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It’s not a yellow brick road

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We're about to take a trip down memory lane, which is probably appropriate since Washington State did something last night it hadn't done since 1993. Read on.


••••••••••

• Years and years ago, about the time period of “Downton Abbey,” I used to visit a young lady friend who attended USC. One of our favorite pastimes, other than playing “Clue” with her dormmate and said dormmate's boyfriend, a Trojan wide receiver who went on to play in the NFL, was attending USC basketball games. The Trojans played in the Sports Arena, which, while not on campus per se, was a short – escorted – walk through the Coliseum grounds. It was really nice because you could leave the dorm a few minutes before tip and still get a spot at center court two or three rows up in the student section. In other words, the Trojan basketball team back in the late 1970s was not a hot ticket among the student body. Even though there was some talent on the roster, and not too many years removed from some of the best teams in college basketball (the Trojans in 1971 featured Paul Westphal and were 24-2, the only losses being to NCAA champ UCLA, while in 1974 they won 24 games with Gus Williams as the star), the games were sparsely attended by a student body that wouldn't think of missing a football game. I bring this up not only to reiterate that I am no longer a young man but to also give the WSU student body a pass. What happened Wednesday is nothing new. If you watched the Cougars dismantle UCLA last night you might have noticed the student section seemed a bit empty. As in estimates of 150 to 200 students in attendance. I'm not here to criticize the thousands upon thousands of WSU students who decided to stay home last night. Attending a sporting event while in college is a choice, one usually made through the prism of what your peers are going to do, time available and chance of seeing the home team win. It is the last one that seemed impossible last night. After all, the Cougars hadn't defeated their Los Angeles counterparts in Pullman since 1993, a time no one attending WSU right now could possibly remember. So, as the clock wound down in a game that showed the resilience of Brock Motum, Royce Woolridge and the other handful of still-healthy WSU players, there was little discussion of whether the student body would rush the court, a usual point of debate in the latter-seconds of a road loss by a ranked team. Chris Foster of the LA Times wroteThere were so few actual fans in an announced crowd of 4,268 that storming the court after ending a 19-game home losing streak to the Bruins was impossible. The ratio of fans to security guards was too low.”OK. Though Foster was exaggerating a bit, it still would have been kind of odd to see the student section empty after the buzzer sounded and the court not be covered. But you want to know the best part? If UCLA were to go on another 19-year win streak over the Cougars in Pullman, some 20 years from now about 10,000 folks who are enrolled at WSU right now will be telling their kids, “Ya, I was there the last time we beat the Bruins in Beasley, back in '13. We were cool, though. We didn't rush the court like kids do these days. Back then we had class. Everything is going to hell in a hand-basket these days. And, no, you can't borrow the flying car.”

•••

• Gonzaga: As the Bulldogs wait to find out who they will play in the WCC semifinals – Loyola Marymount opened the tournament last night with a win over Portland – Jim Meehan writes his weekly GU notebook concerning the physical play that has greeted the Zags recently. … It is Thursday, so Jim also has the usual weekly summary. … BYU has a bye until the semifinals in a tourney it knows it must win, so the Cougars are preparing for a couple teams. … USD has a marked man and it isn't coach Bill Grier. … The Zag women are still considered one of the best teams among the non-power conferences.

• Washington State: Talk about an upset that, after about four minutes, didn't look like an upset. When the Cougars were ahead 25-4, a casual viewer would have sworn WSU was the ranked team. … Christian Caple harkened back to the 2011 game when WSU almost upset the Bruins with Klay Thompson suspended. This group was able to finish the job. Christian has a game story, a pregame blog post that shared the news of DaVonté Lacy's season-ending knee injury, a tale of the tape, interviews and today's morning post. He also has the rest-of-the-week summary. … We supplement his Pac-12 links with this one from the Times' Bud Withers. … Football was also on the menu as Christian wrote about Marquess Wilson not being allowed to participate in the WSU pro day. … This CBSsports.com story is a bit outdated but has some more football information. … The WSU women open Pac-12 tournament play this evening.

• EWU: The Eagles' Jim Hayford will be coaching in his 400th game this weekend. That fact is part of Jim Allen's notebook and his summary. … Hey we're not the only ones with a history lesson today.

• Idaho: Josh Wright has his summary on the upcoming weekend, which features one game against Seattle U., which lost last night. … Denver has built success on the defensive end. … Utah State has built defeats due to injuries.

• Chiefs: Spokane had a golden opportunity to move into fourth place last night but threw it away with a 4-2 loss to Seattle. Chris Derrick has the story and Jesse Tinsley has these photographs.

• Mariners: Despite a couple more home runs, the Mariners lost to Milwaukee yesterday, snapping a 10-game winning streak. … Casper Wells hopes to earn some playing time in a crowded outfield. … If these guys could still play, it would be even more crowded.

• Seahawks: The Hawks are going to give a former basketball player a shot at tight end. Don't laugh. It's worked before for a couple of guys, including Tony Gonzales.

• Sounders: Just stay close. That was the Sounders' mantra going into their first game of a two-game series with Tigres. They accomplished that with the 1-0 loss, but it could have been more. … The reserves have set their schedule.

• Sonics: The design of the Sodo arena has been tweaked again. … The facility could help Seattle return to the big time.

•••

• Guess what. It snowed overnight at our house. It won't last but it sure was pretty this morning. Pretty, but I am crossing my fingers it will be the last this winter. Well, until at least early June. We'll be back long before then. Until later …


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jacob Thorpe Sports reporter Jacob Thorpe covers Washington State University athletics. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Greg Lee Greg Lee covers high school sports in Eastern Washington and North Idaho. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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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.

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

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

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