A GRIP ON SPORTS
It happened again. A week ago Zags' nation had changed its name to consternation. The consensus was there was little, if any, chance Gonzaga would be able to catch St. Mary's and win its 12th-consecutive West Coast Conference title. Then the Bulldogs blew out the Gaels on Thursday. And last night, well, last night St. Mary's opened the door to GU and said, "come in." Read on.
• Yep. The Gaels, with a solo WCC title in their grasp, dropped a home game to Loyola-Marymount, losing last night 75-60 to the Lions. The loss should end one argument – what WCC arena has the best home-court advantage – and start another – will Gonzaga win out and at least tie St. Mary's for the title? That last sentence is the question we are putting to you today in the poll below. I am on record – if anyone tapes our radio show – as saying last Friday I thought St. Mary's would lose down the stretch, but the Zags would stumble in one game as well. So I guess I have to pick "No." I'm not so sure anymore. I was basing that on the Lions coming into McCarthy and giving GU a tough time. That didn't happen. But this weekend could be interesting. As bad as Santa Clara has played, tonight is a chance for the Broncos to make their season. And USF has won seven of its last nine conference games. But the carrot is there for Gonzaga. All they have to do is grab it.
• We'll be at another prep game tonight, covering the 3A boys district playoff game between host University and Shadle Park. The same two schools' girls teams will be facing off earlier in the evening and Mike Vlahovich will be covering that one.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan had the news about Loyola's upset in this blog post last night. He also has a look at the week ahead and this story on Santa Clara's hard-luck season (and another blog post on the subject). ... From the Bay Area, there is more on St. Mary's stunning loss at home, along with a look at BYU's journey into the WCC. ... The Cougars are on the road for a while.
• Washington State: Christian Caple covered the Pac-12's Wednesday action (UCLA defeated USC once again) and look forward to tonight's games in his morning blog post. He also has this story on Mike Ladd, who is toughing it out with a thumb injury, checks in with the Cougars without Faisel Aden and looks ahead to the weekend.
• Eastern Washington: The Eagles looked to be mailing in their Wednesday night game against Northern Colorado when they fell behind by 17 points. But something clicked, they rallied down the stretch and pulled out a-hard-to-fathom 79-76 victory. Jim Allen has his coverage, from a blog post to today's story in the S-R. ... John Blanchette has this column on the Eagles and their victory. ... EWU travels to UC Irvine (not the AP-approved Cal Irvine, which the news organization can shove up its nose) on Saturday for an ill-named BracketBuster game. The Anteaters (my alma mater) lost last night to UC Santa Barbara (where my son went to school). I will hear about it today. ... More on last night's EWU win from the Greeley newspaper.
• Idaho: The Vandals do have one game this weekend, another BracketBuster game, this one with Portland State.
• Preps: Yesterday was one of the biggest days of the year in prep sports around here, with the annual banquet held to honor local youth athletes. Greg Lee covered the awards – the big winner was the undefeated Coeur d'Alene football team – with this story. Three local men were also honored for their 25-year contributions to youth sports in the area: TV and radio legend Dennis Patchin, former U-Hi baseball coach (and fellow Italian) Don Ressa and good friend Joe Everson, a retired school counselor who has touched the lives of more young Spokane athletes than anyone I know. ... It's also Prep Page day, and Greg has this feature on a couple of Coeur d'Alene girls basketball players.
• Chiefs: By the way, Everson is also the academic counselor for the Chiefs and the WHL. ... Spokane may just meet up with Vancouver in the playoffs, so the Chiefs better hope Wednesday night's result doesn't start a trend. Jess Brown has the coverage of the Chiefs' 2-1 defeat.
• NBA: Speaking of warming up, Seattle is starting to positively boil over as more and more news is revealed about Chris Hansen's arena plans. He'll open the door further today, but Steve Kelley and Jerry Brewer aren't waiting. They want an NBA team in Seattle.
• Sounders: Seattle is looking for someone to compliment Freddie Montero. OK, I'll do it. He's pretty good.
• Seahawks: The final piece of the Marshawn Lynch trade turns out to be a fifth-rund draft pick this season.
• Olympics: The boxing trials continued with some loser-out matches.
• That's what we have for you today. In a last-minute shift, we'll be on the radio this afternoon at 3 p.m., giving Rick Lukens a day off. You can listen here if you like. Then we will head out to U-Hi for the basketball. Until later ...