A GRIP ON SPORTS
On the night of the biggest football game in the Pac-12 this season, we are going to talk … basketball? Yep, we're talking hoops. Read on.
• Our hand is forced in a way. This morning, when the S-R hit the porch, it made a louder-than-usual noise. That's because it has a whole section devoted to college basketball. From Cheney to Seattle, there are stories on hoops. Men's hoops, women's hoops. As Ron Burgundy might say, “hoops, hoops, hoops. I love hoops.” But it does offer me a dilemma. With items on every local college, how do I link it all? Do I break it up by school or do I put it all in one section right here? After careful deliberation – that is, for more than a minute – I've decided to put the links in each college section – with a couple caveats. The Washington information is at the end of the WSU section. And the women's info is part of the Gonzaga section, as the Bulldogs are the only ranked local team. Oh, and one more thing. John Blanchette has a column on the new rules in college hoops. We're linking that here.
• There is one change going on in college basketball that seems to be causing coaches to tear out their already thinning hair: The new hand-check rules. Or should I say the old hand-check rules. See, the NCAA has codified in the rulebook something that was understood back in the 1950s, '60s and '70s. You touch the offensive player as he or she is dribbling and it's a foul. The idea is to encourage freedom of movement. I like to think of it as the “move-your-feet” rule. There was a time when defense was all about beating your opponent to a spot, not trying to stop him or her from getting there by grabbing, arm-barring or riding. Maybe, just maybe, we'll return to that some day. But until then, don't expect college basketball games to fit in a nice compact two-hour window. Games should take a bit longer, especially at first when more whistles will be blown. After that, either the players will adjust or the officials will stop calling it so tight. I'm rooting for the former. I would like to see scoring improve. I would like to see an emphasis on defensive quickness over strength. I would like to see everyone wearing short shorts again. Well, the first two, ya. The last one? No way.
• WSU: Tonight in Stanford we should be treated to our annual “Game of the Century.” Stanford hosts Oregon. No. 2 visits No. 5. The winner has the inside track to the Pac-12 North berth in the conference title game – and, if it is Oregon, the inside track to the national title game. Financially, the best thing for the conference is having the Ducks play for the BCS title. It would be a boon for the coffers of every school as a rising financial tide floats all stadium bonds or something like that. So I expect the Cardinal to win somehow and upset everyone's apple cart. … No such drama in Pullman right now, where the Cougars aren't even practicing, what with the bye this Saturday and all. Jacob Thorpe has his Pac-12 picks for the week and a morning post with links. He also held a live chat yesterday. … I recommend keeping this link handy. You might need the tie-breaker information someday. Basketball: There is Jacob's feature on the new-look D.J. Shelton (pictured), and five keys to success. There are also some fast facts about the program. … In Washington's case, the feature is on C.J. Wilcox. It pairs with the fast facts and the five keys. … Elsewhere in the conference, we can pass along this look at the race and some news from Oregon, which is looking at a couple players being suspended for a while.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan's feature is on coach Mark Few, who is in his 25th year overall at the school. The first few were an adventure, that's for sure. There are also the fast facts and five keys. Thomas Clouse also has a feature on the Zags' waiting list for season tickets. … Tom also has a feature on Gonzaga and the other area women's basketball teams. … The Zag women will be trying to win a 10th consecutive WCC crown. … Back to the men, as Bud Withers talks with Mark Few about basketball and other things. … Santa Clara isn't what you would call experienced this season.
• EWU: The FCS version of Oregon/Stanford will take place this Saturday at a sold-out Roos Field. The second-ranked Eagles host No. 5 Montana State in the Big Sky's game of the year (even the hype is bit muted in the FCS). Senior quarterback DeNarius McGee (pictured), the focus of Jim Allen's Big Sky notebook, leads the Bobcats. … Jim is also holding a live chat today at noon. … An Oregon high school running back has committed to Eastern. … The Missoulian has a Big Sky notebook while Portland State is happy to be coming off a win. Basketball: Last year's Eastern basketball team was so young … (insert your Henny Youngman-like one-liner here). Things haven't changed much in Cheney. The focus of the Eagles' section this season is sophomore Venky Jois (more proof how young EWU is), profiled by Jim. Jois was a revelation his freshman season. There is also the fast facts piece and five keys.
• Idaho: Josh Wright's feature for the Vandals' basketball preview is on guard Glen Dean, who easily could have been the subject of an Eastern feature a few years ago. In between, Dean spent some time at the University of Utah. Josh also has the fast facts and the five keys.
• CCS: Kwinn Hanson is back to lead the Sasquatch men's team. Chris Derrick has a feature on the Northwest Christian graduate.
• Chiefs: As Chris Derrick points out in today's WHL notebook, the league didn't do the Chiefs any favors with the early season schedule. However, thanks to a Mitch Holmberg overtime goal last night, Spokane did pick up a win on the road. … So did Tri-City, snapping a long Portland win streak. … Everett won at home Wednesday.
• Preps: We are in the middle of the fall playoffs, with Washington's state cross country meets this weekend (Mike Vlahovich has a feature and a quick look at the races) along with soccer playoffs (Jim Allen was at Central Valley's win last night), volleyball (Chris has a feature on a Mead player along with a notebook and there is a roundup) and football (we have a quick look at the key games this weekend along with the picks from Greg Lee and Sam Adams).
• Seahawks: The story in Miami continues to roil the NFL so it's little wonder any connections in Seattle are mined for stories. In this case, Doug Baldwin talks about his college teammate Jonathan Martin. … The running game has improved since Michael Robinson has returned to play fullback. … Pete Carroll isn't satisfied with an 8-1 record. The Hawks have to play better. … With a couple of key offensive linemen returning from injury soon, line coach Tom Cable feels as if the Hawks have developed some interesting depth. … Earl Thomas has some things to say as well.
• Sounders: Over the years, Seattle has struggled mightily in the first leg of a two-match playoff series. But they've moved on at times. How? They've played well in the second legs. … The second leg of the Timbers' MLS playoff series is tonight in what was a rainy Portland yesterday. … The Timbers would really like to eliminate the rich kids from Seattle. … The Sounders seem a bit healthier.
• Mariners: Though Lloyd McClendon might not have been on the fans' radar when the M's started their managerial search, he's been in the baseball spotlight much of his life. … Jim Leyland thinks he'll be a success in Seattle.
• I think that's all for this morning. If you have time to read every link I put here, you are either retired-retired (as opposed to my semi-retired) or you have a great place to hide while roaming the Internet at work. Either way, more power to you. Until later …