A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 8:50 A.M.
Tuesday is the day the local college basketball coaches talk with the media, from Mark Few at Gonzaga to Ken Bone at Washington State. That results in stories from the S-R staff concerning those coaches' teams. A pretty simple cause and effect really. Read on.
Took a little time out of my busy post-retirement schedule Tuesday night to stop by and watch part of a Great Northern League high school game last night. It featured Pullman traveling to West Valley in a first-place showdown. The upshot of the night was the Eagle holding on to its home-court advantage and rallying in the second-half for a 38-35 victory and earn a tie atop the league standings. In my time in Pullman, I got to know a lot of the kids on the Greyhounds' team, due in large part to the interactions with their parents (if you are keeping score at home, there are the sons of two WSU assistant coaches, the head of athletic training and others on the team). So it just seemed appropriate to stop by and see how they were doing. ... During our radio show yesterday, we spent a lot of time talking about Muhammad Ali, who was celebrating his 70th birthday. Rick Lukens (an Ali fan) and I (a Joe Frazier fan, as I've shared on this blog before) debated a bit Ali's legacy, though calling it a debate would be a little harsh. There was little disagreement. Though he was quite a controversial figure when I was young, Ali had more influence worldwide than any athlete of his generation. In part of the conversation yesterday, I mentioned something I thought of ages ago. Though he may not be recognized as such, I always felt Ali was also the first highly recognized rapper, though his rhymes were not set to any music except the lyrical quality of his voice.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan passed along the news Tuesday that freshman forward Ryan Spangler suffered a broken finger in Monday's practice, had surgery and would miss two-to-three weeks. Jim covered the news in his blog post and with this notebook. ... Hyperbole can be a good thing, when trying to sell used cars or cleaning services. But in journalism? Not so much. That serves as prelude to this West Coast basketball notebook, which leads with this sentence: "Until now, the West Coast Conference has been little more than a basketball formality for Gonzaga to shimmy through on its way to the NCAA Tournament." I would like to point out that just last year the Zags and Gaels tied atop the WCC regular-season standings. So who will win this season? Let us know your thoughts in the poll below and in the comments if you want.
• Washington State: Christian covers Bone's press conference with this blog post from yesterday, then covers the links today in this blog post. He also has this story on the Cougars' rebounding problem. ... Athletic director Bill Moos spoke to an appreciative audience and it wasn't a WSU alumni group. Well, not in name anyway. He was in Yakima on Tuesday speaking to the area's grower group, many of whom traveled to Pullman for college. ... Jon Wilner not only covers some Pac-12 network news, he also has some information on the Stanford Cardinal women, WSU's opponent this weekend. Speaking of the Cougar women, Bud Withers can't fathom their losing streak with Washington. Believe it or not, the 33-game skein pales in comparison to the 52-game losing skid against Stanford. WSU has actually never defeated the Cardinal. Jessica Brown has more on the area women in this notebook. UPDATE: SI.com's Stewart Mandel gives WSU's hire of Mike Leach an A+, the highest grade he gives any of the new college football coaching hires.
• Chiefs: Spokane lost a player yesterday as Jarid Hauptman left the team and went home. Jessica has the information in this blog post.
• Eastern Washington: After a long road trip, the Eagles are home for a while, playing five of their next seven in Cheney. Jim Allen has some EWU news in this blog post and the Big Sky's big television news in this story. With the changeover with the Pac-12, Root Sports has been looking for more programming and it came to terms with the Big Sky.
• Whitworth: The Pirates are no longer undefeated in Northwest Conference play, losing to visiting Whitman 77-66 Tuesday night. Jim explains how Whitworth's 22-game home winning streak was snapped in this story.
• Preps: A big night last night around the Spokane area, with Greg Lee covering Central Valley's 61-52 win over host Gonzaga Prep in boys play. That puts the Bears alone atop the Greater Spokane League standings. ... And Mike Vlahovich watched as Deer Park stayed unbeaten in Great Northern League wrestling, handing East Valley its first league loss, 46-21.
• That's all we have this morning. As we said yesterday, we're going to be holding our first live chats at noon Friday right here on SportsLink. It's a test of my abilities to learn a new skill, so the live chat will be with me. Pull together your questions and I'll answer them on Friday. Until later ...