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Archive for June 2011

Meyer to start, Rowley No. 2 vs. Arizona

Spokane has settled on Erik Meyer as its starting quarterback vs. Arizona, but head coach Rob Keefe stressed that the appointment is on a one-game basis.

Keefe emphasized that point several times during a phone interview this evening. Meyer will be backed up by Kyle Rowley (the roles were reversed last season) in Saturday's game. The situation will be re-visited if necessary.

Bill Stull, who started against Dallas, was released. AFL teams don't carry three quarterbacks on a 24-player roster (21 on game day) and the Shock has Steven Sheffield on injured reserve.

You can read my article on the QB situation here.

Gesser joins Idaho’s coaching staff

COUGARS, VANDALS • UPDATED: 8 P.M.

Former Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser has been hired at Idaho, where he'll be reunited with former Cougar defensive coordinator Robb Akey.

Just last month Gesser, after resigning as head coach at Eastside Catholic in Sammamish, Wash., told us he was joining WSU in an off-the-field non-coaching position. But after UI running backs coach Jeremy Thielbahr left to take Gesser's old position at Eastside Catholic, a role on Akey's staff opened up and Gesser pursued it.

“It really is a dream come true working for a guy like that,” Gesser said of Akey in Idaho's media release. “I’ve been trying for the last handful of years to see if he’d let me join his staff and I finally got him to bite. I’ve seen his kids grow in front of my eyes and I’m very close with his family. I’ve spent a lot of time with him not only as a player but since he’s been coaching at Idaho.”

Gesser will coach Idaho's running backs and recruit the Norhwest and Hawaii.

You can read Idaho's full release on the hiring here.

UPDATE: Our story on Gesser's change of heart includes his explanation of why he decided to move to Moscow instead of Pullman.

Meyer will start vs. Arizona

Erik Meyer has been named the starting quarterback for Spokane's game against Arizona in Phoenix on Saturday, Shock head coach Rob Keefe said.

Meyer, who missed last week's game with a concussion, beat out Kyle Rowley and Bill Stull for the starting nod. No word on who will serve as Meyer's backup.

More later today.

The more things change …

Another week with the Shock and another three-player race for the quarterback job and another standout receiver leaving for the UFL.

Read more in my weekly Shock notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R. Here's the link.

Shock even mark at 7-7

Spokane won big and easy in the Big Easy.

The visiting Shock crushed New Orleans 75-54 on Saturday night for their third straight win. Spokane (7-7) had failed in two earlier chances to reach the .500 mark, but it cashed in against the hapless VooDoo (2-12).

Kyle Rowley, the opening-day starter who lost the job to Bill Stull last month, had four touchdown passes and one rushing TD in his first game back since being activated from injured reserve. Stull, also activated from IR earlier this week, had a pair of TD passes and one TD run.

More game details here.

Rowley, Shock ready for VooDoo

With Kyle Rowley back as starting quarterback, the visiting Spokane Shock take on New Orleans on Saturday night. The Shock (6-7) are tied with Tulsa and Utah for the fourth and final playoff berth in the National Conference.

You can read my game preview that will run in Saturday's S-R here.

Thompson pick puts an end to basketball season

COUGARS

I would think you could say the 2010-11 Washington State University basketball season is officially over now that Klay Thompson's NBA draft saga is complete. But wait, there are still some loose ends. Read on.

Thompson goes 11th to Golden State

COUGARS • UPDATED: 9:40 P.M.

Klay Thompson's decision to leave Washington State after three years turned out to be a good one as he was drafted No. 11 in Thursday's NBA draft by the Golden State Warriors. We'll have more about Thompson's selection, including our story, soon.

UPDATE: We have our story for tomorrow's SR. You can read it here. We'll have more in the morning.

Rowley to start, Stull backing up

Spokane is back to where it started at starting quarterback.

Opening-day starter Kyle Rowley (pictured from last year's ArenaBowl) has been named the starter for Saturday's road game against New Orleans. Bill Stull, who supplanted Rowley as the starter in the Week 9 game against Dallas, will be the backup. In other moves, Spokane also placed WR Raul Vijil (hamstring) and reserve QB Steven Sheffield on injured reserve and activated WR Chas Gessner from IR.

More here.

Chiefs announce preseason schedule

CORRECTED

As usual, the Spokane Chiefs will play in two preseason tournaments before playing one game in Spokane prior to the Western Hockey League season. 

The Chiefs will play in the Everett tournament Sept. 2-4 and then the Tri-City tournament the next week, which features all five U.S. Division teams.  

Spokane, which reached the Western Conference finals last season under new coach Don Nachbaur, play a total of seven games, capped by a visit from the Tri-City Americans on Thursday, Sept.15. That game will be played at Eastern Washington University.

 The first three games are in Everett. On Friday, Sept. 2, the Chiefs face Seattle, followed by a Saturday game with the host Silvertips and a Sunday game with Portland, which knocked Spokane out of the playoffs.

 At Tri-City, the Chiefs play Seattle again on Friday the 9th, followed by a Saturday game with the Americans.

They close the preseason by going to Tri-City for a game on Saturday, Sept. 17.

Schedule below.

Zags to Battle Arizona

This has been known for a year or two, but Gonzaga officially will take on Arizona in the Battle in Seattle on Dec. 17th. GU is 0-3 vs. Arizona, including a 69-64 loss in 2008, the most recent clash in Phoenix. Spokane pre-sale tickets will be available Sept. 10.

More below.

Also, several Zags from the men's and women's teams will be signing autographs during Hoopfest. Here's the schedule.

Shock notes

As mentioned earlier, I put together a notebook from today's Shock practice that will run in Thursday's S-R. You can read it here.

The first topic, of course, is the quarterback derby. Erik Meyer is out with a concussion. Kyle Rowley, Bill Stull and Steven Sheffield are competing for the starting (and backup) job. I'm guessing Rowley gets the starting nod vs. New Orleans on Saturday. I'm also guessing that Meyer returns next week and reclaims the starting job for the showdown vs. Arizona. Ex-Shockie and current Rattler Kevin McCullough won't play next week after being placed on injured reserve Wednesday.

Check back tomorrow for an update when Rob Keefe names his starting quarterback.

Meyer out, QB shuffle continues

A quick post after returning from Shock practice at the Arena.

Erik Meyer (concussion) won't play Saturday against New Orleans, leaving the starting quarterback job up for grabs between Kyle Rowley, Bill Stull and Steven Sheffield. Head coach Rob Keefe said he'll name a starter Thursday. Meyer started the last two games, both Shock wins, before he was injured in Saturday's win over Chicago.

The Shock, who lost OL Ben Ossai to UFL Las Vegas last week, have lost WR Markee White to UFL Hartford.

Check back later for my notebook.

Meyer suffers concussion in Shock win

Just as Erik Meyer appeared to be settling in as the Shock's starting quarterback he had to leave the field with assistance from the training staff. Meyer, in his second start, departed in the third quarter after making a tackle on a Chicago defender who had picked off a Meyer pass.

Meyer suffered a concussion on the play. His status for Saturday's road game against New Orleans will be determined later this week. Meyer missed part of last season, when he was Spokane's backup quarterback, with a pinched nerve.

The former Eastern Washington standout tossed seven touchdown passes in his debut as the starter, leading Spokane past Philadelphia two weeks ago. He followed that up with five TDs against Chicago before he was injured.  

John Blanchette pinch-hit for me covering the Shock game, but he apparently didn't pinch-blog, so here's his game story from Spokane's win over Chicago on Saturday night. Here's Chris Anderson's game photos.

Shock take on third-ranked Rush

The Spokane Shock have had several chances to string some wins together this season, but only once have they had back-to-back victories. They get another chance tomorrow when Chicago visits the Arena.

Here's my game preview.

Spokane doesn’t crack Top 10

Shock coach Rob Keefe said earlier this week that his team might have opened some eyes around the AFL after thumping Philadelphia 75-54 and that could be reflected when the weekly coaches poll was released. The poll came out and Spokane (5-7) still didn't crack the top 10.

Chicago (9-3), Spokane's opponent Saturday in the Arena, moved up from fourth to third. Spokane is tied with Utah and San Jose for second in the National Conference West Division. Utah remained in ninth and San Jose stayed in 10th in the rankings. Utah has lost three straight and San Jose has dropped five in a row.

More here.

No Shock that Orton made it in Spokane

Greg Orton, the last cut of Spokane's 2010 training camp, has turned that negative into a positive. He returned at midseason when Spokane was hit by injuries to the receiving unit and he became a mainstay.

Then, he got better. Read about Orton's journey from being released to being one of the best receivers in the AFL here.

Shock secondary making strides

Spokane's secondary, a sore spot most of the season, has been more productive the last five games, including a three-interception performance against Philadelphia on Friday. The unit will be relied on even more with the absence of DL standout Khreem Smith, who was traded to Utah last week, as the AFL season winds down.

Losing Smith won't make the DBs' jobs easier, but they might get a few more chances to generate turnovers, if the first game minus Smith is any indication. Their challenge will be tougher when Chicago visits Saturday. The Rush have 29 turnovers this season, compared to Philadelphia's 37.

More about the secondary, Erik Meyer, an injury update and a familiar face back at practice in the weekly Shock notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R. You can have an early look right here.

WAC adds Seattle U.

UPDATED: 4:35 p.m.

Seattle University has accepted an invite to join the Western Athletic Conference, league commissioner Karl Benson announced this afternoon. Seattle U. is the second non-football playing school to join the WAC after the University of Denver came aboard with Texas State and Texas-San Antonio. The Redhawks will become members on July 1, 2012.

Utah Valley University was not offered an invitation, Benson said. This leaves the WAC will seven football playing schools and nine altogether starting in 2012. Benson said he would like to add more football members and could announce another round of expansion at this time next year, if not sooner.

Click below for our story.

Arop transferring to Indiana State

Former Gonzaga Bulldog Manny Arop's basketball career will continue at Indiana State.

Arop had narrowed his choices to Indiana State and Valparaiso. He will have two years of eligibility after sitting out the upcoming season. Indiana State plays in the Missouri Valley Conference. Former Zag Grant Gibbs will be eligible at Creighton, another MVC school, this season.

Arop fell out of GU's rotation, playing in just eight of the team's last 15 games. More here and here.

Crowded AFL playoff race

Tulsa blitzed Utah 81-51 Saturday night to create a four-way tie for the fourth and last National Conference playoff berth. Tulsa, Utah, Spokane and San Jose are 5-7. Kansas City is 4-9.

More on Utah's third straight loss here and here. The game was another indication of how reliant AFL teams are on quarterback play. Utah's Tommy Grady, after a hot start, has struggled recently and the Blaze don't have Erik Meyer to call on. Meyer became Spokane's signal caller after the Shock acquired him in a trade two weeks ago. Meyer had a solid debut (seven touchdowns, one interception) in Spokane's 75-54 win over Philadelphia on Friday night. Grady, who apparently was battling the flu, had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Former Spokane offensive coordinator Matt Sauk served as Utah's interim head coach. Ron James didn't make the trip for medical reasons. Sauk is Utah's O.C. Utah has dropped its last two games by a combined 65 points.

Meanwhile, Tulsa's Justin Allgood, acquired from Philadelphia where he lost the starting job to Ryan Vena, was sharp in his return to his former squad. He had six touchdown passes as Tulsa scored an AFL season-high 81 points. Vena had a pair of interceptions returned for touchdowns against Spokane.

Meanwhile, Arizona continues to roll with a couple of ex-Shockies (Davila, Gray, McCullough).

Spokane plays Utah July 9 in the outdoor game at Albi and visits San Jose on July 16.

Meyer leads Shock past Philly

Back with my game story and John Blanchette's column from Spokane's 75-54 win over Philadelphia on Friday at the Arena.

Spokane scored a season-high 75 points. Erik Meyer threw seven touchdown passes and the defense scored twice on interceptions returns.

Shock-Soul ready to go

About 25 minutes before kickoff between Spokane and Philadelphia at the Arena. Not sure how full the building will be, especially with the 5 p.m. kickoff and the nasty traffic jam on I-90 that started before Thor for those coming in from the east.

The Shock are going big tonight, at least at receiver. No Raul Vijil or Shaun Kauleinamoku. Starters will be Emery Sammons (6-2), Markee White (6-7) and Greg Orton (6-3). Adron Tennell (6-4) will make his Shock debut. Shannon Tevaga is starting on the offensive line. Palauni Ma Sun will back up all three line spots.

For in-game updates, head to twitter.com/SRjimm.

WSU picks up a Kansas transfer

COUGARS

We put together a short story on Kansas transfer Royce Woolridge announcing he's headed to Washington State. Read on.

Meyer, Shock set for Philadelphia

Spokane, coming off a bye week, tries to end a two-game losing streak when Philadelphia visits the Arena tomorrow night. The Shock (4-7) have seven regular-season games left as they try to earn an at-large playoff berth.

Ryan Vena, the losing quarterback when Spokane crushed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the 2009 arenacup, has done a good job piloting the Soul. He has a 4-2 record, even though he's had some turnover issues.

Here's my preview that will run in Friday's S-R.

—The Shock didn't sign ex-Vandal receiver Eric Greenwood, but he apparently made a good impression. He used two days of his four-day tryout, so he might be back for a couple more days next week. He'll also attend tomorrow's game.

For the first time in a long time, the Shock have their full roster of receivers (Orton, White, Vijil, Sammons, Kauleinamoku and Tennell). Coach Rob Keefe wouldn't disclose who will suit up, but he noted that Orton, who was banged up prior to the bye week, is feeling much better.

.

WCC-ESPN agreement extended eight years

The WCC and ESPN on Wednesday announced an eight-team contract extension.

ESPN will televise at least 48 WCC men's basketball games annually on its family of networks. The WCC has averaged 38 games on ESPN the last three seasons.

More here.

WR White activated from IR

I mentioned yesterday that Markee White practiced, testing a foot injury that has kept him out since the second game of the season. White (pictured above) was activated from injured reserve today. More here.

Patient Meyer gets his starting shot

The Shock have another new starting quarterback (Kyle Rowley started first eight games, Bill Stull the ninth and Casey Hansen the 10th and 11th). After a four-year wait, Erik Meyer's turn comes Friday against Philadelphia.

Here's a look at Meyer and a couple of additional notes that will run in Tuesday's S-R.

A couple of other items. Stull (knee) took part in some conditioning work and occasionally threw passes on the side during practice. Rowley (shoulder) also threw quite a bit and served as Jack linebacker in a few drills. Coach Rob Keefe noted that both will return “sooner rather than later.”

Stull is expected to return before Rowley, Keefe said. Both are eligible to leave injured reserve next week. Stull's is a “pain issue” while Rowley's is a “rest issue.” Keefe said.

 

   

Hayford lures another big to EWU

Eastern Washington's new men's basketball coach Jim Hayford continues to add size and talent to the Eagles' roster.

The latest addition is University of Oregon transfer Martin Seiferth, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center from Berlin, German, who will sit out the 2011-12 season under the NCAA's transfer rule.  You can read more on Seiferth here.

Winston leaving WSU

COUGARS

When reporters pointed out to Ken Bone on signing day the Cougars were committed to three players over the NCAA scholarship limit of 13, Bone pulled out an answer he's used before. By the start of the school year, he said (though I'm paraphrasing a bit), Washington State would be at or below the limit. With the announcement today freshman guard Dre Winston Jr., would not be back for his sophomore year, the Cougars are at 13. And there may be more to come. Read on.

WNBA tips off tonight, locals meet Sat.

The WNBA season opens tonight but the first game for the local trio is Saturday.

The Chicago Sky, with rookies Courtney Vandersloot (Gonzaga) and Angie Bjorklund (University HS) opens at Indiana, with third-year veteran Briann January (Lewis and Clark HS).

Preseason stories for the Sky and Fever project both Vandersloot and January as starting point guards and calls each of them the “Player on the Spot” for their team.

You can find information about the two teams and the league in general at ESPN.com, WNBA.com and Sports Illustrated. Most predictions have the Seattle Storm repeating as WNBA champion with Indiana expected to make the East Division playoffs. It's about 50-50 on the Sky making the top 4 in the East for the first time ever.

Seattle raises its banner Saturday in a noon game on ABC.

Chicago-Indiana is at 4 p.m., and it can be followed through the WNBA website or the team websites.

By the way, the game tonight, 8 p.m. , is Minnesota, with No. 1 draft pick Maya Moore, at Los Angeles and Candace Parker.

Indiana plays its only game at Seattle on June 17, Chicago's only trip is the season finale on Sept. 11 (you don't suppose that will get overshadowed quite a bit, do you?).

Each team only has one appearance on ESPN2 (full schedule below), Tulsa at Indian on June 14 and Seattle at Chicago on July 19.

Key Chiefs dates; Kyle Beach progress report

Important dates for Spokane Chiefs fans this summer. First is a deadline for season tickets.

June 15, 2011: - RENEWAL DEADLINE FOR ALL ACCOUNTS
June 24-25, 2011: - NHL Entry Draft
June 29, 2011: - CHL Import Draft
July 4-8, 2011: - Chiefs 2011-2012 Schedule to be released
August 25-28, 2011: - Chiefs Fall Camp
August 28, 2011: - Red/White Game at the Spokane Arena
August 30, 2011: - Package Holder Night at Spokane Indians Baseball Game
Early September 2011: - Package Holder Pick-up Party
Early September 2011: - Individual game tickets go on sale
September 23-24, 2011: - Tentative WHL Opening Weekend
October 1, 2011: - Tentative Spokane Chiefs Home Opener vs. Tri-City
  

And an update on former Chief Kyle Beach … you won't be surprised the jury is split on his worth - and his maturity.

Shock release Hansen, still looking for DL

Spokane cut quarterback Casey Hansen, who started the last two games after injuries to Bill Stull and Kyle Rowley. Erik Meyer, acquired in a trade earlier this week, is expected to start next Friday (June 10th) against Philadelphia.

Also, one of the free-agent targets Spokane was looking at — ex-Shock DL Jeremy Geathers — signed with Chicago. By the way, Cleveland has signed ex-Shock QB Andrico Hines.  

Here's a recap of Shock-related news.

A couple Thursday notes

COUGARS

Haven't been on the blog for a while, partly because there hasn't been huge news to report and partly because much of my time has been spent either covering college baseball – Gonzaga's three-game showdown for the West Coast Conference title last weekend – or prep golf or just catching up on personal stuff. But this afternoon we have some news to pass along, so we've put together a short post. Read on.

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

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