A GRIP ON SPORTS
It's Friday and the weekend looms. We have a few notes to get you ready. Read on.
• Once again the Washington State spring game is headed to Albi Stadium in Spokane. There's a lot to like about that, not the least of which there are enough players in the program these days that a spring game is possible. That hasn't always been the case the past 10 years. There were a few seasons there during the Paul Wulff years the spring game was more a glorified scrimmage played before an intimate gathering at Martin Stadium. But tomorrow's event – and that's what it has become – in Albi will feature two teams going at it. The 5,000 to 10,000 Cougar faithful that show up should be treated to decent weather – the temperature should be in the mid-50s and there is little chance of rain – and decent competition. And, if you are a Cougar fan in the Puget Sound area, Spokane is about an hour closer than Pullman – and there are more hotel rooms.
• Since the Cougars moved the spring finale to Spokane, I have been in town for exactly none of them. The weekend always coincides with an NCAA-mandated basketball open recruiting period, so I'm on the road. It's sort of sad, in a way, as I would like to experience all the fun after so many dreary years. But it's not to be.
• When you think of international flavor, does Spokane immediately come to mind? Me neither. But that's the case recently with Gonzaga basketball. The Zags have always drawn players from oversees, first from Australia and now from Europe and Canada. OK, Canada is not overseas, unless you are talking about Victoria or somewhere, but players like Kevin Pangos and Kelly Olynyk are considered foreign players. Anyone, the Zags' continual recruitment of players outside the U.S. (is that better?) has caught the eye of ESPN expert Fran Fraschilla. Though most of his commentary is behind a pay wall, if you can read what he has to say it's interesting.
• One of the things I've really come to like is this idea of signing a veteran player to a one-day contract to let him retire as a member of his main team. In this era of free agency in all major sports, it's nice to see a long-time member of a franchise return "home," so to speak, to end his or her career. In the case of Marcus Trufant, he actually did come home – yes, nitpickers, I know Tacoma isn't Seattle, but it's the same metro area – to sign his last NFL contract and retire. And he was surrounded by family and friends. That's a great way to go out.
• There is one more thing we can blame on David Stern. If the former NBA commissioner had done the right thing and pushed for the Sacramento franchise to relocate to Seattle when Chris Hansen made his push, then the Puget Sound area might be also getting an NHL franchise. But without an NBA team in hand, Hansen is not moving forward with his arena plans. And without arena plans in the offing, the NHL is not going to move forward with expansion in Seattle. Which is too bad. After all, without NHL expansion into Seattle, the Mariners are doomed to always be the least productive of the city's professional sports teams.
• WSU: It was a busy day for Jacob Thorpe in Pullman yesterday, despite a light spring practice. Jacob put together a story on Connor Halliday's final appearance in Albi Stadium as well as a blog post on the workout. The Cougars also received a commitment from a highly touted high school quarterback and Jacob covered that with a story and a blog post. Jacob also has a morning post with links and will host a live chat at 11 a.m. today. ... Garfield's Tramaine Isabell will not try to get out of his basketball letter of intent he signed in the fall and will attend WSU. ... Utah has extended the contract of its basketball coach. ... California will also hold its spring game this weekend.
• Gonzaga: Besides the international piece linked above, we also found an interesting look at the WCC's search for a new commissioner.
• EWU: Jim Allen has a notebook today. It begins with a look at the Eagles' tight ends.
• Idaho: The Vandals will hold their spring game tonight in the Kibbie Dome and Josh Wright will be there. He has an advance of the contest.
• Preps: As baseball season winds down – it always does just as the weather warms up – Thomas Clouse has a notebook on some of the GSL's better hitters. ... As Greg Lee writes, the Jack Blair Classic in June will feature some of the best girls basketball players in the area.
• Seahawks: Besides the Trufant news, we have a couple more things to pass along. ... Larry Stone has a nice column on what Russell Wilson's divorce means. And Sidney Rice was happy to be back in the Hawks training facility yesterday.
• Mariners: No game yesterday but that doesn't mean there wasn't news. The M's made the expected roster changes and will have a new outfielder on the bench tonight. ... There were questions and there were answers.
• Sounders: This is a World Cup year, so the MLS had a break in the middle of its season for the world's biggest sporting event. However, that break was filled yesterday with U.S. Open Cup games, which didn't make Sigi Schmid or his players happy. I'm sure no MLS player was. ... The Sounders are getting healthier and more confident. Both are good things.
• Hey, I finally got a haircut. But that's not all. We also have a quick note on the column for the weekend. Kim and I are headed out of town and will be busy over the next couple days. Though we'll be here each day, unless something major happens, the posts will be a bit shorter than usual. The links will survive but the opinions may not. Until later ...