s always Jim’s blog.

••••••••••

The Huskies were looking for someone to run over after their first loss of the season. The victim just happened to be Portland State. The final: 105-73 UW.

Here is the Seattle Times’ story, the one from the P-I, Everett and Tacoma. The Times also ran a sidebar on UW’s rebounding.

Celtics down Charlotte despite 16 from Morrison

MORRISON WATCH, NBA

Adam Morrison couldn’t duplicate the night he had Thursday when he scored 22 points in a win over Orlando. Either could the Charlotte Bobcats as they lost to the Boston Celtics, despite 16 points, three rebounds and three assists from Morrison. The Bobcats have yet to win back-to-back games this season.

••••••••••

Shades of Auburn Hills. Ten players from the Knicks and Nuggets were ejected near the end of Denver’s victory in Madison Square Garden after a brawl broke out.

GU’s loss just figures

GONZAGA

This one is really hard to figure out.

The good team defense we’ve seen most of the season? It wasn’t there.

The ability to get to the foul line when it’s needed to stop an opponent’s run? Nope, not there either.

The rebounding? The ability to find an open teammate for an easy bucket? Taking care of the ball? Derek Raivio’s 20 points? All those were missing as well.

Which, I guess, is a simple way of explaining how Georgia – which came in unranked but may not have that label by Monday – was able to hang 96 points on GU and hand the Zags their third loss of the year.

The numbers tell a tale:

Lessons being learned

GEORGIA, 85-75

The road is a tough. That’s the lesson GU can take out of this one. That and they have to rebound better if they want to win the tough road games. Hey, those two lessons go together.

It doesn’t look like GU is going to rally here. We’ll be back right after the game with a link to the game story then later with a final word

Trying to climb the mountain

GEORGIA, 72-65

There have been games this year when GU has broken out to big leads and then squandered them.

Can the opposite happen today?

Georgia built a 16-point lead early in the second half, only to see GU get within five. To come all the way back, the Zags will have to get stops, will have to keep shooting at the same pace and they’ll have to keep Heytvelt in the game.

A lot of variables, for sure, but not impossible.

Mind-boggling numbers in the first half

GEORGIA, 50-45

Usually when a team shoots as well as Georgia has the first half, you can figure it will cool off in the second half. But the way Georgia has shot this season (see pregame post below), I’m not sure that applies.

The Bulldogs from the South are shooting 65 percent at halftime, the best anyone has shot against GU this season in the first half – by a huge margin. The previous best was Butler’s 48 percent. And we all know how that game turned out.

But it’s actually worse than that. Georgia is just 4 of 13 from beyond the arc, which means they are 18 of 21 inside (that’s 86 percent folks).

Even if they shoot half that after intermission, it will be tough for GU, because 43 percent would still be higher than people have shot against the Zags on average coming in.

The positive spin you can put on it? Even though Georgia is shooting like that, it still only leads by five.

We’ll be back in the second half.

Pargo steps up

GONZAGA, 31-26

Like a lot of sophomores, Jeremy Pargo can disappear some nights and be the best guy on the court others.

In this 4-minute stretch he has been the former.

And that’s why the Zags have been able to break out in front. That, and the defensive change we talked about in the last post.

The Zags’ matchup has stymied the Bulldogs, as Georgia has taken the route GU wants: attacking with the dribble on the baseline.

Such a choice is disaster against the Zags’ zone, as they double team the ball and get in the passing lanes, denying any reversal and forcing turnovers.

Then it’s a fastbreak drill.

Heytvelt shows his range

GONZAGA, 10-9

Versatility is such a weapon. Especially when you are 6-foot-11, like Josh Heytvelt.

With the Bulldogs struggling on the offensive end, and the other Bulldogs fronting him in the post, Heytvelt stepped outside, got squared up and nailed two 3-pointers. Which seemed to loosen up his teammates.

So far, the Georgia Bulldogs are running, and running successfully. Their quickness is impressive.

We’ll see if it will last.

Just whetting your appetite

GONZAGA

Before we get to our pre-game analysis, here are a couple links for you.

The first comes from the Sports Network, and is a nice, concise look at the two teams. There’s not much you probably don’t know about GU here, but the Georgia info is interesting.

The second comes from the self-proclaimed worldwide leader in sports and is an even more superficial preview of the game.

We’re going to get set up in front of the wide-screen and we’ll be back soon with our look at the game.

Holmgren tries to figure out these Hawks

SEAHAWKS, PRO FOOTBALL

It sometimes feels like Mike Holmgren is calling plays he knows will work. And they did. Last year – with last year’s offensive line.

This year? Not so much.

In the past two games, the Seahawks have faced third-and-one or fourth-and-one down by three points on three occasions. In the first 12 games, they were nearly perfect on those type of plays. But the last two games? Zero for three. And all three were power runs.


Danny O’Neil of the Times analyzes the Hawks recent play, but, looking at it from 300 miles away, it seems like Holmgren has not adjusted to losing Steve Hutchinson or starting two first or second year guys up front.

Things look dark in Kirkland – though that’s because of a power outage.

The Seahawks’ situation, however, looks bleak and Holmgren is trying to get it figured out without getting angry. So far, he’s kept his cool. Probably because he sees his team as having some fight left in them.

But they don’t have the confidence they had at the end of last year. Or even at the beginning of this one.

••••••••••

Yesterday I got to listen to Jim Mora’s remarks on the KJR show in their entirety. He may have been joking – though even he admits that it doesn’t sound like it – but the truth remains. He wants to UW job – someday.

Not now, but if it opens again, he will be first in line. And the Huskies should hire him. He strikes me as a Pete Carroll type, a guy with NFL pedigree who will do better in the college game.

I’ve got an idea. Why doesn’t he prove me right by taking the Idaho job first? If he can win there, he can win in Montlake. And, just to be clear, I am joking – about the Idaho part.

Zags have Georgia on their mind; Eagles’ Stuckey’s back

GONZAGA, EASTERN

We’ll be back this afternoon with more on GU’s game at Georgia – pregame commentary, in-game observations (I try to post something at each media time out), a game story and then post-game analysis.

But until then, here are a couple Gonzaga-related items for you to peruse. The first is Steve Bergum’s advance from Duluth, Ga., along with this link to his blog.

On the blogger front, this post has a listing of the teams on the West Coast by RPI, with their record, big wins, losses and a little summary. The RPI rating isn’t official, but it’s probably close as everyone uses the same formula (e=mc2 – just kidding) now days.

••••••••••

The Eagle lost more than a game to No. 22 Oregon in Eugene on Friday night. They also lost Rodney Stuckey, at least for the night and maybe longer.

Stuckey went out early with a back problem and never returned. His status is day-to-day. If you want to stay on top of the situation, check Dave Trimmer’s blog on a regular basis.

Here is the Oregonian story on the game and Stuckey’s back ailment.

Not a good night for local teams in Seattle

THE LATE NEWS

Just a couple of quick notes.

The Gonzaga women lost 75-61 at the University of Washington when the Bulldogs had trouble putting the ball in the basket, especially from long range (GU was 3 of 18 from beyond the 3-point arc).

The Spokane Chiefs also had a bad night in Seattle - maybe it was the weather - losing to the T-Birds 6-3 in the first of a home-and-home series. Here’s the report on the Chiefs’ website.

Weather takes out prep games in the Sound

PREPS

Most prep events on the West Side have been canceled due to the inclement weather, but the ones in our area are still on track.

The Times also has a story from this morning concerning the proposed Rep Assembly amendment concerning outside pay of coaches by booster clubs.

In the S-R this morning, we had our prep roundups which revolved around wrestling for the most part, with this one that ran in Washington and the one from the Idaho edition. Speaking of wrestling, Yakima had this on Toppenish coming from behind to stop Grandview.

The Tri-City Herald looked at the Columbia Basin League’s crossover games thus far (along with the other leagues in its area), with a story on the boys and the girls.

The road beckons again for GU

GONZAGA, EASTERN, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The long December grind continues Saturday for Gonzaga, with a game against the University of Georgia in suburban Atlanta (2 p.m.; ESPN2; 1510-AM). The other Bulldogs are 6-1, though their schedule hasn’t been as daunting at 9-2 Gonzaga’s. For more information, check out the GU release and don’t forget to check in with Steve Bergum’s Gonzaga blog.

An interesting advance comes from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The writer starts off talking with former Michigan State coach and current GU fan Jud Heathcote about his love for the Gonzaga program.

There’s also this advance from North Carolina, but it’s the AP story out of Spokane.

No Kramer, no coach yet for UI

VANDALS

Now you know the type of power I have. As much as was coursing through my house up until about a half-hour ago, which means none.

Mike Kramer, the guy I thought UI needed to hire, has decided not to continue to pursue the Idaho football coaching position.

Here are some of the possible scenarios in a situation like this:

• He wanted the job, but they didn’t want him. The Vandal search committee told him so, and they let him pull out gracefully.

• He wanted the job, but the Vandals wanted to wait and Kramer couldn’t, so he pulled out.

• He wanted the job, but after the interview process he didn’t want to work for either Rob Spear or someone else connected to UI, so he pulled out.

• He wanted the job until he found out what it really was going to be like, so he pulled out.

• The Vandals already have a hire in mind, but they are not sure said person will say yes, so they wanted Kramer as a backup, and he didn’t to sit on the bench.

Whatever the reason, the guy who would have been perfect in Idaho is no longer in the running. That’s too bad.

What do you think about it? We know most of you thought he was the right guy. Now do you think Spear and his search committee is back to square one, or do you think they are on to someone special? Or did they miss the boat not sealing the deal with Kramer? Just click the comment line and let us know.

A in-depth look at Morrison’s game

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED 6:45 P.M.

The Bobcats are playing the Magic as we speak, with the first of the pro Morrison vs. Reddick matchups.

But before we worry about that, I recommend this ESPN piece sent me by a colleague. If you’re a Adam Morrison fan, or even if you are a Morrison detractor, it’s worth reading. It will, however, take a little time.

UPDATE: The Bobcats won 99-89 and either Reddick’s presence or the ESPN story (above) must have energized Morrison. He scored 22 points, hitting 7 of 12 shots from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He also was perfect on five free throws. But more importantly, coming off the bench, he grabbed seven rebounds, three of those offensive, added an assist and just two turnovers. It’s his first double-digit scoring game of the month. On the other side, Reddick had five points for Orlando.

I can see the Hawks marching down the field …

SEAHAWKS

You won’t be able to watch the Hawks tonight unless you have the NFL Network, know someone who has the NFL Network, can drive to Seattle and watch it there or have a favorite watering hole that will have it on.

Otherwise you’ll have to visualize it while listening to the radio (5 p.m.; 790-AM).

To get your brain’s imagination started, I recommend these stories for background.

From the Times, the weather could play a big part tonight, but probably not as big a role as San Francisco’s Frank Gore.

In the P-I, Clare Farnsworth explains how Seattle’s goals are still within reach, even tonight, and Ted Miller gives us perspective on the perspective former Cougar Robbie Tobeck gained through his illness.

The News Tribune’s Dave Boling doesn’t begrudge the NFL Network televising the game, he just thinks it’s too hard on the players to bounce back for a Thursday night encounter, and he’s right. Mike Sando explains why Spokane won’t be seeing the game over the air like Seattle.

And from the Herald check Scott Johnson on the NFL’s television decision and his piece on the Hawks’ offense.

Spokane defeats Everett again

CHIEFS

So who has the best team in the WHL’s U.S. Division? The number say Everett, easily atop the division’s standings.

But who has Everett’s number? That would be the Spokane Chiefs, which handed the Silvertips another loss Wednesday night, this one 4-2 at the Arena. There’s no story available on-line that I could find (see below for link to Everett story), so you’ll have to be content with this story about the team’s long-awaited signing of top draft pick Jared Cowen.

The Everett Herald’s story is here, along with the paper’s preview of this weekend’s series with Vancouver.

Bulldogs taking a tough walk

GONZAGA

The road beckons. First Georgia, then New York, then the Emerald City.

The Zags head out tomorrow on their toughest road trip of the year, and maybe ever. After Saturday’s game in suburban Atlanta, then it’s up the coast to the Big Apple for next Thursday long-awaited game with Duke. After Christmas, it’s over to Seattle for another ranked opponent, Nevada. Then it’s back East right after the first of the year for another Atlantic Coast Conference foe, Virginia.

Whew.

But right now, all the Zags are worrying about is Georgia, according to Steve Bergum’s post on his Zag blog (there’s also a quick note about Abdullahi Kuso and what he’s been doing well).

Steve also has a quick question-and-answer piece with freshman sensation Matt Bouldin, the most fundamentally sound passer I’ve seen in years. Then there’s this look around the West Coast Conference.

Bud Withers of the Times also examines the Bulldogs’ long road trip as part of his hoop notebook concerning the three schools on this side of the state. But it all starts with the Zags’ trip – make that trips.

To get through this stretch, GU better have the heart of a tin man, the courage of a lion and the brains of Bill Walton.

Back in business

VANDALS, OTHER NEWS

Well, we’re situated in a decent room in Bozeman, and I finally have some time to check in with what’s going on.

I was going to knock on Mike Kramer’s office door and ask about Idaho, but he is already en route to Moscow. As Jim Meehan reported in his story today, Kramer is bringing his family over for a Thursday interview so they can see the grandparents.

A Boise-area television station (KTVB) is reporting that Kramer will be named the coach, but the source cited is … someone close to the station. Does that mean, like, the night janitor’s cousin’s sister-in-law heard it from the guy at the 7-11 in Moscow who sold Rob Spear a Big Gulp this morning?

Anyhow, here’s the link. We report, you decide.

***********

Now that I’m in Bozeman, packing the kid up for the trip home, I can tell you the feeling around campus about Kramer leaving is pretty, well, I guess ambivalent would suffice. The kids who are still here have finals to worry about so they seem to care less if they lose their coach. And I asked more than a couple. OK, three.

But the Great Falls Tribune had a story today that the Bobcat fans are pretty torn up. About possibly losing Kramer and about three former players arrested on crack charges.

**********

We’ll be up bright and early tomorrow to catch you up on how the Chiefs did against Everett, the previews of the Seahawks’ game, whatever happens in the Vandal search – my money is on either Kramer being names Thursday or it will go to someone else – and any other news of interest.

Sorry I wasn’t more available today.

Bruce second-team All-American

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Associated Press All-America football team is out, and Cougar defensive end Mkristo Bruce earned second-team honors (see the three teams on the full entry link).

And that’s an honor that is deserved. The senior was an unstoppable sack machine early in the year out of the 4-3 alignment, a skill that is always noticed by NFL scouts. But when injuries forced WSU to play a 3-4 for much of the second half of the year, Bruce sucked it up and still had some outstanding performances, even if his sack totals went down. That team play is also something NFL scouts notice.

As did the AP voters.

••••••••••

The P-I’s Ted Miller did ESPN’s Pac-10 review that appeared on its site.

Mike Kramer is the right guy at the right time

VANDALS

You’ve spoken. A majority of those who left comments on this on-line column and/or voted in our poll want Mike Kramer to be the next football coach at the University of Idaho.

It looks from the bleachers, however, that John L. Smith, former Vandal, Louisville and Michigan State coach, is the frontrunner. Nothing against coach Smith, but …

Listen, I hate politicians that ask for your vote by running down the other guy, so I’m not going to do it. Smith would make a fine choice, just not the best choice, not now and not for the next five years.

There’s no need to hide it. You know who I think should be the next football coach at the University of Idaho: Mike Kramer.

Now I’m going to tell you why.

Eastern’s second half second rate

EASTERN, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Rodney Stuckey sits out most of the first half in foul trouble. The Eagles bomb away from the outside (8 of 11 3-point shots) and stay within one at 39-38.

Stuckey, the nation’s third-leading scorer returns for the second half. The Eagle go cold, especially from the outside (4 of 12) and get run out 91-68 in Santa Clara. And Stuckey finishes with a career-low 12 points in 25 minutes.

Doesn’t really seem to add up, huh? Well, the Broncos, after shooting 45 percent in the first half, hit 56 percent of their shots after halftime, including 7 of 12 from beyond the arc. That’s the game in a nutshell. Here’s our story.

••••••••••

An interesting entry from Bob Condotta’s Husky basketball blog. One reason Gonzaga shot so well can be traced to the Huskies’ inability to get back on defense. They attacked the offensive glass with energy, but a large group of long rebounds fueled the GU fastbreak.

•••••••••

Former Garfield star Anthony Washington is asking to rejoin the Portland State basketball team.

The search is on for new UI coach

VANDALS UPDATED: 9:55 A.M.

Idaho athletic director Rob Spear is moving quickly to replace the departed Dennis Erickson (links on his arrival in Phoenix below). He made two phone calls we know of, to former Idaho – among other places – coach John L. Smith and to Montana State coach – and former UI player – Mike Kramer.

Jim Meehan relates all you need to know about this in his story in today’s S-R and on his blog.

Reading what Jim had to write, I was struck how much Smith sounded like Erickson, 2005 edition. Now that shouldn’t disqualify the man – it’s not his fault what happened in the past couple weeks – but it does give one pause.

The thing that worries me is the Vandals are going to pass over the guy who wants the job because of what it is, not for what it could lead to (Kramer) and give it to someone who, when tempted by a big-time school in a big-time conference, will leave as quickly as possible (not Kramer).

And, by then, the right guy (Kramer) will have given up.

We’ll see.

From the Montana State side, there is consternation, as this Great Falls Tribune story shows. The Bobcats are worried about losing a coach that’s led them to three Big Sky titles and multiple NCAA berths.

••••••••••

Erickson was introduced to the Phoenix-area media Monday and the stories revolved around his ability to win and graduate players. OK, so the last one has never seemed to be that important before, but it must be now.

Here is an Arizona Republic story, a column about how Erickson beat out old buddy Mike Price for the job and a sidebar gauging the reaction of ASU’s president.

Here is the East Valley Tribune’s main story and six questions concerning the hire.

UPDATE: Bud Withers of the Seattle Times weighs in on Erickson’s new address - and on his past. Also, the P-I did a point-counterpoint on Erickson, with Ted Miller saying he did the right thing and Jim Moore raking him over the coals.

A hard-nosed win for North Idaho College

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

When I was covering community college basketball in Southern California a generation ago, I don’t think I ever remember covering a game where both teams final score stopped in the 70s. And that was before the shot clock and the 3-point line.

But JC basketball there and then was all about scoring, getting up and down the court and flying around. Play a zone? Only Cypress College did that, and the Chargers were looked down upon. Of course, they won some titles, but that was beside the point. It was all about showcasing for the next level.

NIC takes the lead

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

North Idaho rained a bunch of 3-pointers to start the second half, and CCS had just one answer. So, with 10 minutes left, NIC leads 60-56.

The Cardinals hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions and opened a 53-45 lead. The Sasquatch came back behind Clift, who scored nine of CCS’s first 16, and assisted on two other hoops.

*********

The Sasquatch got back within one with nine minutes left, within three with the ball three times in the next few minutes, but never cashed in. With 4:39 left, NIC leads 66-61.

Cardinals up by one

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

North Idaho’s size is taking a toll on CCS, which has only one player taller than 6-foot-6. NIC just has two, but a bunch of guys who play taller.

Brian Morris, NIC’s 6-8 freshman, can score anytime he wants – when he gets the ball. He’s not getting as many touches as he should, however, and that’s part of the reason it’s only 22-21 NIC with 10 minutes left in the first half.

A little more offensive patience and the Cardinals could be up more. The Sasquatch have some foul trouble, with two starters, including Jon Clift, who is averaging 12 points a game, with two apiece.

Early season showdown Tuesday in GSL

PREPS

One quick prep link for this Monday. It’s to Mike Vlahovich’s prep notebook, and it highlights Tuesday’s big showdown between Greater Spokane League undefeated boys teams from Ferris (4-0) and Shadle Park (3-0).

The first of two meetings this season, this one (7:30 p.m.) at Shadle should show where these two teams stand.

Check out Mike’s blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

Spokane is tied for second in U.S. Division

CHIEFS

Spokane moved into second place in the WHL’s U.S. Division with Saturday night’s 6-0 rout of the Portland Winter Hawks.

And then last-place Portland turned around Sunday and did Spokane a huge favor: The Hawks went into Kennewick and defeated the Tri-City Americans 4-2. It was the first of five consecutive games between the teams (interesting schedule that).

The Chiefs, meanwhile, will take its 36 points into Wednesday’s home game against division leader Everett, which defeated Seattle 4-3 Saturday by rallying from a three-goal, third-period deficit. The loss didn’t seem to hurt the Thunderbirds much, as they turned around and shut out Kamloops on the road Sunday.

Allan named All-American again

PIRATES

Whitworth’s Michael Allan, the 6-foot-6 behemoth of a tight end, was named to the NCAA Division III All-America team for the second consecutive year.

You can read more about the honor here.

It’s always good to start the week with a little basketball

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

We are going to start our work week – hey, only 14 days to Christmas! – with some happy news – not the bummer that is college football coaching right now.

We’ll get to the bummer heading off to Arizona later.

But first let’s look at hoops.

Glenn Kasses revisits Saturday night’s late game between Idaho and Washington State, paying special attention to the disparity between the two programs right now.

As always, there’s more on WSU on Glenn’s blog and more on Idaho on Jim Meehan’s blog, though that’s sort of dominated by the end of one football coach’s one-year era and the search for another.

One thing for Dennis, he brings out the passion

COUGARS, VANDALS, EAGLES

The dog is taking Kim for a walk – if you have a Lab you know what I mean – so I’ve got a couple of minutes to catch up on the Cougs and Vandals, in football and basketball. And maybe Eastern.

Of course the big news is Dennis Erickson (shown getting on a plane headed for Arizona; Spokesman-Review photo) turning into a snowbird and leaving for Arizona (he is around 60 for goodness sake, so why are we surprised?). We broke the definitive word last night, so here’s our story by Jim Meehan and Glenn Kasses from this morning along with another link to John Blanchette’s column.

From Arizona, here is a piece from the Arizona Republic (which mistakenly credits the Associated Press instead of the ol’ S-R as the source) along with a Paola Boivin column. There is also a story in the East Valley Tribune.

I know you folks are interested in this, due to the number and passion of your comments. Most are in the “I-told-you-so” vein, so I’ll dispense with any other commentary beyond what I posted last night. Read the comments, add your own.

Also, there’s more on Jim’s blog.

The Bulldogs have taught some lessons

GONZAGA

It’s finals week around the college campuses of America, including at Gonzaga University.

So what have we learned thus far, class?

The biggest lesson seems to be when this edition of the Gonzaga Bulldogs is good, it’s very good.

And callow teams don’t have much of a chance against them.

Let’s look at the three biggest wins GU has posted this season:

What do you think of Erickson leaving?

VANDALS

After 10 months and four wins, Dennis Erickson is gone.

So I have to ask you, what do you think about Erickson leaving Idaho after just 10 months? Do you feel betrayed? Do you feel used? Do you feel a little oily? Or are you OK with it?

Let us know. Click the comment link and register your feelings.

Want mine? Click the read full entry link and you’ll get them in a nutshell.

Let the talk end

GONZAGA, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Washington Huskies will be making their first trip outside the Bank of America Arena formerly known as Hec Ed tonight when they travel here to face Gonzaga (8; KHQ; 1510-AM).

Steve Bergum previews the matchup that will be the last between the schools in a while.

That development doesn’t sit too well with Times’ columnist Steve Kelley, who writes it’s too good a rivalry to let die.

We’ll be at McCarthey tonight for pregame and post-game comment, along with a game story right after the contest. Click in if you have questions and comments and we’ll get to them after the game (we can’t post until afterward).

Also, check Steve’s blog for more information.

Day starts well, ends in a hole for Morrison

MORRISON WATCH

This morning the Charlotte Observer ran a story about Adam Morrison gaining respect around the NBA.

Tonight Morrison had his worst game as a pro, hitting 1 of 11 shots and finishing with two points in a 92-62 loss to Houston. In his last three games, Morrison has scored eight points on 3 of 26 from the field.

Former Giant shortstop Uribe killed

THE AFTERNOON NEWS

Jose Uribe, the Giants’ shortstop who was really the player to be named later has been killed in an auto accident in the Dominican Republic.

Uribe, 47, came to the major leagues as Jose Gonzalez Uribe, then changed his name after being sent to the Giants.

••••••••••

Former Zag Ronny Turiaf (pictured; AP photo) may start for the Lakers tonight against Atlanta, and the biggest reason just might have been Jeremy Pargo’s brother.

See, Jannero drove the lane without fear during New Orlean’s win over LA on Wednesday night, and that didn’t sit too well with coach Phil Jackson. He wants Turiaf to do something about it. One guy with Zag connections helping another.

••••••••••

Contrary to an earlier post here, West Virginia football coach Rich Rodriguez has decided to stay with the Mountaineers and not take the University of Alabama position.

Alabama is still in the market for a head coach and we wonder what name will come up next.

Fun times with the Hawks

SEAHAWKS

There are a couple of really fun stories from the Sound on the Seahawks this morning. Neither are earth-shattering pieces of journalism, but both are just interesting.

The first comes from the News Tribune. And it’s just the beginning of a notebook. But it poses a question: What of Shaun Alexander had signed with this Sunday’s opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, in the offseason? Where would he be now?

The other is out of the Times. It’s about the art of the game-winning field goal. Take a twirl through the mind of a kicker and see what Josh Brown does to win a game with his foot. There’s also a P-I story (finally) on Brown’s big hit in Denver.

There’s a lot of stuff about Sunday’s game, including the Times’ look at former USC teammates Matt Lienart and Lofa Tatupu, a piece on the Hawks’ rookies, along with a sad Pat Tillman story.

Why can’t those schools just stay way?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATED: 11 A.M.

So Dennis Erickson is talking with Arizona State. And so is Mike Price. Wow. Two guys who had success at Washington State, though I wouldn’t call it overwhelming success, being lured by ASU. And two guys whose teams had average to poor seasons this year (Price’s UTEP team went 5-7 this season; Idaho was 4-8).

Now I think both are pretty damn good college football coaches, but, honestly, can’t ASU find an up-and-coming assistant somewhere that would fire up the fan base and bring energy to Tempe? Wouldn’t that be better than hiring a veteran coach who has baggage from every recent stop?

And wouldn’t that be better than poaching Idaho’s guy in the middle of recruiting season, a recruiting season that is crucial to the Vandals’ future success?

What do you think? Is Erickson ASU’s best choice? Price? Oregon State’s Mike Riley (which opens another can-o-worms with Erickson)? Or should the Sun Devils leave these guys alone and grow their own coach?

In somewhat-related news, Alabama seems to have lured West Virginia’s Rich Rodriguez with a mound of cash. Good luck coach Rodriguez. Stay away from the clubs.

••••••••••

Montana is the only Big Sky Conference football team left in the NCAA 1-AA playoffs (that’s our name for it), and the Griz host UMass this afternoon (4:30; ESPN2) in a semifinal. Here is the Boston Globe story on the matchup. Talk about praise for UM, wow.

UPDATE: Here’s a Great Falls Tribune story on UMass’ excellent running back.

••••••••••

All the college football awards, except the Heisman, were handed out in a made-for-ESPN special last night, and here’s who won what.

••••••••••

Finally, here’s a fun look at the BCS mess. Enjoy.

The calm before the Friday night storm

PREPS

There’s nothing big prep-wise in today’s paper – or in the West Side papers – but there are a lot of little things.

Tonight, we’ll be out at a prep hoop game (games) and we’ll have a report here in the morning. But until then, you’ll have to make do with this.

Here’s our Idaho roundup, which leads with girls basketball, and our Washington roundup, led by wrestling.

For more prep information, don’t fail to check Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

Collville star running back and defensive back John Roberts (pictured; Spokesman-Review photo by Chris Anderson) is one of two high school athletes who committed Thursday to attending Eastern Washington University to play football next season.

This isn’t exactly preps, but hundreds of cross-country runners, ages 8 to 18, are descending on Spokane as we speak, ready to run in Saturday’s USA Track and Field National Junior Cross Country Championships at Plante’s Ferry Park.

One of the best high school player’s in the nation, Lake Oswego’s Kevin Love, will be in Seattle Saturday for a tournament. Love is headed to No. 1 UCLA next year. Jim Moore does an interview with him.

How do you feel about the Huskies’ schedule change?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Washington Huskies have decided that there just isn’t enough room on next year’s schedule for a game with Gonzaga. Husky coach Lorenzo Romar has his reasons (and you can read them here), and they seem reasonable enough.

Husky fans in Seattle, at least the ones who are commenting on UW basketball blogs, think Gonzaga fans are whining about the rivalry’s demise (check out these comments, just click the comments link).

Is its end really worth whining about? Does it make sense for UW to drop the Zags in favor of a wider range of opponents? Or are they just tired of what has become a one-sided rivalry – in GU’s favor? What do you think?

Just click the comment link and let me know. I’ve given my opinion here, now it’s your turn.

Bowen digs down and shuts down Morrison

MORRISON WATCH

The Bobcats lost at home to San Antonio, 96-76, Wednesday night, with Adam Morrison held to four points by the defense of Bruce Bowen.

Read what Bobcats’ coach Bernie Bickerstaff had to say about Morrison’s performance in the Charlotte Observer:

“Meanwhile, Bobcats rookie Adam Morrison, who scored 27 points in San Antonio, went 1-of-10 for four points. Smart teams know who to stop.

” ‘He said it just wasn’t going for him. It doesn’t go for you if you don’t shoot it,’ said Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff.

” ‘I told Adam there are going to be plenty of nights like this. When you have one, you’ve got to find some way to help the basketball team.’ ”

Mariners make a blockbuster deal - just kidding

MARINERS, BASEBALL UPDATE: 11:10 A.M.

No Jason Schmidt. No more Gil Meche. Freddy Garcia went elsewhere. Rafael Soriano is gone. Horacio Ramirez is here.

That’s the extent of the Mariners’ winter meeting deals according to the Times, the P-I and News Tribune.

Schmidt, of course, signed with the Dodgers yesterday despite, according to Bill Bavasi, a competitive offer from his hometown team, Seattle. Meche left the M’s and agreed to a reported five-year deal with Kansas City on Thursday. Garcia, rumored on his way back to Seattle earlier, was sent to Philadelphia. And the Mariners traded Soriano to Atlanta for the left-hand throwing Ramirez, a starter with a history of health problems.

Oh, I forgot. They also picked up pitcher Sean White from the Pirates, another pitcher who, like Ramirez, was in the Braves’ organization last season.

But back to Ramirez. If he stays healthy, and that’s a big if, he can help the rotation. He’s a sinker ball pitcher who will be backed by a strong defensive infield. And he’s a left-hander who will pitch his home games in a park that is murder on right-handed power.

UPDATE: Even the Longview Daily News takes the M’s to task for the so-far-uninspiring offseason.

••••••••••

Former Ferris High and Gonzaga University standout Brian Munhall changed organizations Thursday, drafted out of the Giants’ system by the Texas Rangers in the minor league Rule 5 draft. He’ll join another former Zag catcher, Kevin Richardson, in the Texas minor league system.

Wrestling with a Thursday section

PREPS

It’s Thursday, so that mean’s Prep Page day in the S-R.

We’ll start in Idaho, where wrestling was the sport of the day. There’s a feature on Timberlake’s David Hayes, a preview graphic and the preseason rankings. Greg Lee also has his column on Madison High boys basketball coach Billy Hawkins. The Prep Profile is on Kellogg’s Kaela Calabretta.

In Washington, we had our gymnastics feature and preview graphic. Mike Vlahovich writes about pressure and sports in his column. The Prep Profile is on St. John-Endicott’s Phillip Luft.

Last on the list is our roundup of Wednesday’s prep action, including the first day of GSL wrestling.

Don’t forget to check out Greg’s blog and Mike’s blog for more prep news. Mike has links to the Tri-City Herald’s basketball previews.

A special night at McCarthey Center

GONZAGA WOMEN

Just got back in after watching the Arizona State women defeat GU, 81-66, before 3,418 at the McCarthey Athletic Center. (You can read Dave Trimmer’s game story here.)

The game was special in a lot of ways.

It marked the first time Sun Devils Emily Westerberg (pictured; photo by Dan Pelle, The Spokesman-Review), Reagan Pariseau (both from Central Valley High), Briann January (Lewis and Clark) and Aubree Johnson (Post Falls) have played in Spokane since leaving the Inland Northwest for hoops in the Valley of the Sun.

It also marked the first time Aubree Johnson has played since her brother Jordan passed away in his sleep while at a tournament where he was watching his big sister.

It also marked a reunion of a multitude of Stars players who spent their high school summers together traveling the West playing basketball, with the four Sun Devils part of the program along with a handful of Zags.

What follows are my impressions of the game, taken from my notebook as the game went on – and afterward …

Seattle’s up-and-down season is upsetting our stomach

SEAHAWKS

What type of team does Seattle have?

The Times’ Steve Kelley knows the answer: A two-laptop team. Read his column, laugh a while and then think. If he’s right, we all may have a coronary before the playoffs are over.

Danny O’Neill highlights how that Janus-like face of the Hawks has played out thus far this season.

Deion Branch is still developing that Tom Brady-like chemistry with Matt Hasslebeck, according to Mike Sando in the News Tribune.

And Scott Johnson takes the right view: The NFC West race is over, all that matters is the playoffs.

Lewis and Clark stays undefeated

PREPS

Mike Vlahovich covered Lewis and Clark’s win over Gonzaga Prep in girls basketball along with the rest of the Greater Spokane League action Tuesday night.

We also had a roundup of all the basketball action.

But that’s not all the prep coverage available Wednesday.

Former Ferris High girls basketball coach Art Rojas is now at Hudson’s Bay High in the Vancouver area. The Eagles are expected to challenge for a State 3A tournament berth, thanks to point guard Jazmine Foreman. Here’s a Columbian story about Foreman, the Eagles and Rojas. The paper also has a preview of the area’s girls teams and one on the boys teams.

Rene Ferran from Tri-City gives his take on the end of football season and the beginning of winter sports. … Lots of basketball games on the West Side, with the best being Chief Sealth defeating Seattle Prep. … Davis has another boys team built to run, as Sunnyside found out Tuesday night. … Bellingham rallies from a 20-point deficit to defeat Sehome. … Everett’s wrestling team barely edged Kamiak.

Cougars’ game plan worked perfectly against GU

COUGARS, BULLDOGS

After watching the DVR of the game, I have some conclusions that I’ll share later in this post (and want to know your reaction). But before we go there, let’s look at the stories from the Cougs’ impressive 77-67 win.

Glenn Kasses has his game story that explains how WSU pulled off its biggest win in years. John Blanchette was also there, and his column points out how the Cougars won, not that Gonzaga lost.

There’s more, of course, on Glenn’s blog.

There’s also this story about the game from the Tri-City Herald.

There is also this Daily Evergreen story about the game.

In other news of the Zags, Bud Withers also has a column about the changing state of Washington state’s college basketball fortunes, in advance of Saturday night’s game in the Kennel.

Now on to the next-day analysis.

Cougars come through down the stretch

COUGARS, 77-67

We’ll have some analysis in just a bit, but here’s the link to the game story.

While your waiting, why don’t you chime in with your view of the game. I’m interested in hearing what you have to say.

Tempo is in Cougs favor

GONZAGA, 58-55, 7:40

This tempo, this score, this pace, all of it is in WSU’s favor. Slow the game down, make GU work for its points and be efficient on the other end, and take your time at all times. That’s what WSU wants to do and the Cougs are being pretty successful.

They run when a layup presents itself, they are shooting pretty well, but their free throw woes are still hurting.

The deficit is three but the opportunities at the line could have put WSU ahead.

More than Low, Clark carrying the Cougs

WSU, 45-44, 15:37

One of the Bulldogs’ biggest assets is their ability to get offense out of all five spots on the floor. But so far this half, it’s been WSU that has shown the better offensive balance.

Kyle Weaver, who came having succeeded on one of his nine 3-point shots this year, has buried two from long range as Raivio has gone under the screens to keep Weaver from driving. GU is playing the percentages and the Cougars are making them pay.

Plus, I couldn’t let this play go by without commenting.

The call with a little more than 18 minutes left, when Josh Heyvelt was ridden down by Robbie Cowgill may have been the worst cal I’ve ever witnessed. There is now way that was anything but a foul and I’m shocked Mark Few wasn’t assessed a technical for his protestations. Sure Heytvelt lost the ball, but he was fouled, no doubt about it.

Inbounds plays the best of GU’s offense

GONZAGA 37-29, 3:30

If Gonzaga needs a bucket tonight, down be surprised if they take the ball to the baseline and call time out – so they can run an inbounds play.

Of all the things the Bulldogs have tried to execute, the one area they have been able to succeed in is their inbounds plays.

Good looks, good shots and good results.

There was just one back-and-forth series where GU had three good shots, four total attempts within a few feet and couldn’t score to take the lead to 12. The ball came out, the Cougs had a two-on-one and scored to cut it to eight. Remember that series if the game gets close.

Zags need to pick up the pace

GONZAGA 23-16, 11:35

Sorry for missing the first TV break, but our server was down in the office, so nothing was being posted.

The Zags are actually getting decent looks in transition, especially Raivio, who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger right now.

Expect them to shoot even quicker as the game wears on, because when WSU sets the defense, the Cougs are giving GU trouble.

The Cougars have decided to attack the offensive boards when Cowgill and Baynes are on the court together. When Harmeling comes in, the attack changes a little, with Harmeling floating to the 3-point line and firing.

Seattle seems to be in the Manny market

MARINERS

We’re a little bit behind in covering the M’s moves, especially with that all-important signing of Jose Guillen (pictured from 2004; AP photo) – boy that’s going to take them to the Series – so we’ll try to catch up.

According to the Times today, the M’s have gotten involved in the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes. The M’s are reportedly offering some prospects, but there have been other stories out of the Puget Sound about the M’s shopping Richie Sexson.

There is also this piece from the P-I that the M’s are still interested in Barry Zito.

I guess my take on this is don’t get too excited. The market has gotten so expensive, I don’t see the M’s getting involved in the Zito sweepstakes, or even the Jason Schmidt derby. But Manny? Maybe, because it’s all about trading talent, and Seattle has some in its minor league system.

What do you think? Would trading say Adam Jones, Jeff Clement, a young pitcher, whatever combination - and it would get expensive - for Manny be worth it? Would he fit in Seattle? Click in and let me know.

Zags have their work cut out tonight against Cougs

GONZAGA, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

There is nothing better than to be in a meeting with a bunch of managers and …

Be able to ignore them and work.

The Zags will have to work tonight when they travel to Pullman for what-has-become-a-showdown game.

When the schedule came out, no one knew how good either team would be, Gonzaga because of the player losses, the Cougars due to Tony Bennett taking his father’s place at Wazzu.

Now we know. The Zags are ranked 18th. The Cougars are 7-1, with their first loss coming last Saturday in Utah.

Glenn Kasses advances tonight’s game (7 p.m.; KHQ; 1510-AM, 920-AM) framing it around how it falls so early in GU’s tough December.

Bud Withers of the Times also had an advance this morning.

We will be on-line prior to the game, during the game and afterward with a game story and commentary. Go ahead and click on comments if you have a question or comment. We’ll get to them.

••••••••••

The Huskies breezed past Southern Utah – you might remember the Thunderbirds as the team that recently routed Idaho twice – 87-72 at home. Those last two words are key, because UW hasn’t left the Bank of America Arena for a game this year.

The Huskies will on Saturday when they visit McCarthey Athletic Center.

Here are the stories from Monday night, with the P-I, Times and the News Tribune.

••••••••••

Dave Trimmer takes a quick spin around the Inland Northwest’s world of women’s basketball, with an emphasis on the impact of the new faces.

Eagles lose another road game

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Eastern Eagles started a four-game road trip Sunday night and the results were similar to all their other road trips this year.

They lost, this time 102-98 to Cal State Northridge in Southern California. Even Rodney Stuckey’s 32 points and Paul Butorac’s 20 couldn’t lift EWU to its first road win. The loss dropped the Eagles to 4-4 overall, and came in front of NBA legend Jerry West.

For more on the Eagles, check Dave Trimmer’s blog.

Starting over

TO OUR READERS

If you were on this site earlier today and read the posts on Eastern Washington’s loss to Cal State Northridge, and the one on the BCS fiasco – with my tirade about Jim Tressel’s lack of, ahem, guts, good for you.

Because you are part of a rare breed.

See, we got hacked. Some Chinese site broke in and destroyed some of our files. So we had to clean up, and as it was explained to me, what we did after 10 p.m. last night was lost for good.

The 12 hours I spent overnight here in Portland – where I am attending a seminar – working on this site were wasted. Did you hear that Joe, 12 hours …

Anyhow, I’m trying to recover.

Here is the Prep post …

Monday morning always is a good time to look back on the weekend – and any view is better than the one I have right now.

Mike Vlahovich takes a look at Central Valley’s 0-2 start in boys Greater Spokane League basketball and the reasons behind it.

For more on the local prep scene, check out Mike’s blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

Oak Harbor is still celebrating its 4A football title, as this Seattle Times’ story relates.

St. John-Endicott gets defensive in title game

PREPS

High school football in Washington ended for 2006 Saturday, with the team that ended Gonzaga Prep’s season, Oak Harbor, picking up the state 4A title with a 21-14 win over Bothell. You can read about coach Dave Ward’s Wildcats in the News Tribune, the Everett Herald and the Times.

But there was a local team that won a title, St. John-Endicott, and here is our story on its 2B (or 8-man) championship. You can read more in the News Tribune and two stories in Bellingham Herald: a gamer and a sidebar.

How about Chadron State?

QUESTION OF THE DAY

It’s been a while since we’ve hit you with a formal question – we’ve asked a lot of informal ones lately – but with USC choking the bit today against UCLA, we want to know …

Who do you think should play Ohio State in the BCS title game?

You have lots of schools to choose from, but the two legitimate contenders are, of course, Big Ten runner-up Michigan or SEC champion Florida. Click the comment link, pick someone and give your reasons.

Me, I think it should be Wisconsin. It has the best fight song. Makes as much sense as anything else …

Cougars taste defeat for the first time

COUGARS

The Utah Utes handed Washington State its first loss of the season Saturday night, 69-55 in Salt Lake City.

The Cougars shot 42 percent from the floor and were outrebounded by five in the defeat. Robbie Cowgill led WSU (7-1) with 16 points and Derrick Low added 15.

Click the full entry lick to read the Associated Press story.

Zags demolish the Longhorns

GONZAGA

The Zags played one of their better games of the year to defeat Texas 87-77. You can find the game story here.

We’ll be back soon with a commentary about GU’s play.

GU vs. Texas: Third break - 81-58 Gonzaga

GONZAGA

OK, everyone who saw this coming raise your hand.

No, not you. You either. Maybe Jeff Brown and Jim McPhee. This is a throwback. A dissection by a basketball-smarter team. Part of the GU tradition.

Let’s see if they can finish strong in the final 8 minutes. Finishing has been somewhat of a problem the past couple years. Let’s see if they play smarter today and not allow Texas a look at the lead.

They are staying aggressive, running the court against pressure and throwing the ball ahead to Heytvelt for the dunk.

GU vs. Texas: First TV break second half - 52-44 Gonzaga

GONZAGA

Raivio has one more point in the second half than he did in the Portland State game and he’s already made one more shot than he did in that game. That’s a good omen if you’re a Zag fan.

A bad omen: The officials have decided that you can’t block out - at least not using your hands. That’s going to give UT a distinct advantage as the game grows longer.

The only GU big without three fouls is Abdullahi Kuso, who you don’t want on the floor near the end due to his foul-shooting problems.

The GU lead, that had been as much as 13, is now down to eight and the foul problems are starting to add up.

GU vs. Texas: Last first half TV timeout - 31-29 Gonzaga

GONZAGA

What is really tough to take is when a physically inferior player does everything he has to do fundamentally blocking out, and the superior player commits a foul by attacking through the body – and it’s not called.

It’s the official’s job to protect the integrity of the game, and they can’t just assume the better athlete is going to win the battle. That’s happened a few times already today and it must stop if GU is to win.

For such a big guy, Durant sure likes to fade from the hoop. He’s had Pargo and Boldin on him at times, and has turned away from the hoop. Expect that to change in the second half.

GU vs. Texas: Second break - 22-19 Gonzaga

GONZAGA

Sitting and talking with Jeff Brown and Jim McPhee one day, we talked about the type of teams their Zag squads loved to play. If you want to see the type of team they talked about, watch Texas.

An athletic team that doesn’t play much like a team offensively, more like five guys trying to beat you one on one. On the other end, it’s a few seconds of defensive intensity, then there will be a breakdown sooner or later.

From what I’ve seen so far, this looks like the 2006-07 version is playing the old Zags game, and has every opportunity to win this game.

By they way, GU has shored up the rebounding, at least while Kuso and Pendergraft were playing.

GU game should start on time here

GONZAGA

With more than 8 minutes left on the game clock in Louisville’s rout of Connecticut, there is no way the GU game will start on time on ESPN, unless the network switches to the basketball game.

Especially not with UConn on. It’s ESPN’s home team. We’ll see.

If not, we’ll start our commentary whenver the game starts.

Texas’ lone loss this year (the Longhorns are 5-1) came on a neutral court against Michigan State, 63-61. That is the only game Texas has been outrebounded this year. So what’s that tell you? The Zags have to clean the glass to have a shot.

They also have to find a way to control Kevin Durant, who can’t be allowed to attack in the open floor. He’s unstoppable when he has the opportunity to create in free space. But in the half court, he can also step out to 25 feet and nail a 3-pointer.

Just heard that in the state of Washington, they’ll be switching us to the basketball game at the tip.

We’ll be back. Go ahead and ask any questions you may have or add any comments to what we write.

Cougars travel to Utah hoping to stay perfect

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The Cougars and the Vandals men also play today, with WSU trying to build on the best November (7-0) in school history when they travel to the University of Utah this evening (6; 920-AM).

The Vandals host Southern Utah tonight (7; 1080-AM), a team they lost to 10 days ago 67-50 in Cedar City. The Vandals (1-5) have played two of the better teams in the nation since then (No. 22 Gonzaga, No. 13 UW), and hope those experiences will help them tonight. The Vandal women lost to Alcorn State on Friday.

For more on the Cougs, check Glenn Kasses’ blog. And for the Vandals, check Jim Meehan’s blog.

••••••••••

The Whitworth Pirates, ranked 18th in the NCAA Division III, opened Northwest Conference play Friday with a hard-fought 62-57 home win over Pacific University. Whitworth is 7-0 thus far and hosts Lewis and Clark tonight at 6 (1230-AM). The Pirate women also won 64-52.

••••••••••

This is a story of team showing heart. The Arizona State Sun Devils played last night without two starters: Aubree Johnson and Emily Westerberg, in the Inland Northwest today for the funeral of Aubree’s brother Jordan, who died suddenly last week. Still, the Sun Devils, paced by Lewis and Clark’s Briann January, defeated Boston University 75-53.

A perfect first Friday of GSL basketball

PREPS

There is a reason why the Greater Spokane League is unquestionably the best girls high school basketball league in the state.

Games like Friday night’s U-Hi at Lewis and Clark overtime battle.

That’s what it was. A battle between two talented teams that finally went to the defending state champion Tigers, 75-71.

Special teams, special players, special memories

SEATTLE PRO SPORTS

As the Seahawks prepare for the Broncos and their new quarterback on Sunday night in Denver, one area the Seattle team has shored up recently is the special teams.

The News Tribune’s Mike Sando looks at the improvement over the course of the season, and how that can translate into wins.

But what is really special, according to many Seahawks, is having Matt Hasslebeck back. And you know what else is special? The relationship between Seattle receiver Deion Branch and the Broncos Javon Walker.

••••••••••

You may have noticed I don’t write much about the Sonics here. The reasons for that are simple: I’m not a huge NBA fan, they are on their way out of the Northwest anyway, they’re not very good and they’re not popular in Spokane.

But the new ownership brought Sonic legend – and current basketball color man – Lenny Wilkens on board yesterday in an advisory capacity. That played well in the Seattle media, with Dave Boling writing about it and the announcement Wednesday of the hiring of arena design firm HOK. Boling seems to think this means the team has a better chance of staying in the Puget Sound area.

Me? I’m cynical. More cynical even than the P-I’s Art Thiel or the Times’ Steve Kelley, who seems to buy into the hire as well. We’ll see.

••••••••••

Speaking of cynical, the M’s are making a HUGE play in the free agent market, talking with 39-year-old Luis Gonzalez. Wow. That’ll make a HUGE difference in the lineup. (As you can tell, I’m not too excited about this. The term over-the-hill comes to mind.)

UW wants to renovate Husky Stadium

HUSKIES

A couple of big pieces of news about our friends in Western Washington.

Athletic director Todd Turner unveiled the Husky Stadium renovation plans Thursday. Instead of going into what those plans entail (because you can find out at the Times’ link above and here at the Everett Herald and the News Tribune), I’m just going to ask two questions.

Is it a coincidence the Huskies are unveiling this hoped for renovation right in the middle of the Cougars’ remodel of Martin Stadium?

And did Turner reveal the plans first on his blog, or did he wait for the press conference?

Feel free to answer below. And, as Paul Turner likes to say, show your work.

•••••••••

Backup quarterback Johnny DuRocher had surgery to remove a brain tumor Thursday. Let’s hope everything goes OK and he’s back doing what he loves as soon as possible.

Eagles flying - figuratively - across the state

PREPS

It’s almost time for the St. John-Endicott Eagles to take the big stage.

The Eagles will take a 12-1 record into Saturday’s 1B State title game against 11-1 Lummi. And, as Mike Vlahovich’s story relates, they’ll take the pride of two Whitman County communities into the Tacoma Dome with them.

The Eagles are part of the six-game Gridiron Classic that decides state football titles ranging from the big schools to the 8-man teams like SJE.

The 3A and 2B title games are tonight (the 3A game, pitting Kennedy and Bellevue will be televised by FSN at 7:30) with the other games Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.

For more on the prep scene, check out Mike Vlahovich’s blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

There are about 1.7 million stories available (OK, that’s an exaggeration), so let’s get started.

The News Tribune in Tacoma has a story about nearly every participant, with the SJE piece centering on its potent offense. The Seattle Times did this story about Lummi, and has this game breakdown.

The Times also has an interesting Oak Harbor story about its WSU-bound quarterback.

•••••••••

Switching gears a little bit, tonight I’m going to hit at least part of two big basketball games: Central Valley’s boys at Ferris and University’s girls at Lewis and Clark. All four schools played in the state tournament, with LC’s girls and CV’s boys making it to the final game (LC won).

I’ll be on afterward with my observations and comments.

There were a few hoops games Thursday night, and you can find the report here.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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John Blanchette (@SRjblanchette) John Blanchette is a freelance writer who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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