A GRIP ON SPORTS • Where were we? Oh yeah, observing Gonzaga’s Sherman-like march through the L.A. Basin, Washington State’s recent basketball downturn and wondering where the Seahawks were headed. In other words, the same place we’ve been the past couple days. Read on.
• Gonzaga may have actually played better Saturday night than it did Thursday, and won by a smaller margin. That can be attributed to Loyola Marymount being a bit more talented and connected than Pepperdine. Or it can be attributed to the Zags failing in an elemental aspect in the first half: putting the scouting report in practice – something Mark Few cited in his conversation with our Jim Meehan afterward.
The Zags lost their connection to LMU’s outside shooters, most notably Steven Haney, who had 18 in the first half. The second half, after a locker room emphasis on the task at hand, Haney scored four points and didn’t hit a 3-pointer.
So GU opens West Coast Conference play 4-0 with a home game with Portland – 0-4 in conference play – coming up Thursday. It’s a good way to start.
Better than the way BYU has. The Cougars lost last week to Saint Mary’s, which is explainable even if it was in Provo. But last night they lost at Pacific, a result that is probably more BYU-centric than attributable to the Tigers. It marks another year the Cougars have lost a WCC road game against a team it should handle. Each year, it derails their NCAA chances down the road. More than likely, last night’s defeat did the same thing. And it still early January.
• All the little things Washington State was doing right during its season-opening six game winning streak aren’t being accomplished right now. As a result, the Cougars are winless after three Pac-12 games. The latest loss has to hurt the most, being that it came at home against Washington, which is something more than just your ordinary rival.
And it was a game Washington State could have won. Maybe should have won. But the little things, especially down the stretch, continue to plague WSU. A rebound not grabbed here, a lazy pass there. A missed teammate, a missed shot. The result was the 70-65 defeat, snapping a two-game win streak against UW.
• Green Bay is interested in John Schneider. The Seahawks are not interested in losing their general manager unless, presumably, the Packers make an offer they can’t refuse.
Maybe one of those don’t exist. After all, this is a crucial offseason for Seattle, as crucial as any the Hawks have gone through since Schneider was lured out his hometown, Green Bay, to run the Seattle front office. Why would Paul Allen want to let him go now, especially considering Allen gave Schneider a bunch more money in his new contract specifically asking, in return, a commitment in the form of dropping a clause that allowed him to return to Wisconsin.
Allen knew this day was coming. So did Schneider. They agreed on a price to make sure it didn’t disrupt the Hawks’ operation. And now Allen needs to hold Schneider to that commitment.
• We have one other subject we want to pass along. The new tax laws are in effect. One change will affect any of you who buy high-demand season tickets to sporting events. This story explains how, even if the subject isn’t our local teams.
WSU: Theo Lawson was joined by columnist emeritus John Blanchette – I wonder if that description will get under John’s skin, especially considering he is just a year or so older than me – to observe the game with UW. Theo has an analysis of the game action and videos of postgame interviews. John has his column on lessons being learned – anytime, anyplace. … John also is the subject of this interview out of Montana. … A couple of Washington State soccer players are going to be busy. … Back to the basketball game, Washington had to overcome some tough circumstances even to get to Pullman and then fought back to win. Carlos Johnson played a big role in reviving the Huskies.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Arizona survived its trip to Salt Lake City but couldn’t replicate the success at Colorado, which upset the conference’s two highest-ranked teams back-to-back this weekend. … UCLA suffered an unexplainable loss at Stanford on Thursday. They didn’t suffer another at California, scoring a 107-84 victory. … Arizona State’s guards are struggling right now, though the Sun Devils have been successful. … In football, Arizona's open coaching position seems attractive. Heck, even former Eastern coach Beau Baldwin's name has been attached.
Gonzaga: The Southern California trip continued for Jim Meehan – let’s hope he got his fill of In-N-Out – as he has an analysis of the Bulldogs’ 85-66 victory as well as the three keys to GU’s win. … Jim also has a story on Nigel Williams-Goss buying his dad a new car. … The guys in the office put together this always appreciated in-game highlight package. … We made a freshman mistake in our TV Take last night, but it was corrected before it ever saw print, thank goodness. … Zach Collins has been fouling up less and playing more for Portland. … The women held off Loyola Marymount and stayed undefeated in WCC play. Whitney Ogden has the story while Colin Mulvany supplied the photo report. … Around the WCC, Saint Mary’s kept pace with Gonzaga by running past San Diego 70-63 at home. … As we mentioned above, Pacific upset BYU 67-66, putting a crimp in the Cougars postseason plans already.
EWU: The Eagles depth showed in their 82-67 win over Sacramento State. Ferris High’s Cody Benzel, who walked-on at Eastern four years ago, was the star, scoring a career-high 25 points. Jim Allen has the story. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana and Montana State remained undefeated, winning against Northern Colorado and North Dakota, respectively. … Idaho State got past Northern Arizona at home. … Weber State had little trouble with Southern Utah.
Idaho: The Vandals won a one-possession game Thursday night. They lost a one-possession game last night in Moscow, falling 73-72 to Portland State. Peter Harriman has the story. … A 39-point night from Mikayla Ferenz lifted the women to a 101-90 win at Portland State.
Whitworth: The Pirates improved to 4-0 in Northwest Conference play with an 83-71 win over Pacific at the Fieldhouse last night. Jim Allen was there and has this game story.
Mariners: Robinson Cano did a good thing.
• Wouldn’t it be nice if someone in your line of business wanted you so badly they were willing to trade other employees for you? Would kind of suck for the person traded though, wouldn’t it? Until later …