May 18, 2014 in Sports

Grip on Sports: Finding right pieces not easy

 
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Gerard Coleman appeared to be a good fit with Gonzaga basketball, but in hindsight …
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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Tuesday: Whenever a player transfers from one college to another, the fans of where he or she lands always get excited.

When Gerard Coleman decided to leave Providence College, where he had been a strong contributor for two seasons, and move west to Gonzaga, Zag Nation rejoiced. Here was an athletic wing who had no trouble getting to the basket. A guy who would add speed to the Bulldog attack. A long, quick defender. Talk about a perfect fit. Except it wasn’t.

Yes, Coleman was athletic. But getting to the basket is tough when your opponent doesn’t have to guard you beyond 5 feet. And that seemed to be the limit of Coleman’s shooting range. Plus, that extra defender in the paint meant less room for Zag bigs to operate. That wasn’t good for a team that had a strong inside attack.

And the defense part? Athleticism and length can only take you so far. Want-to is important too. As is understanding the team principles. The bottom line was Coleman wasn’t a good fit in GU’s system. And he won’t be back.

With Coleman’s departure, there is a spot available at Gonzaga. A spot for an athletic wing. And guess who visited last weekend? Former USC player Byron Wesley.

Is it time to get excited again? Yes it is, though you probably should wait just a bit. See, Wesley, a 6-foot-5 wing, is a little less athletic than Coleman, but bigger, stronger, a better shooter, a better rebounder and, having played a couple years for Kevin O’Neil, a better defender (if he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have survived).

He’s expected to earn his USC degree this month (if he hasn’t already) and be eligible next season. Wesley averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds.

If he decides to spend his last season in Spokane, he immediately makes GU better.

Thursday: I don’t know what it is about an explosive managerial meltdown about a missed call, but I have to admit I like it.

A blowup by a manager during a major league game is always welcome. Especially when he’s right, as was (Mariners manager) Lloyd McClendon.

When John Buck obviously checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt but was called out anyway, McClendon popped out of the dugout like a prairie dog, then proceeded to do a wolverine impression. If wolverines wore hats. And threw them into the outfield.

Within seconds, McClendon was tossed, given the heave-ho by base umpire Lance Barksdale, who must have known he blew the call or he would have probably given McClendon a chance to make his point. Though the confrontation didn’t last long, it was great theater. And it also had a point.

McClendon made it clear to his team he wasn’t about to go meekly into the afternoon light. Even if his team wasn’t putting up much of a fight at the plate he was going to go down swinging. Unlike Buck, who checked his swing.

To top it off, McClendon put together an impromptu “Manager’s Hat Day” when he left the field, tossing his cap once more, this time to a lucky fan in the stands. Now that’s marketing.

• When the news came out that Tramaine Isabell and Washington State had cut ties – the Cougars gave the Garfield High basketball recruit a full release from his letter of intent – the speculation began immediately.

Was this Isabell’s idea? Did it come from new coach Ernie Kent? What was behind the change of heart, especially after Isabell had reiterated his commitment just a couple of weeks ago?

My guess is it was a mutual decision. It probably has to do with Kent recruiting a bunch of guards for next year, with more targeted. I’m guessing the Cougar coach told Isabell he still had a scholarship, but getting playing time as a freshman, and maybe beyond, would be tough. If Isabell wanted to try his hand somewhere else, he would be released. And so Isabell decided to re-enter the market.

If that’s the case, such honesty is the way it should work. There is no reason to hold a kid to an LOI if the circumstances have changed radically. And there is no reason to kick him to the curb either.

If the decision was Isabell’s, it shows Kent gets it. And should help him with other players down the road.


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