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Archive for February 2014

Finished with Portland … maybe

The Spokane Chiefs are absolutely done with the Portland Winterhawks when it comes to the Western Hockey League's regular season. Whether the Chiefs face Portland again in the playoffs remains to be seen. Read story

UW 72, WSU 49 Box Score

Courtesy of WSU Athletics.

University boys defeat Kennedy Catholic 68-59

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered University High's 68-59 win over Kennedy Catholic in the 2014 WIAA 3A Boys Regional at Central Valley, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Ken Bone on KJR

Washington State coach Ken Bone joined KJR's Mitch Levy on Thursday afternoon to candidly talk about the team's struggles this season. The interview in its entirety can be found here.

 

What would you say to people who say to people who think it’s impossible to win at WSU?

I would say it’d be hard to argue that at this point but I think a lot of WSU fans would have loved to see Tony Bennett stick around. They came in here and they instilled a system that in in time was effective. Those two years Tony was really, really good and then that last year it dropped off but he’d been here a few years already. The system was in place but if he could’ve stayed here but there’s a chance he could have continued to have good success.

More after the jump.

Day after Pacific

It’s been an interesting ride for the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who throttled Pacific 70-53 on Thursday to claim an outright WCC championship. That’s 13 titles in 14 years. That’s 13 titles (11 outright) in Mark Few’s 15 seasons as head coach.

That’s particularly impressive given that this season was, as one GU staffer put it back in October, something of a bridge year, one that fell between last year’s loaded squad, arguably the best in school history, and what figures to be another talented crew next year.

It's about to get more interesting. GU faces a huge game with rival Saint Mary's on Saturday that will factor into their NCAA resume. Here's one national writer on Gonzaga in the NCAA picture.

Here’s my game story, A.P’s recap and an article in the Stockton Record.

More below in my day-after post.

 

It’s time for February to go away

A GRIP ON SPORTS

All I can say is it's about darn time. Tomorrow is March 1. Today is the final day of February. Thank goodness. I don't know about you, but I'm getting tired of winter. And ready for the madness of March. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

Today the Washington State Cougars will attempt to win their first Pac-12 road game since a 71-68 victory at Oregon State on Jan. 26, 2013. It was their only conference road win that season. They'll also hope to make it a sweep against rival Washington this season. We previewed that game in our Four Corners on Thursday … WSU's first win over UW was a season-changer for the Huskies … The Cougars sure could use a big performance from Que Johnson, who has been quiet of late … The women's team nearly pulled off a critical upset at No. 18 California but fell in overtime … The Bruins battled without two key players but Oregon's double-overtime win puts the NCAA tournament within the Ducks' crosshairs … The one they call “Zeus” is still climbing his Mt. Olympus … USC lost again. This time to USC.

Zags secure outright WCC title

Gonzaga shook off last week's 0-2 road trip by handling Pacific 70-53 in Stockton on Thursday to secure an outright WCC championship.

The Bulldogs were effective at both ends of the court. Kevin Pangos had 18 points and Drew Barham added 17. The Zags limited Pacific to 31-percent shooting.

My unedited game story is below. Back tomorrow with a day-after post.

Whitworth vs. Lewis and Clark

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Whitworth's victory over Lewis and Clark, 87-62 in the college basketball home game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos. 

Where in the world is Que Johnson?

When the Cougars lost DaVonte Lacy with a rib injury freshman Que Johnson stepped up and took on the responsibility of Washington State's go-to scorer. He scored in double figures in eight of nine games and routinely led the team in scoring.

But in the six games since Lacy returned against Washington, Johnson has reached double figures only once and is averaging just 6.0 points per game. After starting 14 straight games, including every Pac-12 game, Johnson came off the bench last week at Oregon State and Oregon.

More after the jump.

Zags take another shot at outright crown

The Gonzaga Bulldogs haven't been here before — the Spanos Center in Stockton — but they've been here before — trying to wrap up an outright WCC championship on the road.

Gonzaga, which dropped a pair of road contests last week against BYU and San Diego, takes its third shot at securing the championship tonight against Pacific. GU last visited Pacific in 1976 but the game was played in the Stockton Civic Auditorium. Here's my game preview,game glance and another from the Stockton newspaper (which calls Gonzaga a “lock” for the NCAA Tournament).

In-game updates on twitter @srjimm..

The last tear is the saddest

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know what's sort of sad for a sports fan? When you get to the final ticket or two of a season. When you realize there are only a couple of more games left before it all ends. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

The above video is pretty awesome. For starters, it's an awesome shot. Another thing is that it was a game winner that allowed Western Washington University to beat rival Central Washington University. But the most awesome thing is that the shooter, Richard Woodworth, is a senior who hit that shot on Senior Night.

On Friday WSU will take on Washington. WSU coach Ken Bone used to be on Lorenzo Romar's staff at UW. Romar is standing by his old assistant … We've also got our Four Corners preview of that game … Bud Withers assesses the state of the Pac-12 … Former UW quarterback Keith Price is keeping a draft diary for USA Today … Arizona had no trouble with Cal on Wednesday … While Arizona State sent Stanford packing … Today USC will hope to get its second conference win … And Oregon's postseason hopes could depend on beating UCLA today.

Chiefs join six others in clinching

Seven Western Hockey League teams have now clinched postseason berths after the Spokane Chiefs accomplished the feat last weekend. The playoff field, which will ultimately be 16 teams, so far includes Spokane, Kelowna, Portland, Victoria, Seattle, Edmonton and Calgary. Spokane, currently the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference, is attempting to catch No. 4 Seattle and gain home-ice advantage. Here's a look at the playoff chase with less than three weeks left in the regular season. Read story

Portland stays on Kelowna’s heels

There's no change at the top of the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 rankings this week. Kelowna continues to lead the way, followed by the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League and Portland, Kelowna's Western Hockey League Western Conference rival. Portland has won 20 consecutive games. Read story

Shock set sights on title

The Spokane Shock came close to returning to the top of the AFL last year, but they couldn't hang on to a halftime lead and lost to eventual champion Arizona in the National Conference title game. Losing stings, especially when it comes so close to the ultimate goal, but it also serves as motivation in the offseason.

The Shock want to take the next step, the next two actually and win the ArenaBowl this season.

Here's more from Shock training camp.

A once-bitter rivalry is no longer smokin’

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you have lived around the Inland Northwest for any amount of time, you might remember when the grass fields were torched with regularity. The smoke would rise on the horizon and, if you had the desire to drive around, you could witness the red flames turning the ground a deep black. It was an interesting contrast to the green pine trees ringing the golden fields of September. Why am I thinking of such colorful things? Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Deone Bucannon made the most of his opportunities at the NFL Combine yesterday, putting up good numbers across the board … Gonzaga and Washington State's baseball teams have the same problem right now: pitching … Don't expect to see any more tweets from the Iowa basketball team … The Apple Cup of basketball is on Friday and no one seems to care … Arizona has a chance to avenge its departed shot at an undefeated season … It's already football time again in Palo Alto … Catching up with Oregon State football … UCLA's Tony Parker has been playing well lately.

WHL notes: Portland approaches league record

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with the Portland Winterhawks' drive toward a league record that has stood for 46 years. Read story

Gonzaga has plenty to fix

Gonzaga went 0-2 on the road last week for a variety of reasons. We explore them from the team and individual aspect here.

 

Deone Bucannon at the NFL Combine

Former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon has been in Indianapolis since Saturday, but his work begins in earnest today. After bench pressing 225 pounds 19 times yesterday — good enough for third among defensive backs — he'll participate in a series of drills. Bucannon is projected as a second or third round pick by most analysts, and his performance today could tip the scales in either direction.

Bucannon was unofficially timed at 4.50 seconds in both of his 40-yard dash attempts this morning. That time would have made him the fourth fastest safety in 2013, but you should expect his official time to be a couple ticks slower. 

We'll update this post as more results become available.

UPDATE: (10:44) Bucannon's 40-yard dash time was actually revised downward, officially clocking in at 4.49, third fastest among safeties. His vertical jump was measured at 36.5 inches and his broad jump came in at 125 inches, placing him in the top three among safeties in each event.

It’s cold out there every day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

OK campers, rise and shine. And don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooold out there today. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

When Tia Presley scores 32 points the WSU women's basketball team just can't lose. That's not a statement that's particularly packed with meaning — most teams win when a player is that successful. But Presley has put up 32 points in three of WSU's last four games, all of which came against Pac-12 competition. We've got a story on how Presley is leading the Cougars' late-season run … Bud Withers has a column on Ken Bone's trials and tribulations at WSU.

Spring is officially in the air and Stanford will begin football practices this week … Ted Miller breaks down each Pac-12 school's QB situation … Former Spokane prep running back Bishop Sankey had a pretty good day at the NFL combine.

Madison nets fifth weekly WAC award

Fresh off a 34-point performance in the final home game of his year, Idaho senior Stephen Madison was named WAC Player of the Week for a record fifth time this season on Monday. No other WAC player has won the award that many times during a season, according to the Idaho media relations department. Madison leads the WAC in scoring (19.8 ppg) and is fourth all-time in scoring at Idaho. With 1,495 points, Madison needs 91 more to become UI's second-leading career scorer. The Vandals (12-16, 5-8 WAC) have three road games left before the WAC tournament.

EWU vs. Portland State

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Portland State's victory over EWU, 87-76, in the college basketball game, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014, at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. Check out his big picture story. 

Things aren’t always as they seem

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It wasn't “War of the Worlds” deceiving, but a lot of people seemed to think Jimmy Johnson won the Daytona 500 yesterday. I wonder if it was because of a replay took the place of the real race or if it was just because Johnson always seems to win. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Eugene — The Cougars led, for a half, then Mike Moser happened. If only he'd stayed at UNLV. It's tough to beat a team when their 6-foot-8 power forward hits a three from the top of the key, and then hits another. And another. The Ducks stormed back, the Cougars lost and we've got a blog post, story and videos of Ken Bone and the players afterward. We've also passed along some video of Deone Bucannon at the NFL Combine.

But the WSU women beat Oregon … I didn't see this before but Bud Withers has a story about the struggles experienced by Oregon State's Craig Robinson … The contest between Cal and USC was pretty similar to the WSU game … Utah creamed Arizona State.

 

Cougars swept in Oregon

The Washington State men's basketball team had its chances against the Oregon schools but couldn't eek out a win. The Cougars have now lost their last six games. 

While offense is still a struggle, turnovers have been the Cougars kryptonite lately. Teams convert WSU's turnovers into points at a high rate and on nights like Sunday when the Cougars cough up the ball 17 times there is almost nothing they can do to overcome it.

All that and more in Sunday's game story after the jump.

State regional openers

Click the link below and you'll find all the Washington boys and girls state basketball regional openers this weekend.

Chiefs vs. Kamloops

S-R photojournalist Jesse Tinsley covered the Chiefs victory over Kamloops, 9-4, in the hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014 at the Spokane Arena.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos. 

Deone Bucannon speaks at the NFL Combine

Video courtesy of Ben Love.

Deone Bucannon is in Indianapolis preparing to participate in the NFL Combine. Because Bucannon is a defensive back, he won't workout until Tuesday. So while you will see 40-times and bench press numbers start to come in today, you won't find Bucannon's name anywhere on the lists.

But Bucannon can still talk to general managers, scouts and, of course, the media. Bucannon measured in at 6'1, 211-pounds, four pounds lighter than his listed weight this past season. That may indicate that Bucannon is trying to get faster. Bucannon's strengths lie in defending the run and in using his size to punish smaller offensive players, but he may need to reassure scouts of coverage abilities.

In the above video he talks about his love for the game, how former WSU football players Jason David, and the Abdullah brothers are helping him prepare for the NFL, and how players like him and Kam Chancellor still have a place in the NFL.

Day after San Diego

Back with my day-after post from a game in which No. 25 Gonzaga outshot San Diego by nearly 10 percentage points, outrebounded the Toreros by five, held a 9-3 edge in second-chance points and had six more assists but still fell short on the scoreboard, 69-66, late Saturday night.

The Bulldogs, who dropped both games on the road trip, will fall out of the A.P. Top 25 and they’ve put additional pressure on next week’s trip to Stockton and Moraga. GU still needs one win or one loss by BYU (at San Diego) and San Francisco (at Pepperdine, at Loyola Marymount) to secure at outright WCC title.

Gonzaga handled Pacific 86-64 and Saint Mary’s 73-51 in Spokane. BYU crushed the Toreros by 34 in Provo. USF beat both of the two L.A. schools by double digits earlier this season.

Here’s my game story and others by A.P. and the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Read on.

It’s a great day to relax

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sunday mornings are for a lot of things, but worrying about the Zags or the Cougars or the Eagles or even the Mariners probably isn't one of them. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

There used to be a certain emptiness on Sundays following the Super Bowl. A new work week was about to begin, Saturday's revelry was firmly in the rearview mirror and there weren't any games to watch. People took up odious pastimes like jogging and reading. But no longer. The Pac-12 has your back. Now Sunday is simply another day for college basketball, like a Thursday or a Saturday. Or a Wednesday.

Today the Cougars will take on Oregon in Matthew Knight Arena, envy of the Portland Trail Blazers … In our Blog Matters section of today's paper we revisit some comments Bill Moos made about basketball facilities at WSU … We've also got the musings of Vincent “Vince” Grippi and his thoughts on the future of WSU basketball … David Murphy gives his thoughts on the Phillies treatment of WSU's Jason Monda … The WSU Open is underway and the Cougars are impressing at home … Much like Washington's first Pac-12 road game, it's last was a surprisingly lopsided win … Stanford took care of No. 23 UCLA at home … Freshman Aaron Gordon led the Wildcats past Colorado in a decisive win … 

Zags fall again on the road

Gonzaga had a rough road trip, dropping a 73-65 decision to BYU on Thursday and falling 69-66 to San Diego late Saturday night.

The Bulldogs dropped to 4-3 in WCC road games — with two more road tests coming up next week against Pacific and Saint Mary's. The Zags still need one win or one loss by BYU and San Francisco, to clinch an outright WCC title. GU finished 9-0 in conference at home.

Johnny Dee scored 16 points and Duda Sanadze added 15 as the Toreros, despite shooting just 40.4 percent, beat the Zags, who made 50 percent of their shots. The difference was at the free-throw line (USD 23 of 33, GU 6 of 11) and turnovers (Gonzaga 13, San Diego 8).

More below in my unedited game story.

 

 

 

 

Mat Classic XXVI results

Full medal results are now posted, including the Championship Finals.

 

The Spokesman-Review has three people at Mat Classic in the Tacoma Dome and will bring results of Friday's quarterfinals and Saturday's trophy matches. Check back here for updates throughout the tournament.

Madison, UI seniors get special sendoff

After Idaho gritted out an 83-77 win over Grand Canyon, it felt like a festive family reunion on the Memorial Gym court. Glen Dean's cousins shot hoops with a few of the Vandals. Stephen Madison took photos with his baby, girlfriend, sisters and parents. Dean and Madison had just played for the final time on their homecourt, and they wanted to soak it in.

You can read an early version of my story on Idaho's fourth straight win to close out its home schedule below.

GU women play Portland

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the GU's victory over Portland, 72-61, in the college basketball game Saturday, February 22, 2014, at the McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Zags still have work to do

Gonzaga is closing in on two important items on its season check list: An outright WCC title and a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They are not tied together, of course, since the WCC Tournament champion takes the conference's automatic berth.

The Bulldogs return to the court tonight against San Diego at Jenny Craig Pavilion for its second chance at the outright WCC championship. Their first attempt didn't go so well in a 73-65 loss at BYU on Thursday.

My game advance dealt with the strengths and weaknesses of Gonzaga's NCAA Tournament resume. The Zags still have work to do, with three more regular season games and the upcoming WCC Tournament, but they're trending the right way. That is, GU has bounced back from its five previous losses with winning streaks, though BYU snapped the Zags' modest two-game winning streak.

 

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The years roll by but prep playoffs remain as competitive

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Funny thing when you get into a Twitter spat with someone. They often times try to insult someone of my advancing years by exaggerating my age. Like, say, insinuating I'm 80 or something. Little do the youngsters know, when you get to these senior years, 80 starts to look really good. As in, “I hope I'm still around when I'm supposed to be 80.”  Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

A relatively quiet day yesterday, but the Pac-12 announced the 2014 inductions into the Men's Basketball Hall of Honor. We've got a blog post on WSU's inductee, Ed Gayda. Deone Bucannon will arrive in Indianapolis today for the NFL Combine. Here's a nice story on Bucannon by ESPN's Kyle Bonagura and a draft profile on the former WSU safety.

Bucannon isn't the only Pac-12 star prepping for the NFL Draft. Stanford's David Shaw has taken another step toward finally becoming an amorphous blob of coaching energy. UCLA is on a roll and Travis Wear is a big part of the Bruins' newfound success.

See Vince's links to make your way to Ted Miller's Mailbag. We wouldn't sully ourselves with it.

Senior Day for Madison, Vandals

The last home game of the season at Idaho is usually Senior Night. Tomorrow, because of the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest, it's Senior Day. The Vandals (11-16) will play host to Grand Canyon at 1 p.m. at Memorial Gym. And they'll bid farewell to one of the most accomplished seniors in recent program history. Read on.

Gonzaga Prep girls play Chiawana

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Gonzaga Prep's victory over Chiawana, 53-41, in the girls high school basketball game. Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Ed Gayda to be inducted into Pac-12 Hall of Honor

The Pac-12 conference will induct 12 former men’s basketball players , one from each member school, into the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor on Friday, March 14. The induction ceremony will take place prior to the semifinal games of the 2014 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.

Representing Washington State will be Ed Gayda, a player for the Cougars from 1947-50. Gayda served as the captain of the 1950 Pacific Coast championship team that finished No. 18 in the country.  Gayda was drafted by the Tri-City Blackhawks, which later became the Atlanta Hawks. The Spokesman-Review named him one of Washington State’s all-time 10 greatest players.

The other individuals to be inducted are: Luke Walton (Arizona), Verl Heap (Arizona State), David Butler (California), Ken Charlton (Colorado), Frederick Jones (Oregon), Lee Harman (Oregon State), Mark Madsen (Stanford), Tyus Edney (UCLA), Wayne Carlander (USC), Billy McGill (Utah) and Brandon Roy (Washington).

Day after BYU

Gonzaga demonstrated Thursday how thin its margin for error is compared to last year’s squad.

The Bulldogs didn’t play poorly. They didn’t play great. And somewhere in the middle, against a talented opponent feeding off 19,136 fans, wasn’t good enough.

BYU defeated GU 73-65 last night in a game where the stats were fairly similar for both teams. The biggest differences: rebounding (BYU 41-32, 10 second-chance points in the second half) and turnovers (GU’s 16 led to 18 Cougars’ points).

Here’s my game story, and articles in Utah papers here and here.

More below in my day after post.

One from the entrees, two from the desserts

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sometimes it's worthwhile to sit down for a nice meal. And other times we feel like a buffet. Today is the latter. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Corvallis — The Cougars were close in Corvallis but came away with nothing but aches and bruises to show for it. We've got a game story from Thursday as well as post game video of coach Ken Bone and players … Aaron Fitt revealed recently that the Phillies turned in WSU's Jason Monda to the NCAA after he opted not to sign with them last summer. Monda was cleared by the NCAA this past week … Stanford raced past USC in the day's other game.

Bulldogs fall to BYU

Gonzaga had a chance to clinch an outright WCC championship, but the Bulldogs got behind early and spent nearly all of the 40 minutes trying to catch up against BYU.

The Cougars held off Gonzaga 73-65, handing the Zags (23-5, 13-2) just their second WCC loss. BYU improved to 19-10, 11-5.

My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for my day-after post.

 

Is that a wolf in the Winter Olympics dorm?

WILDLIFE WATCHING — It's not clear whether Olympic athletes are seeing wolves or whether the latest news is another indication of the stray dog problem in Sochi.

Either way, the video a U.S. Olympic athlete has posted of a wolf-like critter roaming the halls of her dorm is going viral.

Somebody's offering food to the critter.

Or there's a sheep in somebody's room.

The video reportedly was tweeted by Kate Hansen, a member of the USA luge team.

UPDATE: The LA Times says a joker was at the bottom of this.

GU, BYU tangle at Marriott Center

Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of alarm clocks that sound in the 3-a.m. hour but we've arrived in sunny Salt Lake City for late night with the Zags and Cougars. Here's a GU-BYU glance and a short preview that ran in today's S-R. In-game updates on twitter @SRjimm.

Articles from Utah here, here and here reflect the game's importance to BYU and the Cougars' desire to shut down Gonzaga's 3-point opportunities. That's roughly the same strategy Memphis and numerous others have attempted against the Bulldogs.

It sounds like the 2013-14 WCC schedule that wasn't well received by member schools will be more balanced next season, commissioner Jamie Zaninovich said. Nobody likes playing conference games when students are on the holiday break, but they're unavoidable. In fact, with the addition of Pacific boosting membership to 10, the league schedule went from 16 games to 18 and in certain seasons the WCC will stage conference games prior to Christmas. 

More below on the scheduling and Gonzaga coach Mark Few's thoughts on the keys to tonight's game..

 

‘FCS Kickoff’ will start in Cheney

In the earliest opening to the college football season in 11 years, Eastern Washington will host Sam Houston State on Aug. 23 in the “FCS Kickoff.”

The Eagles and Bearkats will kick off at 12:30 PDT at Roos Field, ESPN announced Thursday morning.

“We saw the opportunity, saw the need and desire from a programming perspective, and we feel like we can get a significant audience for this game,” said Brent Colborne, ESPN's Director of Programming for NCAA championships.

“Come August 23, right before Labor Day, people are starving for college football. People are ready for football. This is a really cool opportunity to serve those fans.”

 

 

Gonzaga game means everything for BYU

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There's a showdown tonight in the West Coast Conference. It means everything to one team. And Gonzaga is involved as well. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Corvallis — The Cougars have a rare Thursday night basketball game against Oregon State, tonight at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on Pac-12 Washington. Check out these links in the meantime.

We've got a Four Corners preview of WSU's week and a look at Royce Woolridge's struggles … We're starting up our college baseball notebook, so look for that in the future … Here is an OSU preview of today's game … There was a lot of Pac-12 basketball played on Wednesday as Oregon held steady at home against the Huskies, UCLA pasted Cal, Colorado beat Arizona State, and Arizona simply survived at Utah … Anthony Brown will try to continue his hot shooting from last week against USC today.

Chiefs fall flat against Raiders

Given their success against Eastern Conference teams this season, and their solid record against the Prince Albert Raiders in recent years, the odds seemed to favor the Spokane Chiefs for Wednesday night's Western Hockey League game at the Arena. The odds were wrong. Read story

WHL playoff situation takes shape

Here's a look at the drive toward the Western Hockey League postseason as the regular season enters the final month. Some teams have already clinched berths and some, such as the Spokane Chiefs, are close to clinching. Read story

Kelowna holds on to No. 1

The Kelowna Rockets (46-8-0-4) still lead the way in the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 rankings. The Rockets have held down the top spot since Jan. 2. Portland (43-12-2-3) has moved up to third place following a club-record 17-game winning streak. Read story

Is there change in the air?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

So what does the future hold in Pullman? That's the $1.7-million question, isn't it? Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Cougars will hit the road again today, traveling to Corvallis and then Eugene to take on the Oregon Schools, before heading up scenic I-5 to see if they can sweep the Huskies in Seattle. Well, that's what I'll be doing anyways. They have class so they'll fly back in between. Rumor has it that some wrinkly, coffee-breathed professors are handing out midterms as you read this.

In today's paper we have a story about the criticism that has been directed at coach Ken Bone this season. We've also got a blog post on the same topic that also touches on athletic director Bill Moos' plans regarding upgraded basketball facilities. Women's coach June Daugherty addressed the media on Tuesday. Here are some highlights from her press conference.

In football news the Pac-12 leads NFL.com's All-Under-25 team … Fans storming the court hasn't been all that fun for the Wildcats …  Marques followed Sarkisian down to USC. Now UCLA has its own Tuiasosopo.

Hill, Vandals erupt in win over Northridge

Connor Hill felt comfortable on Tuesday night, and why not? He was shooting at Memorial Gym, where the Vandals are unbeaten this season (albeit in just three games). Hill sank 8 3-pointers and finished with 28 points in Idaho's 96-88 victory over Cal State Northridge. The win over an old Big West Conference foe moved the Vandals to 11-16 with one home game left in the regular season (Saturday at 1 p.m. vs. Grand Canyon).

We've got our usual recap below.

WHL notes: One point could mean a lot

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with the race for the East Division title, which could mean a No. 2 playoff seed for the champion and a No. 6 seed for the runner-up. Read story

Ken Bone’s future at WSU uncertain

From Pullman — Ken Bone and the Washington State basketball team are aware of the uncertainty surrounding the coach's future at WSU. While Bone has two more years left on his contract, athletic director Bill Moos hinted before the season began that a coaching change could be made after the season if the Cougars didn't show improvement. 

Today Moos told the Spokesman-Review that while he has not contacted any prospective coaches, he is not yet ready to make a decision on whether or not Bone will be back next season.

Here is our story on Bone's uncertain future.

Moos also added that it is unlikely the Cougars make major upgrades to the basketball facilities, saying:

That’s going to be a question the coach will ask in the event that I was interviewing someone. I don’t really think that ours are that bad, I think that our practice gym – we really did some great improvements to it. I continue to feel that Beasley is a good seating bowl, good sight lines. I do think however that it’s worn out and needs a facelift and we are in the process of addressing locker rooms and meeting rooms and training rooms, weight rooms etc.

And the addition of the video board and some of the branding we’ve done in there, I think we can put some more focus on upgrades and a little bit more sizzle in the branding and really the exterior. I don’t think we’re that bad in basketball.”

June Daugherty press conference

OPENING STATEMENT: Good afternoon, everybody. (I'm) proud of our efforts this weekend. I thought that in the Utah game we played 40 minutes of basketball and we've been looking for that on the offensive and defensive end all year. I think it was a real confidence builder for us to turn around and head over to Colorado. I thought our kids played enormously hard and physical for 40 minutes of that game. A lo of people saw it; it was on national TV. It was very physical and we were in a lot of foul trouble and we prevailed. We're excited about both wins and we want to continue to get better.

Going into the weekend we talked about how our rebounding was not where we needed it to be. I thought that was a key in both victories that we did a much better job, especially on the offensive boards. Obviously you can't overlook the performance of Tia Presley and the weekend that she had. Congratulations to Tia on the Pac-12 Player of the Week, it's great to see a Coug be honored that way, it was obviously well deserved with two wins on the road and the way that she played.

Questions after the jump.

Olynyk catches up with former teammates

Kelly Olynyk spent a few days in Spokane after surprising his former teammates Saturday on Senior Night.

More on his visit and his rookie campaign with the Boston Celtics here.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Bright lights. March Madness. Final Fours. One Shining Moment. It's all so close for the Washington State women's basketball team, which is officially a bubble team according to Charlie Creme's Bracketology. Creme still doesn't have the Cougars making the dance, but they're clearly a team on the rise.What can they do to assure themselves a spot? Well, more weeks like this past one from Tia Presley wouldn't be amiss. Presley, who played high school ball in Spokane, was named the Pac-12 Women's Player of the Week for putting up 32 points in both of WSU's wins.

More links after the jump.

Tia Presley voted Pac-12 Player of the Week

From Pullman — Spokane's own Tia Presley was named the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Player of the Week for the week of Feb. 10-17. Presley earned her first such honor of the season by averaging 32.0 point and shooting 50 percent from the floor in Washington State's sweep of Colorado and Utah, the team's first road sweep of the season.

She scored 32 points in both victories. It was the first time a WSU women's basketball player had scored 30 points in consecutive efforts since Jenni Ruff in 1995-96. She scored 16 points from the free throw line alone against Utah, making 16 of 21 in WSU's 83-73 win. She scored 22 points in the first half of WSU's 80-77 win over Colorado.

WSU is now 14-12 and 8-6 in conference play. The Cougars have won more games overall and in conference than any WSU team since 1995-96. That was also the last year WSU had a 500-point scorer until Presley did it this season.

Trees are supposed to last forever

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Some news this morning hit me in the gut. Hard. It was almost like losing a loved one. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Cougars were oh so close. Unranked but receiving votes in the polls, the Washington State baseball team nearly started off the season with a series win over the top-ranked team in the country. It was not to be, however, as the Cougars fell just short in the ninth inning … The WSU women's basketball team continued to win, however, and Tia Presley poured in 32 points as the Cougars beat Colorado on the road … The Ducks beat their rival Beavers on Sunday … USC's losing streak continued against Colorado … Dave Boling says the Huskies need a wakeup call.

Chiefs continue remarkable trend

True, the Spokane Chiefs have won 18 consecutive games from the Everett Silvertips at the Arena. But Sunday night's win allowed the Chiefs to add to another positive season-long trend. Read story

Day after Loyola Marymount

I had a Bill Walton moment last night.

Walton frequently mentions during telecasts that one of the best parts of his job is meeting the parents of players. So after my last interview, I approached Sam Dower Sr., mainly to tell him that his son is one of the nicest kids on the planet. The elder Dower was appreciative and quickly relayed a story. He told me that numerous schools were recruiting Sam, many closer to the family's home base in Minnesota, but he was adamant that his son make his own decision, knowing it would make him happier in the long run. That piece of advice hit home, with two daughters contemplating their college choices.

Onward. A memorable night at the McCarthey Athletic Center, from Kelly Olynyk's guest appearance to Dower's 25 points and 15 rebounds to Brian Bhaskar's bring-the-house-down 3 in the closing seconds of GU's 86-67 win over LMU. Here's my game story, another from A.P. and an S-R photo gallery (great snap of Bhaskar above). Tom Clouse tackled the fan angle with an article on the Kennel Club and an accompanying photo gallery.

Read on for my day-after post.

 

Emotion can be good and bad

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Senior days and the like mean a lot in college. The emotional lift of honoring someone or a group of someones who have given a lot to your institution can propel a team to a victory or cause a sentimental hangover. We saw examples of both just last night. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Some sterling defense in the second half wasn't enough for the Cougars to overcome Anthony Brown's stellar shooting in the first half as WSU fell to Stanford in men's hoops on Saturday. We've got the game story here and some post game video of the players … It was still a banner day for Washington State, however, as the Cougars upset the country's top-ranked baseball team … Cal beat Washington on Sunday … Utah's late-season run hit a speed bump against UCLA.

Top of Western Conference solidly in place

Following Saturday's busy night in the Western Hockey League, including the Spokane Chiefs' 7-0 whitewash of the Tri-City Americans, it appears as if something drastic would have to occur to shake up the top five seeds in the Western Conference. Read story

Zag seniors go out in style

Gonzaga wrapped up an unbeaten home season, clinched at least a share of the WCC title and sent four seniors out in style in their last appearance at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Quite a night inside the MAC as Kelly Olynyk showed up to support his former teammates, Sam Dower Jr. had 25 points and 15 rebounds and walk-on senior Brian Bhaskar drained a 3-pointer in the closing seconds that prompted the loudest ovation of the night.

More below in my unedited game story from Gonzaga's 86-67 win over Loyola Marymount. I'll have a day-after post in the morning.

 

Idaho’s Madison scores 42 in loss

Stephen Madison will go down as one of the best scorers in Idaho history. And Saturday night might very well go down as his masterpiece. Unfortunately for UI, it came in game with an all-too-familiar outcome — a one-point loss.

Madison, a 6-foot-6 senior from Portland, dropped in 42 points — the most for a Vandal since Orlando Lightfoot in 1993 — in a 89-88 setback at Utah Valley. The Vandals fell to 10-16 and 4-8 in the WAC despite Madison's career-best performance.

Before Saturday, Madison had made a strong case that he was the best player in the WAC. But his most convincing argument yet came against the WAC's leading team. He went 16 of 21 from the field, 8 of 11 from the free-throw line and missed just one shot from inside the arc.

Madison tied Steve Weist for the third-most points in a single game at Idaho, and he passed Kyle Barone for fourth all-time in scoring at UI with 1,440 points. The only Vandals in front of him are Lightfoot (2,102), Brian Kellerman (1,585) and Kenny Luckett (1,571).

We have more on Madison and Idaho below.

Gonzaga vs. Loyola

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered GU's victory over Loyola,  86-67, in the men's college basketball game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

All we ask is for some consistency

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Like a volcano or an earthquake, sometimes you just have to let loose. It's happening here this morning. Don't miss it. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — With all due respect to Mrrs. Bielema, Calhoun and Saban, there does not seem to be groundswell up support arising for their proposal to guarantee college football defenses time to substitute.Yesterday morning we put up a blog post that quotes WSU head coach Mike Leach who uses no uncertain terms to profess his disdain for the idea, and the Seattle Times' always excellent Jerry Brewer calls the idea “inane” and “laughable.” 

Not so long ago Mr. Brewer said the same thing about my skills as a bus boy, so you can be sure he knows what he's talking about.

The WSU women beat Utah, giving June Daughtery her first 7th Pac-12 win as the WSU coach. The Cougars are within shouting distance of March Madness, but still have a ways to go. Charlie Creme projects just three Pac-12 teams will make it to the women's NCAA tournament in his latest Bracketology, and Stanford and Arizona State seem like sure bets. The Cougars also have to overcome their 13-12 overall record, despite some impressive out of conference performances.

The WSU men will take on Stanford today … Arizona State beat rival No. 2 Arizona in double overtime in one of the best games of the year thus far .. The baseball team lost its season opener against top-ranked Cal State Fullerton.

*We regret not being able to bring you Ted Miller's Pac-12 Mailbag. It's Vince's thing, and he jealously guards it like a mama bear whose only cub is the rightful heir to the entire Grizzly Kingdom.

Senior Night arrives for four Zags

Saturday will be Senior Night for four Zags so you can probably guess what I wrote about.

Sam Dower Jr., David Stockton, Drew Barham and walk-on Brian Bhaskar suit up for their final home game when LMU visits the MAC tonight. Here's a link to my article that will run in Saturday's S-R.

Day after Pepperdine

Now that was the Pepperdine club I was expecting to see in Malibu last month. Instead, Gonzaga’s defense shut down the Waves and rolled to a 70-53 win that wasn’t pretty for either team offensively.

In last night’s rematch, both teams were dialed in offensively but the Bulldogs had more firepower and won 83-68. Pepperdine, much like Portland, is making big strides under third-year coach Marty Wilson and has a solid nucleus of underclassmen.

Gonzaga, meanwhile, got a win and some help from Pacific, which knocked BYU out of second place. BYU (9-5 WCC) faces Saint Mary’s (9-4) on Saturday. A BYU win coupled with a GU victory over LMU would assure the Bulldogs of at least a co-WCC title.

Back to GU-Pep. Here’s my game story, Colin Mulvany's photos and A.P.’s recap. More below in my day-after post.

FYI: The ice storm that postponed Duke-N.C. earlier this week will have an impact on the start time of GU-BYU next Thursday. Duke-N.C. has been rescheduled for that night on ESPN, which means the Bulldogs-Cougars will tip off at 8 PST instead of 6.

The past isn’t a comfort to M’s fans

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's cold and dreary outside which makes it seem like a good day to join Mr. Peabody and Sherman on a trip in the Wayback Machine. The cost? One bag of Doritos. Read on.

Mike Leach discusses proposed rule changes

From Pullman — 

Earlier this week WSU coach Mike Leach spoke to ESPN’s Ted Miller about a proposed NCAA rule change that would prevent offense from snapping the ball during the play clock’s first 11 seconds to allow defenses an opportunity to substitute player.

On Thursday he joined Matt and Scott on WJOX 94.5 FM in Birmingham, Ala. to further explain why he would be, “prepared to debate anybody on the subject because it’s so ridiculous on its face.”

More after the jump.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — For a day with no game, Thursday was surprising eventful in Cougar country. The Washington State football team is in the middle of Midnight Maneuvers and the athletic department released a video with some highlights from the late night workouts … Former WSU safety Deone Bucannon's agents also put out a video about their client's road to the NFL draft … There are some new pictures of the Football Operations Building, which athletic director Bill Moos says is nearing completion … The day capped off with the news that running back Jeremiah Laufasa will transfer … The Crimson Flag is Flying at the Winter Olympics.

In men's basketball news UCLA heated up from outside in a win over Colorado while Utah's late-season surge continued at USC.

Zags shoot 52.5%, defeat Waves

David Stockton and Kevin Pangos each scored 18 points and Przemek Karnowski had 17 points, seven rebounds and a career-high four assists as Gonzaga pulled away from visiting Pepperdine 83-68 on Thursday.

The Zags improved to 22-4, 12-1 in the WCC. My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for a day-after post.

 

Defense lets Idaho down in second half

The Idaho Vandals had the lead, and a chance for their third straight win, in the second half at Cal State Bakersfield. But like has happened so many times this season, the Vandals fell flat down the stretch in a 76-67 loss to the Roadrunners. Idaho gave up 48 points in the second half against a team it beat by three points last month in Moscow to drop to 10-15 overall, 4-7 in the WAC. CSUB shot 60 percent after the break.

Stephen Madison led UI with 18 points, Connor Hill contributed 12 and Sekou Wiggs had 10 off the bench. But none of the Vandals' top offensive threats shot particularly well — Madison was 7 of 15 from the field, Wiggs went 3 of 10 and Glen Dean was 2 of 8.

Idaho plays at Utah Valley on Saturday at 6 p.m. Pacific. UVU got thumped tonight by Seattle U, 71-57.

More below.

WSU running back transfers to UTEP

From Pullman – Sophomore running back Jeremiah Laufasa's father, John Laufasa, confirmed that he will transfer to the University of Texas at El Paso as first reported by Cougfan.com. His brother, Darrin Laufasa, was a freshman running back for the Miners this past season.

Because Laufasa, a walk-on, has already redshirted, he will petition the NCAA for a waiver that would allow him to play immediately next season. He will attend UTEP on a football scholarship.

 

Football Operations Building nearing completion

From Pullman — The 84,000 GSF Football Operations Building is nearing completion at Washington State. Boasting a weight room, locker room, equipment rooms, training rooms, coaches offices and more, it truly is an all-purpose facility. 

Video: Deone Bucannon’s road to the NFL

The above video comes courtesy of Foster and Easley Sports Management, a sports agency representing former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon as he prepares for the upcoming NFL draft. In the video Bucannon talks about his time at WSU and how it influenced him and helped him grow into an AP All-American. 

The agency is no stranger to WSU, and has represented former players such as Jeff Tuel, Marquess Wilson and Kenny Alfred as well as Eastern Washington's Matt Johnson.

A look inside Midnight Maneuvers

From Pullman — The Washington State football players are spending their evenings pushing planks, pounding on dummies and running sprints as part of their late-night winter conditioning workouts known as Midnight Maneuvers. By practicing late at night the Cougars are able to accustom their bodies to the night games that have become seemingly the norm for WSU.

WSU Athletics put together a video featuring highlights from the workouts, which are closed to the media, as well as an interview with head strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo.

 

Zags entertain Pepperdine

Links to a couple of Gonzaga items on the Four Corners page in today's S-R. Here's a glance at Pepperdine, which takes on GU tonight at the McCarthey Athletic Center, and a note on Gonzaga's rebounding issues last week.

Three Shock games on ESPN2

Three Spokane Shock games, two against Arena Football League newcomer Los Angeles, will be televised as part of ESPN's 11-game schedule. It was previously announced that four Shock games are part of CBS Sports Network's 20-game lineup.

Both Shock-Kiss games in Los Angeles, one on Sunday, May 4, and another on Saturday, June 28, and Spokane's home game versus Tampa Bay on Monday, July 21, will air on ESPN2.

More than 90 AFL games will be shown on ESPN3, the network's on-line streaming service.

Here's the complete ESPN schedule.

 

Don’t go too fast or you will be flagged for a delay

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Let's get this right. The NCAA is contemplating a rule making it a “delay of game” penalty if a football team snaps the ball too quickly? Yep, we are through the looking glass. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — There were some fireworks in Pullman, and nearly 2,000 people will be able to produce a ticket and say they were there. Most of those people will be lying. Yes, not many were on hand for a midweek game with a late tipoff, but those that were saw DaVonte Lacy score a career-high 39 points and another yeoman's effort from D.J Shelton. However, they also saw another WSU loss. 

Because of the late tipoff and the ensuing overtime, the fast-approaching deadline meant we were unable to take video of the post game press conferences. But we have a game story for you, here, and here is a one from the Golden Bears' perspective … On the blog we have video from Ken Bone's Tuesday press conference and a post about some proposed NCAA football rule changes.

More links after the jump.

Chiefs’ offense needs a boost

The Spokane Chiefs are not scoring goals in general and not scoring power-play goals specifically. Read story

Female reporter free to return to Canada

The woman who allegedly threatened to kill former Spokane Chiefs player Jackson Playfair worked out a deal with prosecutors in a Kennewick courtroom to return to Canada. Read story

WHL postseason chase heats up

The Western Hockey League's regular season is down to the final five weeks. Here's how the postseason shapes up so far: Read story

Rockets in town, still ranked No. 1

Despite losing four of their last eight games (two by shootout, one to the Spokane Chiefs), the Kelowna Rockets are ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 poll for the seventh consecutive week. The Rockets and Chiefs will square off at the Arena in less than three hours. Portland (fourth) and Edmonton (fifth) moved up one spot in the poll, and Victoria (10th) made its debut on the list. Read story

NCAA proposes changes to targeting, substitution rules in football

The NCAA football rules committee is proposing changes to the targeting rule and considering whether or not to ease regulations on defensive substitutions in response to no-huddle offenses.

Video: Ken Bone before Cal

From Pullman — Ken Bone addressed the media on Tuesday to talk about Washington State's upcoming game against Stanford, Jordan Railey, and more. Here's the video of that interview, courtesy of WSU Athletics.

 

The postseason is in view

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's that time of year. The time when college basketball teams begin to think about the postseason. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's just Wednesday and we've already got another WSU men's basketball game on our hands. We've got an advance on the game as well as a blog post about Jordan Railey … There may not be so many nighttime football games in the future … The case involving the arrest of two Washington football players is being reviewed by the Seattle City Attorney … Pac-12 football is a cinch for Oregon State offensive lineman, who has overcome much bigger challenges … Here's an advance on the Stanford at UW game … And a story from the Bay Area about a project player for Cal.

Chiefs return home with tough assignment

The Spokane Chiefs have played just one home game in the last 17 days, but their Western Hockey League schedule becomes much more favorable for the rest of the month. The Chiefs will play eight of their next nine games at the Arena, starting with Wednesday's big game with Kelowna. The Rockets have been the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League Top 10 poll for six consecutive weeks, although their position could change when the new poll is released before Wednesday's game. The reason is that Kelowna has lost four of its last eight games, including a Jan. 29 shootout loss to the Chiefs, who are 2-0 against Kelowna this season. Spokane's other upcoming home games are Saturday against Tri-City; Sunday against Everett; Feb. 19 against Prince Albert; Feb. 22 against Kootenay; Feb. 23 against Kamloops; Feb. 28 against Portland; and March 1 against Tri-City. The Chiefs are 6-1-0-1 against Tri-City this season but 0-7 against Portland. Everett has lost 17 consecutive games at the Arena since March 2010. Read story

Mead vs. Lewis and Clark

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Mead's victory over Lewis and Clark, 54-47, in the girl's GSL high school basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at the Mead High School. Check out his big picture story!

Railey hoping success comes with confidence

From Pullman — You have not noticed, but there's one Washington State basketball player who has been dominating all season. A stalwart on defense, offensively this player is an unstoppable force with no immovable object to halt his Newtonian dominance. Washington State's biggest player has also been one of its best.

If only practice mattered.

Pangos hoping for healthier finish

Kevin Pangos has a number of built-in excuses, but he won't use them.

His stats have slipped as Pangos deals with turf toe (for more than two months) and a tender left ankle (off-and-on for the last two weeks). The junior guard discussed the impact those injuries have had on his game in my notebook in today's S-R. Pangos said his right big toe is feeling much better and he can receive treatment on his tender ankle, making him optimistic for a healthier finish to the season.

 

There might be some relief in sight

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We have reached the dog days of winter, as far as breaking news is concerned. Oh sure, there is a little event going on in Russia, but that doesn't help around here. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — After taking Stanford to the wire earlier this week the Washington State women's basketball team didn't have much left against Cal on Sunday … Mark Schlabach's Way Too Early Top-25 for next year is out and has three Pac-12 teams in the Top 11 and five total … The Huskies are headed to Spokane in search of a quarterback … Just call him the “Thorpe Whisperer.” Neil Stover gets me to talk about WSU recruiting, basketball and more … Want to be a Graduate Assistant at USC? You'll need a pretty impressive resume … Arizona has adjusted to the loss of Brandon Ashley.

It’s time for life without the NFL

A GRIP ON SPORTS

We did it. We got through a weekend without NFL football. So I want to know. How many of you spent Sunday re-watching the Super Bowl? Admit it. It's OK. It's not something you need to hide. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Salt Lake City — What's that you ask? Why am I still in Salt Lake City? Blame Seattle and its freak blizzards. But the phones still work in Utah, and we were able to get more details on the weekend arrest of wide receiver Gabe Marks. Here is our story in today's paper on the topic … The Washington men got demolished by Colorado … But the women upset No. 3 Stanford, which basically never ever loses at women's basketball … Arizona has hit a rough patch. Oregon State is improving. The the gap between the two is still miles wide, which was proven when the two met up yesterday … Colorado is getting the cash it needs to improve football facilities … Here's a weird recruiting story.

More details on Marks’ arrest

Yesterday we reported that WSU wide receiver Gabe Marks had been arrested and cited with four misdemeanors: 4th degree assault, 2nd degree criminal trespass, being a minor intoxicated in public and frequenting a tavern as a minor. Today Sgt. Dan Dornes of the Pullman Police Department provided more details on the arrest.

Day after Memphis

In travel mode so I'll get right to it. Here’s my game story from Gonzaga’s 60-54 loss at Memphis on Saturday. Here’s the A.P. article.

This one was different from Gonzaga’s three previous losses. Gonzaga was generally in control and led most of the way, but the offense dried up in crunch time. Dayton pounded GU on the boards, particularly the offensive glass, and made eight 3s in the second half. Kansas State had the upper hand against the Zags, even before Sam Dower Jr.’s back injury late in the first half. Portland simply outplayed the Bulldogs for 40 minutes.

Memphis, like Dayton, owned the glass, but the Tigers dialed up their defensive pressure and transition game in the final 14 minutes.

More below in my day-after post.

There are folks around these parts who know how to worry

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is angst in Gonzagaville this morning. Why? The Zags blew a lead in Memphis last night and lost, 60-54, to the 24th-ranked Tigers. But that, in itself, isn't what's causing the heartburn. It is what the loss may portend come Selection Sunday. Should it? Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Salt Lake City — “They” say that more bad than good can happen in the offseason. Well Washington State's offseason isn't off to a great start, with wide receiver Gabe Marks getting arrested on Saturday for four misdemeanors … More bad than good happened for WSU in Utah as well, where the Cougars got ran out of Jon M. Huntsman's building … Arizona State is looking pretty good after beating Oregon, which was once thought to be pretty good itself. What wasn't good was the behavior of some ASU fans … UCLA completed a season sweep over rival USC … Arizona's Brandon Ashley probably hasn't played his last college game … Today the Ashley-less Wildcats will take on Oregon State … The Huskies will need a bounce back performance from Andrew Andrews to sweep Colorado.

Chiefs’ offense reappears

The up-and-down Spokane Chiefs bounced back from two consecutive shutouts by matching a season high for goals during a 7-3 road win over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick. Better yet, seven players had one goal apiece for the Chiefs. Season scoring leaders Mitch Holmberg and Mike Aviani have struggled lately, but Aviani had a goal and Holmberg added an assist in Spokane's big night. The Chiefs play at Everett on Sunday night and return home Wednesday against Canadian Hockey League No. 1-ranked Kelowna. Spokane is 2-0 against Kelowna this season. Read story

WSU wide receiver arrested

From Salt Lake City — Washington State wide receiver Gabe Marks was arrested outside of 600 NE Colorado St. in Pullman at 2 a.m. on Saturday, according to the Pullman Police Department's daily activity log. He was arrested for 4th degree assault, 2nd degree criminal trespass, being a minor intoxicated in public and frequenting a tavern as a minor.

Last year Marks was cited for being a minor in possession.

Marks had 74 catches for 807 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He led the Cougars in all three categories.

Madison, Vandals nudge UTPA in OT

Idaho finally got it going at Cowan Spectrum — just in time to say goodbye for the year to its primary home venue. After upsetting New Mexico State on Thursday, the Vandals gutted out a 70-63 overtime win over Texas-Pan American to collect back-to-back WAC wins for the first time this year.

Idaho is now 10-14 and 4-6 in the conference, which puts them in sixth place and a half-game behind Missouri-Kansas City. The Vandals finish the regular season with five of seven on the road, and their final two at home will be at Memorial Gym with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Fest in the Kibbie Dome.

The last crowd at the Spectrum was one of the best of the year — an announced 1,717. Our unedited game story is below.

GU falters late, falls to Memphis

The Gonzaga Bulldogs were in control, not up-20-and-it's-over control but they were in command and on their way to an important resume-building road win over a ranked opponent.

But they stumbled badly down the stretch, scoring just 12 points in the final 14:30 and connecting on only one basket — a Kevin Pangos' jump shot — in the last 5 minutes. Memphis rallied past GU for a 60-54 win Saturday.

My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow for a day-after post.

 

WSU 63, Utah 81: Box Score

Courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Sometimes it is good to start the weekend with a laugh

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Saturday. I'm sure you have a lot to do. I know I do. So let's get right after it. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Salt Lake City — Last night we reported that backup quarterback Austin Apodaca has decided to transfer from Washington State and has left the football program … Today the basketball team will take on Utah and should be prepared for a hostile environment … The WSU women came very close to earning their first-ever win over Stanford … Here's a nice profile on WSU football (and basketball?) signee Jalen Canty … Cal suffered a tragedy yesterday when a player collapsed during conditioning … Ted Miller answers questions in his Pac-12 Mailbag … The Ducks need a win tomorrow at Arizona State to keep even the faintest postseason hope flickering … USC and UCLA are set to rumble for the second time this season.

Now Chiefs should cheer for Seattle

The Spokane Chiefs dropped their second consecutive 4-0 game to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. That makes Spokane 0-5-2-0 against Seattle this year (or 7-0 from the Thunderbirds' point of view, counting two overtime wins). Spokane hasn't defeated Seattle or Portland in seven tries against both, so here's a plan that may work for the Chiefs with postseason in mind. If Seattle could pass Victoria into third place in the Western Conference (the Thunderbirds are currently one point back), and all other places remain the same, Spokane as the fifth seed would open playoffs against No. 4 Victoria. The Chiefs finished 3-1 against Victoria in their regular-season series. That series winner would presumably play top-seeded Kelowna in the second round, but Spokane is 2-0 against the Rockets heading in to Wednesday's home game. The Chiefs could potentially avoid Seattle or Portland until the conference finals. At least, that's one way of looking at the future. There are still five-plus weeks left in the regular season. Read story

Coeur d’Alene vs. Post Falls

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Coeur d'Alene's victory over Post Falls, 59-28, in the girl's high school basketball game Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. Check out his big picture story! 

Barham home for road game

Drew Barham was a popular man Friday night before the Zags began their walk-through at the FedEx Forum. Barham, who grew up in Memphis and played for the Tigers before transferring to Gonzaga, was quizzed by several local TV/newspaper reporters on the eve of the GU-Memphis showdown.

I visited with Barham earlier this week and put together this feature in advance of Saturday's game.

Quarterback to leave Washington State football team

UPDATE (8:11 p.m.) — Apodaca confirmed that he has left the program, more from the quarterback after the jump.

Independent sources have told the Spokesman-Review that quarterback Austin Apodaca is no longer a member of the Washington State football program. No reason for Apodaca's departure was given.

A spokesperson for WSU said that the team does not comment on internal matters.

Apodaca, a redshirt freshman this past season, completed 21 of 42 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns as Connor Halliday's primary backup. He originally was recruited by former WSU head coach Paul Wulff and but became the first quarterback recruited by current coach Mike Leach at WSU. A product of Silver Creek High School in Longmont, Colo., Apodaca was named All-Colorado by the Denver Post as a senior after throwing for a state-high 3,849 yards with 44 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

It’s cold but the M’s are thawing out a bit

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I'm guessing the skiing and snowboarding will be tubular today. It's 13 degrees outside and it's snowing pretty hard. The snow is so light, though, if you breathe hard enough it blows away. Maybe all the way to southern Russia. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Former Washington State safety passed another mile marker on his road to the NFL, receiving an invite to the NFL combine … Here's a column from Bud Withers on the recruiting class WSU signed on Wednesday … Mark Sandritter recaps the class … Washington has indefinitely suspended two key players … Utah picked up another Pac-12 win at home, holding off the Huskies … Oregon State fell to Arizona State in overtime … Arizona won another close one, this time over Oregon.

Vandals upset New Mexico State, 73-67

It was hard to imagine before tonight. Idaho had lost eight of its last 10 games. New Mexico State had giant center Sim Bhullar back healthy and had just creamed league-leading Utah Valley. But the Vandals frustrated NMSU just enough and were clearly the more hungry team in pulling off a 73-67 upset of the Aggies at Cowan Spectrum.

Our story on the game is below.

Gonzaga vs. Pepperdine

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga's victory over Pepperdine, 86-51, in the women's WCC college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Check out his big picture story!

Day after Portland

The WCC standings speak loud and clear: Gonzaga, at 11-1, is in control, leading by 3½ games over its closest pursuer. But on the court, it’s also clear the Bulldogs have their hands full with just about every conference team.

Portland, picked ninth in the preseason poll, sits in sixth place after last night’s down-to-the-wire 71-66 loss to GU. But the Pilots own wins over Gonzaga (last month) and BYU. I'm still wondering how Portland is in sixth place.

Gonzaga needed Sam Dower Jr.’s buzzer-beater to defeat Santa Clara, tied with LMU for last place. Gonzaga trailed the Lions in the second half before rallying for a win in L.A. The Bulldogs edged visiting San Diego, now in seventh place, 65-63. In general, GU has handled the upper half in the standings, but still faces road rematches with BYU and Saint Mary's.

So, Gonzaga keeps winning but objects in the rear-view mirror are closer than they appear.

Here’s my game story and Colin Mulvany's photo gallery. More from Portland sports information and A.P. Here's a glance at Saturday's opponent Memphis and a notebook item on Dower's not-so-Super Sunday.

More below in my day-after Portland post.

It was one jam-packed Wednesday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Most hump days are a bit sleepy, sports-wise. Camel racing, sure, but not much else. Yesterday was the exception that shattered the rule. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The 2014 WSU football class is almost if not entirely signed and it's drawn good reviews from its architect … We've got a list of the signees, along with coach Mike Leach's evaluations of each, right here … The men's basketball team fell just short on the road despite a career night from DaVonte Lacy … Stanford avenged its earlier loss to Cal … Washington finished with a respectable class on a tight deadline … But a pair of Huskies might be in trouble … USC finished with a bang on signing day, showing that the new staff will be able to at least recruit well … And recruits are still impressed by all that is Oregon … Stanford also brought in a good class.

Gonzaga vs. Portland

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga's victory over Portland, 71-66, in the men's college basketball game, Wed., Feb. 5, 2014, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Check out his big picture story.

Zags hang on, edge Pilots 71-66

Gonzaga played about 18 minutes of outstanding basketball, followed by about 17 minutes of lackluster basketball.

That left GU in a 56-52 hole, but the Bulldogs rallied behind the trio of David Stockton, Sam Dower Jr. and Kevin Pangos. The three scored Gonzaga's final 20 points as the Bulldogs pulled out a 71-66 win over Portland on Wednesday.

My unedited game story is below. I'll have a day-after post up in the morning.

 

Two thorns in the side of Spokane Chiefs

There have been many positives to the Spokane Chiefs' 2013-14 Western Hockey League season, which is down to 19 games following Wednesday night's game at the Arena. The two big negatives have been Spokane's record against Portland (0-7) and Seattle, which is 6-0 against Spokane (with two overtime wins) after Wednesday's 4-0 shutout. The Chiefs are 0-11-2-0 combined against Portland and Seattle, and 31-6-1-2 against the rest of the league. Read story

Vandals go heavy on JC recruits, speed

Paul Petrino announced his second recruiting class at Idaho, one that's heavy on junior-college transfers and speedy players at almost every position. Idaho signed 17 players today and 27 in all, including three grayshirts. The biggest signing came at the end of the day, when highly regarded defensive tackle Alfonso Hampton sent in his letter of intent.

We talked to Hampton's JC coach as part of our story, which you can read below.

Kelowna still on top

Despite their Jan. 29 home shootout loss to the Spokane Chiefs, the Kelowna Rockets remained the No. 1 team in the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 rankings. Read story

UPDATED: WSU football signees

You can view the video of coach Mike Leach's signing day press conference here.

From Pullman — Members of the Washington State football program's 2014 class will be faxing in their letters of intent throughout the day. As the signings become official we'll update them in this blog post with some information about the recruits. Follow the jump to see who the next crop of Cougars will be.

Last letter received: Sulaiman Hameed, Cornerback, California

CdA’s Blakley leads talented area class

Here's a link below to my unedited story about area prep athletes signing letters of intent Wednesday. Pictured above is CdA's Chase Blakley (Boise State) and Austin Chadderdon (Montana).

Just don’t wash your face

A GRIP ON SPORTS

No matter how cold it gets today, no matter how bad the traffic might be, no matter how much the boss yells at you before lunch, remember, it could be worse. You could be in Sochi, covering the Olympics. Read on.

WSU recruiting live chat

 

Try Relay: the free SMS and picture text app for iPhone.

 

Signing Day Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Yes, yes today is signing day. If you scroll up we've got a blog post that I'll update with information on each new Washington State football signee, and a live chat in which I'll provide the latest news and answer questions when I can. The Cougars also have an important game against Colorado tonight. We've got an advance of that game as well as our weekly Pac-12 Power Rankings. Bud Withers has a nice profile of a WSU recruit who plans on playing two sports in Pullman.

Washington landed a big recruit from its backyard in the last few hours before signing day … Last year Jeff Nusser did a nice job breaking down the different scouting websites' ratings methodology for the “stars” illiterate … USC's Steve Sarkisian wasted no time putting together a good recruiting class on short notice … But rival UCLA won the most important recruiting battle between the schools … Both of the Arizona schools will sign nice classes … Cal's poor record didn't stop Sonny Dykes from putting together one of the conference's better recruiting classes.

WHL notes: Chiefs, Seattle may collide

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with the possible first-round playoff matchup between the Spokane Chiefs and Seattle Thunderbirds. Seattle plays at Spokane on Wednesday night and hosts the Chiefs in Kent, Wash., on Friday. Read story

Zags try to even score with Portland

Gonzaga's lone loss of the WCC season came last month against Portland, 82-73, at the Chiles Center. It wasn't a fluke as the Pilots dominated at both ends of the court, drained eight 3-pointers and snapped a 20-game losing streak in the series.

The rematch is Wednesday night with the first-place Zags trying to maintain a three-game lead in the loss column over their three closest pursuers. Here's my game preview.

—I also checked in with Portland senior forward Ryan Nicholas, the Gonzaga Prep product who has been a model of consistency for the Pilots. More on Nicholas here.

 

Lewis and Clark vs. Central Valley

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Lewis and Clarks win over Central Valley, 61-56, in the GSL high school girl's basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, at Lewis and Clark High School. Check out the gallery of his photos!

Chiefs’ McIntosh settles in to Spokane

Here's a feature on Spokane Chiefs 18-year-old defenseman Jeremy McIntosh, who was born in Minneapolis but spent most of his years in Calgary, Alberta. Read story

Pac-12 basketball Power Rankings

From Pullman — Tomorrow Washington State will be looking for payback against Colorado. When the two teams met earlier this season the Cougars fell in Spokane, 71-70, in overtime, without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy. Now it's the Buffaloes turn to play without a key contributor as Spencer Dinwiddie is out for the season with a torn ACL. CU has looked like a different team without Dinwiddie, will it be enough for the Cougars to get a win on the road?

With half the Pac-12 season in the rearview mirror, the Cougars remain near the bottom of the conference. But with Lacy back and a win over the Huskies on Saturday, they aren't in last place. WSU's schedule should be more favorable in the second half of conference play so we'll see if they can continue to climb the Power Rankings.

The Pac-12 is a bunched up conference. Five teams have 5-4 records and another two are 6-3. There is plenty of opportunity for a team to go on a run or slide to the conference's dregs. See where the teams are currently ranked after the jump.

 

Four Shock games on CBS Sports Network

Four Spokane Shock games, including two matchups with rival Arizona, will be televised among CBS Sports Network’s 20 regular-season broadcasts of the Arena Football League.

The network will air Spokane’s games at Arizona on March 23, at Tampa Bay on April 26, at San Jose on June 14 and home vs. Arizona on July 12. Complete schedule for AFL games on CBS Sports Network here.

ESPN is expected to televise 10 AFL games. The schedule hasn't been announced.

 

A lot to Dranginis’ game

Media day Monday and I checked in with versatile guard/wing/forward Kyle Dranginis.

I'm not much of a stat guy, but his numbers across the board are hard to ignore. He's earning big minutes with his ability to play several positions and fill up several columns on the stat sheet on a nightly basis. Watching replays of the Bay Area sweep last week, Dranginis also might lead the Zags in number of times his last name is mangled by TV announcers, though Drew Barham and Przemek Karnowski are strong contenders. By the way, it's “Dran-Guinness” (like the Irish beer).

Here's a link to my article on Dranginis that ran in Wednesday's S-R.

Back later with more on the Gonzaga-Portland matchup.

 

How about another Super Bowl win?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Ok, that's over. To quote President Bartlett, what's next? Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Tomorrow high school football stars all across the country will fax in letters of intent to play college football and with that in mind we've got a story on a kid who plans to travel all the way from Florida to run Mike Leach's Air Raid offense. Make sure to check in on SportsLink for our Signing Day coverage. We'll have a blog post that I'll update as signees are confirmed, and I'll keep a live chat running to answer all your questions.

As for today we've also got a blog post up on a trainer who DaVonte Lacy credits with his (relatively) quick recovery.

Recruiting season is reaching a fever pitch. One of the state's top players decided to play for Washington, although he doesn't seem all that thrilled about it … At least he won't have to deal with any sanctions from the Tosh Lupoi investigation … The Pac-12 was well represented in the Super Bowl …  It's official: the Wildcats are no longer No. 1.

DaVonte Lacy credits trainer Nick Gallotto for his speedy recovery

From Pullman – The Washington State men’s basketball team has had good luck with trainers and managers of late. Current SWX producer (and frequent SportsLink contributor) Neil Stover achieved a level of fame that many players would envy.

Assistant athletic trainer Nick Gallotto may be next. Find out why after the jump.

The Lombardi Trophy has a new home

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Who knew? Defense really does win championships. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Obviously the Seahawks dominant Super Bowl win dominated the news on Sunday but we've still got a few links to pass along.

The WSU flag made an appearance at the Super Bowl … Jeff Nusser takes a look at the Cougars defensive line recruiting … Arizona's loss to Cal gets even worse as the Wildcats find out that a key player is out for the year … The WSU women fell just short at UCLA … Oregon State beat UCLA in the day's only Pac-12 men's game.

Thanks for reading, if you need me I'll be in the infirmary. Vince and I had a row.

Day after San Francisco

The Leavey Center in Santa Clara and War Memorial Gym in San Francisco haven’t been easy on the Gonzaga Bulldogs in recent years, but they found a way to win in both venues this week without their best fastball.

GU blew a 10-point lead Wednesday before Sam Dower Jr. drained a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to spark a 54-52 victory. The Bulldogs downed USF 75-65 on Saturday with Dower scoring a team-high 24 points and the defense more than doing its share of the work. That was the trend of the week.

Here’s my game storyA.P. and the S.F. Chronicle. Read on for my day-after post.

 

Game day is finally here – let’s get to it

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The hype is, or should be, behind us. The game is all that's left. Today we find out if the Seahawks will be NFL champions. Read on.

Super Bowl Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The big sports weekend has been perfect so far for Washington State fans with the Cougars beating the Washington Huskies on Saturday afternoon. We've got our game recap and post game videos of coach Ken Bone as well as D.J. Shelton and DaVonte Lacy. Shelton played magnificently, collecting 18 rebounds to go with his 20 points and Lacy finally returned from his rib injury to chip in 10 points in the second half.

The biggest Pac-12 news on Saturday was that after some close calls lately No. 1 Arizona was finally toppled by Cal. Utah remains winless on the road after falling to Colorado in overtime, Stanford beat Arizona State,  and USC could not keep pace with WSU's win, falling to Oregon to take sole possession of last place in the conference.

Enjoy the Super Bowl everyone and stay safe. If you need a ride you can always tweet at Vince.

Vandals find a way to lose again

After another puzzling loss, this one a 68-67 defeat at home to Seattle U, Idaho coach Don Verlin was asked if his team had played its worst basketball of the year during an eight-minute stretch when the Vandals went from leading by 16 to trailing by five. “I don’t know if ‘worst’ is the way to describe it,” he said. “Lack of discipline, lack of fundamentals, lack of execution. So I guess if that’s worst, yeah it is.”

That pretty much sums up the Vandals' 14th loss of the season, and their sixth loss in seven games at Cowan Spectrum. The Vandals fell apart — not once but twice.

Our recap of the game is below, and we also have a note on part of the bleachers at the Spectrum collapsing before the game.

Zags ride defense past USF again

Gonzaga capped a 2-0 trip to the Bay Area with a 75-65 victory over San Francisco on Saturday night. This one, much like the 69-41 rout over USF in Spokane a month ago, came courtesy of Gonzaga's defense, which limited the Dons to 34.5-percent shooting.

The road sweep puts Gonzaga (20-3, 10-1) three games ahead of USF and BYU. Those two share second place with 7-4 WCC records.

My unedited game story is below. Check back tomorrow, hopefully in the morning, for a day-after post.

Everett finally solves Spokane

They had come close this season, but the Everett Silvertips had never defeated the Spokane Chiefs. Everett pulled it off Saturday night by scoring during the final minute of overtime for a 5-4 victory over Spokane. Spokane had been 6-0 against the Silvertips, with three wins coming by one goal, including two in OT. Spokane returns home Wednesday. Read story

EWU vs. Northern Colorado

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered EWU's overtime victory against Northern Colorado, 94-40, in the boy's college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014, on Reese Court in Cheney, Wash. Check out his photo gallery. 

A cliche can’t be wrong, can it?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There is one sporting philosophy I've always relied upon. Not just for the past few years or decades, but my entire life. I can't go against it now, can I? Read on.

WCC’s top two set for showdown

Never thought I'd be labeling the Gonzaga-San Francisco rematch a showdown after witnessing GU's 69-41 win a month ago in Spokane, but the Dons have made tonight's game at War Memorial Gym a big one by winning six of eight to move into second place. Game preview here.

In-game updates on twitter @SRjimm

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — A big day in Pac-12 basketball awaits, including the first matchup between Washington State and Washington. We've got our advance on the game, and here are two more from the UW perspective … USC and Oregon each seek a rare win … Colorado and Utah will add to their burgeoning rivalry … Arizona State hopes to rebound well against Stanford's talented forwards … Cal guard Justin Cobbs will need to make his layups for the Golden Bears to beat Arizona … John Blanchette has a column from the Super Bowl … WSU's women resumed their winning ways.

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SportsLink is your portal into sports news around the Inland Northwest and beyond. You'll find updates, notes and opinions, and plenty of reader feedback.

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Contributors

Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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John Blanchette John Blanchette is a freelance writer who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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