A GRIP ON SPORTS
I was really looking forward to watching a couple of basketball games last night, one of which was tight, the other not so much. But sandwiched in between were a very interesting few minutes down in Tucson, a few minutes that might have ramifications this weekend. Read on.
• The games I wanted to watch were Virginia's visit to Duke – a classic, low-scoring, down-to-the-final-possession, Tony Bennett-coached game that Duke won 61-58 – and Gonzaga's West Coast Conference battle at St. Mary's, which turned out to be a rout. But while I was waiting for the Zags game to start, flipped over to Root to watch Oregon State finish up with Arizona. And what I saw happen with a little more than a minute left in overtime was interesting, to say the least. To recap: Josh Fogg tried to score on a fast break. OSU's Jared Cunningham tried to stop him, failed and fouled. Fogg screamed, flexed and walked up to Cunningham, who was moving away. Fogg bumped Cunningham with his chest. Cunningham reacted with a shove. Solomon Hill barreled in and hell broke loose. Some 10 minutes later, after the officials had reviewed video of the incident, Arizona's Kyryl Natyazhko and Oregon State's Joe Burton, who both came off the bench, were ejected. Cunningham and Fogg were both given technicals, which were their fifth fouls. And UA had won, 81-73. But I expect more to come down today. Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been hard on this type of action, more than willing to hand down suspensions. Natyazhko wasn't the only Wildcat to leave the bench, just the most animated, so it wouldn't surprise me if Scott sits a few of them either this weekend against Oregon or beyond. The biggest beneficiaries of the dustup? The Ducks, who head into Tucson now, and Arizona State, which hosts the Beavers next.
• Here's some video of the scuffle ...
• With more in the last minute or so of this video from the University of Arizona ...
• Gonzaga: We started off tweeting with regularity from the Zags' 83-62 defeat in Moraga, passing along comments from the television broadcast, some stats and Jim Meehan's tweets. But, like the Bulldogs' defense in the worst WCC loss of Mark Few's tenure, we let down in the second half. During our radio show yesterday – we'll be back on today at 3 and you can listen here – we picked Gonzaga to win based on its improved defense. We also defended the play of GU big man Robert Sacre, who seems to bear the brunt of the fans' criticism. Though the Zags' guards were inexperienced, there was no way the Gaels bigs could keep up with their GU counterparts. In a sense we were right. They didn't keep up. They left them in the dust. “Their inside guys thoroughly outplayed our inside guys, plain and simple,” Few told Meehan after the game. And that was the biggest difference. The St. Mary's bigs were better on both ends of the court. Though it showed statistically on the offensive end – the Gaels' freshman center Brad Waldow had 17 points and 10 rebounds – it was more obvious on the defensive side, where St. Mary's high-ball-screened the Zags to death, contributing to the Gaels' 55.2 percent shooting and 46 second-half points. "In the second half we didn’t keep them out of the lane once," Few told Meehan. "They opened it up and started bouncing it at us and really hurt us.” ... The coverage kicks off with Meehan's story in today's S-R but is complimented by stories in the Mercury News and Chronicle. ... BYU got to sit home and watch the WCC action last night – for those of you scoring at home, San Francisco, Loyola and San Diego (over host Santa Clara) all won – but four games await the Cougars in the next week. ... The Gonzaga women had no trouble with San Francisco last night in McCarthey and our Jess Brown was there.
• Washington State: With the Cougars off in preparation for Sunday's game at Washington, Christian Caple had other things to keep him busy (including the on-again, off-again saga of a strength coach), but they didn't stop him from covering the Pac-12 today in his morning post. ... Correspondent Josh Wright, who covers Idaho for us, was able to confirm Mike Levenseller will be Robb Akey's new offensive coordinator at UI. A good deal for Levy, who has spent the better part of four decades kicking around Pullman, has a daughter on the Cougar volleyball team and roots deep enough in the Palouse to reach bedrock. ... Some interesting stuff from around the Pac-12, including Jon Wilner speculating some of the football games scheduled for Sept. 1 this fall could actually be played on Sunday. We know, however, that WSU's game at BYU won't switch. ... The WSU and UW women hook up this Saturday in Pullman, with the Huskies taking a 16-year, 32-game series-winning streak into the contest. Jayda Evans has a nice story on June Daugherty in the Seattle Times. ... Getting back to the men's team, Jeff Nusser has a stat-based examination of the Cougars' defense on CougCenter and Ryan Divish has this audio from Ken Bone's KJR interview yesterday.
• Eastern Washington: Though Sacramento State isn't all that good, any road win is a good one. The Eagles came up with one of those last night, stopping the Hornets 65-60 behind Collin Chiverton's 21 points. ... Here is the short report we had in today's S-R and a longer piece from the Sacramento Bee.
• Idaho: The Vandals' long road trip started off on the winning side, with UI winning 90-88 in overtime at Louisiana Tech. It was Idaho's first win in Ruston. ... Wright has this blog post and we also have this story. ... I found a couple more stories from the bayou on the Vandals' victory.
• Whitworth: Our Jim Allen has a really nice feature on the Pirates' Idris Lasisi, a Belgium-born player who found himself in NCAA-enforcement hell for a while. He's been absolved and is paying his way through Whitworth by working in the athletic department.
• Preps: This is a late add, but I forgot to mention Greg Lee will be at the Ferris at Lewis and Clark boys' game tonight. Talking with a GSL coach today, he felt that could be a great game.
• That's all for this morning. Once again, we'll be on the radio with 700 ESPN today, so listen to us here from 3 to 6 p.m. Until later ...