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Coaches and athletes are still speaking at Pac-12 media days. I'll update this post with the most interesting tidbits as I hear them.
Arizona State's new apparel provider showed off the new Sun Devil duds.
Todd Graham's boots were made for talking. The ASU head coach showed up to the podium in cowboy boots adorned with Sun Devils logos, which he somehow attributed to being from Texas.
Graham's session was spent emphasizing how well the team has performed academically, while reiterating his goal of winning a national championship. He said that 70 ASU players are "Scholar Ballers," the coach's term for players that achieve a 3.0 grade-point average or better.
Graham said that star sophomore Kalen Ballage will play on both offense and defense and refused to be made to clarify on which side of the ball he will see more time.
The coach, who has a history of leaving jobs shortly after arriving, has long answered questions about how long he plans to be in Tempe. Graham said that he feels his commitment to the school should be obvious because he's paid off his house and has donated heavily to the school.
However, Jordan Simone let slip that Graham has told the team he has two goal: Win a national title and win a Super Bowl. So, it appears Graham at least has NFL aspirations. Simone graduated from Skyline High in Issaquah and walked-on at Washington State before transferring to ASU. He has since blossomed into an All-Conference player.
Full transcription of Todd Graham's media day remarks.
Oregon State: New coach Gary Andersen talked about his quarterback situation—he does not know who will start, but it will be a freshman. Because freshmen are his only options.
Expectations are low for the Beavers and Andersen didn't really try to raise them, pointing out in his opening statement that the Beavers will have a freshmen under center and only 11 scholarship seniors on the team.
But the Beavers will have preseason All-American Isaac Seumalo, who Andersen said will return after more than a year away from football activities while he recovered from multiple foot surgeries. Seumalo will help pave the way for running back Storm Woods, who Phil Steele put on his preseason All-Pac-12 third team.
Andersen's hire this offseason was a surprise, when the Beavers stole him away from Wisconsin, who he led to the Big-10 Championship Game. He had some interesting remarks when asked about the transition:
"I'm always going to go where I think I can affect kids lives, and at this spot I believe I can do that consistently," he said. "I had great kids at Wisconsin, but any time I'm in a position to compromise what I believe in coaching, that's hard for me to be in the middle of it. When I see an opportunity that I want and I'm told to go there, then I'll go. "
UCLA: Jim Mora let everybody know right off the bat that he doesn't know who will start at quarterback and isn't going to make a decision at media days. After that, the coach, notorious for his starched-shirt persona, actually loosened up quite a bit.
He had great things to say about The Drive, the Pac-12's documentary-style series that went behind-the-scenes with the Bruins in 2014. Mora was also quite moving when speaking about the challenge he issued to UCLA fans to support Avery Huffman, the six-year-old daughter of UCLA reporter Brandon Huffman who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The UCLA program is offering access to fans who help fundraise on the Huffmans' behalf, and Brandon Huffman penned a touching letter about receiving the worst news of his life, and you can help the family out here.
The Bruins also apparently refer to defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes as "Kung Fu Panda."
Full transcription of Jim Mora's media day remarks.
Head coach Chris Petersen acknowledged that it would be "awkward" for him to take the Huskies to Boise for their season opener against Boise State, the program that Petersen led to a 92-12 record over eight seasons.
"If I had any inkling whatsoever (when the series was scheduled) I might be sitting here, that'd be the last team of 128 teams (I would want to play)."
However, Petersen added that he believed it would be "selfish" for him to cancel the game.
The Huskies also noted that the players have been watching mixed martial arts fights and have incorporated some of the training principles into their offseason workouts. Petersen also said freshman quarterback Jake Browning is "absolutely in the mix" to start next season.
Full transcription of Todd Graham's media day remarks.
Colorado: Stephane Nembot is a 6-foot-6, 320-pound Cameroonian offensive lineman who speaks 14 languages. Oh, and the future NFL lineman has only played football for five years. So, yeah, he's an impressive guy.
Coach Mike MacIntyre spoke about his high expectations for quarterback Sefo Liufau, who attended Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma. He also noted that it will be an uphill climb for the Buffaloes, one of only two Pac-12 South teams that aren't ranked in the Amway Coaches Poll.
Full transcription of Mike MacIntyre's media day remarks.
Stanford: Coach David Shaw continued his relentless campaign to spread awareness about the value of a degree from Stanford, even going so far as to say that he supports graduate transfers because, "I have a tough time telling a guy with a Stanford degree what to do.
The Cardinal should be tough in 2015 with Kevin Hogan back and some talented skill players on offense in Barry Ware, Christian McCaffrey, Devon Cajust, Michael Rector and Remound Wright. But Shaw pointed to the depth along the offensive line as his reason for confidence, saying "I think this is the first year in two years we've had competition." Of course, there were few players in the country last year that could have legitimately competed with Andrus Peat for playing time, and he's off to the NFL now.
But Stanford's defense isn't expected to be as fearsome as it has been in recent seasons, but Shaw says he's just fine with that.
"It's great," he said. "I like when people doubt us as opposed to getting pats on the back. I have no problem with that at all because I'm one of those guys that believes, yes, we should have to prove ourselves every year."
Cajuste, Stanford's top receiver, missed the spring game with a hamstring injury, but Shaw says he should be fully healthy for fall camp. "I saw him the other day, he's walking with no limp," Shaw said. "He felt great. He's going to start running straight ahead pretty soon."
Full transcription of David Shaw's media day remarks.
I caught Mark Few returning from post-game media session in a nearly empty hallway after Gonzaga's 74-62 win over UCLA and asked him a couple of questions before a few more reporters arrived. Few explained what he imparted during a timeout when the Bruins had cut GU's lead to one early in the second half.
Few told the Zags to tighten up their ball-screen coverage, it had slipped during the Bruins' rally. And he told the Zags to feed it inside to Przemek Karnowski.
"We liked that (Karnowski) matchup so I was trying to call that number," Few said. "And Domas (Sabonis) had a nice stretch there."
Gonzaga is trying to go where only the 1999 Zags have gone before: The Elite Eight. UCLA is standing in their way.
Here's our coverage in today's paper: My game preview, John Blanchette's column on Steve Alford and his Spokane connection, Colin Mulvany's photo gallery, Jacob Thorpe's sidebar on UCLA's late-season success and a Meehan/Thorpe notebook.
You can find L.A. Times coverage at this link.
A little of everything today as Gonzaga moves closer to its Sweet 16 matchup with UCLA on Friday.
Here's what we had in the S-R: John Blanchette caught up with Eric McClellan and his mom as the junior guard continues to rebuild his career after being dismissed from Vanderbilt last season; Jacob Thorpe explored UCLA's improvement, with one notable exception, since the Zags won 87-74 at Pauley Pavilion in December; and I wrote a notebook, led by the Zags remembering to celebrate each victory in a season with 34 wins so far.
Pressers coming up later today, updates on twitter @SRjimm.
Gonzaga and UCLA have some NCAA tournament history. The teams collide again Friday in another Sweet 16 matchup, and that prompts some unpleasant memories in Zagville of a 2006 game that will no bearing on this week's showdown in Houston.
GU handled the Bruins for roughly 36 minutes but stumbled before the finish line. UCLA took advantage and pulled off a stunning comeback victory. I visited with a few of the men involved in that memorable contest, including ex-Zag Adam Morrison, who was gracious with his time and seems to have a better perspective than some folks out there.
Here's my article on that memorable '06 contest.
From Pullman — Spring practice is just days away for the Washington State football team and the Cougars are already getting ready. And so is the media. WSU released its Spring roster on Monday and we've got a post detailing the differences we could find between the roster now and at the end of the 2013 season. Coaches Mike Leach and Mike Breske also appeared on Cougar Calls with Bill Moos yesterday to talk about the team. We've got some highlights from that discussion here. Moos also touched on the ongoing coaching search, something that we have a story on here. Speaking of coaches, former WSU coach Kelvin Sampson has emerged as a leading candidate for the Houston job.
From Pullman — That 36-game losing streak to Washington? It wasn't even the longest drought the Washington State women ended this season. No, yesterday's invitation to the WNIT means WSU will be making its first postseason trip in women's basketball in 23 years. The Cougars will head all the way to Montana for their matchup against … Montana. While they're there maybe they can beat the Huskies again. A little late but here's a good piece illustrating just how good DaVonte Lacy was for the men this season.
From Pullman — It's St. Patrick's Day and you know what that means? This year it means March Madness is officially upon us. The NCAA tournament bracket has officially been set and followers of our Washington State and Pac-12 coverage can compete with other readers in our NCAA Tournament Challenge. Gonzaga will head to San Diego for a rematch with Oklahoma State. John Blanchette has a column on GU's seeding.
Six Pac-12 schools made the cut and Cal — which started conference play 5-0 and knocked off Arizona — will head to the NIT to face the Utah Valley team that Idaho just beat … Oregon State will play in the CBI … Arizona nabbed a No. 1 seed but still has some land mines to navigate … UCLA's loss to WSU just over a week ago didn't appear to register much with the selection committee, which granted the Bruins a 4 seed … Losing Spencer Dinwiddie didn't end Colorado's season and the Buffaloes are going dancing … Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins appears to have saved his job by guiding the Cardinal to the tournament … Oregon's late-season resurgence was enough to get the Ducks into March Madness … Arizona State will open up against Texas.
Having trouble coping with all the Madness? Jim Allen has some advice.
From Las Vegas — If you'll recall, the last team to beat UCLA was pesky Washington State. It's likely, therefore, that the Cougars played some small role in UCLA's victory over Arizona last night in the Pac-12 tournament championship game. Whether WSU's upset humbled the Bruins or merely caused coach Steve Alford to put the fear of extra suicides in his team, at the very least the Cougars can say they beat the conference champion.
From Las Vegas — I'm still here in Vegas (alack!) serving as a sort of reporter-talisman for the Idaho men's and women's basketball teams, which have both made it to today's WAC tournament finals so indulge me for linking my game stories from the men's and women's semifinal wins. Josh Wright has more in this blog post. If you haven't seen UI's Stephen Madison play before, turn in to ESPNU at 7 p.m. and check out the superb senior.
Oh, and if you're wondering why there is a picture of a mountain wearing a basketball jersey at the top of this post, that's 7-foot-5, 355-pound Sim Bhullar, the wall the Vandals will have to go through to make it to the NCAA tournament.
From Las Vegas — Day one of the Pac-12 is in the books and four teams are already out. One of those teams was Washington State, which saw its season end in a thrilling late-night match against Stanford. Here is our story from the game, as well as quotes and video of coach Ken Bone and DaVonte Lacy. While in town I also covered top-seeded Idaho's blowout of Chicago State in WAC women's action.
From Las Vegas — Today the Washington State men will take on Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament. Here's our advance on WSU's do or die situation. We'll also be covering the top-seeded Idaho women. Josh Wright has the preview here. We've also got the news that starting cornerback DaQuawn Brown has been arrested and will in all likelihood be dismissed from the team. Oregon will look to defend its tournament title.
Tha-tha-tha-that's all, folks!
From Pullman — Had my first flight out of the Pullman airport canceled so I don't have long before making the familiar journey up to Spokane. The final destination will be Sin City, the Land of Lost Wages. We'll be covering not only the Washington State men in the Pac-12 tournament — featured in our blog post here — but both Idaho teams in the Western Athletic Conference tournament … The Pac-12 announced its All-Conference teams today and there wasn't much crimson or gray to be found … Nor was there much purple and gold, on the first team at least, and Lorenzo Romar found the omission of his best player confounding … Arizona, however, had no shortage of honors … Ted Miller takes a look at the conference kickers …
From Pullman — The Washington State men's basketball team is hitting the road a little early, leaving Pullman today and heading to Las Vegas for the Pac-12 tournament. Their opponent will be Stanford. We touch on that and have some highlights in a blog post today … Bud Withers put out his Pac-12 All-Conference team … As did Percy Allen … Chris Foster says UCLA hasn't improved since sacking Ben Howland, but that's no reason to think they won't.
From Pullman — The Washington State seniors went out in style last night, upending UCLA in the regular season finale. We've also got video and quotes from the win. However, the laws of the universe required that the WSU women fall in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals to balance out the men's good fortune.
The day's biggest upset however was Oregon's win over No. 3 Arizona, which likely assures Oregon of an NCAA tournament berth … Stanford scraped out a much-needed win over Utah … Arizona State, California and Washington also came away with narrow victories.
From Pullman — Washington State knocked off No. 20 California last night to return to the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament semifinals for the second time in three years. Thomas Clouse watched watched Lia Galdeira scored 28 points to lead the Cougars in their 91-83 win and has a game story from Seattle. The baseball team also won on Friday, taking a series opener from Texas State. Suiting up as Cougars for the final time in Pullman will be D.J. Shelton and Will DiIorio. A football player whose time at WSU has passed is getting ready for the NFL draft. Yesterday the State Senate passed a resolution honoring WSU's 1915 Rose Bowl team.
ESPN's Pac-12 blog takes a look at each team's safety depth … Washington's Spring practices may not be pretty … The Huskies are also getting ready to say goodbye to their seniors … The Ducks have one more chance to show they're legit, against No. 3 Arizona … Utah looks to cap an impressive late-season run against Stanford … The Beavers hope everything comes together against Arizona State … Cal and Colorado will have a lot of chips on the table in today's game.
From Pullman — For awhile it seemed that the USC game could very well be Washington State's last win of the season. Then last night they lost it thanks to a brutal second half. Here's our game story from the loss. Before the game former WSU safety Deone Bucannon met with the media to talk about his preparations for the upcoming NFL draft. We've got video of the All-American, as well as post game videos of a couple players and coach Ken Bone. We also had a blog post on former WSU RB/DB Clarence Williams who is on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.
On the women's side the Cougars hit the century mark, again, in a win over Oregon to start of Pac-12 tournament play.
In the day's other game Washington fell to UCLA at home.
From Pullman — The vocal majority that despises a proposed NCAA football rule change that would give defenses 10 seconds to substitute got welcome news yesterday. The proposal has been tabled, effectively cast off into a sea of bureaucracy and red tape from which it will never emerge … Today the Washington State basketball team will do battle with USC in a titanic matchup ("Titanic" referring to the ship, not the forebears of the Greek Pantheon). We've got our Four Corners preview of the game and a local college basketball notebook … Former WSU football player Steve Broussard has been hired at SMU.
From Pullman — Just one more day until the Cougars take on Oregon in the Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament. Thomas Clouse will be covering the team, and he's got a story on the matchup. Washington State will have a pair of All-Conference players taking the court. Mr. Clouse has a story on Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira, and we've got a blog post as well … In our baseball notebook the Cougars respond to the NCAA inquiry into a player's eligibility .
Check out John Blanchette's movie reviews … Ted Miller breaks down the Pac-12 defensive ends … Washington had its first practice under new coach Chris Petersen … But a longtime captain is in trouble with the law … Oregon now has a winning record with yesterday's win over Arizona State … Stanford is hoping to help its tournament resume with a win over Colorado today … Arizona needs to avoid a letdown in the home stretch … Utah has one more shot to prove it can win on the road.
Deone Bucannon became an All-American at Washington State and there was little doubt that the safety would have a chance to show his stuff in the NFL. Because of his eye-popping combine numbers Bucannon could be picked pretty early in May's NFL draft. The experts seem to think Bucannon will go in the second or third round. A Cougar hasn't been drafted in the third round since Jason Hill in 2007 and if Bucannon can edge his way up to the second round he'll be the earliest Cougar picked since Marcus Trufant went No. 11 overall in 2003. In 2002 both Raonall Smith and Lamont Thompson were drafted in the second round out of WSU.
The Huskies have started Spring football and here are some notes from the first day … Stanford is also practicing and once again trying to replace some irreplaceable players … Arizona owes much of its success this season to a phenomenal freshman … The Pac-12 Women's Basketball Tournament field has been set, Thomas Clouse will be covering the action for the S-R.
Show me the money? Show him the diploma. Jason Monda's decision to turn his nose at a $200,000 signing bonus is the basis of our college baseball preview. The team split its double-header with Cal State Northridge yesterday.
The Pac-12 media was proven to be composed of geniuses once again when preseason favorite Arizona clinched the Pac-12 on Sunday, defeating Stanford to make it official … It wasn't easy but UCLA got by Oregon State at home … Their season is far from over so Arizona State fans will have time to brace themselves for life without Jahii Carson, who will enter the NBA draft …
The regular season is over for the WSU women's basketball team, which fell to No. 5 Stanford on Saturday. The Cougars will head to next week's Pac-12 tournament in Seattle as the No. 7 seed, and will play Oregon in the first round. WSU will need a very good showing to have a chance to make it to the Big Dance. ESPN's Charlie Creme projects just four Pac-12 teams to the NCAA tournament and WSU is not among them. Washington may have a chance, however, after upsetting No. 18 Cal on the road. The Huskies were led by freshman Kelsey Plum, yet again.
Former WSU pitcher Adam Conley is one of the Miami Marlins' best prospects. Conley picked up a Spring Training win yesterday.
From Seattle — The Washington Huskies left no doubt they were the better team on Friday night, teasing the Cougars with their sharp shooting and clamping down on the Washington State offense. The Huskies made of half their shots and the Cougars barely broke 30 percent. D.J. Shelton had a remarkably unique game, collecting 15 rebounds but going 0 for 10 on 3-pointers.
We’ve got a game story on WSU’s 72-49 loss and the box score. Adam Lewis places the fault at the failure to establish Shelton inside the paint and here is a game story from the UW perspective. Kevin Dowd says that rumors of Lorenzo Romar's demise are premature.
Today the Washington State Cougars will attempt to win their first Pac-12 road game since a 71-68 victory at Oregon State on Jan. 26, 2013. It was their only conference road win that season. They'll also hope to make it a sweep against rival Washington this season. We previewed that game in our Four Corners on Thursday … WSU's first win over UW was a season-changer for the Huskies … The Cougars sure could use a big performance from Que Johnson, who has been quiet of late … The women's team nearly pulled off a critical upset at No. 18 California but fell in overtime … The Bruins battled without two key players but Oregon's double-overtime win puts the NCAA tournament within the Ducks' crosshairs … The one they call "Zeus" is still climbing his Mt. Olympus … USC lost again. This time to USC.
The above video is pretty awesome. For starters, it's an awesome shot. Another thing is that it was a game winner that allowed Western Washington University to beat rival Central Washington University. But the most awesome thing is that the shooter, Richard Woodworth, is a senior who hit that shot on Senior Night.
On Friday WSU will take on Washington. WSU coach Ken Bone used to be on Lorenzo Romar's staff at UW. Romar is standing by his old assistant … We've also got our Four Corners preview of that game … Bud Withers assesses the state of the Pac-12 … Former UW quarterback Keith Price is keeping a draft diary for USA Today … Arizona had no trouble with Cal on Wednesday … While Arizona State sent Stanford packing … Today USC will hope to get its second conference win … And Oregon's postseason hopes could depend on beating UCLA today.
From Pullman — Deone Bucannon made the most of his opportunities at the NFL Combine yesterday, putting up good numbers across the board … Gonzaga and Washington State's baseball teams have the same problem right now: pitching … Don't expect to see any more tweets from the Iowa basketball team … The Apple Cup of basketball is on Friday and no one seems to care … Arizona has a chance to avenge its departed shot at an undefeated season … It's already football time again in Palo Alto … Catching up with Oregon State football … UCLA's Tony Parker has been playing well lately.
When Tia Presley scores 32 points the WSU women's basketball team just can't lose. That's not a statement that's particularly packed with meaning — most teams win when a player is that successful. But Presley has put up 32 points in three of WSU's last four games, all of which came against Pac-12 competition. We've got a story on how Presley is leading the Cougars' late-season run … Bud Withers has a column on Ken Bone's trials and tribulations at WSU.
Spring is officially in the air and Stanford will begin football practices this week … Ted Miller breaks down each Pac-12 school's QB situation … Former Spokane prep running back Bishop Sankey had a pretty good day at the NFL combine.
From Eugene — The Cougars led, for a half, then Mike Moser happened. If only he'd stayed at UNLV. It's tough to beat a team when their 6-foot-8 power forward hits a three from the top of the key, and then hits another. And another. The Ducks stormed back, the Cougars lost and we've got a blog post, story and videos of Ken Bone and the players afterward. We've also passed along some video of Deone Bucannon at the NFL Combine.
But the WSU women beat Oregon … I didn't see this before but Bud Withers has a story about the struggles experienced by Oregon State's Craig Robinson … The contest between Cal and USC was pretty similar to the WSU game … Utah creamed Arizona State.
There used to be a certain emptiness on Sundays following the Super Bowl. A new work week was about to begin, Saturday's revelry was firmly in the rearview mirror and there weren't any games to watch. People took up odious pastimes like jogging and reading. But no longer. The Pac-12 has your back. Now Sunday is simply another day for college basketball, like a Thursday or a Saturday. Or a Wednesday.
Today the Cougars will take on Oregon in Matthew Knight Arena, envy of the Portland Trail Blazers … In our Blog Matters section of today's paper we revisit some comments Bill Moos made about basketball facilities at WSU … We've also got the musings of Vincent "Vince" Grippi and his thoughts on the future of WSU basketball … David Murphy gives his thoughts on the Phillies treatment of WSU's Jason Monda … The WSU Open is underway and the Cougars are impressing at home … Much like Washington's first Pac-12 road game, it's last was a surprisingly lopsided win … Stanford took care of No. 23 UCLA at home … Freshman Aaron Gordon led the Wildcats past Colorado in a decisive win …
A relatively quiet day yesterday, but the Pac-12 announced the 2014 inductions into the Men's Basketball Hall of Honor. We've got a blog post on WSU's inductee, Ed Gayda. Deone Bucannon will arrive in Indianapolis today for the NFL Combine. Here's a nice story on Bucannon by ESPN's Kyle Bonagura and a draft profile on the former WSU safety.
Bucannon isn't the only Pac-12 star prepping for the NFL Draft. Stanford's David Shaw has taken another step toward finally becoming an amorphous blob of coaching energy. UCLA is on a roll and Travis Wear is a big part of the Bruins' newfound success.
See Vince's links to make your way to Ted Miller's Mailbag. We wouldn't sully ourselves with it.