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"Oregon it is! First off, I want to thank God for this amazing opportunity. I want to thank all of Eagle Nation for the love and support. I want to thank every single one of my teammates for pushing me to be a better man/athlete everyday these past four years. Definitely want to thank Coach B, the coaching staff, and the everybody upstairs who has something to do with my success … Thank you Coach B for being the first school to ever offer me, you’l always be a good friend of mine. I also want to thank all the other athletes and coaching staffs here at EWU for all the love and support.” I’m going to miss y’all forever Cheney/Spokane, but I have to do what I think is best for me and my family.”
Even on the road, the Eastern Washington basketball team is never far from its comfort zone.
The Eagles got another boost after last week’s 89-86 win at Idaho. Besides the obvious benefit of a 3-0 start to the Big Sky Conference season, the game showed something else:
That in the minds of the players, last year’s 3-7 Big Sky road record is a thing of the past.
“We know that to be a great team, we have to win on the road,” EWU guard Tyler Harvey said. “It meant a lot to win that game.”
And they have to do it with a target on their backs, a new phenomenon in Jim Hayford’s fourth year coaching in Cheney. Alone in first place, the Eagles (12-4 overall, 3-0 Big Sky) go into tonight’s game at Portland State with a little swagger.
“We know every team’s going to come after us with their best shot,” said Harvey, who also figures to get some special attention as he leads the nation with a 23.4 scoring average.
“You want other teams’ best efforts, because that makes you a better team,” Harvey said.
In some ways, this is the toughest road trip the Eastern Washington basketball team will face all year. PSU plays in the 1,500-seat Peter W. Stott Center, and Saturday’s opponent, Sacramento State, plays in the cozy 1,012-seat Nest, where fans are up-close-and-personal with the opposing team.
An added incentive? Eastern is 1-5 in those gyms under Hayford.
“For coaches, the meaning of happiness is road wins,” Hayford said. “With each road win you gain more and more confidence.”
Eastern is ranked 19th in the College Insider Mid-Major poll released Tuesday. That's just where the Eagles sat last week, before knocking off Weber State and Idaho State last weekend at Reese Court.
At the same time, Eastern fell to 87th in the Ratings Percentage Index - a drop of 40 spots from the week before. The RPI is a key component in the NCAA Tournament selection committee's decision-making process, and sometimes reflects strength of schedule more than wins and losses.
In the Sagarin ratings published by USA Today, Eastern is ranked 72nd.
The start of the regional game Wednesday night between Eastern Washington and Gonzaga looked more like a B-movie beginning to the famed fable of David and Goliath. Read more below.
I spent a fine day yesterday in Cheney. Among other things, I wrote this practice report from football and covered the Eagles' basketball win over Walla Walla. The stakes are pretty high for the football game against Portland State; here is a preview from Eastern and from PSU. … Elsewhere, it's win or be done for Montana State against arch-rival Montana, whose quarterback Jordan Johnson is just fine, thank you. .. Of course, there are old friendships that transcend even this game. … An ever bigger game looms at Southern Utah, where the Thunderbirds need to knock off second-place Northern Arizona to have a chance at the FCS playoffs.
With one of the biggest games of the season looming, here's a feature on Eastern cornerback T.J. Lee III, one of the biggest players on the Eagle roster, in stature if not in size. We also had a live chat yesterday, and here's a partial transcript. … Very few links today - it seems every paper is inundated with high school sports coverage this week. … From the Billings Gazette, here's a story on how MSU hopes to slow the Eastern offense. … Montana is stepping out of conference with a game against South Dakota.
It wasn't by design, but the story of Eastern Washington linebacker and former walk-on J.C. Agen contrasts nicely with all the ugly stuff going down at Oklahoma State. … We also had a lively live chat; here's the transcript. … One sure thing about Toledo: their kicker doesn't miss. The Toledo Blade also has a nice feature on a longtime fan. Want more? Here's a link to the unofficial fan site, plus a link to the school's athletic site. … There's seldom much local coverage of Sam Houston State, although there's this story about a major athletic fund-raising drive, and there's always the school athletic site. … North Dakota is having problems with the running game - on both sides of the ball - as it prepares for Montana. … Sure enough, the Grizzlies have noticed … The best coverage of Southern Utah football is right here, as the Thunderbirds happen to be at Washington State this week. … At Idaho State, winning isn't a given, but it's contagious.
There was no letdown Saturday for Eastern Washington, which soared past Western Oregon. Here's my story. We also have the story in pictures from our own Tyler Tjomsland. … The Eagles' next opponent, Toledo, put a scare into Missouri of the SEC. … Sam Houston State got off to a strong start at Texas A&M before getting routed in the second half. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, it was a tale of near misses against FBS schools, including Portland State's loss at Cal and Montana State's heartbreaker at SMU. … Northern Colorado lost 41-36 to something called Colorado State-Pueblo, which I've never heard of - that can't be good. … Utah steamrolled Weber State, while North Dakota got mashed in the Potato Bowl rivalry with Souith Dakota State. …Idaho State is 1-0 after an easy win over Dixie State.
S-R photojournalist Tyler Tjomsland covered the EWU home game against Montana. Check out a big picture gallery of his photos.
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Eagles' win over Portland State. Check out a big picture gallery of his game photos.
With only two days until Saturday's FCS semifinal, we have a couple more stories, including my preview of the intriguing matchup between Eastern's passing offense and Sam Houston State's aggressive defense. I also have a notebook with several interesting storylines. In the meantime, we'll have our weekly Live Chat today at noon, right here at SportsLink. From the newspaper in Huntsville, Texas (an hour's drive north of Houston and home of the Bearkats) here's a nice feature on Sam Houston's chances of knocking off three Big Sky Conference teams in as many games. Also from Texas, a Q and A with two of the Bearkats' top players.
FROM PULLMAN — As mentioned this morning, Vince is handling basketball duties for us this evening. But we'll be here for the first half or so, and have some pregame thoughts to get you going. Read on.
FROM THE BIG OL' RENOVATED PRESS BOX — It's even nicer in here with the furniture set up. Though Bud Withers would probably like it more if he'd been allowed to bring his iced coffee inside. We have thoughts and notes after the jump, so read on.
The Eagles are getting ready for their second two-a-day session of falll camp, with practice beginning at 9 a.m. today, although I have to say, it seems half the players are out there half an hour early. I will be there too, sending updates on Twitter (please follow me at @srjimallen). Also, we'll have a live chat Thursday at noon, and later today, I will give the details. In the meantime, here is my story from Tuesday's practice , focusing on the cornerbacks and coach Cherokee Valeria. Finally, here is some news from future opponents:
PUBLIC LANDS — The Eastern Washington Resource Advisory Council (RAC) will hold a meeting on May 23 in Moses Lake focusing on the East Side and San Juan Resource Management Plan and the Forest Plan Revision for the Colville National Forest.
The meeting will run 10 a.m.-4 p.m in the Hardin Room of the ATEC Building at Big Bend Community College, 7662 N.E. Chanute St.
The meeting will be open to the public and there will be an opportunity for public comments at 10:00 a.m.
The Eastern Washington RAC is comprised of 15 members from a variety of backgrounds who are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The Eastern Washington RAC provides advice to the Bureau of Land Management Spokane District Manager and the Colville National Forest Supervisor regarding management of federal public land in eastern Washington.
For info about the Eastern Washington RAC contact the Spokane BLM District Office, 1103 N. Fancher Rd, or call (509) 536-1200.
The Big Sky Conference and Western Athletic Conference announced their all-conference picks on Monday, with four local players - two from Idaho and two from Eastern Washington - earning first-, second- or freshman-team honors.
EWU standout Brianne Ryan earned the top award for the Big Sky and was named MVP.
Read all about the awards here.
It was a pretty fantastic day for area women’s basketball teams.
The No. 22 Gonzaga Bulldogs avenged a rare West Coast Conference loss with a win over Saint Mary’s, Washington State pulled together for a Pac-12 victory over Arizona and the Eastern Washington women defeated Montana State to complete their first sweep of the Montana schools on the road. The Idaho women didn’t fare as well, falling to Utah State.
Stephanie Golden had a career-high 15 points and the No. 22 Gonzaga women's basketball team earned a 79-61 win over Loyola Marymount at the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday night. As you'll see in my story, I overheard a fan throw out a horrendously obvious pun after the game. I'd like to thank that fan. After he said it, I couldn't get it out of my head. Hence, the first couple paragraphs.
Keep reading for more on area women's basketball teams.
Three of the four area Division I women's basketball teams start conference play on Thursday. That is the topic for this week's notebook, leading off with Gonzaga's quest for an eighth-straight WCC title. I also realize I neglected to link to last week's story on Eastern Washington mighty mite Chene Cooper, who leads the Big Sky in assists and is about to set the Eagle record for steals.
Not sure how many more computer issues I can take, I think I'll have to find a new line of work. After writing the local angle from the National Finals Rodeo, my soon to be ex-computer wouldn't let me blog. But now, safely home getting ready to watch a taped college football game, I can now link to Gonzaga's narrow win over Eastern Washington, which came with an unusual final 40 seconds. Could say much more, but the playoff game is waiting and it has to be viewed before the other Big Sky team plays early tomorrow.
Under the radar is a good description for Alysha Green but the Mead grad has made her mark in college basketball. She's the subject for the weekly basketball notebook. For a couple of other notes, including some that ended up on the cutting room floor, read on.
Rookie national team member Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop, Wash., teamed with Alaskan Kikkan Randall to make history for U.S. Women cross-country ski racing by finishing second in the sprint relay at the World Cup finals yesterday in Dusseldorf, Germany. Story here. (Posted by Rich Landers/SR)
- 2 NIC soccer players face charges in violent break-in/KREM2
- Gonzaga slips from No. 18 to No. 22 after Illinois loss/KREM
- Moscow prof, Manhattan Project scientist dies at 93/KOZE-AM
- Moore not among 5 finalists for Heisman Trophy/Chadd Cripe, Statesman
- WSU student charge in Sunday Pullman stabbing/Jason Ford, KOZE-AM
- Red-haired suspect caught on tape stealing church donation box/KBOI
- Jeremy/Amber Clark plead innocent in Karina Moore's death/Anusha Roy, KXLY
- Treasure Valley's KTRV12 suspends news operation, lays off workers/KTVB
USC shuts down the high-octane offense of the Gonzaga women's basketball team and pulls away down the stretch.
In other games, Idaho loses at Colorado. On Saturday Eastern Washington picks up a win in the Arizona State tournament and on Friday Gonzaga won at Riverside the Washington State clips San Diego State.
After a holiday weekend … Christmas lights are up, anniversary present is purchased, belt loosened … it's time to catch up with women's basketball.
The biggest news is Washington State going 2-1 in the Virginia Islands after second day loss to Michigan and a rout of Prairie View in the finale, led by a career-high from Spokane freshman Tia Presley.
My bad. I spent the day getting ready for Thanksgiving (and to all of you have a great day) because of a hockey game tonight and totally forgot to post women's basketball news.
Our notebook lead was Nikki Nelson, who has played two seasons and missed two seasons but is now starting for New Mexico. Read on.
Sorry about the late post. Computer problems in Moscow and obligations this moring. But without further ado, hats off to Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves for his 300th win as a college basketball coach and a good win for Eastern Washington.
The definition of a good weekend: A miserable day outside so you have time when your best friend visits town, with lots of interesting games on in the background; a good day outside so you can get a lot of things done after your friend leaves, plus a radio on to keep up with the games. Oh, yeah, no work, no computer, which means there is a lot to catch up with. For women's basketball news, read on.
It's time for some basketball - and a welcome home to Kate Loper (above) - so hunker down for some serious reading about the area Division I women's teams.
Eastern Washington women's basketball program only signed two players but they got some bang for the buck.
The Eagles are adding 6-foot-4 center Hanna Mack from Eugene, Ore., and 6-foot CeCe Pearl from Peoria, Ariz.