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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.

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• Really, when D.J. Shelton swatted Tray Woodall's driving try into the stands with .2 seconds left, the first thought was the Cougars had survived. But when the officials added another .6 to the clock – rightly, as replays showed – and allowed the teams enough time to huddle around their coaches and design a game-ending attempt, the dread started to creep in. And we've all seen enough game-ending attempts in Pullman to last a lifetime, haven't we? Heck, just Oregon alone has made enough last-minute shots to give a Coug heartburn for the next three weeks. But maybe Bill Moos has really changed the atmosphere in Pullman that much. Maybe it's gotten heavier, which could explain why Patterson's shot came up just a bit short. Heck, in the past, that ball might have hit the rim, bounced straight up in the air and impossibly fallen through. But the past is the past, it seems, and with Moos in charge, those shots aren't crawling over the rim and in. That's my theory, anyway.

• The thing that struck me last night as I watched the Cougars' fortunes ebb and flow is how important playing in the CBI is to WSU. When Moos first came aboard as athletic director, he said something to me that didn't register at the time, but does now. He said if he had been in charge a couple years ago – he had taken the job but wasn't in Pullman yet – the basketball team would have played in the CBI instead of passing on the opportunity. He talked the marketing aspect of having the Cougar brand on TV and elsewhere (in the New York papers last season) but also talked about the opportunity for growth for the players. And that aspect has been really obvious the past couple weeks. Let's take last night for instance. With Brock Motum looking dapper in his suit on the bench, nursing a sprained ankle, other Cougars had to step forward. They did. There are the seniors, Abe Lodwick, who we will write more about tomorrow, and Charlie Enquist. Lodwick has been doing stepping up the past month or so and Enquist chipped in Monday night. They were joined by Reggie Moore, playing point guard the way Ken Bone has always wanted it played, and Mike Ladd, who came off the bench to hit a big shot and defend. There's Patrick Simon, who nailed two big 3-pointers, and Dexter Kernich-Drew, both adding key minutes. There's D.J. Shelton making plays that seem impossible – both good and bad – and Davonte Lacy polishing his already polished game. All in all, a good couple weeks for Washington State basketball.

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• Washington State: Christian Caple was in Pullman last night and posted most everything you could ask. He had a postgame blog piece, a game story in today's paper and a morning post, which included the video highlights of the game and links to every other story you could want. We have added the video from the postgame interviews below for your entertainment. They come courtesy of Washington State. ... Christian will be at spring football today – hey, it's spring weather – but had some football news yesterday as well. Mike Leach was on with Ian Furness in Seattle and opened the door to Sekope Kaufusi coming back to the team. You can listen to the podcast of the entire interview here. ... The Pac-12 still has one women's team alive in the NCAA tournament's Final Four and – surprise – it's Stanford – for the fifth consecutive year. ... Western Washington's NCAA Division II title strikes a blow for the entire state according to Bud Withers. ... This is the first Chris Peterson-leaving-Boise-State story that ever made sense to me. ... Playoffs? Playoffs? Yes, they are talking playoffs. Finally.

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• Here's Bone after the game ..

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• And here are the players ...

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• Gonzaga: The Zag women finished up their season on Sunday, but coach Kelly Graves talked with Dennis Patchin and the gang yesterday on 700 ESPN. You can catch the interview here. ... Robert Sacre will be in New Orleans for the Final Four.

• Chiefs: The WHL playoffs return tonight with Spokane hosting Vancouver. ... We also found stories on the Portland/Kelowna series – a couple players will be sitting – and the Tri-City series.

• Shock: It's official. Quarterback Erik Meyer is on injured reserve.

• Preps: Dave Trimmer's Then and Now piece gives you two players for the price of one.

• Mariners: Baseball is alive and well in Japan (will the Mariners and A's ruin that this week?) as Art Thiel relates. ... The coolest story of the week? This is it. Dave Sims and Mike Blowers are doing the TV broadcast from Bellevue. ... OK, on the field items. The M's hope the offense perks up this week behind their youthful players.

• Sounders: Seattle made official its summer friendly with England's Chelsea and added this note. When Portland comes to town in October, the entire stadium will be open. That means 66,000 can come and scream at the team from the Rose City.

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• Kim's first comment this morning after looking out the window? "What a difference 24 hours makes." Yep, it's clear in the Inland Northwest today. Soon it will be those near-perfect days of summer. Warm, sunny and no humidity. Jealous? Until later ... 




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Vince Grippi





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