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Archive for January 2007

Will Pendo’s shot be the most important?

CARDINAL, 50-49

David Pendergraft isn’t one of GU’s 3-point threats. Coming into Wednesday’s game, he’s shot seven this season, making two.

But with 12:28 left and Stanford having wrested back the momentum, Pendergraft didn’t hesitate. He rose up and buried the 3-pointer.

If GU goes on to win this game, that shot might be the reason why.

We’ll be back after the game with a link to the game story.

Zags in at the half

CARDINAL, 32-27

The good news is the Zags pulled themselves off the floor, dug in defensively, and got back into the game, closing to two at one point.

The bad news is Stanford has been a second-half team recently. Just ask UCLA. The Cardinal trailed by as many as 17 in the first half last Sunday, then just destroyed the Bruins after halftime.

For the Zags to pull this one out, they’ll have to find a way to contain Lawrence Hill. The best defense GU had in the first half on Hill was to take the offense right at him – why Micah Downs didn’t take it to the hoop while Hill was on him with two fouls, I’ll never know – drawing fouls and forcing him to the bench.

Because they never stopped him on the defensive end. The sophomore hit all six shots he took, including two 3-pointers, and finished the half with 14 points despite playing only 10 minutes.

With the always moving Hill out, the zone worked better and the defensive rebounding was easier.

Hill will be back to start the half. How the first five minutes goes might decide this one.

Gonzaga faces a much-improved Stanford

BULLDOGS UPDATED: 5:05 P.M.

UPDATE: Before you get into the story about the present which follows, go ahead and read this story about the future, 6-foot-8 sophomore Brock Osweiler. Now, back to the present …

Back in December, while the Zags were flailing all over the East Coast, Santa Clara traveled up U.S. 101 to play Stanford.

The Broncos not only played, they filleted the Cardinal, 62-46.

Ya, those Broncos. Ya, Stanford. But not the Cardinal team GU plays tonight. Guaranteed.

Whitworth widening NWC gap

COLLEGE BASKETBALL, HUSKIES

The Whitworth Pirates lost a Northwest Conference road game last weekend, but still gained ground on second-place Puget Sound, because UPS lost twice. The Whits’ loss to Lewis and Clark did drop them to 13th in this week’s NCAA Division III poll.

And the Loggers almost made it three straight Tuesday night. But they rallied from a 15-point deficit with seven minutes left to defeat Pacific Lutheran.

The Pirates host Linfield and George Fox this weekend.

••••••••••

Washington is on a roll, having won two consecutive Pac-10 games. But one thing the Huskies have yet to do is win a road game.

They’ll get their best chance Thursday night when they meet last-place Arizona State. If they want to make the NCAA Tournament, they’ll have to start winning on the road.

Fat chance of that happening, according to Herald columnist John Sleeper.

• Football is getting more and more attention with the Feb. 7 letter-of-intent day inching closer. The P-I has this story on the UW recruiting class.

• The Times also has a story on UW’s finances. Things aren’t as bleak on that ledger as they are on the win-loss front.

WSU didn’t place a high value on Bennett’s future

COUGARS, PAC-10

Glenn Kasses examined the future of WSU coach Tony Bennett in this story and on his blog.

The biggest surprise Glenn found was the low buyout number ($50,000) in the contract.

The Cougars get back to Pac-10 play Thursday at Arizona (5:30 p.m.; FSN; 920-AM).

That will start the second half of the Pac-10 season, and Bennett doesn’t see the Cougars doing much different down the stretch.

•••••••••••

Bud Withers’ Pac-10 notebook in the Times has his half-year awards. And the news the Pac-10’s RPI rating dropped from first to third this week. Thanks UA.

The P-I also runs its Pac-10 notebook today, with the news Oregon’s Malik Hairston will probably be back for his senior season next year.

The News Tribune’s Don Ruiz also looks at the conference at the halfway point, trying to anticipate the surprises that are sure to be out there.

Another opinion of the event

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

How was Spokane perceived nationally?

Well, read this Philip Hersh story that ran in Tuesday L.A. Times and tell me.

It seems Hersh, who told me how much he loves Spokane, feels the skating event was well run, appreciated and, overall, a success. But the sport itself is at a crossroads and the people who run it don’t know which fork to take.

Hersh would know better than I. He’s been covering Olympic sports for years.

But it would seem to me a place like Spokane, with a full arena and a full-throated crowd, would be a more logical setting for the championships than a town like, say Chicago, where the facility might be half full of jaded people sitting on their hands.

That doesn’t play well on TV. And don’t kid yourself. TV is what it’s all about.

A poor year for area Division I women’s teams

WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Dave Trimmer’s Tuesday morning roundup of local Division I women’s basketball is chock full of good news today.

Not really. But it’s not Dave’s fault. The local Division I teams – other than Gonzaga – aren’t doing well again.

WSU is at the bottom of the Pac-10, Eastern is struggling in the Big Sky and Idaho is just struggling to stay healthy. Only Gonzaga, alone atop the West Coast Conference, is having what could be considered a successful year.

First-place Zags have a chance to make a mark

BULLDOGS

Not much more for me to say about Gonzaga’s win last night. Now comes one of the most interesting road trips the Zags will make this season.

Steve Bergum’s game story is here, and it’s also on his blog. His blog is also a good place to register your comments.

From San Diego, here’s Mark Zeigler story on Monday’s game. And, from the Bay Area, there’s this piece on Santa Clara’s win over Pepperdine.

Now to look ahead.

Stanford is playing better than any other Pac-10 team right now, according to San Francisco Chronicle columnist Scott Ostler. So the Zags have an opportunity to a) ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, baring a collapse the rest of the year, b) regain national recognition as Stanford is ranked in the AP poll, and c) do something UCLA couldn’t, win at Stanford.

There will be more on this before Wednesday, I’m sure.

And don’t forget GU continues the road trip with West Coast Conference games at Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.

• It’s not basketball, but John Blanchette’s column today was on one of GU’s most talented alums, Brian Ching.

Lineman commits to Idaho

VANDALS

Robb Akey’s personality has won the day again.

Akey has attracted one of the Tacoma-area’s best lineman to Moscow, as Lakes’ Bilal Liggins committed this weekend to attend the school.

“Coach Akey really impressed him,” Bilal’s father, Earl Liggins, told the Tacoma News Tribune. “He’s really good people, and I think he will be in good hands with him.”

Liggins is a 6-foot-3, 260-pound offensive lineman.

For more on UI sports, check Jim Meehan’s blog.

I’ve never had a better playing partner

COLUMN

I don’t put the column I write each week for the newspaper here very often, but I thought I would tonight.

This will appear in Tuesday’s Spokesman-Review.

The only reason I’m posting it is because it’s important to me. You’ll see why when you read on.

And, if you have any thoughts to share feel free to do so. Whether it’s about golf memories of someone special, or a buddy you played softball with for years, or your tennis partner … go ahead, click the comment link.

Koprivica out for season

COUGARS

I had put this as an update on the earlier Cougar post, but it’s too important to be buried.

Glenn Kasses’ has word on his blog Nikola Koprivica has been lost for the year with a torn ACL.

This is a blow to the Cougs despite Koprivica’s stats. He brings an incredible amount of energy to the WSU attack every night and that will be missed.

Herald rakes the Hawks a little bit

SEAHAWKS

The Everett Herald took time today to editorialize about the Hawks’ decision to not to come to Cheney this summer.

The paper gives the team a hard time - rightfully - for leaving a year earlier than they stated previously.

I’ve got an idea. A stupid idea, but an idea nonetheless. And I don’t have many. How about the Hawks coming back to Cheney in 2008 for one last goodbye? One last summer camp over here in the boonies? One last chance to watch Pork Chop Womack sweat?

Fat chance, huh. Not the sweating part, the Hawks coming here.

Akey talks about the future

VANDALS, EAGLES UPDATED: 11:40 A.M.

Not much in the way of hoop information right now, but we do have some football news for you.

The Idaho Statesman’s Nick Jezierny took time with new coach Robb Akey for a conversation on Sunday and he shared it with the paper’s readers.

Akey talks about everything from his new job to his old one (at WSU), from recruiting to replacing Dennis Erickson.

• In basketball news, Idaho – along with Eastern Washington and a bunch of others – will find out at 3 p.m. today who it will play in ESPN’s BracketBusters game.

UPDATE: The Oregonian ran a Big Sky notebook today with the change in the standings the lead.

For more on the Vandals, check Jim Meehan’s blog. If you’re interested in the Eagles, click on Dave Trimmer’s blog.

The talk about the Oregon loss lingers

COUGARS

The discussion just goes on and on.

Over on Glenn Kasses’ blog, there are lots of comments about the end of the Oregon game – it doesn’t help that UCLA’s loss at Stanford on Sunday would have put WSU in first in the Pac-10 if it had won – including the controversial calls and the ensuing fan reaction.

I’ve already made my feelings known. I have no problem with the call on Aron Baynes – a play that’s a foul with five minutes left should also be called a foul with .5 seconds left – but I also believe Robbie Cowgill was fouled as well 30 seconds before. All anyone wants, from the Pac-10 commissioner through the referees through the coaches to the fans, is consistency. That wasn’t the case Saturday, which is too bad.

The students’ chants and behavior, however, were sick. That’s too bad as well.

WSU returns to the Pac-10 battles Thursday when the Cougars travel to Arizona (5:30 p.m.; FSN; 920-AM). The Wildcats are coming off an awful defeat Saturday to North Carolina. Marcus Williams turned an ankle in the loss, but is expected to play against WSU.

Have a nice Sunday

NEWS

Good morning.

Just a note to let you know I’ll be taking the day off. I’m headed to breakfast with Kim and, when we get back, I might sit down and link to Cougar, Bulldog, Mariners, etc. news, but not in an in-depth manner.

But if you have anything you want to say - I read the comments on Glenn’s blog about WSU’s defeat - click in and I’ll see if I can answer them.

Until later.

And wasn’t Ryan Bradley something?

Cougars starting to frustrate Ducks

COUGARS, 52-47

With less than eight minutes left, the WSU defense is starting to get in the Ducks’ heads.

Malik Hairston was barking at the officials at the media timeout after Robbie Cowgill forced him out of bounds on the baseline.

The final seven minutes will be interesting.

We’ll be back with a link to the game story after it’s over.

Zags take Dons apart

BULLDOGS, 72-56

I got to the parking lot at the MAC and remembered something I forgot: The link to the GU game story.

Well here it is if you still want it.

If you have any comments about the game, you can leave them here or at Steve Bergum’s blog. I’m sure Steve will have his game story posted there tonight.

Now I’m switching focus to the Cougs, who lead by six at halftime.

Zags defend home court; Cougs defend ranking

BULLDOGS, COUGARS

The Zags are back in the Kennel, with their long winning streak on the line and the University of San Francisco the opponent (5 p.m.; KHQ; 1510-AM).

The Dons have one of the WCC’s best players, 6-foot-9 Alan Wiggins, and a history of playing GU tough.

You can read Steve Bergum’s advance here, and find more at Steve’s blog.

We will be at McCarthey tonight for the game, and will have a game story on our website as soon as the game is over (and a link here). Then we’ll add some commentary before getting into the Cougar game.

Speaking of WSU and its showdown with No. 7-ranked Oregon, you can read Glenn Kasses’ advance here and, as always, Glenn has more on his blog.

You’ve read it all before so I won’t go into it here, but this is the Cougars first home game as a ranked team against another ranked team.

After the game is over, we’ll link to a game story. See you then.

Shadle knocks LC’s girls from ranks of unbeatens

PREPS

I’m just going to cover what happened in Spokane last night, because it was pretty important.

Shadle Park’s girls knocked off top-ranked Lewis and Clark at LC, handing the Tigers’ their first loss of the season. And the way the Highlanders did it was impressive, outscoring LC 20-6 in the final quarter.

In boys’ Greater Spokane League action, Gonzaga Prep continued to win, stopping Central Valley in overtime. Anyone else notice Mike Haugen’s teams seem to get better as the year goes on every season?

Outside of Spokane, we had a roundup of all the boys’ action and one of the girls’ play as well.

In Idaho, Post Falls’ girls handed Lake City a rare loss, 42-39, while the LC boys won 55-47. The Coeur d’Alene boys crushed Moscow 58-23, handing the Bears their first IEL loss. We also had roundups of boys and girls action.

Huskies pull back from the abyss

HUSKIES, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

The University of Washington may have saved its season last night – and helped Gonzaga’s at the same time.

The Huskies were about to disappear in the Pac-10 standings until their upset win over No. 7 Oregon in Seattle. Of course the Ducks were playing without starting point guard – and leading scorer – Aaron Brooks, on double-secret probation after throwing an elbow at last year’s Pac-10 championships.

The win, in which UW pulled away down the stretch as Oregon looked leaderless, helps GU because of the RPI. When you defeat someone, as Gonzaga did the Huskies, then their later wins help.

Wipe that smile off your face

VANDALS

The News Tribune’s Dave Boling had a question. How is Robb Akey doing at UI?

He answers it in his column today, but not until he lays the background for the inquiry. It has to do with former head coaches Nick Holt and Dennis Erickson and their abrupt departures from Moscow.

And he found some football players are showing a sense of humor about Erickson, the latest defection.

Eastern finds California a sunny place

EAGLES

Eastern seems to have found a combination that works: Play on the road.

At least it worked again Thursday night against Sacramento State. The Hornets (7-13 overall, 2-5 in Big Sky play) were just what the Eagles needed to raise their record to 11-10 overall and 5-4 in Big Sky play (including 3-2 away from Cheney), just a game behind Idaho State (5-2) and Saturday’s opponent Weber State (6-3).

Of course, 31 points from Rodney Stuckey and 21 points and nine rebounds from Paul Butorac didn’t hurt.

Neither did a little team bonding.

“The cohesion and chemistry is very good right now,” said Eagle coach Mike Burns in a press release. “There have been some questions about that lately. But I know? we had a very happy group in the locker room tonight.”

The Eagles, who haven’t had more than a two-game winning streak or a two-game losing streak this season, will go for three consecutive wins Saturday in Ogden, Utah.

Sorry about that Chief

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

A housekeeping note before I move on to today’s stories. In a skating blog post yesterday, which as I realize now was Thursday, I wrote the skaters’ practice at the Convention Center would be free and open to the public “Thursday.” That was a mistake (since fixed), based on calendar illiteracy. The practice in the Convention Center is free today, Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The practice at the Arena still takes a ticket, however.

Sorry. I hope nobody rushed down to the Convention Center yesterday looking to watch practice.

Now to today’s stories.

Jeff Bunch has two stories, covering the mens’ and ladies’ short programs.

It’s the former that’s the subject of John Blanchette’s column, which chronicles the rivalry between leader Evan Lysacek and three-time defending champion Johnny Weir.

And Steve Bergum’s notebook leads with the junior pair championship, won by Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne (us sports guys just love that name) Brubaker.

We’ll be over at the Arena again today – what is it, Thursday? Friday? Saturday? Oh, Friday, that’s right – with a report on the senior pairs and anything else that I see.

Beavers hanging around

COUGARS, 52-47

The Cougars have been a good second half team this year, especially in the first few minutes of the half.

Oregon State has been a poor second half team this year.

So why are the Beavers still hanging around?

Because WSU can’t stop Sasa Cuic, who now has 17 points, 12 in the second half.

But he also has four fouls, so let’s see if WSU attacks and gets him his fifth.

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

WSU tries to snap a three-game losing streak

COUGARS PREGAME

Just one note just to make you worried – though you probably shouldn’t be.

The Cougs have lost three consecutive games to OSU, including a nine-point loss to the Beavers in Pullman last season.

No big deal, right?

Weir looking up at Lysacek after short program

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The second group was Johnny Weir and five others – at least in the audience’s eyes.

Oh, Nicholas LaRoche received somewhat enthusiastic applause, but Weir’s performance was greeted with enough people standing in rotation that it looked like a UW football game had broken out.

Weir skated an identical program to Lysacek and, in the judges’ eyes, was just a hair behind, scoring a 78.14 to Lysacek’s 78.99. Weir did not seem happy after finishing marginally behind Lysacek in every artistic judge’s eyes except one.

Which sets up a great battle in Saturday night’s free skate.

Michael Villarreal, who fell trying to complete his triple Lutz-triple loop combination, has the build of a fullback and skated accordingly, bulldogging his way through the remainder of his routine after the fall. He earned a score of 53.10 after his deduction, which left him way back.

LaRoche skated the short program of his life, scoring a 67.33, more than seven points better than his personal best. But personal bests were common Thursday, with five of the first 11 skaters scoring their all-time best short program.

••••••••••

Scott Hamilton, who, years after he’s competed, may still be the face – and possibly the voice – of American male figure skating, is sitting in the east end of the Arena, intently watching the men who would like to achieve his level of success.

Some fans have tighter connections

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

When you’re watching the skaters perform, it’s easy to think of them as athletes and to forget they’re somebody’s neighbor, friend, brother.

That point was driven home during the junior pairs free skate Thursday.

As Kaela Pflumm and Christopher Pottenger prepared to take the ice, Christopher’s older brother Steven, a senior pairs skater, sat on press row – no he wasn’t supposed to be there, but what can you do? – and prepared to watch.

Nervous? By the look of him I would have to say yes. Then the music started and it became obvious. Steven was ready. His fist pumped every time his brother and Pflumm hit a move.

When the scores were announced, with Pflumm and Pottenger finishing fourth, less than a point off the podium, Steven was obviously disappointed.

Well, he’ll have his chance Friday, when he and partner Stephanie Kuban perform their free skate. They are currently 13th out of the 16 senior pairs.

We’re going to watch the men skate and blog throughout, so stay tuned.

It’s a little colder here in Spokane than in Nigeria

BULLDOGS

Talk about weather shock. Gonzaga’s Abdullahi Kuso grew up in Nigeria, where the average temperature in January is somewhere far north of the 30s we enjoy in Spokane.

He told Steve Bergum this week for our Q&A that’s the biggest difference he’s had to deal with since coming to GU.

The Zags are home this weekend to face USF and USD, with game times and TV coverage listed in our week ahead notes (GU is the second school listed).

You can also see the standings from all local conferences and Steve’s WCC notes here.

Also, don’t forget to check Steve’s blog for more information.

New Mexico State pounds Idaho in Las Cruces

VANDALS

Winning in Las Cruces, N.M., is tough any year. This season it’s been downright impossible. As the Idaho Vandals found out Wednesday night when they were blown out by the Aggies, 84-66.

Keoni Watson led the Vandals (3-16, 1-6) with 15 points while Darin Nagle added 13.

There is more Vandal news in today’s S-R, with the rest of UI’s week covered in our week ahead story (UI is third, hosting Boise State on Saturday). There are also the standings from all the local conferences and Jim Meehan’s WAC notes.

Also, check Jim’s blog for more information.

WSU must concentrate on OSU

COUGARS

Don’t get caught looking ahead.

I’m pretty sure that’s the mantra today in Pullman as WSU (16-3 overall, 5-2 in the Pac-10) prepares for tonight’s game (7; 920-AM) with Oregon State. The 20th-ranked Cougars have seventh-ranked Oregon (18-1, 6-1) on Saturday, so it would be easy to look past the Beavers (9-11, 1-6).

We’re going to listen to Bud Nameck’s broadcast of the game, and we’ll be with you after the buzzer with a link to the game story.

Until then, you can check Glenn Kasses’ blog for more information, and check out this feature on Daven Harmeling, a real surprise this year.

Being that it’s Thursday, we also have our week ahead story (Cougars are the first game), the standings from all the local conferences and Glenn’s Pac-10 notes.

There’s not much on WSU – despite its top-20 ranking in both polls – in the Puget Sound papers, with this Bud Withers story in the Times and a wire piece from Tacoma.

See you this evening.

Hobson’s return sparks Chiefs

CHIEFS, WHL, NHL

Adam Hobson is back. And so is that winning feeling.

The Chiefs won 3-2 Wednesday in Saskatoon, with Hobson scoring the game winning gaol. Hobson had not played since Nov. 11.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for Spokane, which plays at Swift Current on Friday (5:30).

••••••••••

Portland continues to be fodder for the rest of the U.S. Division, dropping a 5-3 decision at Everett as Moises Gutierrez scored four times.

Tri-City kept pace, with a 4-3 overtime win at Kelowna.

••••••••••

The NHL’s All-Star game was once again a defensive battle. Just kidding. The West won 12-9 as Colorado’s Joe Sakic had four assists playing in his 12th All-Star game.

Stop Sean Mallon, stop the Zags

BULLDOGS

I’m just throwing this out for discussion.

Right now, if you stop Sean Mallon, you stop the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

If you spit out your coffee, I’m sorry. But I’ve got the numbers to back it up.

Let’s look at the 6-foot-9 senior’s West Coast Conference stats by game:
Loyola-Marymount (97-62 GU win)
Points: 23 Rebounds: 9 FGA: 10 FG: 9 Minutes: 21
Pepperdine (69-52 GU)
Points: 17 Rebounds: 10 FGA: 15 FG: 5 Minutes: 29
Santa Clara (77-69 GU)
Points: 10 Rebounds: 5 FGA: 4 FG: 3 Minutes: 25
Portland (80-68 GU)
Points: 17 Rebounds: 6 FGA: 10 FG: 7 Minutes: 30

Mallon’s averages in wins …
Points: 16.8 Rebounds: 7.5 FG percentage: 61.5 Minutes: 25.1

Contrast that with Mallon’s line in the Zags’ lone WCC loss:
Saint Mary’s (75-80 GU loss)
Points: 1 Rebounds: 1 FGA: 2 FG: 0 Minutes: 15

Stop Sean Mallon, stop the Zags.

OK, OK, I know I’m being a little flippant here. I’m sure Mallon could have a Saint Mary’s type game and GU could still win. Though it wouldn’t be easy.

And, when the senior plays well on the offensive end, it gives the Zags that other weapon, that third option to go with Derek Raivio’s outside shooting and Josh Heytvelt’s post threat. It doesn’t have to be Mallon that supplies it, and sometimes even if he does he becomes the second option, because Heytvelt is in foul trouble or disappeared for some other reason (Raivio has been pretty consistent in the five WCC games, though he was off-target at Saint Mary’s).

And with three options, GU is that much tougher to defend in the half court. With the main goal of most WCC teams to stymie the Zags’ fast break, another threat in their half-court is almost essential.

What do you think? Is Mallon a key for the Bulldogs or just another cog? Let me know.

An unusual way to gain command

PREPS

Usually I lead with the local prep stories, but today I’m breaking that habit to link to this Seattle Times’ story on Franklin’s win over Roosevelt in boys 4A action.

See, it seems Franklin coach Jason Kerr is having some issues with his team, so he let them coach themselves Tuesday night. Interesting.

Now back to Spokane-area action, where the coaches all directed their teams last night.

Mike Haugen coached his Prep team to a big Greater Spokane League victory over Shadle Park, tightening the race for second even more. On the girls’ side, the Highlander girls put some space between themselves and Gonzaga Prep with their win.

We also had a boys’ roundup for Washington and Idaho, along with a girls’ roundup that covered both.

Ichiro’s status another sign Bavasi should have been replaced

MARINERS

If you want to know why Bill Bavasi is considered the worst general manager in baseball, you have to look no further than this column by Larry Stone of the Times.

The Mariners are dragging their heels on a contract extension for Ichiro.

Now, I’m not one who believes Ichiro is one of the five best players in the league – in other words I think he’s overrated – but I also think he is the best thing the M’s have going for them.

Even if he isn’t coming back after next season, the M’s should make him an offer commiserate with his talents and numbers right now. That way they can show they want him, his pride is satisfied and fans will know, if he decides to become a free agent a la Alex, it was his choice.

In other M’s news, Mark Lowe seems to be progressing well from his surgery, and Felix Hernandez is in the best shape of his short career. Keeping with the pitcher theme, the P-I has a feature on closer J.J. Putz.

Only a couple more weeks until spring training begins.

Rochestie’s basketball travels end in Pullman

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

A light day as it relates to college basketball news.

The P-I’s Dan Raley has a good feature on WSU backup point guard Taylor Rochestie, who started his college career at Tulane, until hurricane Katrina forced him from New Orleans.

The News Tribune advances the Cougars’ weekend games, and does the same for the Huskies. With Oregon coming to town, the Huskies know they are facing a must-win game.

The Times has a story on Aaron Brooks missing the UW game, a UW notebook and a notebook with a summary of what’s going on with the East Side schools.

For more college basketball news, check out Glenn Kasses’ Cougar blog, Steve Bergum’s Gonzaga blog and Dave Trimmer’s Eastern blog.

From ladies to laughter, it’s available today

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

I’m not going to forget today.

If you are a fan of figure skating, here are the links to our coverage in today’s paper. We had a story by Jeff Bunch on the junior ladies’ championship, one on the first two parts of the ice dancing competition, and a feature on coach John Carroll, the dean of U.S. coaches. Jim Meehan also had a notebook.

If you are fan of laughter, here’s a link to John Blanchette’s column. Love skating or hate it or somewhere in between, this is worth reading just for the fun of it.

That’s it for this morning on skating. I will be over at the Arena this afternoon with my impressions of the competition. My goal: sit through the entire juniors free dance.

Novice champions crowned

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Got so wrapped up in the junior dance today at the Convention Center I forgot to link to the stories we had in today’s S-R.

Jeff Bunch covered the novice ladies and men’s championships won by Angela Maxwell and Armin Mahbanoozadeh respectively.

Jim Meehan’s notebook centers around how pairs come together.

Don’t forget to check out our figure skating blog.

Prep news for a Tuesday afternoon

PREPS

Little behind the curve here, but I’ll link really quickly to the Times’ Tuesday prep pieces, including Sideline Smitty’s column (with a Spokane mention) and this feature on two Woodinville girls stars trying to live up to their names.

The Times also does statewide basketball rankings of the big schools. Ferris is second and Shadle Park ninth in 4A boys; Lewis and Clark is first and U-Hi third in 4A girls. No 3A teams are ranked.

The state wrestling rankings can be found here. University is seventh in 4A, East Valley the same in 3A, Deer Park second and Riverside fourth in 2A, Lakeside No. 1 and Newport fifth in 1A and four teams are ranked in B.

• Prairie’s girls extended their Greater St. Helen’s League winning streak to 86 games with a 54-47 win over Skyview.

• Snohomish edged Everett in a WesCo wrestling match Monday night, handing Everett its first dual defeat of the year.

New goals confront WSU

COUGARS

The goals have changed. That’s the theme of Glenn Kasses’ story in today’s S-R. And it makes sense.

Who would have thought, after the past few years, Washington State would be 16-3 and ranked in the top 20 at this point in time?

My hand isn’t up. And, if you’re being honest, yours isn’t either.

But that’s where the Cougars sit right now, with Oregon State (Thursday) and No. 7 Oregon (Saturday) coming to town this weekend. Do you know that Saturday’s game will be the first in Pullman ever between two ranked teams?

Talk about a season of firsts. An NCAA berth wouldn’t add to that – the Cougars have been there before – but it would be a nice compliment.

Make sure you check Glenn’s blog for more information.

• The Beavers have suffered some injuries, but every one hurt recently expects to play Thursday.

Zags now have to defend home court

BULLDOGS

I’m headed downtown for figure skating, but I wanted to get the Gonzaga links up before I left.

Despite the 9 p.m. start, Steve Bergum was able to get some comments from players and coach Mark Few into his game story.

The Oregonian also has a gamer with Darren Cooper disappointed in GU’s second-chance points (15) and points off turnovers (24).

Now the Zags head home, protecting a 47-game home winning streak and 35 consecutive wins in the McCarthey Athletic Center. First up Saturday night is San Francisco (5; KHQ-6; 1510-AM) and then a Monday night battle with USD (9; ESPN2; 1510-AM).

Contrary to others, I haven’t seen a West Coast Conference team other than possibly Santa Clara that has what could be termed a good chance against GU in the MAC. Of course, I haven’t seen USF or USD. There’s always an outside shot – literally – of someone coming in, getting hot and upsetting the Zags.

But I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the student section. I’ve seen better teams than the WCC has to offer enter that place and fall apart. No matter how much you are think you’re ready for the intensity, you aren’t.

We’ll see.

Portland hanging around

BULLDOGS, 56-43

There it is again. That inability to put an inferior team away.

It is rearing its ugly head.

Yes, I understand just because a team is not as good doesn’t mean it is going to just lay down and let you walk all over them.

The Zags’ advantages are maximized when they play together, when they help each other instead of trying to dominate by themselves.

They did that for that long stretch at the end of the first half. Then, as if to say it’s time for me to get mine, the team concept, especially offensively, faded to the background for stretches of the second half.

And, when the defense is threatened, the Zags seem often to try to do too much, covering for teammates instead of just taking care of their responsibilities. It led to some wide-open looks for the Pilots. In the second half, they hit them, the lead.

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

This is one GU should win

BULLDOGS, 16-14

There is no reason GU should lose tonight. The Zags are better.

The Pilots don’t have the quickness to break down Gonzaga with the dribble, they don’t have the size to consistently attack inside and they don’t seem to have a 3-point threat that can get hot and cause GU stress.

What the Bulldogs need to show tonight is an ability to blow out a West Coast Conference team they should blow out, to blow out a home team and keep them blown out, if that makes sense. Keep putting the pedal down through the end.

Because, from the first 10 minutes tonight, it looks like the only team that can defeat GU tonight is GU.

If the Zags are careless with the ball, selfish on offense, lose continuity and effort on defense – all of which have happened already to a slight degree – then the Pilots will have a shot. Of course there are variables, and one of them just cropped up with Josh Heytvelt picking up his second foul, so he will sit the rest of the half.

Otherwise, I don’t see it.

What about you? You see anyway they could lose this one?

There’s more to the clothing than meets the eye

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

Watching the novice pairs free skate, it’s easy to get mesmerized by the music and the routine. But only if the pair skating doesn’t jar you out of it.

When the duo is in synch and working smoothly, the entire performance can be almost hypnotizing. The skaters flow across the ice in perfect synchronization, not only in movement but in dress as well.

I discovered something about that today. The next time you want to criticize the flamboyant nature of ice skating outfits, catch your tongue. It seems to me the clothing compliments not only their partner’s look but their movements as well.

Watching Jaylyn Kelly and Gabe Woodruff skate together, the color scheme of their outfits made their movements blend together. Their routine was good – they finished third – but the design of their clothes helped – to these untrained eyes of course.

And, no, I don’t harbor any dreams of becoming the next Project Runway winner. I’m just here telling you what stands out to the untrained eye.

Spokane having an Eastern trip to forget

CHIEFS, WHL

With the figure skaters taking over the Arena ice, the Chiefs are making their Eastern swing.

And so far have yet to win. They lost Sunday for the third time on the trip, dropping them into fourth in the WHL’s U.S. Division. (You can check the standings here.)

The Chiefs are off today before playing Prince Albert on Tuesday.

••••••••••

Everett defeated the Vancouver Giants again Sunday night, posting two wins over the Giants sandwiched around a loss to Tri-City.

The Times ran a WHL notebook today. The T-Birds posted a win over Portland on Saturday.

Parcells resigns in Dallas

NFL

Breaking news out of Dallas where Bill Parcells has resigned as the Cowboys coach.

Two thoughts come to mind: Is this T.O. related? And did Jim Mora Jr. take the Seahawk spot too soon?

••••••••••

Speaking of Mora, all the Puget Sound papers look at his hiring today, with a story in the Times, another in the P-I (along with an Art Thiel column), a piece in the News Tribune and one in Everett.

One nice thing about Mora. As an Interlake High and UW grad, he knows what the weather is like up here during football season.

••••••••••

That’s right. I almost forgot. They figured out who is playing in the Super Bowl yesterday. It’s the Chicago Bears, who put a whuppin’ on the Saints (which makes Hawks’ fans that much more depressed), and the Colts (ready for 1.73 million Peyton Manning is redeemed stories?), who stopped Tom Brady and Bill Belichick – and, oh ya, the Patriots.

For game stories, I went straight to the sources: The Indianapolis Star for the AFC story and the Chicago Tribune for the one from the NFC game.

A slow news day for WSU - until the polls are released

COUGARS

I was thinking on holding off doing a Cougar post until the polls were released, but then I thought, “hey stupid, just do another post when they come out, duh.”

So I’ll wait.

No, OK, that other guy that’s in my head is right once in a while, so I’ll listen to him today.

Hey, there’s nothing out there. Other than Glenn Kasses’ blog post, the state’s papers are pretty destitute of Cougar news.

But there are Husky what-happened stories, so we can link those. There is one in the Times and another in the P-I.

And, when the polls are released, we will link to them. Is that OK with you?

Live, from Spokane, it’s skating

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

So I got my first taste of live skating, watching the first part of the junior ladies short program at the Arena.

And it is much better live than on television, that’s for sure.

Though I don’t understand the judging – I’m sure I’m impressed by elements that are useless and miss the important stuff – it is impressive to watch girls between 13 and 15 race down the ice faster than the Chiefs.

And then leap. And spin. And, sadly, fall. All too often, actually. In one stretch, four consecutive skaters hit the ice, including favorite Caroline Zhang.

But even I could tell the diminutive 13-year-old from Southern California was head and shoulders above most of the competition. Her spins were faster and straighter, her jumps – even the one that ended on the ice – were, if not as high as some, impressive.

And that’s what I would say about all the competitors. Despite their age, the do some impressive athletic moves, though I’m not sure that’s all that important. It seems gracefulness and elegance is rewarded with higher scores.

Sherry Barnes, a 14-year-old from Florida, was the most athletic performer I saw, but received lower marks than most.

Ashley Wagner (pictured; Spokesman-Review photo by Dan Pelle), like Zhang, one of the favorites, has Northwest ties, spending her summers on the Hood Canal with her grandfather, was not the most physical, but she was one of the most elegant. That pleased her coach, Jill Shipstad-Hughes, who clapped constantly during the program, seemingly trying to prime the crowd.

She didn’t need to. The crowd, listed at 6,865, loved her and clapped accordingly.

••••••••••

Now, the things I noticed that had nothing to do with the perfomers. …

- There were two announcements telling the crowd not to use flash photography but, during the fourth performer Michaelee Scarincio, flashes were still going off.

- Don’t despair football fans if your spouse is pulling you along this week. They do serve beer in the Arena. Just make sure he/she drives home.

- The music between the skaters’ performances is … interesting. Eddie Money? Phil Collins? Well, the crowd is older. And, I guess, these skaters have been waiting for this moment their entire life.

••••••••••

That’s it for tonight. We’ll be back tomorrow. As always, weigh in with questions, comments, whatever.

The first day is a quiet one

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Spokane Arena is quiet.

In case you’re wondering, this event starts slowly. The first few days are dominated by novice and junior events. It’s the junior pairs out practicing on the Arena’s ice right now.

U.S. Figure Skating divides their skaters into five categories, beginning with juvenile and then moving up the ladder through intermediate, novice (the first group here), junior and the seniors (the ones you always see on TV, and I’m not talking Fashion on Ice here).

The defending ladies’ singles senior champion: Sasha Cohen (I had the wrong name earlier, which shows you what I know). The mens’: Johnny Weir – the three-time defending champ I might add. Those are names you might have heard before. But the names of the pairs’ champions (Rena Inoue and John Baldwin) and the ice dancing champions (Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto) are probably new to you.

If I let you in on a secret, you won’t revoke my sports fan couch potato status will you? I know who Cohen and Weir are, and I recognized the Belbin and Agosto pairing long before I opened the media guide.

Sorry.

Hawks hire Mora

SEAHAWKS

In breaking news, the Seattle Times is reporting Jim Mora is joining Seattle’s staff as assistant head coach and secondary coach.

And as head coach in waiting?

The News Tribune had a story this morning that the Hawks were trying to bring Mora to town.

Jerry Brewer’s column concerns Tim Ruskell’s plans to improve the team which must include, I presume, the Mora hiring.

It’s time to start skating

U.S. FIGURE SKATING CHAMPIONSHIPS

I’m headed over to the Arena later today to check out the skating – and hey, thanks for the tips, though Kate, I’m staying away from the costume angle – in part because I’m interested in the seeing the next great star skate.

That would be Caroline Zhang, profiled by our Jeff Bunch in this story leading the S-R’s sports page today.

The idea of having a 13-year-old’s exploits plastered on our sports front interests me because I’m guessing she’s probably in eighth grade (I know she attends a junior high, but I’m not sure about the grade), and we rarely, if ever, feature junior high athletes on our front page.

Anyhow, I’m interested in watching the junior and novice skating. I’ve attended many national youth baseball and basketball events over the years, and I would like to know how this compares. The difference is, of course, you don’t have the World Series in conjunction with the Little League championships.

Though that might improve the World Series.

That’s it on skating until later.

Until then, check our live skating blog for information, news and tidbits.

Vandals split weekend of home games

VANDALS

When it started, it might have been assumed Idaho could have a 1-1 week at home in Western Athletic Conference play. How the Vandals would end up with that record might have been surprising.

Thursday night UI defeated Hawaii, a team with an overall winning record, when Clyde Johnson hit a 3 at the buzzer. Saturday night, against Louisiana Tech, a team that entered WAC play with a 2-10 non-conference mark, the Vandals lost 73-72 when Keoni Watson’s last-second shot missed.

Watson, as has been the pattern, carried the Vandal offense with 21 points, while junior Darin Nagle added 20 more.

UI now heads to the home of the WAC’s hottest team, New Mexico State for a Wednesday night game. The Aggies defeated 15th-ranked Nevada 80-73 Saturday night, extending their home winning streak to 15 games with the win.

Keep abreast of Vandal news by following Jim Meehan’s blog.

It’s official: WSU owns basketball in the state

COUGARS

A win over Gonzaga. A rout of Washington.

No matter what happens in the rematch next month, the state of Washington is Washington State’s. In basketball at least.

That was affirmed Saturday with the 75-47 Cougar win over a Husky team that is in free fall – with no bottom in sight.

You can read Glenn Kasses’ game story here and his blog entry here.

John Blanchette’s column about the humble Cougars is here.

Low comes out on fire

COUGARS, 49-27

That’s the Derrick Low the Cougars have been looking for.

That little end-of-the-half run by UW was a mirage, a postponement of the inevitable. Because, when the Cougars’ five starters are on the court, they are the markedly better team.

The 15-4 run to start the half – powered by 11 points from Low – is proof of that.

This run, I think, has decided it, if the Cougars rebound the rest of the way.

We won’t be back until the end of the game - as long as UW doesn’t make an incredible comeback.

WSU control tempo, Huskies

COUGARS, 25-12

We talked in the pregame about tempo. How the Huskies wanted to go quickly. But, with their two big guys, how they could hurt the Cougars in the half-court game.

The Artem Wallaces and Phil Nelsons of the bench don’t bring the threat of scoring in the post the Huskies have in Hawes. So UW has to get out and run, and they haven’t been able to – because the Cougars aren’t letting them after missed shots.

So, to get the tempo up, UW needs to force turnovers, something WSU just doesn’t allow. Without more defensive pressure, UW won’t run and it won’t win.

The Cougars are using their bench a little longer than usual, it seems, with Aron Baynes, Nikola Koprivica and Taylor Rochestie supplying positive minutes.

No matter who is playing, however, the Huskies have no clue in how to attack the Cougars in the half court. WSU is forcing UW to play one-on-one, and that plays into WSU’s strength.

After much indecision, it seems like the Huskies’ day

COUGARS’ PREGAME

It’s less than an hour before the tipoff (3; FSN; 920-AM) of the first of the two battles for bragging rights between Washington State and Washington.

Sure state college supremacy is on the line, but a win would mean more, much more, for both. (Glenn has more on his blog as well.)

For the Cougars (15-3, 4-2 in the Pac-10) a win means they stay within shouting distant of the conference’s top spot.

For the Huskies (11-6, a disappointing 1-5 in conference) a win means just that, a win. And any kind of W will do right now.

UW has yet to win a road game this season, and only recently has started to come close. So this game is a must-win for its conference title hopes (which might have already, like Elvis, left the building) and is nearly a must-win for its NCAA Tournament berth hopes.

This is, as is usually the case, a tempo game. Whomever controls the tempo (slow for WSU, quick for UW) will probably win. But, after a week off to examine tape and get ready, I’m think Washington has the advantage.

The Huskies feature two pretty mobile, polished big men in Spencer Hawes and Jon Brockman. And it’s the combination of two bigs that has caused the Coug defense trouble this season. If Hawes can pass out of the double team – and really, by the season’s 18th game he should be pretty adept at it – the Cougar rotations are going to be stretched.

If this was at Hec Ed, I would be definitive. But because it is in Pullman, I’m picking the Huskies 78-74.

Feel free to call B.S. if you want. You can just do it at home or hit the comment link. Your choice.

But don’t forget to read on. We’ll be back during the game with commentary, then afterward with a link to the game story.

From the West Side, the question from the Everett Herald is simple: Can the Huskies turn it around? They’ll have to defeat WSU and the first sellout crowd for a UW game since 1983. And, as Bob Condotta sees it, it’s about time the Apple Cup of basketball featured teams with winning records.

Saxons put a stranglehold on GSL

PREPS

The Ferris Saxon boys have put away the Greater Spokane League regular season title, in essence if not officially.

The Saxons’ 72-49 rout of Shadle Park on Friday night gave Ferris a three-game lead (more like four because of the two wins over the Highlanders) with six to go.

Finishing in the top two during the regular season ensure a spot in regional play with the Columbia Basin League 4A reps.

In girls’ play, the Rogers Pirates picked up their third win of the season, most since 1998, but rallying past Central Valley 54-51.

Outside the GSL, we had a boys’ roundup, with Pullman getting past host Cheney in double overtime, and a girls’ wrap, headed by Freeman’s overtime win at Chewelah, of Friday’s action.

For more on Washington’s prep action, check Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog.

In Idaho, Lake City’s boys raised their overall record to 10-4 (4-2 in IEL play, tied with Lewiston) with an Inland Empire League win over the Bengals. The T-Wolves’ girls also won on Senior Night.

For more on Idaho prep action, check Greg Lee’s blog.

Help me help you

SKATING

I need your help.

Over the next week or so, SportsLink will be attending the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

And I’ve been told I will be the representative of you, the average sports fan. I’m supposed to be your eyes and ears in the Arena and Convention Center.

So I need your help.

What do you want to know?

Who are you interested in? Would you rather read about the skaters’ athletic abilities or the best place to watch them warm up?

Would you rather be taught about the sport (as I take a crash – no pun intended – course) or be introduced to the Fan Fest?

Of course I have my own questions. What the hell is a triple Lutz? And where can I get one of those wonderful outfits?

I’ll admit I’m not the world’s most knowledgeable skating writer – though I knew twice as many skaters than a couple of my colleagues. Still, this will be a challenge for a guy who has never worn a pair of ice skates – or roller skates for that matter – in his life.

So let me know what you’re interested in, and I’ll try to figure it out. If I can, I’ll write it. If I can’t, I’ll fake it … no, I’ll just admit I failed and move on.

Click the comment button here, and tell me your thoughts. To paraphrase Frazier Crane, I’m reading.

Then click in here starting Sunday with a daily report from the championships. And, if you’re really interested, you can check out the skating blog. There are already posts.

Sonics face hard sell in Olympia

SONICS

Seems like the Sonics’ arena question hit some nerves. You can read the Associated Press story about their request to the legislature and the Times’ coverage, both of which makes me think it will be a hard sell.

Most of your comments re-enforce that opinion.

A couple commentators took me to task about my remark concerning the cost to Eastern Washington residents as opposed to King County residents. After re-reading it, I realize I wasn’t all that clear, so I thought I would simplify my points.

Eastern’s loss from other vantage points

EAGLES

You have my take about Eastern’s play last night and its hopes of success the rest of the year, so now it’s time to give you a couple other views.

There’s John Blanchette’s column from today’s paper, in which John bemoans Eastern’s inability to reach its potential. At the end of the column, star guard Rodney Stuckey gives his recipe for success.

Dave Trimmer also had his game story in this morning’s S-R and will have more on his blog.

Without a better defensive effort, Eastern doomed to mediocrity

EAGLES

This Eastern Washington basketball team has talent.

Rodney Stuckey can score on anyone in the nation. Paul Butorac supplies senior leadership and shot-blocking ability. Kellen Williams can dazzle with his athletic plays. Matt Penoncello can shoot. Omar Krayen has quickness. And so on.

But this Eastern Washington basketball team seems to lack one important talent: The ability to play hard on the defensive end for 40 minutes. Or 30. Or even 20.

Oh, the athletic ability is there and, when the Eagles are playing with a fire on the defensive end, they are damn tough. Like they were in the first few minutes of Thursday night’s 91-80 loss to Northern Arizona.

The Eagles came out with an aggressive defensive mentality and dominated early. They were getting in the passing lanes, throwing their bodies around – Stuckey ended up against the scorer’s table after getting his hand on a pass – and generally causing havoc with the Lumberjacks’ attack.

Then it all disappeared.

Lumberjacks start second half fast

LUMBERJACKS, 57-53

Coaches will tell you the first few minutes of the second half can be crucial, especially between two evenly matched teams.

It may have been Thursday night.

NAU came out of halftime, saw Eastern score the first two points, then went on a 7-1 run to get separation and has kept it since.

Thanks to an Eastern defense that just can’t seem to keep track of Sir.

The 6-foot-5 senior from Canada, who was hitting half of his 3-pointers coming in, seemed to be invisible to EWU’s perimeter defenders.

He was so open at one shot he could have straightened his curly hair before he sized up a 3-pointer, which he hit, of course. He is 5 of 7 from there and has 17 points.

And the Eagles have missed three more free throws in the first 8 minutes of the second half.

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

Stuckey leading by example, and with assists

LUMBERJACKS, 19-17

Rodney Stuckey is setting an example tonight. An example on the defensive end.

Nearly halfway through the first half, Stuckey has only two points, but he has a steal – which led to a dunk – and twice more got a hand on passes.

For a while the Eagles followed his example, playing aggressive defense that forced NAU to take tough shots. But the Eagles lost that intensity after the first media timeout and NAU took advantage by scoring eight consecutive points, hitting better than half its shots.

Stuckey, meanwhile, was drawing so much attention that Butorac and Brandon Moore were open underneath.

Do you want to help pay to keep the Sonics in Seattle?

MONEY

The taxpayers in the state of Washington have helped pay for more than a billion dollars in Seattle sports facilities, what with Safeco Field for the M’s and Qwest for the Hawks.

Some of that money came from a hotel, restaurant and rental car taxes that really don’t affect Puget Sound residents much. But they do hit people from Eastern Washington who either have to spend the night in the Seattle area or fly over and rent a car to watch their favorite pro teams.

Now the Sonics want a piece of that tax-supported pie, by earliest reports a $300 million piece.

You are sports fans, or you probably wouldn’t be reading this on-line column. So, I’m asking, is it worth it to you?

People in Eastern Washington will end up paying a disproportionate amount for this arena than their Western Washington counterparts – who can just drive to a game and then drive home – despite being a miniscule part of the Sonics’ fan base.

If you don’t want to pay for the Sonics, they are in trouble, because you’re the voters probably most inclined to support financial help from the state. If you do want to help, they’ve got a shot.

So what do you think? Click the comment button and let me know.

Another full Thursday of prep stories

PREPS

Ready for as much from prep land as you can imagine? Well here it is.

From the Idaho Prep Page today you don’t want to miss Greg Lee’s column on Elmer Jordan, who will be laid to rest Friday in Coeur d’Alene. Greg talked with Don Monson, who played for coach Jordan at Coeur d’Alene High.

Also on the Idaho page is a feature on Lake City’s girls’ basketball team, which is on a hot streak, and a prep profile on St. Maries’ wrestler Kyle Joiner. There is also the state basketball rankings and the North Idaho wrestling rankings.

In Washington, Mike Vlahovich’s column concerns the lack of a shot-clock in boys’ basketball. Mike is, by his own admission, ambivalent about a clock. Me, I’m against it. I’m not even a big fan of one in college to be honest, but feel it is not appropriate in high school, even among girls.

All a shot clock does is limit the underdog’s ability to pull an upset. When two evenly matched teams play, the clock is never a factor. When two unevenly matched teams play, the lack of a clock allows the weaker team to work the clock, shorten the game, and give itself a better chance to be successful. If the stronger team can impose its will, so be it. If not, the weaker team isn’t under any shot-clock imposed mandate to shoot.

But I digress. Back to the stories. We also have a feature on west Valley’s boys’ basketball team, a inexperienced group leading the Great Northern League. Add to that a Prep Profile on Riverside wrestler Ryan DesRoches and Quick Hits and you have the Prep Page.

There was a big Greater Spokane League wrestling match Thursday, with East Valley defeating University by a point. We also have a roundup from Idaho and one from Washington filled with reports of last night’s action.

Don’t forget to check Mike’s Prep Report blog and Greg’s Idaho Prep Sports blog for more information and conversation.

Beware of Huskies baring their teeth

COUGARS

When I was young, and that, my friends, was a long time ago, my dad used to constantly throw out platitudes that must have been handed down from Roman times.

Things like “it’s time to fish or cut bait,” or “people in hell want ice water.”

And one that went something like “don’t back a hurt dog into a corner.”

Well, there’s a group of injured Dawgs that are backed into a corner right now. Standing in front of them are the WSU Cougars.

Is it a recipe for an upset? Most of you who answered our question below think not. You believe WSU, the better team playing better right now, will win.

I’m not so sure. Yes, WSU has been the better team this season. And, yes, the Cougs are playing better, much better in fact, than the Dawgs recently. And Saturday’s game (3 p.m.; FSN; 920-AM) is in Pullman.

But … I have trouble betting against a team that needs a win as bad as the Huskies need this one. I’m not saying just yet I’m picking the Huskies, but as of Thursday morning at 10, I’m leaning that way. And that’s after reading all the stories I’m about to link you to.

We’ll start with Glenn Kasses’ Q and A with Derrick Low. The Cougar junior has had an excellent year overall, though his shooting has been off a little lately. Then we’ll add in Glenn’s Pac-10 notes and the look ahead to the UW game (final game).

How quickly the tables have turned

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Washington State’s men’s basketball team is enjoying a rebirth. Washington is talented, but struggling. Who will prevail in Saturday’s sold-out game in Pullman?

Just click on the comment link and let us know. We’ll discuss your answers Thursday.

Pirates drop to 10th in national poll

PIRATES, BULLDOGS

The Pirates, now ranked 10th in the latest NCAA Division III poll, upped their record to 14-1 Tuesday night with a 62-59 win over Whitman.

But it wasn’t easy, as Whitworth had to survive a possible game-tying 3-point attempt from one of the Northwest Conference’s leading scorers, Kyle Born, to defeat the 5-11 Missionaries.

The Pirates travel to Oregon this weekend, meeting Willamette on Friday (8; 1230-AM).

••••••••••

The Whitworth women also won, and took over sole possession of third-place in the NWC race.

••••••••••

The fallout from Gonzaga’s loss at Saint Mary’s on Monday, or the fall-in if you are a Gaels’ fan, continued, with this piece from the Contra Costa Times on what the win meant to Saint Mary’s.

There is also this from the San Francisco Chronicle about how the balance of power in the WCC is shifting to the Bay Area.

That Saint Mary’s loss must have been more important than I thought.

Williams is the straw that stirs Pirates’ drink

COLLEGE BASKETBALL, CHIEFS, NEWS

The Whitworth Pirates men lost their first game of the year Friday night, but bounced back with a win Saturday.

The Pirates’ offensive attack has been driven by former Mead High star Bryan Williams, and has been for the past four years.

Correspondent Jason Shoot filed this feature on Williams’ time at Whitworth, which ran on the front of today’s Sports section. The Pirates host Whitman tonight at 8 in the Fieldhouse. The women’s game will start at 6.

••••••••••

Idaho lost again Monday night, losing 74-56 at Utah State despite the 26 points of Keoni Watson.

The Vandals will try once more for their first WAC win of the year Thursday night when they host Hawaii (7:05 p.m.; 1080-AM).

••••••••••

The Chiefs beat up on Portland for the fifth time in five tries this season Monday, and the 7-4 win pushed Spokane into second place in the U.S. Division as it embarks on a seven-game Eastern swing.

••••••••••

A couple of final Hawks’ stories, including this season wrapup from the Times, this one from the P-I and one by Dave Boling of the News Tribune. The Tribune also had this piece on retiring center Robbie Tobeck.

••••••••••

The Cougars’ football program gained some commitments and lost one.

Saint Mary’s ends GU’s conference streak

GAELS, 80-75

The streak is over, thanks to GU loss Monday night in Moraga, Calif. For the first time in 26 regular season games and 30 overall, Gonzaga has lost to a West Coast Conference opponent.

And it is in second place in the conference.

The Zags’ 3-1 conference mark puts them a half-game behind San Francisco (3-0), which won 72-71 at Pepperdine.

You can read the Gonzaga game game story here.

In it I mentioned Omar Samhan’s outstanding offensive game - a career-high 20 points for the freshman - and his offensive mouth - with 4:36 left the ESPN cameras caught him shouting an obscene phrase at the Gonzaga bench (I ran it three times to make sure I saw what I saw).

So what did you see, other than Samhan’s filthy mouth? Was this a case of Saint Mary’s just having a great second half and GU a cold-shooting night? Or was it something else? Go ahead and click in with your thoughts here or on Steve Bergum’s Gonzaga blog.

Heytvelt off to a fast start as Zags lead at the half

BULLDOGS, 41-37

Mark Few likes to say starting doesn’t matter. All that matters is who is on the court at the end of the game.

But ask a basketball player and pretty much all of them will tell you they would rather start.

If performance is any indication, Josh Heytvelt is voting for starting.

Heytvelt is having his best game since mid-December and it may not be any coincidence it is coming in his first start since the Virginia game. And it looks like he might just lead the Zags in scoring for the first time since the WSU game.

If it weren’t for him tonight, the Gaels would have run away in this first half. He’s 7 for 9 from the field, 2 for 2 beyond the arc and has scored 16 of GU’s 41 points.

Otherwise, Pargo is 2 for 6, Raivio 1 for 6, Altidor-Cespedes has yet to take a shot. In other words, the guards aren’t having much of a game.

Still GU leads by four, and it’s directly related to two factors: The final nine minutes of the half the Zags didn’t turn it over (at one point they had seven baskets and eight turnovers) and the defense tightened up, limiting Saint Mary’s to 41 percent shooting and coming up with three steals in the final 8 minutes.

Add in a six-rebound edge – against a team that averages five more boards a game than the opposition – and Gonzaga was able to put together a 15-4 run to turn an eight-point deficit into a three-point lead with 3:33 left.

Look for Raivio to get more shots in the second half, as the Gaels to hit the offensive glass harder, opening up GU’s break a little more.

GU has to guard against an upset

BULLDOGS PREGAME

This is a West Coast Conference road game in which Gonzaga should be heavily favored. The Bulldogs are. But they could lose. How?

• The Santa Clara hangover. You know the Zags were pointing toward the USC game. The Broncos had a pretty darn good non-conference, they were a big team with a nasty attitude and the Leavey Center sellout crowd was poised to lift its team to an upset. But it didn’t happen. Gonzaga was prepared, made adjustments when needed and, all in all, was the better team. But that win may have come at an emotional cost. Even experienced teams can have a let down after a big win, and Gonzaga isn’t the most experienced team in the country.

• A lack of inside game. The Gaels are one of if not the best shot-blocking teams in the conference(averaging 4.7 a game, 52nd nationally), averaging more than a block a game better than GU. So if 6-foot-7 Diamon Simpson and 6-11 freshman reserve Omar Samhan can shut off GU’s inside game, enticing Josh Heytvelt et al to float outside instead of taking it to the rim, the Zags’ offense could sputter.

• The hot outside shooting factor. Over the years, when the Zags have lost in the WCC – I know you’ll have to search your memory because GU has won 30 consecutive games against WCC opponents – someone has just exploded from the outside against them. Maybe it’s 6-4 guard Wayne Hunter tonight. Of 6-5 senior Brett Collins. Or 6-7 Ian O’Leary or 6-2 Todd Golden off the bench. None are shooting better than 37 percent (Collins) from outside the arc, but if one of them gets unconsciously hot, watch out.

There are other factors, of course, that could play in to the Gaels earning an upset tonight, the usual road problems of tough calls, tough crowds and tough offensive stretches.

All that being said, I don’t think St. Mary’s will win. It may be tougher than anyone might think comparing the Gaels’ 9-9 record against two top 25 teams with the Zags’ 12-6 mark vs. seven ranked teams (either when GU played them or after). But, in the end, Gonzaga will prevail.

What do you think?

Zags on the road again, hoping to stay perfect in WCC

BULLDOGS, COLLEGE BASKETBALL, PREPS

Because today is a holiday and there is a Zags’ game tonight (vs. St. Mary’s at 9; ESPN; 1510-AM), we’re going to call it good for this morning after a couple of links.

First the Gonzaga game advance from Steve Bergum. It has quite a bit of information concerning the Gaels. Check Steve’s blog for more.

There is also an advance from the San Francisco Chronicle.

We’ll be back this evening for our usual Zag game coverage, with commentary and the first in-depth game story on the Web. If you have questions and/or comments, leave them here and we’ll get to them.

••••••••••

Oregon went into Tucson and, though Roosevelt High’s Marcus Williams scored more points, Franklin High’s Aaron Brooks scored the game winner. I thought I was watching the State 4A basketball tournament for a while there. Watching Sunday, it’s obvious the Wildcats’ lack of depth is going to hurt them the second night of a Pac-10 weekend and probably in the NCAA Tournament.

For more Pac-10 information, stay with Glenn Kasses’ Cougar blog.

••••••••••

Speaking of state basketball, Mike Vlahovich has his look at the prep week ahead in today’s paper. For more, check Mike’s blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

I would be crying in my beer … if I still drank beer

BEARS, 24-21

Are you as depressed as I am?

I’m always wrong. I haven’t picked an NFL score right since going with Sid Luckman’s Bears over Sammy Baugh’s Redskins and giving the 72 points in the 1940 title game.

And now I get it right? If you scroll down to the prediction below, I said it would be 27-24 Chicago. But only because I knew I would be wrong. I always am.

And maybe I would have been if the NFL hadn’t assigned my man Blue to referee the game, or if Mike Holmgren would call a quarterback sneak on third-and-one once in a while, or if Matt Hasselbeck hadn’t re-gifted a Rex Grossman pick, or if … heck, I’m just nit-picking here – and being a sore loser.

The Hawks played well, probably better than they had a right to considering the number of key players that didn’t play – in that vein, what happened to Mack Strong? Anyone know? He wasn’t out there in the second half, which makes me wonder why Holmgren went with a fullback lead on fourth and one.

Did anyone else expect Grossman to self-destruct late and hand the Hawks the win? I kinda wanted Hasselbeck to win the overtime coin toss and say, “We want the Bears to have the ball. Rex will throw us a touchdown.” But the much-maligned Bears quarterback made the key throw in OT – as Michael Boulware bit on the short receiver again – and led Chicago to the game-winner.

But still, are you as depressed as I am? What is it about sports that does that to us? Why is it when the team you are following, the team you want to win, fails, we want to claw our eyes out with a ball-peen hammer? Let me know your thoughts on the matter if you want. I’m trying to figure it out.

Whatever it is, I picked a bad week to give up Lloyd Bridges’ movies.

Chiefs win on tape-delayed goal

CHIEFS, WHL

Last post for this morning. Can’t move on to the frozen tundra in Chicago until we examine what happened last night on the frozen water of the Arena.

The Chiefs win. Though, according to Jeff Bunch’s story and blog entry, the Americans still aren’t too sure.

The win pushed Spokane into a tie with Seattle for second place in the WHL’s U.S. Division as the Chiefs head out on an eight-game road trip. Tri-City dropped to fourth.

••••••••••

The Everett Herald has a column on the Tips’ 5-foot-6 Zack Dailey and a story on the first-place Silvertips’ win at Portland, one night after losing to the last-place Winter Hawks at home.

Seattle lost 3-2 in Brandon and are halfway through a six-game eastern swing.

Before we turn our attention to football, there’s a little matter of college hoop

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Hey, I want to watch football just like everyone else.

I want to watch the wind blow off Lake Michigan and bat down Rex Grossman’s passes like the hand of God. I want to yell at the TV, rant about missed holding calls and pace in front of the tube before Josh Brown’s game-winning 47-yarder just as much as you do.

But I can’t. Until I get this crud done.

I mean, until I supply you, the readers of this on-line column, all the Cougar, Zag and Hawk information you so desire. Ya, that’s what I meant to write.

So on with the cra … information.

One of these nights …

BULLDOGS, 57-51

One of these days, every GU player will have a hot shooting night at the same time.

Take tonight for instance. Derek Raivio is having a good night (8 of 16 thus far) and Josh Heytvelt has had a great second half (he’s now 5 of 8), But Jeremy Pargo has hit just 2 of 11 and Sean Mallon, coming off three of the best games of his GU career, has only taken two shots.

Though the Zags have a six-point lead midway through the second half, they very easily could be up by double figures.

Downs makes his first appearance

BRONCOS, 24-22

We have a Micah Downs sighting. And a rebound. And an assist. And probably a few butterflies.

The Kansas transfer made his first appearance in a Gonzaga uniform at the 12:50 mark of the first half. He made his presence felt right away.

The highlight of his first couple minutes was a touch pass from the wing to Josh Heytvelt, who redirected it into the hoop.

It may have been the only time in his first 5 minutes Heytvelt was around the basket instead of being around the perimeter. Though, with the width of the Santa Clara big men, the GU coaching staff may want him outside to clear the middle.

We won’t know until the second half, though, because he picked up a cheap second foul and will probably sit the rest of the half.

GU is not shooting well at 39 percent from the field and 17 percent from beyond the arc.

Derek Raivio also missed a free throw, which breaks a streak of 44 consecutive makes by the senior guard.

Morrison leads Bobcats with 17 points, emotion

MORRISON WATCH

I think this is a first for this year. On the read full entry link, I’ve posted the Associated Press story on the Bobcats’ win over the 76ers tonight.

The first? The story leads with Adam Morrison’s name. And Morrison picked up a T.

Anyhow, here’s the story …

Help is slow in coming

CARDINAL, 50-46

Why does size give WSU trouble? Well, besides the obvious that the Cougars aren’t huge inside, so the big guys can operate inside without worrying about being pushed around, there is another reason.

When WSU has to be so inside-centric, the wing defenders are on their own. Of course, the WSU philosophy is to keep dribble penetration to a minimum, to keep penetrators in front. And they do a very good job of it.

But everyone will break down at some time, even the Cougs. Usually, there is no better team in the Pac-10 at giving help. And that’s where the big guys come in. The Coug bigs have to stay home longer than usual, and the Cardinal penetrators have had seams to attack.

Let’s see if the rest of the way the Cougs can adjust.

Cougars have a slight edge

COUGARS, 27-26

A one-point lead at halftime isn’t perfect, if you are WSU fan, but it’s better than the alternative.

Especially considering some of the statistics.

The Cardinal, led by he Lopez twins, have out-rebounded WSU 23-13. But the Cougars are balancing that with a 9-2 turnover edge – and 12 points from those.

But unless one team gets hot, the second half will look a lot like the first.

One caveat: Kyle Weaver and Robbie Cowgill each have two fouls. Both need to not pick up their third in the first 5 minutes of the second half. If either does, the Cougars will be in a little trouble.

The best note from the first half? Derrick Low has hit 5 of 9 shots for 10 points, leaving his mini-shooting slump behind tonight. As those stats show, none of his buckets were from 3-point territory. Let’s see if he can change that early.

Eagles earn road win

EAGLES

Rodney Stuckey took care of the offense and the rest of the Eagles took care of the defense, as EWU turned up the pressure in the second half to defeat host Portland State.

Stuckey had 24 points and seven assists and Eastern held the Vikings to 41 percent shooting.

The win evened Eastern’s Big Sky record at 2-2.

The Associated Press story is here, and you can find more at Dave Trimmer’s blog.

Lake City boats two fish wins

PREPS

With the Greater Spokane League off – saw many of the league’s coaches and players at Whitworth on Friday night – and the Puget Sound in the grip of a winter storm, there wasn’t a lot of prep action last night.

Which doesn’t mean it wasn’t a quiet night.

Not with the Fight for the Fish going on in Coeur d’Alene. And, like all good spirit rivalries, this one featured one upset – the Lake City girls their CdA counterparts – and one even battle decided late – the LC boys in overtime. You can check out Greg Lee’s coverage of both here. We also have roundup of other Idaho action. And don’t forget to check Greg’s blog for more Idaho prep news and notes.

In Washington, we have roundups from the boys and girls action. And there is more on Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog.

Whitworth leads after a highly contested first half

PIRATES, 31-26

Just a quick halftime note.

The Loggers had no clue how to attack Whitworth’s 1-3-1 zone early on, with UPS scoring just four points in the first 11 minutes, 58 seconds. Usually by then it would have scored about 28 points.

The Pirates led at that point 17-4 and it probably should have been more. They missed three contested but makeable layups, all of which came off potential Bryan Williams assists.

The Loggers’ defensive strategy has been built around denying Williams the ball, because they can’t defend him when he gets it. That worked fairly well in the game’s first few minutes but as the half wore on, the holes were there for the senior from Mead who found the right guy.

Unofficially, I have Whitworth with 13 turnovers, more than probably acceptable to Jim Hayford.

Seahawks export training camp to China

SEAHAWKS

We should be looking forward to Sunday NFC playoff game with the Bears, but before we do I have a question.

How many of you are planning on attending the Hawks’ training camp this August in Cheney? Just show your hands. You, you, you, wow, that’s a lot.

Well too bad.

The Hawks aren’t coming.

As Jim Meehan’s story confirms, Seattle has decided to hold training camp next year in Kirkland, and are using a preseason game Aug. 9 in China as the excuse, er, reason.

So what was supposed to be the final year in Cheney before they move to their new West Side facility has instead become the year of the broken promise. The game with New England in Beijing is going to be such a logistic nightmare, the Hawks don’t want to make it any worse by spending time in Mongolia, I mean Eastern Washington.

And if you and your child missed them last year because of work or a planned trip to Yellowstone or that pesky appendix surgery, well, you’re out of luck now. If you want to see a bunch of fat guys sweat (pictured; Associated Press photo), you’ll have to travel to Kirkland – or spend lunch hour in the gym at the Y.

Does this bother you? Does it seem like a betrayal of an agreement the team had with its East Side fans? Do you feel cheated out of a final chance to listen to Mike Holmgren berate a backup running back for the way he carries the ball? Or do you understand the Hawks’ reasoning, and though you’re going to miss them, all you care about right now is kicking the Bears’ butt? Either way, click the comment line and let us know. I would like to hear what you think.

Droughts sink Vandals, Eagles

VANDALS, EAGLES, PIRATES, HUSKIES, COLLEGE BASKETBALL

It looked like Idaho was going to pull its biggest upset of the season, especially when the Vandals built a double-digit lead in the second half.

Then it all fell apart.

Idaho went through a scoring drought, New Mexico State caught fire and the result was a 61-56 WAC comeback victory for the Aggies in Moscow on Thursday night.

Idaho dropped to 2-13 for the season and 0-3 in the WAC. New Mexico State’s record is almost a mirror image at 12-3 and 3-0.

For more, check out Jim Meehan’s Vandal blog.

••••••••••

Speaking of droughts, Eastern had a long one in the first half at Idaho State and the Eagles never were able to climb out of the 19-point hole they dug, falling 78-65 to the Bengals.

The Big Sky Conference loss dropped Eastern’s overall record to 8-9 and their Sky mark to 2-3. Idaho State is 8-8, 3-0.

Check Dave Trimmer’s Eagle blog for more as Eastern continues its road trip Saturday night.

••••••••••

The Whitworth Pirates men’s basketball team is 13-0, ranked sixth nationally in the NCAA Division III and 4-0 in Northwest Conference play.

Tonight at 8 the Pirates face their most important game of the season. They host the 17th-ranked Puget Sound Loggers, three-time defending conference champions (10-2 overall 3-1 NWC), who average 109.7 points per game.

We’ll be there with news and commentary before and after the NWC showdown. Just click in to ask questions, leave comments or to just enjoy the action.

Cougars execute against Cal

COUGARS, 73-56

Well, the ranking didn’t jinx them. Neither did playing on the road. Nor the Cal Bears.

The Cougars took control of Thursday’s Pac-10 game early and never gave any indication they would ever lose it, methodically building an insurmountable lead and breezing to their fourth conference win (against one loss).

You can find the game story here.

All five Cougar starters scored in double figures, led by Kyle Weaver’s 14 points and 10 assists. Daven Harmeling (pictured battling Cal’s Ayinda Ubaka for a loose ball; Associated Press photo) and Ivory Clark also had 14 points apiece.

Great first half for WSU

COUGARS, 40-28

The first half couldn’t have gone too much better for WSU, other than a couple of fouls apiece on Robbie Cowgill and Ivory Clark.

Looking at the statistics, the Cougs dominate in almost every category. WSU is shooting 55 percent from the floor, Cal 40 percent, including hitting just 4 of 16 3-point shots. The rebound margin is obscene, with WSU leading with a better than 2-to-1 margin. Cal, the nation’s best free throw shooting team, has missed 3 of its 7 attempts; WSU has hit 5 of 6.

More importantly, the Cougs are controlling the tempo, and playing the game at their tempo. Even with that, they have 40 points at intermission – the most they’ve scored in the first half this year – and have answered every Cal run with one of their own.

Low has gotten started, finally, hitting a 3 (after missing 10 consecutive tries) and finishing the half with nine. Devan Harmeling equaled that total, while Kyle Weaver led both teams with 11.

Got any comments? Just click the comment line and share them.

It should be Cougs’ night on the road

COUGARS PREGAME

As the Cougars prepare to take the floor as a ranked team – something that hasn’t happened in any of their player’s lifetimes – we’ll see if there is any extra pressure.

I don’t see why. Do the players really think about their team’s ranking while the game is going on? My feeling is no.

What should be more of a factor is being on the road. The Cougs’ two losses have come away from home, and their biggest wins have come on Friel Court. But even that shouldn’t be as big a deal tonight because Cal (10-5, 2-1 in the Pac-10) isn’t known for having the greatest home court advantage even when all the kids are in Berkeley. And they aren’t right now.

So WSU (14-2, 3-1) gets a break even there. Call it karma, for all of the weird bounces and bad calls that have hit the Cougs over the years in California.

Probably the biggest key for WSU is the play of Derrick Low. He’s coming off one of his poorest games of the season against Arizona, and the Cougars can’t consistently be successful without their leading scorer delivering, especially from the outside.

Let’s see what will happen. My prediction: Ryan Anderson struggles against the Cougars’ helping defense, and WSU pulls away late to win.

Patrick appearance a disappointment

MORRISON WATCH

Adam Morrison was on the Dan Patrick show today, with very little of the conversation expressly about basketball.

There was the usual hair and moustache questions (which come up again in this Jack McCallum piece on SI.com), the typical diabetes questions, you know, all the stuff Morrison has been asked forever.

Nothing about his shooting percentage, nothing about the yo-yo string he’s been on between starting and coming off the bench (he was a reserve again last night against Detroit, scoring 16 points in the Bobcats’ 103-96 win). There was a decent question about Charlotte’s season, seeing that, of its 10 wins, most have come against the NBA’s elite teams.

All in all, just an OK interview.

Modern-day Cougs’ knowledge of last ranked WSU team pretty thin

COUGARS

We’ve heard a lot about the 1982-83 Cougars recently, owing to the fact they were the last group of basketball-playing Coug men to be ranked.

But how much do these current Cougs know about that 22-6 team? Well, read Glenn Kasses’ story and you’ll find out.

I’ll give you a clue. Ehlo, Raveling and not much else.

As usual on Thursday, we take a look around the Pac-10 – with injury news dominating – and the week ahead.

Don’t forget to check out Glenn’s blog for much more on this year’s Cougars.

The News Tribune also had some Cougar news, with Todd Milles offering this Robbie Cowgill feature.

There is also news out of the Bay Area, where the San Jose Mercury News makes the point a nationally ranked team is playing Cal, and it’s not the Huskies (according to the AP anyway).

If Eastern is to win, the Eagles need to get defensive

EAGLES

Eastern is averaging 86.4 points a game, its highest total in 35 years. But the Eagles are 8-8 overall, 2-2 in Big Sky play. If you want to know why, it might be because, though EWU has scored 100 points three times, its given up at least 100 four times.

The Eagles might be scoring in bunches, but they are giving up points in bunches as well.

Eastern continues its seemingly never-ending Big Sky road trip at Idaho State tonight (6:05; 790-AM) and at Portland on Saturday.

As usual on Thursday, we take a look around the Big Sky and the week ahead.

Don’t forget to check out Dave Trimmer’s blog for more on the Eagles.

Jones’ last hurrah at Lakeside

PREPS

If you had a chance to see today’s S-R, you know wrestling took center stage – and most of the front page – on this, Prep Page day.

Mike Vlahovich’s column features a look at the end of era at Lakeside High, where Scott Jones (pictured; Spokesman-Review photo by Dan Pelle) will be leaving at the end of the year. The wrestling coach’s teams have won enough hardware to fill an Ace, as the picture on the cover of the sports section illustrates.

But there are a lot more prep stories today, including, in Washington, a look at the NEA basketball season, a Prep Profile of Colfax’s Kylie Shaw and the Quick Hits. Wrestling also leads the local roundup, with Mt. Spokane stopping Gonzaga Prep highlighting Greater Spokane League action.

Wrestling also leads the Idaho Prep Page, with a feature Lakeland High senior Zach Horsley, Greg Lee’s column which addresses the recent conversations on his blog, a profile of Bonners Ferry standout Becky Lowther, the Quick Hits with a preview of the Fight for the Fish, and the state basketball rankings.

There’s not a lot from around the rest of Washington, but there is this roundup in the Seattle Times, this News Tribune feature on a pair of twins who have achieved swimming success, a Tacoma column addressing the demise of the three-sport athlete, and more discipline issues hit, this time the Jackson High boys team.

Carroll says he staying in LA

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Just one note I want to talk about.

USC’s Pete Carroll held a press conference Tuesday and said he’s not leaving the Trojans, even if someone offers him everything he wants.

I guess I’m being cynical but my first thought was: So how long before he leaves?

LA Times columnist T.J. Simers takes Carroll at his word. Maybe he’s right. After all Carroll seems like a perfect fit with USC. Check out the video that runs with ESPN’s press conference story. Carroll just looks like an SC guy. I’m sure he has a white sweater tied around his waist.

••••••••••

OK, another note. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has his top 25 set already for next season. He picks USC No. 1 and Florida No. 2. The Trojans have a tough road schedule next year with games at Nebraska, Notre Dame, Cal, Oregon and Arizona State.

McGwire will be voters’ pinata for a while

BASEBALL

OK, I’m happy.

Mark McGwire received enough votes to stay on the Hall of Fame ballot. He didn’t receive enough to be elected to the Hall. So his name will be brought up every year, his action debated, his muscles examined. The steroid issue will stay in the limelight as people like Sammy Sosa and the big Kahuna, Barry Bonds, reach the ballot. By then, there will probably be definitive evidence about these players’ use of performance-enhancing drugs.

This commentary we ran talks about McGwire’s future. It’s worth reading.

Grabner gets healthier moment by moment

CHIEFS, WHL

The Spokane Chiefs will host the Kamloops Blazers tonight (7; 790-AM) at the Arena, coming in playing on a roll.

A big part of that is the play of 19-year-old Michael Grabner the last six games. Jeff Bunch profiles Grabner and his most recent “Grabner moments,” and how he battle through injury this season, in today’s S-R.

Jeff also has news about a big WHL brawl on his blog.

•••••••••••

The Everett Silvertips aren’t too worried about the U.S. Division title – despite their inability to defeat the third-place Chiefs. No, they seem to be worried about the postseason already, and how they match up with the Vancouver Giants, as this Everett Herald story shows. The Tips are in the midst of an 11-day span in which they only play twice, both against last-place Portland.

As the trade deadline hits today, the Tri-City Americans don’t seem interested in making a deal.

Seattle lost another shootout last night, making the T-Birds 0-10 in that category this season.

How bad are the rookies?

MORRISON WATCH

Kevin Brewer of the Washington Times thinks this is the worst NBA rookie class of all time.

He might be right, but it would help his argument if he got his facts right. He calls Morrison “the rare great college player who stayed in school four years.” Too bad Morrison spent three years at GU, leaving before his senior year.

Now Ryan Reed of NBADraft.net doesn’t see the group as that bad, but he does have Morrison ranked third among the rookie class.

So what do you think? Is this such a bad rookie class? Is Morrison playing the best? If not, who is?

Ripken, Gwynn elected to Hall of Fame

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

The Hall of Fame voting was just announced and, though neither was a unanimous choice, Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn were elected on the first ballot. You can see the AP story here.

Ripken was named on 98.53 of the ballots, third best percentage of all-time, trailing only Tom Seaver and Nolan Ryan.

Mark McGwire, who has become the poster boy for steroid abuse, received 23.8 percent of the vote, not close to the three-quarters a candidate needs to be elected

By the way, Jay Buhner was on the ballot, and he didn’t expect to get a vote, let alonw get in. He was wrong. He received one vote.

Akey fills remainder of staff

VANDALS

Robb Akey is an energetic person. He also doesn’t waste a lot of time.

The Vandals’ new football coach has filled his coaching staff, announcing four new additions Monday. They include Mark Criner, whose uncle Herb is a Coeur d’Alene football coaching legend.

Check Jim Meehan’s blog for more UI sports news.

UCLA had more to say about the football title than Boise State

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Urban Meyer needs to send Karl Dorrell a case of bubbly.

If UCLA hadn’t blitzed the USC Trojans, Florida wouldn’t have had the opportunity to show what it could do Monday night. And what it could do was impressive.

The Gators’ win boosted them to the national title in both polls (coaches’ here, AP here).

Here are some stories from around the nation, including USA Today’s story, the LA Times piece, Bud Withers’ column in the Seattle Times, a Michael Wilbon piece from the Washington Post and this story from the Oregonian.

Just remember, if UCLA hadn’t defeated USC, the Trojans would have won their third national title in four years. Is there anyone out there who, after watching Ohio State play and after watching Southern Cal demolish Michigan, doesn’t think USC would have destroyed the Buckeyes as well?

The best national championship game would have been Florida vs. USC. But the only way we are ever going to get the best national championship game is to institute a 16-team playoff. But it may never happen, at least in my lifetime – but very little will change over the next three weeks anyhow.

All the news about the Cougars we can fit

COUGARS UPDATED: 10:35 A.M.

There is basketball news – big news – and football news.

You can catch up at Glenn Kasses’ blog, and you can read today’s stories in the S-R.

The biggest news, of course, is the Cougs being ranked for the first time since 1983, which we linked to yesterday. Glenn has a story from the front page – yes, A1 news – and from the sports page.

It wasn’t pretty but it was another win

BULLDOGS

It was supposed to be a high-scoring affair. Instead it turned out to be a sloppy, methodical Gonzaga win, 69-52, over Pepperdine at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

You can read the game story here.

I’ll be back soon with a commentary.

Seattle will try to win a road playoff game for the first time since 1983

SEAHAWKS UPDATED: 11:55 A.M.

As you might expect, the news Seattle will be playing in Chicago again next Sunday (10 a.m.; KAYU; 920-AM) was all over the Puget Sound papers.

From the News Tribune there was an advance and a John McGrath column. In the P-I, Art Thiel had a column with a little advice for the Hawks: start fast. There was also an advance.

In the Times, there was a revenge-themed advance, a Steve Kelley column on fill-in DB Pete Hunter and a Chicago Tribune story about the Bears facing the NFL’s luckiest team.

UPDATE: It looks like Darrell Jackson won’t be available to play Sunday. The speedy wide receiver reaggravated his turf toe injury against the Cowboys.

As the week goes on, we’ll keep our eyes on the Chicago papers to see how the game is playing on Michigan Avenue.

Hawks headed to Chicago … and other stuff

Some late links for your Sunday evening reading …

The Hawks’ opponent for next weekend has been decided. With the Philadelphia Eagles winning, Seattle will be headed to Chicago to face the Bears. Expect more than a handful of stories about Rex Grossman, Brian Griese and the Bears’ earlier rout of the Seahawks. …

With league play having started, the WCC schools have a usual complaint: the league schedule. Here’s the latest coming out of San Diego. …

Bobby Petrino is leaving Louisville for the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons. Let’s start a pool right now on which college he’ll leave the Falcons for in a couple of years. …

JaMarcus Russell is also leaving college, but the LSU quarterback is entering the NFL draft.

There was enough basketball Saturday for even the biggest hoop nuts

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Covered the Cougs’ upset – wait, wasn’t it me that said not to use that word? – of seventh-ranked Arizona and Gonzaga’s rout of Loyola Marymount pretty well Saturday, so we’ll just link to our stories today and move on.

But before we get there I’ve got one other thing to cover. Driving down to Pullman on Saturday afternoon one day after a pretty good wind and snow storm had hit the area, I was struck by how nice 195 was. The DOT does a great job keeping the main arterial between Spokane and WSU clear, which really facilitated the trip down. Now if Verizon only had cell coverage …

Back to the games.

What a day

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

If you know me, you know I love basketball. Call it my secondary passion - eating doughnuts would be No. 1.

So today was heaven, or would have been if there was a Dunkin’ Donuts in Pullman.

I understand the Seahawks won (don’t tell me how please, I DVR’d it).

But before we head back to Spokane, let me say what a pleasure it is to share these observations from two fun-to-watch college basketball games. The Inland Northwest is blessed right now with a Gonzaga team that will play anyone in the nation and a WSU team that can play with anyone in the nation.

Get down here and watch. If you love basketball, it’s worth it.

I’ll be back tomorrow morning with some other thoughts, and links to the Seahawks’ coverage. Till then.

What a win for Cougars

COUGARS

OK, it took five minutes more than it probably should have, but maybe that made it sweeter.

And least that seemed to be the impression of the students who rushed the Friel Court floor after WSU had knocked off seventh-ranked Arizona 77-73 in overtime Saturday night.

To read how the Cougars did it, click this link to the game story.

We’ll be back in a few minutes with our thoughts on the game. Feel free to leave your comments here.

Zags return to normalcy

ZAGS

We’re here in Pullman and the ride was incredibly easy. Now we can take some time and look back at this afternoon’s Gonzaga game.

Talk about split personality. Now the question is, how split?

How much was Gonzaga’s 97-62 victory over Loyola Marymount, in the West Coast Conference opener for both, can be attributed to being at home?

How much can be attributed to the competition?

And how much is it just a return to normalcy?

Let’s say one-third each and go from there.

Some keys for the WCC opener

ZAGS

As Gonzaga prepares to open West Coast Conference play today, and you prepare to watch on TV, here’s a couple of key elements to keep track of.

- How does Matthew Knight look? The 6-foot-8 senior center has missed the last couple games with a knee injury. He is supposed to play today, but if he’s not at 100 percent, the Lions are in trouble.

Knight has led them in scoring six times, and that included games when Brandon Worthy was healthy (out for the season now with a knee injury as well). By the way, with Knight and Worthy both out, LMU went 0-2 with both blowout losses.

- Is Josh Heytvelt playing with energy? It’s sometimes hard for Zag fans to remember Heytvelt is a sophomore, and a sophomore who is playing basically his first season. He has so much talent, you expect him to dominate ever night. But, like all inexperienced players, he will be up-and-down, with a greater chance of him doing well at home – like today.

- Who is winning the battle of the boards? The Lions have been outrebounded this season, so GU needs to attack the glass. Are they?

That’s it. We’re headed off to GU. We’ll be back at the end of the game with a link to the game story and later with analysis.

Ferris has little trouble remaining undefeated

PREPS

Because today is going to be so crowded with trying to cover two college basketball games – can you imagine the hype we could be letting loose? “It’s doubleheader Saturday on thE SPortsliNk!” – this post is going to be a short one.

From The Spokesman-Review this morning, the Greater Spokane League had a full slate of boys, with Ferris remain undefeated with a rout of Mead leading the roundup, and girls games.

There were also some huge games on a snowy, wind-blown Friday night, with the Washington girls’ roundup and the boys’ roundup. We had the same from Idaho with the boys’ and girls’ roundups.

For more on Friday night’s prep action, click Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog and Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog.

Now everyone can agree: Bulldogs bit off a little too much

ZAGS

Greg, a frequent commenter (as opposed to commentator, which is my title) to this on-line column, wanted to know about a week again if it was OK to say the Zags over-scheduled.

My answer then was yes. And Mark Few agrees. He told Andy Katz of ESPN in this piece, “What we did, I’m not sure you can play all those games in a row,” Few said of the late December trips. “It’s a lot to ask young guys to travel like that. We had nothing left in the tank emotionally and physically [in Virginia].”

The Zags are back home now and will be facing Loyola Marymount on Saturday (1 p.m.; KAYU; 1510-AM) in their WCC opener. Steve Bergum has his advance up on his blog, as well as note on Harv Clark, longtime PA man for GU, out following heart surgery.

We’ll be there though, with pre-game notes and a link to the game story. We may not have time for post-game commentary, because we are also headed down to Pullman for the 7 p.m. showdown with seventh-ranked Arizona. We’ll make sure the Zags post is up after we get safely down U.S. 195.

• If you want to smile a little, read this post from a San Antonio Spurs website, touting 13 freshman who have first-round potential. Mixed in among the Greg Odens and the Spencer Hawes at No. 12 is Matt Bouldin.

You have questions, we have links to the answers

SEAHAWKS

What do you want to know about Saturday’s game? Just about anything you can think about is out there.

All your questions are answered by just clicking the links …

Chuck goes to Ferris last night, fans go to games tonight

PREPS

Other than the Rubber Chicken, there wasn’t much in the way of prep action Thursday. We also ran a short roundup, but even the West Side papers are pretty bare.

That’s because tonight is the big event night in preps, with the GSL starting its second round of basketball – highlighted on the boys’ side with undefeated Ferris hosting tied-for-second-place Mead at 7.

There are also other key games tonight, with boys’ contests like Shadle Park at Central Valley, Reardan at Northwest Christian and, for rivalry value, Cheney at West Valley. For the girls, Davenport is at Liberty, Sprague-Harrington travels to Inchelium and two 8-1 teams meet when Colfax hosts Chewelah.

Enjoy the games. If you need it, you can find the entire local girls’ basketball schedule here and the boys’ here.

Plus, check Greg Lee’s Idaho Prep Sports blog and Mike Vlahovich’s Prep Report blog.

There is hope for UI

VANDALS

Another game, another … well you know. But there is hope on the horizon. After all San Jose State is in the Western Athletic Conference. And UI (2-11, 0-1 WAC) has a date with the Spartans in Moscow on Feb. 1 – and even Louisiana Tech blew San Jose State (1-12, 0-1) out.

Here’s the game story we ran from the Fresno State loss Thursday night, along with this game story from the Fresno Bee. The Bee also ran this sidebar on the Bulldogs’ attempts to shut down Keoni Watson, who is called “one of the best guards in the league.”

For more, check Jim Meehan’s blog.

Eastern holds off Bears for road win

EAGLES

Talk about hanging on.

Eastern led most of the game, and built a 16-point lead early in the second half. But the combination of some sloppy ball-handling, passive defense and erratic free-throw shooting allowed the Bears to inch their way back.

But the Eagles hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off Northern Colorado 88-87.

The AP story is on the full entry link.

Defense once again sparks WSU offense

COUGARS

There is no doubt Washington State can play defense. Its 75-55 win over Arizona State on Thursday night – raising WSU’s overall record to 13-2 and its Pac-10 record to 2-1 – was built on defense.

The Cougars scored 22 points off the Sun Devils’ 16 turnovers.

The other important stat for WSU: Daven Harmeling broke out of his mini-shooting slump, hitting 3 of 4 3-pointers.

Keep reading for the AP story.

Cuss along with me as the Yankees improve their chances

BASEBALL

Didn’t want the day to fly by without mention of a couple of pitching changes that helps the New York Yankees immensely. Darn it.

The first is this piece of news from the Associated Press on Randy Johnson headed to Arizona. No matter what the Yankees get in return, this helps them because Johnson is on the downside of his career and that downside is a black diamond run.

In 205 innings last year for the Yanks, Johnson had a 5.00 ERA and gave up 28 home runs. He is also 43 years old.

The other transaction that helps New York is contained in this story we ran, with the Red Sox about to sign Joel Pineiro with the idea he’ll become their closer.

Now I’ve always been a big Pineiro booster, hoping against hope he would fulfill the promise he exudes. But as a closer? In the heat, and were not talking weather here, of Boston? Something just doesn’t seem to fit. The first time he blows a save, he’ll change his windup. The next time, another change. The third time, he’s in Pawtucket.

Don’t worry, Hawks will be fine

SEAHAWKS

Only a couple of more days until the most important game ever for Seattle. (Hype included at no extra charge.)

When the Cowboys come to town Saturday the Hawks will be playing without both usual starting cornerbacks and with a makeshift offensive line. Think coach Mike Homlgren is worried?

Well besides the fact he always is, no Holmgren doesn’t seem more worried than usual.

After all, his team only has to contend with Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn with a depleted secondary, a group of receivers just starting to regain their health and, on the other side of the field, is headed-for-the-Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Parcells. What, me worry?

Dave Boling isn’t worried (though he does list the litany of Hawk shortcomings right off the bat), in fact he wonders why not Seattle as NFC champions? Either is the Times’ Jerry Brewer, who would rather have the Hawks’ “team” of receivers than T.O. any day.

Need a laugh?

ZAGS

OK, Zag fans, feel like crying but know you really need a laugh?

Go to this John Blanchette column and you might get both.

You may cry because you’re laughing so much. That is, if you don’t mind him making sport of your obsession with the Bulldogs.

What’s wrong with the Zags (9-6) that they would lose so badly to a Virginia team that hasn’t been all that impressive this season?

Nothing a couple West Coast Conference wins this weekend wouldn’t fix. Given GU’s tough schedule, the fact the Zags are at home starting Saturday (1 p.m.; KAYU; 1510-AM) and Loyola Marymount, Saturday’s opponent is hurting (see this quick preview) and Monday’s foe, Pepperdine is 4-12, you’ve got to believe that will happen.

Steve Bergum is soliciting your comments on his blog.

From Virginia, there is this game story from the Daily Press.

WSU’s Pac-10 home season opens with winnable game

COUGARS

One reason Washington State has built a 12-2 record (1-1 in conference) is the Cougars haven’t loss to teams they should defeat. Their two losses came at Utah – a team that steamrolled Virginia recently – and at UCLA. No losses to the Hamptons or the Buena Vistas of the world.

But the conference season is a different beast. Everyone who comes into Pullman comes in unintimidated, knowing full well every loss is step closer to the NIT, every win another rung up the ladder to the NCAA.

Such is the case with ASU tonight (7; 920-AM). The Sun Devils come in 6-7 (the only Pac-10 team with a losing record), having lost to Stanford and Cal at home last weekend.

Glenn Kasses, besides his usual informative posts on his blog also has an interview with Daven Harmeling in today’s paper and a look at the upcoming week with WSU (second item). He’ll be at tonight’s game of course, and we’ll post a link here to a WSU game story as soon as it is available. There is also this Pac-10 notebook from Glenn.

The Cougs’ success has led to coverage, with this Seattle Times’ story wondering if Tony Bennett is going to stick around. Let’s see, Wisconsin doesn’t need a coach so, ya, for a while.

There’s also this feature about Wisconsin-born Kyle Weaver in the News Tribune.

From the Valley of the Sun, the Arizona Republic has this piece about the Sun Devils having a long way to go, and we don’t mean just to Pullman. There is also this East Valley Tribune story on the Cougs’ improvement.

It could have been even worse

CAVS, 108-87

That one’s over. It couldn’t come fast enough for most GU fans.

You can find the game story here.

We’ll be back later with some commentary. Until then, post your comments.

Mallon lone bright spot

CAVS, 50-22

The most positive aspect coming out of the past few games for GU as it gets ready for WCC play is the emergence of Sean Mallon.

The fifth-year senior has always been a role player, willing to do little things a team needs to be successful. As this year began, it looked like Mallon was willing to do the same thing, complementing Josh Heytvelt and the rest of the GU scorers.

But as those guys have regressed – and right now you can say that about Heytvelt – Mallon has tried to step up. He is pacing GU in scoring with eight points. He’s also picked up an over-the-back call and an offensive foul.

Yet if Mallon is leading the Zags in scoring, what does that say about GU’s offense?

GU starts glacially slow

CAVS, 24-8

In such a key game, is it surprising that GU came out so, for lack of a better word, passive?

There seemed to a lack of fire to start and UVA took advantage, especially in the offensive end, where the Cavs hit their first four long-range jumpers (they are shooting 33 percent this season) to put GU back on its heels even more.

Playing from behind, this year’s GU team never looks very comfortable on the offensive end. There seems to be a rush to them at times.

The GU staff is searching for a combination that will work for them on the offensive end – and slow down the Cavs on the other.

The Zags are taking better care of the ball now which has slowed down Virginia’s fast break, but they can’t seem to get a shot.

There is a little less than 12 minutes left in the half. Let’s see if GU can get its act going before intermission.

Today’s Question

The big story today is Nick Saban pulling a Denn … no, I’m not going there … accepting the Alabama job after repeatedly denying even being interested in it.

In what has to be the talk radio bit of the year, Colin Cowherd on ESPN this morning just played spliced together denials from Saban, who over and over again denied any thought of leaving.

What’s wrong with us as a society when lying, outright, bald-faced lying, by anyone, has become acceptable? And what does it say about our institutions of higher learning they actively recruit instructors (yes, that’s what a coach at college is) who are willing to lie to everyone? These are the people who are supposed to shape our young men and women for the future?

More moves in M’s future?

MARINERS

The P-I puts a briquette on the hot stove league fire with a short story about the prospects the M’s will be making more moves before spring training opens in a little over a month.

Boise State still the talk of the college football nation

COLLEGE FOOTBALL UPDATED: 3:10 P.M.

Because Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl finished so late in the East, the bigger newspapers from the earlier time zones are just catching up to what happened.

There’s a lot of good stories out there, including this Pat Forde column on ESPN (I know, it’s not one of the Eastern newspapers, but I wanted to include it), a column from Mike Lopresti of USA Today and this piece from Christine Brennan of the same paper.

Rarely do I see eye-to-eye with Brennan. But her column today echoes my feelings nearly perfectly.

I’ll give you a sneak preview, in the form of a paragraph from late in the column:

“Once again, this points out how silly it is for this group known as the Bowl Championship Series to try to tell us it can give us a true national title game. It can’t, not without some degree of doubt. So the coaches’ association should take one simple step and not require the coaches who vote in the poll run by this newspaper to vote for the winner of next Monday’s game as national champion. The coaches should be allowed to vote for Boise State — or anyone else — if they’d like.”

Read it, it’s worth it.

••••••••••

Jim Meehan had a note on his blog about two players committing to Idaho. New coach Robb Akey is bringing a new enthusiasm to Moscow, and it may just pay off with recruits.

UPDATE: Jim also has a not on his blog about Akey hiring more assistants, including former Northern Arizona head coach Steve Axman.

Virginia game bigger than it first appeared

ZAGS

When the schedule came out prior to the season, tonight’s game (6; ESPN2; 1510-AM) at Virginia didn’t seem like a big deal. After the December GU had scheduled, an early January non-conference game with an average ACC team probably ranked pretty low in the grand scheme.

But now, it may be the most important game the Zags play all year.

After losing three consecutive games for the first time in years, the Bulldogs can ill afford to enter West Coast Conference play on a four-game slide. And, after dropping out of the national poll picture, another loss would strike a huge blow at the Zag’s national prominence – unless of course they defeat Memphis in February (the WCC schedule won’t help in that arena). But most importantly, Virginia will probably end up in the middle of the Atlantic Coast Conference pack, so a loss would undercut GU’s chances for a decent NCAA seed come March.

With all that on the line, the road-weary Bulldogs will probably put together one of their best efforts of the season and make a statement.

At least that seems to be the worry of Virginia coach Dave Leitao, as expressed in this morning’s story by Steve Bergum. The same piece is posted on Steve’s blog.

He also express that feeling to the Virginian-Pilot in this story, which includes the news UVA’s starting center Ryan Pettinella will miss the game with a knee injury.

We’ll be on-line tonight with a pre-game report and a quick link to the game story, then follow up later in the evening with some commentary. Check in then. If you want to ask questions or interject comments, go ahead and click the comments link and type away.

Start typing or the Hawk gets it

SEAHAWKS

We’re thinking about phasing out Seahawks’ coverage on this column, because no one seems interested.

Write something about Gonzaga, get a response. Don’t write enough about WSU, get a real response. A coach leaves for ASU, get 1,000 responses.

But ask a simple question about the playoff-bound Hawks, the defending NFC champions, and nada, nuthin, zilch.

So we must assume no one cares. Maybe it’s because you don’t think they have the chance to match last season’s playoff run. You remember, right? When they won those two NFC playoff games at home and then upset Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl in the best-refereed game in recent memory (at least that’s how I remember it)?

But this year, after an injury-marred 9-7 regular season that was capped with every cornerback on their roster being felled by a Cruciatus Curse against Tampa Bay, none of you think they have a chance, do you? So you’re keeping your fingers shut.

We’ll give you another week. We’ll keep linking to Hawks’ stories, like this one in today’s Times about being at home. Or this Jerry Brewer column with some suggestions about the cornerback problems (covered here) that we’re sure you thought of on Sunday sitting in front of the TV having a cold beverage. Or this cornerback piece in the News Tribune. Or this P-I story that says Dallas is ripe for the picking. Or this one from Everett about the same thing.

Then we’ll ask again: What are the Seahawks’ chances Saturday against the Cowboys? Do you believe they can move on in the playoffs or do you think the injury bug has bitten once too often? Just click the comment link and let us know.

But we swear. If we get nothing in the way of response, we’re pulling the plug on the Hawks right after their next loss. And we mean it.

Just a reminder: There’s a lot of prep stuff available on our website

PREPS

As we get ready to start the second phase of the high school winter seasons, I wanted to call your attention to some things the S-R offers. We run standings from each of our local basketball leagues, with the girls’ here and the boys’ here. We also run a daily list of boys’ games and girls’ games, along with wrestling matches and gymnastic meets.

The results are updated each day as soon as they are called into our Sports’ department.

••••••••••

We all know about children of famous fathers around here, but this Seattle Times’ story about Luke Sikma and Alex Schrempf still is pretty interesting.

Craig Smith’s column this week is about the rare cases when the WIAA grants a fifth-year of eligibility to a high school athlete.

The Bellingham Herald has a short story rounding up the weekend’s action while the Everett Herald looks forward, advancing tonight’s game between boys unbeaten Snohomish and rival Stanwood.

WSU keeps playing well, but poll voters don’t seem to notice

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Glenn Kasses looks at WSU’s lack of poll support in today’s paper in this story, where he also points out the Cougars are picking up a different, and better, type of respect: The respect of their opponents. Both UCLA coach Ben Howland and USC’s Tim Floyd were lavish in their praise of WSU and both feel it will end up in the NCAA.

At least the Cougars are picking up votes, though not a lot. Gonzaga has just about disappeared.

That’s the results of Monday’s polls, with WSU (12-2), despite playing a unanimous No. 1 UCLA even on the road then defeating 11-4 USC, receiving only a smattering of votes (the equivilant of 31st in both bolls) and Gonzaga (9-5), despite wins over three teams either receiving votes or ranked, not earning any support at all in the coaches’ poll (and just four in the AP poll).

The USA Today coaches poll can be found here, the Associated Press poll here.

For more on the Cougars, check Glenn’s blog.

••••••••••

Rankings are the least of the Zags’ worries. They have another cross-country road trip today to face the University of Virginia (8-3) in Charlottesville (Wednesday, 6; ESPN2; 1510-AM).

The Cavaliers’ three defeats have been at Purdue (a decent loss), at home to Appalachian State (bad loss) and on the road at Utah (the same place WSU lost). They have defeated Arizona (great win, the Wildcats’ only loss) and North Carolina State (OK win).

Looking back, here’s another story about the Nevada loss and Nick Daschel column in the Columbian.

Check Steve Bergum’s blog for more today.

••••••••••

The Zags aren’t the only local team traveling. The EWU Eagles (7-7, 1-1 in the Big Sky) hit the road for eight of their next 10 games. In the stretch, which starts Thursday night in Greeley, Colo., against Northern Colorado (6:05; KSKN; 790-AM), EWU will travel 6,557 air miles. Maybe the Eagles can take a free trip to Hawaii after the season.

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

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