A GRIP ON SPORTS
Think back. Has there been many March days over the years in the Pacific Northwest better than yesterday? Read on.
• Let's recap. Gonzaga's men won and will be No. 1 in the nation heading into the NCAA tournament. And the win came at the expense of St. Mary's, with Mr. Mouthpiece, Matthew Dellavedova, having what can only charitably be called an “off-game.” The women win and are once again head to the NCAAs. The Seahawks trade for one of the most exciting and explosive wide receivers in the NFL. The Sounders finalize a deal for an exciting and explosive scorer. And the Mariners didn't lose. A pretty darn good day.
• Now that Gonzaga has finished off the preliminaries, the focus turns to whether the Zags will earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament (they should and will) and whether they can win a title. To the latter question I say, why the heck not? As evidence, I give you Georgetown. Before you get a quizzical look on your face, I want to remind you the world didn't begin yesterday or the day before. Before Georgetown became Georgetown, it was just another Catholic university with a decent basketball program. Yes, it is located in Washington, D.C., center of power in the universe. And yes, it is on the East Coast, center of all that matters in the United States (ask people who live there, they'll tell you). And yes, it is in the Big East, the greatest basketball conference in the world (again, ask folks who follow it, they'll tell you). But before 1979, when the Big East was formed, Georgetown was just another run-of-the-mill school trying to win a game or two in the NCAAs. Then the Hoyas burst on the national scene thanks to Patrick Ewing, winning their lone national title in 1984. (Yes, I know they were runner-up in 1943, when their entire NCAA run included defeating New York University and DePaul before losing the final to Wyoming, but it was the middle of World War II for goodness sakes.) Before 1980, not many folks thought Georgetown could win a title. And it did. Why can't 2013 by Gonzaga's 1982 (when Georgetown also made it to the national title game) or 1984? The Zags have the big man, they have guards, they have depth, they have role players, they have a veteran coaching staff. Why not?
• After Courtney Vandersloot graduated, most fans expected GU's women's program to recede to pre-Vandersloot levels. But the Zags haven't fallen. They won another WCC tournament title yesterday and earned another NCAA berth. They'll host the first two rounds in a couple weeks. For the uninitiated, winning the West Coast Conference on the women's side is even tougher than winning the men's. Don't believe me? Heading into the postseason, the WCC men were ranked as the 10th best conference in the nation, according to the conference's RPI. The women? It was seventh. So, according to the numbers, the women's conference is relatively tougher, top-to-bottom, than the men's.
• Percy Harvin (pictured) is one of those players that can make you gasp. It can happen on a kick returner, it can happen on a pass reception, it can happen on the injury list. Yep, Harvin is a thoroughbred in all that entails. He can be spectacular, he can be game-changing and he can be out with nicks and bruises. But he's also worth the gamble for a team that thinks it can win the Super Bowl next season. And the Hawks can.
• The Sounders are taking the same type of gamble, getting close to finalizing the acquisition of Obafemi Martins, the Nigerian forward who, like Harvin, can do some spectacular things on turf. But he's been up and down, showing his brilliance but also disappearing at times. Again, though, this is a move aimed at putting Seattle over the top. The Sounders think they can win an MLS title but they need another goal scorer to get it done. They are spending somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 million to ensure it.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan pulled double duty (as he does each year) in Las Vegas yesterday, covering the women's win and the men's triumph. He also has blog posts on the women and the men. … John Blanchette has a column concerning the men's view from the top. … Colin Mulvany was in Vegas and has picture galleries from the women's game and the men's contest. … Bud Withers has a column and a game story of GU's impressive win over St. Mary's. … The San Francisco Chronicle covered the Gaels' defeat. … We also found a couple of different versions of the wire story as No. 1 won again. … Jon Wilner weighs in on Gonzaga and St. Mary's.
• Washington State: The Pac-12 announced its awards yesterday and Brock Motum, the focus of every team in the conference's game plan when playing WSU, earned only second-team honors. Seems wrong to me. … Christian Caple also had some thoughts in a post yesterday and in his morning post. … There are big shoes to fill in Pullman.
• EWU: Venky Jois was named the Big Sky Conference freshman of the year. Jim Allen has the story. … Katie Baker, the former Lake City star, was named player of the year on the women's side. … Weber State is about ready to start spring football.
• Chiefs: Spokane was off yesterday but the Chiefs head into the final stretch tied with Tri-City for home-ice advantage in the first round.
• Mariners: The M's will be missing a crucial piece of their history this season now that Henry Genzale (at left with trainer Rick Griffin) has retired. Who, you might ask. Henry has run the Mariners clubhouse since the beginning, either on the home or visiting side. I met him in the early days of the M's fantasy camp, when he ran the clubhouse for the campers. A great guy with a million stories. Larry Stone tells Henry's. … With no game yesterday, Geoff Baker examines the spring thus far.
• Seahawks: As you can expect, the Harvin trade news generated a million pixels on-line. From stories looking at the nuts and bolts of the trade to Jerry Brewer examining the statement it makes to those who wonder about Harvin and his fit in the lockerroom, there is enough to read for everyone.
• Sounders: The Harvin news pushed the Sounders' big acquisition news to the back pages, which is kind of sad. Martins could be a game changer. … Sigi Schmid has his thoughts on the new player. … The Sounders also have a somewhat big game tonight. … GM Adrian Hanauer and Schmid talk about that as well. … There has been changes in some game times in concert with the M's.
• Sonics: Want season tickets when the Sonics arrive? There is a waiting list starting.
• I decided I had to watch basketball yesterday. Besides, I was being silly. There is no way an overweight, balding, 56-year-old man could affect a basketball game 1,000 miles away just by watching, right? So I turned on the Gonzaga women's game. I turned it off when they were down six. They won by 12. That's an 18-point swing. Now I'm not saying there is a correlation, I'm just saying there was an 18-point swing. You decide if I should ever watch again. Until later …