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Archive for April 2013

Shock try to bounce back

The Shock were out of sorts Saturday, falling behind Tampa Bay 28-7 at halftime and eventually losing 70-62.

The offense wasn't crisp, the primary topic I addressed in my notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R, for a number of reasons. Had Spokane hung on to two passes in the end zone during that sloppy first half, the outcome may have been different and I probably would have had to find another topic to explore.

But that was the theme of the first 30 minutes: Spokane failed to execute the way it had in putting together a 5-0 record to open the season. The Shock went back to work Tuesday in preparation for Saturday's road game at Utah, but quarterback Erik Meyer was a spectator with a sore left knee.

It ain’t over until it’s over


You know how an NBA game usually comes down to the last two minutes? That's sort of how I feel about Chris Hansen's quest to move the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. It will come down to the final two minutes. And those two minutes might not occur for a year or so. Read on.

Reviewing the spring, plus other links


FROM PULLMAN — With spring practice over, it's time to take a look back. So we continue to have links for you. Fancy that. Keep reading.

Wind can even blow away a losing streak


Monday's are supposed to be quiet little days. And, on the Internet, today is. But outside, the way the wind is blowing, it is anything but. Read on.

Brief Monday links with WSU


FROM PULLMAN — Should be another quiet week on the Palouse, but there are a few links to pass along for now. Keep reading.

The future and the past


The NFL draft is about the future. We understand that and honor it, linking enough newspaper stories today to wipe out a small forest. But we also like it when a newspaper honors the past. And the Review does that today with a look back at Playfair, once the thriving home of horse racing in the Inland Northwest. Read on.

Wilson, Tuel and links


FROM PULLMAN — At least two former Washington State football players will have a chance to earn their way onto NFL rosters this season. And the Cougars got a commitment from an in-state player whose WSU career is still ahead of him. Keep reading.

Shock can’t overcome sloppy first half

Spokane played its worst half of football of the season, fell into a 28-7 hole and couldn't complete a second-half comeback as Tampa Bay posted a 70-62 victory Saturday at the Arena.

My unedited game story is below.

Idaho’s Cowan signs with Raiders

For the first time since 2007, Idaho didn't have a player selected in the NFL draft. But at least a few former Vandals will get tryouts via undrafted free agent deals or invitations to minicamps. That includes punter Bobby Cowan, who signed a free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders. Cowan's signing was mentioned by Idaho athletic director Rob Spear and several of Cowan's former teammates on Twitter.

Safety Gary Walker also announced on Twitter that he struck a deal with Baltimore, while cornerback Aaron Grymes (Green Bay) and receiver Justin Veltung (Seattle) appear to have snagged minicamp invites.

Cowan, one of the top punters in Idaho history, will get a chance to replace longtime Raiders punter Shane Lechler, who signed with Houston in March. Lechler was drafted in the fifth round in 2000 and established himself as an All Pro. Lechler's replacement is expected to be Marquette King — but Cowan might have something to say about that.

Shock suffer first loss

Quick game story from Spokane's 70-62 loss to visiting Tampa Bay on Saturday.

More below

Shock, Storm set for AFL clash

Good evening from the Arena where No. 1 Spokane (5-0) and No. 4 Tampa Bay (3-2) meet at 7.

The Shock will be without 'Jack' linebacker Terence Moore (shoulder). DB Patrick Stoudamire will step in as the starter. WR Jeffrey Solomon (shoulder) is suited up after missing the last two games. Game preview here.

In-game updates on twitter @srjimm.

Tuel tweets that he’s signed with Buffalo


FROM PULLMAN — It didn't take long for Jeff Tuel to sign a free-agent deal after going undrafted.

The former WSU quarterback announced on his Twitter page today that he has signed with the Buffalo Bills. That's not all that surprising, considering Buffalo was one of the places Tuel visited prior to the draft and the Bills had shown more interest than most teams.

Marquess Wilson drafted by Chicago in 7th round


FROM PULLMAN — It was a long wait for former Washington State receiver Marquess Wilson, but he was finally drafted on Saturday by the Chicago Bears with the 236th overall pick (and 30th of the seventh round) in the NFL draft.

Wilson becomes the first WSU player drafted since offensive lineman Zack Williams was picked in the sixth round by Carolina in 2011.

The draft is winding down — as I write this, just nine picks remain — so it's looking pretty likely that Wilson will be the only Cougar player drafted this year. Quarterback Jeff Tuel and linebacker/defensive end Travis Long will likely be signed as undrafted free agents if neither is selected here toward the end.

Wilson's story is pretty well-known around these parts, so not sure it's really worth rehashing in its entirety. But if you find yourself wanting details, here are a couple stories to catch you up, as well as a story we wrote in March about Wilson's NFL prospects.

Prior to leaving WSU with three games remaining last season — and prompting a dual-pronged review of the football program after claiming abuse by the coaching staff — Wilson set WSU's career record for receiving yards with 3,207, along with 23 touchdowns in 33 games. Many thought he could be a first-round talent eventually, but things obviously changed after a sub-par 2012 season and everything that resulted afterward.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

The Seahawks continue to surprise


Why would anyone be surprised by anything the Seahawks do during the NFL draft? Trade down to get more picks, take a guy who plays a position already well stocked, or pick a guy with some baggage, it's always something. Read on.

Will any Cougs get the call today?


FROM PULLMAN — A late-April Saturday means a quiet day for WSU news. But there are a few former Cougar football players who hope that's not the case. Keep reading.

History of Playfair

Read a history of the Playfair Race Course in Sunday's S-R by Jim Price, a retired copy editor and reporter for The Spokesman-Review, who also spent 14 seasons as track announcer and publicist for Playfair.   Also check out a big picture gallery of Playfair's glory days.

The NFL draft is a made-for-TV event


I didn't get to watch the NFL draft yesterday – as a fan of fine menswear, I rarely miss it – but because the Seahawks were not involved, I didn't think it was that big a deal. However, because I was driving around a lot, I was able to listen to it on the radio. And it was better than listening to golf on the radio. But not by all that much. Read on.

A few WSU notes to end the week


FROM PULLMAN — There isn't a lot to post this morning, but there's enough to throw a few sentences together. Keep reading.

Thursday Prep Page

Here's our prep-related stories in Thursday's newspaper.

Carson Murray of Rogers, pictured above, is a special student-athlete in many ways.

Wednesday Walton, standout hurdler at Post Falls, is having an outstanding season.

The Greater Spokane League does it right in honoring its scholar athletes.

Here's a our weekly track honor roll.

It's crowded at the top in Greater Spokane League boys soccer.

Meyer making most of return

Erik Meyer had just mentioned Spokane's strong team chemistry during a television interview when 4 or 5 of his teammates snuck up behind him and starting imitating his touchdown dance, drawing chuckles from everyone nearby.

After two frustrating, injury filled seasons, Meyer and the Shock have been a perfect fit in 2013. The former EWU quarterback is a leader in the locker room and dominating on the field. More on Meyer's journey here.

(Note: Meyer's AFL career began in Spokane, not Utah as stated in the article. A correction will run in Friday's S-R.)

Here is the weekly coaches poll.

The M’s, and us, aren’t very lucky


Those of us who write for “A Grip on Sports” are not a very lucky group. None have ever won the lottery. Success at bingo? Forget about it. And having to write a daily column during the last two Seattle Mariners' seasons? That's the opposite of lucky. Read on.

Simmons retires, other WSU links


FROM PULLMAN — Mansel Simmons wrote on his Facebook page yesterday that he has given up football due to head injuries sustained in a fight with an Idaho football player earlier this spring.

Simmons, a third-year sophomore receiver, was knocked unconscious and suffered a concussion after being punched during an altercation on March 24 in Pullman.

Simmons wrote, in part: “Although I am saddened and extremely disappointed that I will never have the opportunity to play this amazing (game) ever again because of my faith, I do not question Gods plan for me.”

Simmons, a native of Elk Grove, Calif., had already dealt with injury in seasons prior to the fight, which Cmdr. Chris Tennant said a few weeks ago might not result in charges due to conflicting witness statements.

It’s sunny here at least


Are there better words to hear this time of year than “65 and sunny?” How about this: “Mariners handle woeful Astros?” We can tell you, one of those statements is applicable. The other, not so much. Read on.

Live chat as WSU springs forward


FROM PULLMAN — We have links on the day after the last day of spring. Keep reading for our recap of the final practice.

Leach praises final WSU practice


FROM PULLMAN — Well, it's over. WSU's final spring practice is in the books. It was a good one, coach Mike Leach said afterward. Keep reading for details in the form of words and such.

A few WSU links


FROM PULLMAN — Washington State's spring game is behind it, but the Cougars won't complete their spring practice schedule until later tonight. One more workout remains. First, we have a smattering of links, so keep reading.

EWU special teams seek consistency

This is the last of an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: special teams.

Something special happened at Roos Field on Oct. 6, something Eastern fans hadn’t seen in 18 games: a kickoff return for an Eagle touchdown.

But Shaquille Hill’s 99-yard return against North Dakota didn’t start at the 1-yard-line; it began last spring, when head coach Beau Baldwin decided to add a cornerbacks coach, allowing assistant Jeff Schmedding more time to focus on special teams.

“I think our (kickoff return) personnel was better, but I think we did a better job with extra time, being more efficient with our time and getting things truly taught from spring on,” said Schmedding, who still coaches the Eagle safeties. The extra time also included special-teams walkthroughs before every game.

Two assistants leave Idaho football staff


Three days after the close of spring football, Idaho coach Paul Petrino is suddenly in the hunt for two new defensive assistants. Read on for our brief story.

Nothing grand about the M’s offense right now


“Get out the broom grandma, there's rye bread and mustard all over the floor.” Such is the new rallying cry of the Seattle Mariners, circa 2013. Read on.

A slow day for WSU links


There aren't a whole lot of links out there today, WSU or otherwise. But we recap yesterday's proceedings nevertheless. Keep reading.

EWU secondary is deep, talented

This is the seventh of an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: the defensive backs.

It’s been year of surprises – most of them pleasant – for the Eastern Washington secondary.

Tighter pass defense last season, the rise of several younger players and the arrival of a high-profile transfer brighten the outlook for one of the Eagles’ deepest units.

Better yet, Jeff Schmedding doesn’t have to coach them all. The hiring last year of Cherokee Valeria as cornerbacks coach freed Schmedding to concentrate on safeties and special teams.

“It definitely helped,” Schmedding said. “We were able to be more specific, the corners were able to get more attention, so I think it helped. If one guy was doing the whole thing …”

April showers us with some sporting news


All is right in the world, in that a sense of normalcy has returned. The Mariners' offense continues to struggle, as does the Cougars'. The Sounders actually score a goal and the Seahawks try to find the right pieces for another playoff run. In other words, it is a Sunday morning in late April. Read on.

Day after the spring game


FROM SPOKANE — Only one spring practice remains before WSU heads into the next phase of its offseason. For now, we look back at yesterday's spring game with the following links.

Hamlin leads rebuilding EWU linebackers

This is the sixth of an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: the linebackers.

The questions at linebacker at Eastern Washington are already being answered, some from the back of the room.

First there’s redshirt freshman Miquiyah Zamora, last seen redshirting last fall as a defensive back but now finding a place in the middle of the field.  

Then there’s Jordan Talley, the No. 3 running back last year, who’s trying out at weak outside linebacker. “Experience is all he’s lacking,” said Eagle linebackers coach Josh Fetter, who might be describing most of the eight players in the fold for spring ball. Three more will arrive this fall, and Fetter said there’s a chance for at least one to contribute immediately.

Nachbaur wants Chiefs to come back bigger, stronger

The Spokane Chiefs had a successful season in many ways, but coach Don Nachbaur looks to the 2013-14 season with a goal of a bigger, stronger team. Read story

Notes, quotes, observations from WSU’s spring game


FROM SPOKANE — This post is brought to you by a Starbucks in Shadle Park, where we've sought refuge after the gates of Joe Albi Stadium were apprently on the verge of closing. Keep reading for more notes and such from another riveting spring game, which the Gray team won, 22-21.

A hard-earned reward


It was an announcement everyone expected but most Gonzaga fans hoped wouldn't happen. Kelly Olynyk is bypassing his senior year of eligibility and heading to the NBA. But guess what? The system worked. Read on.

EWU defensive line steps up

This is the fifth of an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: the defensive line.

 One good reason the Eastern Washington defensive line got better last November? April.

“Spring ball, I look at as a time to develop depth,” defensive line coach Ryan Sawyer said. “I’m always trying to figure out not who’s the backup, but who’s the guy after that.”

Sawyer and defensive coordinator John Graham have plenty to sort through this spring; the Eagle rosters includes 15 defensive linemen, and should be a strong group despite the loss of three starters.

The key was a deep rotation, often 10 a game, which kept the Eagles fresh late in games as well as late in the season. For the season, Eastern gave up just 74 fourth-quarter points in 13 games, or less than 6 points a contest.

“It all starts with the D-line, everything still starts with those guys,” said Baldwin, who has made the defensive line a priority in recruiting since he took over the program in 2008.

Spring game awaits WSU



FROM SPOKANE — It's that time again. Time for WSU's spring game. We're here in Spokane to cover it, and have links after the jump.

Stephens’ five interceptions lead Shock to road win

Paul Stephens set an AFL single-game record with five interceptions — an apparent sixth was overturned by the officals after San Jose tossed a challenge flag — as visiting Spokane cruised past San Jose 69-47 Friday night at HP Pavilion.

Erik Meyer had eight touchdown passes, three each to Adron Tennell and Kamar Jorden as Spokane improved to 5-0.

Game recap below.

Chalich, Vandals show toughness in spring game

Spring football is over for the Idaho Vandals, and overall Paul Petrino said it was a success. His quarterbacks stayed healthy — despite taking a constant beating — and the same players on offense and defense stepped up over 15 sessions. But he was most impressed by how his team got tougher, something he could see in the way players got themselves off the turf after getting hit. 

We have our spring game story below, as well as lots of quotes to pass along.

Olynyk leaving Gonzaga for NBA

Back with my unedited article on Kelly Olynyk declaring for the NBA Draft that will run in Saturday's S-R.

Here's a link.

Spokane’s Johnson wins MVP award

Spokane native and former Spokane Chiefs player Tyler Johnson was named the American Hockey League's Most Valuable Player on Friday. Read more

Five questions with Xavier Cooper

WSU defensive lineman Xavier Cooper is up next in our Five Questions segment.

Official spring game rosters


FROM PULLMAN — There have been a few minor changes made to the WSU spring game teams we posted last night. Here are the official rosters.

WSU spring game rosters by christiancaple

Olynyk declaring for NBA Draft

Gonzaga’s Kelly Olynyk has decided to bypass his senior season and declare for the NBA Draft, The Spokesman-Review has learned.

Olynyk, who turned 22 on Friday, averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 blocks as a junior. He made 63 percent of his field-goal attempts and 77.6 percent of his free throws.

The 7-foot forward from Kamloops, B.C., was a consensus All-American and an academic All-American.

UPDATE: GU release on Olynyk.

Shock back on the road

Spokane, facing its fourth road game in five weeks, will try to maintain its hold on the West Division lead tonight against San Jose at HP Pavilion.

The Shock (4-0) beat Arizona (3-1) last Friday to take over the top spot alone. San Jose is 2-1 after last week's bye. My game preview here.

Sports takes a back seat


Pardon me for being a bit distracted this morning, but I have been following the news from Boston. Makes sports seem a little less consequential today. Read on.

EWU offensive line commands respect

This is the fourth of an eight-part series on Eastern Washington spring football: the offensive line.

 The Eastern Washington offensive linemen got some healthy respect year. But first they had to get healthy .

 A year after being one of the biggest question marks on the team, Aaron Best’s unit may be one of the best in the Big Sky Conference. This spring, when the coaches talk about tweaks, it has nothing to do with body parts.

 “The fact that we don’t have a lot of knee braces, and some experience to boot, it’s nice to have as a coach,” Best said.  “All of a sudden you’re a better coach.”

WSU’s new holders, plus links


FROM PULLMAN — Decided to write about Washington State's holder position yesterday. Yeah, spring must be close to over. Keep reading.

Vandals take spring game seriously

Idaho coach Paul Petrino met with the media today to preview the Vandals' spring game. And yes, this will be as close to a real game as you can have in the spring. More after the jump.

Cougs go no pads, prep for spring game


FROM PULLMAN — The biggest news from Washington State's practice today may be that the Cougars have split up their roster in preparation for Saturday's Crimson and Gray game. Read on for who's playing with who.

Report: Dean to transfer to Idaho

Glen Dean, the former Eastern Washington University guard and brother of Idaho signee Perrion Callandret, will graduate from Utah and transfer to UI, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. Dean has one year of eligibility left and can play immediately for the Vandals under NCAA rules.

Idaho coach Don Verlin said he could not comment when contacted by The Spokesman-Review.

Dean transferred to Utah after two successful years with the Eagles. The 5-foot-10 Seattle native averaged 5.5 points in 25.4 minutes per game last season with the Utes in the Pac-12 after averaging 13.3 ppg in 2010-11 and 12.2 ppg in 2009-10 at EWU.

Dean will be one of seven additions to Verlin's roster next year. The Vandals completed a six-man signing class yesterday, and Verlin told the S-R that a “couple guys” are planning to transfer. 

Another reason behind the NBA’s slowdown


I have an off-the-wall theory on why the NBA is dragging its feet concerning the sale of the Sacramento Kings and their possible relocation to Seattle. Read on.

EWU receivers gaining stature

This is the third in an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football: the wide receivers.

Junior Adams is ready to branch out.

The Eastern Washington University wide receivers coach doesn’t have a lot of tall players this spring, but he does have guys “who can run the whole route tree.”

That includes the curls and comeback routes that may make the Eastern passing game more diversified than in the past. Departed wideouts Brandon Kaufman, Nick Edwards and Greg Herd could do it all, but excelled at the home-run ball.

“We’re hoping to add another dimension,” senior Daniel Johnson said

Lawhorn and other WSU links


FROM PULLMAN — Practice No. 13 commences this afternoon for Washington State, but basketball news dominated the headlines yesterday. Well, our headlines, anyway. Continue reading.

Five questions with Eric Oertel

WSU linebacker Eric Oertel is next up in our Five Questions segment.

Idaho men sign two guards, two bigs

After signing two players in the early signing period, the Idaho men's basketball team added four more Wednesday — three junior college signees and prep guard Suki Wiggs from Seattle. The four signees include two point guards and two power forwards.

Click below for more details.

Danny Lawhorn signs NLI

UPDATE: Here's an updated story we filed with quotes from Ken Bone.


FROM PULLMAN — The addition of Washington State’s new point guard is official.

Danny Lawhorn, a 5-foot-10 transfer from San Jacinto (Junior) College in Pasadena, Texas, signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play basketball at WSU.

Lawhorn figures to compete immediately for the Cougars’ starting point guard job. He led the NJCAA in assists per game with 9.5 two seasons ago, and finished second in the nation last season with 8.43 per game.

His signing is also the result of the national junior-college connections possessed by assistant coach Ray Lopes, who joined WSU’s staff last summer and was instrumental in helping the Cougars connect with Lawhorn.

After watching him play, WSU coach Ken Bone liked what he saw.

“What I really, really liked was the fact that not only was he a good passer, but he’s got a real desire to hook guys up with passes,” Bone said via telephone from Portland. “That, along with his quickness and his ball handling – I think he could contribute to our program right away.”

Lawhorn fills WSU’s 13th and last available scholarship after former signee Tanner Lancona and WSU reached a “mutual agreement” last week that Lancona will not be coming to Pullman.

Bone said “it’s a possibility” that WSU could sign another player before the late signing period ends.

Bone isn’t ready to declare Lawhorn a likely starter for the Cougars, because another incoming player, freshman Ikenne Iroegbu, could also compete for that spot. And Royce Woolridge, who will be a junior, could still play at the 1, too.

“What I do like is we’re not as limited as we were last year, going into next year,” Bone said. “I think we’re pretty well covered at that position. I think Danny will be right in the mix.”

Lawhorn, who will be a junior, attended Hartford Public High School in Connecticut before transferring to South Kent School.

After Lawhorn finished the 2009-10 season at South Kent – and after reportedly committing to and decommitting from Boston College in 2009 and Fordham in 2010 – he spent time at the Robinson School in New Jersey before heading to San Jacinto for the 2011-12 season.

He was named second-team all-conference last season and helped lead San Jacinto to a 24-6 record. reported that Lawhorn also had offers from Georgia and Kansas State, among others.

Here's the full release from WSU:

PULLMAN, Wash. – Danny Lawhorn (Hartford, Conn./ San Jacinto College-Texas) has signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Washington State University men’s basketball team beginning with the 2013-14 season, head coach Ken Bone announced Wednesday.

“Danny comes from a very successful program and we look forward to him being an integral part of our program next year,” Bone said. “I love his quickness and his ball handling. Maybe his best attributes, though, are his unselfishness and passing ability, which made him one of the top assist leaders nationwide the past two seasons.”

Lawhorn (5-foot-10, Guard) played two seasons at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas. As a sophomore in 2012-13, Lawhorn appeared in 30 games for the Coyotes, averaging 9.9 points and 8.43 assists in 33.3 minutes per game, ranking second in the NJCAA. Lawhorn helped lead San Jacinto College to a 24-6 overall mark and 14-5 record in Region XIV play, as the Coyotes advanced to the semifinals of the Region XIV tournament. At the conclusion of the season, Lawhorn was named third team all-Region and second team all-conference, as well as to the Region XIV all-tournament team.

As a freshman at San Jacinto College, Lawhorn averaged 9.2 points and 9.5 assists per game in 30 contests for the 23-7 Coyotes, leading the nation in assists. He earned second team all-Region and second team all-conference honors.

For his career, Lawhorn averaged 9.6 points and 9.0 assists per game while playing in 60 contests. His 538 total career assists rank him second all-time at San Jacinto College. Prior to attending San Jacinto College, Lawhorn attended Hartford Public High School and South Kent School, both in Connecticut, where he graduated in 2010.

Lawhorn joins an incoming class that includes incoming freshmen Josh Hawkinson (6-9, 220, PF, Shoreline, Wash./Shorewood HS) and Ikenna ‘Ike’ Iroegbu (6-2, 190, G, Elk Grove, Calif./Oak Hill Academy).

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Jorden catches on with Shock

Spokane is off to a 4-0 start, thanks in part of a highlly efficient offense — one turnover in four games, one quarterback sack, Erik Meyer's 32 touchdown passes.

Kamar Jorden, who joins Adron Tennell to give Spokane a strong 1-2 combination at receiver, has made an immediate impact despite being new to the AFL game. Learn more about the former Bowling Green standout here.

UPDATE: Shock No. 1 in coaches' poll. San Jose, Friday's opponent, is No. 5.

Now that one was awful


One of the games Mariners fans play is titled “Name the Worst Trade.” There has always been a lot of contenders, from the Heathcliff Slocumb deal to the Erik Bedard debacle, thanks in large part to the legacy of Bill Bavasi. But there is a recent one that is creeping up the list. Read on.

12 down, 3 to go (and a live chat)


FROM PULLMAN — The headline refers to spring practice sessions remaining for Washington State, though there are really only two, if you exclude the spring game. Keep reading for links.

No QB questions for Eastern

This is the second in an eight-part look at Eastern Washington spring football. Part Two: the quarterbacks.

Vernon Adams isn’t your little brother anymore. Last year, he was looking up - literally and figuratively - to wide receivers Brandon Kaufman, Nick Edwards and Greg Herd, as well as transfer quarterback Kyle Padron.

Adams is still 5-foot-11, but after a breakout redshirt freshman season, he’s gained a lot of stature in Cheney and in the Big Sky Conference. He battled Padron evenly through fall camp, then won the starting job in the third week of the season.

WSU offense sharp in team session


FROM PULLMAN — The Cougars went with just shoulder pads and helmets today (and jerseys and shorts and shoes, too, for those of you scoring at home), but they also brought out some officials and ran through a fairly competive team session. You can read about it after the jump.

EWU offense is well-grounded

This is the first in a series of eight stories on Eastern Washington University spring football. Today: the running backs.

Kiel McDonald knows the drill. Lots of them.

During practice at Roos Field, the Eastern Washington running backs coach moves almost as fast as his players, setting up cones, obstacles and blocking dummies in rapid succession.

“It’s the nuts and bolts of what we do,” said McDonald, who’s usually one of the first coaches on the practice field. McDonald joined Beau Baldwin’s staff last spring and is still the Eagles’ most recent hire.

Not coincidentally, the Eagles’ running game took some big strides last season, almost doubling its rushing yardage from 2011 (from 869 yards to 1,729) while improving its yards-per-rush from 3.0 to 3.7.

Our spirit should never be cowed


The Monday after the Masters is usually a quiet day in the world of sports. But that quiet was shattered yesterday by the explosive devices at the Boston Marathon that killed at least three people and injured scores more. Such events remind us how much times have changed in the past couple decades and how all of us are at risk of being touched by the idiocy of others. Read on.

WSU back to practice today


FROM PULLMAN — WSU continues spring practice later today, taking the field for the 12th, and second-to-last time before Saturday's spring game. We have a few links after the jump.

There goes another certainty


There are only a few certainties in life. One of them is due our government today. Another was ruined yesterday in Augusta. Read on.

Sparse WSU links on a Monday


FROM PULLMAN — As we grind toward the end of spring, the links in this space will be at a premium. Soon enough, we'll taper down the blog activity as spring turns to summer. For now, we have a few items to pass along.

Who was Tiger’s savior?


Believe it or not, a television viewer may have saved Tiger Woods' opportunity to win another Masters. Just by calling Augusta National. Read on.

Sunday links after a scrimmage


FROM PULLMAN — Plenty to catch you up on after yesterday's scrimmage for Washington State, so keep reading if you're in the mood to keep reading.

Defense starts strong in WSU scrimmage, offense wakes up later


FROM PULLMAN — The wind and hail didn't stop Washington State from scrimmaging on Saturday. But it did keep the Cougars from executing as well as they could have. Offensively, at least. Keep reading.

UI scrimmages for last time before spring game

The big takeaways from Idaho's final warmup scrimmage for Friday's spring game? Chad Chalich appears to be the No. 1 quarterback going into summer. Paul Petrino agan called his two top running backs, Kris Olugbode and Jerrel Brown, “the biggest studs” of camp. And he again appreciated the Vandals' defense flying around and making plays.

We've got a summary below.

News from Augusta


What do you know. We actually have breaking news this morning. Tiger Woods is still in the Masters. Why is that breaking news? Read on.

Saturday links before a scrimmage


FROM PULLMAN — Practice No. 11 for WSU will be a scrimmage (10 a.m.), with an open house in the club level of Martin Stadium for anyone who wants to stop by. We have links after the jump.

Shock knock off No. 1 Arizona

Second-ranked Spokane put together a dominating fourth quarter, scoring 24 points and registering two key defensive stops to pull away from No. 1 Arizona 66-49 on Friday at the Arena.

Erik Meyer tossed eight touchdown passes, four to Adron Tennell and three to Kamar Jorden.

My unedited game story is below.

Shock open against Rattlers

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Shock opener against the Arizona Rattlers.  Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.

Five questions with Gabe Marks

WSU receiver Gabe Marks is next in our Five Questions segment.

Shock, Rattlers battle for West lead

By 10ish tonight, Spokane and Arizona will have determined the early pecking order in the AFL West Division.

Both teams are undefeated entering the 7 p.m. showdown at the Arena, the Shock's first home game of the season. The Rattlers were the best team in the AFL last year, winning the title game by 18 points over Philadelphia, and they've assembled another quality roster. 

Spokane and Utah are considered Arizona's primary challengers, which adds to the importance of tonight's game. As Spokane coach Andy Olson points out in my game preview, home games against division rivals are virtually must-wins.

Update: Arizona may be without two WRs.

Four for Friday


You know the best way to finish the work week? Covering a bunch of subjects heading into the weekend. Read on.

Olynyk receives academic honor

Gonzaga junior forward Kelly Olynyk has been named the Division I-AAA Athletics Directors Association Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men’s basketball as well as being named to the Scholar-Athlete Team.

More here.

Day 10 goes to the defense


FROM PULLMAN — Mike Leach appeared visibly frustrated with WSU's offense early in Thursday's team session, and he said afterward that the defense simply got the better of most of the drills today. Most, but not all. Keep reading.

Tanner Lancona pursuing other options


FROM PULLMAN — Tanner Lancona, a 6-foot-8 forward who signed with the Washington State basketball team in November, tweeted today that he has decommitted from the school and will pursue other options.

Lancona wrote that it is a mutual agreement between he and WSU.

We are seeking comment from coach Ken Bone. If Lancona is no longer coming to WSU, that would solve the scholarship numbers problem created by the commitment of junior-college transfer Danny Lawhorn, who has yet to officially be announced as a member of the team.

WSU lost seniors Mike Ladd and Brock Motum, and also had a scholarship available after Reggie Moore was dismissed from the team prior to last season. The Cougars signed Lancona, Josh Hawkinson and Ikenna Iroegbu in November, so if they intend to add Lawhorn, they had to take a player off scholarship to do so.

Christian Caple can be reached at Twitter: @ChristianCaple

New rules put emphasis on versatile players

The Shock, and every other AFL team, are adjusting to new rules that make it tougher for coaches/GMs to manage and juggle rosters.

Read on.

Too early to panic?


Is it time to panic yet? Or should we wait awhile? Read on.

WSU’s 10th practice awaits


FROM PULLMAN — Today marks the two-thirds point in WSU's spring practice schedule. Only four more actual practices after today, plus the spring game. We shall attend each. Also, here are links.

Chiefs couldn’t counter Portland’s dominance

The Portland Winterhawks advanced to the Western Hockey League Western Conference final by blanking the Spokane Chiefs 5-0 on Wednesday night for a 4-0 sweep of their semifinal series. Portland outscored Spokane 16-1 in the series after the teams were tied at 2 during the second period of Game 1. Read story See picture story

Portland Winterhawks defeat Spokane Chiefs 5-0

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Portland Winterhawks' win against  the Chiefs in Game 4 of the Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinals at the Arena.  Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.

Portland sweep ends Chiefs’ season

Mac Carruth stopped 30 shots for his second shutout of the series and the Portland Winterhawks ended the Spokane Chiefs' season with a 5-0 victory Wednesday night at the Arena. Portland won the Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinal 4-0 and will move on to the conference finals. Spokane lost its last eight games against Portland, counting the regular season. Story to come

Chiefs’ season on the brink

Ty Rattie's power-play goal at 1:42 of the second period gave the Portland Winterhawks a 3-0 lead over the Spokane Chiefs with 20 minutes remaining in Game 4 of the Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinals at the Arena. The Chiefs trail the best-of-seven series 3-0 and have scored one goal in the last 192 minutes, 37 seconds of the series.

Winterhawks storm to 2-0 lead in Game 4

Chase De Leo scored at 10:53 and Taylor Peters added a shorthanded goal to give the Portland Winterhawks a 2-0 lead over the Spokane Chiefs after the first period of Game 4 of the WHL Western Conference semifinals at the Arena. Portland will win the series with a victory tonight. 

Now or never for Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs will know in about three hours whether their Western Hockey League season is over or if it extends at least another three days. The Chiefs trail the Portland Winterhawks 3-0 in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal heading into tonight's Game 4 at the Arena. If Spokane wins tonight, it will play Saturday at the Rose Garden in Portland. Game 6 would be back in Spokane on Monday. Todd Fiddler, Spokane's leading goal-scorer during the regular season, and Jackson Playfair have been scratched for the game. Stewart Coyle and Markson Bechtold will take their place. Game time is 30 minutes away.

New amenities don’t attract a larger Safeco crowd


Not even a new video board or the chance of seeing a football-like score could attract a large crowd to Safeco Field last night. In fact, it was the smallest crowd in the stadium's history. Read on.

Another Wednesday, another live chat


FROM PULLMAN — Make sure to stop by the blog later today — 2:30 p.m., to be exact — for another live chat. And make sure to read the rest of this entry for links and such.

Chiefs on brink of elimination

The Spokane Chiefs played well at home Tuesday night, but not well enough to stop the Portland Winterhawks from taking a 3-0 advantage in their WHL conference semifinal. Portland won 3-1 — the third goal was an empty-netter with 15 seconds left — to force Spokane to win four consecutive games to advance in postseason. Read story See picture story

Chiefs vs. Winterhawks (April 9)

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Chiefs' game against the Portland Winterhawks on Tuesday.  Check out this big picture gallery of his photos.

Portland takes 3-0 series lead

Nic Petan had one goal and one assist and Mac Carruth stopped 25 shots Tuesday night as the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Spokane Chiefs 3-1 to take a 3-0 series lead in their best-of-seven WHL conference semifinal. Story to come

Chiefs end long scoreless drought

Blake Gal's goal 4 seconds into a power play Tuesday night allowed the Spokane Chiefs to cut Portland's lead to 2-1 after two periods of Game 3 of the WHL Western Conference semifnals at the Arena. Gal's goal at 16:24 snapped a Chiefs scoreless streak  of 129:01 stretching back to the second period of Game 1 in Portland. Portland had outscored the Chiefs 10-0 during the streak. Gal leads the team with six goals in postseason.

Portland seizes 1-0 lead after one period

Ty Rattie's 10th goal of the postseason, with 47 seconds left in the first period, gave the Portland Winterhawks a 1-0 lead over the Spokane Chiefs after one period of Game 3 of the WHL Western Conference semifinals at the Arena on Tuesday. Portland outshot the Chiefs 13-12 in the period. The Chiefs will be on a power play for 1:33 when the second period begins. Spokane is scoreless during the last 112 minutes and 37 seconds of the series, stretching back to the second period of Game 2.

Full contact for WSU on Day 9


FROM PULLMAN — The Cougars are still a little shorthanded, but that didn't stop them from getting after it in a pretty spirited fashion during Tuesday's practice. We have more details below.

Chiefs finally return to the Arena

The way the Western Hockey League Western Conference playoffs worked out, the Spokane Chiefs ended up on the road for five consecutive postseason games. The Chiefs, who haven't played at the Arena since March 23, are back home tonight for a game that's crucial if they expect to keep advancing in the playoffs. The Chiefs trail the Portland Winterhawks 2-0 in their best-of-seven semifinal, but the next two games will be in front of a less-hostile crowd than Spokane encountered Friday and Saturday nights in Portland. Game 4 is Wednesday. Game time is 15 minutes away.

A crowning jewel for a pig of a season


There is one thing last night's NCAA championship game taught us. Bad dress rehearsals don't necessarily mean a bad play. Read on.

Getting going on a Tuesday with WSU


FROM PULLMAN — The Washington State football team will knock out practices No. 9, 10 and 11 over the next six days, beginning this afternoon at 3 p.m. There are links to read in the meantime.

Chiefs’ top players must shine in Game 3

The Spokane Chiefs didn't fare well in Portland during the first two games of the Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinal. Now the Chiefs have a chance to make it a competitive series while playing Games 3 and 4 at home Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Spokane's top players must rise up after two subpar games. Read story

Wandering around a reader’s paradise


If you love to read, you have to love the Internet. Read on.

Ease into Monday with these links


FROM PULLMAN — Today marks another day off for Washington State's football team before returning to the practice field on Tuesday. Thus, it is a slow day for links. But keep reading, regardless.

No one played Superman yesterday


As I settled down last evening, I realized something. Every team I was hoping would win yesterday had lost. Not just some of them. All of them. A perfect Saturday, in a Mr. Mxyzptlk sort of way. Read on.

Halfway through spring, we have links


FROM PULLMAN — Only 13 days until WSU's spring game, and only 16 days until spring practice is officially over. There are seven more sessions in that time. There have been eight sessions so far. Let's celebrate the past-halfway point with some links, shall we?

Chiefs come home in 0-2 hole

The Spokane Chiefs were outscored 10-2 in the first two games of their WHL conference semifinal at Portland. Saturday night's 3-0 setback at the Rose Garden had some hopeful signs, but the Chiefs know they must win Game 3 Tuesday in Spokane to give themselves a legitimate shot at upsetting the top-seeded Winterhawks. Read story

Winterhawks take 2-0 series lead

Mac Carruth stopped 27 shots for his 39th career playoff win Saturday night as the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Spokane Chiefs 3-0 at the Rose Garden to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinal. The series will shift to the Arena for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Story to come

Portland leads Chiefs 2-0 heading into third

The Portland Winterhawks extended their lead over the Spokane Chiefs to 2-0 on Nicolas Petan's rebound goal 1:05 into the second period of their WHL Western Conference semifinal at the Rose Garden on Saturday. Portland outshot the Chiefs 13-7 in the period. The Winterhawks are 0 for 2 on the power play while the Chiefs haven't had a man advantage.

Portland takes 1-0 lead after 20 minutes

Chase De Leo took a beautiful feed from Taylor Leier and scored 13 minutes, 17 seconds into the game Saturday night to give the Portland Winterhawks a 1-0 lead over the Spokane Chiefs after the first period of Game 2 of their WHL Western Conference semifinal at the Rose Garden. Shots were even at 8 midway through the period, but the Winterhawks outshot the Chiefs 20-11 for the period. Portland won Friday's opener 7-2.

Crutches join Cougs on Day 8

(Apologies for the poor sound quality on the Marks video. The wind was killer. But you can hear at least a couple of his answers.)


FROM PULLMAN — Well, we lied. There was no scrimmage today, for reasons Mike Leach discussed afterward. There is plenty to report, however, so continue reading.

Video: Five questions with Gunnar Eklund

Trying something new for the remainder of spring — a Five Questions segment featuring off-the-wall questions to provide a better glimpse inside a player's personality.

First up is offensive tackle Gunnar Eklund.

Chiefs aim for split in Portland

The Spokane Chiefs played dead-even with the Portland Winterhawks for 35 minutes during Friday night's opener of the Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinals in the Rose City. The game slipped away from the Chiefs in the final 25 minutes, done in by too many penalties, weariness from killing off power plays and Ty Rattie's natural hat trick in the third period. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series starts in 20 minutes at the Rose Garden. A split would energize the Chiefs headed in to home games Tuesday and Wednesday.

A Hall of Fame Saturday


It is the weekend. And what a weekend it will be. If sports are your thing – and, if you are reading this, I'm guessing it is – then in front of the TV is the place for you, at least today. There is Mariners baseball, with Felix Hernandez on the mound, in the morning and the NCAA semifinals in the afternoon, with two compelling story lines leading into the games. If sports aren't your thing, well, there is always “Jurassic Park 3D” at the movie theater. Hey, everyone likes to re-live their childhood once in a while. Read on.

A scrimmaging kind of Saturday


FROM PULLMAN — Want to see Washington State football players put on pads and run plays and catch passes and hit each other? Sure you do. Today is your chance. Keep reading.

Game 1 gets away from Chiefs in last 25 minutes

Shots on goal favored the Spokane Chiefs in Game 1 of their WHL Western Conference semifinal with Portland on Friday night at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Chiefs were also tough on the penalty kill. The Chiefs were also tied with the Winterhawks late in the second period. But the final 25 minutes were all Portland, and now the Chiefs must dust themselves off for Game 2 Saturday at the Rose Garden. Read story

Winterhawks win Game 1

Ty Rattie had a natural hat trick in the third period and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice in the second period Friday night as the Portland Winterhawks defeated the Spokane Chiefs 7-2 to open the WHL Western Conference best-of-seven semifinals at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The teams were tied at 2 until late in the second period when Portland unleashed five consecutive goals. Game 2 is Saturday night at the Rose Garden. Story to come

Shock roll to third consecutive win

At first glance, Spokane's 2013 AFL schedule looked daunting at the outset with three straight road games, but the Shock rolled to a three straight wins, the latest a 66-43 rout over Iowa on Friday.

Erik Meyer passed for 330 yards and nine touchdowns, three each to Kamar Jorden and Adron Tennell. The defense came up with five stops (two interceptions, one fumble and two on downs). It was actually six stops because Iowa settled for a field goal in the second quarter.

Spokane will finally hold its home opener when No. 1 Arizona visits on Friday. The Rattlers (2-0) face San Jose (2-0) on Saturday night.

Our unedited game recap is below.

Portland takes 4-2 lead after two

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice in the second period to lift the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-2 lead over the Spokane Chiefs after 40 minutes at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Todd Fiddler scored a shorthanded goal during the period for the Chiefs. Portland has a 29-25 edge in shots but is 0 for 5 on the power play. Many penalties have been called in the testy opener to this WHL Western Conference semifinal series.

Chiefs, Winterhawks tied after one period

Mike Aviani's goal on a 4-on-4 play midway through the first period Friday allowed the Spokane Chiefs to tie the Portland Winterhawks at 1 after 20 minutes of their WHL Western Conference semifinal opener at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Aviani's goal was  his fourth of the postseason. Taylor Leier scored for Portland at 5:46.

Chiefs, Winterhawks set for second round

The Spokane Chiefs face a tall task in the second round of the Western Hockey League Western Conference playoffs. The Chiefs begin the best-of-seven conference semifinals tonight at Portland's Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Portland had the best record in the WHL and was 7-2 against the Chiefs this season, outscoring Spokane 45-20. The Chiefs haven't defeated Portland since Jan. 23. But Spokane won 10 of its last 12 regular-season games and blitzed Tri-City 4-1 in the first round of postseason. Game time is 30 minutes away.

Shock cap road trip in Iowa

Spokane will try to push its record to 3-0 when it faces Iowa (2-0) tonight in Des Moines.

Shock-Barnstormers preview here.

Time to move on


It seemed inevitable, even with all the inevitable denials. But after word surfaced earlier this week Pac-12 coordinator of officiating Ed Rush had offered a reward for a technical on Arizona's Sean Miller – joking or not – during the conference tournament, it seemed inevitable Rush would leave. He did Thursday evening. Read on.

Dahl, baseball and links


FROM PULLMAN — As another week ends, we take a look at a hometown guy who figures to play a bunch for Washington State this year. We also look elsewhere. Read on.

Rested Chiefs ready for next round

As the first Western Hockey League Western Conference team to clinch a second-round berth, the Spokane Chiefs had plenty of time to wait and see who their next opponent would be. It turned out to be the Portland Winterhawks, but the Chiefs spent their off time preparing for any possibility. Read more

Day 7 brings rain, pain


FROM PULLMAN — After a relatively healthy first six practices, some nicks and bumps began catching up with the Cougars during Thursday's session. It also rained. Read on.

Shock travel to Iowa

After five days in Chicago, the Spokane Shock will bus to Des Moines today to continue preparations for Friday's game against Iowa.

The Shock remained in the Midwest after defeating Chicago on Sunday. Here's a look at how they're spending their time.

A time to take a pause


After a few days of non-stop action, the sporting world took a deep breath yesterday. Read on.

Catching up on defections, plus links


FROM PULLMAN — Before Washington State returns to the practice field this afternoon for its seventh workout of the spring, we decided it might be a good idea to recap the list of players who have left the team in recent weeks. Also, we have links. So read on.

Chiefs draw Winterhawks for second round

It took four days to find out, but the Spokane Chiefs' next postseason assignment will be the Portland Winterhawks in the WHL Western Conference semifinals. The Chiefs wrapped up their first-round series against Tri-City on Saturday night, but they had to wait until Wednesday night to discover their opponent. Kelowna's Game 7 overtime win over Seattle set up a Spokane-Portland second-round series. The first two games are Friday and Saturday nights in Portland. Spokane will host Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Wednesday. Read story

Winning the right way


If you had a chance to watch the Mariners play last night, you were lucky. They played the way baseball is supposed to be played. I'm not sure how many times it will happen in 2013, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Read on.

Live chat, Marks, practice and links


FROM PULLMAN — We'll get back on our live chat game this afternoon, though it will be later than usual — 2:30 p.m. — so we can chat with a WSU baseball player for a story later this week. Read on for links.

Chiefs still don’t know semifinal opponent

The Kelowna Rockets, who lost the first three games of the series, forced a Game 7 in their Western Hockey League opening-round playoff against Seattle by beating the Thunderbirds 4-3 in overtime Tuesday night in Seattle. The second-seeded Rockets and seventh-seeded Thunderbirds will play the deciding game Wednesday night in Kelowna, British Columbia. The outcome will determine the Spokane Chiefs' opponent for the WHL Western Conference semifinals. If Seattle wins, the Chiefs will open Friday and Saturday at Kamloops, B.C. If Kelowna completes the major comeback, the Chiefs will open Friday and Saturday at Portland. Either way, the Chiefs will host Games 3 and 4 on April 9 and 10. Read story

Bertaggia boosted Chiefs’ offense

Alessio Bertaggia came to the Spokane Chiefs in January in a trade with Brandon. An injury sidelined him for four weeks, but the Chiefs have won 15 of 20 games overall since his return. Unfortunately for Bertaggia fans, the 19-year-old Swiss native has signed a pro contract to play in Switzerland next year. Read story

Cougs keep score during Tuesday practice


FROM PULLMAN — Tuesday's practice involved a bullhorn and a whole lot of up-downs. Read on.

More honors for Olynyk

Kelly Olynyk joined select company when he was named Associated Press first-team All-American on Monday.

Dan Dickau and Adam Morrison are the only other Zags to be AP first-teamers. Olynyk also made the Wooden Award All-American team (10 players) later Monday. He's the fifth Bulldog to receive that honor, along with Dickau, Morrison, Casey Calvary and Blake Stepp.

More here.

It’s time for a change


I fully expected to get up this morning and write about the Mariners and their 2-0, opening-day win over Oakland last night. To pound out about a thousand words concerning Felix's dominance of the defending AL West champions. I didn't figure there could be a story out there that would rise above it. Guess what? I was blindsided by a Pac-12 officiating story. And, as many of you know, it wasn't the first time. Read on.

Enfield, officiating and links


FROM PULLMAN — Monday was a busy day in terms of Pac-12 news. Some of it was good. And some of it involved Ed Rush. Read on for links and such.

Chiefs will meet Portland or Kamloops

The Western Hockey League Western Conference semifinals are 75 percent set after Portland and Kamloops won Monday night to polish off their opening-round series. The Spokane Chiefs clinched their semifinal berth on Saturday night in Kennewick. The last remaining series to be decided is second-seeded Kelowna against seventh-seeded Seattle. Seattle leads 3-2 heading into Tuesday night's game in Seattle. If Seattle holds on to win the series, Spokane would open the semifinals at Kamloops on Friday. If Kelowna comes back to win the series, Spokane would open the semifinals at Portland on Friday. Read Portland story. Read Kamloops story

Linking on a Monday


FROM PULLMAN — It's another day off for the Washington State football team, though the Cougars return to the practice field tomorrow afternoon for the sixth time this spring. It's also a busy week for the WSU baseball team, which has a game tomorrow against Gonzaga before taking off for four games in Utah — three against the Utes, one at BYU — from Friday through next Monday. For now, we link.

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SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.


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

Recent work by Chris

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

Recent work by Sean

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

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