A GRIP ON SPORTS
Yep, it's Rivalry Thursday in Spokane. The best rivalry on the West Coast (that's your opinion, as per our poll from yesterday) is about to tipoff the second of what may be three matchups this seasons. Tonight's edition comes from the McCarthey Athletic Center, home of the loudest, rowdiest, most intimidating crowd in the West Coast Conference. Or is it? That's what I'm asking you to decide today in our poll (with a hat tip to Jim Meehan, who made the suggestion when we were chatting on the radio yesterday afternoon). Read on.
• As you guys know – at least those of you who have been reading this blog for the past six years or so – I love college basketball. And, surprisingly, my love for the game didn't diminish during the five years I covered the game at Washington State. Even the day-to-day grind of beat coverage couldn't wring that out of me. But now it's different. There is no pressure during the games, no restraints on emotion, no trepidation as the clock ticks down toward a deadline faster than it seemed to do toward the end of the game. (Blog interruption: If you haven't had a chance to watch Austin Rivers make a bunch of North Carolina cheerleaders cry – literally – you can at the bottom of this section. It's his buzzer-beating 3-pointer from last night, giving Duke a comeback victory over the Tar Heels. Though I could do without Dick Vitale's “unbelievable.” Now back to my post.) All I have to do now is watch … and occasionally throw a comment your way on Twitter. And that's what we'll be doing tonight. We'll be sitting, computer next to us, watching the Zags try to hold on to their dream of a 12th-consecutive WCC title as they host St. Mary's in the Kennel. Of course, we will be listening to Bud Nameck's call of the Cougar game at 7 from Corvallis, but center stage tonight is dominated by the Gaels and Bulldogs. It's college basketball at its mid-February best, a conference showdown in a packed gym with kids playing their hearts out for something more than personal glory. It's also their friends from Comm 101 standing in the front row of the student section, smelling a bit raw after camping out for a couple nights. It's the band blaring away in time outs. And it's little kids up near the rafters with their parents, hoping to see something spectacular from their heroes, not understanding there is a 50/50 chance they may be crying their eyes out before the night is over. Heck, it's just fun.
• Gonzaga: A lot here, starting with Jim's advance of tonight's game along with his look ahead at the weekend – Saturday's game is no respite, that's for sure. He also has a blog post from yesterday. … Bud Withers has this feature on the Zags' two freshmen starting guards. … Who knew a trip to Spokane could be so important? It is for St. Mary's. … The rivalry is big enough it earned this mention from ESPN yesterday (third section down). … Though we can't link much in the way of newspaper stories, the GU women have a big game tonight as well, traveling to Provo to face a BYU team that is nipping at their heels in the WCC and was ranked until this week. You can watch it at 6 tonight on BYU TV, which I know is carried by Comcast in Spokane. … From around the WCC, we found this feature on a couple of USD players.
• Washington State: The Cougars are in Corvallis to face Oregon State and Christian Caple is with them. He put up his morning post today, as usual, and also had a post early this morning with more from defensive coordinator Mike Breske. In today's paper, Christian has this story about WSU looking for help for Brock Motum (pictured) on the offensive end. Add in his look at the weekend, and we're pretty full. … The Huskies introduced their assistant football coaches yesterday. Bob Condotta has this story in the Times, Jerry Brewer a column and Ryan Divish has this story in the News Tribune. … The WSU women will be hosting Oregon State tonight at Beasley. The Beavers are looking for revenge.
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles have just a Saturday night game, though it's against Weber State, as Jim Allen outlines. Jim also has this notebook lead on EWU's foul troubles. … Weber State will play in Flagstaff tonight before heading up to Cheney.
• Preps: It's Thursday and that means Prep Page day. Greg Lee has this feature on Shadle Park's Aleisha Hathaway (in yellow at right), a column on the bad blood in the Big Nine and big news from Sandpoint. … He also covered the boys game between Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene, won by the Trojans.
• Seahawks: So just what would be the downside of trying to lure Peyton Manning to the Northwest if he's available? The News Tribune's Dave Boling can imagine one or two things, but says they are trumped by his upside.
• That's our report for this morning. We'll be on 700 ESPN one more time today (you can listen here at 3 p.m.), but before then we're doing a retired-guy thing and meeting a couple of buddies for lunch. Guess what? We'll probably talk about sports. Until later …