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There’s a shadow on local hoops

A GRIP ON SPORTS

So we are supposed to have six more weeks of winter, right? Well if it's anything like the preceding six weeks, I'm fine with that. Other than a couple days, this has been an easy winter to navigate in the Inland Northwest. Now for the basketball around the area, that hasn't been as warm. Read on.


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• Maybe part of the reason the winter seems so nice is I haven't had to drive to and from Pullman constantly for the first time in half a decade. But I don't think so. Just like I didn't think Gonzaga would play a second consecutive poor game in a key WCC road matchup. But the Zags did. And everyone is searching for answers why after last night's not-as-close-as-it-might-seem 83-73 loss at Brigham Young. Coming a couple weeks after an even worse beatdown at St. Mary's, it's hard to see GU winning the WCC title this season as it's two games behind the Gaels with seven conference games remaining. So what is it this year? Besides the fact that St. Mary's is just damn good? Looking at from this perspective, by which I mean not all that close, it seems there are two areas that crop up against the best the conference has to offer. They Zags are young in the backcourt, which most of the time isn't a problem. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell are that good. But against the better teams in the WCC, they have played young. And, on the road, that's not a good thing. And there is not a lot of an impose-your-will attitude with this group. Looking back at the best Bulldog groups of the past, there was always a toughness to them, a we're-better-than-you-and-we're-going-to-show-it arrogance, especially up front. It might have been quiet (J.P. Batista) or it might have been brash (Adam Morrison), but it was there. And it seemed to be the crucial element in big games. Really, as a far-away observer, I haven't seen much of that this season. Unless Robert Sacre, Elias Harris and Sam Dower assert themselves inside down the stretch (and St. Mary's falters somewhere), GU is not going to win its 12thconsecutive WCC title. … Mentioned Batista today for a reason besides the fact he was a beast. Not only was he one of the better post players GU has had over the years, his name popped up on my Twitter feed last night. It turns out he is playing on the same LeMans team in France as former WSU guard Taylor Rochestie. A kid from Brazil, another from Santa Barbara, and they're playing together in France. And the other thing tying their careers together? They both played their college basketball in the Inland Northwest. Small world.

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• Gonzaga: We'll start here today as the Bulldogs' game was the most anticipated of the night. Jim Meehan has our coverage with this story from Provo. … From Salt Lake City, you can read the Tribune's game story and a notebook, while the Deseret News has this gamer and a column that tries to explain BYU's turnaround. There is also an Associated Press game story. … Former Zag Grant Gibbs is experiencing success at Creighton. … Around the conference, 18th-ranked St. Mary's had a little trouble at home with USD, but won 84-73. … And visiting Portland handled last-place Santa Clara, 84-78. … The Zag women had little trouble with Portland, winning 77-56 behind Kayla Standish's 18 points and eight rebounds. Jess Brown has this story. They also got some help when the BYU women were upset 61-49 at Pepperdine.

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• Washington State: For your Pac-12 news and more from last night's win, make sure you catch up with Christian Caple's morning post. He also had this post after the 60-53 win over outmanned USC last night along with his story. … John Blanchette was in Pullman last night and got to observe the offensive force that is Brock Motum first hand. … Christian yesterday also posted most on Mike Leach's press conference comments from Wednesday. … Jim Moore has some thoughts on Steve Sarkisian's comments from signing day. … There was a scuffle last night in Arizona's 78-74 win over California involving Jorge Gutierrez and Arizona assistant Joe Pastnernack. If you want to watch what happened, the video is here. … We also have the postgame comments on video from Washington State coach Ken Bone and Cougar players.

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• Ken Bone …

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• Brock Motum and Mike Ladd …

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• Eastern Washington: The Eagles needed to win last night and they did, 74-68, stopping Northern Arizona in Flagstaff behind a big second half from freshman Parker Kelly. We have this short story in today's S-R and I also found this piece from the Arizona Daily Sun. … Weber State bounced back from its first Big Sky loss with a home win over Portland State, 92-79, as Damien Lillard scored 40 points.

• Idaho: The Vandals weren't as lucky, losing 65-55 at Fresno State. Josh Wright had this blog post last night, we ran this story today and I found the game story from the Fresno Bee. With a game at Nevada looming on Saturday – the Pack held off Utah State, 53-52 on a last-second bucket last night – the loss against FSU may haunt the Vandals.

• Whitworth: Felix Friedt's productive Pirate career is finally starting to wind down. Jim Allen has this feature on the German native.

• Preps: Gonzaga Prep's boys protected home court against Lewis and Clark last night and Greg Lee was there. He has this story about the 74-62 Bullpup win.

• Chiefs: The WHL suspended Spokane defenseman Corbin Baldwin for two games.

• Mariners: Geoff Baker tells us what to look forward to at the plate this season for the young Mariners.

• Sounders: Will there be a sophomore jinx for Servando Carrasco?

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• That's what we have this morning. Once again we'll be on the radio this afternoon to talk about this stuff with Rick Lukens and Keith Osso. You can listen at 3 p.m. right here. Until later …


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

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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

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