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A road trip and an epiphany

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Slept in a bit today – after all, it is Sunday – after staying up late last night. Well, late for me. But despite the extra hour or so of sleep, we have a lot to cover and we want to get it up on the web before you get fixated on the NFL playoff games. Read on.


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• The reason we got to bed a bit later than usual last night is because Kim and I took the short trip out to Cheney to watch Eastern Washington host Portland State. I had a lot of reasons for the trip, including wanting to talk with former Cougar Mike Harthun after the game – more on that later – and to see the Eagles play. But the one thing that hit me while sitting in Reese Court was how nice a venue it is to watch college basketball and how few people take advantage of it. It got me thinking. Years ago, when Kim and I were both young, we used to pack up the boys and head to Gonzaga. We would sit in the bleachers on the north side, oftentimes nearly alone, set up the boys with their crayons and toys, and watch college basketball. The Zags of those days were OK, but not great. The WCC was OK, but not great. But it was college basketball, it was fun to watch and it was a relatively inexpensive night for the family. And we did it as often as we could. Fast forward to today. It's impossible to get into a GU men's game. Pullman, as it was then, is still a long drive away from Spokane (worth it, sure, but still it's an hour-and-a-half each way). But Eastern is a short trip down the interstate. And a college basketball game awaits. Is it the Pac-12? No. Is the game going to feature a nationally ranked team? No. But it is still a good college basketball game, sort of like 20 years ago when Kim and I would take in the GU games. And it's cost effective. Kim bought a ticket at the game, paid $10 and had a great seat. She enjoyed her experience. … By the way, though Eastern lost (we have the links below), the Eagles – and PSU – played hard. I've watched Jim Hayford coach up close for quite a few years now and he's never had trouble getting his teams to play hard. This group isn't adept at playing the game the way Hayford wants it, but, as the years go on, and Hayford recruits the type of player he needs, the Eagles are going to get better and better. … Talked with Harthun after the game and were able to laugh over one thing. He's the Vikings' defensive stopper outside. Even Harthun admitted that might shock the folks at Washington State. He said, however, he learned a lot about playing defense in his two years in Pullman and wanted to thank the coaches, Ben Johnson in particular, for all their help. Harthun didn't have his best shooting night – 3 of 10 from the floor, 1 of 4 on 3-pointers – but no one did as PSU shot 46 percent – 4 of 5 in the overtime helped that – and Eastern was at 40 percent. The Vikings lived at the free throw line, with 43 attempts, as the game was so poorly officiated I don't believe anyone on the court really had an idea what they could or could not do. A play that would not draw a whistle in one possession would send a guy to the line on the next one. The inconsistency had me longing for Pac-12 referees. Yes, it was that bad.

• Two other things occurred last night that both had to do with Twitter, one nationally, one personally. We want to share them. The national one you might have heard of. It began around 5:30 our time when CBSSports reported on its website and tweeted Joe Paterno had died. The report was premature – Paterno died early this morning according to his family – but spread on Twitter like a cold in a kindergarten. I must admit I retweeted the CBS report thinking “it's CBS, who is more trustworthy?” Then I watched as the report turned out not to be true. The Seattle Times did a great job this morning covering what happened last night and the Washington Post wrote about the incident this morning. Both are worth reading. … The other aspect of Twitter hit me last night as I was tweeting (@vinceg55) from Eastern. I got this tweet from RA_Post: “@vinceg55 love you're Coug stuff. Could do without all the EWU and zag RT's. Just sayin' ” and I had an epiphany. I've built up a long list of followers the past few years due to Cougar coverage. And though my job has changed, those folks are still mostly interested in WSU sports. They don't need their timeline cluttered with retweets of other stuff. So, for now, we're going to cut way back on the retweets from Gonzaga, Eastern and others. We'll still pass along halftime and final scores and any big news, but we're going to just tweet the twitter handles of S-R staffers covering the games (ie., SRJimm for Gonzaga) before the games and leave it at that. The Cougar stuff? We're still going to retweet most of Christian Caples' tweets on the theory it's important to our followers. … Now on to the Sunday links.

• Washington State: The Cougars rallied in the second half – again – to upset one of the Pac-12 leaders – again – in Beasley yesterday evening. Christian had a blog post covering the outcome as well as one with video from Mike Leach's halftime appearance. He also wrote this story for the morning paper. Then he has this morning post that covers the Pac-12 along with more from the participants after the game. … We have a few more links to pass along, including Bob Condotta's story in the Times concerning the salaries of the Huskies assistant football coaches. The money is eye opening. And we also want to pass along Steve Kelley's column on the Husky hoop team. … Back to the Cougars, there were a lot of recruits in town over the weekend – hence Leach's appearance – and there is some news about one WSU target. … Former Washington State defensive line coach Todd Howard, who I saw biking around town the last time I was in Pullman, has found a job in Berkeley.

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• Here is Ken Bone's interview after the game …

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• And the players' interview session, both courtesy of Washington State …

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• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs were just too much inside for San Diego last night in their 77-60 win. Jim Meehan has this game story in the S-R. … John Blanchette covered the game for the Union-Tribune in San Diego. … The Times' Bud Withers was in the building. … And here is the Associated Press story. … Elsewhere in the WCC, BYU struggled a bit but still got past Pepperdine in Malibu. And St. Mary's stayed undefeated in conference play with a 93-77 road win over Santa Clara.

• Eastern Washington: The Eagles' 78-76 overtime loss to Portland State was covered by our Jim Allen with this story. … The Oregonian ran the Associated Press story this morning.

• Idaho: A good crowd turned out to watch the Vandals find a way to defeat Utah State 57-54 at the Cowan Spectrum. Josh Wright had this blog post last night and this story in the morning S-R. … Here is the Associated Press story.

• Chiefs: It seems as if Spokane is heating up. The Chiefs defeated Portland 5-2 at the Arena on Saturday night in front of 8,168. The two teams meet again tonight, also in the Arena. Jess Brown has all the details in this game story. … The Oregonian ran this wrapup.

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• That's our report for this morning. By the way, we received a comment about our Sounders links yesterday and were a bit surprised. We're not dissuaded, however, and will continue to pass along news from the Northwest's best MLS club – sorry Portland – as we find it. I was once a dismisser of all things soccer-related, but, thanks to the enthusiasm of my sons, now have come to appreciate the sport. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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