A GRIP ON SPORTS
So what does the future hold in Pullman? That's the $1.7-million question, isn't it? Read on.
• Jacob Thorpe used a rare Thursday game for the Cougars to delve into the biggest question in Pullman right now: What is basketball coach Ken Bone's future? Though just about every WSU fan you chat with – and, in Spokane, you can't trip on a broken sidewalk without falling into a Cougar fan – sees this as Bone's final year, athletic director Bill Moos won't make a pronouncement either way. Which is to be expected. However, he told Jacob this week he “continue(s) to support” Bone, which sounds nice but is, in reality, the dreaded vote of confidence. And remember, Moos supported former football coach Paul Wulff right up until the day he didn't. Moos also told Jacob he doesn't anticipate contacting any candidates during the season, which is different then saying he wouldn't contact any candidates. That's an escape hatch large enough to smuggle a coach through. And, knowing Moos, it would be a shock if he makes a change without a replacement coach already in place. He's not the type of guy who likes to take a leap of faith when it comes to coaches. Moos understands the value of winning the press conference as a way to excite the fan base. He also understands the importance of a quick transition to keep talent from leaking away. And he has to have someone who can win. Fulfilling all those requirements is a tall order. So if he decides to make a change, he's not going to do it just to send Bone packing. He's not going to do it “hoping” he can find a better alternative. If Moos is going to pull on the lever controlling the trapdoor, he's going to have someone in place to introduce right away. If he doesn't, things are worse than they seem at WSU. And they seem pretty rough.
• WSU: The Bone debate isn't all that Jacob covered yesterday. He also sat in June Daugherty's press conference and put up a transcript on the blog. … As usual, Jacob has a morning post today as the Cougars prepare for Thursday's game at Oregon State. … California and UCLA meet tonight with second place on the line. … The runaway train that was Arizona has been derailed somewhat by an injury. … Remember our rant last week on a proposed rule change to slow down offenses? Well, even the chair of the committee that proposed the change sees value in waiting until definitive studies are done on the safety issue. Finally, another voice of reason. … And, according to ESPN.com, the Pac-12 admitted the officials blew the end of the ASU-Arizona game (sort of; if you read the story you'll see the conference is right but it is the same rule that should have been cited in Pullman a few years back; you can't have it both ways). Still, the court storming is a situation that makes Sean Miller and Arizona want changes.
• Gonzaga: Though the West Coast Conference is better from middle to bottom, that probably won't help the conference come NCAA selection time. In fact, it could hurt. … A former USF player has found a home at college basketball's equivalent of the island of misfit toys.
• EWU: The Eagles' women's basketball team has rebounded this season after a slow start. Thomas Clouse has more in his weekly notebook.
• Idaho: The Vandals played their final non-conference game of the season and it was a good one. If you are a Vandal fan. Idaho rolled over Cal State Northridge, 96-88, in Memorial Gym. Josh Wright has the game story and more in this blog post.
• Whitworth: The Pirates clinched their fifth consecutive Northwest Conference crown last night with a 79-76 win over rival Whitman. Clouse has more in this game story. … He also was at the women's game, where the top-ranked Missionaries rolled 84-69.
• Preps: An interesting night in prep basketball as just about everyone who played faced the reality of their season ending. We have a roundup of area games to pass along plus roundups from the 3A girls and boys playoffs. … In the 4A ranks, Greg Lee covered Gonzaga Prep's 57-53 win over Central Valley in boys action and Dave Trimmer has this piece on CV's 65-61 overtime victory against Mead in girls play.
• Mariners: Tuesday was a big day as Robinson Cano (pictured) and the rest of the position players reported to spring training, bringing a bit of controversy with them. At least new manager Lloyd McClendon triggered a bit of one as he responded to some remarks by a Yankee hitting coach concerning Cano. Fun. … The M's are still trying to bolster their pitching staff by dipping into the free-agent market. The market is running out of decent products, however.
• Sounders: The Sounders are on their way to warmer weather (in theory) and have some decisions to make. … One guy trying out has really impressed the team. … Clint Dempsey may be back a bit later than folks expected. … Sigi Schmid met with the media again. … Lamar Neagle is glad to have his contract situation figured out.
• That's it for today. Hey, we're on the radio today (and the next few days), joining Dennis Patchin and Rick Lukens at 3 p.m. You can listen here until 6 if you like. Until then …