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Archive for March 2011

Chiefs take 3-1 series lead

The Spokane Chiefs, without their leading scorer, jumped to a 3-0 lead after one period and held on for a 4-2 win over the chilliwack Bruins Thursday night, to open a 3-1 lead in their best-of-7 Western Hockey League playoff series. Game 5 is at the Arena Saturday night.

Stars: 3, Robin Soudek, Chil; 2, Corbin Baldwin, Spo; 1, Mike Aviani, Spo. Lonx box below.

Shock trying to reduce mistakes

Spokane (0-3) tries to get back in the winner's circle when winless Kansas City (0-2) visits the Arena on Friday. My game preview here. (Correction: Shock P.R.'s Kevin Maloney points out that Spokane does have an interception, by Terrance Taylor last week before he was injured. I had used the AFL's official stat pack, which listed Spokane with zero interceptions.)

UW’s Thomas headed to NBA

COUGARS

So, I was sound asleep on the plane ride home this morning when I awoke, startled. I think we were somewhere over Kansas. Wichita, maybe? Anyhow, I had this terrible thought Klay Thompson was holding a press conference and I wasn't there. Imagine my surprise when I get back to Spokane and find out it wasn't Thompson leaving for the NBA. But somebody was. Read on.

Graves officially turns down Huskies

Kelly Graves made it official - again.

The Gonzaga women's basketball coach said he was not interested in the same position at the University of Washington, although he  was on the UW campus on Wednesday.

For more, read on.

Track previews

Dave Trimmer wrote this nice feature on Mead track and cross country standout Baylee Mires (pictured above with her dad, the Mead boys track coach) and her family.

Here's the Greater Spokane League glance.

Here's the Inland Empire League glance.

A look ahead for WSU, Pac-12

COUGARS

With basketball season over – except for some important news – and spring football in full swing around the Pac-12, we've decided to return to our old morning format. We'll try to have something from every school, at least for a while. Read on.

Bruins shock Chiefs in OT

Kevin Sundher scored the last two goals of the game, the second 3:20 into overtime, to rally the Chilliwack Bruins to a 4-3 win over the Spokane Chiefs Wednesday night at the Arena.

The Bruins shocked the 4,737 fans by rallying from a 3-0 deficit entering the third period. Lucas Gore made 54 saves for Chilliwack.

The Western Hockey League playoff series is now 2-1 for Spokane with Game 4 tonight and Game 5 Saturday at the Arena.

We also have a Colin Mulvany slideshow from the game - the picture above is when Tyler Stahl sent Tyler Johnson to the ice late in the second period. Stahl received a game misconduct, Johnson sat out the third period and is questionable for tonight's game.

3 stars: 3, Anthony Bardaro, Spokane; 2, Lucas Gore, Chilliwack; 1, Kevin Sundher.

Long box below.

Chiefs vs. Chilliwack

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Kevin Sundher scored the last two goals of the game, the second 3:20 into overtime, to rally the Chilliwack Bruins to a 4-3 win over the Spokane Chiefs at the Spokane Arena on Wednesday, March 30, 2011.

EWU’s Dean explores transfer possibilities

EWU sophomore point guard Glen Dean may be transferring.  Or maybe not.

Check here for story that will run in Thursday morining's S-R.

Two more honors for Vandersloot

Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot picked up two more All-American Awards on Wednesday, giving her three in two days.

The first is the John R. Wooden Award All-American team. Only five players were picked by the almost 1,000 members. She is joined by Maya Moore of UConn, Brittney Griner of Baylor and Stanford's Jeanette Pohlen and Nnemkadi Ogwumike. The men had 10 on their team but the top five vote getters along with the five women are invited to Los Angeles for an April 8 banquet, when the players of the year are announced. Moore won that last year.

The other list is the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. It's a 10-member team and includes the above five plus Danielle Adams of Texas A&M, Amber Harris of Xavier, Shenis Johnson of Miami, Jantel Lavender of Ohio State and Shekina Strickland of Tennessee.

I think Vandersloot is in line for two other honors, the State Farm All-America team as voted on by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association, will be announced Saturday at the Final Four. The Lieberman Award for the nation's top point guard, also gets announced at the Final Four. Vandersloot was one of the three finalist last year. The winner of that gets a trip to Detroit.

One final note, Tennessee's Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) has declined an invitation to participate in the 3-point shooting contest at the men's Final Four.

Taylor on IR; Arizona No. 1

A couple of Shock notes. The team has added LB/WR Chris Hemphill, who was with the Shock in 2009 training camp before joining the Tri-Cities Fever. Defensive lineman Terrance Taylor has been placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. Injured reserve is a minimum of four weeks, but Taylor should only miss three games because of next week's bye.

More below.

The latest AFL coaches poll has a new No. 1: Arizona. The Rattlers are 3-0. San Jose (2-1) is fifth and Utah (1-1) is ninth. Only five unbeatens remain, three of those are 2-0. Here's a recap of the West Division from Week 3.

Kichton, Chiefs return to action

Brenden Kichton, the subject of a story in the Wednesday morning paper, and the Spokane Chiefs return to action tonight for Game 3 of their Western Hockey League playoff series with Chilliwack.

Spokane swept the first two games in Chilliwack. Game Four is Thursday. A sweep would be good for the Chiefs because it certainly looks like rivals Portland and Tri-City are headed for sweeps, as is Kelowna. The Chiefs would play the Americans, and hold home-ice advantage, for a series that starts April 8 (pending Arena dates and I don't know the Shock schedule).

But first things first. In other news, Seattle fired its coach.

WSU’s loss to Wichita State, the day after

COUGARS

Little did I know that when Liza Minnelli sang “I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps,” she would be singing about me. On this trip to New York at least. The never-sleep part. So, though it's just 5 a.m. West Coast time, we have our morning-after post ready for you.

Olson coordinating Shock offense

I was at Shock practice this morning and I put together a Shock notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R. The first item is on Andy Olson, the former Shock receiver (pictured above from the 2009 season) who is now Spokane's offensive coordinator.

Here's a link.

A couple of notes to pass along that won't make tomorrow's paper. Greg Orton's 203 receiving yards against Iowa was a Shock single-game record, breaking Antwone Savage's 195 yards in 2007. Orton also was battling a flu bug that has made its rounds on the team.

Finally, Spokane released Vinnie Olson, an offensive lineman who didn't appear in any of the Shock's first three games.

WSU goes down hard, 75-44, to Wichita State

COUGARS

After that debacle, I wanted to get out of Madison Square Garden, out of New York, really, as fast as I could. But I think the Washington State fans beat me to the phone, because Wednesday's flights to Seattle, crowded but still with seats earlier in the day, were filled by the time I called. More than likely because I had to wait until it was final. The fans probably called when it was over, or right after halftime, whichever came first. For more on the game, read on.

WSU trails Wichita 36-19 at half

COUGARS

Quick halftime post. We'll just recount each of Washington State's baskets. There was a Reggie Moore jumper (his only bucket), a Klay Thompson (his only bucket to go with three fouls), four jumpers from Faisal Aden (he has a team-high eight points), a DeAngelo Casto post move (his only bucket). Marcus Capers dunk (his only bucket) and a Dre Winston reverse layup (his only bucket). Add in a Moore free throw and you have 19 points, a season-low for a first half. Wichita reserve Garrett Stultz, an ungainly looking 7-foot junior, has 18 himself – along with seven rebounds. Wichita is shooting 48.3 percent, WSU 33.3. The Shockers have 25 rebounds, WSU has – sit down before you read this – 10. Yes, 10. This is a butt kicking of the first order. We'll be back after we see if the Cougars can make a game off it in the second half.

EWU introduces Hayford as new men’s basketball coach

Eastern Washington University used the Spokane Club as the venue to officially introduce Jim Hayford as its new men's basketball coach.  The press conference was attended by many of the friends Hayford made during his 10 years as the head coach at Whitworth University, and it is EWU athletic director Bill Chaves' hope that many of those friends will now become Eagles fans.

You can get an early look at the story that will appear in Wednesday morning's S-R here, and you can read what EWU's sports information department posted about the new hire and view a video of Tuesday's press conference, as well, right here.

Feel free to leave any comments you might have.

 

throw there  

Some pregame thoughts from Madison Square Garden

COUGARS

Well, we're in the world's greatest, or biggest, or most-important, or whatever arena a couple hours before game time, as is our M.O., and guess what? It's just as empty as other arenas. And not nearly as big or impressive as Staples Center. Or about 10 other arenas we've been in. Of course it's a heck of lot older. And broken down. But the building is going through a facelift, so there are areas blocked off and fakes walls in a lot of spots, so there's that. But we digress. As usual. You want basketball talk, don't you? Read on.

Prep baseball, softball notebooks

Here's our first prep baseball notebook that will be in our Tuesday newspaper and appear weekly thereafter through the season. Danny Rowton of Shadle Park (pictured above during American Legion last summer) is hitting .818 after a week.

Here's our first prep softball notebook that will be in our Tuesday newspaper and appear weekly thereafter through the season.

Vandersloot 2nd team All-American

Courtney Vandersloot achieved another milestone on Tuesday, becoming the first Gonzaga women’s basketball player to earn Associated Press Second-team All-American honors.

It’s game day in New York for WSU

COUGARS • UPDATE: 11:45 A.M.

It's game day and it's about time. It seems like a month since Washington State last played a basketball game, but it's been less than a week actually. We'll see if the time spent traveling, practicing, away from home and friends helped or hurt tonight. We have more, lots more, so read on.

• UPDATE: I knew our news side was working on this story about marijuana citations in Pullman, but didn't know it ran this morning until just a few minutes ago. Seems communication can sometimes be lacking in a communication company as well.

Gonzaga’s magical run ends

UPDATED: 12:15 a.m.

Stanford whipped Gonzaga in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament and the photographers whipped us writers, getting the slide show up first.

On the budget is a game story, a notebook (Greg Lee's credit was left off) and John Blanchette's column, which is a must read good-bye to Courtney Vandersloot.

Gonzaga vs. Stanford women

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Top-seeded Stanford pulled away from 11th-seeded Gonzaga in the second half 83-60 in the Spokane Regional final Monday in front of 11,646 at the Arena, ending the most successful season in the Bulldogs’ history.

Hayford to take over EWU basketball program

Eastern Washington has hired Jim Hayford, Whitworth University ultra-successful head coach, to head its men's basketball program.  You can read more here, and stay turned for any updates that become available.

WSU’s Lodwick earns Pac-10 honor

COUGARS

A couple of afternoon notes from New York, including Washington State's Abe Lodwick earning first-team All-Academic honors from the Pac-10. For more, read on.

Elite 8 reading, Vandersloot vs. Pohlen

UPDATED: 9:30

Once again it's time to go surfing on the big wave that will carry you right up to the 6 p.m. tip-off off Gonzaga's Elite 8 game with Stanford at the Arena (and on ESPN).

This morning, in addition to the game advance, we had a notebook and John Blanchette's column.   Read on for more of our discoveries.

March is lion-like for WSU in NY

COUGARS

Good morning from New York. Took a nice long walk to and from dinner last night and was shocked by the depth of the chill. It is actually quite a bit colder here in the city than it is in Pullman. Plus the wind won't stop blowing. It feels like basketball season. And it still is, what with the NCAA surprises over the weekend and the NIT semifinals tomorrow night. For more, read on.

Starting to build up for Elite Eight

It's overload time … I have filed an advance for Gonzaga's Elite Eight game with Tennessee on Monday night. Coming later is my notebook and keys to the game and John Blanchette is just wrapping up a column. Those stories will be along later tonight or in the morning, but I've found plenty of other stuff for your reading pleasure.

Sweet 16 wrap, on to Elite 8

Yep, woke up this morning (mind you it wasn't too early), saw the newspaper and confirmed, Gonzaga is headed to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Our coverage included a game story, John Blanchette column, notebook, slide show and the other Sweet 16 Game.

Now the Zags face Stanford, which kindly came to Spokane last November and pulled out a close win over the Zags. But as both teams have been saying today, that was a long time ago.

There will be much more from the Spokane Regional tonight and tomorrow.

For what else I've found for this morning, read on.

WSU in New York ready for NIT semis

COUGARS

Yesterday was fun. We were one of the thousands of victims of Alaska Airlines' power outage. But, for us, it turned out to be a blessing. We were rerouted on Delta through Salt Lake City and ended up sitting next to a good friend on that leg. He was heading to Paris, me to Newark. He wins. Then the remainder of the trip was surprisingly pleasant despite the presence of dozens of pre-teens heading home after spring break trips. It is, however, February-in-Pullman cold here right now, so we may stay inside more than expected. Whatever, we have work to do today anyway. Read on.

Gonzaga joins the Elite

Gonzaga made history Saturday night - women's division - by becoming the lowest seed (11) to make the Elite Eight of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. They did it by holding up down the stretch to beat seventh-seeded Louisville 76-69 before more than 10,700 fans at the Arena.  As usual, Courtney Vandersloot (21) led the charge, setting a NCAA single season assist record and the WCC career steals record along the way.

They get a rematch with Stanford … the Cardinals won 84-78 in McCarthey the second game of the season … after the top-seeded Cardinal survived No. 5 North Carolina 72-65.  We're limited by deadline and exhaustion from providing you more than the story and an amazing 41-picture slide show from Chris Anderson and Dan Pelle. Tomorrow you get John Blanchette's column and a notebook.

You can find a lot more goodies on ESPN.com and a Bud Withers story in the Seattle Times.

Chiefs up 2-0 after shutout

The Spokane Chiefs defeat Chilliwack 5-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is Thursday at the Arena. Eric Walsh's story for the Chilliwack Progress is below.

Countdown to tip-off for Zags

Less than an hour before Gonzaga and Louisville tip-off in the Sweet 16, the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

And no, don't ask again, I'm not making my prediction public.

Just a couple of things I missed when I blogged at 6 a.m.. Bud Withers from The Seattle Times, which may make you nervous as it talks about the possibility of Graves coaching the Huskies; Michelle Voepel from ESPN.com looking at Courtney Vandersloot and Jackie Stiles.

Tennessee turns back Ohio State to make the Elite 8 in Dayton.

48 hours in WSU’s life

COUGARS

We're en route to New York, with a short stay in Newark. Anyway, from somewhere over Wyoming we discovered our Sunday piece is available online. It's on Jeff Hironaka's prep for the Northwestern game. So we thought we would link it. You can read it here. We'll be back in the morning with more.

Shock fall again

Spokane, which started the season ranked No. 1, is still without a win three games into the young AFL season.

The mistake-prone Shock didn't score for the last 13 minutes, committed five turnovers and were flagged for costly penalty after costly penalty while falling to Iowa 43-42 on Friday night. Game recap here.

The Shock (0-3) led 28-18 at half, but scored just two touchdowns in the second half. They return home to face Kansas City next week. The Command (0-2) have a bye week after close losses to Dallas and San Jose.

Arizona (2-0), which plays Tulsa on Monday, leads the West Division. San Jose (2-1) lost to unbeaten Chicago. Utah (1-0) faces Orlando tonight.

WSU on way to New York

COUGARS

This morning's post is the definition of the word “light.” As in weight, depth, girth. Which is a good thing, because we're headed out soon for our flight back East. The basketball team is already en route. Read on.

Kramer gives Chiefs 1-0 lead

Darren Kramer scored two goals, including the game winner 10 minutes into overtime, as the Spokane Chiefs won their opening game of the Western Hockey League playoffs, 3-2 over the Chilliwack Bruins. The Chiefs stay in Chilliwack for Game 2 in the best-of-7 series tonight before returning to the Arena for the next three games, starting Wednesday. Below is the Chilliwack Prospect story.

More to read until Sweet 16 tip-off

Good morning. Back to catch up with more stories out of the Spokane Regional of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament  before settling in to watch Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) and Tennessee against Ohio State in the Dayton Regional.

First is columnist John Blanchette's glance back as the group that got this all started for the Gonzaga women, who face Louisville and freshman sensation Shoni Schimmel (above).

There's more, read on.

Gearing up for Gonzaga Sweet 16 in Spokane

Home from the Arena and time to catch up on the women's basketball news.

We have filed our game advances for the Spokane Regional. I'm on the Gonzaga-Louisville game, Greg Lee has the North Carolina-Stanford game. Do you think I need to thank Courtney Vandersloot for the Zags drawing the 6 p.m. game? That 8:30 tip is going to be a deadline nightmare. There is also today's column with John Blanchette's column questioning Gonzaga playing here and the Chris Anderson/Dan Pelle slide show from today's practices at the Arena. (By the way, there are 11,200 tickets to be sold - 600 seats go to bands and other necessary personnel - and less than 1,000 remained as of 4 p.m. on Friday.)

Read on for more.

Bowen is Gonzaga’s unsung hero

Headed down to the Arena to gather the news for the Spokane Regional in the NCAA Women's Basktball Tournament but first wanted to give you the news on Gonzaga's key player from Down Under (Kelly Bowen, pictured above). There should be plenty of reading later today.

Chiefs favored in playoffs; fighting & concussions in the news

The Spokane Chiefs have every reason to be favored when their Western Hockey League playoff series opens in Chilliwack tonight. (Update 11:34).

There is an open debate, read on.

Eags gearing up for spring football

Eastern Washington, coming off its run to a national championship last fall, will start spring football drills on Friday, April 1.  You can get more details, including a tentative schedule of practices and scrimmages, here.

WSU warms up as NY beckons

COUGARS • UPDATE: 12:45 P.M.

One more day in the Palouse before we head back east to cover the basketball team's New York adventure. With the weather yesterday during football practice, it will be hard to leave. There is nothing better than a nice spring day around here. Nuthin. UPDATE 5 MINUTES AFTER POST: Just looked outside. It's snowing. I can't wait to get out to New York. … Read on.

UPDATE: The WSU board of regents gave the athletic department approval Thursday to install a $3 million center scoreboard in Beasley Coliseum. The board will replace the old models in the rafters on either side. Installation is expected to start this summer and the board should be in place for next season. … Also, 6-foot-9 junior college transfer D.J. Shelton, who visited WSU over the weekend and watched the Oklahoma State game, told Cougfan he was headed to WSU. Shelton played at Citrus College in Azusa, Calif.

Some WSU football on a hoop night

COUGARS

Watching Arizona dismantle defending national champion Duke, while the loser in that championship game, handles Wisconsin on another channel. Pretty fun night. But I guess it isn't if you're a Wisconsin or Duke fan – and I know a few of the former. Read on.

UI football team opens spring

After the first of 15 practices, I talked to UI coach Robb Akey about new starting quarterback Brian Reader and other topics. Click below for my story from Moscow.

Shock take on Iowa on NFL Network

Spokane, still in search of its first win in the 2011 season, visits Iowa on Friday night in the NFL Network's AFL game of the week. Here's my preview.

Also, the Shock have signed offensive lineman Palauni Ma Sun, who was with the team in 2008 and played for Chicago last season. He did not make the trip to Iowa.

Buildup continues for Sweet 16

Boy, did this day get away from me. Writing a basketball story, hockey story and getting a handle on a track story for next week. I can't think any more. Time to go surfing.

Plenty of attention in Spokane for the NCAA Women's tournament. The Sweet 16 at the Arena on Saturday with links to the school releases as available. Both games on ESPN2:

6 p.m. - No. 11 Gonzaga (30-4) vs No. 7 Louisville (22-12)

8:30 - No. 5 North Carolina (28-8) vs. No. 1 Stanford (31-2)

Read on for what else I stumbled into.

WSU’s win over Northwestern, the day after

COUGARS

Good morning from the Vince Grippi Travel Agency. How can we help you? Read on.

WSU wins 69-66 in overtime

COUGARS

It's late. Later than it needed to be. But the bottom line is Washington State held off Northwestern, 69-66, in overtime and will play in the NIT semifinals next week in New York. Read on.

Zags respect Louisville & more notes

A late post with a few things I've stumbled onto and a story on Gonzaga's reaction to facing Louisville on Saturday instead of Xavier. Read on.

WSU leads 38-31 at half

COUGARS

Halftime and Washington State controlled much of the first half. But the final 4 minutes – roughly akin to when Northwestern coach Bill Carmody's technical when he had to be restrained by his assistant coach – the Wildcats clawed their way into it, cutting the lead – it had been as much as 14 – to as little as eight. Then they hit the final shot and went into the locker room trailing by seven. All in all, after shooting 40 percent and struggling at times beyond the arc, not a bad deal for Northwestern. WSU led by 14 after Carmody's T at the 4:22 mark. … The offensive star for WSU has been Brock Motum, who came off the bench and found enough room to score 11 points. Klay Thompson has not really asserted himself offensively, having taken just seven shots. … DeAngelo Casto hasn't show any effects from his 24-hour suspension and has six points and five rebounds. … WSU's intensity waned down the stretch and Northwestern took advantage. … More later.

Pregame musings from WSU

COUGARS

It's pregame time. As I thought about it, I'm not sure there is more to add to the post I put up a few hours ago. But, because I get paid by the word, we have something. Read on.

More on Casto’s reinstatement

COUGARS

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos has decided to lift DeAngelo Casto's suspension and the junior will be allowed to play tonight against Northwestern. Read on.

Shock place White on I-R

Spokane receiver Markee White has been placed on injured reserve after spraining his left foot on an acrobatic touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's loss to Cleveland. As the 6-foot-7 White made the catch and was knocked over the dasherboards, it appeared his foot struck the iron bar that surrounds the netting.

White will miss a minimum of four weeks.

White leads the Shock with 19 receptions and five touchdowns. He had 66 touchdown catches last season. Raul Vijil, who missed Saturday's game with an illness, has practiced this week and is available to play against Iowa on Friday.

Elsewhere, former Shock offensive lineman Vladimir Richard has been signed by Jacksonville and three of the four West Division teams (No. 1 San Jose, No. 2 Arizona and No. 7 Utah) are ranked in the coaches' poll. Spokane has dropped out of the rankings.

Akey talks spring football

The Vandals will be outside tomorrow for the first of 15 spring practices. Robb Akey spoke about the team and what he wants to get out of spring. We've got details below.

You can get more updates on my Twitter account (@SR_JoshWright).

Chiefs dominate conference awards

The Spokane Chiefs dominated the Western Conference awards the Western Hockey League announced on Wednesday. Read on.

Wednesday morning from WSU; Casto cited

COUGARS • UPDATED: 10:45 A.M.

It will be another late night for the Washington State Cougars tonight, with their National Invitation Tournament quarterfinal game with Northwestern not slated to tip until after 8 p.m. That, of course, isn't as late as WSU's game with Oklahoma State on Monday, but once again, the visiting fans watching on TV at home will be looking at an after-midnight finish. Fun for them. We have more on the game, the surrounding controversy concerning DeAngelo Casto and spring football. Read on.

UPDATE: We have another story on Casto pleading not guilty and, through his attorney, contesting the legality of the search.

WSU plays fast in first day of pads

COUGARS • UPDATED: 9:30 P.M.

One more blog post for this nice, quiet Tuesday on the Palouse. This one is Washington State football-centric. Read on.

WSU’s Casto won’t play vs. Northwestern

COUGARS • UPDATED: 9:30 P.M.

We're off the football field and back inside, finally with some time to put together a post on the basketball happenings today. Read on.

Louisville upsets to fill Spokane Regional

There will be no rubber match between Gonzaga and Xavier in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament as the second-seeded Muskateers just got smoked down the stretch by seventh-seeded Louisville. Read one.

Biletnikoff Jr. amends one comment

In my business, it's not easy to get in touch with a coach who has just been fired (or hired, for that matter). The last thing they want to do is re-hash the details of their dismissal for a newspaper article. Fred Biletnikoff Jr., fired as Shock offensive coordinator, not only took my call Monday at the Las Vegas airport en route to his Bay Area home, he spoke candidly about the situation. I should point out that Shock majority owner Brady Nelson, who never ducks an issue, good or bad, also returned my call earlier Monday.

Biletnikoff Jr. phoned me Tuesday to express his thanks for quoting him accurately in the article, to reiterate that he hopes the Shock win the AFL title this season and to amend one statement he made on Monday (“It’s probably time to get back to real football. Eleven men, take out those silly nets.”) Biletnikoff Jr. said he made that comment in haste and regrets it. He said he loves arena football and has dedicated much of professional career to the sport.

Giacoletti not going to Northern Illinois

Gonzaga men's basketball assistant coach Ray Giacoletti has withdrawn his name from consideration for the head coaching job at Northern Illinois University, The Spokesman-Review has learned.

Giacoletti and Purdue assistant Paul Lusk were finalists for the job, sources indicated. Northern Illinois, a Mid-American Conference school located in DeKalb, is replacing Ricardo Patton, who was fired after compiling a 35-83 record in four seasons. Other candidates included Indiana assistant Tim Buckley and Michigan State assistant Mark Montgomery, according to the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb.

Giacoletti appeared to be the first choice for the job, according to a report Tuesday afternoon on ESPN.com's Rumor Central. Giacoletti pulled his name from consideration later Tuesday.

Giacoletti has been with the Bulldogs for four seasons. Prior to joining GU's staff, Giacoletti was a head coach for 10 years at three schools. He posted winning records at North Dakota State (1998-2000), Eastern Washington (2001-04) and Utah (2005-07).

Giacoletti is a native of Peoria, Ill, which is about 120 miles south of DeKalb.

WSU’s NIT win over OSU, the morning after

COUGARS

It's really not all that early, but this post is a lot earlier than I planned. Plans, as you know, have a way of getting coldcocked by reality. And the reality of this morning is the guy in the apartment upstairs decided to vacuum at 7:30 in the morning. Really dude? So we're up. And so is our morning after post. Read on.

WSU defeats OSU, faces Northwestern Wednesday

COUGARS

Washington State has one more game – at least. The Cougars ensured that Monday night by battling past Oklahoma State 74-64 before 5,201 at Beasley Coliseum. Next up, Northwestern and its Princeton-style offense. That will be Wednesday night at 8 p.m. In Beasley. Read on.

Sweeeet 16 for Bulldogs

UPDATED: 12:30 a.m.

Gonzaga is headed back to the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, taking apart UCLA's defense 89-75. And Courtney Vandersloot makes NCAA history. Courtney Vandersloot was amazing and has done something no other NCAA basketball players has, 2,000 points, 1,000 assists. Kayla Standish poured in 30 and was overshadowed.

There is also a slide show of Colin Mulvany's picture.

A short story is up at the LOs Angeles Times.. There's the ESPN.com take. And TheAssociated Press.

Lady Zags win

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Gonzaga rallied past the eighth-ranked UCLA Bruins, pulling away to an 89-75 win in an NCAA women’s basketball tournament game on Monday at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

WSU leads 38-29 at half

COUGARS

Washington State didn't shoot all that well in the first half, hitting 38.7 percent from the floor, 30.8 (4 of 13) from beyond the arc. But Oklahoma State was worse, making just 1 of 8 3-pointers and shooting 36.4 overall. … WSU is holding its own on the glass. Actually, the Cougars are winning the battle 23-17 by my count, led by Abe Lodwick's five. But the Cowboys' four offensive rebounds turned into six points, keeping them within shouting distance. … If it weren't for Matt Pilgrim, Oklahoma State would be in real trouble. The 6-foot-8 senior leads OSU with 11 points on 5-of-10 shooting. He also has five rebounds. Marshall Moses, the Cowboys' leading scorer, picked up two early fouls, a third late in the half and is scoreless, having not taken a shot. My guess is he'll get a few early in the second. … The Cougars have the same problem. Their center, DeAngelo Casto, was hobbled by two fouls and has just one point after missing all four of his shots. … Klay Thompson has gotten nine looks, despite being doubled often and in different spots on the court. He has 14 points and two of WSU's three assists. Brock Motum has come off the bench to score 10 points. … We'll be back when we can.

Some pre-OSU musings from WSU

COUGARS

Believe it or not, we have some thoughts about tonight's National Invitation Tournament game here in rainy Pullman. If you so choose, you can read on.

Biletnikoff Jr. stunned by firing

Back with more on the Shock firing assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Fred Biletnikoff Jr. I touched base with majority owner Brady Nelson for an earlier article. The final version has the viewpoints of head coach Rob Keefe and Fred Biletnikoff Jr. (pictured above).

Here's a link.

UPDATE: Spokane has hired ex-Shock receiver Andy Olson as an offensive assistant coach. More here.

First baseball polls; WIAA stuff

Mason Kelley of the Seattle Times posted his first 4A and 3A state baseball rankings. Ferris (4A) and Mt. Spokane (3A) are ranked.

Doug Pacey of the Tacoma News Tribune is at the WIAA meetings in Renton. He reports the WIAA won't make a decision until mid April regarding possible tweaks to the new state basketball format. He also reports that early estimates show a $31,000 profit for the state tourneys this year. Last year, the WIAA suffered an $81,000 loss. Here's Pacey's story.

Vandals’ football schedule announced

Idaho's 2011 football schedule features trips to Texas A&M, Virginia and BYU and home dates with Bowling Green and North Dakota. The Vandals released their full schedule this afternoon, and you can see it below. The season starts with a rematch of the Humanitarian Bowl with Bowling Green on Sept. 1 at the Kibbie Dome. Game times have yet to be announced.

Shock fire Biletnikoff Jr.

Just got off the phone with Shock majority owner Brady Nelson, who confirmed that assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Fred Biletnikoff Jr. has been fired.

 

Here's a link to my story. Updates later.

Primer for Gonzaga-UCLA matchup

Gonzaga and UCLA have contrasting styles but exactly what the Bruins will throw at the Bulldogs is a guess, our preview of tonight's NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament second-round game at McCarthey Athletic Center. The game is at 6:30 on ESPN2 and if it's not, don't leave me any nasty messages or emails, that's what I've been told and I was just as bummed out as anyone when I recorded ESPN2 Saturday and didn't get to watch the game. Don't forget, there's a radio station with the game and you could have bought a ticket.

The Los Angeles Times looks at the environment and matchups the Bruins face. There is also the angle from The Associated Press. Freelancer Howie Stalwick has another story on Courtney Vandersloot and how she is the key to handling UCLA's press.

(And detour to North Idaho College's national title).

It’s game day for WSU

COUGARS

It's game day once more in the Palouse, and with the students back in town after spring break in, well, wherever, the crowd at Beasley Coliseum should be a little more energetic than the NIT opener against Long Beach State. A little. Though the 4,000 or so that were there last week did the best they could. Read on for more.

Opposites clash at McCarthey Monday

Our preview on the second round matchup in the NCAA women's basketball tournament at Gonzaga focuses on the contrasting styles of the 11th-seeded Bulldogs, coached by Kelly Graves (above) and third-seeded UCLA. Monday's newspaper will also have a notebook, with a little more information on the Bruins' press and keys to the game.

There is more, so read on, but I would also like to take a minute to direct you to a great piece of writing from a former colleague, Dave Boling.

WSU, OSU have a history

COUGARS

As promised, my advance of tomorrow's NIT game is available. So we put together a quick post for you. Read on.

Chiefs No. 3 seed, opponent unknown

The Spokane Chiefs' 6-4 loss at Tri-City on Saturday night answered a few questions and left a few hanging.

The Chiefs are the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference when the Western Hockey League playoffs start in a few days. Who they'll play will be determined do as they're slotted against the only spot still undecided.

On an individual level, Spokane's Tyler Johnson has wrapped up the goal scoring title but with a final game in Portland tonight will have a shot at the overall scoring championship.

Read on.

One more day until WSU, OSU

COUGARS

Sunday morning and there's more basketball on the TV in about an hour. So let's get this done and get you ready for your day. Read on.

S-R coverage of GU’s 89-67 loss to BYU

Back with all of our S-R coverage from Gonzaga's 89-67 loss to BYU on Saturday.

Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column, my notebook and Dan Pelle's photos.

Good night from Denver.

Roundup from Gonzaga’s win over Iowa

It was quite a Saturday of NCAA Basketball Tournament - women's style - at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Of course the highlight was Gonzaga's high-octane upset of Iowa that had the sellout crowd in a frenzy. 

The on the opposite end of the spectrum UCLA held off Montana's upset bid in a defensive struggle

We have a notebook and outstanding slide shows to go with both stories … including 33 of Gonzaga (Kayla Standish pictured here) … from Chris Anderson and Jesse Tinsley. Take a look and guess which one is going to be the big picture in your Sunday paper.

We interrupt this NCAA report to announce the North Idaho women won the Junior College national championship. Congratulations to Chris (and Cary) Carlson and the Cardinals.

Back to the NCAA's, there's the Cedar Rapids Gazette story, the Des Moines Register story and the Associated Press story.

Stanford had no problem with UC Davis but Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) had 11 points in her only NCAA Tournament appearance.

We have more, read on.

BYU Cougars end GU’s season, 89-67

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DENVER – Jimmer Fredette scored 34 points and he had plenty of help from his teammates as Brigham Young crushed Gonzaga 89-67 on Saturday to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years.

The Cougars made nine 3s in the first half while building a 45-38 lead. BYU opened the second half with an 11-2 run to stretch its lead to 56-40. BYU finished with 14 of 28 on 3s. Forward Noah Hartsock hit 3 of 3 3-pointers in the second half.

Gonzaga closed within 63-55 on Steven Gray’s 3-pointer with 12:18 left. But Gonzaga’s offense went cold for the next 4:15 and BYU rattled off 12 straight points. The Cougars (32-4) led by as many as 24.

Elias Harris and Steven Gray each scored 18 points for Gonzaga. Robert Sacre added 17.

Gonzaga finished with a 25-10 record. BYU will meet No. 2 Florida on Thursday in New Orleans.

GU women defeat Iowa 92-86

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11th-seeded Gonzaga edged six-seeded Iowa 92-86 Saturday afternoon in the first round of the NCAA women’s basketball Tournament before sellout crowd of 5,632 delirious fans at McCarthey Athletic Center.

GU-BYU tip at 4:55 Pacific

Gonzaga-BYU tip time will be at 5:55 (4:55 Pacific).

In-game updates at Twitter.com/SRjimm.

Florida defeats UCLA

No. 2 Florida scored the last seven points to pull away from No. 7 UCLA 73-65. The Gators advance to the Sweet 16 in New Orleans on Thursday. They will meet the winner of tonight's GU-BYU game.

Bjorklund, Tennessee kick-start NCAA women

Were your eyes open enough to see the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament get off with a bang … Angie Bjorklund (U-Hi) hitting her first three 3's, to be 19 of 21 over five games, as Tennessee beat somebody … and an early upset, Marist over Iowa State, which I picked.

Anyway, now we focus on McCarthey Athletic Center, where Gonzaga faces Iowa at 1, followed by Montana and UCLA.

For all we can find in the time we have … read on.

WSU’s NIT run continues Monday

COUGARS • UPDATED: 10:30 A.M.

I hope you are enjoying your NCAA-tournament watching as much as I am, though yesterday's games – outside of the Pac-10 ones – didn't seem as exciting as Thursday's. We have more on the link, so read on.

Chiefs reach century mark

The fourth line picked up a pair of early goals and backup goalie Mac Engel made that stand up with 23 saves as the Spokane Chiefs ran their winning streak to nine games with a 5-0 decision over Seattle Friday night in the final home game of the Western Hockey League regular season.

It gave the Chiefs 100 points for the fourth time in franchise history and kept them one point behind Portland in the battled for the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. If the Chiefs win at Tri-City tonight they'll play at Portland on Sunday for the top spot.

Goals by Collin Valcourt and Darren Kramer was enough with Engel notching his fourth shutout.

Stars: 3, Valcourt; 2, Engel; 1, Kramer .

Long box below.

GU takes on Fredette-led Cougars

Good evening from Denver. A quick post of the GU-related material that will run in Saturday's S-R.

Here's my game preview, John Blanchette's column and a Gonzaga notebook. There's a quick capsule look at tomorrow's contest below. UPDATE: Dan Pelle's photo gallery here.

You can find the Salt Lake Tribune's BYU coverage here.

Chiefs present end-season awards

The Spokane Chiefs presented their end of season awards Friday night before their final Western Hockey League regular-season home game.

Scholastic Award, presented by academic advisor Joe Everson, Brady Brassart.  Presented by Booster Club, $30,000 from 50-50 raffles this year, for Chiefs' scholarship fund. Humanitarian Award, Tyler Johnson for third straight year. Gift for Captain Jared Cowen as second Chief to win multiple medals at World Junior Tournament. Most Sportsmanlike Award, for second straight year, Tyler Johnson. Rookie of the Year, Darren Kramer.

John Hitman Hearn, defenseman of the Year, Brenden Kichton

Player of the Year: Tyler Johnson. Cool gift with puck from 50th goal and 100th point.

Player's Player, Darren Kramer, on the players vote.

Schick & Bulldogs ready for Iowa

OK, there's an hour before the hockey game and I've filed my women's basketball stories, so let's get caught up in the hoops world before we hit the ice.

Today started with a story on Gonzaga's Carter Schick (above), the Bulldogs'  … um, free spirit. I also advance the No. 20 Bulldogs NCAA opener against No. 25 Iowa. I'll return with the notebook and capsules and Greg Lee's advance on Montana and UCLA.

For more, read on.

Softball glances, coaches resign

Here's a link to our preseason softball glances.

Here's a notebook including three coaching resignations.

Friday from WSU

COUGARS

Surprisingly, there is a lot to get to this morning, including a trio of items related to Washington State. So let's get right to it. Read on.

GU thumps Red Storm, face BYU Saturday

Back with my game story from GU's impressive 86-71 victory over St. John's. Added treats for late-night readers: John Blanchette's column and Dan Pelle's photos.

Zags handle St. John’s

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No. 11-seeded Gonzaga took command early with a 12-0 run, built an 11-point halftime lead and cruised to an 86-71 victory over No. 6 St. John’s on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Gonzaga (25-9) will face No. 3 BYU (31-4), which will join the WCC next season, on Saturday. The winner advances to the Sweet 16. BYU eliminated Wofford 74-66.

Marquise Carter scored 24 points, Steven Gray hit four 3-pointers and added 16 points, and Elias Harris had 15 for the Bulldogs, who shot over 60 percent from the field for most of the game before dropping into the 50s late.

Dwight Hardy led SJU (21-12) with 24 points on 10 of 23 shooting.

More in about two hours.

 

 

Even more shots for the Spokane Chiefs

Hey hockey fans - and fight fans. You know the Spokane Chiefs put 78 shots on goal last night - not counting the two that won the shootout. But you better check out these shots that are on the scoresheeting under penalties.

Preps, and lots of preps

Click the tab below to see the Prep Page stories and assorted links to things around the state.

And for your halftime reading, women’s hoops

Back in the old days - or is that the young days - today would be the start of my personal two-day vacation. After the deadline stress of state basketball, two days of recliner basketball recharged the batteries. (I think I'm starting to sound like our Cougar writer).

Gonzaga has changed all of that - in a good way. So what do we have about women's basketball as the NCAA Tournament bears down?

Well, so far I haven't found anything on Courtney Vandersloot winning another award (though I have the all-District team that was announced Wednesday) - but it's still early.

Central Washington has released its long time women's coach and given former Mead star Stacy Clinesmith the option to stay in an interim basis and apply for the head job.

Read on for my other discoveries.

WSU’s win over Long Beach, morning after

COUGARS

That other tournament has started. You know, that NCAA-thingee. The one with the bracket and the million-dollar pools. That one. But, of course, it takes a back seat to the elder statesman of college basketball's postseason tournaments, the NIT. The one Washington State is in and has moved on to the second round. We have more on the Cougars win and the rest of the Pac-10's postseason, so read on.

Game-day reading

Some notes and links on game-day morning from Denver.

Checked with Sam Dower, who will be wearing Amare Stoudemire-type protective glasses tonight, the first time he's worn eye gear in a game. He saw it was a bit awkward at first, but he quickly adjusted. “They're like shades,” he said, “except they don't move around.”

Incoming Zag Kyle Dranginis was named Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year. More below.

Here's my game preview and capsules that I posted last night, John Blanchette's column on St. John's coach Steve Lavin and Dan Pelle's photo gallery. More in the Seattle Times, New York Post, more here and here in the Post, and here and here in the Daily News.   

(Just a reminder: In-game updates tonight at twitter.com/SRjimm.)

Former T-Wolf overcomes hurdles

Former Lake City basketball standout Katie Baker is enjoying life at the University of Montana, which takes on UCLA in an NCAA tournament opener Saturday at Gonzaga University's McCarthey Athletic Center. I caught up with Baker on Wednesday. Here's the story.

Baseball glance

Here's a link to our Greater Spokane League and Inland Empire League baseball glance. Pictured above is Ferris senior catcher Ryan Krustangel, who is headed to the University of Washington.

WSU gets past Long Beach, 85-74

COUGARS

The first 20 minutes of Wednesday night's opening-round NIT game at Friel Court wasn't a thing of beauty. It wasn't perfect. But it was dominating. And that was all Washington State needed to advance to the second round. That game will be Monday night at 8:30 (tipoff expected at around 8:45) on ESPN2. We have more on that and Wednesday's 85-74 win over Long Beach State on the link.

Vandals can’t handle USF

The Vandals' season-ending 81-73 loss at San Francisco resembled a preseason game much more than a postseason one — 41 combined turnovers, 33 combined missed 3s to go along with other unsightly play from both teams. But it was the Dons' sterling foul shooting and dominant work on the boards that pushed them into the second round of the CIT.

We've got our game story below. Idaho ends the year at 18-14, and senior Jeff Ledbetter, in a 22-point performance, set the school's record for most 3s in a season. He finished with 99 triples on the year.

Second straight shootout win for Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs put up a season-high shots and had very little to show for it.

In  fact, even with a franchise record 78 shots the Chiefs got just one goal in regulation. And that came on the 60th shot, by Matt Marantz, his 19th, midway through the third period.

But the shootout was another matter as Tyler Johnson and Blake Gal scored and James Reid made two saves to produce a 2-1 win over Chilliwack before 4, 819 at the Arena. It was a disappointing end for Bruins goalie Lucas Gore, who was otherwise sensational with 77 saves.

The Chilliwack goal came with 3 seconds left in the second, when Ryan Howse cleaned up a juicy rebound, giving him 51 and tying Tyler Johnson for the league lead.

The win kept the Chiefs in the hunt for the U.S. Division championship and the top seed in the Western Division of the Western Hockey League playoffs. They're one points behind Portland with three games to go, the last one in Portland.

3 stars: 1, Gore, 2, Steve Kuhn (assist on tying goal), 3, Marantz.

Long box below

Zags try to find comfort zone

Good evening from Denver. Gonzaga practiced at D-II Regis University, where Donny Daniels' son, Eric, is an assistant coach. Press conferences here this evening and then a short, fan-friendly practice capped by the usual half-court shooting contest (Monninghoff hit the only one).

Here's my game preview. A capsule look at the matchup below.

Zags practice in Denver

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The Gonzaga men’s basketball team practice Wednesday, March 16, 2011, at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Bulldogs play St. John’s Thursday night in the first round the NCAA Tournament.

Vandersloot honor, Iowa underdogs, Baker happy

OK, it's been a long day but there is women's basketball news to pass on between periods of this scoreless hockey game … Courtney Vandersloot is an All-District player (along with an Iowa player, the Zags' opponent in the NCAA Tournament Saturday afternoon at McCarthey); Sherri Murrell is Big Sky co-coach of the year.

And Montana sophomore Katie Baker (Lake City) ftells Greg Lee the NCAA Tournament fulfills another goal.

There's more, read on.

WSU leads 36-18 at the half

COUGARS

When the offense isn't working, defense has to keep you in a game. Washington State's defense did just that in the early going of this NIT matchup. After 14 minutes, Long Beach State was 2 for 19 from the floor. That allowed the Cougars to overcome their own sloppy play, some shooting woes and build a 21-8 lead. The 49ers hit 5 of their final 14 first-half shots, but by then WSU was going better as well. Or at least Klay Thompson was. The junior has 15 points at the half, hitting 6 of 12 shots as he's attacking the mid-range with authority. The 49ers are not letting him come off screens at the 3-point line – switching those screens – with a clean look, so he's putting the ball on the floor, getting space and pulling up. … On the other end, where WSU is really winning the battle, Marcus Capers took CSULB's Casper Ware out of the game early, denying the 5-10 junior the ball and, when he got it, making him give it up, especially off ball screens with help from DeAngelo Casto and the other bigs. Ware was 1 of 6 shooting, with his one basket coming on a blow-by past Faisal Aden. … As for the rebound battle, which usually tells the tale for WSU, the Cougars are up 23-20. That's it for now. We'll be back about 90 minutes after the end of this one.

Some pregame thoughts from WSU

COUGARS

Don't have a bunch of new information to pass along prior to tonight's game other that to say Washington State is wearing white and the stands aren't very full. OK, we have more than that, so read on.

GU, St. John’s stories from Denver

Good morning from Denver. We arrived last night, wrote some on the plane, finished up at the hotel, then found dinner and a TV in time to watch Saint Mary's lose another heartbreaker.

Here's our GU-related material in today's S-R: John Blanchette details redshirt freshman David Stockton's growing impact this season and I put together an article on St. John's D.J. Kennedy, one of the key players in the program's turnaround, who will miss the tournament with a torn ACL.

More on the matchup in the New York Post and Daily News, and more on St. John's Sean Evans (Kennedy's replacement).

Press conferences from both teams late this afternoon/early evening. We'll be back with more later.

WSU ready to open NIT tonight

COUGARS

It's game day in the Palouse. Game night, really. NIT game night. Washington State hosts Long Beach State in the final NIT first-round game tonight in Beasley Coliseum. We have more on that and other Pac-10 items, so read on.

Wiley, Vandals return to CIT

This is the Vandals' second trip to the CollegeInsider.com tournament in three years, so they know a bit about what to expect about the obscure postseason event. Well, at least senior Brandon Wiley does.

Read on for more about the CIT and Idaho's first-round opponent, the University of San Francisco.

Looking ahead to WSU’s NIT opener

COUGARS

Washington State is holding its final full practice this afternoon prior to tomorrow's NIT opening-round game against Long Beach State. The Cougars had some thoughts on appearing in the NIT for the second time in three years and they shared those yesterday. Read on.

News and notes from women’s basketball

OK .. we're ready to take on the world, or at least our world of women's basketball.

As you all know by now, Gonzaga is sacrificing the hoopla of heading off to an exotic site for the NCAA Tournament to sleep at home. There are other things to check out as well, including some unhappiness in Iowa City. Read on.

Tuesday morning WSU notes

COUGARS

With no students in Pullman, the drive-through line at McDonald's was empty last night, which, for me, constitutes one of life's little victories. Washington State, on the other hand, isn't looking for little victories this week. The Cougars would like two in the NIT, which would put them two-thirds of the way to New York, a place they have set their sights on. But first they have to get past Long Beach State. For more, read on.

Zags are homebound

As long as Gonzaga can stay in the NCAA Women's Tournament they don't have to leave home until it's time to head to the Final Four.

Of course, they would probably have to pull off four upsets as well, but their chances have to be better at home. They're obviously happy about the opportunity, judging by Colin Mulvany's photo.

Here's our story about the draw. We're working on a few other things. Hopefully we'll get back to you later, if not, I'll dedicate my afternoon to providing information (the morning is committed to high school track).

Idaho got in a tournament as well.

Carter finds his way at Gonzaga

Back with a feature on junior guard Marquise Carter, who has been one of the primary reasons for Gonzaga's surge to a co-WCC title and conference championship. This will run in Tuesday's S-R, but here's a story link with more from Carter, his teammates and coach Mark Few on how the J.C. transfer turned around his season, and helped Gonzaga do the same.

Also, just received notice from Gonzaga's sports information department that GU has sold out its allotment of tickets for Thursday's game in Denver.

Looking back at selection Sunday

COUGARS

As Monday mornings go, this one is pretty packed with news. After all, it was selection Sunday yesterday (and no, the “s” in selection doesn't need to or deserve to be capitalized), a good day for some teams (read, USC) and a bad day for others. But everything that happened for Washington State was pretty much expected. And sorry this is so late. Daylight savings time has tweaked my internal clock. Read on.

Count down to women’s NCAA show

Time will drag for most of the day, awaiting the Selection Show for the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at 4 p.m. on ESPN.

There are two items of local interest because Spokane is the first city the NCAA ever award first weekend games (at McCarthey Athletic Center Saturday-Monday) and a regional (at the Arena the next Saturday-Monday). 

I'll tweet the information as fast as my hands can type at twitter.com/SRtrim.

Gonzaga is in the field and at home, but who is filling out the pod? Gonzaga being in the field doesn't mean being slotted into the Spokane Regional, so how does it shape up?

We have some thoughts, read on.

GU-St. John’s tangle in Denver

I spent a couple hours at Gonzaga today after watching the selection show on CBS. Here's a link to the article I put together that will run in Monday's S-R. (There's an update on Sam Dower at the bottom). And here's John Blanchette's column on GU and the curious NCAA selection process.

Interesting draw for Gonzaga, which would probably gladly trade a spot on the seeding line (most had them as a No. 9 or No. 10 seed) to stay reasonably close to home. St. John's is a tough, talented Big East team that went 6-5 vs. the top 25 RPI, but the Red Storm lost key swingman D.J. Kennedy to a torn ACL early in the their Big East tournament quarterfinal loss to Syracuse.

There's also a capsule look below at GU and the other three teams in their Southeast bracket.

We'll have much more on GU right here over the next few days leading up to Thursday's game.

UPDATE: Ticket information here.

WSU to host Long Beach State on Wednesday

COUGARS • UPDATE: 9:45 P.M.

As we guessed this morning, Washington State will meet Long Beach State on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Pullman. The game will be televised on ESPNU. The 49ers are coached by former Gonzaga head coach Dan Monson and won the Big West regular season title, finishing 14-2 in conference and 22-11 overall.

The Cougars earned a two seed in Boston College's (the Eagles are one of the top four seeds) bracket, which means they may have to travel to Boston if they want to get to New York. Oklahoma State is the three seed in WSU's bracket and will host Harvard (Oklahoma State, the Harvard of Stillwater) on Tuesday. If WSU wins against the seventh-seeded 49ers, the Cougars should host the Cowboys sometime over the weekend.

UPDATE: We have a look at WSU's reaction to playing in the NIT and its opponent, Long Beach State.

TNT All-State teams

The Tacoma News Tribune has announced its All-State boys and girls basketball teams.

Matty McIntyre of Gonzaga Prep and Gabe Medrano of North Central were named Coaches of the Year.

Chris Sarbaugh of G-Prep (pictured above) was a first-team pick along with Tia Presley of G-Prep. Devyn Galland of Lewis and Clark and Jordan Loera of Moses Lake were second-team picks.

No. 11 Gonzaga draws St. John’s

Gonzaga, seeded No. 11, will face No. 6 St. John's on Thursday in the second round (that's what the NCAA is calling it with the expanded field/four Dayton games) in the Southeast Region in Denver. The GU-St. John's winner will take on the winner of No. 3 BYU-No. 14 Wofford. 

This will be Gonzaga's 13th straight trip to the NCAAs. St. John's finished 21-11, falling to Syracuse in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

Saint Mary's, co-WCC champions, didn't make the NCAA field.

More later.

WSU awaits its fate today

COUGARS

The calendar may not say it is spring just yet, but moving the clocks forward last night was the first clue time is marching on. And then getting up this morning to birds chirping, sun shining and the big old pile of snow out front disappearing made it clear spring is here. In spirit if not name. Another clue? The Pac-10 basketball tournament is over. Read on.

Koper, Reid give Chiefs win in SO

Levko Koper's shootout goal and a save by James Reid gave the Spokane Chiefs a 4-3 win over the Kootenay Ice on Saturday.

A late goal by Brayden McNabb, set up by Cody Eakin's work in the corner, lift the Kootenay Ice into overtime against the Spokane Chiefs before 8,800 fans at the Arena Saturday night.

In the shoout, the first four Chiefs missed until Koper beat Nathan Lieuwen with a backhander. Then Reid stopped McNabb, the Ice fifth shooter.

3 stars: 3, Reid, 2, Kichton 1, Eakin

Long box below.

Vandersloot off the court a shy leader

Courtney Vandersloot shy? No way, you say? Not with the way she has dominated the basketball court in her four years at Gonzaga. Well, she begs to differ, but that is only one thing you'll learn about the record-breaking Bulldogs senior, who is, according to her coach, the face of the team.

As for news of the day, Montana and Katie Baker (Lake City) are headed to the NCAA Tournament at the expense of Portland State and Lexi Bishop (Mead) and Kelli Valentine (Mead). The Vikings will be a postseason berth in the WNIT. Valentine (14 points, 10 boards) and Eastern Washington's Tatjana Sparavalo made the all-tournament team.

Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) is also going to be on the big stage as UC Davis won the Big West title as she scored  11 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

There's a good chance that Montana will be sent to Spokane for the NCAA Tournament at McCarthey Athletic Center … a 15 seed facing UCLA? Gonzaga is still listed as a 10 but something tells me the committee may disagree and make them a seven … but it really wouldn't change the pod.

UW, UA to play for Pac-10 title

COUGARS

The Pac-10 got the tournament final it wanted. Washington State won't get the tournament bid it wanted. That's the news for this Saturday morning. Read on.

San Jose routs Shock in opener

Spokane's 2011 season got off to a rough start.

San Jose crushed the Shock 76-48 in the AFL opener for both teams Friday at HP Pavilion in San Jose. My recap can be found below. Game stats at http://www.arenafootball.com/stats (click on Spokane-San Jose in the scoreboard).

Season ends for EWU

UPDATE: 10:40.

Portland State, with strong games from GSL grads Kelli Valentine (Mead) and Lexi Bishop (Shadle Park) turned back Eastern Washington in the semifinals of the Big Sky Tournament (will link after hockey). Chene Cooper, Brianne Ryan and Julie Piper had big games for the Eagles. The Vikings play Montana for the NCAA berth after the Grizzlies, behind Katie Baker (Lake City) beat Northern Colorado.

The season ended for freshman Kate Loper (Post Falls) as Hofstra falls in the CAA tournament but Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) and UC Davis plays for the the Big West title.

Interesting nationally, Houston falls, which I think opens the door for Gonzaga to be a No. 7 seed, instead of a No. 10.

Johnson reaches 50 goals, Chiefs roll

A couple of milestones and a thrashing of the Tri-City Americans, it doesn't get much better than that for the Spokane Chiefs … and we have pictures.

With Tyler Johnson and Blake Gal (10, above in Colin Mulvany photo) scoring a pair of goals, the Chiefs pounded Tri-City 5-1 before a crowd of more than 9,000 at the Arena Friday night.

Johnson picked up his league-leading 50th goal, while Gal and Anthony Bardaro both reached 20.

Better yet, the Chiefs are now 10 points ahead of the Americans with five games to play in the Western Hockey League season. That means no looking over their shoulder down the stretch to worry about beind the fourth seed in the Western Division but they can concentrate on Portland, one point ahead for the top seed.

Before the Spokane Chiefs honored the 3 20-year olds,  Johnson (check out this internet story), Levko Koper and James Reid. Also, former Chief and Spokane native Derek Ryan was league MVP for University of Alberta.

Long box below, 3 stars: 3, Gal, 2, Baldwin (3 assists), 1 Johnson.

With NCAA hopes faded, WSU awaits NIT

COUGARS

So what's next for Washington State's basketball team? I tried to figure that out today, talking with athletic director Bill Moos about the immediate future. Here's what he had to say about the postseason, contained in our story for tomorrow's S-R. To summarize, if the Cougars are invited to the NIT, they are going to accept and bid to host, depending on the seeding. We'll back in the morning with links.

WSU’s Pac-10 loss to UW, the day after

COUGARS

A little inside baseball. While you're sitting at home watching what was a spectacularly entertaining basketball game last night, either jumping with joy or firing the remote into the coach pillows, there were about 10 people in the Staples Center who were just trying to survive. And, no, they weren't on the court. Read on.

WSU falls to UW 89-87

COUGARS

Klay Thompson set a handful of tournament and school records Thursday night, including a Pac-10 tournament best 43 points. But the 89-87 loss to Washington cut him deep, that much was obvious in the locker room afterward. Read on for more.

Eagles win, Vandals fall

One and one is the verdicdt in women's basketball tonight. Eastern Washington, behind a career high 25 from Tatjana Sparavalo, beat Montana State, and Lyndi Seidensticker (Lewis and Clark) who had 14 points,  for the first time in three tries this season, maybe a little payback for a year ago, but Idaho runs out of gas close to the finish line and bows out of the WAC tournament against Nevada. The Eagles, losers to Montana State in the Big Sky Tournament in Cheney last year, now face league champion Portland State, and GSL grads Lexi Bishop (Shadle Park) and Kelli Valentine (Mead) on Friday night. In the other game, Montana, with 12 points from Katie Baker (Lake City)  turns back Idaho State and faces Northern Colorado.

Also, freshman Kate Loper and Hofstra win the first game of CAA tournament and tonight UC Davis and Heidi Heintz (Central Valley) play in the second round of the Big West. Loper had 8 points in her first postseason game, Heintz had 10 in the Aggies opening win.

UI battles, but falls to Nevada

Idaho gave Nevada fits for most of the game but the Wolf Pack pulled away with a 20-4 finishing kick and won 75-61 in the WAC women's tournament quarterfinals. It sounds like the Vandals will have a postseason opportunity in the Women's Basketball Invitational. They'll likely be on the road. An announcement could come by Monday.

Here's my game story.

WSU leads 40-32 at halftime

COUGARS

There wasn't a knockout delivered in the first half, but there were a few blows by both team. And Klay Thompson, answering the question whether he would press, delivered most of Washington State's. The junior wing, who missed the last Cougar game serving a one-game suspension, took 15 shots in the first half, buried 6 of them (including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc) and posted 18 points. … That offset 13 points by UW freshman Terrence Ross in his first start. The Huskies started a smaller group, sitting Aziz N'Diaye and using three wings with Isaiah Thomas. It worked to some extent, as they shot a better.than-usual-against-WSU 41.4 percent, hitting 5 of 14 from long range. … Faisal Aden added an offensive spark, putting up eight points, though he is still struggling from 3, missing both attempts. … The Cougar zone (they played a majority of time in their 2-3) again seemed to make Thomas more of a distributor (six assists) than a scorer (5 points on 2-of-6 shooting). … OK, that's about it until I get my story posted some 90 minutes after the end of the game. Until then … 

Some pregame thoughts from Staples

COUGARS

We've been watching hours and hours of basketball here at the Staples Center and it's cemented some thoughts we've had for a while. So we figured we might as well share those thoughts before tip, which is in less than two hours or so. Read on.

Shock open 2011 season against SaberCats

Spokane and San Jose will kick off the 2011 Arena Football League season Friday in San Jose. More in my game preview.

Idaho loses to SJSU, will play in postseason

Back with my game story from Idaho's 74-68 loss to San Jose State in the WAC men's tournament quarterfinals. The Vandals went scoreless over the last three minutes.

Afterward, Idaho learned it will play at San Francisco at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the CollegeInsider.com tournament. More information here.

In the other quarterfinal game, New Mexico State defeated Nevada 66-60. The Aggies will face No. 2 Boise State in Friday's semifinals.

Pepperdine’s Asbury retiring, Wilson taking over

Pepperdine coach Tom Asbury is retiring and associate head coach Marty Wilson will be elevated to head coach, the WCC school announced Thursday afternoon. A press conference will be held Friday. More here.

Vandals fall, will play USF in collegeinsider.com tourney

Idaho couldn't overcome a couple of costly late turnovers, falling to San Jose State 74-68 Thursday in the WAC men's tournament quarterfinals.

Shortly after the loss, Idaho learned that it will play at San Francisco, the third-place finisher in the WCC, on UPDATE: Wednesday (not Tuesday as indicated by Idaho officials earlier) in the Collegeinsider.com tournament. Idaho played in the event two years ago, going 1-1.

Game story in about an hour.

Shock No. 1, SaberCats No. 2

The AFL preseason poll has added more interest to Spokane's season opener against San Jose State on Friday.

It'll be No. 1 (Spokane) vs. No. 2 (San Jose). Arizona, another division rival, is No. 6. Complete rankings here.

Vandals, Spartans coming up

Idaho and San Jose State tip in about 15 minutes in the WCC men's tournament quarterfinals. In-game updates at Twitter.com/SRjimm. (Same goes for the Idaho women vs. Nevada tonight at 6).

I'll post a game story here about two hours after the final horn.

WSU, UW have long wait until tonight’s game

COUGARS

The Internet connection at the motel was about as fast as my 40 time, so what usually takes an hour or so took twice that this morning. Though I got about 11 naps in while pages were loading. Anyway, it's done now on this first day of the Pac-10 tournament – the final Pac-10 tournament – for Washington State. Read on.

Bjorklund nears end of journey; Idaho wins, Cougars fall

Loyal readers, you may not have believed this day would get here, the end of the line checking in with the area Division I women's basketball players from the Class of 2007 … at least those who are coming to the end of the line of their college careers.

Our final installment is two-time State Player of the Year Angie Bjorklund (University), who went off to Tennessee and reached heights no other Spokane basketball player did, winning a national championship and being ranked No. 1. There were also a few lower moments playing for that storied program, but overall it is a dream come true and more.

As for games, despite Jazmine Perkins reaching 1,000 career points, Washington State's season came to an end with a loss to USC in the Pac-10 tournament but Idaho overcame illness with Yinka Olorunnife to beat Boise State for the third time this season at the WAC Tournament and plays Nevada tonight. Eastern Washington swings into action tonight against Montana State in the Big Sky Tournament.

The updated ESPN Bracketology keeps Gonzaga as a No. 10, the opponent is now Houston, with UCLA a No. 2 and the Big Sky champ a 15, in the Dallas Regional. … That's probably close although if Houston doesn't win its conference tournament but is deemed good enough for an at-large bid, the same thing could be accomplished with the Zags at No. 7, the seeding they had last year with an identical record. 

UI women thump BSU for third time

The third time looked like the first two. Idaho, after beating Boise State by 20 and 15 in the regular season, handled the Broncos by 11 in the opening round of the WAC women's basketball tournament.

Here's a link to my game story.

Vandals will face San Jose State

Good evening from my home away from home: The Orleans Arena, where I covered the WCC men's and women's tournaments and I've stayed over for the WAC men and women. I watched the No. 8 San Jose State's men win a 75-74 thriller over No. 5 Hawaii earlier today, earning a date with No. 4 Idaho in the WAC men's tournament quarterfinals tomorrow. Here's a look at the matchup.

In the other men's opener No. 6 Nevada defeated No. 7 Fresno State 90-80. The Wolf Pack will No.3 New Mexico State.

I'll be covering the Idaho-Boise State women's game at the top of the hour. For in-game updates, go to Twitter.com/SRjimm.

Vandals prep for San Jose State

The Idaho men's basketball team knows its opponent for its quarterfinal matchup in the WAC tournament. San Jose State held off Hawaii in the first game of the event and will take on UI at noon tomorrow. The Vandals and Spartans split their season series.

You can read Jim Meehan's advance below.

Shock lineup almost set for opener

The Spokane Shock open the 2011 season on the road against San Jose on Friday. Their lineup is virtually set as they begin defense of their 2010 ArenaBowl championship.

More here.

GU enjoys thrill of victory; 2 Zags honored

Somehow, someway Gonzaga won another WCC regular season title, another tournament crown and will advance to another NCAA tournament (13 years and counting). That's an accomplishment to be savored by the coaches and players, John Blanchette writes.

Meanwhile, senior guard Steven Gray (pictured above) and junior center Robert Sacre have been selected to the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) All-District 9 team announced Wednesday.

Gray was a first-team selection while Sacre garnered second-team honors. It is the first NABC All-District honor for both players.

More below.

WSU waits; UW loses a player

COUGARS • UPDATE 10:10 A.M.; 3:45 P.M.

The Pac-10 men's basketball tournament begins today at the Staples Center, but not for Washington State. No, the Cougars get another day of practice and another day of rest for point guard Reggie Moore's ankle. Read on.

• UPDATE 2: Reggie Moore's ankle has improved enough that he's expected to play Thursday. Moore practiced Wednesday. 

Chiefs defeat Everett 4-2

The Spokane Chiefs used a dominating first period - a 22-5 shot advantage, goals by Brenden Kichton, Steve Kuhn and Anthony Bardaro - to jump start a 4-2 win over the Everett Silvertips at the Arena Tuesday night.

It was the first of a five-game homestand, the final one of the Western Hockey League season. The win moved the Chiefs one point behind Portland in the battle for the top seed in the Western Division. The Chiefs would win the division if they win their final six games since the season ends with the teams matching up in Portland.

The Silvertips got a second period goal on the only power play of the night in the second period and pulled within one with 5 minutes to goal but Bardaro's second goal saved the game.

3 stars: 3, Everett G Luke Siemens; 2, Kuhn; 1, Bardaro.

Long box below

UI’s Ledbetter embraces being a target

The Vandals await the winner of tomorrow's San Jose State-Hawaii game to see who their opponent will be in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament. Idaho is set to meet the winner on Thursday at noon on ESPNU. For now, here's a link to my feature on UI shooting guard Jeff Ledbetter, a senior who doesn't shy away from the attention of opposing fans.

Jim Meehan is in Las Vegas and will have much more on the Vandals from the WAC tourney.

Olorunnife seizes the moment

Only 6-foot tall, Yinka Olorunnife (UI/Spencer Ferrin photo) is a great rebounder, which her recent records prove. She is also traveled an interesting path to get to Idaho and into the record books. She is the subject of this week's women's basketball notebook. … Gonzaga moved up on spot to No. 19 in the ESPN poll.

Gonzaga isn’t the only women’s BB news

I figured those of you who read this women's basketball blog were up on the news of yesterday, Gonzaga's shocking upset to win the WCC Tournament and senior guard Courtney Vandersloot someone winning a national award … OK, maybe we weren't completely sure Vandersloot would win the Frances Pomeroy Naismith Awad but there was no way the Bulldogs weren't winning. Anyway, those stories were handled by the A team in Las Vegas, including Christopher Anderson's slide show, but I was waiting to give you my last women's basketball notebook, but alas it's not posted yet and I have somethings to take care of before a hockey game tonight. Check back tonight before 7 for the notebook, in the meantime there is some news for you, so read on.

Change needed, retooling ahead?

I'm linking to John Blanchette's column last week about the WIAA's new state basketball tournament format. I was in Tacoma when this was published, and I was in a fog fighting a cold and severe cough and didn't see this posted on our website.

This is a must-read story because it includes fresh comments from WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese. Here it is.

Zags double up on WCC titles

Good morning from Las Vegas. One tourney down (WCC), one to go (WAC). We've got a ton of reading material from GU's men's and women's sweeps of Saint Mary's in the WCC title games.

Ladies first: Here's my game story, Chris Anderson's photos and a sidebar on the incomparable Courtney Vandersloot (pictured above). More from the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times and Seattle Times.

On the men's side, here's my gamer, Anderson's photos and John Blanchette's column. More in the San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, A.P., and Seattle Times.

Johnson officially signs with Tampa Bay

The only Tuesday night home game of the season awaits the Spokane Chiefs, which probably means there will be a sparse crowd on hand to give Tyler Johnson a hand for his big news, signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning over the weekend.

Everett will be without goalie Kent Simpson tonight because of a sprained ankle. Simpson had turned into the Silvertips ironman recently.

By the way, next year's Subway Series against the Russians will be played in Regina and Moose Jaw. The games are in the middle of November.

WSU on way to LA

COUGARS

We're in SeaTac watching the departure board diligently as our flight to Los Angeles has already changed gate and time more than once. But while we have a few minutes, we're trying to get our post finished. … Sorry, didn't get it done. Most of what you'll read on the link was finished on the flight. Read on.

Gonzaga claims WCC title with win over SMC

Back with my game story and Chris Anderson's photos from Gonzaga's 75-63 victory over Saint Mary's on Monday night. GU earns the WCC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Zags will be making their 13th straight trip to the NCAAs.

Gonzaga defeats Gaels in title game

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LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga is going to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th straight season.

The second-seeded Bulldogs broke from a 53-tie with an eight-point spurt, then added another 6-0 run to finish off a 75-63 victory over top-seeded Saint Mary’s in the WCC Tournament championship game Monday at the Orleans Arena. Read the game story here.


WSU opens spring practice

COUGARS

It was hard to get into football mode this afternoon. Hard? Crud, it was darn near impossible. The snow helped, as it gave practice a November feel. But otherwise, we were still in our basketball state of mind. No matter what, though, we have some notes for you. But if we use the word dribble, travel or foul, you'll know why. Read on.

WSU’s Thompson reinstated

COUGARS

Just got done talking with Washington State coach Ken Bone and Klay Thompson's suspension lasted one game. The junior was reinstated Monday after practice and will start Thursday night against Washington. Read on for more.

Chaves weighs in on firing of Earlywine

As promised, we've got an update on the firing of Eastern Washington men's basketball coach Kirk Earlywine.  You can read the latest version of the story — complete with comments from Eagles atheltic director Bill Chaves — that is scheduled to run in Tuesday morning S-R here, and you can see what EWU's sports information deparment released on the matter here.

Stay tuned for updates as they develop.  And feel free to let us know how you feel about Chaves' decision.

 

Gonzaga wins third straight WCC title

Back with the game story from GU's 72-46 victory over Saint Mary's in the WCC tournament women's title game.

It's been quite a week for Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves. He started it by traveling to Tacoma to watch his son, Max, a reserve on Gonzaga Prep's boys basketball team, win the first game of their state championship run. Max hopped on a plane after G-Prep finished its championship and was able to view both of GU's wins at the Orleans Arena.

“The Graves's are blessed,” Kelly said as he watched his players cut the nets down.

Here's my game story. UPDATE: Chris Anderson's photos.

Gonzaga thumps SMC to win title

LAS VEGAS – Courtney Vandersloot scored 18 points and handed out a WCC Tournament-record 16 assists, breaking the record of 14 she set 24 hours earlier, and Gonzaga overcame a sluggish first half to throttle Saint Mary’s 72-46 in the championship game Monday at the Orleans Arena. Read more.

Earlywine out as Eagles head coach

Kirk Earlywine was fired Monday morning as the head men's basketaball coach at Eastern Washington University.

You can read an early story on the matter here, but be sure to check back later for updates. I am currently trying to contact Eagles athletic director Bill Chaves.  I will also have some additional comments from Earlywine.

Good move? What do you think?

Thompson, Casto earn All-Pac-10 honors

COUGARS • UPDATED: 1:20 P.M.

We were on the drive down to Pullman for Ken Bone's teleconference when the Pac-10 released the all-conference teams. Real quick, Klay Thompson was first team, DeAngelo Casto was second team and all-defensive team member and that's it. UPDATE: We have more on the All-Pac-10 team on the link, along with Bone's comments on Thompson and Moore's status. He said he'll make a decision on Thompson by tomorrow morning and Moore may, only may, practice today. Read on.

Eastern fires Earlywine

Eastern Washington University men's basketball coach Kirk Earlywine was fired Monday. Read more here with updates to come.

Plenty of news before Zags hit court

Did you ever have one of those days, where you wanted to get everything done in a timely fashion so you cal steal away a little time for yourself to do something, like maybe watch the WCC women's championship game at noon on ESPNU, but everything goes wrong?

Maybe you wake up and find out your email has been spammed so all your friends, family and acquaintances think you're stuck in UK with a passport or money, plus your contacts are gone so you can't tell them otherwise? You find out all your friends are comedians and cheap and it's a dang good thing you're not stuck overseas.

But you forge ahead with work because Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot won a national award and the other three area teams are preparing for league tournaments, only to lose the post and all the links. Well, I'll try again. Read on for a Top 25 vote, a local star scorching hot in Tennessee and league tournament pairings. And check back later after the game for more league awards.

WSU gets back at it today

COUGARS

Monday mornings are usually good for a excellent cup of coffee – like everything, my wife Kim is so much better at making coffee than I am – and a few links. Today is different. No, the coffee is more than excellent, sublimely smooth would be a better phrase (hey, a compliment here and there keeps a marriage running). But there are a few more links than normal to pass along. If you've got a good cup of joe, read on.

Zags-Gaels in championship matchups

Good morning from Las Vegas. Hope you like to read because we have plenty of links for you.

It'll be Gonzaga-Saint Mary's in the men's and women's WCC title games today to determine the conference's automatic bids into the NCAA tournaments.

Start with the women: Here's my game story and Chris Anderson's photos from Gonzaga's 96-71 dismantling of Portland. GU will face the Gaels, who edged San Diego. More on Saint Mary's win here.

On the men's side, Gonzaga held off San Francisco 71-67. Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column and Anderson's photos. GU-USF game stories also from San Francisco Chronicle, Las Vegas Review-Journal and Contra Costa Times, as well as a Seattle Times column. The Chronicle also has a gamer from Saint Mary's-Santa Clara.

Update: A Peoria newspaper has GU assistant Ray Giacoletti, a native of East Peoria, on a long list of possible candidates for the Bradley job.

The women's title game tips at noon (in-game updates at Twitter.com/srjimm) and the men at 6.

Vandersloot named Pomeroy Naismith Award

Courtney Vandersloot, Gonzaga's record-breaking senior point guard, was named the 2011 Frances Pomeroy Naismith Award winner.

The award, named after James Naismith's daughter-in-law, is presented by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame through the voting of the Women's Basketball Coaches Association to the nation's top female player 5-foot-8 and under. There is also an award for men 6-foot and under.

The award was first presented in 1984 to Kim Mulkey of Louisiana Tech, now the coach of third-ranked Baylor. Maria Stack of Gonzaga won in the second year.

Criteria is leadership, character, loyalty, all-around basketball ability and excellence in the classroom.

Vandersloot, who will take the court in a couple of hours in the West Coast Conference Tournament championship game, leads the nation in assists at 9.9 a game. Earlier this season she became just the fourth female to surpass 1,000 career assists. Last week she received her unprecedented third WCC Player of the Year Award.

The award will be presented at a banquet during the Women's Final Four in Indianapolis next month.

Gonzaga advances to title game

Back with my game story from Gonzaga's hard-fought 71-67 victory over San Francisco. Crazy game, wild conclusion. The unedited version is below.

Check back in the morning for John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photo gallery.

Zags hang on, 71-67

Quick game story and gotta run for quotes.

 

By Jim Meehan

jimm@spokesman.com, (208) 765-7131

LAS VEGAS – Gonzaga set up a third showdown with Saint Mary’s, but it wasn’t easy.

The second-seeded Bulldogs built a 10-point halftime lead, then repelled numerous second-half comebacks by No. 3 San Francisco and hung on for a 71-67 victory in the WCC men’s basketball tournament semifinals Sunday at the Orleans Arena.

Marquise Carter hit seven free throws in the last 43 seconds and forced a turnover on USF’s Cody Doolin as Gonzaga (23-9) advanced to the title game for the 14th straight season. Carter finished with a team-high 18 points to pace a balanced attack.

Top-seeded Saint Mary’s (24-7) defeated No. 4 Santa Clara 73-64. Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s shared the WCC regular-season title, splitting two thrillers that came down to the closing seconds.

Gonzaga led 61-51, but hit an offensive dry spell as USF closed with 62-60. The Dons had a couple chances to tie or take the lead but Rashad Green committed a turnover and then was called for a charging foul.

Mike Hart then stripped the ball from Green on a baseline drive and Carter was fouled with 42.8 seconds left. Carter hit both free throws, then did so again at 27.8 seconds and 19.7 seconds.

Williams hit a 3-pointer to pull USF within three. Green stole the inbound pass and called timeout, but the Dons didn’t have any left. USF was called for a technical and Carter hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 69-65.

 

Ledbetter, Barone honored by WAC

The Vandal men's basketball team had a much more successful year than most expected, and as a result two key players were recognized Sunday in WAC postseason awards. Sharpshooting guard Jeff Ledbetter was a second-team selection and post Kyle Barone was an all-WAC honorable mention.

Read on for more.

Gaels defeat Santa Clara

Top-seeded Saint Mary's knocked off No. 4 Santa Clara 73-64 in the semifinals of the WCC men's tournament Sunday.

The  Gaels will take on the winner of the Gonzaga/San Francisco game. That will tip in about 30 minutes.

SMC's Mitchell Young had 17 points, Stephen Holt added 15 and Matthew Dellavedova 13 points and six assists. Mickey McConnell made just 1 of 6 shots, but finished with 10 points (8 of 8 FTs) and five assists.

Marc Trasonlini led Santa Clara with 22 points and Kevin Foster had 18 (5 of 18 shooting).

WCC getting future plans in order

The WCC will grow to nine teams next year with the addition of BYU. A nine-team configuration will obviously impact scheduling and the conference tournament format.

Those topics, and several others were addressed when a handful of reporters sat down with WCC commissioner Jamie Zaninovich prior to the Saint Mary's-Santa Clara men's semifinal.

Highlights below.

Gaels earn title shot vs. Gonzaga

No. 2 Saint Mary's held off No. 7 San Diego 71-68 to advance to Sunday's WCC women's title game against Gonzaga.

Danielle Mauldin's three-point play with 42.9 seconds left gave Saint Mary's the lead and Kate Gaze made four free throws as the Gaels (19-11) held off the Toreros. Louella Tomlinson led SMC with 21 points and nine boards.

Gonzaga thumped the Gaels 106-77 and 102-66 during the regular season.

“You can't let Gonzaga get into space,” Gaels coach Paul Thomas said. “We're going to have do our best to make it a grinder game. If we can keep the game in the 60s I think we have an opporutnity.”

Gonzaga rolls past Portland

Back with the game story from Gonzaga's 96-71 victory over Portland in the WCC women's tournament semifinals.

I waited to post the link until the other semifinal was over (No. 2 Saint Mary's outlasted No. 7 San Diego 71-68).

Gonzaga hammered Saint Mary's twice in the regular season, surpassing 100 points in each victory. GU won earlier meetings 106-77 and 102-66.

It was a long afternoon for Portland coach Jim Sollars.

“Well we got beat and there's nothing good about getting beat,” he said. “We didn't come out and play with the maturity we needed to. We looked intimidated. Finally, when we relaxed a little bit, we played better. We didn't do the things we needed to do. We knew going in we needed to stop their transition and keep them off the offensive boards and we didn't do either of those things.

“Frankly, I'm sick of talking about Gonzaga if you want to know the truth. If I could kick the crap out of that fan who sat right behind me I'd feel better.”

 

 

Zags move into title game

Gonzaga pounded Portland 96-71 on Sunday to advance to the WCC women's basketball tournament championship. Read the game story here.

Gonzaga will face No. 2 Saint Mary's in the title game. Saint Mary's beat No. 7 San Diego, 71-68.

GU women tip in about 15 minutes

Good morning from Las Vegas. About 15 minutes from tipoff of the Gonzaga-Portland semifinal at the WCC women's tournament at the Orleans Arena. Zag fans probably 2,000-2,500 strong on hand and a small cluster of Pilots backers.

GU starters, for the 30th time in 31 games, Bekkering, Vandersloot, Standish, Redmon and Bowen. That group is 25-4 as starters.

Switch over to twitter.com/srjimm for in-game updates.

WSU’s loss to UCLA, morning-after edition

COUGARS

Good morning from the Palouse. We have about 1.7 million links – but a lot less notes than we intended – to get to, so let's move. Read on.

GU women to face Pilots, men get USF

Third-seeded San Francisco pulled away from No. 6 Pepperdine 76-59 late Saturday night to earn a semifinal date with No. 2 Gonzaga in the WCC men's tournament. GU and USF split during the season.

The top-seeded Gonzaga women will face No. 4 Portland, which ended Santa Clara's season.

More on the semifinal matchups here.

Northwest Christian back on top of 2B

Kwinn Hanson scored 21 points, including all 17 of Northwest Christian's first-half total  and anchored the defense to lead the Crusaders to a 41-32 victory over Napavine for the 2B boys basketball championship Saturday night at the Arena.

 

The Tigers (23-4), appearing in the first title game, shot less than 30 percent. Reece Stanley and Colton Brown had 10 points apiece for Napavine

 

It was the seventh state title for Northwest Christian (25-2), which had a four-year reign end last year.

Vandals finish regular season with win

The Vandals followed much the same script Saturday night in a win over Seattle U as they did in beating Fresno State: start slow, pick it up before halftime and then really start playing. The result was positive, but there are a few troubling signs for Idaho headed into the postseason.

Read more in my game story from Moscow.

Statistical oddities for State B boys

It was odd when Drexler Doherty scored Neah Bay's first 14 points and had 16 in the first quarter in the State 1B championship game. He also had 19 at halftime as his team trailed Sunnyside Christian 31-25.

Well, something just as strange is going on in the 2B championship game. Northwest Christian is leading Napavine 17-15 and Kwinn Hanson has all 17 Crusader points. The first 16 came on 8 of 11 shooting. The rest his teammates are 0-10.

Final State B game ready to go

Fourth national anthem is in the books, seventh and eighth teams of the night introduced, tip-off is moments away for the fourth State B championship game at the Arena, 2B boys, Northwest Christian going for its seventh title, Napavine in its first title game. Close to a half-hour late, not too bad with all the net cutting and trophy presentations.

Crusaders stare down Tigers for State 2B title

After two draining games that were decided by a total of six points, the Northwest Christian Crusaders will try and make it three in a row at the state tournament when they take on Napavine. The Tigers, led by the hot shooting of David Lorton, easily dispatched Lake Roosevelt and Bear Creek to make the championship. Both teams feature good size underneath and skilled guard play on the perimiter. Should be a doozy.

Reardan wins 2B girls championship

Reardan used a 10-0 run in the second half to pull away from Toutle Lake to win the State 2B girls basketball championship 55-42, the Indians' fourth title but first since 1988.

Sophomores Chantel Heath scored 16 points and Kelsey Moos 13 for the Indians (25-3), who trailed 35-31 when the surge started.

Toutle Lake (26-3) was playing in its first title game.

LC girls win again

The Lewis and Clark girls basketball team captured its fourth State 4A championship in six years, a 62-49 win over Federal Way on Saturday at the Tacoma Dome.

Here's my game story. Meanwhile, I'll be tweeting (twitter.com/srpreps) during the Gonzaga Prep/Curtis boys 4A state title game that tips off at the ungodly time of 9:30.

Doherty ties record, Isaak breaks one

It wasn't easy to determine Drexler Doherty matched a State 1B boys basketball record, it took a little longer to figure Derek Isaak's.

Doherty scored 31 in Neah Bay's 55-50 loss to Sunnyside Christian Saturday night. That's one more point than Tyler Edwards of Cusick scored against Lummi at last year's tournament in Yakima, but of course just matched the 31 Colton's Dustin Patchen scored yesterday, when the Bruins beat the Wildcats 63-60. (Doherty onlyhad 23 in that game.)

As for Isaak, his game winning shot in Almira/Coulee-Hartline's 57-55 win over Colton for third place, his last points in three trips to State, gave him 247 points. With the 97 he scored, he erased the 202 of Moses Lake Crisitian's Adrian Moffet from 2007-09.

About those records, B historian and former long-time coach Jim Stinson, mentioned tonight he was going to close the record books at 2010 and start another one effective with this tournament. That's because some teams can play five games at state, when in the past four was the max.

In fact, 1B girls champion Colton played five. The Wildcats lost to ACH last Friday in a first-round game in Walla Walla. Colton bounced back to beat St. John's on Saturday to qualify for the final eight, then ran the table in Spokane.

WSU’s spring football starts Monday

COUGARS

We put together a feature on the three Florida high school kids who enrolled early at Washington State as a kickoff to spring football, which starts Monday afternoon. But we didn't believe that was enough of the nuts and bolts stuff. So we put together another piece that is only available here. Read on.

Reardan searching for state title against Ducks

Last year, the Reardan Indians missed out on playing in the state title game, but hope to follow in Bi-County rival Colfax's footsteps, by winning a title after the Bulldogs won the last two.

 

The Indians will have to get by Toutle Lake, which has disposed of Brewster and Lake Roosevelt to play in tonight's championship.

WSU falls to UCLA, 58-54 in OT

COUGARS

We've got our game story done and turned into the office. We also have a football post to put up. But that will come in a few minutes. First, let's catch up with Washington State's near miss against UCLA at Beasley. Hey, I know I've written that sentence before. Read on.

Sunnyside turns back Neah Bay despite Doherty’s 31 points

Steven Broesma scored 24 points to lead Sunnyside Christian to a 55-50 win over Neah Bay in the State 1B boys basketball championship game at the Arena.

The Bruins were in it until the end as Drexler Doherty scored a 1B tournament record 31 points, matching the  31 Dustin Patchin of Colton had a day earlier - against the Bruins, also in a losing effort (63-60).

It's the seventh state title for the Knights.

Idaho comes up short; PSU wins Sky

There is a ton of women's basketball news, and between the two State B championship games I'm covering I'm going to catch you up.

Read on.

Knights battle Devils in 1B boys title game

After two excruciatingly close semifinal games, the Sunnyside Christian Knights and Neah Bay Red Devils will square off for the State 1B championship. Sunnyside Christian escaped with a win against ACH after giving up a double-digit lead to the Warriors. On the other side of the coin, Neah Bay came back from a second-half deficit to beat Colton 63-60.

Colton wins 3rd straight 1B girls title

Molly Kramer battled foul trouble but still scored 13 points and freshman Jenna Moser contributed some key baskets as Colton won its third straight 1B girls basketball championship by beating Almira/Coulee-Hartline 50-40 in a title game rematch from last year.

The Wildcats (25-2) avenged a 45-43 loss to the Warrior (24-3) in last Friday's first-round game of the new state tournament format. Colton won last year's title game 64-34.

ACH fell into a hole early, missing all eight of its shots in the first quarter to trail 9-4. The Warriors crawled back to tie the game at 12 but fell back again, trailing 22-14 at half and 31-27 entering the fourth quarter.

Nikki Osborne, who led ACH with 19 points, banked in a 3 early in the fourth quarter to cut Colton's lead to 33-32 but Kramer scored inside and, Haley Moser, who fouled out with 10 points, hit a pair of free throws. Then Jenna Moser nailed a 3. Kramer finished with 15 points, Jenna Moser 9 and Kaitlin Druffel had 10.

Hoops Diamond-in-the-Rough

Sometimes a jewel can be mined from a remote source. That certainly could be the case for lanky Dustin Patchen, a 6-foot-6 junior basketball player from Colton.

During three days at the State 1B basketball tournament (Hardwood Classic) in the Spokane Arena, Patchen was impressive. He was a state tournament leader in several statistical categories including blocked shots.

Patchen averaged 25 points per game, including 31 in a semifinal loss to Neah Bay. He set a tournament single game record with 22 rebounds (giving him 46 in three games) in Saturday’s game for third and fifth, a second narrow loss, to Almira/Coulee-Hartline.

The stats stood out, but moreso was his silky soft shooting touch and, with large and surprising strong hands given his thin 195-pound frame, the ability to secure the basketball in a crowd and score with people hanging all over him.

“And he’s a young junior who technically coould be a sophomore,” said his coach, Seth Paine. “He can get up and down the floor good for a big kid, has pretty good feet and has got an unbelievably soft touch. Plus he’s a hard working kid. I think the only person who can stop Dustin is Dustin. If he wants to play at a four-year school, I think he’s very capable of doing that.”

Warriors vs. Wildcats Part II

Just two hours after the Almira/Coulee-Hartline and Colton boys took part in a 57-55 barnburner for third place, the Warrior and Wildcat girls will square of for the State 1B girls' title. ACH has cruised through its first two games to reach the championship, outscoring its opposition 110-58. Colton, meanwhile, survived a 40-35 scare against Sunnyside Christian to reach the finals.

WSU leads 32-19 at half

COUGARS

After DeAngelo Casto took Marcus Capers' feed and dunked with 40.7 left in the half to give WSU a 32-17 lead over UCLA, Klay Thompson just couldn't sit down on the end of the bench, his feet constantly moving up and down. Thompson, who apologized to the crowd before the game for his marijuana bust Thursday night and is suspended, was just too full of energy. And Reggie Moore? Sprained ankle or not, he's up a lot cheering as well. … They had a lot to cheer about. The Cougars running their high post set, with lots of back cuts and screens, were executing well, getting seven layups in the half, five in the half court. … And, on the other end, they probably shocked UCLA a bit by starting in a man, but switched to zone early, though they extended it the entire time, making the Bruins use clock. … Without Thompson, WSU needs balanced scoring and it's getting it. Brock Motum has 9, Faisal Aden 7 (though 2 of 9 from the field), Casto has 6 and Abe Lodwick 5. Only three Bruins have scored – they are shooting 28 percent – with Reeves Nelson leading with 9. Josh Smith has 6 and Lazeric Jones 4. … UCLA is 0-8 from beyond the arc. … WSU is shooting 48 percent and winning the rebound battle 18-14. … We'll be back a couple hours after the game, but this is it until then, except on Twitter.

Johnson commits to Tampa Bay Lightning

Although it won't become official until all the paper work is signed - Spokane's Spokane Chief Tyler Johnson is about to sign a professional contract. Johnson has accepted an offer from Tampa Bay. He'll sign on Sunday when the Chiefs get back from their trek to Prince George. Spokane won 5-4 on Friday night with Johnson notching his league-leading 47th goal. The teams meet again tonight.

WSU vs. UCLA, the pregame post

COUGARS

I have already been asked a handful of times if Washington State has a chance today without Reggie Moore and Klay Thompson. My answer to everyone is the same as the one I will pass on to you. Read on.

Pilots thump Santa Clara; LMU’s Teel booted

No. 4 Portland defeated No. 5 Santa Clara 75-64 in the women's quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament. Portland's Tara Cronin (Gonzaga Prep) followed her own miss with 20 seconds left and Amy Pupa added a layup before the buzzer as Portland boosted its lead to 11 at half. Cronin made four free throws in the final minute as the Pilots maintained a comfortable lead.

Cronin scored 12 points (she needed seven) to reach 1,000 in her career. Junior guard ReZina TecleMariam led Portland with 28 points and four assists.Natalie Day added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Pilots (16-14) will face No. 1 seed Gonzaga at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Elsewhere, Loyola Marymount's men, winners over San Diego last night, will be without senior guard Vernon Teel the rest of the season. Teel has been booted off the team, the school announced Saturday morning.

“This was an internal decision that we felt was best for our team and our program,”  coach Max Good said in a statement. “This was strictly based on internal issues and was not attributed to behavior in or around the WCC tournament.”

Teel apparently wasn't happy with being removed late in Friday's win.

Bulldogs to play for third

Colfax will try and right the ship today as the Bulldogs face off against Bear Creek in the third-place game of the State 2B boys tournament. The Bulldogs were edged by Northwest Christian 48-44 in their semifinal game and hope a new day will bring better results against the Grizzlies.

 

The Columbia girls will hope for the same in their third-place game against Sunnyside Christian in State 1B action. The Lions will try and erase the memory of a 19-point loss against ACH, looking to close their season on a high note against the Knights.

WCC first day

The first day of the WCC tournaments had a little of everything.

On the women's side, No. 5 Santa Clara held off No. 8 San Francisco 62-58. SCU's Alyssa Shoji scored 18 points and Lena Gipson added 14 points and 14 rebounds. The Broncos face No. 4 Portland today at noon.

No. 7 San Diego thumped No. 6 Loyola Marymount 73-63 as Sam Child scored 19 points and Emily Hatch had 15 points and 13 boards. The Toreros meet No. 3 Pepperdine.

On the men's side, LMU made tourney history by becoming the first No. 8 seed to advance to the quarterfinals under the current format, which has been in effect since 2003, when it defeated No. 5 Portland 72-68. The last eight seed to win at the WCC tourney was LMU in 1997. LMU faces No. 4 Santa Clara tonight. More on LMU's win here.  

No. 6 Pepperdine made 36 of 44 free throws to edge No. 7 San Diego 84-81. The Waves will face No. 3 San Francisco in tonight's late game.

More on the openers here, here and here.

Game day at WSU with UCLA coming in

COUGARS

There are all the usual links this Saturday morning, the type you would find here every week. But, with spring football kicking off around the West soon, the NCAA asking Oregon for some documentation – what, the Ducks are going to be deported? – and some commotion in Pullman on Thursday night, there are some out-of-the-ordinary links as well. Read on.

Raiders, Rangers play for fourth

Waking up early on a Saturday is torture for a 16-year old high school kid. So waking them up early on a Saturday to play a basketball game is probably akin to asking the dead to rise and put on a broadway show.

 

But that is what is being asked of the Lake Roosevelt and La Conner boys teams and the Selkirk and Neah Bay girls. Playing at 8 a.m., an hour earlier than Thursday and Friday's earliest tilts, they will battle it out for fourth place at the Spokane Arena.

 

In State 2B boys' action, Lake Roosevelt bounced back in its second game, handling Waitsburg-Prescott, while La Conner outlasted Adna.

 

The State 1B girls' fourth-place trophy will go to either Selkirk or Neah Bay, who both registered blow out wins in their second games against Lopez and Mary M. Knight respectively.

G-Prep boys, LC girls go for gold ball

The Gonzaga Prep boys and Lewis and Clark girls basketball teams will play for the 4A state championship Saturday. Here's my boys game story and my girls game story.

Some late night links from WSU

COUGARS

Well, I wasn't going to post again tonight, but finally decided to after my advance for tomorrow's game was posted. But we're keeping it short, because there is a lot of important breaking news on the site. … You can read my advance here, and Ben Bolch's of the LA Times here. … John Blanchette has a column on Klay Thompson's situation. … And, in our off-the-wall-link-of-the-day, a look at the finances from around the Pac-10 from Forbes Magazine. See you in the morning.

Reardan highlights last pair of games

The final pairings for Friday's games will be Reardan against Darrington in the 2B girls' game and Colton against Neah Bay in the 1B boys.

 

The Reardan Indians are fresh off a 63-48 win over Napavine and will look to double their pleasure against Darrington, which won in double overtime Thursday over White Swan.

 

In the final boys' matchup, District 9 runner up Colton will square up against Neah Bay a day after winning their first ever state tournament game.

Warriors eye spot in title game

The Almira/Coulee-Hartline boys will try and join their female counterparts in tomorrows 1B title games. To get there, the Warriors will have to beat Sunnyside Christian in their State 1B semifinal. The Knights pounded Lummi 62-23. ACH also made quick work of its first opponent, Mt. Rainier Lutheran, winning 66-25.

 

In the first State 2B girls' semifinal, Lake Roosevelt will shoot for a title-game berth playing Toutle Lake. The Raiders beat Adna 50-30 to move into today's semifinal. Toutle Lake handled Brewster in its quarterfinal 41-32.

Eagles out to “prove it” in BSC tourney

Eastern Washington's men's basketball team will make its first postseason appearance in five years when it takes on Weber State in Ogden, Utah, in Saturday night's opening-round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament.

You can get an early look at the game advance that will appear in Saturday morning's S-R here; you can read the game notes posted by EWU's sports information department here, and you can check out the tournament preview supplied by the Big Sky office here.

ACH, Columbia meet again in rematch of District 7 title game

The last time ACH and Columbia met, the Warriors sent the Lions packing, earning the top spot out of District 7. The result? ACH needed just one game to advance to Hardwood Classic, while the Lions needed back-to-back wins. Both teams held up their end of the bargain last weekend and now meet again in the State 1B girls' semifinals, with a berth in the title game on the line.

 

In the other State 2B boys' semifinal, Bear Creek and Napavine will try and earn a date in the championship with Northwest Christian. Napavine cruised by Lake Roosevelt in its first round game, while the Grizzlies needed overtime to beat Waitsburg-Prescott.

League foes battle for spot in finals

Colfax and Northwest Christian have seen plenty of each other this season, splitting two games during the Bi-County 2B league season and playing again for the district title. NWC holds a 2-1 edge in the season series and now both teams will battle for the first spot in the State 2B boys' championship game.

 

Colton, meanwhile, will get its first test of the tournament, playing Sunnyside Christian. Both teams opened yesterday with 30-point wins against Neah Bay and Mary M. Knight. The winner of this afternoon's game between the Wildcats and Knights will play for the State 1B girls' title tomorrow.

WSU’s Wulff talks about spring

COUGARS • UPDATED: 3:20 P.M.

We got out of Paul Wulff's pre-spring-practice press conference, ran and bought some lunch and now are ready to dump out the notebook on the blog. Read on.

Colton coach and I go way back

When I learned Seth Paine was boys basketball coach at Colton, a scene flashed before my eyes. It was the spring of 1990 and East Valley's soccer team, on which he was a member, was playing. The Knights were one of the most physical, fearless and relentless teams I've ever watched, an unforgettable moment.

Seth played basketball on Rick Meddock's first team and won just a handful of games. And he took up baseball in the summer on EV's J&R Rigging American Legion team and exhibited a talent for that sport as well.

“You were the guy who tried to get me to play at WSU,” Paine reminded me Thursday night following Colton's State 1B victory over unbeaten Columbia Adventist. “I don't know if you remember that, but you told me I should walk on down there.”

He began coaching after high school with a district coach, Jim Phinney, got the bug working in junior high, for four years at Garfield-Palouse under Craig Brantner, now at Pullman, and in Asotin. Three years ago he got the head job in Colton.

“I thought I was ready,” he said. “Three years ago we won four games.”

But the players worked hard, getting in 42 summer games and earned the school's first boys state basketball berth. Wednesday they earned their first trophy as well and tonight at 9 p.m. meet Neah Bay for a berth in the finals.

Said Paine, “The thing is, minus a couple of colorful adjectives, I told the players, 'why not win the whole thing?'”

Having seen his competitiveness first hand, why not, indeed?

Elimination Friday continues

After two lopsided girls' games and two hotly contested boys games in the opening session, Brewster and Adna will try and prove they deserve to stick around in the State 2B girls' bracket, while Lummi and Mt. Rainier Lutheran will do the same in boys' 1B play.

 

Brewster, a perennial state power up until 2008, lost in its first game back to the Hardwood Classic, 41-32 to Toutle Lake.

 

Lummi and Mt. Rainier Lutheran will try and get on the right track after tough first-round losses by a combined 80 points.

WSU’s win over USC, the hangover

COUGARS • UPDATED: 10:25 A.M., 1:30 P.M.

What a way to burst a bubble. After the crucial win over USC on Thursday night, not only had Washington State ensured a bye in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament but it also made Saturday's game with UCLA a bigger deal. But Reggie Moore sprained his ankle, which put a damper on the postgame. And then Klay Thompson was pulled over by the Pullman police. We have more on all this, so read on.

WSU’s Thompson arrested Thursday night

COUGARS • UPDATED: 9:35 A.M.

What a way to start the morning. Here's the story on Klay Thompson's arrest last night. We'll be back soon with more.

• UPDATE: WSU released a statement saying Thompson was suspended for tomorrow's UCLA game and the situation would continue to be evaluated.

breakfast bracket games

For the teams who fell Thursday, the next day of competition becomes a fight for their tournament lives. Elimination Friday will mean the difference between returning home with a piece of hardware or going home empty-handed.

 

In the opening elimination game in the State 2B boys basketball tournament La Conner and Adna will try to avoid going 0-2 in tournament play and advance to Saturday's fourth-place game. both the Braves (21-5) and Pirates (22-4) are coming off agonizing losses to Northwest Christian and Colfax respectively. The Braves lost 59-57, while Adna was edged 45-44.

 

The State 1B girls' game will be a chance at redemption for both Neah Bay and Mary M. Knight. The Red Devils (23-2) were blown out by Colton in their first game, while Mary M. Knight (11-13) was held to 11 points in their loss against Sunnyside Christian.

Vandal women clinch 5th seed

Idaho got a key win for seeding purposes but Washington State couldn't close in Los Angeles and Eastern Washington can't find the touch. Our women's basketball roundup, read on.

Shock TV and player moves

Another busy day for the Spokane Shock, who are sorting out their roster in preparation for their March 11th opener at San Jose. That game will be televised at 8 p.m. by KREM 2, with the Rob Keefe Coach's Show airing at 7:30. That link also has details on the new broadcast team (EWU football play-by-play voice Larry Weir replaces Greg Heister. Weir joins analyst Mike Peterson for the broadcast of home games.)

Former Eastern Washington Eagle Lance Witherspoon has left the Shock to go to the CFL. That link also has news on several other player transactions. 

WSU holds on, stops USC 85-77

COUGARS

We're blogging, though we would rather be headed back to the apartment and some zzzs. But no, we have to go over another game where one team came out flat and showed no energy in the first half. But this one was different. How different? Read on.

Vandals capture gritty win over Fresno

Idaho backup point guard Landon Tatum was watching the Utah State-New Mexico State game on Wednesday night when he heard Aggies coach Stew Morrill tell a reporter that sometimes a team has to win ugly. “This was one of those games that was just ugly to win,” Tatum said of the Vandals' 69-66 victory over Fresno State.

Ugly? Yes. But senior Shawn Henderson had another perspective: “It’s only ugly when you’re down (by 13). I guess it’s kind of cute when you come back, though.”

You can read about Idaho's “cute” rally in my game story below.

Eags’ Dean second-team all-BSC pick

Eastern Washington's sophomore point guard Glen Dean was named to the second-team of the All-Big Sky Conference awards that were announced on Thursday. You can read more here, and you can see that EWU's sports information department post about the Eagles upcoming BSC tournament game against Weber State here.

WSU leads 41-26 at half

COUGARS

Did a lot of tweeting just after the halftime buzzer, but we'll touch salient points here. WSU's lead is built on good shooting (56.7 percent) and even better rebounding (lead 20-12 in that category). I am sure Kevin O'Neill is ripping into the Trojans as we write, so repeating those numbers after halftime won't be easy. … The bad news is Reggie Moore left with 11:14 until halftime with what looked like a pretty badly sprained right ankle. He took a shot and came down on a USC player, went down and hobbled off. He hasn't returned to the bench. … Faisal Aden has filled in well tonight, eschewing the 3-point shot for the most part (he's 0-for-2) and instead doing what he does well, faking and attacking. He's got 10 points. … DeAngelo Casto has been dealing with Nikola Vucevic's elbows well enough to hit 5-of-6 shots and lead all scorers with 11 points. Aden and Klay Thompson have 10 apiece. … Interesting stat of the first half: Points in the paint, WSU 24, USC 10. … We'll be back about 90 minutes after the buzzer with our post.

WSU, USC, the pregame post

COUGARS

Here we are, another Thursday night in Beasley. The last Thursday night in Beasley this season as a matter of fact. The last Thursday we get to see the students “not run” to the best seats. We have some thoughts on this last Thursday game (and I got Thursday into this lead five times, a record I do believe). Read on.

Zag men, women trying to earn automatic bids

Running short on time, but here are my previews of the Gonzaga men's and women's teams as they head to their respective WCC tournaments in Las Vegas this weekend.

Warriors/Raiders get first taste of Hardwood Classic

With the day moving over to the other two tournaments featured at the Spokane Arena, the Almira/Coulee-Hartline boys and Lake Roosevelt girls will try and make the state semifinals.

 

ACH opens play in the State 1B bracket with Mt. Rainier Lutheran, hoping to join the ACH girls in tomorrow's semifinals. The two teams feature just one loss between them, making for a hotly contested quarterfinal. But that would be the norm for today's action, as two of the 2B boys' games were separated by a combined three points and a third went into overtime.

 

In the girls' State 2B bracket, Lake Roosevelt will try and advance to the semifinals, playing the Adna Pirates. The LR boys fell earlier in 2B action today. An interesting thing to watch for is the closeness of this contest. All four 1B girls games were won by more than 30 points.

ACH highlights final games of opening session

It has been a lackluster first three games of the girls' State 1B tournament. three blowouts have included the two worst scoring performances in tournament history. Looking to make it four straight are the high-flying Almira/Coulee-Hartline Warriors in their game against the Selkirk Rangers of the Panorama League.

 

In the final State 2B boys game, the Bear Creek Grizzlies wil face off against Waitsburg-Prescott, with the winner advancing to play Napavine. After two games in which the opponents were separated by a combined three points, Lake Roosevelt laid a clunker against the Napavine Tigers, becoming the first team to get blown out in the 2B bracket.

Tweeting in Tacoma

I'll be tweeting updates (www.twitter.com/srpreps) from the 4A and 3A boys and girls state hoops tourney in Tacoma.

First up is Gonzaga Prep/Kentridge boys and North Central/Auburn Mountainview girls at 2.

Acute growing pains for Owls

Mary K. Knight, which took a ho-hum 11-12 record into Thursday's quarterfinals of the State 1B girls' basketball  tournament — along with the distinction of being the youngest team in this year's field, showed its youth and inexperience in a big, and bad, way during a 73-11 loss to Sunnyside Christian.

The Owls, who trailed 47-4 at halftime, set a State 1B record for the lowest single point total — a mark that stood for a whole two hours, or until Columbia (Hunters) finished thundering Lopez 51-9- in the quarterfinal mismatch that followed.

Afterward, MKK coach Lance Valley admitted his girls fell victim to the state tournament “Wow factor,” which is understandable, considering Valley has four freshmen and four eighth-graders — two of whom are part of the Owls' regular rotation — on his roster..

According to Valley, you are allowed to bring eighth graders up to play on the varsity any time there are nine or fewer girls in the entire high school, and this year Mary K. Knight has only eight.

That the Owls managed to qualify for state is remarkable in itself. During the regular season, they lost back-to-back games by scores of 55-11 and 51-19. And Taholah, the team they beat 45-37 in the secnd round of the State B, blistered the Owls 61-35 and 54-27 during the regular season.

“We had been playing better,” said Valley, whose team committed 39 turnover during Thursday's loss, “but today we had that deer-in-the-headlights thing going on.”

Idaho AD addresses WAC expansion, more

University of Idaho athletic director Rob Spear spoke with reporters this morning, touching on football scheduling, WAC expansion, the Kibbie Dome renovation and trying to bolster attendance at basketball games.

Click below for all the details.

Raiders and Lions take up challenge

Local teams have had their run of success through the morning bracket games as the Colfax and Northwest Christian boys have advanced to the boys' State 2B semifinals and Colton has moved on in the girls' 1B bracket.

 

Next up in the 2B boys is Lake Roosevelt, which will go up against Napavine for a spot in the semis. Lake Roosevelt beat St. George's handily to advance to Spokane and led by Ty Egbert, will try and beat the Tigers, who won their only game of the state tournament last Friday.

 

The Columbia Lions have risen to every challeng thus far this postseason after getting knocked off by Almira/Coulee-Hartline for the disrict title. Since then, the Lions have won four straight games and find themselves pitted against the Lobos of District 1.

NW Christian top scorer will return

Northwest Christian's twin towers, 6-6 Rueben Clark and 6-5 Kwinn Hanson, was cut in half when Hanson took an inadvertent shot to the mouth midway through the second quarter of the Crusaders' State 2B boys basketball game against LaConnor  Thursday morning.

Hanson changed shoes and departed the Arena while his teammates were left adjust without their leading scorer and his almost 19 points a game.

The Braves four-guard lineup almost got the Crusaders, falling 59-57 as Landy James scored 16 points, Mike Wilbur and Kyle McKnight 13 apiece and Spencer Novak 11 points.

NWC guards were up to the challenge with Cole Ramey scoring 16 points and Dakota Winward 15.

As for Hanson, who had six points and three rebounds in his 11.5 minutes,  he had got some stitches and is expected to be ready when the Crusaders renew their rivalry with Colfax, which escaped Adna 45-44.

 

Northwest Christian is in a huge battle with LaConnor, it's 48-46 Crusaders with 5:30 to go. NWC has been without leading scoring Kwinn Hanson, who left the Arena with his mother in the first half, probably headed to see a dentist after taking an elbow or head to the mouth. Hanson is the team's leading scorer at 18.9 ppg.

Second batch of games

With Colfax already winning their first game of the boys' State 2B tournament, Northwest Christian and La Conner will do battle to earn the right to face the Bulldogs in the second round. NWC, who shared the Bi-County 2B league title with the Bulldogs' will hope to meet them in the semifinals.

 

In the State 1B girls' game, Mary M. Knight will hope to continue its recent run against Sunnyside Christian. MMK needed two wins to advance to Spokane and did just that, beating Highland Christian and Lopez back-to-back.

Busy closing week for women’s basketball

Welcome from the State B basketball tournament at the oud Arena, where I'm set up for coverage of the 2B boys. But there is still some women's basketball news, starting with Hofstra freshman Katie Loper (Post Falls) scoring a career high in a win. Read on.

Welcome to State B

The Colfax boys and Colton girls are among the first four teams to start their quest for a state title in the 9 a.m. games.

 

Colfax plays Adna in the first game of the boys 2B bracket, and an early shaky start has them down 7-4 in the first quarter.

 

The Colton girls, meanwhile, have started on an 8-3 run against Neah Bay in State 1B action.

Game day at WSU

COUGARS

It's game day on the Palouse and the outlook has brightened considerably since Tuesday. Not in the basketball sense. No, with USC (the second-hottest team in the Pac-10) coming to town tonight at 7 (no TV, but there is a web feed from Washington State) and UCLA (the hottest team) headed here Saturday afternoon at 2:30 (FSN), the road to earning a bye in the tournament is as snow-covered as ever. No, we're referring to the real roads around here. They've gotten so much better in the past 48 hours, it's actually simple to get around. That couldn't have been said Tuesday. Read on.

Sneak preview

Here are a couple more state basketball tournament stories that will be published in Thursday's newspaper.

First, a feature by Steve Bergum on the five Eagle Scouts and teammates on the Rosalia boys basketball team. And here's a state tournament notebook.

State prep hoops

The final weekend of state events in Washington and Idaho is here.

Click the tab below to see stories published in the paper today. I just arrived in Tacoma for the 4A and 3A boys and girls state tournaments.

Seidensticker’s turn for homecoming

Today is a perfect day for a quick lesson in the newspaper biz.

Read on and I'll eventually get you to the women's basketball update, including Gonzaga prominent in NCAA bracketology discussions.

Lots of news from WSU, Pac-10

COUGARS

Yes, it's Wednesday already and the short week just seems to get shorter. Let's get right to it. After all, we have some more from long snapper Zach Enyeart, the video star. Read on.

Third or fourth seed up for grabs for UI

Will the Idaho Vandals finish third in the WAC? How about fourth … or fifth … or sixth? All those options are in playing heading into the final week of the regular season. We’ve got lots below on the seeding scenarios and comments from Don Verlin leading into an all-important home game with Fresno State on Thursday. (UI then ends the regular season Saturday vs. Seattle at Cowan Spectrum).

Shock trade Dillon to Chicago

Spokane traded WR Charles Dillon, the former Washington State Cougar who helped the Shock win the 2009 ArenaCup, to Chicago for claim order position. More here on Dillion and a couple of other Shock transactions.

WSU’s Enyeart a video star

COUGARS

I tweeted about this today during hoops practice, but I wanted to go into a little more in-depth about long snapper Zach Enyeart's trick-snap video. Read on.

Chiefs Engel WHL goalie of the month

Mac Engel has proven to be more than a fill-in.

The Spokane Chiefs' backup goalie, pressed into service when James Reid was injured in January, has been named the Western Hockey League Goaltender of the Month for February.

Not a bad replacement when the team's all-time leader in wins isn't available.

The 17 year-old from Red Deer, Alberta, posted a 9-2 for the month with two of his three shutouts. His 1.83 goals against average lowered his season mark to 2.41, second in the league. He also stopped 93 percent of the shots he faced and seven of his nine wins came against U.S. Division rivals

Raivio a Mad Ant

Ex-Zag Derek Raivio has been traded from the NBA Development League's Erie BayHawks to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants. Raivio averaged 4.9 points for the BayHawks. More here.

WSU’s Bland arrested

COUGARS

As we said on the previous post, we spent a while today running down the particulars of linebacker Louis Bland's domestic violence arrest that occurred early Saturday morning. We have a story, so read on.

Bone talks USC, UCLA

COUGARS

While we wait for a return phone call – one of the major pastimes of journalists – we thought we would catch you up on basketball coach Ken Bone's press conferences today, so read on.

Five Bulldogs earn All-WCC honors

As mentioned in a previous post, Gonzaga had five players (Steven Gray, Rob Sacre, Elias Harris, Marquise Carter and Sam Dower) honored when the All-WCC teams/individual awards were announced Tuesday.

Here's a link to my article that will run in Wednesday's S-R. (Carter and Dower are pictured above.)

More from the conference office and GU sports information.

Five Zags honored

Gonzaga's Steven Gray and Robert Sacre were selected to the All-West Coast Conference team and Marquise Carter was named newcomer of the year. Sam Dower made the All-WCC freshmen team.

Sophomore Elias Harris was honorable mention.

The All-WCC teams and individual awards, voted on by the coaches, were announced Tuesday.

Saint Mary's Mickey McConnell was voted player of the year and the Gaels' Randy Bennett was coach of the year. Santa Clara's Troy Payne was selected defensive player of the year.

More later. 

Vandersloot WCC MVP again

Courtney Vandersloot is the West Coast Conference Player of the Year for an unprecedented third-straight year. The senior point guard from Kent averaged a double-double in WCC play, leading the league in scoring at 20.7 while dishing off 10.1 assists.

Vandersloot, who was the league's Freshman of the Year when teammate Heather Bowman was the Player of the Year, made the all-league team for the fourth straight season, something only Bowman and four other players have done. She is joined on the all-league team by Kayla Standish, from Ellensburg, and Katelan Redmon, Bowman's former teammate at Lewis and Clark. Janelle Bekkering earned honorable mention.

Kelly Graves, who has guided the Bulldogs to seven straight WCC regular-season titles, is coach of the year for the second time in a row, fourth time in five years and sixth overall.

The Bulldogs are now ranked 20th in the ESPN coach's poll.

Day after Cal State Bakersfield

After a sluggish start, Gonzaga cruised past Cal State Bakersfield 96-49 Monday on Senior Night. Here's a link to my game story and to Dan Pelle's photo gallery.

My day-after post is below.

(Reminder: All-Conference teams will be announced in the noon hour).

NC boys on Youtube

Just talked with North Central boys coach Jay Webber. He directed me to a link on YouTube which shows the final minute of the Indians' 44-43 win over Kamiakin.

Check it out here.

WSU has little time to get ready for USC

COUGARS

It's a short week in Pullman, in the sense the USC game looms just a couple days away. With that in mind, we don't want to waste any of your time, so let's get right to it. Read on.

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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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