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Archive for January 2014

Chiefs can’t crack Winterhawks

It's become automatic in the last year: If the Spokane Chiefs are playing the Portland Winterhawks, the Chiefs aren't going to exit the building with a win. Friday was more of the same, a 6-0 Portland win in the Rose City that marked the Winterhawks' 15th consecutive win over Spokane. Spokane had won four consecutive games to move within striking distance of third place in the Western Hockey League's Western Conference. Read story

Ferris vs. Shadle Park

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Ferris' victory over Shadle park, 54-46, in the high school boy's basketball game, Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, at Shadle Park High School. Check out his big picture gallery. 

Not all that much longer now

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Second by second, it's getting closer. Thank goodness. If we have to read another story on how great Peyton Manning and the Denver offense is, or how stout Richard Sherman and the Seattle defense is, we may just explode like the guy at the end of the first “Total Recall” movie. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — There is a new coach on the Palouse, his name is Steve Nugent and he's taking over the Washington State soccer program … The Pac-12 is full of talented freshmen in men's basketball, and we take a look at some of the best … WSU's players are tired of people calling for their coach's head … Mark Sandritter takes a look at WSU's running back depth and recruiting.

Gonzaga vs Santa Clara

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga's victory over Santa Clara, 89-37, in the women's college basketball game, Thursday, January 30th 2014, at the McCarthey Athletic Center. Check out his big picture gallery. 

Steve Nugent named WSU head soccer coach

From Pullman — Washington State announced on Thursday that Steve Nugent will take over as the Cougars new head coach, following the departure of Keidane McAlpine in December. Nugent becomes the sixth head coach in the program's history and has spent the last three seasons at UNC Greensboro. In 2012 he led UNCG to the Southern Conference regular season title.

Nugent will have big footsteps to fill; under McAlpine's stewardship the Cougars finished second in the Pac-12 conference last season. WSU has made the NCAA Championship tournament in five of the last six seasons.

“I was looking forward to the prospect of being the next head coach at Washington State and learning more about what it means to be a Cougar from those with whom I met to put it over the top,” Nugent said in a release. “Everyone has made me feel right at home. I am extremely happy to be coming to Pullman and I am very excited to build on the success the program has established in recent years.”

A look at the Pac-12’s top freshmen

From Pullman — Arizona's Aaron Gordon entered college with considerably more hype than any other first-year player and as the presumptive favorite for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year. But does he really mean more to his team than UCLA's Zach LaVine or Washington's Nigel Williams-Goss? Where would WSU be without Que Johnson?

Gordon is probably still the frontrunner for FOY based on his status as a key contributor on the Pac-12's (and nation's?) best team, but his numbers imply that it's not a lock. Let's take a look at the best freshman on each team's key stats, after the jump.

Day after Santa Clara

Slow-starting this morning, a little like last night's Gonz  …

Wait, that's too predicable. Let's just get right to Wednesday's game that Gonzaga won, lost and won again on Sam Dower Jr.'s clutch 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left. The final count of 54-52 gives an indication that this one won't end up in an art gallery but that last play will stick in the minds of Gonzaga followers for a long time.

My game story, another in the S.F. Chronicle and San Jose Mercury-News. Here's a glance at Saturday's game and a Four Corners notebook item on Kevin Pangos' 21st birthday.

It was a scramble last night with the late start and crazy finish, a little like …. ah, never mind. Read on for my day-after post.

It’s time for your say

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Today is your day. Well, today and tomorrow. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's Thursday and that means its time for our weekly 4 Corners look at Washington State's upcoming game  and notebook of the local college basketball teams. We've even got a blog post examining why one WSU starter doesn't seem to be getting starter minutes.

There were a couple Pac-12 games on Wednesday. Cal's free-fall from the top of the conference continued with a loss to Arizona State and Arizona narrowly avoided an upset by Stanford. Bud Withers of the Seattle Times takes a look at what else is happening in the conference in Pac-12 Confidential.

 

 

It couldn’t get much sweeter for Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs have had some exciting wins among their 31 victories this Western Hockey League season, but Wednesday's has to rank as the grandest, most thrilling of all. Spokane's odds of winning were astronomical after the Chiefs fell behind 5-2 after two periods. First, the Chiefs were playing on the road for a second consecutive night. Second, they were trailing Kelowna, the top-ranked club in the Canadian Hockey League. Third, they were without No. 2 scorer Mike Aviani, who had been suspended for a checking to the head major penalty and game misconduct Tuesday in Kamloops. Finally, they were turning the net over to backup goalie Garret Hughson. Yet everything went right for Spokane in the third period, creating maybe the No. 1 highlight of the season so far. Read story

Dower’s 3 lifts Gonzaga past Broncos

Sam Dower Jr. hasn't shot too many 3s this season, but the big man has range. He showed it again Wednesday night, at the most opportune time.

Dower canned a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left to carry Gonzaga past Santa Clara 54-52.

More on Dower's shot and Gonzaga's fifth straight win below in my unedited game story.

WHL suspends Chiefs’ No. 2 scorer Aviani

Mike Aviani, who has 30 goals and 30 assists this season for the Spokane Chiefs, will not play tonight at Kelowna after being suspended the Western Hockey League on Wednesday. Read story

Railey’s low minutes due to lack of offense

From Pullman — 

Washington State center Jordan Railey has been a mainstay in the Cougars’ starting lineup, handling the opening tipoff in 18 of the team’s 20 games. But while getting on the court has been a given for the 7-footer, staying there has been a challenge. WSU coach Ken Bone has had a quick hook for his starting center and junior transfer from Iowa State averages less than 16 minutes per game. 

Find out why after the jump.

Chiefs ready for No. 1 Rockets

The Spokane Chiefs will play the Kelowna Rockets in a little more than 2 hours at Kelowna. The Canadian Hockey League announced Wednesday that Kelowna is still the No. 1 team in its Top 10 rankings. Portland and Edmonton are the other Western Hockey League teams in the top 10. Edmonton took the place of Calgary after sweeping the Hitmen last weekend to rise to the top of the Eastern Conference. Calgary and Victoria (for the first time) are honorable mention. Read story

Is the silliness behind us?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The circus that is Super Bowl Media Day is in the rearview mirror. Or should be. From here on in, it is smooth skating until the game. I'm good with that. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Washington State Cougars could really use a win on Saturday, both for team morale and to keep fans interested. With that in mind, it would perfect game for WSU to regain the services of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy. Yesterday coach Ken Bone said that is a real possibility, although Lacy obviously wouldn't be able to maintain his workload from earlier this season when he averaged over 30 minutes per game.

Links are after the jump.

Holmberg back on track for Chiefs

The last 2 1/2 weeks have been a challenge for Spokane Chiefs offensive leader Mitch Holmberg. The Western Hockey League's leader in goals scored and assists had been held to one goal (last Friday against Moose Jaw) and one assist (Jan. 11 against Seattle) in his last seven games. Holmberg bounced back Tuesday with two goals during a 6-3 romp at Kamloops. Read story

Stat-stuffing year for Idaho’s Madison

Idaho's Stephen Madison has improved in each of his four years in Moscow. That seems like a fair summary of a fine career for the 6-foot-6 small forward out of Jefferson High in Portland, and it's something that coach Don Verlin appreciates. “I couldn't be happier with his development in the program,” Verlin said last week.

Madison averaged 3.7 points per game as a freshman in 2010-11. The next year he bumped up his average to 12.1 ppg. Last year, he increased his scoring to 14.1 ppg, and as a senior he's averaging 17.5 points — in addition to career-bests in almost every other statistical category.

He came into the week as the only player in the nation to lead his team in five areas – points (17.5 per game), rebounds (7.8), assists (2.4), steals (0.8) and blocks (0.6). But is that a good thing for the Vandals, who are languishing at 8-13 and 2-5 in the WAC?

We explore below.

WHL notes: Edmonton edges ahead

This week's Western Hockey League notebook leads with the torrid streak that has put the Edmonton Oil Kings atop the Eastern Conference, jumping past Calgary. Read story

Gonzaga Prep vs. Mead

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga Prep's victory over Mead, 68-41, in the high school girls basketball game Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, at Gonzaga Prep. Check out the big picture gallery of his photos!

Zags opens WCC second half at SCU

Gonzaga begins the second half of the WCC season on the road, and that will be a familiar theme until the end of the regular season.

GU has held serve at home with a 6-0 mark in conference games. BYU (3-0) is the only other WCC team with an unbeaten home record — the Cougars will play six of their last nine at the Marriott Center.

At 8-1 overall, the Bulldogs face six of their last nine on the road, beginning with a two-game Bay Area swing. The Zags face Santa Clara on Wednesday night and San Francisco on Saturday night.

Here's a link to my preview.

Lacy trying to return for UW game

From Pullman – With a home game against the Huskies, Beasley Coliseum should finally fill up on Saturday. The Cougars are hoping that extra energy in the gym can give them a boost against their rivals. But not nearly as big a boost as the return of leading scorer DaVonte Lacy, something that WSU coach Ken Bone says could be right around the corner.


  

Zags still not quite whole

If it's not one thing it's another. For Gonzaga, the roster is close to being whole again but a nasty flu bug keeps popping up, even as the team's injury list shrinks.

Here's more on the health picture and how it will factor into playing time when everybody is available, and several other items in my weekly GU notebook.

Another day closer to the game

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Tuesday morning of Super Bowl week. Are we supposed to be excited or something? Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The NCAA is a sharp organization. It doesn't want football-centric athletic departments to get around the 85 scholarship limit imposed on football programs by stashing promising quarterbacks on other teams. NCAA Bylaw 15.5.9.1 states that any athlete who receives financial aid as an athlete and practices with the football team shall be counted as a football player, even if they were not originally recruited to play football.

 A star running back can't be given a track scholarship, for example, nor could Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston get a scholarship for his exploits on the baseball diamond. That means that even though WSU's newest football recruit, Jalen Canty, plans on playing basketball, he'll count against the football team's scholarship limit.

Links are after the jump.

Two-sport star to attend WSU

With the above tweet, Jalen Canty of St. Vincent- St. Patrick high school in Vallejo, Calif., declared his intentions to play football at Washington State. Canty, who at one point apparently planned to play basketball at Washington, is expected to play hoops at WSU as well.

At 6-foot-8, 270-pounds Canty has the size, and reportedly has the athleticism, to exceed in either sport. Canty had 76 tackles and 22 sacks in his senior high school season, and reportedly chose WSU over an offer from Utah.

Here is a highlight film showing his football skills, and follow the jump to see some video of him playing basketball, courtesy of YayAreasFinest on Youtube.

Pac-12 basketball Power Rankings

From Pullman — USC authoritatively rose from the conference cellar, knocking off Cal and taking Stanford to overtime. Find out what other teams made moves this week in our Power Rankings, after the jump.

Laid-back Seattle is all in with Seahawks

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's Monday morning of Super Bowl week. Are we supposed to be excited or something? Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Well, one team finally got back in the winning column. But it wasn't Washington State, which fell, 71-44, to Oregon on Sunday. Here is our recap from that game and a video of coach Ken Bone and some players talking after the loss … There was good news for Cougars fans, however, in the form Barry Ware's decision to don the Crimson and Gray next season … Speaking of recruits, make sure to check out Bud Withers' look at the WSU recruiting class.

More links after the jump.

Barry Ware to Washington State

From Pullman — High school wide receiver Barry Ware has decided to play his college ball at Washington State according to Braulio Perez. Ware is considered a three-star prospect by Scout.com and is ranked No. 105 among wide receivers. Previously Ware had said that he was going to play at UCLA and reportedly also held offers from Utah and Fresno State.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Ware is the fifth wide receiver in the class of 2014 to pledge his services to WSU according to recruiting services and the 25th player. Rivals.com lists Ware as the top wide receiver planning on playing for WSU and ranks him No. 100 in the country at the position.

Day after BYU

Gonzaga stretched its home-court winning streak to 22 games as the guard trio of Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and David Stockton combined for 52 points and 17 assists in an 84-69 victory over BYU on Saturday.

Here’s my game story, John Blanchette's column and Dan Pelle's photos can be found here. Game stories from A.P., and more from Utah here and here.

 Read on for my day-after post.

 

A different sound last night

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was something a bit different about Gonzaga's game against BYU on ESPN2 last night. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Well, honestly, yes I could. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Oregon is coming to town to face the Cougars and hoping to end a five-game losing streak. We've got an advance on the game and took a look at the Ducks on the blog … The Washington State Indoor Track & Field team did very well in Idaho over the weekend … WSU safety Deone Bucannon played in the Senior Bowl, making three tackles. Bucannon also came in No. 16 in ESPN's list of the Pac-12 top 25 players in 2013.

In Saturday's Pac-12 action the Huskies stormed back to beat Oregon State while Colorado's struggles continued in a loss to Arizona State. Tomorrow Utah will get its shot at No. 1 Arizona, UCLA will rely on Tony Parker when it takes on Cal and UCS will look to continue its positive momentum against Stanford.

Chiefs reach two-thirds mark with weekend sweep

The Spokane Chiefs played Game 48 of their Western Hockey League season on Saturday night, the official two-thirds mark of the season. The Chiefs capped a successful weekend at home with a 2-1 shootout win over Tri-City. Read story

Guards carry Zags past BYU

Gonzaga's guard line, particularly David Stockton, Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., carried the Bulldogs to an 84-69 win over BYU on Saturday.

Those three combined for 52 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds. The Bulldogs shot 57.4 percent, 64.3 percent in the second half when they put up 49 points.

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

 

Gonzaga defeats BYU at home

S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered the Zags' home game victory against BYU, 84-69.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Look Ahead: Oregon

From Pullman — No doubt about it, the Washington State basketball team is in a slump. The Cougars have lost six of their last seven games, and seven of their last nine. While breaking out of a rut like that can be difficult, on Sunday WSU will face an opponent that is experiencing some long-term troubles of its own in Oregon.

More after the jump.

Zags, Cougars clash at Kennel

It's been a short, but interesting series between Gonzaga and BYU. The Jimmer-led Cougars bounced GU out of the NCAA Tournament a few years ago. Within months, the Cougars were members of the WCC but they haven't had much luck against the Zags. losing four straight after a 10-point win in Provo in 2012.

The teams collide again tonight and the game probably won't be confused with the GU-USD, possession-by-possession battle on Thursday. BYU is a high-scoring outfit, loaded with quality guards and wings. Gonzaga isn't shy about scoring, but it has been more defensive driven in WCC play. Tip is at 7.

Here's my game preview, and others from Utah here and here.

In-game updates on twitter @SRjimm.

It seems as if there should be a game Sunday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

OK, I admit it. I'm starting to get a bit burned out on the Super Bowl. Maybe it's because I've read just about every story I can find. Maybe it's because I spent most of my 12 hours on the radio talking about it last week. Or maybe it's because the buildup time is too long. I don't know. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — These Wednesday-Sunday basketball splits sure are different, aren't they? While the players seem to like the extra recovery time, it makes for a long wait between games. To pass the time, listen to WSU athletic Director Bill Moos' podcast … While basketball season is starting to  heat up, baseball season is getting closer.

More links, after the jump.

Chiefs find enough offense to win

The Spokane Chiefs' offense still needs some re-energizing, but Friday night's 3-1 win over Moose Jaw might be a good first step. Chiefs goalie Eric Williams was brilliant and allowed Spokane to rally. Read story

NW Christian girls defeat Colfax 33-32

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the NW Christian vs. Colfax game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

It isn’t cheap to be a spectator

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What's in your wallet? It better be a boatload of money if you want to sit in the cold and watch the Super Bowl live. Tickets are going for a whole heck of a lot. And then there is the expense of getting to New York and staying nearby. None of which is cheap. Still, for the experience, isn't it worth it? Read on.

Day after San Diego

I admit to being distracted while writing up Gonzaga's 59-56 win over San Diego last night. The end of the Portland-BYU thriller was on TV and it drew a crowd to the media room — GU officials, San Diego coaches, etc. You know it's a wild game when fan reactions — cheers and groans — from the nearby Herak Room filter into the media room.

BYU's loss in triple overtime dropped the Cougars to 5-3 in conference. GU leads the way at 7-1, followed by Saint Mary's at 5-2.

In between glances at the TV screen, I put together this game story. Here's another gamer from AP and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Colin Mulvany has an S-R photo gallery.

Read on for my day-after post.

 

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — In yesterday's paper we had a story about how some of the NCAA's rule changes have affected men's basketball this season, and we followed that up with a blog post detailing just how many more free throws Pac-12 teams are attempting this season. We also put up the second and final installation of our Recruiting Q&A.

Some WSU alumni have been making news lately with Klay Thompson getting picked to the USA Basketball national roster pool while Deone Bucannon continues to impress in Senior Bowl practices.

More links, after the jump.

Messier stands as rare trade acquisition

It can no longer be said that the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans refuse to work a deal. New Chief Marcus Messier is proof of that. Read story

Idaho routed at D-I newcomer Grand Canyon

Idaho kept pace with Grand Canyon University at the free-throw line in the first half. But the Antelopes, a Division I and WAC newcomer, got to the line 10 more times after the break — and made more 10 more free throws to pull away from the Vandals in a 86-73 win in Phoenix.

Grand Canyon, coached by former NBA star Dan Majerle, went on a decisive 20-3 outburst after Idaho briefly took the lead early in the second half.

The Vandals (8-13, 2-5) were called for 31 fouls, and the Antelopes made them pay. Grand Canyon connected on 35 of 41 foul shots, the most makes at the line for an Idaho opponent this year. Idaho, meanwhile, went 26 of 35 from the line, with five misses alone from reserve guard Sekou Wiggs.

More below.

Zags outlast San Diego, 59-56

Gonzaga was pushed from start to finish by upset-minded San Diego on Thursday.

Kevin Pangos scored with 1:25 remaining and the Bulldogs made three defensive stops in the final 2:35 to hold on for a 59-56 win. San Diego's last points came on a Christopher Anderson free throw with 3:42 remaining.

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

 

Gonzaga vs. San Diego

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga's victory over San Diego, 59-56, at the McCarthey Athletic Center, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014. Check out his big picture story!

Kelowna remains ahead of pack

There's no change at the top of the Canadian Hockey League Top 10 rankings. The Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League continue to lead the way. Read story

Reporter charged with threat on Playfair

A Canadian news reporter has been charged with threatening to kill her boyfriend, former Spokane Chiefs player Jackson Playfair, who was recently traded to the Tri-City Americans. Read story

Far more trips to the line in the Pac-12 this season

From Pullman — In today's Spokesman-Review I had an article about the impact recent NCAA rules changes regarding hand checking and offensive charges have had on undersized posts. Tighter hand-checking rules drive offensive players toward the basket, and the new charge rules make it tougher for a defensive player to get in position. As such, teams are likely to emphasize height even more when recruiting post players because the ability to block or alter shots is more valuable than ever.

Oversized yet under-skilled forwards aren't the only players benefitting from the rule changes however. Players who can attack the basket and get to the foul line are finding that the new rules have made their lives easier. Follow the jump to see just how many more free throws are being attempted this season.

WSU Recruiting Q&A part 2

Yesterday, I invited a couple WSU recruiting experts to come fill us in on how the Washington State football class of 2014 is shaping up. Braulio Perez, a Senior Correspondent at Cougfan.com and Britton Ransford, the publisher of WazzuWatch.com, were kind enough to answer some questions. Part 1 of that interview can be read here, and part 2  is after the jump.

Missing a game isn’t a lot of fun

A GRIP ON SPORTS

None of us are strangers to hard work, are we? For some it means getting up every day, pulling on the boots and doing battle with the outside elements. For others it might be loafers and the daily contest with a computer. But when it comes to work, we do it for some sort of reward, whether it be monetary or the freedom from having to be at home or just for the good feeling of a job well done. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Washington State was unable to pick up a win at home on Wednesday, falling to Oregon State, 66-55. Here is our game story from the loss, as well as post game video of D.J. Shelton and Que Johnson, as well as coach Ken Bone. We've also got the game's box score, our weekly Four Corners look at the Cougars, and a story on the diminishing value of forwards that are long on hustle but short on height … On the football side, Braulio Perez of Cougfan.com and Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com were kind enough to join me for a Recruiting Q&A (stay tuned for Part 2 today).

More links after the jump.

Bell receives medical clearance

Gonzaga's roster is complete again with the return of guard Gary Bell Jr.

It's been a while since the Zags have had their entire roster available. Bell, who broke his right hand on Dec. 28, was out for nearly four weeks and he missed six games. He's expected to play against San Diego on Thursday. GU has also dealt with forward Sam Dower Jr.'s back injury, suffered Kansas State on Dec. 21. Dower missed two games. Guard Kevin Pangos has been bothered by a turf toe injury since early December but hasn't missed a game.

More below on Bell, the Toreros and a couple of USD players who played high school basketball in Spokane.

 

WSU recruiting Q&A part 1

​With signing day fast approaching, college football coaches are scrambling to fill out their 2014 recruiting classes. While these last couple weeks can be a whirlwind of activity, Washington State has received verbal pledges from a number of recruits, and only have a few spots remaining. With that in mind, I invited a couple WSU recruiting experts to come fill us in on how the class is shaping up. Braulio Perez, a Senior Correspondent at Cougfan.com and Britton Ransford, the publisher of WazzuWatch.com, were kind enough to answer some questions about WSU recruiting and the upcoming class. Part 1 of that interview is after the jump.

Nightmares are part of the game

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you've read this column for any length of time – and we are in our third year here – you know there are only two things I root for when covering a football game: A quick contest and that no one gets hurt. Neither happened last Sunday in the NFC Championship game. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Well, Deone Bucannon sure is making quite the impression. He's in Mobile, Ala., for the Senior Bowl and is meeting with NFL teams. The All-American safety from Washington State surprised scouts with his size when he showed up, but has still managed to turn heads with his athleticism.

All in all, not a bad week so far for the Coug, who many publications consider the best strong safety in the draft.

In men's basketball news, the rarest of occurrences will happen today: WSU will play in Pullman. We've got an advance on the game, and an update on DaVonte Lacy, who is taking steps toward his return. They'll take on an Oregon State team that is showing signs of life.

More links after the jump.

Idaho’s Dean doubtful for Thursday

Idaho has just one game this week (Thursday at Grand Canyon) and one game next week (vs. Seattle on Feb. 1). It's a good thing, too. The Vandals are banged up. Starting point guard Glen Dean missed the Vandals' last two games with a sprained ankle and is doubtful for the GCU game. “It's not looking good,” said coach Don Verlin, adding that Dean is still day-to-day. If Dean's ankle doesn't progress, Verlin said he'll have an MRI next week.

More below.

Bell nearing return

Media day earlier this afternoon and Gary Bell Jr.'s status for this week's games was the first item in my notebook that will run in Wednesday's S-R.

Bell, who broke his right hand Dec. 28, hopes to play against San Diego on Thursday and BYU on Saturday but he needs medical clearance. The next step in that process is an appointment Wednesday for his weekly X-ray. Bell has missed roughly 3 & 1/2 weeks. Saturday will be the 4-week point. When Bell was diagnosed with a broken right hand, he was expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Gonzaga Prep boys defeat Central Valley 53-43

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Central Valley's home game against Gonzaga Prep.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

WHL notes: Victoria’s record up for grabs

Victoria has held the record for more than three decades. Kelowna is in position to break the record. The teams met for back-to-back games in Victoria last weekend. Read story

NFL teams meeting with Deone Bucannon

 

Deone Bucannon's career as a Washington State football player may be over, but his professional journey is just beginning. He's currently in Mobile, Ala., practicing for the Senior Bowl, an annual showcase of NFL draft hopefuls. The game takes secondary importance, however, to the week preceding it, in which NFL scouts can evaluate the players while they practice and meet with them afterwards.

More after the jump.

Lacy on the road to recovery

From Pullman — Washington State men's basketball coach Ken Bone provided an update on injured player DaVonte Lacy during Tuesday's teleconference. Lacy, WSU's leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, has been out since the ASU game with a rib injury. Doctors told him at that time that it would be 4-6 weeks until he return to the team and it sounds like he's right on schedule.

Just last night he went to the doctor's office and he's still at least 2-4 weeks out,” Bone said. “But he's at least going to get in some passing drills today so he'll be on the floor with a practice jersey and will at least be able to jog up and down the court.”

Is it baseball season yet?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's pretty simple to figure out the main topic of discussion the next two weeks. Spring training. No, just kidding, though the annual rite – and all the promise that comes with it – is not too far away. Nope, we're going to be pretty chock full of Super Bowl links and commentary, that's for sure. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It's the start of another week in Pac-12 basketball, and we took a look at how the conference is shaping up in our power rankings … With just a couple weeks to go until football recruits sign their letters of intent things are starting to heat up … Yesterday, a Washington State kicking recruit announced he intends to play at Washington instead … WSU's Deone Bucannon is already making an impression at the Senior Bowl … Sebastian LaRue told 247 Sports that his transfer to WSU is set in stone, and he acknowledges that he'll have to sit out a year … It sounds like UCLA's new defensive coordinator is already on campus.

Pac-12 basketball power rankings

From Pullman — The first third of the Pac-12 basketball season is over and the conference is starting to take shape. The Pac-12 has four teams that comprise the first tier, with a noticeable drop off in talent among the remaining squads. Some teams have been bitten by injuries, while others have had unexpected stars emerge. Arizona is clearly at the top of the conference, USC is clearly at the bottom and it's becoming apparent which teams will contend for spots 2-4 in the conference, and which won't. 

Our Power Rankings took a look at where the Pac-12 stands today, after the jump.

Dower named WCC player of the week

 

Senior forward Sam Dower Jr., who had 46 points and 22 rebounds in Gonzaga’s two road wins and became the 37th player in school history to reach 1,000 career points, was named WCC player of the week.

Dower, nearing full strength after suffering a lower back injury against Kansas State on Dec. 21, has scored 44 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in his last 46 minutes of playing time. He’s averaging 14 points on 61.5-percent shooting this season. He leads GU in scoring at 14.6 in WCC games.

—Gonzaga (16-3, 6-1 WCC) moved up three spots to No. 21 in the USA Today rankings. The Bulldogs were 28th with 59 votes in the A.P. Top 25.

Seahawks are Super Bowl-bound – again

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The second trip to the Super Bowl ever. A hard-fought, down-to-the-wire NFC Championship game with a couple of major injuries and enough highlights to overload SportsCenter for weeks. And all anyone wants to talk about afterward is a minute-long interview? Really? Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Well, at least the Seahawks won. It's small consolation on a day that the Washington State women's basketball team suffered its first conference loss, falling in the final seconds to Utah. Even worse, it was the Utes' first Pac-12 win. Still, it's not all doom and gloom on the Palouse, not with the news that a talented wide receiver  has decided that he'd like to catch a pass or 200 in Mike Leach's Air Raid offense. And he's probably not the only one.

A couple links, after the jump.

 

Winterhawks do what they always do

The Spokane Chiefs are 0-6 against Portland this Western Hockey League season after Sunday's shutout in Portland. Not only that, but the Chiefs have lost their last 14 meetings with Portland. Read story

Former highly-recruited WR Sebastian LaRue transferring to WSU?

From Pullman — First reported by Cougfan.com and since confirmed by other recruiting services, former Texas A&M receiver Sebastian LaRue is set to transfer to Washington State. This comes just two days after the news that WSU receiver Bobby Ratliff won't be returning for his senior season.

LaRue was considered to be the 44th receiver prospect in the country by Scout.com, and and Rivals.com had him No. 24. Both gave him four out of five stars. According to LaRue, he chose the Aggies over scholarship offers from Oklahoma, Ohio State, Notre Dame and others.

He has said that he wants to transfer to be closer to home. LaRue hails from Santa Monica, Calif., which is closer to Pullman than College Station, Texas. While transfers would normally need to sit out a season per NCAA rules, that may not be the case with LaRue according to CBS' Bruce Feldman.

 

This is even bigger than St. Nick

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Can you believe it? It's finally here. No, not Christmas. That flew by last month with hardly a ripple in our household. I'm talking about today's NFC Championship. Heck, I think we bought more foodstuffs for this afternoon than we purchased for Christmas dinner. And a more eclectic variety too. I guess it's appropriate. In some ways today is bigger. Read on.

Day after Loyola Marymount

You know the drill. Here’s my game story (ignore headline, Zags are 6-1 in conference) from GU’s 82-72 win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday.

Read on for my day-after post.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Berkeley — The Washington State men's basketball team couldn't build on an impressive first half and fell to Cal on Saturday. On SportsLink we've got videos up of Ken Bone as well as players D.J. Shelton and Royce Woolridge. We've also got the box score.

More links after the jump.

Chiefs drop game to archrival

The Spokane Chiefs were 4-0-0-1 against the Tri-City Americans this season until Saturday night. The Americans, despite a subpar season, rose up to knock off their bitter rivals. Read story

Idaho finally wins at home in close game

Teams are supposed to have a big advantage at home, but that hadn't been the case for Idaho at Cowan Spectrum. In five games before tonight — three played without students in Moscow — the Vandals had lost five times. Yep, 0-5. But they made a string of winning plays down the stretch to dispatch Cal State Bakersfield 64-61.

An early version of our game story, and a few notes, are below after the jump.

Bulldogs hold off LMU, 82-72

Good evening from Los Angeles. Haven't seen a cloud in three days but I did witness two interesting basketball games. GU worked over Pepperdine on Thursday, but Saturday wasn't as easy against a short-handed Loyola Marymount squad. The Zags had to work from start to finish to secure an 82-72 win at Gersten Pavilion.

Sam Dower finished with a career-high 28 points — surpassing 1,000 career points at GU — and 14 rebounds. Known for his soft shooting touch, Dower couldn't buy a basket at times as his attempts from close range trickled off the iron, but he got plenty of opportunities and made several crucial baskets in the closing minutes.

My unedited game story is below. Check back for my day-after post in the morning.

 

 

WSU 55, Cal 76: Box Score

Courtesy of WSU athletics.

What will next week and the week after be like?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It hit me this morning as I was reading the 73rd story of the day on the Seahawks/49ers game. All this hype. And it's just the NFC Championship game. Not the Super Bowl. The NFC Championship. A semifinal if you will. What happens if Seattle wins? What will the next two weeks look like? Read on.

Hobbled Vandals host Bakersfield

After six losses in their last seven games — four of them to conference opponents — the Idaho Vandals find themselves in last place in the WAC heading into tonight's tilt with Cal State Bakersfield (7 p.m., Cowan Spectrum). Idaho is 7-12 and 1-4 in the WAC, a half-game worse than Seattle and Texas-Pan American after dropping to 0-5 in the Spectrum on Thursday night with a 71-66 loss to Utah Valley.

We've got an update on the suddenly injury-plagued Vandals below, and where things have gone wrong during this extended slide.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Berkeley — Sometimes a loss serves as a big enough wakeup call. Sometimes an extra intense practice full of shouting and punitive conditioning isn't the best motivational tool at a coach's disposal. Washington State's men's basketball coaches are subscribing to that philosophy, and had a light practice on Friday in preparation for today's game against Cal. They face a Golden Bears team that is quickly rising in the national conscience. The football team saw its first departure of the Spring, with wide receiver Bobby Ratliff deciding to retire his mouthguard

The women's basketball just keeps winning, and is now 5-0 in the Pac-12 after knocking off No. 21 Colorado.

More links, after the jump.

Everett left dumbfounded by Chiefs

The Everett Silvertips react to another loss to the Spokane Chiefs. Read story

Bobby Ratliff leaves WSU

Washington State wide receiver posted on his Instagram account that he is done playing football today. Ratliff, who would have been a redshirt senior this upcoming fall, posted:

Football has been everything and the only thing to me for the last 14 years. But with God and my family I've decided it was time to move on and start the rest of my life. There's nothing I'll miss more than being around my brothers in the locker room and I appreciate the love and understanding I've received from them. On that note it's still and forever will be Go Cougs ! #gocougs

Ratliff caught 27 passes last season for 243 yards. His best game as a Cougar came against No. 17 UCLA in 2012 when he had five catches for 123 yards, including a 49-yard reception.

LCHS boys vs. CDA: Fight for the Fish

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Lake City High vs. Coeur d'Alene boys game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

LCHS girls vs. CDA: Fight for the Fish

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Lake City High vs. Coeur d'Alene girls game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

The road is the best place to learn

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Watching a college basketball team on television is one thing. Watching that same team at live while it plays at home is another. But the best read on most college teams comes in person on the road. Read on.

Day after Pepperdine

It wasn’t too long ago that Gonzaga’s offense was drawing national attention (from ESPN's Jay Bilas and others) and ranked highly in several statistical categories.

That hasn't changed, but the offense has taken a backseat to the defense, which has emerged as the main reason for GU’s 5-1 start and hold on first place in the WCC.

For the fourth time in five conference games, Gonzaga’s defense was outstanding, the latest effort a 70-53 rout of Pepperdine on Thursday.

Here’s my game story. Read on for my day-after post.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Berkley — Though the Cougars rested, it was elsewhere an eventful day in Pac-12 hoops. Colorado's struggled to deal with its recent rash of injuries in a 69-56 loss to UCLA … Utah's offense returned to form in an 84-66 win over USC … The Sun Devils were no challenge for their top-ranked rival … Here on SportsLink we took a look back at WSU's loss to Stanford.

In football news, ASU coach Todd Graham responds to rumors that he was lobbying for other jobs … It will be hard for Cal to improve on its dismal record with talented players continuing to enter the NFL draft … A look inside Oregon defensive coordinator Mike Aliotti's retirement announcement … SI's interview with new USC coach Steve Sarkisian … 

Zags return to form in easy win

This one looked a lot more like Gonzaga's four-game home stand than Gonzaga's lackluster performance at Portland.

The Bulldogs rebounded from last week's loss to Portland by blowing out Pepperdine 70-53 on Thursday. Sam Dower Jr. led the way with 18 points and 8 rebounds, opting not to wear the back brace that he's utilized since returning from a back injury suffered at Kansas State. Kevin Pangos added 14 points and 4 assists.

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

 

Chiefs remain mostly intact after solid start

The Spokane Chiefs weren't big wheeler-dealers when it came to Western Hockey League trades. Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said the team is happy with what it has in its drive toward a top-four seed in the playoffs. Read story

The day after Stanford

From Palo Alto — Que Johnson tied his career high with 21 points last night, and has scored 14 or more points in five of WSU's last seven games. Royce Woolridge also had a strong first half. Thus ends the good news following Washington State's 80-48 loss to Stanford. With 7 minutes and 11 seconds left in the first half, the Cougars led 24-20. From that point they were outscored, 60-24, one-point worse than their 60-25 loss at Arizona.

More on the game, after the jump.

Time is winding down

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Tick. Tick. Tick. That's a non-digital clock marking the seconds until Sunday's NFC title game in Seattle. It also may be counting down some other things as well. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Palo Alto — You take two steps forward, one step back. Such describes Washington State's past three men's basketball games. After a couple of good outings last week, the Cougars struggled mightily against the Cardinal. On the blog we've got video of Royce Woolridge, Que Johnson and Ken Bone, as well as a box score.

It was a bad day for Washington schools in The Bay, as he Huskies met a similar fate against the Golden Bears.

In others news … Washington and Tosh Lupoi have finally parted ways ... Can Arizona remain undefeated … ASU has some fundraising to do … 

WSU-Stanford: Box Score

Courtesy of WSU Athletics

Michaelson makes seamless transition

Brian Michaelson arrived at Gonzaga as a walk-on in 2001-02, then rejoined the program in 2008 as an administrative assistant. A few years later he became assistant director of basketball operations. In July, Michaelson was promoted to assistant coach, replacing Ray Giacoletti, who took the Drake head coaching position..

Michaelson has made a smooth transition in his first year. More on Michaelson and his new role below in my unedited article that will run in Thursday's S-R.

In case you missed it on Tuesday, I wrote about the challenges Gonzaga encounters in WCC road games. Here's a link.

 

Shock ownership changes hands

Back with more on the sale of the Spokane Shock to an ownership group led by Seattle businessman Nader Naini. Here's my updated article.

The obvious question on the minds of many Shock followers is whether the team will stay in Spokane. I asked that question to Naini, former owner Brady Nelson, public facilities director Kevin Twohig and several others close to the team and the responses were nearly identical that the new owners have no intention of moving the team.

One more note: Veteran general manager Ryan Rigmaiden is no longer serving in that capacity. He is now a consultant and is helping assemble the roster, but he has taken a job as director of U.S. scouting for the CFL B.C. Lions. Rigmaiden, who joined the Shock front office in the franchise's first season, will be at Shock training camp next month. Head coach Andy Olson, along with former P.R. director Ryan Eucker have assumed more of Rigmaiden's duties.

 

Rockets maintain level in poll

The Kelowna Rockets, marking their 12th week in the Canadian Hockey League's Top 10 poll, stayed at No. 1 for the third consecutive week. Kelowna (36-5-0-2) proved its merit on Sunday by defeating fifth-ranked Calgary in Calgary. Read story

WSU announces new football players

On Monday we reported that the Washington State football team was set to welcome six new student-athletes who enrolled for Spring semester. Today, the school formally announced the new roster additions.

“This is a very good start to our 2014 signing class,” said coach Mike Leach. “We have added some size along with skill positions on both sides of the ball. Having them begin classes and adjust to college life, while also participating in winter conditioning and spring practices, will benefit them going forward.”

Click here to read the school's press release.

Shock sold to new owners

The Spokane Shock is under a new ownership group.

Arena Football Partners, LLC, with investors from Washington, including Spokane, and California, has purchased the team from Brady Nelson, who brought the popular arena football team to Spokane in 2006, and Nelson's partners.

I spoke with Nelson earlier and will be updating the article currently on the S-R Website.

Said Nelson: “It's been such an amazing run, so fun and so fulfilling, an incredible amount of time and effort. I just decided now was kind of the right time.”

More later.

 

Everyone has a skeleton in their closet

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I have a confession to make. I come from a family of 49er fans. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Well, hope you enjoyed having the Cougars in Pullman. It may have been brief, but at least WSU won its only home Pac-12 game out of the first six. With classes starting on Monday the team barely had time to grab its syllabi before jetting off to the Bay Area to face the Northern California schools. Up first is Stanford, and we've got an advance … After beating Utah, the Cougars are hoping to put together a winning streak and get back on the right foot. That's the good news. The bad news is they'll have to do it without DaVonte Lacy, who won't be suiting up anytime soon.

With his rib injury, Lacy can't participate in all the fun Pac-12 guards are having this season.

Links from around the conference, after the jump.

WHL notes: Kelowna does West proud

This week's Western Hockey League notebook shows another example why the league power resides in the Western Conference. Read story

Seattle keeps upper hand

It's one thing when the Spokane Chiefs struggle against the Portland Winterhawks. That's old news. Spokane's yearlong drought against the Seattle Thunderbirds is another matter. Read story

Road trips are always challenging

The Gonzaga Bulldogs lost to Portland, picked ninth in the preseason poll, last Thursday at the Chiles Center, another not-so-gentle reminder that there are no gimmies on the road in college basketball.

I took a closer look at why road games, particularly in the WCC, have always been challenging for the Zags in an article that will run in Wednesday's S-R. Gonzaga, of course, isn't alone. Just saw highlights of previously unbeaten Wisconsin losing at Indiana and Kentucky falling at Arkansas.

An unedited copy of my article can be found below.

Central Valley girls defeat Mead 50-47

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Mead vs. Central Valley girls' game.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Lacy out for another month

From Pullman — Ken Bone talked to the media on Tuesday as part of the Pac-12 men's basketball coaches teleconference. Bone said that he was impressed with Stanford's size and athleticism in the post, that Josh Hawkinson is improving and may be overtaking Jordan Railey,  and provided and injury update on DaVonte Lacy, who has been sidelined since tearing some cartilage surrounding his rib at Arizona State on January 5th.

Read on, after the jump.

A quick post for a Tuesday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

This is going to be quick. Thank goodness Monday was not a real busy day. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Yesterday was the start of called for Spring semester at Washington State and the students were back on campus. That includes six new Cougars who enrolled for Spring quarter (although apparently Calvin Green is arriving today). In the morning, Bud Nameck hosted Cougar Calls, which you can listen to here or read our recap. Bud Withers of the Seattle Times takes a look at the teams to beat in 2014, and the paper also has a piece on former WSU basketball player Patrick Simon. CougCenter's Kyle Sherwood takes a closer look at the shot charts from the Cougars game against Utah.

Follow the jump for links from around the Pac-12.

 

 

Elynuiks know their WHL

Hudson Elynuik, one of the two newest members of the Spokane Chiefs, started his Western Hockey League career with great advance knowledge about the league. Elynuik and the Chiefs will be home Tuesday night against the Seattle Thunderbirds. Read story

Bulldogs slide in polls

Gonzaga's upset loss to Portland last Thursday dropped the Bulldogs out of the A.P. Top 25 and nearly out of the USA Today rankings.

Gonzaga (14-3) slipped eight spots, from No. 22 to No. 30, in the A.P. poll. The Zags dropped from 18th to 24th in USA Today. Find both polls here.

The Bulldogs have been ranked in both polls all season, including 15th in the A.P. preseason rankings and 11th on Nov. 25th.

 

 

Cougar Calls with Bill Moos recap

From Pullman — Cougar Calls — Bud Nameck's weekly radio show on KXLY with WSU athletic director Bill Moos — can be heard every Monday at 10 a.m. Moos wasn't available today so associate athletic director Mike Marlow appeared in his stead. A podcast will be made available later just in case you weren't able to devote an hour of your Monday morning to listening. We've also summarized a few of the highlights, after the jump.

WSU football set to add six Spring enrollees

From Pullman — Six new players are expected to join the Washington State football program today, with Markell Sanders, Marcellus Pippins, Dylan Hanser, Nick Begg, Calvin Green and Sean Krepsz all set to become Cougars. Sanders, Hanser, Begg and Krepsz are already listed in the WSU student directory, and all six are on campus according to Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com.

We'll have updates with quotes from the WSU coaches once they become available. For now, we've got more on the newcomers, after the jump.

It had to be this way, right?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There you go. You got what you wanted. Now deal with it. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — By the time the Cougars are one-third of the way through Pac-12 play, they'll have only played one game in Pullman. So it's a good thing they won it last night, against Utah, 49-46. It's the Cougars first Pac-12 win and it came thanks to a gritty defense. It was a good win for WSU, which again played without DaVonte Lacy. While there is no timetable yet for his return, it's hard to see how he could get ready in time for the Cougars' upcoming Bay Area trip.

More links after the jump.

WSU picks up first Pac-12 win

From Pullman — It wasn't pretty and the offense is still a work in progress but the Washington State men's basketball team gritted out a 49-46 victory over visiting Utah on Sunday evening. Our game story is after the jump.

WSU-Utah: Box Score

Courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Which do you prefer?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

As a fan, would you rather have your team, in this case the Seattle Seahawks, win a playoff game in a dominant fashion, making it look easy, or would you rather have them gut out a win? It's a legitimate question, especially after yesterday. Read on.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

 

From Pullman — The WSU-UW rivalry in women's hoops continues to be a one-sided affair with the dominant school predictably winning every game as much a certainty as the sunset or the tide's endless back and forth. Yes, the Washington State women tacked another win onto The Streak, which now stands at two games. The WSU athletics site has Bobby Alworth's game story from the Cougars' win in Seattle.

With the win, the women are 4-0 in conference play for the first time in school history. They're also 2-0 against the Huskies this season, who the team previously hadn't beaten since 1995. Tia Presley led the Cougars with 29 points. Before the season coach June Daughtery pronounced that WSU would make the postseason this year, and the team — which also has a pair of wins over top-25 opponents — seems to be doing everything it can to reward her faith.

The men will take on Utah at 4 p.m. today. Here is our advance for that game.

More links, after the jump.

Seattle improves to 4-0 against Chiefs

The Spokane Chiefs were slightly more than 2 minutes away from their first win against the Seattle Thunderbirds this season when everything went awry Saturday. Seattle pulled its goalie, scoring the tying goal in regulation and got the winner in overtime to stop Spokane 4-3. The Chiefs are 0-4 (technically 0-3-1-0) against Seattle this season, but they get another chance Tuesday at home. Read story

NMSU pounds reeling Vandals

New Mexico State handed Idaho its worst of the loss of the season on Saturday night, a 78-54 beatdown in Las Cruces. And the Aggies dominated even more than the final score indicates.

NMSU, the WAC's top team at 14-5 and 3-0, thundered to a 24-4 lead in the first 8 minutes and led by 32 midway through the second half. The Aggies converted 17 Idaho turnovers into 30 points and held UI to 35 percent from the field. And they did all this without 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar, who missed the game with a foot injury.

The Vandals (7-11, 1-3) have lost five of their last six heading back to Moscow to host Utah Valley and Cal State Bakersfield.

More below.

Gonzaga women vs. San Diego

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered Gonzaga's victory over San Diego, 79-50, in the women's college basketball game at home in the McCarthey Athletic Center, Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. Check out his big picture story!

The snow and the rain and the bright sunshine

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's easy to wonder if the term, “the calm before the storm,” was first coined in Seattle. After all, this time of year it always seems storming in the Puget Sound, especially around CenturyLink Field. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — We know live in a world in which there is just one Pac-12 basketball game being played on Saturday, today, and five on Sunday. Here's an advance for that game between Oregon State and Cal.

More links, after the jump.

Next up: Seattle

The Spokane Chiefs have overcome nearly every challenge since Dec. 11, winning eight of their last nine games, including Friday night's 6-3 home victory over Kamloops. Now the Chiefs have back-to-back games against a team that has given them fits this season: the Seattle Thunderbirds. Read story

Gonzaga Prep boys defeat Shadle Park 58-51

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered Gonzaga Prep's home game against Shadle Park.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

No timetable for Lacy’s return

From Pullman — Apart from a brief appearance against Arizona State, the Washington State men's basketball team has been without leading scorer DaVonte Lacy since the Cougars' loss to UTEP on December 21. During shoot around before their next game against Mississippi Valley State, Lacy felt pain in his torso and was taken to the hospital, where an appendectomy was performed. After missing the Arizona game, Lacy made a brief comeback against the Sun Devils, but left midway through the first half with a separate rib injury and missed the Colorado game.

We've got an update on Lacy's status, after the jump.

 

Cougars Q&A before practice

From Pullman — For the first time in 2014 the Washington State men's basketball team wasn't on the road yesterday, so they took the day off. They were back at it today, however, practicing in Beasley Coliseum and preparing for Sunday's game against Utah. I got a chance to speak to coach Ken Bone and sophomore forward Junior Longrus before practice.

Find out what they said, after the jump.

Chiefs swap Playfair for Messier

The final day of the Western Hockey League trade deadline today saw the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans trade 19-year-old forwards. The Chiefs sent Jackson Playfair to Tri-City for Marcus Messier. Read story

Get a win, have a party

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I knew it was coming so I stayed up late to watch it. It is so much fun to watch a college basketball fan base treat a mid-January game as if it is the national title championship. But, in a way, to them it is. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Washington State was out of action of Thursday, so we took another look at the overtime loss to No. 15 Colorado. I also put out my power rankings, which were quickly and thoroughly made worthless by a slate of Pac-12 games. No. 17 Oregon continued to slide, falling to Cal, which is looking like one of the conference's best teams despite having a few key players out with injuries … Oregon State picked up a conference win against Stanford, which is surprisingly struggling so far in Pac-12 play … Arizona edged UCLA in the night's marquee matchup … And USC proved to be an easy outing for the Sun Devils.

 

Zags suffer first WCC loss

Portland handed Gonzaga its first WCC loss, outplaying the visiting Bulldogs 82-73 Thursday at the Chiles Center.

The Bulldogs never led and trailed by as many as 17. Sam Dower Jr. led Gonzaga with 14 points, despite appearing to be in pain on several occasions. He missed two games recently with a lower back injury.

Read on for an unedited game recap.

Vandals snap 4-game skid with 2OT win

Idaho finally broke through with a clutch win. All it took was a basket in the final second from an unlikely source.

Freshman Perrion Callandret scored his only points of a wild game with 0.5 seconds left in double overtime to vault the Vandals past UTPA, 86-85, on Thursday night. Idaho (7-10, 1-2) ended a four-game losing streak and snagged its first WAC win of the season despite four starters fouling out and going 22 of 36 from the free-throw line.

UTPA (4-13, 0-2) has lost nine straight.

“I couldn’t be happier, especially for the guys in the locker room,” Idaho coach Don Verlin said. “When you lose games like that, they rip your hearts out, and it can be hard to get the pieces back together. Our guys hung together all night long and fought. At the end, we had four of our five starters fouled out. It’s hard to win on the road in the WAC, and when you miss as many free throws as we did, it makes it even harder. But what a great way to find a way to win and get our first WAC road win of the season.”

More below.

EWU defeats Montana

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered EWU's 69-62 win against Montana.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Former Chiefs prepare for Olympics

The Spokane Chiefs detail three former members of the team who will represent their countries in Sochi. Read story

Zags take on Portland

Latest addition to the injury list: Me. My annual locked-up back is a bit more severe than usual. I've moved about 70 feet in the last 30 hours and sitting isn't an option. So I'll be monitoring GU-Portland tonight from the couch instead of courtside at the Chiles Center.

Here's my short preview of the Pilots and a game glance.

Day after Colorado

From Pullman — Well, a win over the No. 15 team in the country would have done the trick. But Colorado came back and beat the Cougars, 71-70, in overtime. Still, the WSU team was optimistic after the game that the loss was something they could build on. Check out some of the stuff that didn't make the game story, after the jump.

Pac-12 basketball power rankings

From Pullman — Well, it looks like it's going to be one of those years. The Pac-12 is much improved but that doesn't mean that there isn't league-wide parity, or that any team can't beat any other team on any given night. We found that out last night when WSU nearly knocked off Colorado, which beat Oregon, who is really good.

But we'll try and make some sense of it all in our power rankings after the jump.

Cougars look better than expected against Colorado

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Wasn't it Mark Twain who said “the rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated” or something like that? It's quite possible that witticism could apply to Washington State's basketball team. That's if the Cougars continue to play like they did on Wednesday night in the Spokane Arena. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — It was a bittersweet day for Washington State men's basketball fans. On the one hand, the Cougars showed that they can score the ball against a good team without DaVonte Lacy. But on the other hand, the Cougars couldn't hold a lead against No. 15 Colorado, falling by a single point in overtime. Here's our game story, as well as Colin Mulvaney's photo gallery from the game, which was played at the Spokane Arena. We've also got the box score and post game video from coach Ken Bone, as well as Dexter Kernich-Drew and Royce Woolridge. With Washington beating Utah, the trip to the Evergreen State could still prove to be a formidable one for Pac-12 teams.

Now the Cougars can finally return to Beasley Coliseum, where they haven't played a home game since December 28th, 2013. John Blanchette spoke with Bill Moos about the state of the WSU program and what the future may hold

On the football side, the Pac-12 released its schedule for the 2013-14 season and WSU did as well.

More from the rest of the conference, after the jump.

WSU 70, Colorado 71

Courtesy of WSU Athletics.

Colorado defeats WSU 71-70

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered WSU's loss to Colorado.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Indians announce coaching staff

The Spokane Indians on Wednesday announced the coaching staff that will join manager Tim Hulett when the Northwest League season begins in June. Read story

WHL deals heat up

Here's a roundup of Wednesday's trades in the Western Hockey League. The trade deadline is Friday. Read story

Kelowna maintains top ranking

The Kelowna Rockets (33-4-0-2) of the Western Hockey League remained No. 1 in the Canadian Hockey League rankings for a second consecutive week. The other ranked WHL teams are Calgary, which moved up one spot, and Portland, which dropped two. Victoria is still an honorable mention despite last Friday's 5-3 loss at Spokane. Read story

WSU releases 2014 football schedule

If home is where the heart is than the Cougars should show plenty of it in the 2014 football season. After opening the season against Rutgers in Seattle's CenturyLink Field on August 28th, the Cougars will have five home games in Martin Stadium. The game will be the first for Rutgers as a member of the Big Ten athletic conference.The Apple Cup returns to the Saturday after Thanksgiving after being played the day after the holiday the past two seasons. For the second straight year the Cougars will  skip Colorado and UCLA.

“This is truly an outstanding schedule for our team and for our fans,” WSU athletic director Bill Moos said. “Having six games in Martin Stadium has not happened in a while and the conference slate of home games is outstanding.  In addition, playing new Big Ten member Rutgers in Seattle on the Thursday night of Labor Day weekend should prove to be attractive in regards to attracting a great crowd as well as a large national television audience. 

 

WSU 2014 Football Schedule (home games in bold):

Aug. 28 – Rutgers (The Seattle Game)
Sept. 6 – at Nevada
Sept. 13 – Portland State
Sept. 20 – Oregon
Sept. 27 – at Utah
Oct. 4 – California (Homecoming)
Oct. 10 – at Stanford
Oct. 18 – Bye
Oct. 25 – Arizona (Dad’s Weekend)
Nov. 1 – USC
Nov. 8 – at Oregon State
Nov. 15 – Bye
Nov. 22 – at Arizona State
Nov. 29 – Washington (Apple Cup)

Wiltjer works on body, game

Kyle Wiltjer's games come in the weight room, as he tries to reach his next goal. They come in agility/flexibility training with strength and conditioning coach Travis Knight with the goal of making quicker decisions and transferring that to the rest of his body. They come in practice every day with the Red squad, which matches up against players in GU's rotation.

Wiltjer is redshirting under NCAA rules after transferring from Kentucky. The 6-10 forward has a unique skill set that he's trying to augment through many of the same training methods that paid dividends for ex-Zag Kelly Olynyk.

More on Wiltjer here, along with an update on GU's injury/illness list. Przemek Karnowski (sick) has missed the last two days of practice. Here's an update from the L.A. Times on GU recruit Bryan Alberts, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

 

Will Edgar ever be a Hall of Famer?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It won't be a good day in the Edgar Martinez household. The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its 2014 inductees this morning and once again the best line-drive hitter to ever wear a Mariners uniform will be disappointed. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — We now live in a world in which the Cougars have a winning streak over the Huskies in women's basketball. For perspective, I was turning five the last time that happened, and Grippi was turning 25. The Cougars ended WSU's 36-game winning streak in the series with last night's 82-80 win. We've got post game video and a blog post.

The men have a chance for a big win today against No. 15 Colorado, here's our advance. Take Note: The game is being played in Spokane, which is likely more convenient for you. Unless you live in Pullman. Then, it's probably a pain. On the other side of the state the Huskies have a game against Utah, and they hope to continue to show off their new, not awful defense.

ESPN's Kevin Gemmell takes a look at the Trojans season through the rearview mirror, while Colorado's young linebacker is a bright spot for the future.

Bonus Link: Uh, oh. College football players are disappearing.

Video: WSU women react to the win

From Pullman — Coach June Daugherty and players Lia Galdiera, Tia Presley and Shalie Dheensaw spoke to the media after Washington State's 82-80 victory over Washington in women's basketball. The video of coach Daugherty is below and the players are after the jump.

 

Down goes The Streak

From Pullman — All things, good and bad, come to and end. Except The Simpsons. UW's dominance over WSU in women's basketball came to an end today as the Cougars won, 82-80, for the first time since 1996. Our story, after the jump.

WHL notes: Vancouver makes its move

Most of the teams in the Western Hockey League's 10-team Western Conference have put together one (or more) hot streaks this year. The Vancouver Giants, who finished in last place in the conference last season and started poorly this season, have steadily moved up the standings since mid-October. Read story

DaVonte Lacy out with new injury

From Pullman — The good news for DaVonte Lacy and the WSU men's basketball team is that the talented guard was suffering no lingering affects from his appendectomy when he left the Arizona State game after just 10 minutes. Returning just eight days after the surgery, Lacy started for the Cougar but rushed to the locker room clutching his side midway through the first half.

The bad news is that X-rays revealed a new injury, this time to Lacy's ribs, one that could keep WSU's leading scorer out even longer. During the Pac-12 coaches teleconference Ken Bone said that he expects Lacy to be out at least a week, meaning he'll miss tomorrow's matchup against No. 15 Colorado in Spokane, as well as Sunday's game against Utah.

Without Lacy's 18.9 points per game, the Cougars offensive struggled mightily this past week, scoring just 72 points in two games. Not only is Lacy the team's scoring leader, he's one of its vocal leaders as well. His ability to create shot and draw defenses provides opportunities for his teammates, and without him on the court the WSU offense often appeared to stall.

Freshman guard Que Johnson picked up some of the scoring slack against Arizona State will need to continue to shoulder the scoring load until Lacy's rib heals.

Logan Mayes finds a new home

From Pullman — It was announced before the football season that defensive end/BUCK linebacker Logan Mayes would be transferring out of the Washington State football program in search of more playing time. Today it was announced what school will be his new home. 

Find out where, after the jump.

A farewell party that lived up to its billing

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Hype. It is a funny word. Any word that's first vowel is a “y” is, by default, a funny word. And its connotation is kind of strange as well. Negative for sure. Each and every BCS national title game was hyped. Over-hyped. And only a couple ever lived up to that pre-game hype. Last night was one of them. Actually, the last one of them. Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Yesterday Bill Moos appeared on Cougar Calls and WSU coach Mike Leach made a guest appearance. We've transcribed some of the highlights. While the call was centered on football, Moos also touched on the men's and women's basketball teams. We've got a blog post recapping the men's weekend in the desert, while the women will take on Washington tomorrow … Moos also reiterated that the Apple Cup won't be on Friday next year … It appears that former WSU football coach Paul Wulff has found gainful employment … The Pac-12 is losing a lot of talent in football this offseason. Both underclassmen and seniors are preparing for the NFL draft … In the true Boulder spirit, Colorado has been climbing the men's basketball polls … Last night was the end of the BCS era, and it went out with a bang.

Highlights of Cougars Calls with Mike Leach and Bill Moos

From Pullman — Like myself, Bud Nameck returned from Arizona today and wasn't around to participate in Cougar Calls with WSU athletic director Bill Moos. But Derek Deis filled in ably, and the duo had a guest visitor in football coach Mike Leach. Moos confirmed that the Cougars won't be playing the Apple Cup the day after Thanksgiving anymore, and Leach called in from Florida to give his thoughts on recruiting. The interview can be listened to in its entirety here.

We've also transcribed some of the highlights, which you can read after the jump.

 

WSU men’s basketball: recapping the road trip

The Washington State men's basketball team's trip to the desert wasn't the cleansing experience often experienced by participants at Burning Man or those on various spirit quests. Rather, WSU's offensive drought was more reminiscent of one Wile E. Coyote — always chasing that blasted bird but always one step behind. 

A DaVonte Lacy sighting proved to be a mirage, and it's anyones guess when the Cougars leading scorer will return and provide some offensive relief. We'll recap WSU's road trip in full, after the jump.

It was nice start to the year

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't know about you folks, but it seemed like a pretty good weekend to me. A good way to kick off the year, so to speak. And it isn't over yet. Read on.

Monday morning Pac-12 links

Things didn't go well for the Cougars in Tempe as WSU lost not only the game, but again lost DaVonte Lacy, who made his first start in over a week but was re-injured midway through the first half. Even more problematic, the Cougars scored just 72 points over the weekend for an average of 36 points a game. Needless to say, that won't cut it in Pac-12 play.

However, the women's basketball team again held court, completing a sweep of the Arizona schools with a two-point victory over the Wildcats to improve to 2-0 in conference. 

Elsewhere in Pac-12 men's hoops, Colorado handed Oregon its first loss of the season and UCLA resoundingly won the first matchup between the two new coaches in Los Angeles.

There was some football news on Sunday as UCLA's Brett Hundley announced that he's sticking around another season, while Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas is off to the NFL.

Day after Pacific

Yup, we're starting a little slow this Sunday morning, just like the Pacific Tigers were slow out of the gates Saturday night.

Gonzaga built a huge early lead, weathered a Pacific comeback and cruised to an 86-64 win, capping a busy four-games-in-eight-days stretch.

Here's my game story and Colin Mulvany's photo gallery.

More below in my day-after post.

Sunday morning Pac-12 links

From Tempe — Unless a team is contending for the conference championship, a Pac-12 road split in basketball is nearly always a success. So Washington State can still make something out of this Arizona trip with a win tomorrow … It's time to sign up for a Night with Cougar Football

Arizona held off the Huskies on Saturday, who may be better than they appeared in preceding weeks. Utah picked up its first conference win.

The Cougars aren't the only basketball team playing on Sunday. The rivalry between UCLA and USC will add a new chapter when their first-year head coaches square off for the first time, and Oregon will visit Colorado for a matchup of ranked teams.

Bonus Link: Texas finally has a new football coach. But is it a good fit?

Idaho loses another nail-biter

It hasn't been a fun holiday stretch for Idaho. Four straight losses. The last three at home by nine combined points. And each crowd at Cowan Spectrum progressively smaller than the last.

Idaho fell 57-55 to Chicago State on Saturday night in front of 785 fans. The loss — another “rip-your-hear-out” game in Don Verlin's words — came after the Vandals clawed back from a 14-point second-half deficit.

Our story and a note on redshirt freshman Ty Egbert's ejection can be found after the link.

Chiefs cap successful weekend

The Spokane Chiefs played playoff-caliber hockey this weekend, defeating Victoria and Everett to move from sixth place in the Western Hockey League's Western Conference to tied for fourth. Read story

Zags thump Tigers for 4-0 WCC start

Gonzaga polished off a 4-0 home stand to open the WCC season with an 86-64 win over Pacific on Saturday.

Kevin Pangos and Drew Barham each scored 16 points, David Stockton had 15 and Sam Dower Jr. added 13 for the Bulldogs (14-2, 4-0).

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

 

WSU tries to salvage road swing at Arizona State

From Tempe — Washington State's 60-25 loss at Arizona on Thursday certainly wasn't ideal. But in a conference like the Pac-12, a road split is always a success, no matter how bad the loss was. With a win tomorrow at Arizona State, the Cougars will still come out of the weekend ahead.

ASU has a lot of talent in the likes of Jahii Carson, Shaq McKissic, Jordan Bachynski and others. But the Sun Devils have some weaknesses, too. They're No. 11 in rebounding differential and averaged just 0.1 more rebounds per game through the non conference schedule and their loss to Washington on Thursday.

Conversely, ASU has had a lot of success from behind the arc this season, and leads the Pac-12 with over eight made 3-pointers per game.

Our advance, in it's unedited glory, is after the jump.

It’s an NFL-playoff weekend

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There was a lot going on last night, ranging from college football to high school basketball. But weekends are made for pro football. At least the next few are. Read on.

Saturday morning Pac-12 links

From Tempe — The WSU women defended home court to open Pac-12 play with a win over No. 24/25 Arizona State. It was the second win over a ranked win for the Cougars (7-6, 1-0 Pac-12), who also beat No. 10 Nebraska earlier this season. It wasn't the only upset in Pac-12 women's hoops, as USC knocked off No. 12 Colorado. 

On the men's side, Washington will get its turn against No. 1 Arizona tomorrow. The Huskies will have to face Aaron Gordon, who could have been a teammate of theirs. Utah and Oregon State are still winless in conference play, but one of them won't be after they face off tomorrow.

In Pac-12 football news, a number of players are declaring their intentions to leave early for the NFL draft. These include USC's Marquise Lee, Cal's Khairi Fortt, Terrance Mitchell of Oregon, Brandon Cooks of Oregon State.

 

Chiefs make move in WHL standings

The Spokane Chiefs began the weekend in sixth place in the Western Hockey League's Western Conference. They could end the weekend in fourth place. Read story

Zags wrap up busy week

Gonzaga's Mark Few said earlier this week that every game worries him as a coach. One could see why Saturday's matchup with Pacific would really worry Few.

Pacific is a capable team stocked with seven seniors. The Tigers advanced to the NCAA Tournament last season and opened 2013-14 with an 8-1 record before dropping three of their last four. They'll be motivated to get back on track and show they can compete with the WCC's dominant program.

Meanwhile, Gonzaga is coming off an impressive 73-51 win over rival Saint Mary's on Thursday night. It'll be interesting to see if the Bulldogs can avoid a letdown and summon another spirited effort from a roster still dealing with key injuries.

Here's a short preview that will run in Saturday's S-R.

Lewis and Clark defeats Central Valley Bears 62-52

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered LC girls' win over CV.  Check out this big picture gallery of game photos.

Day after Saint Mary’s

In a twitter hurry last night, I had a typo that Gonzaga was leading Saint Mary's 238-20 late in the first half. (Well done by Gabe Ayers' swift re-tweet: “That really escalated quickly.”)

Turns out I wasn't too far off. It was a mind-boggling night at the McCarthey as GU rolled 73-51, the Gaels needing an 11-3 closing run to make the final margin 22. Saint Mary's went 36-plus minutes before its first assist and first 3-pointer. Przemek Karnowski swatted seven shots. Brad Waldow, a quality center and career 64-percent shooter, went 1 of 8.

Here's the rundown: My game story and Jesse Tinsley's photo gallery. The holiday break reduced the Kennel Club to about 50 students, so John Blanchette volunteered to fill the void in his column. Here's a gamer from the Contra Costa Times.

More below in my day-after post.

 

One big up and a lot of downs on Thursday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It was an up-and-down college basketball Thursday around here, with an emphasis on down. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Tempe — Here's a travel tip for those of you who may want to fly south for the winter. If you're in Tucson at midnight and are thinking about driving to Tempe with a quarter tank of gas and a fuel cap that won't open, don't. Just call me Rick Steves. Still, I'm sure I had a better trip than the Washington State men's basketball team, which didn't have a great time playing shorthanded against the best team in the country on the road. Now they have to play an Arizona State team that should be riled up after losing its conference home-opener to the Huskies.

In other Pac-12 openers, No. 10 Oregon remained undefeated but it was Utah that came away looking like a team to be reckoned with, taking the Ducks to overtime before falling, 70-68 … Cal's Justin Cobbs scored a bevy of points in the final minutes as the Golden Bears won the Battle of the Bay … Colorado avoided an upset at home against Oregon State.

Here on SportsLink we've got an interview with yours truly conducted by the Greatest WSU Basketball Manager of All Time and a post on WSU athletic director Bill Moos' son being named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American team as a tight end.

WSU falls, hard, to No. 1 Arizona

From Tucson — A perfect storm of injured players, anemic shooting, a hostile crowd and great defense combined as the Cougars had a historically bad offensive night. 25 points. Says it all, really. Still, WSU coach Ken Bone and the players requested by reporters came out to face the media and answered our questions honestly and earnestly. That can't have been fun, and is no guarantee.

But the Cougars will pick themselves up and prepare to take on Arizona State on Sunday. Until then, our story is after the jump.

Idaho fritters away another lead, loses to UMKC

After Idaho blew another late lead at home, Don Verlin blew off the media. The Vandals sixth-year coach declined to make himself and his players available to reporters after an 80-74 loss to UMKC at Cowan Spectrum to open their final season in the WAC. Idaho, which twice led by five points in the final minutes, has dropped three straight games and now stands at 6-9 and 0-1.

Our story after the jump.

Karnowski, Zags thump Gaels

Przemek Karnowski's parents have been in Spokane for nearly two weeks over the holidays and they will see four of Przemek's games before leaving after Saturday's GU-Pacific contest.

They've witnessed two of their son's best games as a Zag. Karnowski had 11 points and eight rebounds in a win over San Francisco on Monday and he followed that up with 15 points, nine boards and seven blocked shots in a 73-51 rout of Saint Mary's on Thursday.

More in my unedited game story below. Check back tomorrow morning for a day-after post.

 

Kelowna moves to top spot

A 15-game winning streak has moved Kelowna to the top of the Canadian Hockey League rankings. Read story

WSU AD’s son a freshman All-American

Washington State athletic director Bill Moos has put together quite the biography. By revolutionizing college football marketing at Oregon he put the Ducks on a course for success that routinely has them playing in BCS bowls. His attempts to do the same at Washington State have swelled the Cougar Athletic Fund coffers to historical highs. The beef that comes from his Special K ranch outside of Spokane is some of the juiciest, mouth-wateringest you'll find 'round these parts.

Perhaps one day he'll even live up to the example being set by his progeny. Read on, after the jump.

We all know what comes before the fall

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What one word can be used to describe the Pac-12's bowl performance this season? Hubris. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Tempe — Did you get a wink of sleep last night? Me neither. Not with Pac-12 basketball finally about to begin. We've got our conference power rankings and a look at how the conference has returned to the college basketball spotlight. The Cougars will get a taste of just how good this conference in during their Arizona swing. While the Wildcats may be No. 1, the Sun Devils are no slouches, either.

The Arizona Daily Star takes a look at the conference's bests and worsts.

In football news, Stanford was the ninth and final Pac-12 team to play its bowl game, losing the Rose Bowl in dramatic fashion to Michigan State. With the loss, the Pac-12 finishes a respectable but not exemplary 6-3 in its bowl games. Thanks, Stanford.

 

Zags gear up for Saint Mary’s

Gonzaga-Saint Mary's has been the WCC's best matchup for the better part of the last decade and early on in the 2013-14 conference season it appears nothing has changed.

The rivals collide Thursday at the MAC with the winner remaining unbeaten in WCC play (LMU and Pepperdine are both 2-0). Sam Dower Jr. (lower back) will be a game-day decision. He wasn't able to do much at Wednesday's practice.

More below.

Vandals start WAC basketball play

Here's a tricky New Year's Day question: Name at least half the schools that play basketball in the revamped WAC? OK, how about a three of the nine that are the lone holdovers from last season? That's not so hard — Idaho, New Mexico State and Seattle U. But the six newcomers are a collection of geographically diverse and not-so-well-known schools: University of Missouri-Kansas City (who the Vandals play Thursday night at Cowan Spectrum), Chicago State, Grand Canyon University, Cal State Bakersfield, Utah Valley and Texas-Pan American.

After the jump, we've got a quick preview of Idaho's home games on Thursday and Saturday — the first weekend of WAC play.

Pac-12 basketball power rankings

The Pac-12 is asserting itself as one of the better basketball conferences in the country. After five years as a mid-majors in wolfs' clothing, the Conference of Champions has finally replenished the exodus of talent that left in the 2007 and 2008 NBA drafts. It's great that the Pac-12 is starting to once again get some national respect, but with conference play beginning tomorrow, it's no longer time for the fans to hold hands, sing Kumbaya and pretend to root for each other's school in the hopes of pleasing the RPI gods.

Starting tomorrow, all that matters is how the teams stack up in conference.

Here's where we're at so far.

It never seems to rain on this day

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's another New Year's Day. Another Rose Bowl game. And, I'm sure, another perfect afternoon in Pasadena. Before the week is done, another 10,000 folks from the Midwest will make plans to move to Southern California. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — Boston College running back Andre Williams beat out Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey and Washington's Bishop Sankey for the Doak Walker award given to the nation's top running back. How staunch, how breach-less, then, the Arizona run defense must have been to hold the Boston Battering Ram to 75 yards on 26 carries. We shouldn't diminish Williams, however. In this writer's opinion, he could become a very solid Pac-12 running back with a little work.

The Pac-12 continued to flex its muscle nationally in Tuesday's bowl performances. If there are small children in your household, I hope you had the good sense to avert their eyes during UCLA's public shaming of Virginia Tech. Brett Hundley may have been the best quarterback in Texas yesterday.

Anyways, why are all these former WSU coaches ending up in Seattle? Are they lost? Do they hate buffalo wings? I lived in Seattle for five years and never once tasted wings as good as the ones at Birch & Barley last night … Will anyone challenge Arizona in hoops this year? WSU has the first shot … Seattle Weekly with a story on concussions that features a former WSU football player.

Tha-tha-tha-THAT'S ALL FOLKS.

Oh, and have a happy new year.

 

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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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