A GRIP ON SPORTS
I spent the entire day yesterday watching college basketball. Yep, the entire day. And I came to a couple conclusions. Read on.
• Before we get to my conclusions, I want to reiterate my feeling the new rules in college basketball are just a return to the past. Talk to any hoopster over the age of 45 and they'll tell you the can remember when putting a hand on a dribbler was verboten and drew a whistle. Talk to any hoopster under the age of 25 and that can't remember a time they didn't try to ride a dribbler through the key. Anyhow, as I was saying before my memories so rudely interrupted us, I reached a couple of conclusions yesterday. These new rules are going to be good for the game. But for now, they are a bit disconcerting. Yes, they should open up the offense and bring a bit more scoring – and excitement – back into college hoops. If they continue to be enforced. The rough start, and the cacophony of complaints about them, will take some patience getting through. If the powers-that-be and their officials stand their ground, keep enforcing them the way they are written, the long-term effect will be good for the game. However, there has to be a couple of adjustments made. One thing I've already noticed is the players have adjusted on the offensive end. In fact, they are taking advantage of them, and there is one adjustment that needs to be outlawed quickly. I can't remember how many times yesterday I saw a player drive with his off-hand (the one not dribbling the ball) extended, warding off the defender like a football stiff-arm. If the defensive player cannot put a hand on a driver, then the driver should not be allowed to use his hands on the defender either. More than once I saw an offensive player drive, put his hand out to control the defender, the defender make contact with it and the defender whistled for a foul. That has to change. And why we are talking about contact, I'm still not convinced arm bars (putting the length of your arm below the elbow on the opponent) need to be off limits in post play. We were taught back in the day to use our legs to control the post, keeping our hands up but trying to move the player with our thighs and assorted adjacent body parts. Then someone realized if that contact was OK, what's the difference between a knee in a guy's leg and an arm bar in the middle of his back? Contact is contact, right? Well now we seem to be back to using the legs again. An arm bar is a way for the defender to keep contact, but not actually control (to the extent grabbing with the hands controls someone) the post player. Good offensive post players welcomed arm bars and used them to their advantage, especially if the defender began to lean and lose balance. Hands are one thing. Arm bars are different. They should be allowed in the post.
• WSU: Yes, the Cougars are getting ready for Saturday's football game at Arizona – Jacob Thorpe has a practice report from last night along with a Pac-12 notebook, morning links and power rankings. And yes, the basketball team is getting its season started – we found quite a few links to basketball stories around the Pac-12 today, along with the usual football links from here and there. But the big news in Pullman yesterday concerned women's soccer, when Micaela Castain (pictured) was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and Keidane McAlpine was named Coach of the Year. Winning these awards (in any sport) is a rare enough occurrence at WSU I felt it deserved to be mentioned prominently.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan was back on the blog yesterday with a day-after post concerning the easy win over Colorado State. … St. Mary's had such a late start Monday night it was actually Tuesday morning. So we have stories about its win.
• EWU: The depth in Beau Baldwin's football program is impressive. Jim Allen documents it in today's story. Jim also has these Big Sky links to get you through your day. … We also ran down these links to Tuesday night's basketball action, with Southern Utah losing to Utah State.
* Whitworth: There was probably no better football player in Pirate history than tight end Michael Allan (pictured). Thomas Clouse catches up with Allan just after Allan's 30th birthday.
• Chiefs: The best team in the Western Hockey League? That distinction has been held by more than one franchise this season. Chris Derrick breaks down the winning streaks in this week's WHL notebook. … Host Portland routed Seattle 10-2 last night.
• Preps: Soccer took center stage in Washington yesterday, with Jim Allen covering Mt. Spokane's 3-0 win over Southridge, Steve Christilaw at Mead's 3-2 victory against Jackson and a roundup of other action.
• Seahawks: Things were pretty normal around the Hawks yesterday. There was a Percy Harvin (pictured) piece, as has been the case recently. After all, the Hawks face his old team, the Minnesota Vikings, this Sunday … There was a change on the practice squad roster, which happens with regularity. … There was an injury and the story about the replacement. … And there was another story on the dominant defense. … The snap counts from the Atlanta game were compiled and lo and behold, a couple players earned a few snaps off.
• Sounders: The Seattle Times has a bit more from the talk with general manager Adrian Hanauer.
• Mariners: Though he had the best year of any pitcher on the M's staff last season, Hisashi Iwakuma is still able to live in relative anonymity.
• Not as much college hoops available today, but that doesn't matter. I'm too busy to spend the day watching anyhow. I have to rearrange my sock drawer. Until later …