A GRIP ON SPORTS
There is nothing better than spending a Sunday having breakfast, getting comfortable, watching football, having a nice dinner and then hitting the sack early with an engrossing book. Yes, everything was perfect yesterday except a stretch between 5 and 6 p.m. Read on.
• After missing the NFL playoff games on Saturday, there was no way we were going to miss them on Sunday. So we watched the Ravens make fewer mistakes than the Texans, which warmed my heart a bit – my dream Super Bowl, Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh, is still in play. Then we watched the New York football Giants make the Packers look like WSU, circa 2008. That was tough in that I have some really good friends who are Packer fans – never really met a Giants football fan – and I know they are hurting today. But the NFL was just a prelude to the basketball rivalry game between Washington State and UW. Watching the first half, I couldn't help but think the Cougars were leaving points on the hardwood and, even in a Hec Ed with a bunch of empty seats – more than likely a result of the weather – it would come back to bite them later. And it did. Big time. That and Terrence Ross. The sophomore threw in 30 points and, coincidence or not, many of them came after coach Lorenzo Romar picked up a technical foul. It was that second-half whistle that spelled doom. I know a lot of people make fun of such things, but too often in my more than 40 years of closely observing college basketball I've seen games change due to a technical foul on a coach. Mainly due to the officials changing how the game is called. Though that didn't seem to be the case Sunday, often times the thing the coach was screaming about that earned him the T begins to get called. And that changes the flow of the game. Exactly what the coach wanted in the first place. Now there may not be any way to quantify this, but I've had too many coaches tell me over the years they agree with that assessment and have actually tried to get a technical to change the flow, I have to believe it's true. So when the whistle blew with a bit more than 12 minutes left, my first thought was the Cougars were in trouble. And they were. Ross just abused them the rest of the way (he also pulled down 14 rebounds), the Huskies were hotter than Soap Lake in August and UW rolled to a 75-65 win, scoring 50 points in the final 20 minutes. If you want to watch Ross' most impressive stretch, you can here.
• Washington State: After leaving Seattle, where the Cougars played third-place Washington (4-1 in conference), they will welcome Stanford and California to Pullman this week. The Cardinal and Bears are tied (at 5-1) for first in the Pac-12, so a 1-6 start to the conference season for WSU is not only possible, only an upset will keep it from happening. ... Before we get to the coverage – Christian Caple is driving back from Seattle today, so won't be posting until later, though he did have these two post-game posts last night – we want to share some video with you. We know Ken Bone won't mind, as he was smiling after he was able to pull himself off the HecEd floor, so we're passing along the video of his failed attempt to call a second-half time out. If we weren't a professional, we would add some comment like "and boom went the dynamite" to the video. ... Now to the coverage of the game, starting with Christian's story that ran in this morning's S-R. ... Bud Withers has this story in the Times, freelancer Howie Stalwick has this piece in the News Tribune and Jim Moore has a column in the Kitsap Sun. ... Percy Allen has the Times' game story, with Jerry Brewer adding a column on Ross. ... Ryan Divish has the News Tribune's gamer. ... In other Cougar news, Mike Leach has picked up a big commitment from a four-star receiver in the LA area. ... One of Paul Wulff's former assistants, Pullman native Jody Sears, has landed the defensive coordinator spot at Weber State. Sears served as Wulff's co-defensive coordinator and cornerbacks coach the first three years at WSU and then coached the corners last season. ... Around the Pac-12, there was one other basketball game on tap Sunday and it was in LA, where the Bruins pounded host USC into submission, 66-47. ... After sweeping the Arizona schools, Oregon comes home to host UCLA and USC. ... Arizona split on the week, but that didn't seem good enough for the Wildcats. ... Chip Kelly tried to talk Darron Thomas out of leaving, according to this Register-Guard story.
• Gonzaga: Not much to pass along on the Zags, though we didn't want you to miss Jim Meehan's post which he put up Sunday, following GU's tough-it-out win at Loyola. ... BYU and San Diego play tonight in San Diego. Playing on Mondays is a bit different for the Cougars.
• Chiefs: Spokane has been playing better recently and Jess Brown tells you why. Part of it can be traced to the improved play of forward Dominik Uher. Jess also followed up on Saturday's win with this post last night.
• NFL: So next Sunday's conference finals are set. The New York Giants will travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers (you can read about Sunday's game here) and Baltimore will head up Interstate 95 to face New England (more on the Texans' loss here). Should be fun no matter how it turns out.
• That's it for this morning. We're back on the radio this afternoon – boy, this is starting to feel like a real job; I thought I was retired – and you can listen to us here. I'll try to speak up. Until later ...