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Melting the ice with hot coffee

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Every once in a while I sit at my computer in the early morning hours and freeze. No, I'm not cold. I guess a better way to put it is I freeze up. I have no idea what I'm going to write about. No idea what would interest you. No idea how to entertain everyone. Usually, to break up the ice on my hands, I push away from the computer, get up, walk to the kitchen and make coffee. As it percolates in the Cuisinart, I count myself lucky if a thought comes into my head. Let's hope it works today. Read on.

Friday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — The Cougars donned all of their pads yesterday and the result was a physical practice, complete with live tackling. Here is our story and practice report. Yesterday we also posted a video tour of the new Football Operations Building, guided by linebacker Darryl Monroe. Don't forget to change your calendars to reflect the new Nevada game date … WSU's Jason Monda has been drafted twice and decided that he won't go for a third.

Washington dismissed a defensive back, likely because of an altercation with a teammate … Oregon's best receiver is now a spring casualty … Oregon State's new offensive coordinator is becoming more comfortable in Corvallis.

Don't forget to join us at 11 a.m. for a live chat.

Spring Practice Report: Day 7

From Pullman — Washington State finally put on full pads on Thursday. The coaches put on headsets and officials were in uniform. The reason for the extra accoutrements? The Cougars had their first live-tackling session of spring. More on that after the jump.

Colorado signs ex-Chiefs goalie Williams

Goalie Eric Williams, who just completed his career with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed with the Colorado Eagles of the East Coast Hockey League. Read story

A tour of the FOB with Darryl Monroe

From Pullman — The Football Operations Building won't open for about five more weeks but linebacker Darryl Monroe starred in a video that shows how much has been done, and how much remains to be done before it's christening on May 19.

 

 

WSU game at Nevada schedule change

From Pullman—There has been a schedule change for the Washington State football team, with its game at Nevada being moved up to 7:30 p.m. on Friday. More on that after the jump.

Kent spends the day making WSU fans smile

A GRIP ON SPORTS

New Washington State basketball coach Ernie Kent was in town yesterday and made the media rounds. You couldn't turn on your television set or radio in Spokane and not see his smiling face or hear his booming voice. When the day was done, the Cougar faithful had to be smiling as well. Read on.

Thursday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — If you can make it out to Martin Stadium today you'll have a chance to watch Washington State's first football scrimmage of the spring. More on that here. The team got a new addition yesterday when former Boise State running back Aaron Baltazar announced he was transferring to WSU.

Washington's freshman point guard is seriously considering whether or not to turn pro … Arizona State is trying to put a positive spin on a new fee for students … UCLA's record number of basketball championships could be in jeopardy.

Also, Todd, the winner of our tournament challenge, has made his email on Yahoo! private. Please contact me Todd so we can get you your prize or we'll have to move to the next highest scorer.

WSU to scrimmage on Thursday

From Pullman — Thursday marks the seventh of Washington State's 15 spring football practices and it will also see the Cougars' first live scrimmage. The scrimmage will consist of approximately 40 plays and will be held in Martin Stadium at the end of WSU's practice. All practices are open to the public. Practice begins at 3 p.m. at Rogers Field.

Boise running back transfers to WSU

From Pullman — Former Boise State running back Aaron Baltazar will transfer to Washington State, WSU announced on Wednesday. Baltazar must sit out the 2014 season per NCAA transfer rules, then will have three years of eligibility remaining.

More on WSU's new running back after the jump.

Chiefs coach Nachbaur will help at combine cup

Spokane Chiefs coach Don Nachbaur will assist at the Western Hockey League's U.S. Combine Cup, Friday through Sunday at Anaheim, Calif. Read story

Thompkins take turn on defense

One of the charms of the AFL for years was Ironman players, guys who lined up on both sides of the ball. Those days are largely gone, but injuries and roster limitations sometimes force players to leave their comfort zone.

Standout receiver Brandon Thompkins switched to defensive back last week with Paul Stephens out due to a leg injury. Thompkins did just fine as a DB, as we detail in this week's Shock notebook.

Last night’s Mariner win was so typical

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Last night's home opener against the Angels was just so Mariners. A sell-out crowd on hand to celebrate the beginning of the Robinson Cano era. A quick deficit. Two home runs from the “other” free agent, Corey Hart. And a win. Nope, that wasn't what was so like the Mariners. No, that came midway through the game when young lefthander James Paxton, who seemed on top of his game, pulled himself out, pointing to his back as he left. Yep, he's hurt. A strained lat muscle it is said. Oh oh. Read on.

Wednesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — I have some work-related errands to run up in Spokane today so unfortunately we won't be able to have our typical off-day chat. I know it's hard. But just thing how much we'll have to talk about on Friday.

If you're in Spokane today you can meet WSU's new men's basketball coach, Ernie Kent … Washington State's young secondary had some growing pains yesterday … Here's our story on WSU's running backs and returning leader Marcus Mason … June Daugherty's contract was extended after the WSU women made the NIT … Yale Rosen was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week in baseball after batting 7 for 10 in the Cougars sweep of California.

ESPN's Kevin Gemmell unloads in his Pac-12 mailbag … Could Washington's most important new coach be the guy in the weight room? … Marcus Mariota seems to thinks he's well-compensated for his exploits on the football field … Four positions wasn't enough for one Wildcat.

Spring Practice Report: Day 6

From Pullman — Washington State's youth in the secondary has been apparent throughout spring. But on Tuesday the offense worked on deep throws and the inexperience of WSU's defensive backs was particularly apparent.

“We went downfield the whole time,” coach Mike Leach said after practice. “I can’t say it was their best day, I don’t think they necessarily regressed. They keep improving but we put a lot of pressure on them today and I thought the offense was pretty sharp.”

But hey, the wide receivers had a good day.

Our practice report is after the jump.

Chiefs Helewka, Bobyk make final rankings

Left wing Adam Helewka and defenseman Colton Bobyk were the Spokane Chiefs' representatives on the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of North American skaters for 2014. Kootenay's Sam Reinhart, at No. 3, was the top player from the Western Hockey League. Read story

Get to know Ernie Kent

If you're in Spokane tomorrow, April 9, and would like to get to know WSU's new men's basketball coach drop by the Davenport Hotel in Downtown Spokane from 7-8:30 p.m. for a free reception. It sounds like there will be some food provided, but make sure to RSVP here.

Zags have strong crew returning

The college basketball season ended last night with UConn winning the national title over Kentucky. Gonzaga's season ended March 23rd with an 84-61 loss to Arizona.

I took a look back and look ahead for the Zags, who will be under the expectation spotlight again next season with a strong group of returning players joined by Kyle Wiltjer, who sat out last season under NCAA transfer rules. Here's my article that ran in today's S-R.

GU is No. 15 in one of those way-too-early rankings for next season.

 

Something just didn’t add up last night

A GRIP ON SPORTS

After watching Connecticut win another national title last night, it hit me. The Huskies' win should give seventh seeds every year the realization even they can win the NCAA tournament. Seventh seeds with NBA first-round draft picks in the backcourt and athletic, defensive-oriented big men up front. Wait, not too many seventh seeds can boast that, can they? Read on.

Tuesday morning Pac-12 links

From Pullman — We have a new champions in college basketball, and it's Todd, winner of our tournament bracket challenge. Todd finished with 79 points and 40 correct picks. Congratulations, Todd, I'll reach out to you on Yahoo about your prize information but if for some reason I can't get ahold of you, shoot me an email at jacobt@spokesman.com.

The rest of you will have to settle for some links as a consolation prize.

- This weekend we had a spring WSU Football chat and continued our 5 Questions segment with cornerback Marcellus Pippins.

- The WSU baseball team moved to 6-3 in Pac-12 play with a series sweep of California.

- Andrew Crookston takes a look at what unionization could mean for WSU.

- Arizona is still waiting for a quarterback to take control.

- Oregon senior point guard Johnathan Loyd has joined the football team.

- Although other positions are in flux, Washington should be set along the defensive line.

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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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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Josh Wright Josh Wright is a freelance correspondent who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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