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Archive for March 2012

Chiefs look to wrap up first-round WHL playoff series on Sunday

The Spokane Chiefs gone from having their backs against the wall, to charging forward and picking up momentum along the way - and now they're one win away from wrapping up their first-round Westen Hockey Leeague playoff series with Vancouver. We've got links and more information below.

Ryan Leaf’s arrest came after month-long investigation

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We spent part of the afternoon speaking with the authorities in Great Falls, the result of which is this story about Ryan Leaf's arrest on Friday. Leaf was arrested after a month-long investigation by the Central Montana Drug Task Force, which discovered 28 Oxycodone pills inside the pocket of a golf bag found in Leaf's vehicle, according to Great Falls Police Sgt. Chris Hickman. There are more details in the story, which is linked above.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Notes from WSU’s first scrimmage

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Cougars migrated to Martin Stadium this afternoon and scrimmaged for the first time this spring. We have some notes after the jump.

Idaho’s first scrimmage in the books

Idaho's first scrimmage of spring football took place this morning, and there wasn't much offense. But there was news. You can read our full report from practice below.

The changing of the guards

A GRIP ON SPORTS

A lot has changed since Washington State began basketball practice last October. Personally, I was a member of the working class back then, drawing a gigantic paycheck and disdaining such trivial pursuits as buying Mega Millions tickets. Most, if not all, WSU basketball fans had tempered expectations after the early departures of Klay Thompson and DeAngelo Casto, though with Faisal Aden's scoring ability on the outside, the typical Cougar fan was at least looking forward to being able to watch one exciting player. But the postseason? Nah, that wasn't going to happen. So here it is, March 31, and this semi-retired sports writer is still writing about Washington State basketball (and lamenting the lack of a Mega Millions win last night). And yes, WSU did have at least one exciting player this season, though it wasn't Aden and though that exciting player didn't play in the CBI championship series with Pittsburgh. Read on.

Basketball season ends, more troubles for Leaf

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — For a Saturday in late March, there sure is a lot of WSU-related news to get to. Read on.

Sacre scores 8 points in all-star game

Gonzaga senior center Robert Sacre scored eight points for the West in the Division I College All-Star game Friday in New Orleans. The East won,103-99. The game is part of Final Four festivities. Sacre started and played 20 minutes. He hit 3 of 6 shots and 2 of 2 free throws. More below.

Shock suffer worst loss in franchise history

Spokane was blown out by visiting San Jose 69-35 on Friday and the worst loss in franchise history is expected to prompt changes. Team and AFL sources said following the game that Spokane is in the process of bringing back former Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley. The move could become official by as early as Monday.

The Shock scored just one touchdown in the second half. Quarterback Adam Froman had a rough night with two interceptions, one fumble and just one touchdown pass. He did run for two scores. San Jose piled up 369 yards as veteran quarterback Mark Grieb fired seven TD passes.

UPDATE: Here's a link to my game story and a link to Dan Pelle's photos.

Ryan Leaf arrested in Great Falls

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We put together a short story about the reported arrest of former WSU quarterback Ryan Leaf on Friday in his hometown of Great Falls, Mont., on charges of theft, burglary and possession of dangerous drugs. A police spokesman said more information about the arrest should be available Saturday. Here's a link to the original report from the Great Falls Tribune.

Video: Rahmel Dockery

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We spoke a bit with WSU freshman receiver Rahmel Dockery after Thursday's practice. Here's the video. (And sorry for the poor audio. I think the rain/cold made it tough for him to project his voice much. If you listen with headphones, that should help.)

The game that was, CBI edition: Pittsburgh 71, WSU 65

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We watched the decisive third game of the CBI championship series from Applebee's on Friday afternoon, and put together our postgame review after the Cougars came up just short of a championship. Read on.

Shock, SaberCats collide at Arena

The last time the Shock and SaberCats hooked up, Kyle Rowley threw a last-play Hail Mary touchdown pass to Randy Hymes — it was such a crazy scene that Rowley thought Adron Tennell caught the ball — to give Spokane a victory and a berth in the 2011 playoffs. Considering San Jose has played a couple of a one-point games thus far in 2012 and Spokane has lost in overtime and won by three points, it figures to be another close game in an AFL season that's been filled with them so far.

That was one of the themes in my preview in today's S-R. Some of that information is in need of updating because the AFL's whacky schedule — in the first month there have been games on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday — called for three Thursday night games. So there are still three winless teams (Orlando, Kansas City and New Orleans) and still two unbeatens (Chicago and Philadelphia), but the number of 1-1 teams dropped from 10 to 6 after last night's results. West Division rival Arizona improved to 2-1 with an easy road win over Kansas City.

There's a preview in the San Jose newspaper that points out DL Jermaine Smith and ex-Shock DB Mervin Brookins will miss the game with injuries. 

In-game updates from tonight's 5 p.m. contest at twitter.com/SRjimm.

Another magical day in sports

A GRIP ON SPORTS

One thing I like to do before falling asleep at night is play solitaire on my iPhone. While I was somehow missing the opportunity to put the red eight on the black nine around midnight last evening (I blame fatigue), I began to wonder at the marvel that is the touchscreen. I mean, really, it's sort of like magic, isn't it? You touch one card and it actually looks as if it's turning over. But there really isn't a card and it's just a bunch of lights, isn't it? How odd. I feel as surprised as the Polynesian guy in the Gilligan's Island episode, who looked stunned when the Professor pulled out a lighter, clicked it and fire appeared. The guy had to be thinking, “He's stuck on a desert island; just where does he get his lighter fluid, anyway?” Read on.

WSU’s season ends today

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Who'd have thought the football team would be nearly one-third of the way through spring practices before the basketball team finished playing? WSU's long, up-and-down season will come to an end tonight, one way or the other. Read on.

Day 4 for Cougs was rainy

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — A light, steady rain fell for much of Thursday's practice — the fourth of the spring, second in pads — but coach Mike Leach was still pleased with what WSU got done. Read on for our observations and notes.

Track, golf previews

OK, it's still not spring. I don't care what the calendar says.

We published our track glance with a feature on Mead sprint standout Wes Bailey (pictured above).

Here's a preview of Greater Spokane League golf.

M’s go down in flames

A GRIP ON SPORTS

In my lifetime, relief pitchers have always been known as firemen. You know, the guys who rush into the middle of a burning building, pour water on the flames and try to save everyone? That's the usual definition, anyway. In the Mariners second game early this morning, their bullpen rushed into the burning building with a bag of Kingsford charcoal and can of Zippo. Read on.

One more time with feeling

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Pittsburgh and Washington State enjoyed the first two games they played so much, they're going to go ahead and play another one on Friday. Also, they have to. Read on for today's links.

Shock QB Froman: Smarts and athleticism

Adam Froman is the latest to take the helm of the Spokane Shock offense. After an injury riddled 2011 season at the quarterback position, 2012 got off to a rocky start when starter Erik Meyer suffered a concussion late in the season opener.

Enter Froman, who nearly helped Spokane pull off a miraculous comeback in that opener against Iowa and then rallied the Shock out of a two-touchdown hole against San Antonio. He's an intriguing QB prospect and an entertaining interview subject. Froman carried a 4.0 grade-point average in high school and earned number of academic honors at Santa Rosa Junior College and Louisville. He's also 6-4, 220 pounds with a strong arm and can cover 40 yards in 4.55 seconds. Oh yeah, he's getting married next month, too.

Read more about Froman in a feature article that will run in Thursday's S-R.

Video: Logan Mayes

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We continue our series of video spotlights with a look at WSU defensive end Logan Mayes, who spoke with us about his transition to the buck linebacker position this spring.

The game that was, CBI edition: Pittsburgh 57, WSU 53

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're not in Pittsburgh, but did take in WSU's 57-53 loss at My Office. We have our usual postgame review after the jump.

Pacific to join WCC

Pacific will become the 10th member of the WCC in 2013, the conference announced this morning.

I checked in with league sources and Gonzaga's Mike Roth, who is pleased that the WCC will have an even-numbered membership, which alleviates some of scheduling issues that came into play with a nine-team conference. Much of the footwork on the expansion front was done over the past few years by the conference's expansion task force. The addition of Pacific may have snuck up on some folks, including Gonzaga, but mainly because the school's attention the last 3-4 weeks has been on conference and NCAA tournaments.

Pacific has similar enrollment to GU (roughly 7,000). The private school became financially independent from the Methodist Church in 1969. Roth told me the WCC expansion task force decided several years ago it was only interested in private institutions. In the west, that narrowed the WCC's options to BYU, Denver and Seattle (both WAC bound), Pacific, Stanford and USC. I'll go out on a limb and guess Stanford and USC weren't knocking on the WCC's door.

Here's my article on the WCC's latest expansion that will run in Thursday's S-R.

Also, it's been rumored for weeks/months that Gonzaga's Mathis Keita will transfer and I fully expect that will be the case. Keita appears on Cbssports.com's Jeff Goodman's list of D-I transfers. I checked with a Gonzaga source who said “it isn't completely done, (Keita) is looking at some options.”

Gonzaga's Mathis Monninghoff, who, like Keita,saw his playing time dwindle at the '3' position, is said to be 50-50 on returning to the program.

Pacific expected to join WCC

Numerous reports this morning that Pacific will leave the Big West Conference to become the 10th member of the WCC, effective in the 2013-14 season. The move could become official as early as this afternoon. 

The WCC's membership was stable for three decades before BYU joined the conference last season. With BYU, the nine-team conference had unavoidable scheduling issues (split home-away weeks, Monday games, etc.). Conferences with even-numbered membership typically have smoother scheduling models.

Pacific was a member of the West Coast Athletic Conference (which changed its name to the WCC in 1989) from 1952-71.

More here.

A salute to a survivor

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Yes, baseball season has started. Yes, pretty much each day for the next six months you'll be able to pick up your morning paper and peruse the box scores. And yes, your rotisserie team is going to bite it. But even though we're going to spend some considerable resources on major league baseball over the next 180 or so days, today we want to spend a few hundred words on Abe Lodwick. Read on.

WSU can win a title today

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The basketball team arrived in Pittsburgh yesterday, and it can put an end to this season's College Basketball Invitational by beating the Panthers tonight. We have a bit more on that, as well as a whole heck of a lot of spring football news, after the jump.

Meyer says he won’t be sidelined for long

Erik Meyer has been slowed by injuries since the Spokane Shock acquired him in a trade from Utah last season. He suffered a concussion last year and another one in the 2012 season opener, but the former Eastern Washington Eagle believes he'll be back on the field in the near future.

Meyer talks about the brutal hit that put him on the sidelines and his hopes for returning after a four-week stint on injured reserve in an article that will run in Wednesday's S-R. 

Cougs in pads on Day 3

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Had to file a couple stories after practice today, but we're back with some more notes and observations from Washington State's first practice in pads. Read on.

Kichton out with broken jaw

The Chiefs will have to go without their top defenseman for the remainder of the playoffs. Brenden Kichton underwent surgery in Vancouver for a broken jaw. Click here for the story.

Hope you didn’t hold your breath

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you are a Washington State basketball fan, last night couldn't have finished much better. This gutty band of Cougars build a big second-half lead and hold on down the stretch to get past Big East monster Pitt, 67-66, at Beasley Coliseum. But when Lamar Patterson rose up from the corner for a last-.8-of-a-second final shot, didn't you feel like, “oh goodness, it's going …” Lucky, there wasn't enough time to finish that thought and the shot came up short. Read on.

Cougs fly to Pitt, spring ball continues

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — If a charter flight leaves Lewiston at 8 a.m. heading east carrying two basketball teams, will Brock Motum play on Wednesday? Read on.

The game that was, CBI edition: WSU 67, Pittsburgh 66

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The dust has settled from a wild finish, one that saw the Cougars hold on for a 67-66 win over Pittsburgh in the first game of the CBI's 3-game championship series. We have an overview of the game after the jump.

Sacre selected for Final Four all-star game

Gonzaga center Robert Sacre has been selected to play in the Reese's Division I College All-Star game as part of the Final Four festivities this weekend.

The all-star game, featuring 20 seniors divided onto West and East team rosters, will be played Friday at the Superdome in New Orleans. The NCAA tournament semifinals (Kansas-Ohio State and Louisville-Kentucky) are Saturday with the title game Monday.

The all-star game will be broadcast Saturday at 10 a.m. on TruTV.

Rosters below.

Motum’s in a suit, but not suited up

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're on press row preparing to cover WSU's final game at Beasley Coliseum this season (for real, this time). And, as expected, the Cougars will be without leading scorer Brock Motum.

Shock put QB Meyer, DL Sharpe on IR

The Spokane Shock placed quarterback Erik Meyer and defensive lineman Brandon Sharpe on injured reserve, retroactive to last Saturday. Meyer (pictured above) suffered a concussion in Spokane's season-opening loss to Iowa. Sharpe's injury wasn't disclosed.

Players on IR are required to sit out four weeks. Meyer and Sharpe will be eligible to return following Spokane's game against Milwaukee on April 14. Spokane has a bye week before visiting Jacksonville on April 28.

AFL rookie Adam Froman took over as starting quarterback and helped the Shock defeat San Antonio 63-60 on March 17. Spokane has signed quarterback Luke Collis, who started his collegiate career at Nevada before finishing at Division III Occidental College. Collis was released during Shock training camp. 

Spokane made several other moves Monday, releasing WR Doug Beaumont, WR Delric Ellington, OL Riordan Gomez and WR Verran Tucker and activating WR BJ Dennard and DL James Ruffin from the PUP (physically unable to perform) list.

Leach leaves door open for Kaufusi return

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We tuned into Mike Leach's interview with KJR 950 AM in Seattle today, and there were a few newsworthy items to come out of it. Including what Leach had to say about dismissed linebacker Sekope Kaufusi.

One more Monday of local hoops

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Really, don't have any sharp hook this morning. I'm afraid my mood is as drab and dreary as the weather – it's raining pretty hard here in Spokane. Why is spring such a tease? One beautiful day followed by this? Hey, I'm semi-retired now, Ms. Nature. It's OK to have sunny days during the work week. Read on.

Championship Monday in Pullman

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Didn't realize until I pulled out the record books yesterday afternoon just how rare it is for a Big East team to come out here. In fact, Pittsburgh is about to become the first team to face WSU in Pullman as a member of the Big East. Ever. That counts former members, too. Read on for more.

Video: Eric Oertel

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Today's spring football video interview features junior linebacker Eric Oertel, who is back on the defensive side of the ball after finishing last season as a running back.

Getting to know Pittsburgh

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With the rare occasion of a Big East team coming to town, we decided to ask Ray Fittipaldo, the Pittsburgh beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, to answer a few questions about the Panthers. He obliged.

We’re back with the Sunday edition

A GRIP ON SPORTS

When I was young, the Sunday newspaper was something special. Our Los Angeles Times was so large, a mastiff could get a hernia trying to drag it in from the driveway. And yet, the young Vince Grippi had to carry them into apartment complexes most every week, helping in the family business by toting 20 or so up and down stairs a couple at a time. It was the urban equivalent of bucking hay bails. The newspapers of today aren't as sizable – that Internet thingee has hurt – but they are still chock full of news and features. Today is no different. And we haven't stopped delivering the news each Sunday. Only the method is different. My back is thankful. Read on.

Football, hoops news collide

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Between the basketball team's preparation for Pittsburgh, Brock Motum's right ankle and the football team continuing spring practices, there was some scrambling to be done down at Bohler yesterday. But that's what makes this job fun. Read on for the results.

Day 2 in the books

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Most of the television cameras were gone, and there was far less fanfare. But Mike Leach and the Washington State football team still conducted their second practice of the spring earlier today. We've got a recap after the jump.

Chiefs look to even first-round playoff series with Vancouver tonight

We can't be that far from cloning humans, right? Actually I have no idea. I'm not with the times when it comes to science. If we ever do figure that one out, I'll be able to cover multiple events at once. But for now I'm in Rhode Island covering the Gonzaga women's basketball team in the NCAA tournament. 

I did follow as much of the Spokane Chiefs high-scoring Western Hockey League playoff opener as I could last night. Here is a link to the game story that ran in our paper, a story from the Vancouver Sun and some observations and notes from the Vancouver Province's Steve Ewen.

The Chiefs and Giants are at it again tonight in Vancouver for Game 2 as the Chiefs look to even the series before the teams head to Spokane for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday.

‘Very slim’ chance Brock Motum plays Monday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We have a zillion things to get to, but first wanted to pass along an update on the health of junior forward Brock Motum. Read on for more.

Graves entertains the crowd again as Zags prepare to dance with second-seeded Kentucky on Sunday

KINGSTON, R.I. - Forget dunking a basketball.

Gonzaga women's basketball coach Kelly Graves' excitement prior to the final practice before his 11th-seeded Bulldogs face No. 2-seeded Kentucky tomorrow was all about Dunkin Donuts. Graves made his first trip to the famed joint last night on a walk.

The press conference remark, which will likely make its way into all the media coverage today, showcased how loose the Zags are during their cross-country trip for their Sweet 16 dance with the Wildcats. One thing about Graves and the Zags - they know how to let the good times roll, as highlighted in this morning's feature on sophomore guard Haiden Palmer.

More coverage later from myself and a picture story from S-R photographer Colin Mulvany.

Friday’s news only a ripple

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Some days you are overwhelmed by the sports news. It's similar to being driven to the beach by an 8-foot wave coming from out of nowhere when you're body surfing at Newport Beach. Other days, the news is more like the constant lapping of little 8-inch yappers, nipping at your heels and finally forcing you back to the sand. Either way, you enjoy the view. Read on.

A busy Saturday awaits

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Let's see, what's on the docket for this Saturday? Well, the Cougars hit the field at 10 a.m. for their second football practice of the spring. We'll be there. Then Ken Bone is meeting with reporters later in the afternoon. We'll be there, too. My only request is that the snow hold off until about, oh, I don't know, 1? That work for everyone else?

No update yet on Brock Motum

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — There's no update yet on the status of Brock Motum's injured right ankle, and we likely won't have any news on that front until coach Ken Bone speaks with the media tomorrow afternoon. Motum sprained his right ankle two minutes into WSU's 72-55 win over Oregon State in the CBI semifinals on Monday, and was using a walking boot and crutches to get around when the team left Corvallis. He was to meet with doctors in Pullman after the team returned. We'll have something more definitive by at least tomorrow afternoon.

Video: Gino Simone

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're going to try to post a quick video interview featuring one players from each practice this spring. Yesterday, we spoke with senior receiver Gino Simone a bit about the condition he's in now compared to last season.

A bittersweet time of year

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Oregon State coach Craig Robinson tweeted something this morning that every basketball fan understands: “Bittersweet time of the year. Still wish you were playing but get to spend time with loved ones. Ugh!” Yep, everyone wishes their college basketball team was still playing. Wait, there are two local teams still playing aren't there? Yes there are, Washington State's men and Gonzaga's women. And spring football started yesterday down in the Palouse. So there isn't really more time to spend with the loved ones, is there? Which makes me wonder, what was Robinson's “ugh” about? Read on.

Spring ball means more snow

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The sun came out and the sky was blue when the Cougars began spring football practice on Thursday. But the night ended with me scraping snow off my windshield. Yep, it's spring time on the Palouse. Read on for our coverage.

Win Spokane Shock tickets

Spokane Shock tickets are being offered to people who complete The Spokesman-Review weekly news quiz dated March 18.

Simply take the quiz, and you're eligible to win drawings that will be held today (Friday). We will have two separate drawing for two Spokane Shock tickets each time. The game is next Friday against San Jose in the Spokane Arena.

The overall champ wins a $50 gift card to the Davenport hotel. Good luck to everyone!

Wrapping up WSU’s first spring practice

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our hands are thawed and we've got some notes for you from Washington State's first spring practice under coach Mike Leach.

Video: Mike Leach talks about Day 1

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We'll be back with more practice notes later, but first wanted to pass along a little video of Mike Leach discussing WSU's first practice of the spring.

Snowed under by Wednesday’s events

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't remember many more eventful Wednesday in March around here. There was the Cougars domination of Oregon State in the CBI semifinals – basically without leading scorer Brock Motum. There was 729 blog posts from Christian Caple on SportsLink yesterday. And there was the snowstorm that dumped a few inches on my driveway starting last night. Read on.

All kinds of happenings on the Palouse

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Lots of buzz around town this morning, for a couple of different reasons. We've got a ton of content to pass along today, so hurry up and read on.

Spring position preview: Specialists

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our position previews conclude with a quick look at WSU's specialists.

Spring position preview: Defensive backs

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our spring position previews continue with a look at WSU's defensive backfield.

Spring position preview: Linebackers

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The next in our series of spring position previews takes a look at the linebackers. This could get tricky. Read on.

The game that was, CBI edition: WSU 72, Oregon State 55

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State beat Oregon State for a third time this season on Wednesday, and this one was their most dominating win over the Beavers yet. It also allowed the Cougars to advance to next week's best-of-three championship series against Pittsburgh. We watched the game with about 50 others at Beasley Coliseum, and have our postgame wrap after the jump.

Spring position preview: Defensive line

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We continue our spring football position preview with a quick look at the defensive line.

Rain, sleet, snow, whatever — Cougs practice outside

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Snow is nothing compared to what Mike Leach dealt with during one spring practice in Lubbock.

Spring position preview: Offensive line

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our spring position preview continues with a look at WSU's offensive line.

Spring notes from Mike Leach

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach met with reporters for about 33 minutes today to discuss the beginning of spring practice on Thursday. Here are some of the highlights, as well as a few personnel notes.

EWU hires Valeria as cornerbacks coach

Filling a hole that had been vacant since the beginning of last season, Eastern Washington hired Cherokee Valeria as cornerbacks coach, the school announced Wednesday.

Valeria replaces Torey Hunter, who was hired by Idaho in August.

UI opens spring with question marks

Idaho football coach Robb Akey addressed the media this morning, a day before the Vandals take the field for the first of 15 spring practices. We have our spring preview after the jump, with the key story lines to follow.

The changing of the seasons

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Not a lot of surprises today. There's no rest for the Washington State men, who had to hustle down to Corvallis on Tuesday for tonight's CBI semifinal against Oregon State. The Gonzaga women, on the other hand, got to catch their breath, with coach Kelly Graves sounding on the radio as if he needed the time just to let his voice return. The Zags will face Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen on Sunday. Read on.

Hoops, football about to overlap

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — With the basketball team on the road in Corvallis and spring football practice about to begin, it figures that it would snow enough to muck up the roads in Pullman. It has until Thursday to burn off, or else WSU is going to be practicing in the white stuff. Read on, because we have plenty of links.

Spring position preview: Receivers and TEs

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our spring position preview continues with a look at Washington State's receivers and tight ends.

Spring position preview: Running back

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our spring position previews continue with a look at WSU's running backs. Read on.

Gonzaga snows under Miami

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I get it. I probably write more than I should about the weather in this space. But today I have to. Woke up this morning and there is a dusting of snow, with more falling. Really? It was 60 degrees just a couple days ago. The trees are budding. Can't we have warm weather and a chance to tee it up? Not with basketball to play, you say? OK then. It's Washington State and Gonzaga's fault. As long as we can find a scapegoat I'm fine. It's very Old Testament of me. Read on.

Hoops season continues for Cougs

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The WSU basketball team won't have long to celebrate last night's victory over Wyoming. Today it travels to Corvallis for yet another meeting with CBI darling Oregon State on Wednesday. Read on.

Spring position preview: Quarterback

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — In the days leading up to the start of spring practices at Washington State, we're going to take a quick, capsulated look at each position group, just to refresh everyone's memories. Up first: the quarterbacks.

Gonzaga women advance to the Sweet Sixteen with win over Miami

How sweet it was.

The 11th-seeded Gonzaga women's basketball team earned a third straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen with a victory over No.3 Miami on Monday night in the final game at the McCarthey Athletic Center this season.  

Here's our game story and a notebook from Greg Lee.

Gonzaga will face No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday in Kingston, R.I. (game time TBA). The Zags reached the Elite Eight last season.

How far do you think the Zags can go?

The game that was, CBI edition: WSU 61, Wyoming 41

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Our game story is filed and we're back to wrap up WSU's 61-41 win over Wyoming in a CBI quarterfinal.

Game day for Gonzaga women in NCAA tournament: Round Two

We're back courtside at the McCarthey Athletic Center for the second round of the women's NCAA basketball tournament where the 11th-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs and No. 3 Miami Hurricanes will tipoff in a little over a half hour. Vince Grippi will have an online story posted immediately following the game, and my story will follow along with a notebook from Greg Lee and myself.

In case you missed our advance, here's a story focusing on the Hurricanes that ran in this morning's sports section. And if you want a refresher, here's our game story from Gonzaga's win over Rutgers in the first round of the tournament and Greg Lee's story on Miami's victory over Idaho State.

Zebras, Cougars and Cowboys at Beasley

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — OK, so the Zebras are here figuratively. Unless you're counting the officials. For more on WSU's quarterfinal game against Wyoming in the College Basketball Invitational by Zebra Pen, read  on.

Akey adds veteran Gordy Shaw to staff

One vacancy filled, two to go. Idaho football coach Robb Akey announced the hiring of run game coordinator/offensive line coach Gordy Shaw, a veteran coach who was UI's defensive coordinator in 1989 and spent the last year three years as Hawaii's offensive line coach.

Akey still has two open spots on his staff. He's expected to hire Mike Levenseller as receivers coach and add a running backs coach.

More details below.

It’s time for some noise

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We have a clock on the living room mantle that chimes each hour. When the batteries are fresh, it's loud enough to be heard all throughout the upper level of the house. But as those batteries wind down, the chimes become softer and softer until, finally, the clock just clicks on the top of the hour. The basketball season is a bit like that. We're to the point where the chimes are winding down and soon they will cease all together. But tonight in Spokane, there is still some noise to be heard, with Gonzaga's women hosting the University of Miami in the NCAA's second round. And it could be very loud. Read on.

Spey rodding classes offered at Silver Bow

FLY FISHING – Registration is underway for the following fly fishing clinics being offered at Silver Bow Fly Shop, 13210 E Indiana Ave., telephone 924-9998.

Winter Steelhead Clinic: Learn winter Spey rod tactics from master guide and spey line designer Tom Larimer,  April 6, 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Free.

Beginner Spey Class with Tom Larimer, April 7, 8 a.m.-noon. Cost: $150. Rods/reels provided.

Advanced Spey Class with Tom Larimer, April 7, 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Cost: $150. Rods/reels provided.

One more gameday at Beasley

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — And for all we know, there could be another. And maybe another after that. For more on Washington State's quarterfinal CBI matchup with Wyoming tonight, read on.

Basketball is almost over

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Just noticed something. The tree outside my window, the one with the single leaf still attached – it often moves in the wind, catching my eye while I'm trying to write in the morning – is starting to bud. Yep. The second surest sign that spring is coming. The first? Gonzaga's NCAA tournament run is over. That happened yesterday in Pittsburgh. Read on.

Turning an eye toward spring

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — It's technically still basketball season, but with spring football practices starting this week, we turn out focus toward Mike Leach's squad for a moment. Read on for that and some Pac-12 links.

Vandals’ season ends at Utah State

The Idaho men's basketball team's best season in the last 19 years ended Saturday night — in completely forgettable fashion.

The Vandals were blasted 76-56 by Utah State at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in the second round of the CollegeInsider.com tournament. “This game needs to be flushed down the toilet,” coach Don Verlin said. “I don’t think we need to focus on this game as far as our season.” Read on for the details.

Buckeyes hold off GU, 73-66

Good evening from Pittsburgh. Gonzaga gave Ohio State everything it could handle but the second-seeded Buckeyes made the key plays in the closing minutes to pull out a 73-66 win. Here's my game story, notebook, John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos.

Game day for Gonzaga women in NCAA tournament opener

We're sitting courtside at the McCarthey Athletic Center ready for tipoff between the Gonzaga women's basketball team and Rutgers in the opening round of the women's NCAA tournament. In case you missed it, here's an advance story on the long journey the Scarlet Knights took to Spokane. 

Following the GU-Rutgers game, No. 3 Miami and No. 14 Idaho State will play. Here's our advance from Greg Lee and an overview.

The overview for the GU-Rugers game is below.

Nope, we had Duke

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It seems upsets, real upsets, like a 15 seed defeating a two seed, are somewhat akin to Lay's potato chips. You can't stop with one. At least not Friday. It had been 11 years since a lightly regarded 15 seed rose up and sent a two seed to the sidelines in the opening round. So yesterday it happened twice, with Norfolk State first taking down Missouri, then Lehigh doing the same to Duke. Though unforeseen by most, the upsets play into a pre-tournament thought we expressed here related to Gonzaga's seedings. We wrote then it was better for GU to be a 10 seed than an eight or nine, because the one seeds were tough but the two seeds were flawed. Of course, the Zags earned a seven, routed West Virginia and now meet second-seeded Ohio State today. Nope, the two seed in GU's region didn't lose in the first round. The Bulldogs never seem to get that lucky. Read on.

Vandals at Utah State … again

In the chaotic moments after Idaho dispatched UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, UI athletic director Rob Spear tweeted that it looked the Vandals would play Loyala Marymount in the next round of the CIT. Then Don Verlin said roughly the same thing to reporters.

But it didn't happen. Read how the Vandals are instead in Logan, Utah, to play Utah State tonight below in our preview. We have more below on the teams' third matchup of the season.

Hope you took Lehigh, Vince

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The headline is in reference to the question Vince posed in this blog post a few days ago. Seemed like a rhetorical question at the time, huh?

Getting to know Wyoming

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We haven't done a question-and-answer session with an opposing team's beat writer in quite a while. But since Robert Gagliardi of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle made himself available this week, we asked him a few questions about the Cowboys. Read on for his answers.

Zags ready for showdown with Ohio State

Good evening from Pittsburgh. Here's most of our report for tomorrow's S-R, in various forms.

Here's a link to my GU-Ohio State preview (with a capsule glance at both teams running down the left side). Below, you'll find my unedited notebook. Here's John Blanchette's column.

A long, fruitful day of hoops

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I have to admit I didn't see the end of the UNLV/Colorado game last night. Couldn't get to the finish line. Failed. After spending most of the day watching favorite after favorite win, I couldn't stay awake anymore. Heck, it was after 9 for goodness sake. So we hit the sack, only to discover when I arose early this morning the Buffs had blown up that section of my bracket. The darn Pac-12. It destroys me even when it wins. Read on.

Tourney rolls on, WSU prepares for Wyoming

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — So, after one day, it's been made obvious once again that my propensity to pick underdogs in the NCAA tournament will continue to inhibit my success in any bracket pools I enter. Oh well. Tomorrow (or today) is another day, right? We have a bit of WSU news, plus some Pac-12 links.

Zags dismantle West Virginia, 77-54

Gonzaga made quick work of West Virginia, building a 17-point lead in the first 12 minutes and cruising to a 77-54 victory over the Mountaineers in the NCAA tournament on Thursday.

Here's some of our report from Pittsburgh. Here's my game story and our notebook. Here's John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos.

Here's a game story and column in the Charleston Daily Mail. Here's ESPN.com's recap of the games played in Pittsburgh.

WSU announces spring football dates

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State has released its official spring football practice schedule. Read on.

Zags lose special fan

Many Gonzaga fans have heard about 11-year-old Brandon Chastain, who survived two bouts with cancer before the disease returned for a third time. Extremely sad news to report that Brandon passed away at about 6:45 this morning.

He couldn't have fought the disease more courageously.

The team visited Brandon in November and he came to a GU practice in December after cancer had taken away his vision. Brandon liked to talk about “Star Wars” with Robert Sacre and he sat courtside for GU's Ronald McDonald's House Charities Classic, bumping fists with Elias Harris in pregame. Prior to the Gonzaga-LMU game, Brandon's mom, Jo Lynn, accepted a check for $681,000 on behalf of the American Cancer Society from Mark and Marcy Few's Coaches vs. Cancer event last summer. Jo Lynn hugged every player and coach before leaving the court. 

Just sit down and enjoy the day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's finally here. The first (real) day of the NCAA basketball tournament. The basketball junkie's Christmas. It all starts at a little after 9 in the morning here on the West Coast and continues until your eyes close – or they explode – sometime late this evening. Read on.

The CBI continues in Pullman

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Wyoming it is. And in Pullman. That's the gist of your WSU news for the day, but read on for more.

Idaho escapes in CIT opener

The Vandals were humming along for much of Wednesday night in their CollegeInsider.com tournament opener. But with the punch UC Santa Barbara has on offense, “it was just a matter of time” before the Gauchos closed the gap, Idaho coach Don Verlin said.

Sure enough, UCSB rallied. But this time the Vandals responded to collect their 19th win of the year.

Read on.

WSU to host Wyoming at 7 p.m. Monday

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — An opponent, a location and a time has been set for Washington State's second-round game in the College Basketball Invitational. Read on.

From Sacre to Stanley: GU reading material

Good evening from warm Pittsburgh (temps in the 70s last couple days). I just sent the last of three stories for Thursday's S-R.

Here's the rundown. My game preview can be found here. John Blanchette checked in with Gonzaga's Robert Sacre, who has already made the Final Four in one sense, and a Bob Huggins' column that hasn't been posted yet. We'll link to it when it appears on the Website. Below, you can find my sidebar on pro golfer Kyle Stanley, who is planning on attending Thursday's game.

UPDATE: Here's Chris Anderson's photos and Blanchette's column.

I arrived in Pittsburgh and at Consol Energy Center just in time to see Southern Miss finish practice. The Golden Eagles' staff of Larry Eustachy, Leonard Perry and Steve Barnes all have ties to the University of Idaho. I covered Eustachy's UI teams in the early 1990s and Perry's Vandal teams in the early 2000s. I put together an article after a brief visit with the candid Eustachy. 

Read on for more.

It wasn’t that empty

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The last time I watched a college basketball game on TV from the University of San Francisco's venerable War Memorial Gymnasium, I was afraid the fire marshal would clear the place out. It was that crowded. That, of course, was less than a month ago, when Gonzaga invaded San Francisco for a key WCC game and left with a 66-65 defeat. Last night, as I sat watching the first round game in the College Basketball Invitational, which Washington State would win 89-75, I was shocked by how empty the gym was. So empty, in fact, I got up this morning and immediately went onto the USF website to see the official attendance contained on the box score. I found it but for some reason the link wants to print the box score; just hit cancel and then scroll to the bottom for the attendance. Even after that glitch I wasn't ready for the shocking number I found here. Talk about empty. Read on.

Cougs advance, wait for opponent

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Washington State extended its season at least one more game with a win over San Francisco last night. A couple other Pac-12 teams were in action, too. Let's get to it.

The game that was, CBI edition: WSU 89, San Francisco 75

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're back at the apartment after spending the last two-plus hours at Applebee's, where we watched the Cougars beat San Francisco, 89-75, in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational. And just because we're not on the road with the team doesn't mean we can't pass along our postgame review. Read on.

Young Zags not as young as WVU

Good evening from …. not Pittsburgh. We made it roughly halfway, to Minneapolis, thanks to two hours of sitting on the tarmac at the Spokane Airport due to mechanical issues with the plane. I wrote once we got airborne — hey I had some time on my hands — and the topic was the birth certificates of Gonzaga and West Virginia.

It's young vs. younger.

Here's my article that will run in Wednesday's S-R.  There's a number of articles on GU and WVU out there, but one in particular worth your attention. Dave Boling, former S-R staffer, writes about Mark Few and basketball is barely mentioned.

We'll be back with more, hopefully, from Pittsburgh, tomorrow.

Eastern WR Hart granted sixth year

The NCAA has notified Eastern Washington that wide receiver Tyler Hart has been granted a sixth year of eligibility.

Expected to be a slot receiver and returner for the Eagles last season as a senior, he missed EWU’s first three games, but returned to catch a nine-yard pass versus Montana State. But he lasted only three plays against the Bobcats before he was injured again and lost for the season. Hart was also lost for the year with a broken scapula in EWU’s fourth game of the 2008 season.

An alphabet soup basketball meal is on tap

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Nothing wrong with a little rain or snow in March, is there? Especially this week of March, when you want to be forced indoors. It's the first week of the NCAA basketball tournament – and other assorted tourneys as well. It's those “other assorted” ones we're focusing on today around the Inland Northwest, as Washington State and Idaho prepare for postseason play that wouldn't have been possible just a handful of years ago. But don't worry. There is Zag news as well, including a great read for this Tuesday morning. By the way, it's raining in Spokane. Beautiful. Read on.

Madness begins Tuesday, in some form

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The NCAA tournament begins with two games tonight. But a whole bunch of Pac-12 teams will be in action elsewhere, including Washington State, which landed in San Francisco last night for its first-round CBI game. We have more on that after the jump.

Shock comeback comes up short in OT

There have been so many crazy finishes to Spokane Shock football games over the years — Charles Frederick's TD catch in the 2006 playoffs, the blocked PAT in the franchise's first game, the Hail Mary against San Jose last season. It looked like the Shock might deliver another one Monday, erasing a two-touchdown deficit in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter.

But Spokane couldn't shake the turnover bug — committing its fifth on an intercepted pass in overtime — and Iowa capitalized to claim a 69-63 victory. Shock starting quarterback Erik Meyer was knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter after absorbing a helmet-to-helmet hit by John Mohrning, who was penalized and ejected.

My unedited game story is below.  

Zag women will face Rutgers in first round of NCAA Tournament

The Gonzaga women's basketball team learned their fate on Monday evening. As a No. 11 seed, they'll dance with No. 6 Rutgers on Saturday at 1:15 p.m. at the McCarthey Athletic Center - where the first and second rounds will be played. Also coming to Spokane are No. 3 Miami and No. 14 Idaho State. For more details on the bracket, follow this link.

We'll have extended coverage throughout the week, but to get you started I've pasted my story for tomorrow's paper below.

To view the complete bracket, follow this link.

Chiefs at Seattle as season winds down

The Spokane Chiefs have just four regular-season games remaining and will hit the road to take on the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday night. They'll play all four games in five nights this week, and though they're locked into a first-round matchup with the Vancouver Giants, home-ice advantage is still up for grabs.

The Chiefs are coming off a win over Kootenay on Saturday - but prior to that lost to Tri-City and fell to Kelowna in a shootout.

In case you missed it last week, here's our feature on ironman Steve Kuhn - who is on the verge of setting an unprecedented streak for Spokane. 

Also: Defenseman Davis Vandane will miss the next two games after the league suspended him for his accumulation of kneeing penalties.

Monday with Ken Bone

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Ken Bone spoke with reporters today before the Cougars headed to the airport for their trip to San Francisco. We have a partial transcript of his comments below, so read on.

Join our (unofficial) Sportslink Reader Challenge

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — Everyone loves a bracket challenge. So I created a group on Yahoo! for anyone who wants to submit their picks and match their brackets against the readers of this blog. All you need is a Yahoo! membership, which is free.

Here's the link to join.

The password is: cougs

Winner gets mentioned in a blog post. And possibly a handshake.

Should I take Lehigh or Duke?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If yesterday was Selection Sunday, does that make today Copier Monday?  Read on.

Day after selection Sunday, Cougs head south

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The dust has settled after another selection Sunday. But selection Sunday means a heck of a lot more selections than it used to. The Cougars were selected by the CBI, along with Oregon State. Four Pac-12 teams were selected by the NIT. And two are headed to the big dance. That's eight conference teams in postseason play. Hey, who said the Pac-12 was down? Wait. Don't answer that. Instead, read on.

Shock, Barnstormers open 2012 season

After several days of labor unrest, the Spokane Shock can finally concentrate on football and the Iowa Barnstormers, who visit the Arena on Monday night in the AFL season-opener for both teams.

Here's my game preview. If there was more in the Des Moines Register on the opener than this, I couldn't find it.

Zags to face West Virginia in Pittsburgh

In the five seasons I've covered Gonzaga, here's the travel pattern when it comes to the NCAA tournament. 2008, Raleigh; 2009, Portland; 2010, Buffalo; 2011, Denver; 2012, Pittsburgh. Pretty much alternating far from home with close to home every other year, no?

Anyway, Gonzaga will trek east to face West Virginia in Pittsburgh, a little over an hour's drive from the Mountaineers' Morgantown campus. The seeding GU (7) and W.V. (10) is the same as it was when GU (7) took on Davidson (10) in Raleigh, about 2 1/2 hours from Davidson, N.C. in 2008.

You can see what the players and coaches think of the matchup in my article that will run in Monday's S-R. Here's John Blanchette's take on the tournament bracket and Gonzaga's draw. GU players certainly didn't seem too bothered by anything as Marquise Carter took a turn operating a TV camera, donning the headphones to look even more official.

There's more info on Gonzaga, West Virginia and the other half of the bracket (Ohio State and Loyola-Maryland) below. 

Vandals to host CIT game

The Idaho Vandals bowed out early in the WAC tournament, but their season is still alive. They accepted an invitation to the CollegeInsider.com tournament on Sunday. UI will host UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals (18-13) still have a chance at a 20-win season for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Update: We filed a story after talking to Don Verlin. You can read it below. The Vandals played $31,000 to host the opening round game.

Cougs will travel to San Francisco for CBI game

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — The Washington State men's basketball team will continue its season with a first-round game in the College Basketball Invitational on Tuesday at San Francisco. We've posted a short story below.

Welcome to a month of madness

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Selection Sunday can either be the happiest day of the year or the saddest, depending on your position. But for most folks, whose schools already know their NCAA fate, it can also have no relevance whatsoever. Strike that. Very little relevance might be better. After all, just about everyone loves to get those bracket sheets and make their predictions, don't they? Read on.

Selection Sunday on tap

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — To me, this is always the second-best day of the year — just behind the first Thursday of the NCAA tournament. Yes, it's selection Sunday. And even though WSU won't hear its name called on the big show today, the Cougars should find out about their CBI future. Read on.

Shock get back to football

It's been an interesting 2-3 days in the AFL, to say the least, culminating in a wild Friday that saw owners fire players, the AFL players union declare a strike on twitter and then call off the strike roughly 6 1/2 hours later.

“It was just unfolding almost electronically and really nobody knew what all was happening,” Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said.

For now, the players are playing and the work stoppage is over. I put together a story on today's events here and Jessica Brown has look at defensive back Travis Williams, who is back for his second stint with the Shock. Both articles will run in Sunday's S-R.

Shock vote to play

Heading out to Shock practice now, but I've been told by media relations director Kevin Maloney that Shock players took a vote this morning and 100 percent voted to play Monday night, irregardless of what happens with the negotiations between AFL/ownership and the AFL players' union.

More later.

Whitworth, the morning after

I am still in Janesville, Wisconsin, with the Whitworth basketball team, which lost last night in the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament. Here is my story on the game, which ended in dramatic and controversial fashion.

Even the next morning, I couldn't shake the feeling that Whitworth had this one taken away.

AFL strike over? Already?

Just about the time I was hitting the pillow late last night at the conclusion of the Cal-Colorado Pac-12 tournament game, it appears AFL players union executive director Ivan Soto put out another tweet:

“Work stoppage over all players instructed to go back to work, those that stood tall, THANK YOU! Details forthcoming next week! : )”

Soto then issued 33 more tweets that really don't add much clarity to the situation. Soto said the Pittsburgh/Orlando players were ready to play, but Power owner Matt Shaner over-reacted and fired the team, forcing the AFLPU to call for a strike. He tweets the 12-14 players that ended up leaving the union and playing Friday night were coerced into signing new contracts. He tweets that the AFL has committed numerous National Labor Relations Board violations. He even tweets that Shaner sent a derogatory tweet presumably to ex-Shock quarterback Kyle Rowley (projected Power starter).

(UPDATE 8:15 a.m.: Exchanged texts this morning with Shock majority owner Brady Nelson, who says it appears there's an accord, but the owners will discuss matters on a conference call this afternoon.)

Soto doesn't specify if a short-term or long-term resolution has been reached. He was trying for a 3- to 4-week settlement Friday afternoon.  Union leadership can't even seem to agree on whether it was a strike (Soto's tweet Friday afternoon) or a work stoppage (Soto's tweet late Friday night) or neither, according another union official Steve Watson (see link below).

What is known is that both sides didn't look good last night. With 12-14 players shrugging off the union and playing last night, it indicates solidarity wasn't too strong. And the Pittsburgh-Orlando game, played primarily with replacement players, wasn't pretty and couldn't have been well received by fans, owners and a national television audience.

More information here. Tons of questions remain. More later.

Labor woes in the Twitter era

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It was a pretty slow Friday – unless you happen to be an Arena football fan. Then it got real exciting, real quick in the early afternoon. But the Spokane Shock don't play until Monday evening and the labor troubles that boiled over yesterday already seem to be getting resolved. Maybe it was good for Spokane to play the final game of the first weekend. Read on.

WSU women see run come to an end

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — We're back on the Palouse with your daily dose of basketball news this Saturday morning. Most notable for patrons of this blog — the WSU women hung with Cal for a while yesterday before falling in the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament, ending their best run in that tournament in school history.

AFL opens amid labor unrest

I haven't followed the AFL for long, but I can't imagine there's been a more bizarre day in the league's 25 years than Friday. The labor unrest boiled over into a player strike, according to AFL players union executive director Ivan Soto, just a couple hours before the Orlando-Pittsburgh season opener on NFL Network.

Pittsburgh's owner immediately fired his roster and Orlando's owner released his players. Roughly half of Pittsburgh's roster decided to play, signing new contracts. The teams reportedly had a player draft prior to the game of the replacement players. The game wasn't pretty. Pittsburgh wore white uniforms and Orlando's appeared to be off white. Many players didn't have names on the back of their jerseys. It was scoreless after one quarter before the Power went on to a 40-26 win.

In Spokane, owner Brady Nelson and coach Andy Olson are still trying to assess what it means for the Shock roster. Nelson isn't sure how many of his players or how many players league-wide are AFLPU members, but he seems certain that his current roster will be on the field for Monday's opener against Iowa. Nelson hopes that's the case, but he also said putting together a replacement roster would be possible, especially with the team just releasing 50 or so players from training camp.

Here's my article from today's events that will run in Saturday's S-R. More in the Orlando Sentinel, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (also here), Arizona Republic, Salt Lake Tribune, San Antonio Express-News, Des Moines Register, Tampa Bay Times and Arenafan.com.

Whits are hungry for Marlin

I'm in Janesville, Wisconsin, to cover the Whitworth Pirates in the Division III Sweet 16 in nearby Whitewater. Here's a link to my preview of the Pirates' game against Virginia Wesleyan, and a previous story on the role of Whitworth's bench.

I arrived at 2 a.m., but got up this morning just in time to witness a possible NCAA record for most basketball players crammed into one Holiday Inn continental breakfast room.

It’s finally shorts weather - sort of

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is still a chance today could be TF60DDOTY (or as it's known to most folks, the first 60-degree day of the year) in the Inland Northwest. Which would make it the best day of the year for me. Yep, nothing better than that first day post-winter (OK, I know it is still winter officially) you can put on shorts and wander around, causing car wrecks and blinding babies with your white legs. Of course, the past few years I've been able to do that in Pullman, where the students would always point admiringly and show their envy (I'm sure) by laughing at the whiteness of my skin. Now I have to do that at home, and the warm weather means I'll be in the back yard with a rake. Read on.

Cougar women still alive, but we’re headed home

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Another night, another upset for the WSU women's team. But this one was much bigger. Read on for more.

Vandals upset in WAC tournament

Don Verlin and the Idaho Vandals are still hunting for an elusive WAC tournament win. The third-seeded Vandals blew a seven-point lead in the final 61/2 minutes and dropped a 72-70 heartbreaker to No. 6 Hawaii in the quarterfinal round this afternoon in Las Vegas.

Idaho is now 0-4 under Verlin at the WAC tournament and the Vandals have yet to win more than a play-in game at the event. Read on.

Nelson expects game to go on as planned

Spokane Shock majority owner Brady Nelson said he’s “100 percent” confident the Arena Football League team’s season opener Monday night will go on as planned despite threats from the AFL players union of a possible strike.

 

The Shock entertain Iowa on Monday, the last of six AFL games to kickoff on opening weekend. Iowa general manager John Pettit echoed Nelson's thoughts: “I have no reason to believe our players won’t step on the field and be there to play Spokane. We’re looking forward to the game, our guys have prepared hard and we've had a long training camp. We're looking forward to hitting the field.”

 

We'll have more here later, but some background information can be found in an Orlando Sentinel aricle. More here.

 

(UPDATE: I put together an article for Friday's S-R, you can read it below. Also, AFLPU executive director Ivan Soto told the Sentinel later Thursday that the possibility of a strike “has been reduced” due to progress made in negotiations).

 

Nelson said he isn't worried because he believes the strike talk is being generated by the union, not the players. Nelson doesn't believe there's a great deal of “buy-in” from the players with the players union.

 

AFL president Jerry Kurz's statement: “The Arena Football League is choosing not to discuss labor matters publicly at this time in the hopes that we can come to an accord with the union. We will continue delivering the same exciting brand of football action that we have for the last 24 seasons and we hope that the union allows the players to do the same.”

Empty? The Staples Center was not empty

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Before Washington State's Pac-12 Conference tournament game began yesterday, Christian Caple posted a picture of the empty Staples Center on this blog. Yes, it was a pregame photo for a noon game, so you would expect the arena to be empty. But after the game began, the seats remained unfilled. Either that or they gave out free T-shirts that were the exact same color as the seats. Anyhow, the empty arena, the quiet atmosphere, the ability to hear fans' comments throughout the game – all of which was caught by Fox's broadcast – took me back to a simpler time and a simpler place, when game officials were less hesitant to interact with their fans. Read on.

Can UI stick around in WAC tourney?

The Idaho men's basketball team is one of the hottest clubs in the WAC. But can the Vandals summon a breakthrough this afternoon in the conference tournament? If they do, it will be a landmark day for Idaho.

We have more on the Vandals' tourney hopes below.

Cougars still playing on the women’s side

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — We covered one WSU win and one WSU loss yesterday. From a historical perspective, the win was far more surprising. Read on.

Larry Scott speaks, but not about Vegas

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — We caught the first bit of Larry Scott's meeting with the media on Wednesday before driving down Figeuroa for the WSU women's game. You can read the full transcript of Scott's comments after the jump.

OSU 69, WSU 64: postgame transcripts

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — We have postgame press conference transcripts for both teams to pass along. (Props to Ryan Divish for schooling me on the benefits of Scribd, which is a slick way to post entire documents in blog posts.)

The game that was: Oregon State 69, WSU 64

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Is WSU's season over? That's a question we addressed in our game story. For now, we'll recap this loss to Oregon State the same way we always do.

Pregame from Staples Center

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Is there a single Pac-12 basketball fan who will miss watching this tournament in this big, empty arena? Can't imagine there is. Anyway, we're here, and we have some thoughts before Washington State and Oregon State get things started at noon. Read on.

An early start to Pac-12 tourney

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Got up early this morning to get this post done. After all, as I type this, there is only six hours until the tip off of Washington State's Pac-12 tournament game against Oregon State. And it's only been about 10 hours since Eastern Washington's season ended in a late flurry by the Montana Grizzlies in Missoula. Read on.

Can Cougs extend their LA stay?

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12 tournament begins in roughly six hours, and Washington State will be there to help get it started. Man, a 12:10 p.m. game on the first day? A little early for my taste. I'd prefer something later. Like, maybe 8 or 9 p.m. Just kidding, Vince. Read on, because we have quite a bit to get  to.

Eagles season ends

I've just returned to my hotel after filing my story on Eastern Washington's season-ending loss to Montana in the Big Sky conference baksetball semifinals. In the end, the script played out the same as two previous Eagle losses to the Griz, who kept pounding the ball inside, drawing fouls and going to the line. Thirty-two times.

Pac-12, WAC women’s hoops tournaments start tomorrow

The Washington State and Idaho women's basketball teams are set to begin conference tournament play after wrapping up their regular season schedules last week. Two players from WSU were also honored on Tuesday as the Pac-12 announced its all-conference teams.

More below. 

Cougars will host CBE Classic

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Some future basketball news for you — Washington State was announced Tuesday as a host team for the 2012 CBE Classic, which will take place in November. More details below.

Nothing super about Monday for GU

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It is kind of appropriate today is Super Tuesday. After all, around Gonzaga yesterday, it was not-so-super Monday. Not with the men losing the West Coast Conference title game in overtime to St. Mary's. And the women melting in the second half against BYU once again. Not the best day for the folks wandering around Desmet and Cincinnati streets. But there is always a new day. And today our focus can shift to Eastern Washington, in Missoula tonight to face the Grizzlies on their home court. Then tomorrow, the Cougars begin Pac-12 tournament play in Los Angeles. And on Sunday the Zag men will hear their name called by the NCAA selection committee and on Monday, the GU women will find out who they are hosting in the tournament. As of right now, no one else in the area can say that with any assurance. Read on.

Read up on Zags, Gaels

Good morning. Crews were peeling the Zappos WCC men's basketball tournament sticker from the lobby floor of the Orleans Hotel when I checked out this morning. Wonder if it was the same crew that yanked the slippery sticker from center court at the Orleans Arena the day before?

Tons of reading material from last night's WCC men's championship game, won by Saint Mary's 78-74. I'm guessing the Gaels are a six seed, GU a 7 or 8. Here's my game story, John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos (of course he got Hart tying up Dellavedova, Harris' 3-pointer and the Gaels' celebration at the final buzzer). Elsewhere, there were articles by the Seattle Times, Tacoma News Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Contra Costa Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal and A.P.The WCC Website has both tournaments covered here.

The All-Tournament team consisted of Matthew Dellavedova (Saint Mary's, MVP), Elias Harris (GU), Kevin Pangos (GU), Cody Doolin (USF) and Rob Jones (Saint Mary's).

We knew that Gonzaga was heading to the 2013 Maui Invitational. Now we know the other teams that will be in Maui.

I also covered the GU women's team, which was outplayed by BYU 78-66 in the title game. Here's my game story, and Anderson's photos. And here are articles from the Salt Lake TribuneDeseret News, Daily Herald, Seattle Times, News Tribune,

On eve of Pac-12 tourney, we have links

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — It's the Tuesday before the Pac-12 tournament, which means we have a look back at the conference's regular season awards, as well as ahead to what the tournament may have in store. We have links that cover both categories.

Gaels work overtime to defeat Zags

In perhaps the most memorable game in a Gonzaga-Saint Mary's rivalry that seems to get better every year, the Gaels got the better of GU with a 78-74 overtime victory Monday night in the WCC men's basketball tournament championship at the Orleans Arena.

Tourney MVP Matthew Dellavedova scored 22 points, including four free throws in the final 39.3 seconds. The Gaels and Zags have played for the last four titles, each winning two.

Elias Harris led Gonzaga with 22 points and 13 rebounds. His 3-pointer from 23 feet sent the game into overtime.

My unedited game story is below.

Ken Bone on OSU: ‘We know how good they can be’

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Ken Bone spoke with the media today via teleconference on an iPhone in the second-floor lobby of WSU's hotel — isn't technology something? — and we have a summary of his comments posted below.

Ryan named Big Sky MVP, other locals honored

The Big Sky Conference and Western Athletic Conference announced their all-conference picks on Monday, with four local players - two from Idaho and two from Eastern Washington - earning first-, second- or freshman-team honors.

EWU standout Brianne Ryan earned the top award for the Big Sky and was named MVP.

Read all about the awards here.

Chiefs will face Giants in first round of WHL playoffs

It’s official – the Spokane Chiefs will take on the Vancouver Giants in the opening round of the Western Hockey League playoffs.

There's more reading material below, and above is a throwback photo of Ondrej Roman jumping onto David Rutherford in the 2008 second-round playoff series between Spokane and Vancouver. At left is Jared Cowen and at right is Mike Reddington. Spokane won the series in six games and went on to win the Western Hockey League and Memorial Cup championship.

BYU defeats Gonzaga for WCC championship

On Feb. 25th, BYU had a chance to earn a co-WCC women's regular-season title with a win over Gonzaga but was routed 77-60 in Spokane. The Cougars had another opportunity against GU on Monday and this time they registered a 78-66 victory in the WCC Tournament championship at the Orleans Arena.

The Cougars made 60.4 percent of their shots while keeping GU standout duo Kayla Standish and Katelan Redmon in check. The two combined for just three second-half field goals and were 9 of 27 from the field. BYU earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga believes it'll make the tournament field, too, but it will have to wait until Monday to find out.

You can read my unedited story below. Chris Anderson's photos can be found here.

Brock Motum named first-team All Pac-12, Most Improved

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — The Pac-12 has announced its end-of-season awards, and a quartet of WSU selections is highlighted by Brock Motum, who was named first-team all-conference and also won the Pac-12 Most Improved award. We have more on the jump.

Eagles prepare for Griz

I caught up with the Eastern Washington men's basketball team at their practice Sunday evening, and they feel tournament-tested after their big win Saturday afternoon over Idaho State. Look for a preview of the gam in Tuesday's paper. The team left for Missoula this morning to prepare for their Big Sky semifinal game at Montana Tuesday night at 7,300-seat Dahlberg Arena, which can be a pretty intimidating place:

Idaho football schedule announced

Idaho has released its 2012 football schedule, which includes games at LSU and North Carolina. The Vandals have seven road games and play five homes games — three versus WAC foes (New Mexico State, San Jose State and new league member Texas-San Antonio). They also have Eastern Washington and Wyoming at the Kibbie Dome.

Read on for the details.

Championship Monday

It's championship Monday for the WCC men and women. It's the top two seeds squaring off in both title games.

We'll begin with the women, who tip at noon at the Orleans Arena. Here's my preview of No. 1 GU-vs.-No. 2 BYU and John Blanchette's column on Taelor Karr. More previews in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and Kitsap Sun.

The No. 2 Gonzaga men take on No. 1 Saint Mary's tonight at 6. Here's my preview: and others in the San Francisco Chronicle,Contra Costa Times and Seattle Times, Is BYU in or out of the NCAA Tournament?

You can follow both title games with in-game updates at twitter.com/srjimm.

A warmup is in store

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Do you know by the end of the week the forecast calls for temperatures in the high 50s in the Inland Northwest? High 50s. Golfing weather. Wonder if I can lose 20 pounds by Friday? Read on.

Barone second-team all-WAC

Kyle Barone was one of four Idaho men's basketball players honored by the WAC in its postseason awards. Barone, the team's second-leading scorer (12.6 ppg) and top rebounder (8.2 per game), was a second-team selection and guard Deremy Geiger (13.0 ppg) was an honorable mention selection.

Nevada point guard Deonte Burton was selected as the top player by the coaches, and Wolf Pack coach David Carter was named coach of the year. More on the awards here.

Pac-12 tournament is set

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — WSU had the day off yesterday while the rest of the Pac-12 tournament seeding shook itself out. We have a look at what lies ahead this week after the jump.

GU men, women move into WCC title games

Good morning. Gonzaga's men shut down BYU 77-58 and will face Saint Mary's for the WCC Tournament championship on Monday. GU's women outlasted Saint Mary's 83-78 and advance to a title-game matchup with BYU.

A ton of reading material for you from yesterday's semifinals. Here are the men's links: My game story, John Blanchette's column and Chris Anderson's photos. More on GU's win in the Seattle Times. The BYU angle is covered in the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and Daily Herald. Saint Mary's victory over USF was covered by the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.

Here are the women's links: My game story, Anderson's photos, and a game story from the San Francisco Chronicle.. BYU's victory over San Diego was covered by the Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and Daily Herald.

The WCC Website has all kinds of information here.

I'll be back later with previews of Monday's championship contests.

A quick look back at Saturday’s action

A GRIP ON SPORTS • UPDATED: 9:20 A.M.

We had such a huge day of local basketball yesterday, we want to get the links up to those stories as early as possible. So we're putting this up now and will be back later with more. UPDATE: OK, we are back, with more links from yesterday. So now you can read on for everything.

WSU focus shifts to Pac-12 tourney

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — The regular season is over, but Washington State's time here is not. The Cougars have three days to prepare for Oregon State, their first-round opponent on Wednesday at the Pac-12 tournament. But the Pac-12 regular season doesn't officially end until later today. We take a look at those games, plus the ones that transpired Saturday.

Zags thump BYU

Back with my unedited game story from Gonzaga's 77-58 win over BYU in the men's tournament semifinals on Saturday. You can read it below.

Vandals beat SJSU, miss WAC’s 2nd seed

After Idaho's win tonight — a 70-64 victory at San Jose State — I don't think I've ever heard Don Verlin as excited as he was during his postgame radio interview. The Vandals are on a roll, and Verlin senses his team's confidence.

Read on for an early look at our game story.

The game that was: WSU 43, USC 38

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Well, that wasn't pretty. But the Cougars got what they were after  — a win, no matter how it came. We have our postgame review after the jump.

GU women back in title game

Entertaining game here at the Orleans Arena today with Gonzaga overtaking Saint Mary's in the final 10 minutes en route to an 83-78 victory in WCC women's tournament semifinals.

The Gaels led 49-47 at the break. Saint Mary's made 19 of 29 shots (65.5 percent) and Gonzaga made 19 of 33 (57.6 percent). The Gaels couldn't keep up that pace, particularly in the closing 10 minutes and Gonzaga used a couple of 7-0 spurts to claim the victory.

My unedited game story is below. Chris Anderson's photos can be found here.

The regular season ends at Galen Center

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — As I type, there are about seven players from both teams shooting on the court. Wonder if there will be that many people in the seats today. Read on for some thoughts.

Semis arrive for Gonzaga men, women

Getting packed up to head over to the Orleans Arena for the first of two semifinal games for Gonzaga's basketball programs. The women tip against Saint Mary's at noon. The men take on BYU at …. the official time listed is 8 p.m., but the second half of the night session tipped at 8:25 Thursday and 8:45 Friday … we'll say approximately 8:15. Feel free to start a pool on the tip time..

Here's my GU women's preview and GU men's preview. Interested to see three things today: More on Saint Mary's women here. More on USF men here. More on BYU's men here, here, here and here. Plenty more here from the WCC website.

More below.

What a Saturday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Wow. What a Saturday. Gonzaga's men and women in the West Coast Conference tournament. Eastern Washington in the Big Sky tournament. Idaho, the hottest team around, finishing up its regular season. Washington State concluding Pac-12 regular season play against USC, one of the worst teams in recent conference history. And all the state basketball finals, from the Bs in Spokane to the big schools in Tacoma. What a Saturday. I can't remember a Saturday like this one for, what, at least a year? Read on.

Links on the season’s final Saturday

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — It's the final Saturday of the Pac-12 regular season. For some, that means a lot. For others — such as WSU — all that's on the line is a chance to build momentum heading into the conference tournament. We have links around the conference after the jump.

Are Vandals primed for postseason run?

It hasn't always been smooth for Idaho this season. But here the Vandals are, on the last day of the regular season, knowing they will at worst be the third seed in next week's WAC tournament.

The Vandals are in San Jose to take on the Spartans tonight. We take a look at the matchup and analyze Idaho's chances of improving on last year's postseason effort below.

Zags, Cougars to meet in semifinals

San Diego gave BYU fits for most of the game, but the Cougars dug out a 73-68 win late Friday night to move into the semifinals of the WCC men's basketball tournament against Gonzaga. GU and BYU split two regular-season games.

I filed a short preview of the GU-BYU matchup. You can read the unedited version below.

GU women to face Saint Mary’s

The BYU-USD men's game just tipped off (Noah Hartsock is suited up, went through warmups but he isn't starting).

Earlier I put together a short preview of the Gonzaga women's matchup with Saint Mary's in the semifinals and here's a look at Saint Mary's quarterfinal victory over Pepperdine.

WSU LB Sekope Kaufusi dismissed from team

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — After making some phone calls, taking care of basketball duties, traversing some freeways and arriving back at our hotel, we've put together this brief item on the dismissal and arrest of linebacker Sekope Kaufusi.

Zags arriving in Vegas

Gonzaga fans are already filling up the lobbies, restaurants, casinos and seats at the Orleans. Later today, Gonzaga's men's and women's teams will arrive in Vegas as they await Saturday's semifinals.

Men's assistant coach Tommy Lloyd is already here. He was scouting the Thursday evening games, particularly San Diego's rout of Pepperdine. The Toreros earned a dat with third-seeded BYU tonight with GU awaiting the winner.

I ran into assistant coach Donny Daniels at the Spokane Airport yesterday at a morning hour neither of us should have been awake. He was heading over to Tacoma to watch the state basketball tournaments. It was the day after Sports Illustrated's article that portrayed UCLA basketball in disarray under the watch of coach Ben Howland. Daniels is mentioned in the story, as is ex-Bruins guard Matt Carlino now at BYU. Daniels declined my interview requiest. Carlino isn't saying much either.

The WCC is sharp when it comes using twitter/video/etc. and it has a thorough roundup of Thursday's games here. More on San Francisco's men's win here and here

We'll learn GU's semifinal matchups later — I'm heading over to the Arena for the Saint Mary's vs. Pepperdine women's game at noon, winner faces Gonzaga — and I'll post short previews here later.

Spring can’t be too far away

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Most people believe winter is about over when they see the first robin of spring. Or maybe the first crocus. Not me. I know it's over when I see my first State B basketball game at the Arena. It's more reliable than any bird or flower or even a groundhog. Watch a B game, know that it will only be a couple weeks until the golf course opens. Well the B tourney opened yesterday and I couldn't be happier. Read on.

Cougars search for answers on day after

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — WSU has a lot to figure out after Thursday's disaster at UCLA. That's both bad and good. Bad because those kind of results were supposed to be behind them. And good because they have a chance to sort things out against the worst team in the Pac-12. Read on for some day-after notes and links around the conference.

Vandals clinch at least third seed

Once again the Idaho Vandals got off to a scorching start on the road. And unlike last week at Utah State, Idaho was able to keep up the white-hot pace at Hawaii late Thursday night.

Read on for more on UI's 82-63 win that clinched at least the third seed in the WAC tournament next week.

The game that was: UCLA 78, WSU 46

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — That was the most frustrated postgame session I've had yet with this team, and understandably so. We sift through the wreckage with our game in review. Read on.

U-Hi boys muscle past Kangaroos

The University boys basketball team rallied in the fourth quarter, topping the Lake Washington Kangaroos 60-55 in the 3A state tournament Thursday at the Tacoma Dome.

Here's my story.

G-Prep, CV girls win openers

The Gonzaga Prep and Central Valley girls won going away Thursday in the opening round of the State 5A basketball tournament at the Tacoma Dome. Here's my story. Pictured above is G-Prep freshman Laura Stockton.

Pregame from the Sports Arena

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — Inside this old, empty building, it feels like business as usual. But will it remain that way once the game starts? We have some thoughts, so read on.

Time to tip a busy weekend

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Thursday. That's a pretty crowded news day in its own right. But it's also the first day of the Washington state basketball tournaments. And it's also a busy college basketball week. With all that being said, no reason to chit-chat. Best to just get on to the news – and links. Read on.

Vandals in Hawaii for huge game

The Idaho Vandals, as coach Don Verlin put it this week, are in a seeding race. It's pretty simple, If they win tonight, they lock in the third seed for the WAC tournament (with a remote chance of still earning the second seed). A loss opens up all kinds of possibilities.

We have more below.

In LA, but no partying

COUGARS

FROM LOS ANGELES — We've made it to warmer climes, but haven't seen any UCLA players out partying yet. What gives? We have links, anyway.

GU men, women await WCC openers

It's the time of year where I have double duty, covering the GU men's and women's teams at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas. So, I put together a short men's preview of the tournament that ran in Thursday's S-R and another for the women's team that will run Friday.

Here's a link to the men's article. Below, you can read an unedited version of the women's article.

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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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