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Archive for October 2006

Morrison the cover boy for March Madness 2007

MORRISON WATCH

So Adam Morrison (XBox360 cover pictured; courtesy of EA Sports) is going to be the cover boy of EA Sports NCAA March Madness 2007.

Is that a good thing or bad thing? So far there hasn’t been a cover jinx, a la Madden Football, but who knows? Shaun Alexander didn’t believe in the Madden jinx and look where he is now. So maybe Morrison better rethink … no, being on the cover of a game like this is what being on the cover of the Rolling Stone was for rock stars in the 70s and 80s – and these games only come out once a year.

In even more important news – not if you’re a gamer – the NBA kicks off tonight, though Morrison’s Bobcats start on Wednesday against Indiana. And it’s official, Morrison will come off the bench as the Bobcats will start Brevin Knight and Raymond Felton at the guards.

The Detroit News thinks Morrison is the rookie of the year favorite.

Zimmerman out; drug testing in

CHIEFS, WHL

Spokane defenseman Sean Zimmerman has been suspended for another game by the Western Hockey League, so he’ll miss Wednesday’s home game against Portland. There is more on this on Jeff Bunch’s blog.

••••••••••

According to Everett’s WHL notebook, drug testing will start soon in the league as part of the Canadian Hockey League’s anti-doping policy.

The Portland Winter Hawks have a busy week ahead.

Meet the man behind Nike U.

HUSKIES

Jumping ahead in my usual schedule of teams, but had to get this up as soon as possible.

The Huskies travel down I-5 this Saturday to face the University of Oregon, or as it’s known in some parts (re: the rest of the Pac-10): Nike U.

So the Seattle Times’ Bud Withers did an in-depth piece on the co-founder of Nike, Phil Knight. It’s a well-written, well-reported, interesting piece and worth spending time with.

But get your eyes back here, because there are other Husky vs. Duck stories worth reading.

Like … this Times story about UW’s coaching situation. The big news from coach Tyrone Willingham is the staff may still burn Jake Locker’s redshirt year if “it were the best move for the team.”

Sorry, coach Willingham, but I disagree about this. It’s time for you to put what’s best for the student-athlete instead of what you believe is best for the team. Sure, playing Locker might help the Huskies win a game, but is it worth the cost?

Sure, there’s a chance Jake Locker might be good enough to play in the NFL, and using him for one, maybe two games this season would accelerate that path.

But there is a better chance that college football is going to be the highlight of his athletic life. And there are just so many games he’ll get to play. Save those for him. Don’t throw away 10 or 11 chances to run out on that field as a starting quarterback just for a Quixotic quest for a bowl game.

Besides, I’ll argue that letting him redshirt will be best for your program in the future, a future you want to be a part of. Save the year for him no matter what. It’s best for him and best for UW - in the long run.

The Huskies immediate future means winning two of its last three games if they want to have a chance to be invited into the postseason bowls. And they believe they can do it.

Johnny DuRocher, who started his college career in Eugene, was hoping to get the start against the Ducks on Saturday. But, with starter Carl Bonnell cleared to practice after a concussion suffered last Saturday, DuRocher will be probably be the backup. But that doesn’t mean he won’t see action. Everett columnist John Sleeper is calling for the coaching staff to play DuRocher a lot.

Zags bigs take the spotlight

GONZAGA

After watching the first part of GU’s practice today, it’s obvious there is an emphasis on big-man play. And rightfully so.

Though the Zags return Sean Mallon and Josh Heytvelt, they lost J.P. Batista and that’s a big hole to fill.

So how will the Bulldogs do around the basket? They’ll start to answer that question Wednesday night when they host Augustana (S.D.) at 7 p.m.

But after watching just snippets of practice and talking with some of the main players, this is what can be discerned.

Polls are losing credibility

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

This story is why polls don’t work - and why we really need a playoff system.

You’ll read near the end of this piece about Ray Ratto voting for Wyoming in the AP Top 25. Yes, I know the AP poll doesn’t figure into the BCS anymore, but still, it should be something you can trust at least a little bit.

Chiefs’ streak reaches seven

CHIEFS, WHL

The Chiefs have now lost seven consecutive games – thanks to a 4-1 defeat to Vancouver on Saturday night – and a once-promising start to the season is slipping away.

And, with the rebounding fortunes of Portland, the WHL’s U.S. Division cellar isn’t too far away. The Chiefs lead the Hawks by one point. Portland comes to Spokane on Wednesday.

There’s more on Jeff Bunch’s blog, including an opportunity for you to comment on the recent play.

••••••••••

It’s not often a WHL game is postponed due to bad ice, but that’s exactly what happened to the Everett Silvertips in Prince George on Saturday night. … The Portland Winter Hawks have won three consecutive games, the second against Kamloops on Friday and the third at home against Chilliwack on Sunday. … The Tri-City Americans edged Seattle 3-2 on Sunday on a disputed call.

Fall seasons winding down

PREPS

The state football playoffs start on both sides of the border this weekend (well, in Washington it’s really not the playoffs, it’s the final game of the regular season for some teams and a play-in game for others).

In Idaho, Lake City and Coeur d’Alene will play a rematch of their error-filled 21-18 regular-season LC win (pictured; Spokesman-Review photo by Jesse Tinsley).

In Washington, the 4A play-in games between the Greater Spokane League and the Columbia Basin League are set (and you can find the matchups here) while East Valley’s 3A CBL opponent will be determined Tuesday.

For more, keep checking Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

••••••••••

The state cross country meet is this Saturday in the Tri-Cities, with Mead and Ferris the boys 4A favorites). The Panthers edged the Saxons by one second to win the boys regional crown last Saturday. The regional volleyball is also this weekend, and three-time defending state champion Mead will enter as the District 8 champion.

Getting back into the groove

MISCELLANEOUS FROM WEEKEND, COUGARS

If you’re wondering about SportsLink from the weekend, let me just say it was a combination of many factors kicking my butt, not the least of which was having one son home for the weekend and daylight savings time heading out the door.

After getting to bed last night at the grandfatherly time of 9:30 (10:30 pre-fall back, which is early but not Buick-driving early), I’m much more rested and ready to …

Catch up on what happened over the weekend. As I covered the Cougars pretty well yesterday, and the preps on Saturday, we’ll delve into Adam Morrison’s weekend, the Huskies overtime heartbreaker, the Vandals rout, EWU’s loss and the Seahawks stout defensive effort (the last one was sarcasm at its worst) in posts this morning. This afternoon, we’re headed to GU, so following the media time there, we’ll come back with a post on the Bulldogs – with some interesting links.

But first, let’s look at the Cougars’ ranking, and your thoughts about it.

The key part is how high …

QUESTION OF THE DAY

After blowing out UCLA in the Rose Bowl behind Alex Brink and coach Bill Doba (pictured; Associated Press photo) and becoming bowl-eligible, it seems there is one WSU question that must be asked:

Do you think the Cougars should be ranked, and, if so, how high?

Just click the Comment link below and tell us what you think. And, like always, keep it appropriate.

WSU at UCLA: Fourth Quarter III

COUGARS

It might have been the biggest play of the season for the Cougs.

When Eric McNeal intercepted Brink’s pass, the Bruins were in business. Until Jason Hill rushed past and knocked the ball loose and Brandon Gibson recovered the fumble, keeping the ball in WSU’s possession.

Write down the time: 8:20 left in the fourth quarter. It might have been the time the Cougs’ bowl hopes were saved.

WSU at UCLA: Fourth Quarter I

COUGARS

When I wrote throw back earlier, I meant DeMaundary Woolridge (OK, so I didn’t but that’s my story now and I’m sticking too it).

The last two runs Woolridge had on the drive that gave WSU a 30-15 lead with 11:49 left looked like runs Woolridge had against Auburn.

They were downhill all the way. With some force. And power. And they covered the final 14 yards, exactly what the Cougs needed.

By the way, WSU is tossing a shutout in the second half - and by shutout I mean UCLA doesn’t have a first down.

WSU at UCLA: Third Quarter I

COUGARS

Has it seemed to anyone else that the third quarter has been a throwback?

No, I don’t mean like in old school, but like what you do when you’re fishing and what came into the boat was something you don’t want.

So you throw it back.

Until just now, when Brandon Gibson (pictured; AP photo) dove into the end zone - legally I might add, because he was trying to avoid a tackle, not to embarrass anyone - for a 17-yard touchdown and giving the Cougs a 20-15 lead.

If Brink keeps this up - and there is no reason to believe he won’t unless his arm gets tired - he’ll throw for more than 400 yards.

WSU at UCLA: Second Quarter II

COUGARS

I was out of the house for a while on a personal errand, but got back in time to see the UCLA touchdown.

The play - and ensuing two-point attempt - got me thinking.

The first revolves around safeties who want to deliver the big hit, not wrap up. Usually the Cougar safeties don’t do that, but on Junior Taylor’s 37-yard touchdown catch that’s exactly what happened. The blow was huge, but it didn’t knock the 6-foot-2, 202-pound wide receiver to the ground.

The second is something I harp about a lot - and showed the weakness of Karl Dorrell as a head coach. The two-point attempt in the first half, just to get a three-point lead, is so hard to understand. Chasing the point usually comes back to bite you in the butt later.

WSU at UCLA: Second Quarter I

COUGARS

A Cody Boyd sighting.

The big tight end, who has been out with a injury, finally made his presence known with a 18-yard catch on a fourth-down play. That led to Brink’s 6-yard scoring pass to Brandon Gibson that gave WSU a 7-6 lead - after an unneeded replay and Langley’s PAT.

The Cougs went 90 yards in eight plays, the big one being the 58-yard pass to Collins. Let’s see, 58 and 18 equals … 76 yards - of the 90. Looks like the tight ends are in the game plan today.

WSU at UCLA: First Quarter II

COUGARS

How important is the kicking game?

The Cougars, seemingly in control early, miss a 37-yard field goal.

The Bruins, seemingly inspired, come through with two big Patrick Cowan pass plays: 24 yards to Marcus Everett and 28 on a screen to Chris Markey. Then they stall. But Justin Medlock comes through for them from, yep, you guessed it, 37 yards.

It’s not just the field goals (which made it 3-0 UCLA) but also the kick offs as well. The Cougars first try, out of bounds and UCLA starts at the 35. The Bruins get it deep and WSU starts at the 14.

Also, did anyone else notice Charles Harris (55) is playing right tackle, matching up with Justin Hickman and Bobby Byrd (70) is on the left side? Davis has beaten Byrd twice, including a hard-inside rush on the last possession.

A play I hope someone can explain to me

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Watching the OSU vs. USC game, the OSU punter just punted the ball. It wasn’t blocked. It went off the side of his foot and was picked up by an OSU player at the 6-yard line. He ran it out to the 15.

How can he do that? It was a punt by his punter. As soon as he touched it, it should have been dead, right? It wasn’t touched by the receiving team, so how can the kicking team advance it? If you punt it down the field, and your team touches it, it’s dead where it’s touched, right?

I don’t understand.

Can anyone enlighten me?

WSU at UCLA: Pregame Part I

COUGARS

So I’m not in sunny Southern California. Like you, I’m in sunny Spokane.

It’s too nice a day to be inside watching football. Outside, yes, but in front of the TV, why?

Well I’m getting paid for it - as long as you have your computer on.

The first thing I’ll say is the ESPN radio guys can sure blow things out of proportion. As I was driving home, they promoed their coverage on college game day, and the promo revolved around how an undefeated team was in big trouble.

They meant USC, and the Trojans were down by six. In the first half. After turning it over three times.

So they trail by six still early in the third quarter, but I wouldn’t call it big trouble.

Well, USC just gave up a score and now trail by 13. Now the Trojans are in trouble.

••••••••••

Let’s get into today’s Cougar game. The first thing to watch for is how the Cougs play up front defensively. If the tackles they’re playing can get a draw early, the defense will be alright. Then check and see who is playing in Tyron Brackenridge’s corner spot. If Brian Williams (No. 28) is there, check out how his doing - if you can see it on TV. That will also be key for the defense.

Offensively for the Cougs, they will be facing one of the better run defenses in the nation (yielding 78.1 yards a game). If the Cougars can move the ball at least a little on the ground, they’ll score points. If not, there will be too much pressure on Alex Brink.

OK, that’s the early looks. We’ll be back.

Rivalry games make it tough to advance

PREPS

No one should ever want a postseason berth to hang on a rivalry game. There’s just too much emotion on both sides.

Such was the case last night in the Valley, where Central Valley stopped U-Hi 20-17 and ensured a postseason berth for Lewis and Clark.

If the Titans had won, they would be playing at Pasco on Friday in a 4A state play-in game. Now the Tigers (5-3) will play that game. On Saturday, the Greater Spokane League’s No. 1 seed, Gonzaga Prep (8-1, the lone loss a forfeit), will host Eisenhower (7-2 after defeating West Valley of Yakima on Friday) and the GSL’s No. 2 seed, Ferris (8-1), will host Moses Lake.

The 3A foe for East Valley (7-2) won’t be determined until Tuesday, when three Columbia Basin League teams (Southridge, WV and Kennewick) will face off in a Kansas Tiebreaker for the league’s final two playoff spots.

Huard may not play this week

SEAHAWKS

Injury news, good for a Hawk fan for once: The Chiefs may have a rookie quarterback Sunday. Damon Huard, who is filling in for an injured Trent Green, suffered a groin injury Thursday (to go with a bad hamstring) and may not be able to play.

If he can’t go, rookie Brodie Croyle would have to start.

Still the game is in KC, a place that hasn’t been kind to the Seahawks over the year. The Hawks do come in with something that most teams don’t have: someone (Julian Peterson) to cover tight end Tony Gonzalez.

The Matt Hasselbeck injury has opened the door for one Seahawk, formerly third-string quarterback David Greene, who will be the backup this week.

Thanks goodness Arizona has a bye

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

It’s time for my Pac-10 picks.

They should be better this week, if only because Arizona has a bye and I won’t be picking the Wildcats to win (bye is favored by 2 ½ points – but, even if the Cats were to lose, Jim Livengood would support coach Mike Stoops).

So I should do better than last week’s 2-3 (darn Notre Dame) record.

Let’s get to it …

USC struggles but wins a defensive battle over Oregon State: With the return of a healthy wide receivers Dwayne Jarrett (pictured; AP photo) and Steve Smith, the SC offense should perk up a little.

Arizona State wins at Washington: The Sun Devils might just win out (sorry Cougs).

Oregon defeats Portland State, but it is closer than most think: The PSU defense should keep it in the game – for a while at least.

Cougars edge UCLA: The injuries are piling up for WSU. If the two teams were both healthy, I would pick WSU in an easy win. But the Cougs injuries trump the Bruins’ (quarterback Ben Olsen). Still, I’m putting my money on Karl Dorrell making his typical game-day mistake that costs the Bruins the game.

What’s with the Chiefs’ five-game losing streak?

CHIEFS UPDATED: 12:05 P.M.

With Seattle coming to town tonight (7 p.m.; 790-AM), Jeff Bunch took the time to analyze the Chiefs’ five-game losing streak.

Jeff’s statistic-filled analysis highlights the team’s major problems (penalties) and a strength you might not have know it has (rookie goalkeeper Dustin Tokarski).

Check out Jeff’s blog for more information.

UPDATE: The Everett Silvertips are on their longest road trip in the club’s short history.

Fallout hits from Huskies’ possible decision

GONZAGA UPDATED: 11:55 A.M.

The Huskies are thinking about dropping GU from the schedule starting next year, and Zags’ coach Mark Few isn’t too happy about it. And he’s not too surprised either.

He told Don Ruiz of the News Tribune in a story that ran this morning, “You know, if we were ever in a situation where we lost seven of the last eight games, I’d probably look to get rid of that team. I don’t blame them at all.”

The Times’ Bud Withers also weighs in on the idea of UW wanting to end the series and he doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I knew about this, but forgot to link to it, but GU is unranked in the first USA Today coaches poll.

Prep wins outright GSL football title again

PREPS

Going into this season, Gonzaga Prep has won at least a piece of the Greater Spokane League title 11 times in the league’s 27 seasons.

Make it 12 of 28.

And the Pups assured there would be no sharing Thursday night when they pounded out 325 yards rushing and pounded Lewis and Clark into submission, 26-7, at Albi Stadium.

You can read Mike Vlahovich’s story from that game and Shadle Park’s win over North Central here.

Speaking of titles, Freeman won its fourth consecutive Northeast A crown when it defeated rival Colfax, 45-14. Pullman’s volleyball team also assured itself of the Great Northern title with a win over Cheney. Mead’s girls soccer team will play the Columbia Basin League’s best in a state-playoff seeding match.

Over in Idaho, Lake City is gunning for the state cross country title. Wallace started perfect at the state volleyball tournament.

For more local prep news and notes, check out Mike Vlahovich’s blog and Greg Lee’s blog.

So far, CSI is trumping Harry O, Magnum and Michael Douglas

COUGARS

So do you have an opinion on where you would like to see the Cougars play a holiday season bowl game?

If the Cougars win at least one of their final four games they are bowl eligible. If they win two or more, they will fill one of the Pac-10’s bowl slots.

And if you have a place you would like to see them go, click this link, which will give you the options, and register your comments through the link.

Seattle makes change in defensive backfield

SEAHAWKS

It doesn’t have the same cachet as Bledsoe and Romo, but the Hawks have their changing of the guard (actually safety).

Michael Boulware (on the ground at right; Associated Press photo) is out of the starting lineup at strong safety, replaced by Jordan Babineaux. And there might be a change at (left) guard. Chris Spencer has been starting since Pork Chop Womack’s injury, but Spencer might be replaced by Rob Sims.

The change – or changes – were covered by every Seattle-area newspaper, including the P-I, Everett and Tacoma.

There were also a couple of Damon Huard (now starting at quarterback for the Chiefs) in the Times and Herald.

Dave Boling hits a point I really agree with: out of misery comes opportunity. If the Hawks can win a few games with Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselbeck out, the rest of the NFC West will really be worried when the duo returns.

Morrison’s fantasy stock still on a rollercoaster

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED: 2:25 P.M.

As I predicted here earlier, the up-and-down Adam Morrison fantasy advice just keeps on coming. This NBCSports.com fantasy column is part of the down advice, calling Morrison one-dimensional. If that one dimension is 20-point-a-game, that would seem to be OK with me.

UPDATE: The San Francisco Chronicle has the results of a poll of NBA general managers, and Morrison is their second choice for rookie of the year. The top choice? Former Husky Brandon Roy.

If you are thinking about a road trip to Charlotte this year to watch Morrison play, the Observer has a story for you today. It’s about the area around Charlotte’s arena, and includes a map of hotspots, which you can access from here (there is no direct link because it’s a popup).

This isn’t strictly a Morrison story, but when the Cats host Atlanta on Friday night in Chapel Hill, Bremerton’s Marvin Williams will have a homecoming at UNC.

Stuckey on Wooden Award preseason list

EAGLES, VANDALS

Eastern’s Rodney Stuckey (right; Associated Press photo) has already earned some impressive honors in his one season playing for the Eagles. But being named one of the 50 preseason finalists on the Wooden Award list may be the most prestigious.

Stuckey is one of eight sophomores on the list, with the other seven coming from basketball powers like Duke, Kansas, UCLA, North Carolina, Washington, Arizona and Marquette.

From the football field, Dave Trimmer has a 56-yard story about EWU kicker Brett Bergstrom in today’s paper. That’s a yard short of a paper record by the way.

Actually, Bergstrom’s path to becoming EWU’s kicker has been anything but right down the middle, and Dave’s interesting story takes you along on his journey.

Dave has more on Bergstrom and notes from around the Big Sky on his blog.

••••••••••

With UI headed to Hawaii for a big WAC game this Saturday (9 p.m.), Jim Meehan is keeping up with the Vandals on his blog. The Warriors received two votes in the AP poll this week, and the Idaho game is homecoming. As coach Dennis Erickson said earlier in the season, the Vandals are the homecoming opponent so often, there are going to be able to judge the floats.

On the hardwood, the Vandal volleyball team won a rivalry match with Boise State.

Getting bowl-eligible not WSU’s main goal right now

COUGARS

Just below here is a post concerning the Cougars’ possible bowl game and the game that would make you the happiest. Take a couple minutes and let us know where you would prefer the Cougars to go – if they get that one more win.

Glenn Kasses found, after talking with Cougar players this week, one more win – which whould get WSU six and bowl-eligible – isn’t their goal right now. No, the Cougs want more.

They want to win their remaining four games. An admirable goal, and one they think they can reach.

Especially if their defensive front continues the assault on quarterbacks that has marked the early part of this season.

Glenn takes a look at the two best pass rushers in the Pac-10, UCLA’s Justin Hickman and WSU’s Mkristo Bruce. (The duo is also the subject of Craig Smith’s story in the Times.) The defensive ends’ teams will meet Saturday (4 p.m.; ABC) at the Rose Bowl.

But there are three other teams besides UCLA that want to make sure the Cougars don’t get that fourth win, including next weekend’s opponent Arizona, which has a bye this week. The Wildcats should face the Cougs with their best athlete, multi-talented quarterback Willie Tuitama, back on the field after a bad concussion.

There’s more on Glenn’s blog, including a link back to here for the bowl question (below).

The News Tribune’s Todd Milles caught up with Cougar running back Derrell Hutsona. That’s not an easy feat, seeing as Hutsona is averaging 6.6 yards a carry.

Ted Miller of the P-I had a profile of coach Bill Doba run today on ESPN.com.

Where would you like to spend the holidays?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

The Cougars are just one win away from becoming eligible for a bowl game. And being that the Pac-10 is locked into more bowls than your Tupperware salesperson, one more win will almost assuredly ensure them a trip somewhere.

And where would you like that to be?

San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl on Dec. 27? How about Hawaii on Christmas Eve? San Diego for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 or the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21? No, you can’t say El Paso on Dec. 29 (just because) or a BCS bowl (because, barring an epic collapse, that’s going to Cal or USC).

Here’s your chance to express your preference. Me, I’m voting for one of the California bowls or Las Vegas, just because they’re no In-N-Outs in Hawaii (you have to have priorities).

Just click the Comment link and let me know. I’m going to keep track and then lobby for your choice.

Sun Devils are back - finally

HUSKIES

The Arizona State Sun Devils will be playing at Husky Stadium on Saturday (4 p.m.; FSN) for the first time since, well in this millennium.

The Devils last played in Seattle in 1999 under then-coach Bruce Snyder. But, thanks to the Pac-10’s strange scheduling (see: Oregon at WSU), ASU hasn’t been back. The Huskies have played the Sun Devils four times since then – all in Tempe.

Bob Condotta has some other notes, including an interesting one about play calling, on his blog. The play calling was also the lead of Don Ruiz’s News Tribune story.

It looks like running back Kenny James will play Saturday, though his injured ankle did not allow him a full practice Tuesday.

If not, Shelton Sampson and Louis Rankin are ready to fill the void. And quarterback Carl Bonnell expects improvement on his end.

In other Husky news, Texas transfer Michael Houston, a running back redshirting this year, was arrested on suspicion of auto theft Sunday morning and has been suspended.

Larsen film a fan’s delight

BASEBALL

If you are a baseball fan, you have to check this link from USA Today.

It’s Duke Snider batting against Don Larsen in the 1956 World Series, from the only known film of the TV broadcast (see this story about the collector).

The film is worth spending three minutes with.

WSU defensive change adds up to success

COUGARS UPDATED: 2:45 P.M.

The Cougar D is, to paraphrase our best wordsmith, John Blanchette, receiving nothing but A’s this season thanks to being more flexible at math.

The defense is playing a 3-4 front more than ever in the Bill Doba defensive-era, and it’s paying off – to the tune of a 3-2 Pac-10 record.

In his column this morning, John delved into the reasons behind WSU playing a 3-4 – you probably know most of them – and the coaching staffs feelings about it – some things you probably didn’t know.

But the stories about the Cougar defense don’t stop there. Glenn Kasses notebook available as well and his blog carrying even more news.

The Seattle Times also highlights the defensive changes. The News Tribune went a completely different way, examining kicker Loren Langley’s poor game – on three levels – against UO.

Former WSU athletic director Jim Livengood came out this week in support of University of Arizona football coach Mike Stoops. The Tucson Citizen’s Corky Simpson had an opinion about that. The Wildcats have a bye this week before traveling to Pullman on Nov. 4.

This piece from realfootball365.com contains praise about WSU. Scroll down to the bottom of the top 25 where the writer is talking about Oregon.

UPDATE: The Sports Network’s advance of the UCLA game can be found on KIRO’s site in Seattle.

Morrison’s role might be evolving

MORRISON WATCH

The Charlotte Bobcats finally got an exhibition win and Adam Morrison may have a new role.

The Bobcats defeated the Pacers 101-89 Tuesday night in Columbia, S.C.

Morrison came off the bench to hit 5 of 14 shots from the field and all six free throws for 16 points, second only to another reserve, Sean May, who had 20.

It seems that will be Morrison’s role, at least as the season starts. Brevin Knight will be the starter, with Morrison coming off the bench. But, according to Charlotte Observer beat writer Rick Bonnell, Morrison will play starter’s minutes.

The Columbia State also covered the game, but Morrison is hardly mentioned.

Standing up for your old school

MORRISON WATCH

Adam Morrison is going to change the world one basketball fan at a time. At least how they pronounce Gonzaga.

According to this little notes column from the Charlotte Observer’s Rick Bonnell, Morrison is trying to get the Bobcat fans to pronounce Gon-zag-a the way we do, not the way it’s pronounced in D.C., where there is a high school that’s pronounced the other way (which we won’t try to imitate here).

There’s also a comment from a GU fan.

The Wallace rush is on

SEAHAWKS

When the news about Matt Hasselbeck came out yesterday, it became obvious the Seahawks would have Seneca Wallace under center for at least the next three games.

Which set off a flood (of stories) in Seattle.

The Seattle Times’ ran an internet poll - the winner this far: Wallace will cost the Hawks at least one game. The poll appeared on the obligatory feature about Wallace’s past, and his challenge-strewn path to become the Seahawks’ backup quarterback. And there was the obligatory “how will Seneca do?” story in the P-I.

But that’s only the start. The Seattle-area columnists weighed in, including Steve Kelley, Ted Miller and Dave Boling. They offered everything from hope to Seattle fans to advice to Mike Holmgren.

Then there’s the question of whether or not the hit on Hasselbeck was an accident or not. The quarterback doesn’t think it was. After watching it over and over, I agree with Hasselbeck. Yes, E.J. Henderson was pushed – sort of – by Mack Strong, but the Minnesota linebacker made no attempt to avoid contact whatsoever.

I have a rule I would institute if I were king of a sport: If it is determined a player was injured due to an illegal action, the player who caused the injury would be suspended without pay as long as the injured player was unable to play. It would cut down on cheap shots, don’t you think?

With the quarterback out, how about the All-Pro running back? When will he return? The date keeps moving back, but now the Hawks are targeting the Nov. 6 game against Oakland for Shaun Alexander’s comeback.

Thunderbirds lose a key player

WHL, CHIEFS

Seattle is trying to recover from the decision by 20-year-old Kyle Pess to leave the team last week.

As this Everett Herald WHL notebook explains, Pess’ decision leaves the Thunderbirds empty from a trade they made last year.

The Portland Winter Hawks did something Sunday the Chiefs couldn’t do the night before: win at Chilliwack. The Hawks hope to use that momentum in their games this week.

Medicine Hat finished a good week in the Northwest on Sunday when the Tigers defeated Tri-City.

The Chiefs’ lost weekend dropped them to 12th in the latest WHL rankings. That and more can be found on Jeff Bunch’s blog.

Injuries take a bite out of WSU defense

COUGARS

The injury bug has bitten, and bitten hard. It’s worse than that wolf spider that scurried across the basement floor last night.

At least for WSU.

Glenn Kasses goes down the list of injured Cougars in a story in today’s paper and on his blog (there’s a link to a very interesting LA Times column on Glenn’s blog – the column’s worth reading if only because it echoes the sentiment among the Bruin faithful).

The news is grim, especially up front on defense. Nothing against the healthy defensive tackles, but the starters have won those spots for a reason. When they go down, no matter how well the backups play, it means adjustments have to be made throughout the defense.

The first team that will be testing the Cougs’ revamped unit: UCLA. Glenn has the first look at the Bruins.

Expect a Patrick Cowan feature out of Seattle this week. The Bruin quarterback, who is playing in place of the injured Ben Olsen, is the son of former Husky Tim Cowan. The relationship is noted at the end of this Times’ story. The story does lead with bowl talk, the same subject of this News Tribune piece. The guess here: The Cougs go to San Francisco for the Emerald Bowl. But, like everyone else’s picks, it is just a guess.

The Times also has its first look at UCLA.

UCLA’s loss at Notre Dame is the lead of the Columbian’s Pac-10 notebook from Monday.

What is at the core of a good rivalry?

FROM THE PAPER

If you had the chance to read my column in Tuesday’s Spokesman-Review concerning the nature of rivalries, thanks for keeping me employed.

If you didn’t, here’s a link to it. But, hey, it’s only 50 cents.

Anyhow, what’s your feeling about rivalries? Where do they come from? How do you know what’s real and what’s a product of the hype machine? What’s the status of Oregon and WSU? How about Idaho and Boise State? The SEC and the Pac-10?

If you have thoughts on the matter, just click the Comments link and start typing.

Cougs earn two Pac-10 awards; Hasselbeck out three weeks

THE EARLY NEWS

The accolades for WSU just keep rolling in.

Not only was Eric Frampton named Pac-10 defensive player of the week and punter Darryl Blunt special teams player, but coach Bill Doba was praised in this ESPN.com article from Mark Schlabach. The story doesn’s say why, but I guess it has to do with the Oregon win.

••••••••••

The news about Matt Hasselbeck was about as good as could be expected. The veteran quarterbacks suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee and should miss about three weeks.

••••••••••

I probably should have linked to this Larry Stone baseball column this morning, but I didn’t want to be late for my golf game (didn’t putt real well, but that’s life – the company was great).

Stone writes about the legend of Kenny Rogers, no, not the ancient singer, the Tiger pitcher. And all the talk radio guys today were trying to unravel the mystery of Rogers’ dirty hand last night. No, I don’t think it was pine tar. My guess it was just blood from shoving a cameraman out of the way.

Speaking of old left-handed pitchers, former Mariner Jamie Moyer signed a two-year extension with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He’ll be 45 when it runs out, and will have probably lost a foot on his changeup - which is a good thing.

••••••••••

The Huskies’ road to a bowl game is a lot tougher than it looked a couple weeks ago. Though UW is 4-4, it still plays Arizona State (the Sun Devils are 1-3 in conference, but the three losses are to USC, Cal and Oregon) and Stanford (mark that as a win), and Oregon and WSU on the road. Because the road games will be so tough, UW probably has to win this Saturday against ASU to ensure a bowl bid.

Both running back Kenny James and quarterback Carl Bonnell came out of the Cal game a little banged up, though the depth of the injuries is unknown. If Bonnell is unable to handle the job, it looks like freshman Jake Locker is next in line.

The mess in Seattle

SEAHAWKS

Is this the Sunday we’ll look back at and figure it’s when it all fell apart?

Will we moan about the low hit that cost the Hawks their quarterback? Or the 95-yard run as the beginning of the end of the defense’s dominance?

Only time will let us know, but from the chair Sunday afternoon, it sure seemed like the answer would be yes to all those questions.

Let’s get to it.

Jim Meehan was in Seattle and here’s his game story from this morning’s paper, along with his column about the Seahawks’ litany of injuries.

The game stories: Times; P-I; News Tribune; Everett.

Columns: The P-I’s Art Thiel on the depth of the Hawks’ problems, and the P-I again, this one from Ted Miller; Dave Boling of the News Tribune saying Seneca Wallace can handle it; John Sleeper in Everett on what the Hawks have to fix; and Jerry Brewer in the Times.

Features and sidebars: The News Tribune had Steve Hutchinson’s reception, the possible severity of Matt Hasselbeck’s injury, and a look at the back-breaking run; Everett examines Wallace, the big plays yielded by the defense, and the Hawks’ offensive woes; the Times on Hutchinson, on Wallace and on the offensive line; the P-I looks at the defense, Hutchinson, and the hit on Hasselbeck.

Need help with your blues? Read this from Steven Wright. I hope it makes you forget for a while.

Looking toward the postseason

PREPS

The football playoffs are on the mind of fans, coaches and sportswriters right now.

Mike Vlahovich covers the football postseason, but goes beyond it as well in his piece in today’s Spokesman-Review, with soccer, volleyball and cross country state playoffs beginning as early as today.

Some of those sports are over in Idaho – and North Idaho had more than its share of champions – so Greg Lee goes through the Idaho playoff scenarios in his Monday morning quarterback feature in today’s S-R.

As always, there’s more on Mike’s Prep Report and Greg’s blog.

Here’s everything you need to get through the day

SUNDAY MORNING BRIEFING

It’s been a long week of posting, and I’m in mourning because Notre Dame never seems to lose close games – except to USC.

So today, I’m going to give you all the Cougar, Vandal, Eagle and Chief links, some of the Husky links, a smattering of Seahawk preview stuff and leave it at that.

I’m taking the rest of the day off. You know, rake leaves, sit in the chair, take the dog for a walk, call the out-of-town family, all those normal things.

So let’s get started …

UO at WSU: Postgame

COUGARS

Can we get off Alex Brink’s back now?

Sure he doesn’t have the strongest arm in the world, but I can list 10 guys in the NFL Hall of Fame that didn’t have rockets, starting with Joe Montana.

Now, wait, I’m not comparing Brink with Montana, but the Cougar quarterback did have a Montana-like game Saturday, propelling WSU past 16th-ranked Oregon.

UO at WSU: Halftime

COUGARS

The final line of this post is: Just ask UCLA - or Washington.

Despite two turnovers, despite losing two starting defensive linemen to injuries, despite having an extra point blocked, the Cougars had one of better halves of the season.

Especially on the defensive side. Once again the D is carrying the load. Eric Frampton, Mkristo Bruce, the linebackers, they’ve combined to limit the Ducks to just one long drive and a field goal.

The offense, if not flawless, at least not flaw-full (is that a word or a meal?). Jed Collins, who came to WSU as a linebacker and is the Cougs’ only healthy tight end, is the best offensive player on the field. Jason Hill has gotten free for a couple of key catches.

So the Cougs lead 13-3 and have the 16th-ranked team on the ropes at halftime.

Teams are ranked because they are good, and because they don’t quit. So can WSU hold on?

It isn’t easy finishing an upset …

UO at WSU: Pregame No. 4

COUGARS

It’s a few minutes until game time, so I’ll sign off for now.

See you at the quarter.

Write if you like.

UO at WSU: Pregame No. 2

COUGARS

So what constitutes a rivalry?

Is it geographic? Is it historic? Is it something else?

A couple of notes on this on-line column the past couple days got me thinking about the nature of rivalries, and what part of our nature feeds them.

There’s little doubt there are two rivalry games going on 8-miles apart today in the Palouse.

The four Pac-10 Northwest schools don’t like each other much – that’s partly geography, partly history – so each time they get together the games have special significance. But Oregon transcends that for Cougar fans – hell, the UO athletic director is a former Coug – and even more so for the Husky faithful.

Oregon reciprocates with UW – watch I-5 on game weekends – but not as much with WSU. Sure there’s passion, just not as much.

So is it a rivalry? Let’s call it a secondary one and leave it at that.

How about the game going on down the road in Moscow? I posted a link yesterday to a Boise State student paper story that basically said Idaho isn’t BSU’s rival anymore, the Vandals just are good enough to be a rival.

And that brings up an important part of some rivalries: The teams have to be competitive at least occasionally. If one team wins 9 of 10 games, and does it for a couple decades, many rivalries fade – I say many because some, like WSU-UW, will never be anything but white hot just because of their circumstances.

Boise State feels its rivals now are the other stars of the WAC, the Fresno State Bulldogs. But Fresno is down this year – losing in Logan, Utah is evidence of that – and the Vandals are up. So have the Vandals rekindled the rivalry? Today will tell. If they start fast, if the Kibbie Dome rocks, if they pull an upset – or even almost pull an upset – yes, it’s back. But if it’s a rout, the Dome crowd sleeps through the second half – or leaves – then the rivalry will have to wait until next year.

But there are other types of football rivalries, and I wrote about one this week. Conferences and regions have rivalries.

The football is better in the South, and the Southeast Conference. It’s better in the Midwest and the Big Ten. It’s better on the West Coast and the Pac-10.

They play football the right way in the Northeast. No, the South. No, Florida. Are you kidding, California.

These rivalries can be the most intense of them all, but not on the field. In the polls, on talk radio, on the Net.

So there are different levels of rivalries. UO vs. WSU is one, BSU vs. UI another. And the SEC vs. Pac-10 a completely different type.

And they all make watching sports more fun.

Vancouver shows why it’s No. 1

CHIEFS

Spokane opened up its three-game road trip with a tough opponent – and no offense.

The Chiefs were blanked for the first time this season by the Western Hockey League’s – and Canadian Hockey League’s – top-ranked team, the Vancouver Giants, 3-0.

Tonight should be a lot easier, as the Chiefs travel to expansion Chilliwack (7 p.m.; 790-AM).

There will be more on Jeff Bunch’s Chiefs blog.

Showdown Saturday finally arrives

VANDALS, EAGLES, PIRATES

Got to get down to Pullman soon, but before I do I wanted to link to these stories concerning the big showdown in Moscow, and the other two local colleges playing on the road.

Jim Meehan writes the Vandals may be better than .500 overall (4-3) and undefeated in the Western Athletic Conference (3-0), but today is their first real conference test. And Boise State, ranked 18th in the nation and winners of 40 of 43 WAC games, is a test for anyone, even the country’s best teams.

There’s more on Jim’s blog.

It’s a rivalry game, though a Boise State student newspaper writer thinks the Broncos have outgrown it in this amusing piece.

•••••••••••

How far has Eastern progressed in the past couple week? The Eagle will find out for sure tonight (6 p.m.; 1510-AM) when they face No. 23 Portland State in the Rose City.

There’s also more on Dave Trimmer’s blog.

•••••••••••

The Whitworth Pirates are the 11th-ranked team in the NCAA Division III, but they know it won’t be easy in California today (noon; 1230-AM) when they face Menlo in a Northwest Conference game.

Injuries, schedules and praise from SI

GONZAGA, MORRISON WATCH

This one slipped through my fingers like so many perfect passes, but better late than not at all, right?

The Gonzaga front line, not the deepest its ever been going into the season, just got a little shallower for a while. Theo Davis, a 6-foot-9 recruit who was expected to help, injured his shoulder and underwent surgery this week. He is expected to be out a couple of months.

With Davis out and transfers Micah Downs and David Burgess also hurt, the Zags will have to tread water a little bit up front until December, when the two transfers were to become eligible and Davis should be back. Until then, look for David Pendergraft, who played inside a lot last year, to return to the role again.

The final Zag schedule for the upcoming season was released Friday, and it’s a tough one. Here are some of the non-conference teams: Eastern Washington, Texas, Rice, Washington State, Washington, Georgia, Duke, Nevada, Virginia, Stanford.

There’s more on both of these developments on Steve Bergum’s blog.

••••••••••

Sports Illustrated’s basketball preview issue is on newsstands now, and the magazine thinks Adam Morrison will be the Rookie of the Year. According to its 5-minute guide “Sweet-shooting Gonzaga alum will lead class in scoring -and survive a challenge from Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas.”

The magazine also devotes most of its Bobcat preview to Morrison, including the scouting report saying he was a great pick for them.

Ho-hum, Tatupu and Brown share spotlight

SEAHAWKS

Honestly, there is not much new on the plate today, just different papers doing the same stories.

There are a couple of real original stories, one from Clare Farnsworth at the P-I, who examines how linebacker Lofa Tatupu has become an every-down back in the Hawks’ scheme. If you saw the Rams game and Torry Holt’s late touchdown catch, it was Tatupu – the middle backer – who almost ran Holt down 50 yards downfield (shown in Associated Press photo). The other is the News Tribune’s look at kicker Josh Brown, who is an Oklahoma school-boy high-jump legend. Yes, Josh Brown.

Otherwise, the Times did its Hasselbeck in the shotgun story and a poisoned-pill piece. And the News Tribune documents Jerramy Stevens status. The Everett Herald looks at Chris Spencer, the current replacement for Mr. Poison Pill, Steve Hutchinson.

The Vikings and Hawks meet Sunday in Seattle at 1:15 p.m. on KAYU.

Former Chiefs ready to face old teammates

CHIEFS, WHL

Spokane is on a three-game road trip that starts tonight in Vancouver against the top-ranked Giants.

But Saturday’s game, against the expansion Chilliwack Bruins, will be the most emotional for some, in large part because two former Chiefs, Myles Stoesz and Jim Watts, play for the Bruins.

Jeff Bunch talked with the pair, and his story in today’s S-R relates the ups and downs the two have had with their new team.

Jeff has more on his blog, including links to two Vancouver stories concerning Michael Grabner, the Canucks top pick in the NHL draft.

••••••••••

The Everett Herald has a feature on Silvertip 16-year-old scorer Kyle Beach.

••••••••••

Tri-City has three home games in three days, including back-to-back games with Prince George starting tonight. Medicine Hat also visits Sunday. Here is the Herald’s advance.

••••••••••

Portland also has three games in three nights. Here’s is the Tribune’s look at what’s coming up for the Winter Hawks.

WSU continues its version of the Long March

COUGARS, COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Twelve consecutive weeks of college football games.

Tough.

But that’s what the Washington State Cougars are doing this year – as is UW – thanks to the NCAA adding a 12th game. Glenn Kasses looks at what the schedule is doing to the Cougs, and how the coaching staff is adjusting to it.

Glenn goes into this, and more, including the injury situation at quarterback, tight end and elsewhere, on his blog.

He also had his Pac-10 picks in today’s paper (mine are at the bottom of this post).

Morrison’s poor shooting night OK with coach

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED: 11:25 A.M.

When is shooting 3 of 16 from the floor not a bad game?

When you’re Adam Morrison and your coach, Bernie Bickerstaff, asks you to shoot more often. And, when you take those shots, you attract defensive attention, freeing up your teammates.

That’s the story out of Indianapolis, following the Bobcats’ 109-96 preseason loss to the Pacers on Thursday night.

Bickerstaff felt Morrison was timid offensively in Charlotte’s last loss and asked him to be more aggressive. He was and, though the shots didn’t fall, they did serve to free up other Bobcats.

There’s a picture of Morrison defending on one of the Pacers’ many fast breaks at the Indianapolis Star game story but no mention of any Bobcats.

Morrison received his first technical foul of his NBA career Thursday night, and the comment that drew the whistle wasn’t directed to the officials. It was directed to the Charlotte bench, but was about a non-call on what Morrison thought was a shooting foul.

UPDATE: Morrison actually made it into a Detroit Free Press story about the Tigers. Seems some of them cried after winning the American League title and were snickered at because of it. Freep columnist Drew Sharp wrote crying shows a competiveness, and cites Morrison as an example (low in column).

Morrison has another poor shooting night

MORRISON WATCH, LATE EDITION

It was another off-shooting night for Adam Morrison, as the Bobcats lost 109-96. In his last two games, Morrison has hit 5 of 27 shots.

Here is the AP game story and the box score. There is also a Michael Jordan note after the box score.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Al Harrington had 25 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 109-96 preseason victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday night.

Josh Powell had 20 points and the Pacers also got 18 points from Stephen Jackson, who started his first home game of the preseason since he was involved in a fight outside an Indianapolis strip club two weeks ago. It was the first win for Indiana (2-3) after three straight double-digit losses.

Alan Anderson and Melvin Ely each had 15 points and Emeka Okafor scored 14 for the Bobcats (0-5), who were playing without starters Gerald Wallace (back spasms), Primoz Brezec (shin sprain) and Raymond Felton (abdominal strain).

Indiana, which had forward Jermaine O’Neal (sore hamstring) and four other injured players sitting out, fought back from a seven-point deficit in the second quarter to take command in the second half.

The Pacers used a 7-0 run, which was capped by a free throw by Harrington, late in the third quarter to open a 71-70 lead.

Charlotte got within three points early in the fourth quarter after Anderson’s 3-pointer, but Indiana pushed the lead back to 98-87 on a 3-pointer by Sarunas Jasikevicius with 3:50 left.

Along with O’Neal, the Pacers were missing Marquis Daniels (sore hamstring), John Edwards (sore groin), Danny Granger (bruised hip) and Orien Green (broken finger).

The Bobcats were also without Walter Hermann (strained foot) and Brevin Knight (sprained ankle).

CHARLOTTE (96)
Robinson 3-5 3-3 9, May 2-11 4-6 8, Okafor 6-7 2-3 14, Morrison 3-16 1-2 8, Burleson 3-7 0-0 8, Ely 3-8 9-10 15, Conroy 0-0 0-0 0, Anderson 6-10 0-0 15, Voskuhl 1-4 4-5 6, Carroll 5-10 0-0 11, O.Harrington 0-3 0-0 0, Hollins 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 33-82 23-29 96.

INDIANA (109)
Marshall 4-6 4-6 12, A.Harrington 10-16 5-8 25, Foster 1-1 2-4 4, Jackson 4-15 9-11 18, Tinsley 2-4 0-0 4, Powell 7-10 6-8 20, Jasikevicius 2-6 0-0 5, Baston 4-7 3-4 11, Armstrong 1-2 2-3 5, Williams 1-2 0-0 2, White 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 37-71 31-44 109.

Charlotte 27 28 22 19_ 96
Indiana 31 22 30 26_109

3-Point Goals_Charlotte 7-17 (Anderson 3-5, Burleson 2-5, Morrison 1-3, Carroll 1-4), Indiana 4-11 (Armstrong 1-1, White 1-1, Jasikevicius 1-3, Jackson 1-5, Marshall 0-1). Fouled Out_Ely, Baston. Rebounds_Charlotte 54 (May 9), Indiana 48 (Foster 7). Assists_Charlotte 21 (Burleson, Morrison 4), Indiana 27 (Tinsley 12). Total Fouls_Charlotte 34, Indiana 23. Technicals_Charlotte Defensive Three Second. A_11,937. (18,345).

••••••••••

ESPN.com caught up with Jordan, Charlotte’s part-owner, in England, and he said he thinks the Bobcats’ young talent, including Morrison, will only continue to improve.

It’s time for the high school season to take precedence

PREPS

There’s an interesting story from Wednesday’s Columbian about five Vancouver-area girls soccer players who commute together for club play each weekend in Tacoma.

The story of how the girls have grown together, though they come four different high schools, is entertaining.

And it got my blood flowing.

Threat isn’t credible, authorities say

SEAHAWKS

The biggest story out of Seattle right now has little to do with on-the-field activities.

It’s the story about a terrorist threat to pro football facilities this weekend. All the Seattle-area papers looked at it, examined how real it might be and whether such things will ever stop (no, says Dave Boling. The bottom line is authorities are saying the threat isn’t anything to worry about.

So back to the field, where kicker Josh Brown has shown his worth to the Hawks time and time again, including last Sunday’s game-winning kick.

Of course, we’re still not off the Steve-Hutchinson-is-returning-to-town bandwagon, with a Jerry Brewer column, an Everett piece and a P-I story.

Art Thiel examines the defense’s speed and wonders if it has enough while Mike Sando does the same with the shotgun formation, which is now in the Hawks’ repertoire.

EWU to face BYU next season

EAGLES

Eastern Washington’s two Division I-A games this season were, if not a trip through the AP’s top 10, pretty darn tough. First came Pac-10’s Oregon State, which last week handed Washington its lunch. Then there was a trip to West Virginia, which just happens to be in everyone’s top five – and has received first-place votes in AP’s rankings.

Next year the Eagles will have it easier. A little. They will play at BYU, which is currently a half-game out of first in the Mountain West Conference.

If you want more on the Eagles, especially more on the basketball front, it can be found at Dave Trimmer’s blog.

Moors, kilts and the NBA

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED 2:55 P.M.

The reach of the NBA is incredible.

This story is all the way from Scotland – a Charlotte Bobcat preview featuring, you guessed it, Adam Morrison.

The bottom line? A prediction of another lottery pick in Charlotte’s future.

UPDATE: HoopsWorld.com rates the performances of this year’s NBA crop of rookies thus far. Their verdict on Morrison? He’s been as advertised.

Prep Page is packed with local stories

PREPS

There’s a lot to get through in The Spokesman-Review today, so let’s get started.

Before we do though, I want you let you know I’ll be posting an opinion piece late today concerning club sports competing during high school sports seasons.

But that’s later. Right now Greg Lee previewed the Idaho State 5A boys soccer tournament with a feature about Lake City’s coach Chad Beadell. He looks at the 4A boys through a story on Sandpoint’s team. There’s also a feature on Kootenai’s Ben Shannon, the Quick Hits, Panhandle Picks and the state football rankings.

There’s a similar lineup on the Washington Prep Page, with a feature on Colville’s John Roberts (pictured at right; Spokesman-Review photo), another on Pullman’s volleyball team and Mike Vlahovich’s column on Mead track and cross country coach Dori Robertson competing in the Ironman. There’s also cross country coverage, Quick Hits and a prep roundup.

As always, there’s even more on Greg Lee’s blog and Mike Vlahovich’s blog.

There’s more from around the state as well, including a list of where the Seattle Times top 10 teams are playing this weekend and a story on a big spaghetti feed. There’s also an advance of big volleyball and football games this weekend for Yakima’s Eisenhower High and a story about Bellarmine Prep’s Nicole Cochran who set a course record in the Narrows League girls cross country championships.

And this last story out of Everett about Jackson’s girls soccer win over Montlake Terrace. Krista Kingma scored her 13th goal of the year for Jackson. Kingma also is a pretty good basketball player who shined this summer for the Spokane Stars.

There’s more coming later.

Goodbye Ernie

MISCELLANEOUS

This has little to do with Inland Northwest sports (there is a short mention of Washington State), but it’s worth reading.

It’s Steve Kelley’s obituary of Seattle legend Ernie Steele.

Steele lived a long, full life built with more memories than most - and Kelley catches the essence.

UW’s quarterback situation dominates West Side sports pages

HUSKIES

As can be expected, most of the focus today was on new starting quarterback Carl Bonnell. And to a lesser degree, currently redshirting freshman Jake Locker.

The Times’ lead piece was on Bonnell, the notebook leading with Locker. The Everett Herald had the same game plan, with the main story on Bonnell running a simpler offense, and the notes on the backup quarterbacks.

The P-I took a different tack, with Locker the lead of a piece on the Husky quarterbacks. The News Tribune’s story was similar, asking what happens if Bonnell goes down with an injury against Cal.

The P-I’s Ted Miller, swimming upstream harder than a red-tinged salmon, credits discredited former coach Rick Neuheisel for this year’s success. And he has numbers to back up his argument.

Magazine ranks Zags 25th

GONZAGA UPDATED 2:25 P.M.

More and more college basketball preview stories are filtering out, with Gonzaga stories right up there with other top-tier programs.

One hit the web today, from CollegeHoops.net, written by Joel Welser. In it, the on-line magazine ranks the Zags 25th, and repeats many of the same things being written elsewhere, most notably that sophomore Josh Heytvelt must produce and senior Derek Raivio must re-discover his shooting touch.

UPDATE: The Sporting News also ranked the Zags in the top 25 (16th) and one of their college basketball experts takes issue with the ranking, saying it’s too high.

The magazine also projects GU atop the WCC and into the NCAA tournament – again.

In that sense, the publication agrees with the WCC coaches, which voted the Zags as the preseason favorites, and Raivio as a preseason all-conference selection.

Check out Steve Bergum’s blog for more on this year’s newcomers.

What’s next, a formula that repels wood?

BASEBALL

What a fun story this is. It’s from the P-I and it’s about another new discovery in Japan: the Gyroball.

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s worth reading. If you’re not, it’s fun chuckling over thinking someone would actually spend so much time thinking this crud up.

And, if you have any Southern California connections, the story about Cory Liddle’s funeral will make you laugh - and possibly cry.

The moment that hit me was the second paragraph, where it said the mourners ate at In-N-Out burgers after the funeral, because it was Liddle’s favorite place.

Liddle was my kind of guy.

Cougars see red - a lot

COUGARS UPDATED 2:25 P.M.

What a shock.

The Cougars spent most of Tuesday’s practice time working on their red-zone offense. Glenn Kasses quotes offensive line coach George Yarno as saying they might play more offensive lineman in place of, I presume, the injured tight ends.

Speaking of injuries, Glenn’s Pac-10 notebook goes into the spate of injuries to the conference’s quarterbacks. Glenn doesn’t get into the why, but my guess is the conference, as a whole, leaves quarterbacks unprotected more often than most with the abundance of five-wide and other spread formations.

I’m probably wrong, but maybe not. What do you think?

Glenn gets into the red-zone woes and quarterback talk in more depth on his blog. (Pictured are, from left, Alex Brink, Jason Hill and Gary Rogers; Spokesman-Review photo.)

By the way, Glenn’s quarterback story is echoed in this Bud Withers’ piece in the Seattle Times. UPDATE: And in a Tucson Citizen story.

Sooner or later the dam will break for the Cougars’ offense. Quarterback Alex Brink feels it will be sooner, as in this week. He tells the Times’ Craig Smith he’s pretty confident about it.

And he’s pretty confident he’s still the undisputed starter, even though Gary Rogers did look like he was the guy until he got hurt last Saturday.

In other news, Mkristo Bruce was named today as one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award, given to the nation’s best lineman or linebacker.

Ron Bellamy of the Register-Guard remembers a brawl after the 1992 Oregon-WSU game and how different the offending players were treated. There is also a story on the same subject from the Oregonian.

Morrison moves forward

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED 12:35 P.M.

Adam Morrison is changing positions. Not really, but the Bobcats have quit listing the 6-foot-8 Morrison as a shooting guard on their starting lineup list. Now they list three forwards, Morrison, Gerald Wallace and Emeka Okafor.

No matter where Morrison was playing Tuesday night, he had his worst game of the preseason. The GU graduate hit just 2 of 11 shots and finished with four points.

Luckily for Morrison, the game was in Chapel Hill and most of the stories focused on the return of Raymond Felton and Sean May to the UNC campus.

UPDATE: HoopsWorld.com breaks down Charlotte’s preseason thus far and concludes Morrison is one of the few Bobcats who can shoot.

Two branches of Seahawk coverage

SEAHAWKS

There are two big branches of news as the Hawks prepare to face Minnesota Vikings.

The first has to do with Shaun Alexander’s foot and how the All-Pro running back is still out and may be out two more weeks. There’s more news on the injury report and none of it good for Hawks’ fans.

The other is the return of guard Steve Hutchinson to Seattle. That’s the subject of Art Thiel’s column in the P-I and Darrin Beene’s story in the News Tribune.

Chiefs move up to eighth in WHL poll

CHIEFS, WHL UPDATED 11:40 A.M.

Spokane has been hot. And that hot streak has resulted in the Chiefs burning their way up the Western Hockey League rankings to eighth, as
listed here on Jeff Bunch’s blog.

••••••••••

The big game in the WHL tonight is in Everett, where the second-ranked Silvertips host third-ranked Tri-Cities for the U.S. Division lead. There is more to the game, however, as everyone who comes to the Everett Events Center in full hockey gear gets in free.

It’s a light-hearted satire of a preseason incident in which Everett coach Kevin Constantine made his team ride home from Tri-City in full hockey gear. Constantine was suspended and fined due to the incident. The promotion, meanwhile, has been criticized in Canada, where all things hockey are never blown out of proportion.

UPDATE:Everett has its weekly WHL notebook, which focus on overage players being cut last week.

After Medicine Hat makes a stop in Spokane on Wednesday night, it continues down to Portland for a Friday night game.

Stanback out and some want Locker in

HUSKIES

A lot is being made on Isaiah Stanback being lost for the season, and rightfully so. (Stanback rides off the field Saturday; Associated Press photo.)

Stepping in is a player who originally signed with the Cougs – isn’t that a funny set of circumstances? – Carl Bonnell, who changed his mind before playing in Pullman. There is also the possibility freshman quarterback Jake Locker may burn his redshirt year, though I don’t think that is much of a possibility, even though Everett columnist John Sleeper is encouraging it.

Coach Tyrone Willingham is in this for the long haul. He knows he will get time to improve UW and Locker – and the rest of the freshmen who are redshirting – is a big part of that.

So we’ll see which way the Huskies will go. We do know Bonnell will start this Saturday at Cal (what a baptism) with former Oregon Duck Johnny DuRocher as the backup. A Coug and a Duck as UW’s quarterbacks. Seems weird, huh?

Here are the stories, first from the Seattle Times, the P-I, News Tribune and Everett.

Finally, the P-I’s Jim Moore has a goal for this year: Get something interesting out of Willingham.

Where do the Cougs rank in the Pac?

COUGARS, COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATED: 12:05 P.M.

Glenn Kasses ranks the Pac-10 as the conference football race turns toward the home stretch. His No. 1 team? Cal. His No. 5 team? WSU.

He wants to know if you think that’s too high or too low. You can click on his Cougar blog and weigh in.

Glenn also has his first look at Saturday’s game.

Backup quarterback Gary Rogers was put on the “no practice” list released Monday by WSU after suffering a shoulder injury against Cal. His status for Saturday’s visit by Oregon (2 p.m.) is still up in the air.

UPDATE: The Register-Guard’s Pac-10 notebook compares USC and Cal. It also has notes on SC quarterback John David Booty was booed by the Coliseum crowd.

••••••••••

If you had a chance to hear former U. of Miami football player Lamar Thomas’ color commentary during the U’s brawl with Florida International, you probably couldn’t believe someone could say such things and not get fired (you can read what he said here).

Ask Steve Lyons.

Anyway, you were right. Thomas was fired Monday. I’m not adding any commentary. Don’t want to get fired.

Here’s your chance

MISCELLANEOUS

In Tuesday morning’s Spokesman-Review, I asked for a favor. I’m looking for input from people who still remember John F. Kennedy on how they use the Internet in general, but more importantly – to me – SportsLink in particular.

Here’s your opportunity to let me know what you’re looking for in an on-line column dedicated to local sports and opinion.

They way to do it either click the Comment link below and start typing, or, if you’re shy about having your words where the whole world can read them, send me an e-mail at vinceg@spokesman.com (there is a link to the left hidden in my name).

And if you can’t remember John F. Kennedy, maybe you remember his son. You know, the guy Elaine used to talk about all the time in Seinfeld - John F. Kennedy … Jr. That’s the guy. If that’s the Kennedy you remember, I’ll take your input as well.

Thanks.

Stanback out for the season

 HUSKIES

The news couldn’t have been worse for Isaiah Stanback. The Husky quarterback, a senior who was finally having the type of season kids dream about, is going to have surgery on his injured foot and his college career is over.

You can find out more on Bob Condotta’s Husky blog and Don Ruiz’s blog.

This puts a crimp in UW’s season, but that is a secondary consideration.

Stanback is such a good guy (my impressions come from talking with him at the state basketball tournament a few years ago), it’s too bad this happened to him. He’s went through a lot in his time at UW since leaving Garfield High, and he deserved one year of success. He got six full games. Let’s hope he heals better than new and this doesn’t put a damper on his athletic future - because he should have one.

Boise invades Moscow. Will Broncos leave like Napoleon?

VANDALS, EAGLES

Not much in print for EWU or UI right now, but check out Dave Trimmer’s blog for Eagle news.

••••••••••

Besides what Jim Meehan’s posted on the Vandal blog, there is this from the Idaho Statesman about Boise State’s porous pass defense displayed in their win Sunday night over New Mexico State.

The Broncos come to Moscow this Saturday at 2 p.m. for a showdown between Western Athletic Conference leaders.

Lucky would be the best adjective for this one

SEAHAWKS

OK, so they won, and that’s supposed to be the bottom line.

But did anyone else see the vulnerabilities I saw? How they couldn’t stop the run early, couldn’t stop the pass late – giving up a 67-yard scoring pass while leading by six with less than 2 minutes left? – and didn’t take care of the ball when they needed to?

Yes, the Hawks won. And yes, they are 4-1. And, yes, they are atop the NFC West. But is this the team you expected, especially defensively? With Shaun Alexander out, it’s to be expected the running game wouldn’t be as good as it was last season. And they did run it better in the second half.

But what about the other side of the ball? There were supposed to be upgrades there, and so far they haven’t panned out to the level expected. We’ll see.

Enough negative talk. The Seahawks won when Josh Brown powered – and if you watched his kicking motion, he really did power through the ball with his whole body – through a 54-yard field goal as time expired (shown at right; Associated Press photo).

Here’s the best of what was written …

Bobcats open doors to good students

MORRISON WATCH UPDATED 11:30 A.M.

If you are wondering why the Bobcats are hosting Washington in an exhibition game today at 7 a.m. PDT, here’s the answer: Charlotte is opening its Arena doors to thousands of middle school kids who have exhibited academic excellence and good attendance.

The morning game, which we will update when it’s over, is supposed to help coach Bernie Bickerstaff pick his final 15 players. But Bickerstaff is finding it’s tough to make the cuts.

Morrison is healthy, but a couple of Bobcats aren’t.

UPDATE: The AP story and the box score from the Bobcats loss today are on the read full entry link.

The wacky WAC standings

VANDALS, EAGLES, HUSKIES, PIRATES, COLLEGE FOOTBALL


Look who is atop the Western Athletic Conference standings (until tonight, anyway). The Idaho Vandals.

The Vandals are 3-0 after forcing eight turnovers in their 24-14 win at Louisiana Tech.

There’s a lot more on Jim Meehan’s blog.

Jim was also at the Vandals’ first basketball practice under new coach George Pfeifer and filed this story.

••••••••••

The Eastern Eagles turned their season around at least a little bit by throwing a shutout at Northern Colorado, 34-0, in Greeley. There will be more at Dave Trimmer’s blog.

The Eagles also took the hardwood for their official first practice, and Rodney Stuckey (pictured; Spokesman-Review file photo) had a lot to say, including the emphatic statement the sophomore will be back next year instead of leaving for the NBA.

••••••••••

Not only did UW lose to Oregon State, the Huskies also lost quarterback Isaiah Stanback. For the latest on Stanback’s ankle injury, check Bob Condotta’s blog or Don Ruiz’s blog. The best story about the injury ran in Everett.

Here is the Times’ game story and a notebook on Carl Bonnell playing and Jerry Brewer’s column.

The News Tribune covers the same territory, with a gamer and John McGrath’s column on Bonnell.

Here’s a little out-of-the way look at the game from Medford, a few miles south of Corvallis.

And away from the football action, here is a Blaine Newnham column praising former athletic director Barbara Hedges. And this piece on the Huskies’ first basketball practice.

••••••••••

The Whitworth Pirates just might move up from 12th in the NCAA Division III rankings after their 70-3 shelling of outmanned Lewis and Clark.

•••••••••••

The BCS standing are out (see post below) and Chris Dufresne of the LA Times tries to make sense of them so early.

Seahawks hold on for win - thanks to Brown’s leg

SEAHAWKS

OK, show of hands out there. How many of you would join me in cutting Mo Morris right now? Or kicking the defensive coordinator John Marshall out of the plane and make him walk home from St. Louis?

Or make Morris and Marshall carry Josh Brown’s bags the rest of the season?

Because Brown bailed both of them out with his game-winning 54-yard field goal against the Rams in the Hawks’ 30-28 NFC West win.

All Morris had to do was hold on to the ball. All Marshall had to do was play prevent. Either way the last 3 minutes wouldn’t have been so exciting.

And I might not be hoarse right now.

Two sides to every game, but one line must improve

COUGARS UPDATED 3:10 P.M.

Before we get to the links below, I want to delve into the topic de jour – and the question of the day.

What was up with the offense’s performance in the red zone?

Cal at WSU: Postgame

COUGARS UPDATED: 8:25 P.M.

Let’s go back in time, to say, Thursday.

Stop by Bill Doba’s office at WSU and ask the coach for a minute. Tell him you can guarantee Cal won’t score any more than, say, 21 points against his team on Saturday.

Think he would have taken that?

Cal at WSU: Halftime

Methodical.

That’s the word I spent the second quarter searching for.

Sort of like the Cougar defense and Marshawn Lynch. It spent 15 minutes trying to find him, with less success than I had.

Lynch was part of rushing attack that had more than 100 yards at the half, as the Bears methodically moved down the field en route to the 21-3 halftime lead.

Add to that another almost 130 yards passing and the Bears’ offense was, what’s the word, efficient. Only a tipped pass in the first quarter kept them from having three long scoring drives.

Lynch is the best running back in the conference - and backup Justin Forsett might be No. 3 (let’s stick Oregon’s Jonathan Stewart in the there somewhere). But the Cal duo is running behind a mammoth offensive line (average: 306 pounds, 6-foot-4) that works well together.

The best term for it? Maybe methodical.

On the other side, the Cougar running game is haphazard (the dictionary’s antonym for methodical). It’s appropriate because the running game has been a hazard for WSU drives. At halftime WSU is averaging 1/3 yard per carry.

So what do you think the Cal defense will be keying on in the second half? With a 21-3 lead? My guess - and I’m sure it is yours as well - is the passing game.

Alex Brink has thrown the ball well at times thus far, and just missed a couple more long completions. But the second half will probably be tougher, just because the Coug running game, already in hibernation, will probably go into the deep freeze from here on out.

The Cal defense was just methodical in how it stymied the running attack, closing every gap and running down every wide attempt.

Still, the best hit of the day goes to referee Larry Farina. On a kickoff into the Cougar end zone, Derrell Hutsona was knocked off his reception route by a Farina shoulder, causing the ball to skip through the end zone.

It’s been that kind of day for the Cougs. Even the officials are putting hits on them.

Cal at WSU: Pregame No. 3

COUGARS

There is something magical about a Saturday and college football players. Call it the Lourdes effect.

All these injured 20-year-olds suddenly are healthy enough to play.

Marshawn Lynch and his bad ankle? He looks fine. Ditto Cougar offensive lineman Charles Harris and his ankle. It wouldn’t shock me if Cody Boyd jogged on to the field - that was sarcasm in case you didn’t know.

Anyway, many of the walking wounded are running wounded today. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Remember, if you have questions or comments, we’re here during the game. Ask if you want.

We’ll be back at the quarter.

Cal at WSU: Pregame No. 2

COUGARS

It seemed like good news. Cal running back Marshawn Lynch has an ankle injury and may not be at full strength (he’s on the field and running well, maybe slightly favoring his left ankle).

But then you look at what happened last week against Oregon when he was hurt.

Justin Forsett, a junior, came off the bench to rush for 163 yards. Which tells you one of two things: either Forsett is as talented as any running back in the Pac-10 (maybe) or Cal’s offensive line is that good (probably).

Sure, they didn’t look that tough against Tennessee (of the best conference in the nation, the SEC), but one game doesn’t make a season – though it killed Cal’s chances of competing for the national title.

The Bears Pac-10 hopes are still very much alive, with an offense that’s averaged almost 44 points a game ST (since Tennessee). Quarterback Nate Longshore has a 169.77 quarterback efficiency rating (for comparison, Alex Brink’s is a very good 133.20), receiver DeSean Jackson, who also returns punts at almost 16-yards an attempt, is averaging 18 yards a reception and 87 yards a game (again, for comparison, the Cougs’ leading receiver, Michael Bumpus, averages 9.6 yards a catch and 64 yards a game).

So the Bears defense is weak, right? Well ST, the Bears have yielded less than 20 points a game. And Cal, though not in WSU’s country in sacks – who is? – still has 16, including six by tackle Brandon Mebane and three from end Nu’u Tafisi.

But if the Cougs’ front can give Brink time, the Bears secondary, other than Daymeion Hughes, is vulnerable. They’ve yielded almost 240 yards a game, including 10 touchdown passes.

We’ll keep an eye on it.

UI, EWU hit road in search of wins; Whitworth holds a homecoming

EAGLES, VANDALS, PIRATES

The Vandals opponent today, Louisiana Tech (4 p.m.; Radio: 1050-AM, 1080-AM), is a mirror with UI in every way except one: the record. Idaho is 3-3, 2-0 in the Western Athletic Conference; Louisiana Tech is 1-4 and 0-1.

You can find more about today’s matchup on Jim Meehan’s blog.

••••••••••

Eastern needs a win in the worst way, and the Eagles might be facing their worst opponent as they travel to Greeley to face Northern Colorado (12:30 p.m.; TV: KSKN-22; Radio: 1510-AM).

You can find more about today’s matchup on Dave Trimmer’s blog.

••••••••••

It’s homecoming for the 12th-ranked Pirates, and they are hosting (1 p.m.; Radio: 1230-AM). a team that didn’t exist last season. The Lewis and Clark Pioneers canceled their Northwest Conference season last year due to a shortage of available players. This year LC is 0-4 overall and 0-1 in NWC play.

Cougars ready to face 11th-ranked Cal

COUGARS

It’s game day (vs. Cal at 2 p.m. in Martin Stadium) and we have are usual array of information, all contained on one page in the print Spokesman-Review. We’ll try to do something similar here before we hit the road.

On the front page, we’ll lead with the advance story about today’s game by Glenn Kasses.

Inside, on our Cougar game day page, we have: By the Numbers; My Cougar Saturday with announcer Glenn Johnson and more, but we can’t find it on-line. Sorry.

From beyond the mountains, Craig Smith writes the Cougars are hoping Cal is in a giving mood – as in giving away a few turnovers. Here is the Times’ quick preview.

And now Jim Moore is sharing in-house betting secrets with everyone. For my money, Jon Naito is the smartest guy in the room. Actually, Moore lays out his reasons why the Cougs could win. He thinks that every week, of course, because he bleeds crimson and his hair is gray.

From Tacoma, Todd Milles profiles Mike Dunbar, the Bears’ offensive coordinator who coached at Central Washington. If this sounds familiar, it is. Check the post from Thursday for a link to another Dunbar story.

And, from even farther afield (how about Murfreesboro, Tennessee?), there’s one sportswriter who picks Cal in a close one.

Bulldogs begin post-Morrison era

GONZAGA

The Gonzaga Bulldogs are coming off a 29-4 season. They reached the Sweet 16, finally losing to NCAA-finalist UCLA, which rallied from nine down in the final 3 minutes, 26 seconds to win, 73-71. They return seven players who contributed significant minutes to their success, including a 14-0 record in the West Coast Conference.

And yet the biggest questions as they opened 2006-07 practice Friday night at McCarthey Athletic Center revolved around a player – or two – who is no longer there: Adam Morrison. And to a slightly lesser degree, J.P. Batista.

“When you have a guy like Adam, and you have a guy like J.P., that’s hard to replace,” said senior center Sean Mallon, one of three returning starters, “and you’re not going to replace them with one guy or two guys. It’s going to be all of us.

“That’s kind of an advantage in some ways, but it’s going to be hard. It’s going to take time, but I think we’re going to get there.”

And that’s what it’s going to take to replace a consensus All-American, the Chevrolet Player of the Year, the nation’s leading scorer and the third player taken in the NBA draft, all of which happened to Morrison last year. It’s going to take a team effort.

To win, Seattle needs to improve offensive line

SEAHAWKS

Will Matt Hasselbeck survive the season?

There seems to be some question about that right now, with the guy asking the biggest ones being Hawks’ coach Mike Holmgren.

According to Holmgren, quoted in Danny O’Neil’s Times story, “the quarterback is getting hit too much.”

It’s pretty obvious the Hawks’ offensive line isn’t getting it done – at least to the P-I’s Art Thiel in his column today.

And Holmgren is the guy charged with changing that.

But maybe he doesn’t have enough ammunition, or his ammunition is getting old.

The Rams, currently leading the NFC West, will try to take advantage of that in what has become one of the NFL’s most interesting rivalries.

Of course, St. Louis might have a secret weapon. Former Seahawks Isaiah Kacyvenski may have inside information to pass on.

It’s about time … college basketball tips off tonight

COLLEGE BASKETBALL UPDATED 3:10 P.M.

I’ll be at Gonzaga tonight for the Bulldogs’ first basketball practice, and will report here after the media availability session.

The Zags will feature a new look this season, with starters Adam Morrison, J.P. Batista and Erroll Knight having moved on (here is the Zags’ preseason roster). But they aren’t the only ranked-last-season Northwest team that will have a revamped lineup. (One of the returning Zags, Derek Raivio, takes the ball up court against UCLA last season; Spokesman-Review file photo.)

UPDATE: ESPN’s Andy Katz writes about 25 teams that will have an impact on the season, and he includes the Zags not because they will be as good as last year (his opinion), but because of their schedule. They play so many high-caliber teams they will play a role in the rankings nearly every week.

The Washington Huskies, who will open practice with a big show tonight, no longer have Brandon Roy (with the Blazers), among others. They also have enough injuries to cripple their first few weeks.

Of course, every Division I college basketball program in the Northwest, men and women, starts this evening or tomorrow morning, so check here to keep up as the games get closer.

Are two goalies better than one?

CHIEFS

The Chiefs host Everett tonight in the Arena and there’s little doubt the Silvertips will be looking for revenge after last Friday’s Spokane win in Everett.

The Chiefs have two goalies, and Jeff Bunch writes in this morning’s S-R that, despite the play of backup Dustin Tokarski (a 2.37 goals against average) and the struggles of starter Kevin Armstrong (4.42), the team doesn’t have a goalie controversy.

They will have, however, a tough time with the Tips’ power play, as its improved markedly since Peter Mueller returned from the Phoenix Coyotes’ training camp.

For more on the Chiefs each day, check Bunch’s blog.

After Everett faces Spokane tonight, the Tips return home to host Portland.

The Americans released Cole Butterfield yesterday, despite Butterfield having won the rotating captain’s C the last two games. Tri-City had to pare down to three overage players and the defenseman was the odd-man out.

GSL 4A playoff teams begin to clear up

PREPS

The Greater Spokane League football race took a large step toward clearing itself up Thursday night with Ferris’ 35-14 victory over U-Hi. (at right is Ferris’ McKenzie Murphy; photo by Jed Conklin, Spokesman-Review)

The Saxons (5-1) win basically assures they will be in a state 4A play-in game the 10th week of the season. If they win one more game – they play Central Valley (2-3) and Rogers (0-5) – they will make the play-in week and possibly could host a game (the first and second place GSL teams host Columbia Basin League teams). More than likely Ferris will finish 7-1 and host the CBL’s second-place team.

Who else will be in the postseason?

California is No. 1 in one poll

COLLEGE SPORTS

This is a little off the beaten track, but SIoncampus.com does a college ranking that’s interesting.

The publication ranks all schools based on how they are doing in all NCAA sports, with points given for their rankings overall.

The current No. 1 school? California, which just happens to be the Cougars’ football foe this Saturday. Check this out.

Riley under fire as OSU travels to Seattle

HUSKIES, COLLEGE FOOTBALL

With Oregon State bringing a 2-3 record to Seattle, the Times’ Bob Condotta takes the opportunity to detail the Beaver fans’ dissatisfaction with coach Mike Riley.

The Beavers do present one challenge to the UW coaching staff: Finding decent film on the OSU offense. Seems last year’s OSU-UW game was played in a driving rain, and the Beavers have played just one close game this season (last week vs. WSU).

One area the Huskies want to improve is their long snapping, where freshman Danny Morovick has had some problems.

The News Tribune’s Don Ruiz gives the Huskies their midseason grades. There is no overall one, but he did give out two As, for coaching and quarterback play.

••••••••••

With the first BCS rankings coming out Sunday, the P-I’s Ted Miller examines where he feels everyone should fall. The Pac-10 doesn’t fare too well in Miller’s eyes. That’s only part of what he writes as he takes a look around the conference.

A-Rod would look good in an M’s uniform again

MARINERS

This is the only M’s piece I’m passing on right now, but it’s fun.

Everett columnist John Sleeper has a great idea: trade Adrian Beltre to the Yankees for Alex Rodriguez. There’s flaws in this, of course, but it’s a kick (not a good word to use around A-Rod right now) to think about it.

Erickson tries to squelch bowl talk for now

VANDALS, EAGLES

Idaho Statesman columnist Brian Murphy talked with football coach Dennis Erickson about the Vandals’ success so far this season, and how Erickson is trying to temper fans’ expectations for the remainder of the year.

There’s more information, notes and opinion on Jim Meehan’s blog, including UI’s plans to retire quarterback John Friesz’s number, along with a trivia question that will tease Idaho fans.

••••••••••

Not much in print about EWU football anywhere, but like always there’s more on Dave Trimmer’s blog. One thing Dave examines is the status of freshman quarterback Matt Nichols.

In a matchup of the two schools in volleyball, EWU prevailed in four games Wednesday night.

Magic castigated for its defense on Morrison

MORRISON WATCH, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Not match the day after the preseason opener, but one question, courtesy of the visiting team’s local newspaper: Was it Adam Morrison’s offense, or the Orlando Magic’s defense?

The Orlando Sentinel fell in the category of the latter in its summary of the Magic’s first preseason game.

Meanwhile, Morrison’s old team, Gonzaga, opens practice Friday evening for the 2006-2007 season. Steve Bergum examined when all the Inland Northwest colleges start in today’s S-R.

A new foe, a new look

EAGLES, VANDALS, HUSKIES, PIRATES

Eastern Washington will be facing Northern Colorado in Big Sky action for the first time Saturday (12:30 p.m.; KSKN-22) and what little they know about the Bears might have to be revised.

It seems, according to Dave Trimmer’s story in today’s S-R, the host Bears may be changing starting quarterbacks.

For more, check Dave’s blog.

••••••••••

Not much in print today about UI, though this Idaho Statesman story about the WAC conference’s future is interesting (and here is a summary of the presidents’ plan).

For more on the Vandals, check Jim Meehan’s blog.

••••••••••

The Huskies are at midseason, and the Times’ reviews it so far. The overall tone, as one would expect for a 4-2 team that won three games in the past two years, is positive.

Some problems have surfaced this week, however, with the biggest one being the hip pointer suffered by Isaiah Stanback. Backup Carl Bonnell says he’s ready if needed.

Coming into Husky Stadium this Saturday is Oregon State (3:30 p.m.; FSN), and an upset UW team is waiting.

••••••••••

The Whitworth Pirates are celebrating their 100th year of playing football (they host Lewis & Clark on Saturday at 1 p.m.) this season, and John Blanchette says no one has been more important to the program in the 100 years than Bruce Grambo. I recommend you read the column and find out why.

Chiefs start slow, end with win

CHIEFS, WHL

A slow start didn’t bode well for Spokane in the Arena on Tuesday.

Neither did an early penalty and a power-play goal.

But then Judd Blackwater got going. His two second-period goals ignited the Chiefs’ offense in their 6-4 comeback win over the Portland Winter Hawks.

The two scores were the first of the season for Blackwater.

••••••••••

The Tri-City Americans are off to their best trading for 19-year-old David Reekie.

WSU not at full strength this week

COUGARS

The Cougars are heading into probably their toughest back-to-back games of the season (Cal and Oregon), and they’ll do it down a few key offensive players.

Glenn Kasses’ went over the injuries to Jason Hill, Cody Boyd and Ben Woodard in his story today, and he also examined them deeper on his blog. The Cougs host Cal this Saturday at 2 p.m. (no TV; 920-AM and the Cougar radio network).

But that’s not all Glenn had today.

He also covered the Pac-10 in his conference notebook, which included this gem from Oregon coach Mike Bellotti about Cal: “They’re the best team we’ve played. The quarterback is playing at a really high level. They have the combination of running backs and wide receivers to keep you off balance.”

Not good news for Cougar fans. There is a glimmer of hope for them concerning Cal running back Marshawn Lynch in a post below, however.

In the Seattle Times, Craig Smith examines the team at mid-season. The biggest surprise: How well the defense has played. There is also a feature on Jed Collins, who is about the last man standing at tight end.

The New Tribune’s Todd Milles covers the injuries, especially the one to Hill.

The Kitsap Sun took a look at the WSU defense and how well it’s played.

One last note: Safety Eric Frampton had another good game against Oregon State and his hometown newspaper took note. There was a short blurb about Frampton in the San Jose Mercury News.

Lynch to go for Bears

COUGARS, VANDALS

A couple of late notes …

Cal’s Marshawn Lynch, who has been battling an ankle sprain, will play Saturday at Washington State, according to Cal coach Jeff Tedford.

••••••••••

The Shreveport Times profiles Dennis Erickson as he gets ready to bring his Vandals to Louisiana to play Tech this Saturday.

Hawes to have knee surgery

THE LATE NEWS

Bad news for the Husky basketball program, already having to replace a big chunk of last year’s NCAA playoff team.

Seven-foot freshman center Spencer Hawes will have arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to repair some damage to his right knee. The Seattle Prep product is expected to be back before games start in mid-November, but he will miss valuable prep time.

••••••••••

The Seahawks are auditioning outside linebackers this week, according to Mike Sando’s blog. Am I wrong, or is that where Isaiah Kacyvenski played?

•••••••••

This from Pete Fiutak on FoxSports.com concerning his 10 biggest disappointments things this year:

“7. Bad Pac 10 uniforms: Pac 10 fans think there’s a bias against their conference because the games are three hours behind the ones in the east. Actually, no one wants to sit through three-plus hours of the horrific uniforms. Oregon no longer has a corner on the market with Washington State and Cal taking things to another level. The Bear yellows unveiled against Oregon made the team look like a bunch of really fast mustard packets.”

USC still in spotlight as OSU looms

HUSKIES

Well so much for putting USC behind them.

According to Bob Condotta’s Seattle Times story, reporters quizzed coach Tyrone Willingham for about 45 minutes about the ending of Saturday game in Los Angeles.

And we know the fans haven’t gotten over it. They think there was a conspiracy or something, according to Dave Boling’s News Tribune column. It’s also the subject of John Sleeper’s column in the Herald.

But the UW players and coaches know they can’t dwell on the past anymore. They have to get ready for Oregon State, which comes into Husky Stadium this Saturday (3:30 p.m.; FSN).

Leave it to Jim Moore to be the first Seattle-area writer to bring up the 1998 Rose Bowl when examining the refereeing in the UW-SC game.

Once again, Erickson gets results

VANDALS, EAGLES

Dennis Erickson’s presence usually means there will be improvement.

For the fifth time in eight coaching stops, the University of Idaho football coach has won more games in his first year than the team won the year before. That little tidbit is only one note Jim Meehan covers in today’s WAC notebook.

And the way the WAC is shaping up, with Fresno State on the ropes and only Boise State really a power, there might be a lot more wins before the season ends.

Jim has more, of course, on his Vandal blog, including some basketball news.

The Idaho Statesman writes about Boise State’s game this Sunday (yes, Sunday) against New Mexico State and how it will affect preparations for the Broncos’ next game. Against Idaho.

•••••••••

ESPN columnist Pat Forde takes a dig at Eastern Washington, but what he says is true. Syracuse isn’t Eastern. It’s a heck of a lot colder there.

Other than that, there’s a note or two on Dave Trimmer’s blog.

As Joey used to say, Monday, Twosday …

PREPS UPDATED 1 P.M.

Each day of the week in the fall has its own flair in the prep sports world.

Monday is given over to looking back at the weekend just past, Wednesday is the boring day, Thursday is Prep Page day at the S-R, Friday is football night, Saturday is invitational day and Sunday is a day of rest.

Tuesday? Tuesday is the Seattle Times prep day, and it is also the day the Sideline Smitty column runs. Today, he’s writing about sports in which high schools coaches get along and the one he says they don’t (basketball).

There’s no way Florida should have jumped to No. 2

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

I forgot to put together my top five last week, but after Florida leapfrogged USC this week in the AP poll (USC is still two in the coaches’ poll), I couldn’t let this week go by without putting something down.

I have just one word about the stupidity of jumping Florida over USC: Arkansas. And one score: 50-14. What does that have to do with Florida? The Gators jumped past USC after defeating LSU, which also lost to Auburn, which got whacked this week by … wait for it … Arkansas.

The vaunted SEC hasn’t shown it is as good as it thinks it is. Ya, Tennessee destroyed Cal to open the season. At home. USC traveled to Arkansas and won. Both Cal and Arkansas are improved by now, and USC is a little bit down, due in most part to injuries. But to have Florida jump over them, that’s a Southern bias.

Anyway, back to my top five:

1. Ohio State. Watch out for Michigan State this week. John L. Smith may need to win to keep his job.

2. Flor … just kidding. USC. The Trojans have a tougher one this week in ASU, but it is at home. Then two pretty simple road games (OSU and Stanford)

3. West Virginia. I’m not jumping Florida over a team that hammered the SEC’s Mississippi State in Mississippi despite 11 penalties (think Bob Stoops would have something to say about that?).

4. Florida. They will lose this week at Auburn, so the placing is probably moot.

5. Michigan. The maize and blue should have little trouble in Happy Valley. If not, fire Lloyd Carr.

That’s mine. If you want to inject your top 5, just click the Comments link.

Where do the Hawks go from here?

SEAHAWKS

The bye week is over. So is a quarter of the season. Where do the Seahawks stand?

Danny O’Neil of the Seattle Times tried to answer that question today as does Mike Sando, on his Seahawk blog from the News Tribune.

The Everett Herald’s Scott Johnson wonders if the Hawks are victims of the curses - Madden, Super Bowl loser, etc. – everyone talks about.

Even the Associated Press weighs in as a new week of practice begins.

On the Hawks’ periphery, Steve Kelley thinks Ray Rhodes needs to start putting health ahead of football.

Beard signs with Chicago

SHOCK

Kevin Beard is no longer a member of the Shock.

The team announced Monday that Beard, a wide receiver/linebacker from the University of Miami, has signed with the defending Arena Bowl champion Chicago Rush of the Arena Football League.

Beard (pictured playing with Miami; AP photo) led the Shock in receiving at the ArenaCup, gaining 122 yards and scoring twice. He finished the season with 13 touchdowns and 828 all-purpose yards.

“Kevin gave us everything he had last season,” general manager Adam Nebeker said in a press release. “He will be greatly missed, but we’re happy he’s getting the opportunity to further his goals by moving up to the next level.”

The postseason football schedule is still murky

PREPS

There is still a lot of confusion concerning the Greater Spokane League playoff picture, but one part this is set: The schedule for the last week’s games with the Columbia Basin League, which include non-league games for non-playoff participants, and play-in games for the state playoffs.

Though who will fill each slot remains to be seen, as Mike Vlahovich’s story today outlines.

Click the read full entry link for the schedule of the non-playoff teams, as agreed upon by the two leagues. All of these games will be played Friday, Nov. 3 starting at 7 p.m. (unless there is a doubleheader at Albi).

A lot more than 2 seconds debate over final play

HUSKIES UPDATED: 12:40 P.M.

Now that I’m back, we can get into that final 2 seconds.

There’s a lot of stuff that ran Sunday (and we linked to the best on Sunday morning), but let’s look at today’s stories.

The Pac-10’s head of officials, Verle Sorgen – you might remember the name from such fiascoes as Oregon vs. Oklahoma – was quoted as saying he didn’t see anything wrong with the final seconds or Steve Smith’s touchdown catch on a fake punt.

John McGrath had his opinion of what happened, and it had nothing to do with the timekeeper, the officials or the rules.

There were a lot more opinions on the beat writers’ blogs, with Mike Allende of Everett writing pretty even-handed commentary, Bob Condotta of the Times defending – correctly – Isaiah Stanback and the News Tribune’s Don Ruiz has three points he agrees with.

The best I could find at the P-I was quotes from the Huskies saying the last seconds shouldn’t have mattered, that they have to get better. In Everett, Allende looks to the future and sees UW’s confidence leading to a bowl game.

As a final bonus, here is the Times’ quick summary of the game.

UPDATE: The News Tribune’s Don Ruiz is already looking ahead to Friday, when college basketball starts. Here is his story on the new generation of Husky players.

Right now I just want to feel old

COUGARS, COLLEGE FOOTBALL

OK, if you’ve read this on-line column, or if you read the paper last Tuesday, or if you know me at all, you know today is my birthday. My 50th birthday.

I have only one thing to say: Thank God my waistline no longer keeps up with my age. Actually, I have two things to say. The other is: I’m not writing much today. Sorry.

I’m putting together two posts, this one and one on preps (the latter because there is one story I want you to read). Otherwise, that’s it. I’ll be back Monday – if I can get out of bed.

Now back to the Cougs. What a great offensive performance they … crud, that wasn’t them, that was Cal. My bad. Well, the bottom line is, like Cal, the Cougars posted a Pac-10 win.

Follow the read full entry link to the stories.

Cougars’ defense steps up

Give this win to the Washington State defense.

The Cougars defeated Oregon State 13-6 Saturday night in Corvallis in a game that, if not dominated by defenses, was at least decided by them.

WSU (4-2 overall and 2-1 in Pac-10 play) cracked the OSU end zone just once, a 29-yard, third-quarter touchdown pass from Alex Brink to Jason Hill. It was Hill’s 30th career scoring catch, but it came on his last play of the night.

Just like last season against OSU, Hill was hurt in the third quarter – this time a bruised right shoulder – and did not return.

The score came on a drive that included two replay reviews, both of which - rightly it seems to me - were decided in WSU’s favor.

And his one touchdown catch was enough, thanks to two first-half Loren Langley field goals - more on that later - and a Cougar defense that at times bent and at other times attacked.

WSU 6, OSU 3 - Halftime

COUGARS

There must be some sort of bible verse that says “and the kickers shall lead them.” At least there should be in a Cougar game-day bible.

That was the case in the first half Saturday, when kicker Loren Langley converted two field goals – 39 and 20 yards – with the latter set up by a 25-yard run by punter Daryl Blunt.

Blunt recognized his punt deep in the Cougar territory was going to be blocked, so he pulled the ball down, found a hole and raced down the right sideline, running over a Beaver defender at the end of the run.

From there Alex Brink teamed with Michael Bumpus, who set a personal single-season pass reception mark in this, WSU’s fifth game, for 37 yards and a first down at the OSU 3. But a touchdown wasn’t going to be in the cards, especially when you can’t run, which is the Cougar problem today.

The Cougars have 12 yards rushing in the opening half, thanks in large part to the handful of sacks of Brink. At intermission, Blunt was WSU’s leading rusher.

And if he lined up at receiver he might have led there as well, as WSU’s passing attack accounted for just 78 more yards other than the Bumpus catch.

But the Beavers weren’t doing much better themselves, adding three turnovers to an impotent offense. In one three-play sequence, the Beavers fumbled, Brink fumbled and the Beavers fumbled back. That led to the Cougs second field goal.

Things were so weird, the Beavers connected on a field goal near the end of the half, only to see it taken off the board on a Cougar pre-play penalty. The OSU kicker, Alexis Serna, was not to be denied, however, as he calmly booted the ensuing 42-yarder through.

Yes, the kickers are leading them.

WSU 3, Oregon State 0 - End of First Quarter

COUGARS

How important is Mkristo Bruce to Washington State?

Let’s see what he’s done in just this Oregon State game alone.

Midway through the first quarter, he stripped the ball from OSU’s Matt Moore – yes, it looked like a pass to me – then fell on the fumble, giving the Cougars a real scoring opportunity.

They scored, sure, on a Loren Langley 39-yard field goal, but the offense was pretty impotent. Other than a pass interference call, Alex Brink and the rest of the offensive guys went the wrong way prior to field goal.

This is the same Oregon State defense that gave up 42 points to Boise State. The Beavers are dominating the line of scrimmage – what No. 3 USC couldn’t do last week – especially on running plays. The one area where the Cougs are finding room is in the middle of the field with the passing game.

Let’s see if they can continue taking advantage of that bubble.

Montana at EWU, halftime

EAGLES

It’s not often you trail at halftime 21-10 and feel pretty good.

But that’s the case for the Eastern Eagles right now.

When Montana jumped out with 21 first-quarter points - including a 94-yard punt return and Josh Swogger’s bullet touchdown pass - it looked like the Eagles might be blown out.

But EWU’s defense tightened, Matt Nichols connected with Brynsen Brown on a touchdown pass, Brett Bergstrom connected on a field goal and, as a team, the Eagles look like they’ve connected with the Grizzlies.

The second half, which once looked like it would be a formality, now might be very interesting.

Chiefs hand Everett first loss; Tri-City in town

CHIEFS, WHL

There is a lot of Chiefs news in today’s Spokesman-Review.

The place to start is this story about Derek Ryan, the Chiefs’ homegrown star.

Spokane also won on the road Friday night, handing Everett its first loss of the season. There’s a longer story in the Everett Herald plus a graphic on the Silvertips.

There is more on Jeff Bunch’s blog.

The Tri-City Americans come to the Arena tonight and they come off a win over Seattle. Here is the Seattle Times’ story.

One child’s record is another’s humiliation

PREPS

If you read just one prep football story today, read this one. It’s the type of story about national high school records that needed to be written, that needed to be promoted and that needs to be read.

It shows there are two sides to every story, two sides to every record, two sides in every argument. You decide which side you come down on – record or rubbing it in? Let me know if you want, the comment link is always available.

Now back to Northwest football, where no one rushed for 500-plus yards Friday.

Voters may ensure Sonics’ departure

SEAHAWKS, SONICS

Sports is a key part of Seattle’s culture, right up there with coffee and grunge. But, after building more than a billion dollars worth of sports stadiums within the city limits, some people are saying enough.

And they have a new tactic.

The P-I’s Art Thiel examines Initiative 91, the newest weapon in the arsenal of the city’s anti-sports crowd.

It’s a politically themed piece that takes a stand – and maybe not in the way you would think.

Back on the court, Damien Wilkins is on a mission with the Sonics. He wants to prove he’s the right guy for Seattle right now.

Who will make the team, and how many, is something that’s still up in the air. No one wants to make a decision until the new ownership group is in place Oct. 25.

••••••••••

Dave Boling of the News Tribune echoes exactly how I feel about Isaiah Kacyvenski, who the Hawks released last week and was picked up by the St. Louis Rams.

Boling’s last line says it all: “The Seahawks and the NFL have been lucky to have him.” Read the column and tell me if you agree.

A team in the wilderness

MORRISON WATCH

For the past couple years, Adam Morrison has been the talk of Spokane. If he walked into a downtown restaurant, heads would turn, people would talk, maybe even an autograph hunter or two would screw up the guts to ask. I know, I’ve seen it.

But things might be a bit different in Charlotte. Wilmington Star-News sports editor Neil Amato writes the Bobcats are basically ignored in their own town. And then he explains why.

Morrison probably won’t be expected to battle inside as the Bobcats have surrounded him with multiple big men. It’s a team emphasis after being decimated by injuries last season.

Chiefs ready to play at home

CHIEFS, WHL

The Spokane Chiefs have had a chance to regroup, reenergize and relax – a little – after opening the Western Hockey League season on the road.

That season-opening four-game road trip - caused by the Promise Keepers being in the Arena, which is what kicks off John Blanchette’s Chief-themed column today - concludes tonight with a game against first-place Everett. Then the Chiefs head back to the Spokane Arena for Saturday night’s home opener against Tri-City.

Jeff Bunch covers all of the hoopla around the Arena-opener in a story in today’s Spokesman-Review and on his Chiefs blog.

••••••••••

In Everett, the Chiefs will be facing a team that is undefeated, but according to a story in today’s Everett Herald, untested as well. The Silvertips’ coach Kevin Constantine believes the Chiefs will be a sterner challenge for his team.

The Silvertips almost lost one of their former players recently, when Shaun Heshka was nearly killed in a car crash en route to Winnipeg, where he was scheduled to play this season.

The new stick rules in place this year seem to be helping one Seattle Thunderbird, according to this Times’ story.

Finally getting over the speed bumps

COUGARS UPDATED 9:15 A.M.; 10:25 A.M.

The last name is appropriate.

Washington State’s Michael Bumpus (Spokesman-Review file photo) has endured a few bumps over the years in Pullman, but, as last week’s performance in the USC loss shows, he may have risen over them.

Glenn Kasses’ chronicles Bumpus’ bumps – many of them of the academic variety – and how he overcame them in today’s paper. There’s more on the Bumpus story at Glenn’s Cougar blog.

Glenn also has his Pac-10 picks, including picking the Cougars to edge the Beavers (Saturday, 4 p.m.; FSN).

UPDATE NO. 2: The Oregonian’s Ken Goe was at the USC game Saturday, and he writes about the overpowering Mkristo Bruce. The Oregonian also offers a quick-read look at the game, and story about OSU.

Speaking of picks, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times will have his here, but they are usually posted later on Fridays. Also, I found the Lindy magazine national picks here, with the Pac-10 picks lower in the column.

This is a big weekend in the Pac-10, and Bud Withers explains just how big. He also lists his Pac-10 power rankings and his picks. I’m one of the few who is picking Oregon over Cal (see post below), and there were two reasons: Cal under Jeff Tedford rarely comes up big in big games and Dennis Dixon. The Ducks’ quarterback is one of the rare passer/thrower threats in the conference.

UPDATE: Jim Moore weighs in with his take on the uniforms the Cougs wore last week. For one of the few times ever, I agree with him.

Back to Saturday’s WSU game, the Times’ Craig Smith tries to find out what’s up with OSU’s Reser Stadium and the Cougars.

The News Tribune’s Todd Milles writes about the success the WSU line had last week against USC and the mastermind behind the group: former Cougar great defensive lineman George Yarno.

One-on-one and nearly perfect

BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

I’m sorry, but you can take your left tackle trying to handle a speed rusher on the outside, or your shutdown corner locked on the receiver, or your quick guard taking the ball to the rim against a polished shot blocker, or your veteran goalie trying to stone a right winger racing down the ice.

Those are all great, but the best one-on-one battle in all of sports is a hard-throwing pitcher facing a fast-ball hitter in the post season.

And you won’t see many better than Tiger reliever Joel Zumaya facing Alex Rodriguez with two outs in the eighth in Thursday’s game at Yankee Stadium.

Zumaya, after a how-you-doing curve ball to open the faceoff, threw two 103-mile-per-hour fastballs and one 101-mph - a changeup is how John Miller described it on ESPN - past A-Rod for the strike out.

What drama. What fun. What testosterone. What a game.

So what do you think? What is the best one-on-one matchup in sports? Let me know by clicking the Comments link below.

Not many like the NBA’s new basketball

SONICS, SEAHAWKS, MARINERS

The biggest news in the NBA this week: the new ball.

Exciting, huh.

Anyway, the Sonics weigh in on the new rock from training camp. And they don’t like how it feels wet.

Back to the court, Rashad Lewis (Associated Press photo) has something to prove this year. And he’s concentrating on playing, not talking – right now.

If you want to stop someone, put your best athletes at the corners

VANDALS, EAGLES

There are always disagreements on how to build an impenetrable college football defense.

But the most common school of thought today is to start with two shutdown corners, add two big run stoppers inside at tackle and then let the other seven guys fly around the field.

Maybe that’s why the University of Idaho’s Stanley Franks (chasing WSU’s Jason Hill in Spokesman-Review photo) is playing cornerback for the Vandals. Jim Meehan examines Franks’ journey to Moscow and his journey to the defensive side of the ball.

He may be playing defense, but Franks did have what may be the most important touchdown of the year, a 98-yard interception return near the end of the first half against Utah State.

If you want more info on the Vandals, check Meehan’s blog.

New Mexico State visits Moscow on Saturday at 2:05 p.m.

••••••••••

With Montana coming to Cheney on Saturday (2 p.m.; KSKN), the Eagles know they have to improve their pass rush. EWU has been able to put pressure on the opposing quarterback when it’s needed, according to coach Paul Wulff. And when that opposing quarterback is Josh Swogger, pressure becomes imperative.

There’s more on Dave Trimmer’s Eagle blog.

Catch the Chiefs on TV

CHIEFS, INDIANS

The big news on Jeff Bunch’s blog is the Chiefs will have six home games broadcast on Comcast cable. Which is good news for me.

The way I figure it, if the Chiefs don’t make the playoffs, maybe I can get part of the $100,000 to pay my cable bill. I would think 17 cents would cover it.

This is a story I really like. I’m not a big fan of trash talking, and it’s good to read that junior hockey players don’t like it either. The Silvertips’ Kyle Beach found out recently what happens when you trash talk too much in the Western Hockey League.

The Tri-City Herald examines the key support element in hockey: the skates.

••••••••••

There is still some Northwest League baseball news. Yakima’s County Stadium will be getting a facelift in the form of a new playing surface and improved lighting.

Batman’s offspring headed north

HUSKIES

There’s a lot of Husky news today, appropriately so as UW is 4-1, they play the No. 3 team in the country (USC) and, in the eyes of Husky fans anyway, the Trojans must be vulnerable. After all, the Cougars almost beat them.

Batman’s son plays for the Huskies, so this is a big game for him.

Now if you understood the above sentence, you know your USC football history. The Batman referred to is former linebacker Richard “Batman” Wood, who flew around the field in the 1970s and was named All-America three times. His son Marlon is the Huskies punt returner, appropriate because he never was a SC fan.

The Trojan defense is young, partly by design and partly due to injuries. The second reason is what opened the door for former O’Dea star Taylor Mays.

The Times’ Bob Condotta focused on the UW offensive line in Wednesday’s paper, while his blog entry is of the mailbag variety.

Has PSU solved its quarteback problem?

EAGLES, VANDALS

Portland State is only going to get better.

That’s the warning implicit in Dave Trimmer’s Big Sky notebook that ran in today’s paper. The reason? The Vikings were having quarterback problems. Brain White transferred in from Colorado last week, then almost led PSU to an upset of Montana.

The Eagles hope they are good enough to stop the Griz this Saturday (see link below for John Blanchette’s column on Josh Swogger) and they have their reinforcements on the way. The Eags are welcoming back a lot of injured players, according to Dave’s blog post.

••••••••••

Other than a brief mention in the Idaho Statesman’s WAC roundup, about the only place you’ll find UI news is Jim Meehan’s blog. One of the interesting tidbits today from coach Dennis Erickson is the news Seahawks’ fullback Mack Strong might stop by UI’s practice this afternoon.

There is an Erickson’s sighting well down in this Seattle Times story about the UW offensive line. An interesting source for a story about the Huskies.

Swogger’s return, Hill’s departure

COUGARS

The paper was full of Pac-10 and WSU news this morning, even if it wasn’t all about current Pac-10 or WSU players.

Case in point: John Blanchette’s column concerning the return this week of former Coug quarterback Josh Swogger (right; Associated Press photo). Swogger will be at the controls of Montana’s offense this Saturday when the Griz play at EWU.

Back to current Cougs and Pac-10 players, wide receiver Jason Hill had to leave Pullman this week to attend to his sick mother in Northern California. Hill will reportedly be back in time for Saturday’s game at Oregon State (4 p.m., FSN).

There’s more on the Hill situation, and other notes – including a somewhat-funny Doba quote about what the defense is working on this week – on Glenn Kasses’ blog.

Speaking of the Oregon State game, the Times’ Bud Withers is campaigning to have future game’s in this matchup moved to Qwest Field.

Glenn’s Pac-10 notes lead with the travails of the “poor” Cal Bears, who are still trying to live down their awful showing in the opener at Tennessee. Since that nationally televised butt-kicking, the Bears have won four consecutive games and have scored at least 41 points in each one.

Remember how November used to dog Mike Price – sort of like a monkey on his back? For Bill Doba’s crew, they suffer the woes of October, having last won a game during the month in 2003.

The Cougs also have yet to overcome the woes of losing to SC last week, according to Todd Milles’ story in the News Tribune.

Morrison begins his NBA adventure - and GU still in spotlight

MORRISON WATCH

The Charlotte Bobcats opened training camp today, with a renewed sense of optimism.

A big part of that comes from the addition of one player: Gonzaga University and Mead High star Adam Morrison.

We’ll try to keep an eye on Morrison’s progress – and a pair of scissors ready if he every wants to cut that mangy hair.

In relation to the first part of the previous sentence, here’s a story from the New Bern Sun Journal about opening day of camp.

And Scott Fowler of the Charlotte News and Observer thinks there is a good chance Morrison could win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award (you have to go a little ways down this Q&A column.

If you’re not burned out on Morrison-and-his-diabetes stories, here is a good one from the Observer.

How about Morrison’s old team, the Zags? Gary Parrish on CBS Sportline doesn’t see the Zags falling off that much after losing Morrison. He writes another 29 wins might be out of the question, but 20-plus isn’t.

Raise your hand if you think UW is going to the Rose Bowl

HUSKIES

All of you who thought UW would be 4-1 going into the USC game, raise your hands. Ya, well you’re all lying.

Even Tyrone Willingham wasn’t that optimistic. At least that’s how I interpret these remarks from the Huskies’ coach. And if his team is 5-1 after Saturday? It might just justify this computer ranking.

The Huskies are relatively healthy going into the game against third-ranked USC (or second if you subscribe to the coaches’ poll and the computer cited above) according to a note in Bob Condotta’s blog.

By the way, the USC game Saturday (12:30 p.m., FSN) is for a share of first place in the Pac-10 – for whomever wins. Now everybody who thought that would be the case after the USC game, raise your hands.

Liars.

WSU gets ready for Oregon State

COUGARS

Not much on the Cougs game this week with Oregon State, but there is some.

Glenn Kasses had his first look at the matchup in today’s paper. He also has quite a few notes on his blog along with a spirited discussion about officiating.

At the Times, there’s a look at the upcoming game and a feature on Jason Hill, who will be ready for the Beavers this year.

WSU came out of the USC game with some huge injuries (see Glenn’s blog), but so did the Trojans. According to the LA Times, wide receiver Chris McFoy, who was helping to fill the gap caused by an injury to Dwayne Jarrett, will miss a few weeks with a shoulder injury. Also, there’s been no word about Jarrett’s availability for Saturday’s game against Washington.

One of the year’s best days is here

BASEBALL

This is one of the top five sports days in America.

Three playoff baseball games, six teams that think they can win the World Series, 150 players trying to grab a ring.

The TV is on, the radio is on, and America’s team, the Minnesota Twins, is taking the field.

Another commitment and a look back

PREPS UPDATED 11 A.M.

There wasn’t much on the prep plate in today’s Spokesman-Review, but I did save a couple of things for you that appeared Monday.

But before we get to those links, here’s a link to our Fast Break column that appears on the front page each day. Why? Because at the bottom is a prep story, of course. It’s about another Spokane girls basketball player, Ferris’ Jenna Galloway, committing to attend Northern Arizona.

Now back to those stories from Monday.

Spokane still have a tough road before they get home

CHIEFS

The Chiefs made a quick stop in Tri-Cities on Saturday night. A quick stop that resulted in a 4-3 loss.

Jeff Bunch was there to chronicle the game – and the Americans’ announcer statement, after the game, the Chiefs are one loss closer to $100,000.

Of course he was alluding to Chiefs’ owner Bobby Brett guaranteeing the Chiefs will make the playoffs or the organization will refund $100,000 to season-ticket holders.

The Chiefs are 1-2 but have yet to play at home. That first home game will be Saturday night against the same Americans. But before that, Spokane will travel to fifth-ranked – and division favorite – Everett on Friday night. Also on Jeff’s blog is a question: Who should be the Chiefs captain? Click on the link above and put in your comments.

Back to Everett, the Silvertips will be getting back talented center Peter Mueller from the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Portland Winter Hawks and Kamloops set a WHL record with 12 shootout rounds in Portland’s 3-2 win on Sunday night. The game was decided by lightly used Tristan King’s first WHL goal.

Mariners are just waiting for “next year” - again

MARINERS, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The year that was supposed to be “next year” (as in “we’ll win the title next year”) is over.

So what happened?

My quick opinion: The starting pitching isn’t good enough (the young guys just haven’t panned out – though I wouldn’t give up on Gil Meche yet), the big guns (Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre) have yet to hit when the M’s are still in the race, the leadoff hitter won’t steal a base when he needs to, only when he’s sure he’ll be safe, and the manager isn’t assertive or aggressive enough.

But what do I know? I finished last – again – in my Roto league. That I blame on my job taking way too much time, not on bad decision-making. So what is the M’s excuse?

If Shaun had been healthy …

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Well that was pretty sad. The Seahawks faced their first big showdown of the season and were run down by the Bears. That brings us to …

Our Question of the Day:

What will it take for the Seahawks to bounce back from the crushing defeat at the hands of the Bears?

Just click the Comment link below and tell us what you think. And, like always, keep it appropriate.

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SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

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Jim Allen 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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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. 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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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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