A GRIP ON SPORTS
It was a pretty interesting Thursday around here, what with Gonzaga having to hold off St. Mary's best shots, Eastern winning in a blowout fashion for the first time this season and the Pac-12 releasing the football schedules for next season. We cover all those items. Read on.
• I haven't had a chance to watch the entire Gonzaga game yet – I was busy in Cheney last night – but I did get the opportunity to see the final few frantic minutes after I braved the snow and got safely home. And what a fun few minutes it was. There are three things you can count on in a tight rivalry game like this one: The Zags will play well, St. Mary's will play well and the officials will make a couple calls down the stretch that will make you shake your head. All three occurred in the short stretch I watched. GU made some clutch plays, mainly from Kelly Olynyk and Kevin Pangos (pictured). The Gaels did too, though usual engine Matthew Dellavedova sputtered all night and finally stalled in the waning minutes. And back-to-back calls – a jump ball when Elias Harris obviously fouled Dellavedova and a ball knocked out-of-bounds by the Gaels but given to St. Mary's (not to mention Gary Bell trying to foul Dellavedova late and not getting the call despite a blatant grab) – with the game on the line had everyone in the Kennel and in front of their TV wondering how such things can be missed.
• Eastern hasn't had a very successful basketball season but if Thursday night is any indication – coming as it does on the heels of two decent performances on the road in Montana – the Eagles might be turning the corner. I'm not sure there is any correlation between EWU's improved play and the departure of transfer point guard Justin Crosgile, but I'm not one to put much faith in coincidence. The ball seemed to move a bit quicker within the offense last night, the defense seemed a bit more solid out front and the smiles from Collin Chiverton (pictured) and the rest of the Eagles seemed to show up more often. But that all could be because the Eagles shot well, posting their best shooting performance of the season (forgot to get that nugget in my game story). Eastern frustrated Northern Arizona on both ends and that frustration boiled over in the form of two technicals, one on coach Jack Murphy and one on freshman guard DeWayne Russell. The Eagles were physical and they played hard for the most part from the tip to final buzzer, something that couldn't have been said in the two earlier games I watched.
• Finally, let's get to Washington State's football schedule. It's the type that makes you wonder why the Pac-12 hates the school so much. I mean, really? Eight consecutive weeks before a bye – then two in three weeks. Does that make sense? Then there is the conference opener. Sept. 7 at USC, a week after the Cougars open the season at Auburn. Now, sure, USC and Auburn are both coming off subpar seasons – the Tigers' was so bad it cost their coach his job – but they are still Auburn and USC. Then there is the Apple Cup on the Friday after Thanksgiving – again. Thanks a lot Pac-12. Then again, the Cougars didn't do themselves any favors either. After all, homecoming is Sept. 21 (will the 2013 graduates have cleared out of the dorms by then?) and the Seattle game is not against one of the Oregon schools, as Bill Moos has insinuated it would be the past few years. It's against Stanford and it comes at the end of September. Then, finally, the Thursday night game WSU has to play? Yep, it's on Halloween. In Pullman. That's fine for the students but how about the fans with children between the ages of 2 and 12? There is no chance they are headed down the road for that game. I'm sorry, but a home slate of Southern Utah (FYI, the Thunderbirds defeated Eastern by one less point than WSU did last season, though they did lose their quarterback to graduation), Idaho (OK, that should be fun), Oregon State, Arizona State and Utah doesn't get the heart all aquiver.
• Washington State: Christian Caple is in the Bay Area still (he'll be spending time with former WSU star Klay Thompson today) but that doesn't mean he doesn't have you covered. He put up a blog post on the schedule then followed up with a story for the S-R. He also held a live chat yesterday and has a post this morning with Pac-12 links. ... Jon Wilner pulls some highlights (and lowlights) from this year's Pac-12 schedule.
• Gonzaga: While I was writing the EWU gamer, someone mentioned to me the Zags were up 18 at the half. Of course it was on the DVR, so thanks for ruining the suspense. With that information in hand, though, it seemed OK to listen to the radio broadcast on the slick ride home. Except the margin kept shrinking. I went back later and looked at Jim Meehan's Twitter timeline and caught the gist of what happened. Then I read his blog post from last night and his game story in this morning's paper. ... John Blanchette was also in McCarthey and has this column. ... Bud Withers was there as well and filed this story. ... From the Bay Area papers, we can pass on this report. ... Interesting night in the WCC, with BYU blowing out an undermanned Pepperdine team, USD heading up the coast and handing USF another loss and Santa Clara, which looked like it would contend, dropping a road game at Loyola Marymount. ... Gonzaga's women fell out of first in the WAC with a loss at St. Mary's.
• EWU: We have our story on the Eagles' win, a game in which Collin Chiverton played as well on both ends of the court as I've ever seen him play. The focus he showed defensively was not a commodity I saw much last season. ... Portland State broke a losing streak and defeated EWU's Saturday night opponent Sacramento State. ... Montana State held off Northern Colorado. ... Weber State stayed undefeated in conference play but it wasn't easy - or pretty.
• Idaho: A tight one in Moscow came down to the wire and it was WAC newcomer Denver who scored eight of the final nine points and won, 55-49. Correspondent Theo Lawson has the story. Josh Wright also chipped in with a blog post. ... We found a story from the Post on a Denver guard and also this game coverage. ... Seattle U. had every opportunity to defeat New Mexico State but ended up losing in double overtime.
• Chiefs: Yesterday was the WHL's trade deadline and while conference leader Portland held pat – and have held pat despite the league's sanctions – the Chiefs made a couple deals. ... Chris Derrick fills in the one off day for Spokane this week with a feature on defenseman Reid Gow.
• Seahawks: As the days grow shorter until the game in Atlanta, it seems like a good time to pass along a couple Russell Wilson stories. After all, have we seen enough Russell Wilson stories? We also can pass along a story about general manager John Schneider, one on Falcon's ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez (pictured with ball), a piece on Bruce Irvin's opportunity and the injury report.
• Mariners: Hey, guess what? The M's made a blockbuster deal, trading for Arizona's Justin Upton, giving up a bunch of youngsters in the process. What a great ... wait, Upton vetoed the deal? Is that perfect? A perfect example of what happens to this team and this fan base. Who knows? Maybe the M's will throw millions of dollars at him and he'll change his mind. Ya, I'm not thinking that will happen either.
• Is it Friday all ready? Seemed like a quick week. Well enjoy your day and we'll be back here again tomorrow. Until then ...