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.
• College athletes are the same way. They work their butts off in the classroom and in practice for the reward, the games. A limited number of games. For football players it is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50, depending on the number of seasons, redshirt status and bowl experiences. For basketball players – and most other sports – there are a lot more but the number is still limited by eligibility and other factors. So each game is precious. College athletes, even freshmen, know they have a short shelf life. They realize the experience won't last forever. For some it is a steppingstone to a professional life. But for most it is the be-all and end-all of their athletic endeavors, the goal they have been working toward as long as they can remember. Which is why each lost game is a bit of agony. It doesn't matter if the game is lost because you haven't impressed the coaches enough to play or because you were injured or because of a poor grade. When you sit and watch, that's a lost chance to compete the athlete will never get back. It hurts. Which brings us to tonight's Gonzaga game against the University of San Diego. The other day I had a chance to watch the Zags play at Pepperdine. For part of the game I kept my eyes on injured GU guard Gary Bell Jr., in street clothes due to a broken bone in his shooting hand. Though Bell was the good soldier – he cheered when it was necessary, he laughed when it was appropriate and he was attentive in huddles – there were times his facial expressions betrayed his frustration. He wanted to be on the court. It was easy to see he missed the competition. One, two, three games have gone by, games Bell will never be able to recover. But that's done. The medical folks cleared him yesterday to return to the court. He'll suit up for the Zags tonight when they face the Toreros in the Kennel. And he'll face a former teammate, Chris Sarbaugh. When Sarbaugh was a freshman, fresh out of Gonzaga Prep where he helped the Bullpups to a State 4A basketball title, he was part of GU's team. A walk-on, he spent a year redshirting and watching the Gonzaga games from the best (and worst) seat on the court. Yes, he was up close but he wasn't participating. And that's not a fun situation. So Sarbaugh transferred, first to North Idaho College then on to USD, coached by former Gonzaga assistant Billy Grier. Now he's part of the Toreros rotation. He sits, sure, but he also gets up, takes off his warmup and runs to the scorer's table to check in. He'll do that tonight. And when he does my guess is he'll remember those days on the other bench when all he could do was sit, watch and learn. The reward didn't come then. It's in his playing time now. And that has to feel good.
• WSU: The Cougars didn't earn a reward last night, other than another Pac-12 loss, this one 66-55 to visiting Oregon State. Jacob Thorpe was there and has a game story along with the box score, interviews with coach Ken Bone and players and a morning post with links. ... We ran down a couple of stories with an Oregon State perspective and pass them along. ... Though the Cougs played last night, it is Thursday. That means Jacob has a preview of this weekend's other game along with this story on how the rule changes this season may make one type of player a little obsolete. He also has a blog post on football recruiting. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a story on Mike Leach and the Cougars' improvement.
• Gonzaga: Not only does Jim Meehan have the Bell news in this story and blog post, he also has his weekly weekend preview as well as the lead to our notebook. ... USD will try to hang with GU through its defense. ... BYU comes to town Saturday playing its best basketball.
• Idaho: The Vandals have just one game this week and Josh Wright has a preview.
• Preps: It's Thursday which is Prep Page day, so that means we not only have a roundup of Wednesday's action we can also pass along a Greg Lee story on Gunnar Amos' recruitment by Idaho, a column by Greg on a the dissolution of a long-time Whitman County marriage and a notebook. Greg also has a feature on a local wrestler.
• Seahawks: We are going to start our coverage today with a couple of out-of-the-usual stories. The first is a column from San Jose on how nice Jim Harbaugh was this past week. The second is some news from the Bay Area that should make your viewing enjoyment increase next NFL season. ... OK, back to the Super Bowl runup. What would the links be without a bunch of stories on Percy Harvin? At least this time he did practice and looked good. Maybe he'll finish the last game of the season. ... As we predicted earlier in the week, the quarterbacks were going to dominate the pregame hype and that's the case today. There is a connection between the veteran Peyton Manning and the youngster Russell Wilson. ... We would be remiss if we didn't have a Richard Sherman story or two or three. Sherman met with the media yesterday and had some interesting things to say. ... The Hawks do some things with their offensive line I've never seen another NFL team do. College, maybe, but not NFL. ... Though Harvin was at practice yesterday a few players sat out, including Marshawn Lynch. He's in more of a rest situation, though. ... There will always be stories about players who aren't in the spotlight. Wait until next week for even more. ... Want to know what was said between Sherman and Michael Crabtree? Watch this video and you'll find out. ... Of course, we have stories about the Denver Broncos and their preparation. ... There is more to the Derrick Coleman letter story. ... Jeremy Lane is still waiting to hear from the NFL and the sideline incident during the 49er game (pictured). We all are.
• Mariners: Not everything has to be about the Mariners, does it? How about this story concerning a player the Dodgers just signed. OK, it does have a Mariners connection.
• Sounders: The Sounders, they are a changin'.
• As the week winds down, we'll spend another day on the radio with Keith Osso and Rick Lukens. We are on between 3 and 5:45 p.m. (Eastern plays this evening and we have to be off for the pregame). You can listen here. Until then ...