A GRIP ON SPORTS
It seems moviegoers aren't the only ones who can enjoy awards. College basketball fans get to experience the same joys and disbelief as well. Read on.
• Yes, it is awards season in college basketball. The West Coast Conference kicked off the local versions yesterday with its awards, covering the men and the women. There's not a lot to argue with except maybe one major award on the men's side. But before we get there, let's congratulate Gonzaga women's coach Kelly Graves, who has yet to wear out his welcome with the conference's other coaches. Winning will do that you know. Wear out your welcome. Win too much and Coach of the Year awards begin going to the head coach of the "surprise" team. Graves' teams have won the regular season title 10 consecutive years, so it's a bit of a victory the other WCC coaches didn't go in another direction when picking their Coach of the Year. The guys on the men's side did. Which is odd. For two reasons. The first is simple. Mark Few might have done his best coaching job this season. The Zags were hit harder than anyone by graduation this season. They were handed the strangest conference schedule in memory, opening the season with four home games – with the students gone on Christmas break – and ending it with four road games. The team was hit off and on by major injuries, with Gary Bell Jr., Sam Dower Jr., and Kevin Pangos all out or limited at times. And yet they won the regular season title by two games, only losing three times, all on the road. But that's not all. Not picking Few is one thing. But the coaches' choice for Coach of the Year was San Francisco's Rex Walters (pictured). Yes, San Francisco did overcome the loss of its starting point guard to finish tied for second in the WCC, so add some points for that. But shouldn't you subtract some for allowing (and reportedly encouraging) a fight at practice that led directly to that point guard leaving? By giving the conference's top coaching award to the guy who let it happen, the other WCC coaches don't seem to have a problem with it. Odd. I guess it's OK, though. I didn't think Matthew McConaughey should have won the Best Actor award either. Though his speech was great.
• WSU: Not a lot happening in Pullman but Jacob Thorpe has a morning post anyway. And he even fills it with interesting items. Talk about making something from nothing. ... ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog has a couple of items, looking at the returning defensive tackles and each conference coach's best team.
• Gonzaga: The Zags certainly weren't bereft of awards, as Jim Meehan's story on the men and Thomas Clouse's on the women show. Neither, however, won any of the major player awards. ... BYU picked up both Player of the Year awards. ... The newcomer of the year for the men comes from Santa Clara. ... Winning the WCC's postseason tournament is the only way St. Mary's is getting into the NCAAs.
• EWU: As the last week of conference play unfolds, Eastern is tied with three other teams for the final two Big Sky tournament spots. One of those, Montana State, lost at Montana last night to drop to 9-9, just like Eastern, Portland State and Sacramento State. ... Hey, a football story.
• Whitworth: The NCAA invited three NWC women's teams into its Division III tournament. That's nice. Then the organization saved a bunch of money by sending all three to the same four-team pod at Whitman. That's not nice. Thomas Clouse has more on the strange seeding that has the Pirates opening against conference-rival George Fox. He also covers the men and their trip to Texas.
• Chiefs: Kelowna brings its top ranking into Everett tonight.
• Seahawks: Pete Carroll wondered out loud yesterday if the Hawks could get Red Bryant and/or Sidney Rice back this year for less money. He wasn't all that positive, which goes against his grain a bit. We'll see. ... Russell Wilson wore a Texas Ranger uniform yesterday (pictured). He looked as if he belonged. ... A few of the Hawks yesterday gathered to watch the debut of the Super Bowl movie. Hey, they won. ... Banning use of the N word would bother Doug Baldwin. ... Finally, the News Tribune examines another player who might be on the Hawks' draft radar.
• Sounders: OK, this is something I just don't understand but I'll go with it. The big news yesterday, the news that actually necessitated a press conference, was the Sounders' new third uniform. There is black in it. It has to be important to a lot of people. Not me. ... Sigi Schmid talked again. He does it a lot. ... Though the roster is not set just yet, some players have impressed and others haven't.
• That's it for today. We'll be back soon. Hope you will be too. Until then ...