A GRIP ON SPORTS
When Bill Moos decided to make a change at the top of the Washington State basketball program, we all knew the ripples would be felt throughout the program. We are just finding out, however, how far. Read on.
• Every college basketball coach has a preference in which type of player he or she wants. Some put a premium on athleticism, others on skill. Some believe tough mindedness is the most important attribute, others put a team-first attitude first. But all want players who feel comfortable with them and with whom they feel comfortable. When there is a coaching change, all of those things have to be examined, to see if the fit is right. Sometimes the best interest of the player is to stay, sometimes it is to go. It's a tough choice, especially if you have been at a school for a while. You've developed friends and relationships inside and outside the program and those cords bind you to the school. Anytime a player decides to cut them and move on, it's a traumatic decision, even if the player knows it is for the best. Yesterday, WSU was announced a couple of players had made that decision. Royce Woolridge (pictured) and James Hunter are leaving. They both will get their degree next month and then move on. They both have a year of eligibility left if they want to use it. They both made a decision that, I'm sure, was a tough one to make. I know. I went through it. My first two seasons of college baseball, I didn't play much. But I worked hard trying to improve and by the end of my sophomore season it was starting to show. In fact, in our end of the year evaluation session, the head coach told me he wasn't going to recruit a freshman catcher and I would enter the next season as the No. 2 guy, catching second games of doubleheaders and occasional non-conference games. Less than a week later he was fired. A correlation? Maybe. But it made me evaluate my future. He put in a good word and I was offered a scholarship at a school near my home. I thought about it for weeks. Then decided to stay at UC Irvine. The binds were too deep to cut. The new coach came in, brought two new catchers with him and I played even less the final two years. (We lost just as much too and he was fired, so there's that.) Did I screw up? No. I enjoyed my last two years of college, met some great people and began dating the woman who would spend her life with me. More at-bats at another school or a wife? I got the better end of that deal. But those are the decision every college athlete faces when there is a coaching change. It's the decisions the basketball players at WSU are facing right now. Two have chosen to move on. Others might as well. Whatever their decision, don't begrudge them. It's a tough one. Wish them well and realize it wasn't an easy decision. But, in this case, they have to put their future first.
• WSU: Besides the basketball news, which he covered in this blog post and story, Jacob Thorpe also has some football news. He was at practice yesterday and put together a report on the blog as well as a story on another player switching positions during spring. Jacob also has a morning post with links. ... The baseball team traveled north and took a 5-1 decision from Gonzaga. Chris Derrick was there and has this story. ... The big news in the Pac-12 yesterday was California poaching Tennessee's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin (pictured). ... Wait, no, the big news was the decision by two Arizona stars to enter the NBA draft. ... This isn't big news, or maybe even news, but Klay Thompson can shoot it pretty darn well. ... Utah has a new offensive line coach.
• Gonzaga: Jacob also has his weekly college baseball notebook and he leads with a Bulldog with pro potential on the bump. ... It looks as if Larry Brown and SMU may be playing the Zags the next couple years. And GU will have another big man to help inside.
• EWU: The defensive line has been bolstered by the addition of a former offensive lineman who has some experience with moving around. Jim Allen has the story of Zack Johnson and the defensive line. ... Weber State's spring is different this year.
• Preps: It's Wednesday, which means Chris has his weekly softball notebook.
• Shock: Terrance Sanders has a way of making a big play when Spokane needs it. He did it last week with a big interception. Jim Allen has the story.
• Mariners: Let's see if I have this right. Blake Beavan (pictured) is called up to start last night and takes the mound with what he calls a dead arm. Still, he gets through four innings and gives up just two runs. His arm must have just been mostly dead. The M's offense, however, was completely dead. And Seattle lost 5-0 to the Rangers. ... But that wasn't the biggest worry. Taijuan Walker, who was expected to make a rehab start at Tacoma last night, was scratched due to stiffness in his shoulder, the one that is supposed to be mending. Not good. ... Nick Franklin is headed back to the big club as Logan Morrison is having trouble with a hamstring. ... In the good news department, Stephen Pryor threw an inning for Tacoma last night. ... Felix Hernandez will pitch tonight. The Rangers will throw Yu Darvish. No, they won't face each other. ... Is Kendrys Morales in the M's future?
• Sounders: What is the key to the Sounders' success this year? It starts with the exceptional play of Clint Dempsey, that's for sure. But it goes deeper than that. There is some teamwork involved. ... The Sounders will meet Chivas USA this weekend and may have a couple of key players back. ... One man's judgment of the MLS after a few weeks.
• That's it for today. We'll be back tomorrow with even more scintillating commentary and quips. Maybe. We'll be back, sure, but I can't guarantee we'll be better. Until then ...