A GRIP ON SPORTS
Remember that old Yogi Berra line about a restaurant in New York? It went something like, “No one goes there anymore, it's too crowded.” Well, Yogi hit it on the nose. At least it felt that way last night. Read on.
• Like a lot of people in Spokane, I've always looked for bargains. For a long time, Gonzaga basketball was a bargain. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Kim and I would take the boys to Martin Centre, sit in the balcony on the north side and enjoy a college basketball game, oftentimes with plenty of room to spread out. But that all changed when the Zags became a national fixation. They soon outgrew the Kennel, opened McCarthey and basically became off-limits – live at least – to us. So we found another easy-to-attend outlet. The GU women's games. Kim bought season tickets as soon as McCarthey opened, getting settled five rows back of the visitors bench. And life was simple – for a few years. But like the men, the Gonzaga women have become one of the powerhouses in the nation, making the NCAA tournament on a regular basis and advancing to the second weekend the past few years. That's the positive side of the story. But the negative side hit me last night. I put in a three-hour stint on the Patchin, Lukens and Osso radio show yesterday, getting off the air at 6 p.m., which happened to be tip time for Gonzaga's home opener vs. Wisconsin. After getting everything together, I headed over to GU, where Kim was waiting. The travel time from KXLY to Gonzaga is not all that much, and I came in from the north side, heading down Cincinnati, ready to take the first parking place I saw. But there were none. At least not on Cincinnati. No problem, it is a Friday night, the students are still around, no big deal. So I headed into the parking lot. Down the first row. Nothing. Down the second. Nothing. It was about that time I realized I wasn't alone. There were a couple other cars doing the same thing, searching for a space. I tried each row. I tried over by the soccer field and behind the baseball stadium. Nothing. About this time, the Zags were falling behind by 14 and I was starting to get worried. Not about the outcome, but whether or not I would find a place to park. Down Cincinnati I went. Nothing. Across Trent and into the auxiliary lot. Certainly there would be something here. Nope. Up and down every lane I went, being fooled by a small car one time, a space filled by a power pole the next. I pulled over. It had been 15 minutes and I was beginning to wonder what would happen first, Wisconsin scoring or I giving up. See, the Zags had gone on an 18-0 run to retake the lead, probably cheering Kim, but certainly not helping my mood much. I texted her, relating my sad tale. Then I had a vision. I would cross Hamilton and find a spot over there. A short jaunt over the Centennial Trail bridge and I would be golden. Good idea. Bad execution. There was nothing there either, not even in the restaurant parking lot near Trent, which I would have had ethical issues with anyhow. After some 30 minutes, and with halftime looming, I gave up. I stopped, sent Kim a text and drove north for dinner. The parking lot in the fast-food restaurant I picked was nearly empty. Still, I drove back and forth looking for just the right space. No reason to break a habit. This wasn't the restaurant Yogi was talking about, that's for sure. To make a long story even longer, I waited for Kim to text near the end of the game, drove back to GU and picked her up. She was happy. I was tired. We went home. The Zags won.
• Washington State: Sometimes the Pac-12 schedule makers are nice. As in giving the Cougars a mid-November football game in the Valley of the Sun. Christian Caple is in Tempe for today's noon start and filed plenty of pregame items. There was his pick-em pool blog post last night, another post on the Regents' approval of the football ops building (set for Martin Stadium's west end zone) his advance of today's game with ASU, a short on the injury troubles facing the offensive line – if you remember, I wrote before the season began the Cougars had to stay healthy on the offensive line if they wanted to have a winning season; they haven't and they won't – and his two-minute drill. He also has his morning post with lots of links. … The Cougar men's basketball team hit the road for the first time and got run over by a moped. More specifically, Pepperdine, with the Waves winning 58-56 in overtime. It's the type of loss that can sour a season. We have a story from a Southern California freelancer to pass along. … The WSU women notched their first win of the season, defeating Monmouth 79-69 behind Carly Noyes' career-high 24 points. … It's Saturday morning, so we can pass along ESPN.com's Pac-12 mailbag.
• Gonzaga: From reading Chris Derrick's story of GU's 62-53 comeback win in front of 5,758 (who came in 5,757 cars), it's obvious the Zag women played well the final 24 minutes of the game (and the Wisconsin women didn't). But I knew that from listening to the radio broadcast and talking with Kim. First-hand knowledge? Don't have that. … The BYU men suffered their first defeat of the season, losing 88-70 to Florida State in Brooklyn.
• EWU: Football games don't get much more important than the Eagles' one today in Portland. With a win, EWU probably will stay home for much of, if not all, the FCS playoffs. A loss might mean a road trip right off the bat. Jim Allen has more in his advance. … The basketball team is in the midst of a season-opening road trip from hell. Jim has more in this story. … Pretty big EWU connection in Ogden, where Idaho State, coached by one-time Eagle head man Mike Kramer, visits Weber State, with interim head coach (and former Eastern assistant) Jody Sears. The two were also both on Paul Wulff's staff at WSU a couple years ago.
• Idaho: Two games remain in Idaho's lost season, with today's matchup at home with Texas-San Antonio probably the Vandals best shot at a win. Josh Wright has more in this advance. … The WAC title will be decided today in Louisiana, when Louisiana Tech and Utah State meet. … San Jose State will try to upset BYU tonight.
• Chiefs: Spokane travels to Seattle tonight, but got some good news Friday anyway. Division rival Portland saw its winning streak end at a dozen when the Winterhawks lost 6-4 at Kamloops. … Tri-City rallied for a home 3-2 win over Kelowna.
• Preps: Coeur d'Alene's bid for three consecutive Idaho large school football titles came up short Friday night in Pocatello as Madison held on for a 37-30 victory (pictured). … The Mt. Spokane girls are one win away from a 3A soccer title. … St. George's and Northwest Christian will meet today in Sumner with a 1B/2B state boys soccer title on the line. … Cusick moved on in the 1B football playoffs with a 44-38 win over Liberty Christian. Steve Christilaw has the coverage.
• Sounders: It wasn't all that long ago the Sounders defeated Los Angeles 4-0 at CenturyLink. Just a couple months, actually. They'll need a similar effort Sunday to advance in the MLS playoffs after losing 3-0 down in LA last weekend. … Injuries might play a part Sunday.
• Almost forgot. I usually try to pick the Cougar game each week. For the longest time I felt, after seeing the second-half offensive performance last week, this might be a good chance for WSU. After all, the Cougs have played well offensively at times, well defensively at times and well on special teams, again, at times. Sooner or later they have to put all three together, right? Why not Saturday in Tempe against a struggling ASU squad? Then it hit me. Whenever this WSU team plays a really good team, it plays pretty darn well. When it faces a team it has a chance to defeat? It usually plays miserably. So I'm guessing there is a poor game in store today and a great one coming from the Cougars next Friday in the Apple Cup. I'll pick it ASU 42, WSU 17. Until later …