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.
• Twenty thousand screaming people. A team making a last stand. A few Bulldogs off their game. All that and yet Gonzaga almost found a way to win at Brigham Young last night. Almost. That's not good enough. The 73-65 loss exposed this team's biggest weakness again. When Przemek Karnowski and Sam Dower aren't boarding like mad men, the Zags are in trouble. And with Karnowski and Dower in foul trouble all night – the Cougars sent a wave of expendable bigs at them early, hoping for enough calls to change the complexion of the game late and it worked – the boards became BYU territory in the second half. That was the difference. Now the Zags have to travel to San Diego, a house of horrors in the past, still looking for the one win that will clinch the WCC regular season title. Is the pressure mounting a bit?
• OK, the Cougars lost at Oregon State. That happens. But what's the deal with those weird blue uniforms the Beavers were wearing? Ralph Miller must be somewhere, spinning like a top in the office chair he sometimes used to roll out to practice. Light blue is not an Oregon State color. Orange and black. Those have been the school's colors since the Olmstead Brothers – the guys who designed Spokane's park system – came up with a master plan for the campus more than 100 years ago. ... So a bit of research tells me they wore the turquoise uniforms three years ago to honor Native American culture when Joe Burton was on the team, but he's graduated. Yet the uniforms continue. Turns out they are for sale on-line and all the proceeds, according to Nike, go into a fund to help Native communities. OK, I get that. Still, the uniforms looked out of place.
• Been kind of avoiding the Olympics here, unless a local person is involved, mainly because the time difference makes it tough to get into. However, at 9 this morning I will have the hockey on, especially after the Canadian women rallied for the gold medal yesterday morning. The gold isn’t on the line today when the U.S. and Canadian men meet today but something more important is. Rumor has it the bet between the leaders of the country is simple: loser has to keep Justin Bieber. Turns you into a patriot, doesn't it?
• Finally, we're deep into the prep basketball playoffs now. In fact, I will be out covering a game tonight. There is something so touching about the loser-out aspect of many prep games this time of year. The sudden end to a senior season seems to sap high school athletes more than any other occurrence. The games take on a tremendous energy as each player fights to continue his or her season. It's a heck of a lot of fun to watch but, if I remember right (and it was a long time ago), it was pretty nerve-wracking to play.
• WSU: The Cougars seem just good enough these days to make each loss closer, and that's got to be tough. Jacob Thorpe was in Corvallis last night and his game story touches on that. He also has videos from Ken Bone and players after the contest along with a blog post this morning. ... The Beavers needed the win and they were really happy to get it.
• Gonzaga: Speaking of needing a win. Without last night's, BYU's NCAA hopes were pretty slim. Now they remain in second place, a half-game ahead of USF, who snapped a long home losing streak to St. Mary's 73-62 last night. That doesn't matter much to Gonzaga fans. Jim Meehan has the game story for you folks, along with a blog post last night and another later today. ... The Toreros will be waiting for GU riding the momentum of a late win over Portland, 61-59. ... Santa Clara handed up-and-down Pacific a 20-point defeat. ... Baseball coach Mark Machtolf picked up his 300th career win yesterday.
• EWU: Can't wait for college football to begin again? You don't have that long to wait. And Eastern will be the first team you can watch. Jim Allen has all the details in this story and blog post about Eastern kicking off the 2014 season. ... The Eagle mens' basketball team had the night off but that doesn't mean they didn't watch the results around the Big Sky carefully. And they couldn't have been too happy. Montana was able to get past league-leading Weber State at home, 68-57. ... Southern Utah, the Eagles next opponent, faded late again and dropped an 86-79 home decision to Portland State. ... Montana State got past Idaho State 66-60 and second-place Northern Colorado routed host Northern Arizona, 74-59. Add it up and Eastern is now alone in eighth place at 7-7 a half-game behind five teams. EWU will make up the game as they play Saturday night in Cedar City and host Portland State on Monday night. ... The Eagle women picked up a big home win.
• Seahawks: The offseason for the Hawks is all about protecting the core of their team for the future. General manager John Schneider talked about that yesterday at the combine, saying keeping defensive lineman Michael Bennett (pictured) is his top priority, though using the franchise tag isn't an option he likes. ... Marshawn Lynch will plead to a reckless driving charge today, ending his long legal battle over a drunk-driving arrest. Lynch's attorney doesn't think the NFL will take any action after it's over. ... We are just going to ignore the picture of Russell Wilson in a Texas Ranger jersey that was on the Net yesterday. We don’t want to get upset.
• Mariners: Jesus Montero is on the hot seat. Which is a good thing. Maybe it will melt away a few pounds. ... Veteran pitcher Randy Wolf tries to bounce back after another elbow surgery. ... The Mariners are no longer the talk of Seattle. So what should they do?
• Sounders: The Sounders are in Charleston, S.C., a city with great She-crab soup. And warmer weather for practice. Sigi Schmid talks about the latter.
• One more day on the radio, filling in with Dennis Patchin and Rick Lukens on 700ESPN from 3 to 6 p.m. You can listen here if you like. Until then ...