A GRIP ON SPORTS
Last night was fun. With the Eastern game starting at 6 and the WSU and Gonzaga games beginning at 8, I spent much of my evening keeping tabs on most of the local college basketball scene. Read on.
• The night started exceptionally well for the Eagles, who dominated Montana State from the get-go. As is their usual M.O., though, the game got tight in the second half. But, despite a late injury to their best player, Venky Jois, the Eagles held on. As wins go, this was a big one. With that over, it was time to use my best clicker skills, switching back-and-forth between Gonzaga's Los Angeles adventure and the Cougars upset bid. Luckily, the Zags blew open their game with Loyola Marymount early – Gary Bell, Jr. looking like the Gary Bell, Jr. of last season – allowing me to concentrate more on the Cougars down the stretch. And once again that stretch was unkind to WSU, with the final few minutes including a stretch of awful defensive rebounding, a couple quick shots, a missed free throw and a decision to allow ASU to run 20 seconds off the clock in the final minute. Another close game ended in another close defeat. (By the way, apropos of nothing, I noticed something today. In three-plus seasons at WSU, Ken Bone has won 68 games. Paul Graham and Dick Bennett won 67 combined in seven years. An interesting fact I picked up while perusing the media guide.)
• Yesterday I passed along an ESPN.com piece on the best eight players in the Mark Few-era at Gonzaga. For the radio show yesterday, I tried to come up with the WSU equivalent during the same time frame (encompassing the coaching tenures of Graham, Dick and Tony Bennett and Bone). Here it is. My starters are point guard Marcus Moore (pictured), shooting guard Klay Thompson, small forward Kyle Weaver, power forward Brock Motum and center Aron Baynes. The reserves are power forward Robbie Cowgill, shooting guard Derrick Low and point guard Taylor Rochestie. Feel free to disagree but remember, only players from the 1999-2000 season can be in the mix (so no Isaac Fontaine or Guy Williams or Steve Puidokas or the like). I also considered players such as Thomas Kelati, DeAngelo Casto, Ivory Clark, Mike Bush and Reggie Moore before coming up with my final list. The starting lineup gave me some pause as I was torn between Cowgill and Motum – one a better defender, the other a tough-to-limit scorer – and the guard positions – I nearly named Low as the starting point guard, but decided he was so much better off the ball during his career, it was best to bring him off the bench.
• And yes, the Super Bowl is only days away. Our subject today is the greatest receiver of all time. No, we're not talking about Randy Moss. We're talking about Jerry Rice, a player with physical talent, sure, but one who was driven beyond compare to make the most out of that talent. ... I also couldn't pass up passing along this nice feature on Steve Gleason in the Washington Post.
• Washington State: Christian Caple was in Beasley last night and filled up SportsLink with his blog posts. It began earlier in the afternoon with his live chat, followed quickly by the news of a football player's arrest. Christian then posted before the basketball game, had a tale of the tape and interviews afterward and capped the Cougar news off with a morning post today. And, lest we forget, here is his game story.
• Gonzaga: There wasn't much doubt the Zags were going to win last night, not with Loyola Marymount decimated by injuries. In times like this, however, the highly favored team may not play with the focus needed to dominate. That wasn't a problem for GU, though, as the Bulldogs kept the pedal to the metal most of the night. Jim Meehan was there and filed his game story along with a late-night blog post. Jim also had a blog post on Kelly Olynyk being a finalist for a player-of-the-year award. ... Pepperdine jumped out to a big lead early up the road in Malibu, but BYU rallied back to earn the win that kept its NCAA hopes alive. A loss to the Waves would have been impossible to overcome. ... There are some night Portland's offense is just not there. Last night at Santa Clara – witnessed by 1,121 – was one of those nights. ... The Gonzaga women handled Loyola Marymount with ease as well and the win earned them sole possession of first-place when St. Mary's lost at BYU. Chris Derrick has the story of GU's victory (pictured) along with a blog post. Meanwhile, Colin Mulvany had a picture story. ... Another preseason team, another honor for GU's baseball star Marco Gonzales.
• EWU: Early in the Big Sky season, the Eagles traveled to Bozeman, built a big lead and then collapsed in defeat. Last night they almost did the same thing (though the lead was not as large) but the final result was different. Jim Allen has the story in today's S-R. ... League-leading Montana handled Portland State with ease.
• Idaho: Even a short-handed Utah State team could figure out a way to get past the Vandals last night in Moscow, which doesn't bode well for the rest of UI's season. Josh Wright was there and filed this blog post and game story. ... We also can pass along a couple of stories from the Aggies' perspective.
• Preps: It was a good night for U-Hi's boys – they clinched the top spot in the GSL's 3A ranks – and a not-so-good night for Gonzaga Prep's – their hopes of a GSL title are almost gone as they trail CV by two games with two remaining. Greg Lee was at U-Hi and has the story. He also put together the GSL girls roundup. ... With the schedule limited last evening, our roundup encompasses boys and girls hoops.
• Chiefs: A tough stretch awaits the Chiefs. A really tough stretch.
• Mariners: Casper Wells wants to have more of a role with the M's this season. He has some work to do to earn the chance. ... Seattle had some real holes in its lineup last season. There should be fewer this one.
• Sounders: Single-game tickets go on sale Monday morning at 10.
• Sonics: Is there a right-of-first-refusal for some of the Kings' minority owners? If courts rule there is, then the sale may be hindered a bit.
• It's Friday. You can stop cheering at anytime. Once again we'll be on the radio at 700 ESPN, so if you want, you can listen here between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m. No matter what, we'll be back here tomorrow. Until later ...