A GRIP ON SPORTS
Well, that wasn't a good night if you are a local men's college basketball fan. Unless, of course, your team of choice is Whitworth. Because, on this Saturday, the only local college team that really won was the Pirates. Read on.
• Oh sure, the Gonzaga men were finally able to put away the University of San Diego on the road, but that win ended up not meaning as much as it could have. Later Saturday night, St. Mary's ended the Zags' run of consecutive conference titles at 11 by defeating USF on its home court, something GU couldn't do. And that, ultimately, was the difference in the league race. The Bulldogs will take the No. 2 seed into the conference tournament, though it looks as if an NCAA berth – one of my pet peeves, people who tweet "birth" when they mean "berth," (something I see a lot); another sign our educational system needs a rebirth – is a foregone conclusion. ... The only way the Washington State Cougars will play in the postseason is if they shoot their free throws better than they did in the second half yesterday. The Cougs went 6 for 20, blew a 13-point lead and fell for the second time this season to Washington. And you know Twitter has gotten nasty when a former football player (in this case Robbie Tobeck) tweets something like this: "Hey Ken Bone, why don't you tell your players to put a little arc on their freethrows? My sixth grade team scores at least 60 in a game." The medium may have just jumped the shark. ... And down the Columbia River in Portland, the Eastern Washington Eagles lost for the second time this season to Portland State in a game that meant very little. Now Tuesday night, when Idaho State comes to town, that's important.
• Tonight is the Academy Awards show, so yesterday we asked you to vote for your favorite sports movie of all time. Right now, "Hoosiers" is running away with the poll, garnering twice as many votes as any other movie. But there is still time for you "Field of Dream" aficionados or you "Caddyshack" nuts to catch up. I'll check the results just before the best picture is handed out tonight (my money is on "The Artist," but I liked "The Descendants" the best) and pass along the winner tomorrow morning. Then I will try to work mentions or phrases from the winning movie into the blog posts over the next month or so. ... Speaking of movies, John Blanchette reworks some plots from this year's films to correspond to news from the sporting world. He has some fun and so will you.
• Washington State: Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows I have one coach I have put above all others: John Wooden. And you also know that it's hard for me to go against any of Wooden's dictums. One he had, and talked about in his books, concerns game management of his players. Wooden repeatedly stated if he felt he may need a player down the stretch of a game, he made sure to play them in the first half. He felt it was unfair to the player to ask them to come in cold after not appearing in the game previously. Did Wooden ever violate this dictum? Yes, though he did his best to avoid the possibility, because the times he did, it bothered him. And it bothers me that it is so obvious where I'm going here. Last night, with WSU facing a two-point deficit and the game winding down, coach Ken Bone called on Patrick Simon, the little-used sophomore, to enter the game. Simon had not played all night. So, of course, the ball ended up in his hands and Simon took the key shot. He missed. Afterward, Bone defended the shot, but did lament the decision not to give Simon more of an opportunity to warm to the game action before being called on to take the shot. As I recall my Wooden history, it was just such an occurrence, a game-ending shot long before every game was instantly broken down on the Net, that led the UCLA coach to his first-half-playing-time philosophy. ... Christian Caple has all the news you need from the game, a 59-55 UW win, and around the Pac-12 (hey, isn't Stanford a piece of work this season?) in his morning post. He also has this game story from today's S-R and this post-game blog post from last night. ... We have video from coach Ken Bone's press conference and that of the players, both courtesy of WSU.
• Bone's conference ...
• The players ...
• Gonzaga: It wasn't easy – not many West Coast Conference road games are – but the Zags, held off Billy Grier's USD team, 65-57. Jim Meehan has all the information on the game and the WCC tourney on his blog post from last and this game story from this morning. ... The game from the San Diego side of things. ... St. Mary's finally won the conference title, defeating USF 67-60 in War Memorial gym. ... BYU wrapped up the third seed with a 76-66 Senior Day win over Portland, though one senior didn't get to play. ... The Gonzaga women were able to win their eighth consecutive WCC title outright when they romped over BYU in a jam-packed Kennel (a crowd that included Mrs. Grippi). Jess Brown has all the details in this story.
• Eastern Washington: Portland State was able to hold off the Eagles, 69-64, in Portland. Tuesday's opponent, Idaho State, also lost. ... Montana won the battle against Montana State and will host Weber State on Tuesday for the Big Sky title. ... The EWU women couldn't handle Idaho State in Cheney yesterday, so the Bengals are Big Sky champions. Jim Allen has the game story.
• Whitworth: The Pirates had little trouble with Puget Sound in the NWC title game and will move on to the NCAA tournament. Jim was there and has this story. Whitworth, ranked 10th nationally, hopes to host the first couple rounds of the postseason, something its done rarely in the past.
• Preps: With so much to pass along, we're going to divide it all up as we did yesterday, by classification. Saturday was mainly the girls' day to qualify for state, though the 2A boys played. The 4A story is here, the 3A here, the 2A coverage here, the 1A and finally, the 1B boys and girls (which had two sites, including where Colton qualified), along with the 2B. ... Over in Idaho, Lewiston won the state wrestling title. ... If you want to watch the Washington state 4A and 3A title games, which have been available on TV for years, you'll have to get to your computer this year. ... Didn't really know where to put this nugget, a story from the Allentown Morning Call, but decided to put it in this section because Ryne Sandberg played his high school sports in Spokane, at North Central.
• Chiefs: Spokane is not winning a whole heck of a lot right now. Jess has this story on their 7-3 Saturday defeat at home to Tri-Cities.
• NBA: If Seattle builds an arena, it needs to have a tenant. Right now, Sacramento seems to be a somewhat viable option, but the league, personified by commissioner David Stern (or as he is known in Seattle, "El Diablo") is trying to work out a deal with that city.
• That's what we have for you this fine Sunday morning. Until later ...