A GRIP ON SPORTS
Coaching kids is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you might get. Case in point: I asked a group of high school-bound athletes the other day if they had any questions. "You have any pet peeves?" one kid asked. Yes I do. I named one. And as the practice wore on, I continually pointed out others. But it was a good question. Read on.
• So, do you have any pet peeves? It's the Wednesday before Washington's state basketball tournaments begin, so I guess I have one I could pass along. People who think the state tournaments have lost their luster because they are only eight teams at the state site. Really? When was a 16-team state tournament etched in stone? Back in the Sinai with Moses? It wasn't all that long ago the WIAA had four classifications. That meant 128 boys and girls teams made state. Total. Now, with six classifications, 96 boys and girls teams were eliminated last week alone. That leaves 96 teams playing. With eight-team tournaments, nearly as many schools get to play at the state site as were allowed in the tournament 20 years ago. I have actually heard an argument about kids "deserving" the state experience. Really? It seems like it is something that should be earned. If a team falls short by a game, isn't that a great learning experience? Doesn't failure teach lessons, just as success does? That's a lesson that seems to have been forgotten.
• So, I ask again, do you have any pet peeves? Maybe it's because there is too much speculation about Ken Bone's future at Washington State. Maybe it's because there is not enough. Or it is the Mariners seeming reluctance to add more salary for the upcoming season. Or the Hawks cutting a long-time defensive stalwart due to salary cap concerns. Maybe it's Gonzaga related – too loud in the Kennel for you? – or it's because the weather is so volatile this time of year. Whatever it is, this is your chance to share it. Be nice, but share.
• WSU: The Pac-12's women's basketball tournament begins tomorrow in Seattle, with the Cougars facing an Oregon team that just learned it has lost its coach. Thomas Clouse has an advance on the tournament and the news two Cougs – including Tia Presley (pictured) – made the All-Conference team this year, the first time that's ever happened. Of course, there were 15 members of the all-conference team, one for every four starters in the league. ... Jacob Thorpe has a morning post, as is his duty, and a baseball notebook, which leads with a look at the odd start to the season for WSU's Jason Monda. There is an NCAA mention if you haven't read one in a while. ... Klay Thompson hit a game-winner for the Warriors last night. ... The conference's returning defensive ends are examined by ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog heading into spring practices. ... How many teams will the conference land in the NCAA tournament?
• Gonzaga: There is a new format for the WCC tournament. But GU is still the favorite.
• EWU: The Eagle football team learned some good news yesterday when linebacker Ronnie Hamlin was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA. Jim Allen has the story. ... North Dakota earned a spot in the Big Sky tournament with a win over Northern Colorado, which is falling fast.
• Chiefs: The hottest team in the WHL? Well, it's probably Portland, which just had a 21-game winning streak snapped. But Everett is right behind, as Chris Derrick's weekly WHL notebook and this blog post show. As does the Tips' 5-1 win over Kelowna last night. ... Tri- City tries to slow down Portland at home tonight.
• Preps: We had some thoughts on the state tournaments – we'll be in the Arena the next few days – but that's not all that's going on in the Preposphere. Rogers High has a new football coach, though Ben Cochran's face is familiar (pictured). And the Idaho state all-star basketball games will be in Coeur d'Alene next week.
• Seahawks: In the offseason, news about free agents and potential free agents seems to dominate our attention. Guys like Golden Tate and John Carlson. But there are other things to think about. Not this, though. Who really cares? ... The Hawks have tendered an offer to a backup safety. ... And, as if this is a surprise, Russell Wilson and Seahawks merchandise is selling extremely well. ... Doug Baldwin has a powerful voice in his corner. ... The extra point? Really?
• Mariners: Another day, another win for the spring training-leading Mariners. Hey, we revel in what we can. The biggest difference yesterday was the M's starting pitcher. It was Felix, who made his first appearance. He wasn't all that happy. ... The M's need more stars. ... Taijuan Walker will resume throwing soon.
• Sounders: As the season opener slowly inches closer, the Sounders made another roster move. Sigi Schmid has some thoughts on the changes, which will bring a new look to the defense. And Obafemi Martins wants the MLS season to begin. ... Assistant coach Brian Schmetzer will get a head-coaching gig sooner or later.
• Another pet peeve of mine? When I ask for comments and get none. So somebody write something. You don't want to see me angry. ... Just kidding. I never get angry with you folks. Except that one guy. Ya, you. Still, I'll be back tomorrow, as always. Until then ...