A GRIP ON SPORTS
I get it. I probably write more than I should about the weather in this space. But today I have to. Woke up this morning and there is a dusting of snow, with more falling. Really? It was 60 degrees just a couple days ago. The trees are budding. Can't we have warm weather and a chance to tee it up? Not with basketball to play, you say? OK then. It's Washington State and Gonzaga's fault. As long as we can find a scapegoat I'm fine. It's very Old Testament of me. Read on.
• After Gonzaga's 65-54 win over Miami last night – the second-fewest points the Hurricanes had scored in a game all season – I had to find athletic director Mike Roth and ask him a question. See, when I have covered Gonzaga basketball games in the past, my seat was in the middle of the McCarthey Athletic Center, halfway between the ceiling and the floor. Last night we were on the floor near midcourt, in what I like to call the ESPN zone (as long as that's not copyrighted). And boy was the Kennel loud. Louder than I had ever heard it. So I had to ask Roth, the guy who stands near the tunnel on the west end, how the volume was compared to the men's games. His answer: It was as loud as he's ever heard it, men or women. And, he hastened to point out, he's sure nowhere else in the nation was there an atmosphere that compared to the one in the Mac on Monday night. After having watched a smattering of the other first- and second-round sites, I would have to agree with him on that. And the amazing thing about Monday night's crowd? There was no student section. All the noise, all the sound, all the fury came from regular ol' basketball fans. Mostly sober basketball fans. Young, old and middle-aged basketball fans. Men and women, boys and girls. If the NCAA could bottle the essence from inside the arena Monday night and sprinkle it around each of its other sites the rest of the way, this tournament would be must-watch TV. Though you might have to mute the volume.
• Watched the highlights of the Cougars' win over Wyoming in the CBI last night and came to one conclusion. No matter what happens in Corvallis on Wednesday night, anyone who doesn't think this was a successful season for WSU doesn't get it. Ken Bone's squad lost two pros early, one a successful NBA player as a rookie (Klay Thompson) and one playing overseas (DeAngelo Casto). The best recruited big didn't qualify academically. The most explosive scorer (Faisal Aden) went down with a knee injury just as he was hitting his stride. And yet the Cougars have found ways to win games. Yes, they lost a few they probably should have won, but they also won more they could have tinkled away. It's a group without a lot of firepower but full of toughness, epitomized by two starting seniors, Abe Lodwick and Marcus Capers. Both have limits as basketball players but both stretch those limits most every night, with Lodwick setting a career-high with 16 points in what had the possibility of being his final game. If you are a Washington State basketball fan, you don't have to be satisfied with the record but don't be dismissive either. This isn't the lay-down and quit groups of the late Paul Graham era. There is more to the Cougars than a 17-16 record might indicate.
• Gonzaga: I spent a lot of the past few hours trying to figure out how to explain to you how loud it was at times last night. Never could come up with a plan. So you'll have to take my word for it. It was airport-runway loud in the place during a lot of Miami's possessions. … We start with Jessica Brown's game story in the S-R, which caught the essence of the outcome well, and Greg Lee's notebook, which leads with Katelan Redmon playing well in her final game in her hometown. Jess also has this blog post and there is this photo gallery from Jesse Tinsley and Dan Pelle. … The Miami Herald has this story, Dave Trimmer has a story in the Seattle Times and Howie Stalwick a piece in the News Tribune. … You know what I really wish? I could be a fly on the wall while Miami coach Katie Meier spoke about her real feelings concerning her eight-ranked team being sent 2,500 miles to play at Gonzaga.
• Washington State: Christian is still covering basketball as spring football nears. Been there, done that. Last year, in fact. Missed the first workout on the road with the basketball team. But I never thought to do position previews on the blog prior to the start of spring. He did. Here's his first on the quarterback spot. … He also has his postgame basketball post, his game story and this morning's blog post, in which he covers all the other Pac-12 news. … For more on last night's game, we found these links in the Wyoming papers. … One last item. Bud Withers has some thoughts on college basketball's postseason. Worth reading.
• Idaho: Vandals' football coach Robb Akey added another veteran to his staff yesterday and no, it wasn't Mike Levenseller. That will come on the first of April or thereabouts. Josh Wright has the info on this hire in this blog post and short story.
• Preps: Before the snow came, the Greater Spokane League was able to get one baseball game in. Mike Vlahovich was at Mead's win over Ferris and filed this story. Looking out my window now, I'm not sure a lot more will be played today.
• UFC: We've passed along a lot of news concerning Micheal Chiesa and his quest in the Ultimate Fighter television show. Now we pass along John Blanchette's column concerning Chiesa and the recent loss of his father. Poignant and heartbreaking.
• Seahawks: OK, let the Flynnsani … no, I can't write that. There were enough sanity puns over that flash-in-the-pan point guard in New York, so we won't cheapen Seattle's acquisition of quarterback Matt Flynn. We'll just pass along all the news we can find. And this really cool story from the Times about twitter and football reporting. … Can't let this opportunity go by. Not only did Peyton Manning make a decision where he'll play next season, he also nipped the Tim Tebow craze in the butt a bit.
• Mariners: Well, one veteran pitcher signed in the offseason didn't work out. … Either did Jason Vargas' changeup yesterday. … But Chone Figgins seems to have found his mojo, as Jerry Brewer writes. … And Justin Smoak hopes he's figured out the formula for home runs.
• It's still snowing. That is all. Until later …