A GRIP ON SPORTS
There was a lot of angst around here concerning Gonzaga's unexpected loss in the NCAA's round of 32 last weekend. The pastime in Spokane for about a week was about what went wrong. Was it this player or that one? Was it this coaching decision or that one? Was it time for this player or this coach to visit a shrink? Well we finally have the real answer for you. Wichita State was just really darn good. Read on.
• If you watched the Shockers demolish La Salle last night, you saw how good WSU can be. (FYI, for the next paragraph, WSU doesn’t stand for Washington State University, as it usually does, but for Wichita State University.) The Explorers came into the game on a hot streak, having already won three times in the tournament mainly due to their ability to knock down the outside shot. But Wichita just took that away. Along with most everything else La Salle wanted to do. See, WSU plays defense with a passion. And the Shockers are athletic enough, strong enough and – most importantly – tough enough to make that matter. It mattered last night. And it mattered against Gonzaga, even though the Zags were good enough to almost overcome it. Mainly because GU did something hardly anyone has done to the Shockers this season, outrebound them. La Salle couldn't and that became WSU's best offense: miss a shot, go get the rebound and put it back in. Yes, if Gonzaga had played its best game and WSU had played its, the Zags would have won. But GU didn't, Wichita did and the Shockers are now in the Elite Eight. So instead of lamenting the Bulldogs poor play and looking for excuses, realize these here Shockers can play this game. And move on.
• Washington State: Bill Moos is not moving on from Ken Bone. He explained his reasoning to Christian Caple yesterday and Christian passes it along in this blog post. Christian, and other reporters, also talked with Bone yesterday, which led to this story. … But Thursday was also a football day, with Christian at spring practice. The result was this feature on junior-college transfer Ivan McLennan and a summary on the blog. Finally, Christian has this morning's blog post. … Former WSU players Austin Bragg and John Allen helped Western Washington move into the NCAA Division II semifinals last night, defeating Florida Southern and Kevin Capers, younger brother of ex-Cougar Marcus.
• Gonzaga: Mark Few is out looking for another assistant coach, though I'm pretty sure he has someone in mind. Ray Giacoletti (pictured) was introduced as Drake's new coach yesterday. Jim Meehan has more on the change in this story. … BYU is headed to New York for the NIT semifinals. … Christian has his weekly college baseball notebook and it looks at Gonzaga and its ranking.
• Chiefs: Spokane has taken over control of its playoff series with Tri-City, thanks to an overtime win in Kennewick last night. Chris Derrick was there and filed this story on the Chiefs taking a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. … Portland has gotten it back together behind a former baseball player. A sort-of former baseball player.
• Shock: Kind of liked this San Jose SaberCats story, mainly because it's about former WSU quarterback Aaron Garcia.
• Mariners: After winning 21 games in Arizona, the Mariners (and home run hitting star Mike Morse) are on the long, winding road toward the season opener. Except Casper Wells, who stayed in Arizona, though the M's won't say if he or Jason Bay will take the final outfield spot (hey M's, everyone knows). … You want optimism? I'll give you optimism. But the Marlins, Astros and, yes, the Yankees, need not apply. … You want a huge scoreboard. Here, take it.
• Sounders: Obafemi Martins finally had his first practice with the Sounders yesterday – almost two weeks after his first game – and he talked about it. Eddie Johnson also had some things to say about Martins and the upcoming game in Salt Lake City.
• That's it for now. We expect a nice Friday and hope you will have one as well. Until later …