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Archive for May 2014

Former Bruin heading to WSU?

The news that former Bruin Aaron Porter appears to be transferring to Washington State has been out for awhile but I'm just now getting to it after helping out with some preps coverage elsewhere. But in case you missed it this afternoon, WazzuWatch's Britton Ransford is reporting ($) that the former UCLA football player plans to enroll at WSU after attending Cerritos Community College this fall.

If and when Porter does enroll at WSU he will have two years of eligibility remaining.

We've got more on the alleged newest Cougar below the fold.

Shock hold off Thunder, 58-48

Spokane got back into the win column on Friday, holding off Portland 58-48 at the Arena.

The victory ended Spokane's three-game losing skid. The Shock improved to 6-5 while Portland slipped to 3-8.

My unedited game story is below.

 

Shock vs. Thunder

S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered the Shock's home game victory against Portland 58-48.  Check out this big picture gallery of action photos.

WIAA 1B, 2B, 1A, Track & Field Championships

S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the WIAA 1B, 2B, 1A, Track & Field Championships.  Check out this big picture gallery of action photos.

Retooled Shock take on Thunder

The Shock made a number of roster moves this week, several of which should be on display tonight when Portland visits the Arena.

Here's my game preview and the view from Portland.

Crazy as it sounds, if Arizona (10-0) beats San Jose (7-3) on Saturday night the Rattlers will clinch their fourth straight West Division title — with seven regular-season games remaining. Second-place L.A. (2-8) is idle this week.

 

 

Seems like there would be better uses for the money

A GRIP ON SPORTS

It's a number that's hard to comprehend. Two billion dollars. It sounds almost like a laugh-line in a new Austin Powers movie. Two billlllion dollars. But it isn't a joke. Not really. It's the amount of money former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has available to spend for a sports franchise. Something about that just doesn't seem right. Read on.

Pac-12 announces early television selections

Did you, like many Coug fans (and reporters), complain last season about the seemingly endless parade of Washington State football game on odd days or at odd times that made it nigh impossible to cross the Cascades or hit a deadline? Do you still imagine college football as a Saturday afternoon pastime? Is paying for an extra night at a Pullman hotel on a game day weekend an inconvenience?

Good news! The Pac-12 announced its early television selections and commissioner Larry Scott has heard those Cougar cries, allowing young Cougar fans to catch the first half of the September 13 game against Portland State, which kicks off at 5 p.m., before heading to bed.

After that, it's going to get a little funky. WSU kicks off the season on August 28 with a “home game” against Rutgers at Seattle's CenturyLink Field. That's going to be played on a Thursday at 7 p.m. and televised on Fox Sports 1. The following Friday the Cougars will take on Nevada in Reno, at 7:30 p.m. to accommodate an ESPN broadcast.

The only other WSU game time that has been announced is the Cougars October 10 game at Stanford, also on a Friday, which kicks off at 6 p.m.

All other game times for the 2014 season will be announced six or 12 days in advance. Keep your nights open.

Don’t forget to stop and appreciate Felix

A GRIP ON SPORTS

If you are a young Mariners fan – and, yes, I know there aren't that many folks who fit such a profile – you need to pay close attention whenever Felix Hernandez takes the mound. Read on.

Cougars have a prime time game on ESPN

 

Washington State's football game at Nevada on Friday, September 5 at 7:30 p.m. will be televised on ESPN. The game was originally scheduled for the following Saturday, but was moved up one day to accommodate a nationally televised broadcast. 

The game is WSU's second of the season and its first scheduled national broadcast. The Cougars played three games on ESPN last season, including the New Mexico Bowl, and two more on ESPNU. 

Next time I’ll just expect them to lose

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Every have a feeling of certainty about your team and a particular game? I did last night. The M's were trailing by a run or two late in the game with the Angels and I knew – knew – they were going to rally and win. I was certain. So I went to bed. When I was jarred away at about 1:30 in the morning by a sudden downpour outside our window, I checked the score, still certain they had rallied and won. Yet, like most everything lately with the M's, I was wrong. It took me more than two hours to get back to sleep. Read on.

Meikle leaving Gonzaga

Luke Meikle, who rarely saw the court as a freshman, won't return for his sophomore season. Gonzaga announced on Tuesday that Meikle has been granted his release to pursue other opportunities.

The 6-9, 203-pound forward from Tacoma's Bellarmine Prep logged just 60 minutes in 15 appearances. It wasn't immediately known what schools Meikle is considering. If he transfers to a Division I school, he'll have to sit out next season under NCAA rules.

More below.

 

 

Wayne Phipps to lead WSU track and field

Wayne Phipps will take over as the director of the cross country and track and field programs at Washington State. He comes to WSU after 19 years of coaching at Idaho, including four years as the director of cross country and track and field. He takes over for Rick Sloan, who is retiring after leading the Cougars for 32 years.

Phipps was named the Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year this past season in men's indoor and outdoor track, as well as women's outdoor track. The Vandals have brought home nine WAC championships since 2010 In men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and men's and women's cross country.

“I am most happy to welcome Wayne to the Cougar family,” WSU athletic director Bill Moos said. “I have watched his good work from afar and have been impressed with not only his success in regards to competition but also how he has managed his program. I believe he is a great fit and I am excited for the future of our Cougar Track and Field programs.”

More on WSU's new coach after the jump.
 

A normal day – as it should be

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't know about you, but we spent the holiday enjoying a quiet, relaxing day. You know, mowing the lawn, weeding, barbecuing, listening to the M's win, reading, playing with the dogs, watching the Heat, eating ice cream, taking in a few minutes of hockey. All those things the people we were honoring sacrificed so we could enjoy. It seemed right. Read on.

Thanks again

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Being it is Memorial Day, I want to memorialize the veteran who meant the most to me. Read on.

Where did everybody go?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Ever been around Spokane on Memorial Day weekend? I'm guessing not. Because there is nobody here. Driving around town yesterday I was struck again on how this place empties out on the first unofficial weekend of summer. Read on.

Idaho O-line coach Carvin leaves staff

For the fifth consecutive season, the Idaho football team will have a new offensive line coach this fall.

Jon Carvin, who held the post last season in Paul Petrino's first year as head coach, has left the program, the school confirmed on Saturday. He'll be replaced by offensive coordinator Kris Cinkovich, who will relinquish his role as receivers coach, FootballScoop.com reported.

Petrino is seeking applicants for the now-vacant receivers coaching job. In an online job listing for an assistant football coach posted on May 20, UI put the pay at $46,000 per year.

Carvin is one of two Idaho football assistants who have left this offseason, joining cornerbacks coach Mike Mickens. Two other defensive assistants on Petrino's original staff, Patrick Libey and Mike Anderson, resigned after spring football concluded in 2013.

Like Carvin, Idaho's previous two offensive line coaches — Gordy Shaw in 2012 and John McDonell in 2011 — lasted just one year. Dan Finn moved on after the 2010 season after coaching the O-line for four seasons (2007-2010).

Carvin's departure means redshirt senior center Mike Marboe will be under his fifth coach in five seasons at Idaho. Marboe told The Spokesman-Review in April that he thoroughly enjoyed playing for Carvin. “I love him,” Marboe said. “He’s a great coach. Playing for him, you know exactly what to expect and I’ve just come along, as well as developing my techniques that they expect from me and everything.”

At least with Cinkovich assuming the job, Marboe and Idaho's other linemen won't have a completely new face coaching them. Cinkovich, an offensive lineman at Spokane Falls Community College (1979-80) and Carroll College (1981-82), helped coach the Vandals' O-line on occasion last year.

One injury can change an entire season

A GRIP ON SPORTS

That was predictable. The difference between winning and losing in the Arena Football League is as thin as an X-ray. In the Spokane Shock's case, the X-ray of Erik Meyer's shoulder. Since Meyer, the best quarterback in the league, went down with an injury, the Shock have lost three consecutive games, including last night's defeat at home to San Jose. As we said, predictable. Read on.

Shock drops third straight

Spokane did many of the same things Friday its been doing the last three games — and that's proven to be an unsuccessful formula.

Spokane dropped its third straight game, the latest a 52-34 loss to visiting San Jose. The Shock cut down their turnovers but the two were costly as new quarterback Brian Zbydniewski was intercepted twice in the red zone. Spokane finished with 10 penalties and allowed a Hail Mary touchdown pass for the second time this season. The other was a last-play loss to Cleveland.

My unedited game story is below.

 

San Jose defeats Spokane Shock 52-34

S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered the Shock vs. San Jose game.  Check out this big picture gallery of action photos.

Three WSU football players no longer on the roster

I have confirmed that safety Markell Sanders and defensive linemen Emmitt Su'a-Kalio and Gerald Sterling are no longer members of the Washington State football team. Their absence on the roster was first noted by Britton Ransford of WazzuWatch.com. Coach Mike Leach and the athletic department rarely comment on these internal roster matters, and will not in this case, so we do not know if they were dismissed from the team or left voluntarily.

Su'a-Kalio and Sterling both redshirted this past season, while Sanders enrolled early for spring practices and would have been a true freshman next season.

The biggest loss from a personnel standpoint is likely Su'a-Kalio, who defensive coordinator Mike Breske called one of the best pass rushers in spring football practices. Standing at 6-foot-4, 253 pounds, Su'a-Kalio was still as lean as a linebacker and looked like he could add weight while maintaining his athleticism to turn into a terror for the Cougars down the road.

However, the Buck linebacker from Pago Pago, American Samoa had some off the field issues, as well, and once charged with assaulting a teammate.

Sterling and Sanders likely would not have been significant contributors this upcoming season, but both appeared to have the athleticism to see the field later in their careers. 

Depending on their grades this last semester, the loss of the three players likely means a mild to moderate hit to WSU's football Academic Progress Rating, an NCAA measure designed to punish schools that fail to meet certain academic and retention standards. But the football team did just fine in the recent APR release and the loss of three players should not be a cause for concern.

DaVonte Lacy heads back to China

Washington State senior guard DaVonte Lacy has been chosen to participate as one of 13 Pac-12 men's basketball players who will play in a four-game All-Star tour of China this summer. The tour is part of the conference's Globalization Initiative, which aims to market the conference to international fans.

Utah's Larry Krystkowiak will coach the team, which includes players from every member school except Oregon and UCLA. 

It will be at least the second basketball-related trip to China for Lacy, who led the Cougars with 19.4 points per game last season. He also competed internationally in Jamaica through Athletes in Action.

WSU's press release explains a bit about what the athletes will be doing abroad:

The Pac-12 All-Star team will face a Chinese university all-star team and play three games against teams from the Chinese Basketball Association, including the Shanghai Sharks. Eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming owns the Sharks. Max Zhang, a former CALIFORNIA student-athlete has been the center for the Sharks since his return to China in 2010. It will also play the Guangdong Southern Tigers, the 2013-14 Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) regular season champion. The Tigers' leading Chinese scorer is Yi Jianlian, who played for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks under Krystkowiak during the 2007-08 season before returning to the CBA in 2012.

In addition to the competition in China, the team will participate in various youth clinics, as well as take in the culture and history of China with visits to various landmarks and historical sites in the cities of Shanghai, Nantong and Shenzhen. 

A full roster and tentative schedule is after the jump.

… 

It’s hard to bridge this divide

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Did you ever think you would see the day when the announcement of the U.S. team for the upcoming World Cup would cause a controversy? If you are under 30, sure; over 50, no way. Read on.

Big one for Shock, San Jose

Spokane will try to get back in the win column when San Jose visits on Friday.

Brian Zbydniewski is expected to become Spokane's fourth different starting quarterback in the last four games. No. 1 quarterback Erik Meyer was injured in the first half against L.A. Donovan Porterie started the following week in a loss to Pittsburgh, Rashaad Carter got the nod in last week's loss to Arizona.

Now it's Zbydniewski's turn and Spokane hopes the veteran quarterback can get the offense back on track.

Game preview here.

A little of this and that

A GRIP ON SPORTS

And to think, it isn't even summer yet. The dog days aren't even upon us yet. Read on.

“Zeb” answers Shock’s call again

I first interviewed Brian Zbydniewski in 2006. Then again in 2010. And again today.

The well-traveled quarterback is wearing a Shock uniform for the third time in his 9-year career, but this time he's not a backup. Spokane is hoping “Zeb” can help get the offense back on track after two rough games following Erik Meyer's injury.

More on the “Zeb” and a few other Shock notes here.

Highlights from Mike Leach’s Reddit appearance

Mike Leach recently wrapped up a chat with fans, commonly known as an “Ask Me Anything” or “AMA” on Reddit.com. Here is the transcript if you'd like to read through it. Missed it or didn't get your question asked? Don't worry, it looks like you'll have another chance soon.

We've got a few highlights from the session, after the jump.

… 

WSU announces CAF staff changes

Washington State athletics just announced some staff changes to the Cougar Athletics Fund, including the hiring of former WSU quarterback Jason Gesser as assistant director of athletics. Gesser also recently joined the IMG broadcast team for WSU football.

The release is after the jump.

Ask Mike Leach anything

Have you ever had a question you wanted to ask Washington State football coach Mike Leach but haven't had the chance? Maybe you live too far from Pullman, maybe you were too nervous. Maybe you just had so many questions that sports information director Bobby Alworth chased you away from the coach/author/hunter — he can't spend too much time away from the recruiting trail, you know.

Well at 3 p.m. today you'll have a chance to ask Leach anything, literally anything. With his new book on Geronimo publishing recently, the WSU coach is hosting his second AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.com. Here is a link to the page and here is a link to his previous AMA. We should also note that some of the language on the site may not be suitable for minors, work places, or readers with delicate eyeballs.

 

Win a title, meet the president

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There once was a time, boys and girls, when the champions of major sports leagues in this country did not visit the White House. And you don't have to go back to the Woodrow Wilson administration. Read on.

It’s weird how many connections we have

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Is there some sort of Inland Northwest vortex that we haven't heard about? It seems as if everyone in the news today has a connection to the area. Read on.

Things have a way of balancing out

A GRIP ON SPORTS

There were a handful of pictures making the rounds yesterday of Cougars past and present saying goodbye to track and field coach Rick Sloan. There were also a few pictures to be had of the Seahawks rookie mini-camp. A balance of sorts? Read on.

Monday morning links

From Pullman — Hey there, it's been awhile. Spring sports are coming to a close and we spent this week wrapping up track and field with the Pac-12 championships, which were held in Pullman at Mooberry Track and Field Complex this year. Runners, jumpers, throwers and spectators braved the Sunday weather that was predicted by weather persons to be a storm of some rain and much lightning. There was a storm on Sunday, alright, a pollen storm, and the generic antihistamine I popped prior to the meet might as well have been jujubes. 

In between sneezes I saw enough to write this recap. I also wrote a story from Saturday on WSU's high jump champion, Charlotte Muschamp, who hails from a tiny town in New Zealand that is close enough to Antarctica that she claims to have seen icebergs (“Ice cubes? The things from Titanic) float past. Muschamp's victory was one of few notable performances for the Cougars, and John Blanchette examines how WSU can get back to track and field dominance. Photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland has a gallery from the meet.

In men's basketball news, the Pac-12 got a little weaker and Gonzaga got a little stronger with the news that Byron Wesley is headed to Spokane. Today Oregon State may announce that it has finally found a basketball coach. Death, taxes and Washington crew winning.

 

2014 Pac-12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships (May 18)

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the 2014 Pac-12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Pullman.  Check out this big picture gallery of event photos.

Arizona crushes Shock, 70-38

Spokane was no match for the Arizona Rattlers, committing six turnovers in a 70-38 road loss Sunday in Phoenix.

The Shock (5-4) sputtered offensively for the second straight game without injured quarterback Erik Meyer. Rashaad Carter got the start at quarterback, but was pulled after three possessions resulted in just seven points. He moved back to his usual position of wide receiver. Donovan Porterie came on in relief but he had four turnovers on his first four possessions.

The setback dropped Spokane out of first place in the Pacific Division. San Jose (6-3) visits Spokane on Friday.

Game recap below.

 

Wesley transferring to Gonzaga

Gonzaga landed another key addition to its promising 2014-15 roster. USC transfer Byron Wesley announced Sunday he'll join the Zags.

My unedited article is below.

A couple of things that didn't make the article. Wesley was scheduled to visit Pitt on Friday, but decided to reschedule because that was the same day as USC's graduation ceremonies. 

“I talked with my family and we decided this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (to walk) and we felt it was the best thing for me,” said Wesley. “It was nothing against Pitt. Then once I decided Gonzaga was the place for me, I decided not to visit Pitt.”

Wesley said coach Mark Few and assistant Donny Daniels visited his home in Southern California. Wesley was joined by his parents when he visited Gonzaga last weekend.

“They were really impressed,” Wesley said. “They know the pedigree of Gonzaga basketball and the history and things they've done in the past. My dad  is a big basketball fan and really pays attention to all that stuff.”

A winner anyway you look at it

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Will we see a Triple Crown winner again? It's been since 1978 horse racing has produced a champion of champions. That's more than 25 years by my math. But we may have one again in three weeks. Wouldn't that be something? Read on.

Pac-12 Track & Field Championships (May 17)

S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the 2014 Pac-12 Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Pullman.  Check out this big picture gallery of event photos.

Hurry up, I’ve got work to do

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Want some free advice? Advice that is worth more than you are paying for it? Never, never, never update your computer before work. Always after. I learned the hard way this morning. Read on.

Is it time for the finals yet?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Are the NBA playoffs still going on? Anyone say anything stupid recently? Any lawsuits filed? Any games end with bad calls? Read on.

Pac-12 announces a new championship game site, also links

For the next three years the Pac-12 football championship game will be held at an ostensibly neutral site: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. While fans are sure to point out that the location is a lot less neutral for some schools than others, it's a change from the prior practice of having one of the participants host.

The change was doubtlessly spurred by the desire to guarantee that the game will take place in a large, modern stadium. If UCLA hosts in the Rose Bowl that's fine, but when Oregon State or Washington State win the North, the conference could have had real logistical problems (read: not enough money) staging the event.

It should be quite a venue. Levi's is the new home of the San Francisco 49ers and is scheduled to host the 2016 Super Bowl, and the Fight Hunger Bowl starting this season. It seats 68,500 including luxury suites and club seats.

The conference issues a press release that said things like:

“Pac-12 football is among the deepest and best football conferences in the country,” said Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. “Our Football Championship Game is important for selecting a team for the Rose Bowl and possibly the College Football Playoff, and we are thrilled to offer student-athletes and their fans the ultimate venue to culminate a successful season.”
And:
“This is a positive move for our institutions and fan bases,” said Scott. The neutral site location will allow us to showcase the Conference, our member institutions and important initiatives on a big stage, as well as treat fans to multiple events during championship week, concluded Scott.”

The Cougars have been in the news again lately so follow the jump for some links.

Nothing enlivens a dull day like a good tantrum

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I don't know what it is about a explosive managerial meltdown about a missed call, but I have to admit I like it. Read on.

Chiefs sign Kailer Yamamoto

The Spokane Chiefs announced Wednesday the signing of Kailer Yamamoto, whose older brother, Keanu, just completed his rookie season with the Western Hockey League team. Kailer, who will turn 16 years old in September, was selected by Spokane in the fifth round of the 2013 bantam draft. He totaled 17 goals and 23 assists in 34 games this season for the U16 Los Angeles Junior Kings. Read earlier story about Keanu Yamamoto

 

How Idaho fared in the APR

The Idaho men's basketball program scored a perfect 1,000 in the latest year of the NCAA's Academic Progress Rates that were unveiled today — one of two single-year perfect scores for UI athletic programs. The women's golf team had the other 1,000 for 2012-2013.

That's the good APR-related news for Idaho. The bad news came nearly three weeks ago, when UI announced its football team was ineligible for the 2014 postseason and would lose four hours of practice time each week because of a four-year APR score of 901, well below the 930 threshold. Idaho's 2012-2013 score was 838.

Even with a projected 960 in 2013-2014, Idaho would be below a four-year score of 930 next year. Yet athletic director Rob Spear has said that he expects the school won't get dinged again in 2015 because it will have shown substantial progress.

To be postseason eligible, teams must have a four-year score above 930 or have an average above 940 the last two years.

The men's basketball team had a four-year APR of 944. That's slightly below its last two rolling four-year scores.

Sport 2012-2013 Multi-Year Rate
Football 901
Men's Basketball 944
Men's Cross Country 940
Men's Golf 930
Men's Tennis 959
Men's Track, Indoor 962
Men's Track, Outdoor 957
Women's Basketball 938
Women's Cross Country 971
Women's Golf 984
Women's Soccer 982
Women's Swimming 966
Women's Tennis 960
Women's Track, Indoor 959
Women's Track, Outdoor 959
Women's Volleyball 970

WSU releases Tramaine Isabell

Tramaine Isabell has been granted a release from his National Letter of Intent and will not enroll at Washington State, the school confirmed on Wednesday. The point guard was considered in recruiting circles to be the jewel of WSU's 2014 class and was expected to contribute next season.

Isabel was the only remaining signee to original sign under former coach Ken Bone. The class now consists of three players, forward Aaron Cheatum and guards Ny Redding and Jackie Davis.

“We wish Tramaine the very best,” Kent said in a press release. “The future of Cougar basketball is bright. I like the group of young men we have in place now, as well as what we will add in the near future with our available scholarships.”

WSU still has two scholarships available in the class of 2014.

Updated: How WSU fared in the APR report

Today, the NCAA released its Academic Progress Rates, a metric for calculating a team's academic performance. Teams are recognized for high APR achievement but also punished for low scores, including potential ineligibility from postseason play.

The APR rates used to determine academic consequences are based on a four-year rolling average. The current scores are the average calculated from the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

The Washington State women's volleyball team faces a Level One penalty after receiving a multi-year APR of 929. That score would be enough to declare the Cougars ineligible from postseason play, but because the team has shown significant academic progress they were granted a lesser penalty. According to the NCAA, “Level One penalties focus on practice restrictions, allowing teams to use that time to focus on academics. Teams facing this penalty lose four hours and one day of practice time per week in season, replaced with academic activities. This year, 42 teams face this level of penalty.”

In this case the Cougars are still paying for the performance of the team under the previous coaching staff, which scored and 837 in 2010-11, their final year. The volleyball team posted a perfect score of 1,000 in the 2012-13 academic year  under coach Jen Greeny. In fact, nine WSU programs posted perfect scores of 1,000 this year, although only women's basketball has a perfect 1,000 four-year average.

They were followed closely by women's cross country (991), men's golf (986) and women's golf (981).

““I am very appreciative and proud of our student-athletes, coaches and staff for their continued dedication and efforts in reaching for academic success, and the most recent NCAA data fully supports their hard work,” WSU athletic director Bill Moos said in a press release. “They place their academic pursuits on par with their athletic endeavors and I continue to be pleased at what they are able to accomplish and how well they represent this fine university.”

More on WSU's APR performance after the jump.

Just who is to blame?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

For some reason, we always have to assign blame. Who is at fault? Why did that happen? But when looking for a scapegoat, most times the simplest answer is the correct one. Read on.

“Ny” Redding signs with WSU

Ernie Kent landed his third basketball recruit at Washington State on Tuesday, and the Cougars fourth in the class of 2015 when Nyaires “Ny” Redding sent in his National Letter of Intent. Redding is a 6-foot-2, 180 pound guard from Solon Ohio via Westwind Prep in Arizona.

“Our system requires us to have very heady guard play and we are continuing to put together a group that we think is going to be outstanding for the future of Washington State basketball,” Kent said in a press release. “In Ny we have a player that is not only smart, but also is very skilled on both ends of the floor.”

Redding last played at the same Westwind Prep that produced current WSU sophomore guard Que Johnson. In fact, he broke Johnson's record for 40 point games in a season, crossing the threshold five times during a season in which he averaged 29.8 points, 8.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game. He also shot 53 percent from the field and made 89 percent of his free throws.
 
Kent still has one more scholarship to offer in the class of 2014 if he chooses to use it. Saying the Cougars are continuing to put their class together seems to indicate that Kent is open to the idea of signing a fifth player in the class. Besides Redding, the Cougars have received NLOIs from guards Jackie Davis and Tramaine Isabell, and junior college forward Aaron Cheatum.
 
ArizonaPreps.com has an evaluation of Redding's game:
 

Nyaires Redding – The son of a D-I coach and is a very athletic and strong wing.  He is an outstanding ball handler and controls the tempo of the game.  He averages 5.7 assists to every 1 turnover he makes.  He is a mid-major player that has a high ceiling.  He is a lock-down defender.  The negative aspects of his game include his court vision; he tends to make the hard pass instead of the easy one.  He is an NCAA qualifier and carries a 4.0 GPA.

 

 

EWU to extend Hayford’s contract

Eastern Washington is in “agreement mode” on a new five-year contract for basketball coach Jim Hayford, athletic director Bill Chaves said Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s not finalized, but it’s going through the process,” confirmed Chaves, who said that the deal is both a reward and a key piece in building stability in a program that has known little since the Eagles’ move to Division I in 1983.

Since then, no Eastern coach has lasted longer than five years.

When a door closes, sometimes a window opens

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Whenever a player transfers from one college to another, the fans of where he or she lands always get excited. Sometimes that excitement is well-founded. Other times is isn't. Read on.

Jackie Davis signs with WSU

Men's basketball player Jackie Davis signed a national letter of intent with Washington State today, becoming WSU's 11th scholarship player and new coach Ernie Kent's second signee. Here is what we wrote about Davis when he gave a verbal commitment to play for WSU back in April.

Davis is the third player to sign with WSU in the class of 2014, joining junior college forward Aaron Cheatum and point guard Tramaine Isabell from Seattle's Garfield High School, who originally committed to previous coach Ken Bone. The 6-foot-3 guard from Rolling Hills High School in Long Beach, California averaged 23.6 points, 3.6 assists and 5.4 rebounds after transferring from Allen High School in Allen, Texas.

“Jackie Davis is a very versatile basketball player that can play multiple positions,” Kent said in a press release. “He fits perfectly in our system because of his skill set, his ability to pass, dribble and shoot the basketball, and play the game in the open court. He is a very gifted athlete and I'm sure Cougar fans will come to enjoy his athleticism and his ability to play the game.”

 

Gerard Coleman leaving Gonzaga

Gerard Coleman, a Providence transfer who played last season at Gonzaga, is transferring elsewhere for his senior season, Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. Click here for our story.

Better late than not at all?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Sorry this is late today but I had a family commitment to attend to this morning. But we have your links ready now. Read on.

On further review, I’m not so sure

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I am a proponent of replay reviews in all sports. Football, basketball, tennis, hockey and, this year, baseball. But I'm not so sure about the last one. At least the way it is being handled right now. Read on.

Kicker Andrew Furney tweets he’ll attend Seahawks mini camp

Andrew Furney going to kick for an NFL team and he won't have to travel far. Furney announced on Twitter Saturday night that he will attend Seahawks mini camp and compete for an invitation to attend the team's training camp in July and August. Making the team will be a long shot — NFL teams carry only one kicker on their 53 man roster and the Seahawks extended kicker Steve Hauschka through 2016 earlier this offseason.

Seattle showed legitimate interest in Furney, inviting him one one of their 30 allowed visits.

Kickers often try out for many teams before eventually landing somewhere, due to the fact that spots are rarely relinquished and more talented legs graduate every year. To have a shot at playing in the NFL a kicker must be one of the top couple players at his position in a graduating class.

But you could certainly argue that Furney meets the standard, having set a school record in field goal percentage as a sophomore, connecting on 14 of 16 kicks. He finished his career at WSU 5 of 7 on field goals of 50 or more yards, including a 60-yard kick that ranks as the second longest in Pac-12 history. He was 18 of 22 from 40-49 yards.

Furney also kicked off 89 times, a skill that gives him additional value to NFL teams.

John Fullington signs with Green Bay

John Fullington will get a shot in the NFL after playing every position but center during four years as a starter on the Washington State offensive line. His agent, the Seattle-based Collin Roberts, broke the news on Twitter shortly after the conclusion of the NFL Draft. The 6-foot-5, 301 pound lineman is projected to play guard at the next level.

More after the jump.

Former Idaho RB Baker signs with Chiefs

Former Idaho running back James Baker told the Spokesman-Review that he's headed to the Kansas City Chiefs as an undrafted free agent.

After he wasn't selected in the seven-round NFL draft, Baker quickly latched on with the Chiefs. Kansas City was one of two teams who held private workouts with Baker in Moscow. Baker also visited the Chiefs, along with the Green Bay Packers, before the draft.

Baker led the Vandals last season with 593 rushing yards and six touchdowns. The 6-foot, 237-pound senior averaged 4.1 yards per carry. He also had eight catches for 177 yards and three TDs. Baker said NFL teams were intrigued by his pass-catching ability.

The Deerfield Beach, Florida, native's stock rose after he ran a 4.55-second 40-yard dash at Idaho's pro day in March.

Another nice spring Saturday

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Let's keep this simple. It's a Saturday, the sun is shining and I'm sure you want to get out and enjoy the day. Can’t argue with that. Read on.

Spokane falls to Pittsburgh, 52-41

Spokane made it interesting until the final seconds but came up short against the visiting Pittsburgh Power 52-41 on Friday night at the Arena.

Spokane's Dononvan Porterie, signed earlier this week and operating with just three practices, had five touchdown passes but committed four turnovers, including three interceptions.

The Power's Tommy Grady tossed seven touchdown passes and was intercepted twice, one of which was returned for a touchdown by James Ruffin.

My unedited game story is below.

Spokane Shock vs. Pittsburgh

S-R photojournalist Dan Pelle covered the Shock's home game at the Arena.  Check out this big picture gallery of action photos.

Jason Gesser added to WSU football broadcasts

Former WSU quarterback Jason Gesser, who led Washington State to the 2003 Rose Bowl, has been added to the Cougar football broadcast team, according to a Friday announcement by WSU IMG College General Manager Matt Almond. Gesser replaces Shawn McWashington, who also donned the Crimson and Gray in a Rose Bowl as a receiver on the 1997 team.

He'll join Bob Robertson, Bud Nameck and sideline reporter Jessamyn McIntyre.

More on the radio shakeup, after the jump.

Spokane entertains Pittsburgh

Spokane takes the field tonight for the first time in 28 games without Erik Meyer as its starting quarterback. Meyer was placed on injured reserve earlier this week and the Shock will rely on Donovan Porterie or Dennis Havrilla or both — or possibly even another appearance from pinch-QB Rashaad Carter, who replaced Meyer last Sunday.

Here's my game preview. Here's more on the Power.

Pittsburgh has several former Shock players, including WRs Shaun Kauleinamoku (50 catches, 567 yards, 9 TDs) and recently acquired Hank Edwards (3-12-1), DBs Virgil Gray (six interceptions) and Sergio Gilliam (two ints.) and linebacker Arvell Nelson (27.5 tackles, three fumble recoveries, one int.). Nelson backed up Meyer last season and showed promise as an AFL quarterback.

 

 

Did you get sucked in as well?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

I am a sucker. There, I admitted it. That feels better. Read on.

Quotes and reaction to Bucannon’s selection

Late this evening the Arizona Cardinals drafted Deone Bucannon out of Washington State with the 27th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. We've got a blog post up and a story coming shortly but follow the jump for some quotes and reaction to WSU's first first-rounder since 2003.

Deone Bucannon goes to Arizona at No. 27

Former Washington State safety Deone Bucannon only had to suffer through one nervous draft day, hearing his name called late on Thursday evening when the Arizona Cardinals made him the 27th pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The strong safety is the first Cougar selected in the draft's first round since Marcus Trufant went No. 11 to the Seattle Seahawks in 2003.

The Cardinals moved down in the draft by trading the No. 20 pick to the Saints in exchange for the No. 27 as well as a third round pick. 

In college Bucannon was known for his big hits and he led the Pac-12 with 114 tackles, as well as leading the Cougars with five interceptions. He'll fit right in with the physical NFC West division as the Cardinals hope try to build a defense resembling the 49ers and the Super Bowl champion Seahawks.

Last year Arizona ranked sixth in overall defense, allowing just 317.4 yards per game and a best-in-the-NFL 84.4 rushing yards per game. The Cardinals intercepted 20 passes last season, tied for fifth in the league.

Bucannon joins a strong secondary, headlined by All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson and Antonio Cromartie at the other corner spot and Tyrann Matthieu at safety. The addition on Thursday of an All-American at the other safety spot rounds out what could be one of the NFL's most complete defensive backfields.

We hope to have more from Bucannon later tonight.

Draft day for Deone Bucannon

The NFL Draft begins in just a few hours and you can track it here. Former WSU safety Deone Bucannon could hear his name called today as a first rounder, and will almost certainly be picked either today or tomorrow. We have a story on the All-American's draft prospects, and will take a look at where he could land after the jump.

Shock sign Porterie, Havrilla

Two AFL rookies are getting a crash course in quarterbacking from Andy Olson as the Shock take on the difficult task of replacing Erik Meyer.

Meyer is out for at least six weeks with a broken collarbone. Spokane signed Donovan Porterie and Dennis Havrilla on Wednesday. Former EWU quarterback Kyle Padron also tried out but wasn't signed as of Wednesday. Here's my article that ran in today's S-R.

Spokane, playing for the second time in five days, doesn't have much time to coach up the new starting quarterback. Olson said he'll probably make a decision on the starter after today's practice. The Shock face Pittsburgh on Friday.

 

People have gone daft about the draft

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Are you ready for tonight? Got your beverages and snacks? Don't forget a coaster for your drink and a cushion for your seat. It's the NFL's biggest day of the year, non-game variety. It's the Draft, with a capital “D.” And there's one thing I can guarantee. Tonight's first round will have more drama, more entertainment and more intelligent dialogue than that recent cruddy Kevin Costner movie. Sure, the people in the movie were better looking. But no one – no one – could boast better hair than Mel Kiper Jr. Read on.

WSU lands 2015 running back recruit

 

James Williams has added his name to Washington State's 2015 football recruiting class, according to recruiting analyst Braulio Perez of Cougfan.com. The running back from Burbank, California is listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds and was named the MVP of the Pacific League after reportedly rushed for 1,503 yards on 156 carries and scoring 29 total touchdowns.

Williams also claimed scholarship offers from Arizona and California. Scout.com lists him as a three-star prospect and rates him the No. 56 running back in the country. He becomes the fifth recruit in the class of 2015 to make a public commitment to playing football at WSU. Recruited athletes can't make their decision final until signing their National Letters of Intent in February.

All those chocolate doughnuts come with a price

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Did you know it is possible to get a cavity in a fake tooth? I didn't either. But I found out recently it is and today I have to pay the price. Read on.

Meyer has surgery, out at least 6 weeks

Shock quarterback Erik Meyer, injured in Sunday's win over the L.A. Kiss, had surgery Tuesday to repair a broken collarbone, team officials confirmed. He's expected to miss at least six weeks.

No. 2 quarterback Jarrett Brown is on injured reserve. Wide receiver Rashaad Carter, who played quarterback in high school, replaced Meyer and accounted for six touchdowns, two passing and four rushing.

Spokane is searching for potential replacements but the AFL is already short of proven quarterbacks on its current rosters. The pool for experienced quarterbacks looking for work is shallow, at best. The Shock entertain Pittsburgh on Friday.

Shock media day is Wednesday so we'll probably have an update tomorrow on the QB situation.

More below.

 

Kameron Powell to join four-star teammate at WSU

 Braulio Perez of Scout.com reported on Twitter that four-star safety Kameron Powell out of Upland High School in Upland, California has committed to playing football at Washington State. Powell's high school teammate, quarterback Tyler Hilinski, also says he will spend his college days in Pullman.

Recruiting websites think highly of Powell. Scout.com rates him a four-star prospect and the 25th best safety prospect in his class. While Rivals.com only gives Powell three stars, it considers the him the 22nd best player at his position. According to Powell schools such as Colorado, Oregon State and Washington also offered scholarships to the 5-foot-11, 192 pound safety.

He adds to what is already shaping up to be the school's best class in some time. Both Scout and Rivals rate three of the four players who have publicly joined WSU's 2015 class as four-star players. No player signed by WSU in 2014 was ranked four-stars or above by the websites and Gabe Marks and Tyler Bruggman are the only four-star prospects to have signed with WSU in the Mike Leach coaching era. 

Chiefs trade Wedman to Moose Jaw Warriors

The Spokane Chiefs began trimming the number of overage players on their roster Tuesday by trading defenseman Cole Wedman to the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Chiefs received a fourth-round selection in next year's Western Hockey League bantam draft as compensation for Wedman. Spokane ended the 2013-14 season with six players who will enter their 20-year-old seasons next year. WHL teams are limited to three 20-year-olds on their roster. Read story

Mike Leach is an author, again

Geronimo: Leadership Strategies of an American Warrior by Mike Leach is now available for purchase both online and in stores. It is the Washington State football coach's second book, having published Swing Your Sword, an autobiography, in 2012.

His newest book is a biography of Geronimo, the Apache chieftain who fought against the Mexican and Texan governments for decades during the Apache Wars. I asked Leach about his writing process — something I take particular interest in as someone who writes for a living myself — and he said that book writing was a great way to explore a topic he has always had an interest in.

“You get to learn a lot more about it, even more about it, which is exciting, the research part is exciting, the first couple drafts are exciting. The last couple drafts where you view each word to essentially be written on a tombstone, so to speak, because once it's out it's out forever, then you're kind of picking and choosing this word, that word, this comma and the other comma,” Leach said. “The last readings aren't quite as fun because you aren't reading a story you're obsessing over the little stuff and you're not going to get it perfect but you want to give the best effort you can.”

When you write something it's very personal — every word is your own. I often find that it's hard to go back to a long piece and reread it myself. So I asked Leach if he ever sits down and reads his own books.

“I probably will several years later. You move on from it,” Leach said. “And then if you work on it something that long and that hard, going back to it's not appealing the first year or two. And then you get to go back to it every time you do a book signing or that type of thing.”

The publisher's book description is after the jump.

Tuesday lunchtime Pac-12 links

It is an unfortunate reality that athletes are not always ideal role models. Every school racks up some Fulmer Cup points now and again and sometimes someone truly vile is good enough at sports to play for a major college. The Pac-12 certainly isn't immune to this and there have been some disgusting acts allegedly perpetrated by athletes in the last few years at schools like Oregon State, Washington, and yes, even WSU.

In these incidents the coaches and schools are rarely to blame. Many coaches see a young, gifted but somewhat troubled athlete who was not given the opportunities that many of us took for granted growing up and believe they can help turn their lives around. They give them structure, accountability and provide a whole host of incentives to toe the line and reclaim their lives through a college education. For every athlete who turns up in the police blogs for shoplifting, how many more avoided a far more serious life of crime by becoming part of a team and going to college?

So what makes the news out of Oregon yesterday even more troubling is the seeming lack of vetting or discretion taken when deciding to place these athletes in a population of students. One of the players had previously been investigated for sexual assault at another university. The other two also had previous, although nonviolent, rule-breaking episodes. The Ducks have had great success under Dana Altman bringing in transfers. But at some point does a team of mercenaries beget a mercenary culture?

On a lighter note, check out some WSU links after the jump.

Who deserves bouquets this year?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You want to know what this week should really be known as? The week of the flower ads. Can you go anywhere, watch anything, listen to any station and not hear or see an ad for some flower seller? Me neither. Read on.

An unlikely hero for the Shock

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Imagine Russell Wilson going down with an injury in St. Louis. And imagine Tarvaris Jackson also being out, injured during the week. So the Hawks turn to Percy Harvin to play quarterback. Think they would win? Read on.

Shock rout Kiss, lose Meyer

Spokane put a 70-21 hurt on the L.A. Kiss on Sunday, but the Shock didn't get out of southern California pain free.

Quarterback Erik Meyer left the game in the second quarter after getting sacked by former roommate/Shock teammate Beau Bell. ESPN2 commentators reported that Meyer might have suffered a broken collarbone.

Backup receiver Rashaad Carter stepped in at quarterback and produced six touchdowns — four rushing, two passing — as the Shock crushed the Kiss.

My unedited game recap is below.

 

WSU emphasizes nutrition in athletics

In today's paper I had a story taking a broad look at the sweeping changes the Washington State athletic department has seen in four years under Bill Moos. One area of WSU athletics that has seen a lot of growth is nutrition, which is featured in the article but I thought was worth highlighting again here on the blog because not much has been previously reported about it.

We'll take a look at how the Cougars are addressing the dietary needs of their athletes, after the jump.

Spokane visits L.A. Kiss

Rock legends Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley promised a unique blend of football and entertainment when they were announced as the new owners of the L.A. Kiss AFL franchise. Today, the Spokane Shock get to see what all the fuss is about.

More in my game preview. The game will be televised live on ESPN2.

 

Moos has brought big changes to WSU

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Do you remember Martin Stadium from 30 years ago? Twenty? If you are a Cougar fan, I'm sure you do. Then you know the Martin Stadium of today is a different place – and will be different still next fall with the completion of the football operations building that will loom over the west endzone. The changes in the football complex at WSU are things that will be with us for the next 30, 40, 50 years. It's all part of a vision of one man. Read on.

Now this is a tradition

A GRIP ON SPORTS

You know what day it is? Yep, it's Kentucky Derby day. Read on.

Friday lunchtime Pac-12 links

Not very much WSU news or really any college football and basketball news since the Pac-12 schools wrapped up their spring practices but we've cobbled together a few links. In yesterday's paper we had a story on the Cougars' offseason plans and on the blog we took a look at three things we learned from spring. Bud Withers has a story on the end of spring as well. SportsOnEarth's Michael Weinreb had a nice profile of Mike Leach. Here is a scouting report of former WSU safety Deone Bucannon, who hopes to be selected early in next week's NFL Draft.

In other Pac-12 news … Washington has a slick new basketball court … Cal has parted ways with a basketball signee … Lots of wrap-ups and the like over on the Pac-12 Blog … Will UCLA's backfield hold up this season without more help from the linebackers?

Just another day with football news

A GRIP ON SPORTS

How big has football become in this country? So big it dominates the sports news in early May, when the NBA is having its playoffs, baseball is up and running and the Kentucky Derby is just around the corner. Read on.

Three answers from WSU spring football

The Cougars came into the offseason with a number of question marks after their New Mexico Bowl loss. Who would take over for departing All-American Deone Bucannon? How will the Cougars compensate for the loss of three starters on the offensive line?

Fifteen spring practices later and many of those questions have been answered. Follow the jump to find out what we learned this spring:

Summers finds home at Mac

With Beau Bell, Spokane had one of the most productive Mac linebackers in the AFL from 2011-13. It's more of the same with Derrick Summers, who arrived with a strong resume and has capably stepped in as Bell's replacement this season.

Summers and the Shock face Bell and the L.A. Kiss on Sunday in Anaheim.

More on Summers and more Shock notes here.

 

You can always use a broom to pound on the ceiling

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Paul Simon once wrote about one man's ceiling being another man's floor. I always felt that had great application in the world of sports. Read on.

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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) 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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