A GRIP ON SPORTS
Color me impressed. With what, you may ask? With Gonzaga's win last night. Read on.
• If you watched the Zags' 80-76 win at West Virginia last night, you might have noticed the same thing I did. The game was played at a different tempo than most GU games this season. It was almost as if the Zags were playing in cement shoes or something. Part of that, I am sure, was forced upon them by Bob Huggins' (pictured) Mountaineers. Part of it, I am assuming, was due to Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, Jr. dealing with lower-body injuries. And part of it, I am confident, was a consequence of GU's quicker post, Sam Dower, Jr., saddled with foul trouble. No matter the reasons, a slower tempo could have spelled doom for Gonzaga in the atmosphere it faced last night. But it didn't. Despite having trouble pushing off his injured toe, Pangos came alive down the stretch. His three darts from outside punctured the Mountaineers balloon and gave GU enough of a cushion the Zags were able to survive their own missteps in the final seconds against West Virginia's trap. Pangos came up limping a few times during the game but still played 39 tough minutes. He finished with 18 points, including 11 in Gonzaga's decisive 13-0 run. But it would have all been for naught if not for the play of GU's mountain in the middle, Przemek Karnowski. The sophomore big kept the Zags in the game during the first half as Dower sat with two personals. It wasn't just the 19 points he scored or the 13 rebounds. The 7-foot-1 Karnowski was a roadblock at the rim often for a Mountaineer group that wanted to get there whenever it could. It's nice to see a big understand his size and strength, as Karnowski does, and understand he doesn't have to block shots to make a huge difference – adjective used on purpose. By clogging the middle and standing tall, Karnowski limited the WV offense and helped the Zags stay close until their own offense could spurt. It finally did and the result was a tough road win.
• WSU: It's been a long time since the Cougars have finished a football season with a better than .500 record. Since 2003 in fact. But this year's seniors have a chance to change that with a New Mexico Bowl win over Colorado State. Jacob Thorpe has a story on that group, a group trying to leave a legacy. … Jacob also has a blog post from after practice, one from yesterday on two offensive linemen saying they will sign with WSU, another on what the Cougar players will receive for playing in the bowl and one from this morning with links. He'll be back this morning with a live chat. … The Cougars bowl opponent, Colorado State, earned a lot of honors from the Mountain West Conference. … Though the basketball team is taking finals week off, Jacob also has a story on what it is doing. … So why did the Pac-12 get snubbed in the Heisman race? Call it East Coast Bias. That's good enough. … It's Wednesday, so we can pass along a mailbag from ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog as well as its power rankings. … How about next year? … Cal's Mike Montgomery grew up watching John Wooden's teams play. Now he has as many wins as the legendary UCLA coach.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan wasn't in West Virginia but he did put together this blog post and a story for the S-R this morning. He'll also be back later today with a morning-after post. … USD took care of business against an overmatched foe. … The Gonzaga women are on a tough three-game road trip, the second game of which was last night in Wisconsin. It also was the Bulldogs' second win of the trip. Next up: Stanford.
• EWU: Jacksonville State runs the football. It's just the Gamecocks run the football in a different way then most of Eastern's earlier opponents: They use the read-option attack. Jim Allen has more in this story.
• Chiefs: It's Wednesday, so that means Chris Derrick has his WHL notebook in today's paper. … Seattle just keeps on winning, getting its latest last night in Tri-City. … Portland made a trade yesterday to hopefully bolster its defense.
• Preps: Another Tuesday night of high school basketball with Greg Lee at Gonzaga Prep for Central Valley's 51-43 win over the Bullpups in boys action. Jesse Tinsley also has photographs from that game, along with more photos from the girls' game, won by G-Prep. That pairs with a roundup. … We can also pass along a roundup of boys and girls games from elsewhere in the region.
• Seahawks: We talked with Dave Boling of the News Tribune yesterday and the subject of Percy Harvin came up. Boling sees his return as a big boost for the Hawks offense. Now, when it will happen is still to be determined. Hopefully, before the playoffs. … Don't expect Christine Michael to be returning kicks anytime soon. … If there is anyone on the Hawks that can serve as a role model, it is probably Derrick Coleman. For a lot of different reasons. (And yes, I know Russell Wilson probably can as well.) … Catching a football isn't as easy as it might look. … Next up for the Hawks: the reeling New York Giants. … The 49ers needed some offensive line help. They looked to the Hawks' practice squad, of course.
• Mariners: The winter meetings roll on, with Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon using the forum to talk with reporters – as did general manager Jack Zduriencik. Both mentioned Robinson Cano, who is expected to get his physical today and be around for the announcement of his contract tomorrow. … The M's have made a lot of mistakes, but they can recover. At least Larry Stone thinks so. … The Times Ryan Divish is in Orlando and has been keeping a diary-like blog posting of each day. He will also join us on the radio this afternoon around 4 p.m. You can listen on the link below. … Hey, what about Nick Franklin?
• That's all we have for this morning. I will once again be joining Keith Osso and Rick Lukens on 700 ESPN. You can listen here between 3 and 6 p.m. Until then …