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Archive for July 2011

Answering WSU questions this fine Sunday

COUGARS

In exactly one week, the Washington State University Cougars will officially begin the 2011 football season. Seven days. In commemoration of the final Sunday before college football begins in Pullman, we offer the answers to the seven questions we received this week, along with a few more than seven links and a few less than seven notes. Read on.

Shock season ends in Phoenix

Turns out Spokane didn't need its 'A' game to beat No. 1-ranked Arizona on Friday night. The Shock's 'B-' game might have been enough, but they couldn't muster that, committing five turnovers and failing to take advantage of three Rattlers' turnovers in a 62-33 playoff loss that ended Spokane's season. After a couple of wrong turns leaving US Airways Center, I made it back to the hotel to post my game story.

Spokane finished 9-10, by far its worst record in six arena seasons. The 2007 Shock finished 12-5 and also made a first-round playoff exit.

The questions will soon begin about next year's roster and coaching staff. I wondered a year ago if head coach Rob Keefe would be interested in the Philadelphia job, having helped the Soul to an AFL title as a player. That job is open again, but from what I hear the Soul are pursuing former Philly coach Bret Munsey.

Keefe is on a one-year contract and it's essentially up to Shock management if they want to continue the relationship. Most indications are that Spokane wants Keefe to return.

The next key question is at quarterback. I'm guessing Kyle Rowley threw his last passes as a member of the Shock on Friday night. My guess is the Shock will try to bring back Erik Meyer with the intention of Meyer being the starter. Rowley has no intention of being a backup. We'll see what happens at that position, and others down the road.

 

GU releases part of home schedule

Gonzaga has announced some of its home basketball schedule for the upcoming season. No surprises on the short list — WSU, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Butler and Arizona (in Seattle) — but maybe the most decorated group to visit the MAC. Still hearing Zags will play a home tournament, but don't expect any huge names in the event.

Here's GU's release.

Teems not playing vs. Rattlers

Good evening from warm (105ish) Phoenix. A couple of updates on Spokane's roster as the Shock finish some of their pregame drills. DB Alex Teems (hip pointer) won't play. Newly signed Marquise Charles will start alongside Terrance Sanders and Ruschard Dodd-Masters. LB Antwan Marsh will be the emergency DB.

Brandon Leyritz isn't suited up either, meaning newcomer Myniya Smith will join Raymond McNeil and Chris Pino up front. The five wide receivers will be Randy Hymes, Greg Orton, Markee White, Brandon Thompins and Adron Tennell. Raul Vijil won't play tonight.

In-game updates at twitter.com/SRjimm.

Underdog Shock like chances

Back with my game preview for Friday's AFL playoff tilt between Spokane and Arizona. Checked in with Rob Keefe, who said he's going to wait as long as possible to determine his 21-player roster. Many of those decisions will depend on the health of DB Alex Teems (pictured above), who suffered a hip pointer last Friday at Jacksonville.

Here's my preview and here's a preview from the Arizona Republic.

WSU will play Pepperdine in Seattle

COUGARS

We're not going to go full blog post here, because the news just isn't worth it. But Washington State did announce one of its basketball games today, the Seattle matchup on Dec. 22 in Key Arena. It will be Pepperdine, which is sort of sad in a way. If the matchup had happened, say, last season, it would have featured the two Thompson boys, Mychel for Pepperdine and Klay for WSU. But in December of this year? Both are gone. Anyhow, you can read more here. Coach Ken Bone said last week he expects the have the entire nonconference schedule finalized soon. … Also, you can read John Blanchette's take about the Pac-12's new network here. … Until later.

UI tabbed sixth in WAC; Akey speaks

UPDATED: 2:00 p.m.

If the Idaho Vandals challenge for the conference title like they expect to, it will be a surprise to both the WAC coaches and reporters that cover the conference. UI was picked sixth in the media and coaches' preason polls, released this morning. Hawaii is No. 1 in both polls, followed by Fresno State and Nevada. Lousiana Tech and Utah State are fourth and fifth.

Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz was named preseason offensive player of the year, and Utah State's Bobby Wagner garnered the same award on the defensive side.

See the full polls and more here. We've got a rundown of Robb Akey's comments on scheduling, the Vandals' potential on defense, and a few jabs at Boise State and BYU.

The Shock’s Rock

Back with a feature on Shock offensive lineman Chris Pino, who bears a striking resemblance to 'The Rock', wrestler/actor Dwayne Johnson. There's much more to Pino's story, which will run in Thursday's S-R, and you can access it right here.

On the left-hand side of the link, there are a couple of notes (one on the newest Shock offensive lineman and another on Friday's game being televised live on KSKN.

I'll post a game preview tomorrow.

Every Pac-12 football game on TV

The Pac-12 will launch national and regional conference television networks next year and every football and men's basketball game will be televised nationally. Read more about the deal here with updates coming.

Looking back at Pac-12 media day

COUGARS

We have all our coverage of the Pac-12 media day, the best of the rest from around the conference, a couple of other Washington State links and another reason to fear Twitter. All that – and maybe more – on the link, so read on.

White back, other Shock moves

The Shock were back in the transaction business Tuesday, making multiple moves in preparation for Friday's game against Arizona.

Here's a recap of the moves and a couple other notes that will run in Wednesday's S-R. Arizona's doing the same, signing ex-Shock lineman Kyle Young and losing backup quarterback Trevor Harris to the Buffalo Bills. More on the Rattlers here.

A really long Pac-12 media day post

COUGARS

We've written a couple of stories for tomorrow's S-R on the Pac-12 media day (and we'll link them as soon as we can), but there is so much more to go over, we had to put together this blog post. If you want to read the transcript of coach Paul Wulff and receiver Jared Karstetter's press conference, more from Wulff on injuries and academics, and other WSU notes, read on.

Oregon picked first, Cougs last

Defending Pac-12 champion Oregon is the choice to win the 2011 Pac-12 Conference football title in a preseason poll of media members who regularly cover the league.

Pac-12 ready to put on a show

COUGARS

It's not often there is indisputable proof that I am working, but we have some from last night's Pac-12 rules seminar at the Fox studios in Los Angeles. And we have also have some actual items you might be interested in, so read on.

Shock losing pair to NFL

With the lockout over, it appears the Spokane Shock will lose two players to the NFL.

The Shock knew defensive lineman Ayanga Okpokowuruk would leave to join the New York Giants as soon as the players and owners reached an agreement. Spokane also will be without offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli, who is bound for the Dallas Cowboys. Letuli joined the Shock roughly two weeks ago.

Okpokowuruk made eight tackles, two tackles for loss, in six games.

The Shock visit Arizona on Friday to open the playoffs. The Rattlers will be without standout receiver Rod Windsor and kicker Fabrizio Scaccia. Both previously signed NFL contracts. Arizona, minus both players, defeated Dallas to close the regular season 16-2.   

We’re back with WSU news

COUGARS

So where were we? Oh yes, Washington State football and basketball. That's the ticket. After some time off, we're back, so if you want more information on WSU, read on.

Shock close regular season with loss

Spokane, which didn't take four starters on the trip to rest up for the playoffs, dropped its regular-season finale to Jacksonville 75-56 on Friday.

More game details below.

Rowley back where he started

Kyle Rowley, who led Spokane to arena football titles in 2006 and 2010 before falling out of favor this season, is back where he started — as the starting quarterback.

Read more about Rowley's rocky journey and more on the Shock's season finale against Jacksonville here in my preview that will run in Saturday's S-R.

More on Shock moves

I put together a short article on the Shock's numerous moves (Meyer IR, Orton activated from other league exempt, signed Michale Spicer and James McClinton, released Brian Paysinger and Mel Purcell).

As mentioned in the previous post, Markee White is planning on rejoining the team, but he wasn't on Wednesday's transactions. It's expected that he'll eventually sign, but he probably won't play in Friday's game (the team leaves early tomorrow for Jacksonville).

A couple of other updates: Steven Sheffield will serve as backup quarterback and WR Raul Vijil will play Friday.

Elsewhere, Arizona made several moves of note: ex-Shock linebacker Kevin McCullough was activated from IR, backup quarterback Trevor Harris has returned from the UFL and the Rattlers added kicker Jason Witczak (in anticipation of Fabrizio Scaccia rejoining the 49ers).

Spokane will face Arizona in the first round of the playoffs on July 29th.

Meyer goes on IR, Orton added to roster

The Spokane Shock made several player moves Wednesday. They placed quarterback Erik Meyer (shoulder) on injured reserve. That means Meyer's season is over because it's a mandatory four-week stint. Spokane has one regular season game and the potential to play three playoff games.

Wide receiver Greg Orton has been activated from the other league exempt list. Orton had joined the Omaha of the UFL, but the league delayed the start of its season until September. Spokane added another UFL player, Michale Spicer, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound defensive end who played in the AFL from 2005-08. Spicer has been designated as a marketting player ($1,000 per game). The Shock also signed James McClinton, who played collegiately at Kansas and was in the IFL earlier this season.

The Shock released WR Brian Paysinger and DL Mel Purcell.

Markee White, who tweeted that he was Spokane bound, wasn't on Wednesday's transactions. That figures to change Thursday.

Report: NCAA not expected to investigate

The swiftly evolving story involving college basketball coaches, including Gonzaga's Mark Few and Ray Giacoletti, caught up in an investment debacle with Houston businessman David Salinas took another turn Monday night when ESPN.com reported that the NCAA isn't planning to investigate the situation.

You can find a link to my story that will run in Wednesday's S-R and here's a link to ESPN.com's latest report on the situation.

Report: Few invested money with Salinas

S-I.com is reporting that Gonzaga's Mark Few is among a growing list of college basketball coaches who invested money with David Salinas, the Houston-area investment adviser who also founded the Houston Select AAU team. Few reportedly invested $353,000 with Salinas, who committed suicide Sunday.

GU assistant coach Ray Giacoletti acknowledged Monday that he's invested money with Salinas for 22 years.

More here.

Giacoletti loses long-time friend

News reports surfaced in the last 24 hours of the suicide of David Salinas, an investment adviser and founder of a Houston AAU team. GU assistant basketball coach Ray Giacoletti is one of many coaches, possibly in several sports, who invested money with Salinas.

Salinas' death comes days after he was interviewed by federal officials probing a possible Ponzi scheme. He was reportedly under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for fraudulent practices that may have cost numerous high-profile coaches millions of dollars in investments.

Giacoletti has known Salinas for 22 years, preceding Salinas' founding of Houston Select, a team that had Demetri Goodson on its roster when he was Houston-area high schooler. Giacoletti expressed his condolences to the Salinas family in a statement released by Gonzaga.

Some coaches could be concerned that the NCAA might frown on coaches having a financial relationship with Salinas when he's also the founder of an AAU program that sent numerous recruits on to colleges, CBSsports.com reported

Here's a link to my article that will run in Tuesday's S-R.

A couple of things to point out: Goodson was recruited primarily by Leon Rice, who left Gonzaga to become the head coach at Boise State. A quick scan of Giacoletti's rosters at North Dakota State, EWU, Utah and GU's (over the last four years) indicate Goodson is the only player with a connection to Houston Select. I say a quick scan because I'm covering the Spokane Indians game while scouring rosters.

 

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Here's a short article on

Shock get miraculous win over SaberCats

Welcome to Spokane, Randy Hymes.

The wide receiver, who signed with Spokane last week and was playing in his first game, made an incredible catch on Kyle Rowley's 34-yard Hail Mary pass on the game's final play, handing Spokane a 63-61 win over San Jose.

With the game and possibly Spokane's playoff hopes hanging in the balance, Hymes grabbed the ball in the back of the end zone for the last of his four TD catches. That came after teammate Adron Tennell appeared to have a shot at the ball first.

You can read more on the crazy finish, with comments from Hymes, Tennell, Rowley and head coach Rob Keefe in my game story that will run in Sunday's S-R.

Shock, SaberCats ready to tangle

Another key game tonight for the Shock, who entertain San Jose in just about an hour. Spokane just finished some pre-game warmups with QBs throwing to receivers (Emery Sammons, Adron Tennell, Brandon Thompkins and Randy Hymes, who is making his Shock debut). LB Antwan Marsh (hip pointer) is suited up so it looks like he'll go.

No sign of the linemen yet. San Jose just took the field. In a score of interest to the Shock (and to Utah and to San Jose), Tulsa is tied with Orlando at 21 midway through the second quarter. A Tulsa loss coupled with a Shock win clinches a playoff berth for Spokane.

For in-game updates head to Twitter.com/srjimm.

Check back here about 90 minutes after the final buzzer for my game story.

Shock try to even score with San Jose

The Shock return to the Arena for a showdown against San Jose on Saturday. The SaberCats ripped Spokane 76-48 in the season opener.

Spokane has won four of five games to move one game in front of San Jose, Utah and Tulsa in the race for the last National Conference playoff berth. Find my Shock-SaberCats game preview here.

Elsewhere, Cleveland defeated Pittsburgh, coached by ex-Shock head coach Chris Siegfried, on Friday night to clinch a division title and playoff berth in the American Conference.

Shock sign two, put two on IR

Spokane made several personnel moves Thursday. The team signed offensive lineman Laupepa Letuli and defensive lineman Mel Purcell, both University of Hawaii products and Arena Football League rookies.

Letuli finished his UH career in 2010, earning second-team All-WAC honors. Purcell was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round in the 2007 draft. He was first-team All-WAC in 2006. Purcell spent a couple seasons on the Browns' practice squad and was activated for the final game of the 2007 season.

Receiver Chas Gessner (shoulder) and offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun were placed on injured reserve, meaning they'll be out at least four weeks. It appeared Ma Sun hurt his shoulder on the first play from scrimmage. Spokane had two regular-season games left, but could clinch a playoff spot with a win over San Jose on Saturday and a Tulsa loss to Orlando.

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UT-Arlington joins WAC

UPDATED

The WAC today announced the addition of the University of Texas-Arlington, a move that you can read all about after the link with our story.

Shock control playoff destiny

Back with a Shock notebook, led by the playoff picture, followed by a note on one of the newest players of the team, WR Randy Hymes. He played quarterback at Grambling and also had a stint at QB with Bossier-Shreveport last season when starter Raymond Philyaw went down with an injury.

Here's a link to the article that will run in Wednesday's S-R.

And here's a link to Monday's transactions, which includes ex-Shockie Bill Stull being activated from Pittsburgh's refused to report list and ex-Shockie Jerry Turner being placed on league suspension by Georgia. San Jose, Spokane's opponent Saturday, made a couple of moves at receiver.

Gray signs with pro team in Latvia

Former Gonzaga Bulldog guard Steven Gray has signed with BK Ventspils, a professional team in Latvia, according to a GU press release. More here.

Spokane’s Redman wins second rowing gold in Team USA’s Europe tour

WOMEN'S ROWINGSpokane's Jamie Redman — graduate of Lewis and Clark High School and Yale University — is packing home more gold in the  U.S. Women’s Rowing Team 8-seater boat.

On Sunday morning, USA's woman's-eight won gold at Switzerland's World Cup Regatta in Lucerne. Top teams from 50 countries were competing.

The previous week, Redman's women’s 8 team won the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames in England. Team members had to purchase hats to meet the dress code for the awards ceremony.

Redman already has won national championships on the Yale Rowing Team. Last fall, she was on the U.S.A. women’s 8 boat that won the World Championship in New Zealand.

Today, Redman returned to their rowing base camp in Princeton, NJ., where she said she's hoping to continue training and remaining relatively injury free for a shot at further European World Cup competition and possibly the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Check out results at www.row2k.com, or www.worldrowing.com.

Shock playoff scenarios

Spokane's win over Utah was big in the playoff picture, but one of the first questions right after the game was whether Spokane (8-8) can clinch a playoff berth with a win over San Jose (7-9) on Saturday, regardless of what Tulsa (7-9) and Utah (7-9) do the rest of the way?

After consulting with Evan from the AFL office, here's the answer: No. Another Shock win obviously would be huge, but it wouldn't necessarily seal the deal. This may get a little convoluted but read on for the explanation.

Shock win big outside

From the turnstile to the scoreboard, the Spokane Shock had a big night under the lights at Albi Stadium, routing Utah 76-49 to move one large step closer to the AFL playoffs.

Here's my game story that will run in Sunday's S-R. You can find Chris Anderson's photos here and John Blanchette's column. .

Half: Shock 49, Blaze 35

Spokane leads Utah 49-35 at half of the Joe Albi Summer Classic. Conditions are nearly perfect with temperatures in the 70s and a light breeze. An official crowd count hasn't been announced, but it's a sizable crowd and apparently folks were still buying tickets late in the second quarter.

Erik Meyer has tossed five touchdown passes, the last covering 11 yards to Emery Sammons with two seconds in the second quarter to expand Spokane's lead to two touchdowns. Meyer also has a rushing TD.

Utah's Todd Hammel, signed earlier this week, was impressive, completing 14 of 16 with four TDs. The game's lone turnover came when defensive back Alex Teems stripped the football from Blaze receiver Aaron Lesue early in the second quarter.

Shock, Blaze take it outside

Back with my Spokane-Utah game preview for Saturday's outdoor game at Albi Stadium. It will run in Saturday's S-R, but you can read it here. One note that didn't make the final version: newly signed WR Randy Hymes will not play, but figures to be in the lineup next week.

An interesting signing on the AFL website: Former WSU standout Chris Jackson, a longtime AFL standout, has signed with Arizona. 

Shock prep Albi; make several player moves

Lots of Shock material tonight. The team continues setting up Albi Stadium for Saturday's outdoor game. Here's a look at the logistics of staging the AFL's first regular-season outdoor game that will run in Friday's S-R.

Also, Spokane made several player moves, adding veteran WR Randy Hymes and releasing DL Eric Hedin (that came as a surprise after his stellar AFL debut two weeks ago). Utah also had a couple of interesting transactions. You can read about the Shock's and Blaze's moves here.

Spokane’s Redman rowing a streak across Europe

Jamie Redman, a former Lewis and Clark High School athlete and valedictorian, is continuing her winning ways in Europe this month on the U.S. Women’s Rowing Team.

And to prove you can't run away from home, she ran into some North Central High School girls cross-country athletes in Switzerland (above) when she noticed their Bloomsday t-shirts in the Lucerne train station.

Redman already has won national championships on the Yale Rowing Team. Last fall, she was on the U.S.A. women’s 8 boat that won the World Championship in New Zealand.

Last week, her women’s 8 team won the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta on the Thames in England. Team members had to purchase hats to meet the dress code for the awards ceremony.

Friday her team, slightly adjusted from Henley, will race its first heat in Switzerland's World Cup Regatta, which has attracted teams from 50 countries.

“And because the 2011 World Champs are also the official Olympic Qualifying Regatta, you can rest assured that everyone is bringing their A-game to the starting line this weekend!” she said in an email.

Check out results at www.row2k.com, or www.worldrowing.com.

No debate this time: Meyer starting again

Since the second half of the AFL season began, Spokane seemingly has had a weekly debate over who should be the starting quarterback. Not this week. Erik Meyer played well before departing in the second half with severe cramping in Saturday's loss against Arizona.

So it'll be Meyer behind center against his former team, Utah, in the outdoor game at Albi Stadium. Meanwhile, Utah has questions at quarterback (Tommy Grady and Jordan Rasmussen left Saturday's loss to Chicago with injuries and there's no word on their availability this week). And Khreem Smith, the centerpiece of the trade that brought Meyer from Utah to Spokane, has signed with B.C. of the CFL.

More Shock notes here.

Bulldogs vs. Bulldogs

Gonzaga and Butler have talked about playing each other for at least a couple of years. The coaches, Gonzaga's Mark Few and Butler's Brad Stevens, are friends who frequently visited by phone last season.

So it seems to make sense that the two schools from non-power conferences who embrace taking on college basketball's elite will tangle in a two-game series. The Indianapolis Star reported that Butler will visit Spokane this December, followed by GU visiting Hinkle Fieldhouse the following season.

Gonzaga hasn't released its schedule for the upcoming season and typically doesn't until it has dates/TV contracts firmed up.

More below.

Rattlers pull away from Shock, 68-46

Spokane had won four highly competitive AFL games against Arizona by a combined 17 points, but the Rattlers finally broke through Saturday night with a convincing 68-46 win in Phoenix.

Erik Meyer was sharp in the first half, but he threw an interception early in the third quarter and then left the game a few minutes later with cramps. Kyle Rowley entered, but his first pass was picked off. Rowley was intercepted three times as the Rattlers dominated the second half 34-16.

Former Shock QB Nick Davila had nine touchdown passes to surpass 100 on the season.

UPDATE: Arizona Republic game story.

More game details below.

Shock making post-bye move

Spokane tries to stretch its winning streak to four when it faces Arizona in Phoenix on Saturday night. The winning started after Spokane made big lineup changes and got healthy during a bye week roughly four weeks ago.

Read more about that and the Rattlers in my game preview that will run in Saturday's S-R.

More on Gesser’s decision

COUGARS

Jason Gesser's tenure on the Washington State coaching staff was even shorter than Billy Donovan's with the Orlando Magic, if that's possible. At least Donovan was with the Magic for a weekend. Gesser's change of heart came even before he started. Gesser, however, had even better reasons to bail and it seems as if Cougar fans understand. Read on.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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