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Morning links: WSU returns home

The Washington State men's basketball team will play basketball in Pullman for the first time in 2015 this week.

The Cougars will host Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday. Crowds have been sparse this season, but with classes starting today and the team riding a two-game Pac-12 winning streak it will be interesting to see if there is a significant uptick in attendance for conference play.

We looked back at WSU's win over Washington yesterday and watched the women's team nearly beat Stanford for the first time in program history.

Here are the Monday links:

— Washington's best playmaker had knee surgery but is expected back for spring football.

— Pac-12 upsets won't get much bigger than Oregon State's victory over Arizona.

— Today Oregon plays for a national championship and here is all of The Oregonian's coverage.

— Arizona State fell just short of a win at Oregon.

— California couldn't find its offense against UCLA.

— Colorado freshman Dominique Collier is working to overcome a tough start.

— Wayne Tinkle appears to already have the Beavers rolling.

— Stanford escaped a USC team that is proving to be tougher than expected.

— UCLA played well in nearly every aspect on Sunday.

— It will be interesting to see how Utah responds to a tumultuous offseason.

Morning links: Cougars face Huskies today

Ernie Kent will coach in the rivalry between Washington and Washington State for the first time today.

The teams will play at noon in Alaska Airlines Arena and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks. In the paper today we have a story in advance of the game. Percy Allen previews the game from the UW perspective.

There was a lot of news out of WSU yesterday so we've got plenty of links to share below.

— WSU released its fiscal numbers for the past season and the Cougars are running a deficit. But athletic director Bill Moos says the current investments will pay off eventually.

— Safety Beau Glover has given up football, for now at least, to pursuit another opportunity.

— Mike Leach's contract was extended as expected.

— A former football player is suing WSU.

— Howie Stalwick has a story on the deficit and lawsuit as well.

— Clancy Pendergast is once again emerging as a top candidate for the defensive coordinator position.

— The Pac-12's big news today is the suspension of one of Oregon's key receivers.

Morning links: Pendergast back in the mix?

A week ago, Clancy Pendergast was a popular choice to become the next defensive coordinator at LSU.

But now that it appears Pendergast will not be joining Les Miles' staff, could he be a good for the same position at Washington State? Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com seems to think so. Football Scoop has a good track record of reporting coaching movements, so when Barnett lists Pendergast to WSU as a potential development, then follows with "it feels as if each scenario will play out in the coming days," there is probably something there.

Pendergast was mentioned as a potential hire at WSU soon after the position became available.

Barnett added, "a decision is likely in the coming days," which is consistent with what we've been saying.

Links:

— A few writers say Bob Stoops could make Oklahoma better by getting another Mike Leach, or at least one of his mentees.

— Washington's Kendyl Taylor will transfer … The Huskies preview their game against WSU.

— Arizona breezed past Oregon.

— Arizona State didn’t show much fight against Oregon State.

— Oregon's Dana Altman is a defendant in a lawsuit over the sexual assault allegedly performed by three former players.

— Wayne Tinkle earned his first Pac-12 win.

— Stanford fell just short at UCLA.

— It was a win the Bruins badly needed.

— USC will have a deep receiving corps next season.

— Utah AD Chris Hill is getting unfairly admonished, writes Kurt Kragthorpe.

Morning links: finishing off the recruiting class

Washington State doesn't have many scholarships left to hand out, so the recruits they land these days are pretty good.

Just check out Dahu Green, the receiver that committed to play at WSU yesterday. With the Cougars likely to only take one or a couple more prospects at this point, they can afford to be picky. Just like we've picked out only the choicest links for your perusal below.

— We preview Saturday's game at Washington in this week's Four Corners.

— And here is our Pac-12 roundup.

— It's no surprise the Arizona players are having fun doing all that winning.

— A look ahead at the 2015 Sun Devils.

— California couldn't hit its shots in a loss to USC.

— And Colorado sure didn't look very good against Utah.

— Oregon's run game has gotten a big boost from a sophomore back.

— Langston Morris-Walker is emerging as a key contributor for Oregon State.

— Stanford is expecting a strong recruiting class.

— Like father, like son, the pressure is on for the Alfords.

— After a couple decades the Trojans finally have OJ's Heisman Trophy back.

— In Colorado's defense, nobody looks good facing the Utes in their house.

Morning links: what I’m hearing

I know people are getting antsy about WSU's search for a defensive coordinator – my Twitter followers certainly are – and it's been a pretty tight-lipped search, so I thought I would update everybody on what I think I know.

Admittedly, it's not as much as you'd like.

First off, the consensus seems to be that this is a bad time to be in the market for a defensive coordinator. There is a lot of competition for the top candidates and we've seen the result of that in recent days as some coaches that were linked to or thought to be good fits at WSU have taken jobs elsewhere.

I mentioned early in the search that I believed the Cougars would reach out to Manny Diaz, for example, and FootballScoop.com seemed to back that up last weekend. Then Diaz signed a three-year contract at Mississippi State with an average annual salary $600,000. Monetarily, that's a better deal than I think the next WSU defensive coordinator is going to get.

Here is the good news: It sounds like the Cougars do have a preferred candidate and he's coming in this week to interview, probably on Thursday. From what I've been told, the hope is to hire someone young and hungry, preferably one that will bring a lot of pressure with the front seven.

If that candidate isn't a match, perhaps the Cougars will meet with coaches at the annual AFCA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, which begins next Monday. However, at that point time will be getting tight. I'm sure WSU would prefer to have someone in place by next Wednesday, the last day of the recruiting dead period.

Now on to those links.

*At 11 a.m. we'll be holding our weekly live chat.

— Ernie Kent met with the media yesterday to talk about the upcoming game at Washington. Here is our transcript of his remarks.

— Percy Allen's got a transcript, too.

— The Pac-12 Blog has been looking at some of the top individual performances in 2014. Yesterday they chose Connor Halliday's record-setting day against California.

— Ernie Kent is trying to raise $100,000 to help Team Gleason.

— The NCAA is going to allow the College Football Playoff to foot the travel expenses for players' parents.

Ernie Kent Q&A: Jordan Railey, barbershops and growth potential

Ernie Kent's Cougars faced a tough start to the conference season with their first three Pac-12 games on the road.

After last weekend's split in the Bay Area the Cougars have a chance to emerge only lightly-scathed by that tough opening stretch. But first they have a rubber match against their rivals in Seattle.

On Tuesday Ernie Kent talked about his team's improvement, how much better it can get and what it needs to do to beat the Huskies.

Question: What player benefits the most from Jordan Railey's improvement?

Ernie Kent: I would say the perimeter game, because any time you can go inside and get points it frees up teams from locking in on your guards. You'll find teams where you have a non-scoring big guy and they'll just play behind him and dare you to throw the ball into him, then they will sit on your guards. It doesn't give them a lot of freedom of movement to get open, so when you can go inside and get points and go back out to get points, have an inside-outside game, put a shooter opposite the post, it frees up a lot of things for you offensively.

Q: Is that why when one player plays better, everyone plays better?

EK: I don't know if it's the winning is contagious, one player thing. I think it's more about a team chemistry, a team finding itself, team confidence, I think all of those things. A team understanding its system better now, you're starting to see a team realizing that if you can execute game plans and you can prepare they have an opportunity to have some success. And then, anytime you have some success I just think it catapults you to another level of believing in yourself and believing in a system. Early on this team struggled because it got beaten up a little bit with out schedule, not realizing that tough schedule was getting hem ready for Pac-12 play.

Now we've had some success, winning three of our last four games, you can get a team to start to believe in itself, start to feel good about itself, I think that's the thing that's contagious about guys actually getting on their games, because all of these guys have a game now.

Q: Did you talk to your team about winning its first conference road game in two years?

EK: I don't know how much we mentioned it going into the game. I know we did mention it, though, in one of our prep sessions about the next hurdle and one of several hurdles of this program was to get that monkey off our back of not being able to win on the road in conference play.

To be able to do that wasn't as smooth as we'd like it in the last two minutes, we were excellent up until then, but this program had never been in that situation where they were the hunted in a game coming down the stretch, last minute or so of a game. It's almost as if they needed the adversity of the game, to win the game, to grow through the game and they were able to do that and that ended up being a good thing even though that's an area we need to get better at because we're going to have a lot of games, if we're going to have the success I think we're going to have, there are going to be a lot of games like that that come down to the last minute of the game.

Q: Could Jordan Railey have made a big shot like that a year ago?
EK:
I don't think it would have happened three weeks ago. His growth is continuing, his growth is contagious in terms of guys having confidence in him. But I thought a couple things happened in the game because I thought we just let the game take shape and flow. Not only did he want the ball but they gave him the ball and he did something with the ball. All of those are huge growing opportunities for a team like us that is still trying to find ourselves and I thought it was a special moment for him to hit that shot because that gives him the opportunity to have even more confidence in himself.

Q: How do you keep Railey's confidence up going against a defender like Washington's Robert Upshaw?
EK: Well first of all, I hope you feel better, glad you're not here getting me sick. Secondly, we have a player in our program, Valentine Izundu, and he's not as big as Upshaw, he's not physically as tall but we think he has an opportunity to be one of the best shot blockers in the country next year because he's 6-foot-11, he has over a 7-foot wingspan, he's a tremendous athlete that tries to go get everything and he's had some incredible plays in practice so that's been a blessing right now because we've got a guy that throws a lot of shots out of there in practice.

It's surprising when you see a center the caliber of Upshaw sitting in there so that part of it is a good thing for us, although sometimes when you get in the heat of the battle people don't realize how good he is. Because he is a very good center, not only does he block shots, he keeps them in play and he can score. I think he has an enormous amount of confidence in his game. So the biggest thing is playing with confidence and realize that, particularly guards, you've got to be careful going in there and thinking you're going to attack that kind of size. I'm not as concerned with big-on-big because we've done that before.

Q: Does he bite on pump fakes or is he pretty good at staying on the floor?
EK: You know I think he's been around long enough, he understands the game well enough that it's not about trying to get bigs in foul trouble. Without sitting here and giving away game plans and things of that nature I think he's a smart game plan that knows how to handle himself.

Q: Is Nigel Williams-Goss the guy you have to stop to stop their offense?
EK: Once again, not wanting to give away what we need to do and what we have to do, I'll put it in this context that he is an outstanding context that loves to push the pace. It should be a very fast basketball game because they want to get up and down but it's not Upshaw, it's not Nigel, it's an entire basketball team that we have to scheme against because it's a different environment going over there to play. They've lost three out of four, I know they don't want to start the conference 0-3 so they'll be jacked up ready to go. They will be focused, they'll be locked-in, those are more of the concerns for us than one particular guy on the floor, just how we handle ourselves in a game of this magnitude.

Q: What's it like coaching against Lorenzo Romar?
EK: Well I haven't had a team against him in four years so it's kind of hard to say because I think I'm different as a coach, having stepped out of it for four years and coming back into it, and I think in Lo's case he's a very good friend just like Johnny Dawkins is a good friend, just like Cuonzo Martin is a good friend, Sean Miller, I have several guys in this conference where, being on the NABC board, you know them very well.

The thing that I can tell you about Lorenzo, I think any time you have success in a program where you have built it and people start to get used to that success, that there comes a point in time where they stop celebrating you and start tolerating you. I hope they never get to that point over there because he's one of the best basketball people in this game and what I mean by that is, not only does he coach the game but he cares about his kids, he's an ambassador of the game, he handles himself extremely well and you throw all those ingredients together you've just got an outstanding basketball coach over there. That's the thing that I remember about him, that's the thing that I see when I stepped away from coaching: he's on the board of directors with me and we try to shape, help shape college basketball. You can see that he's somebody that cares about kids, cares about the game just like I do.

Q: What have you seen lately from Brett Boese?
EK: I think the biggest thing for Brett is the fact that he's really calmed down and accepted his role. What I mean by calmed down is I think he's a player that's played at times with nervous energy and he has been Mr. Consistency in terms of knowing what he needs to do to get on the floor and stay on the floor.

How he can help this team, and he's not the fastest player, he's not the best athlete, but if you break him down and watch what he does: he runs as hard as he can every single time, he defends as hard as he can every single time and he's a guy that can make baskets for you. For everything that we would want out of him, he's been giving us, and for that I'm very proud of him. And the fact that his confidence has come he's playing at a different level than he was when we first came in the door here.

Q: How can you keep the momentum that you have right now?
EK: I think it's just one game. We want to play well obviously but the winning gets you over the hump and as a coach, the thing that we focus in on is just het accountability, the detail of practice. Everybody playing hard and just going to take care of their bodies and putting in their time.

It still comes down to playing games and this is a team, again, that had a tough go of it in the preseason with their schedule that we tried to manage the best that we could, open up three games on the road in conference play and that's never easy and here's the third of three straight. WE played well at Stanford for half a game, we played well at Cal for an entire game and the focus for us right now is just making sure we handle ourselves and play well for 40 minutes. If we can do that we'll have a chance.

Q: Could you recount the benefits of the Oakland haircuts?
EK: You know when we left Pullman it was on break and our normal barbershop that several of these guys go to, they changed location and they took the time that school was out to relocate and in doing that they shut down for a few days. I felt like some of the haircuts got a little out of hand a little bit.

We had an off day and it was highly recommended that some guys needed to get their haircuts. Junior Longrus is from down in the Bay Area and has a barber that actually came by to cut his hair and a couple of the others. A few of the other guys and I ventured out into one of my old areas where I used to get my hair cut when I was down at Saint Mary's and got our haircuts. Just the opportunity again to step away from a practice environment, a hotel environment, build a fellowship with your team because in our culture going into a black barbershop is a big deal. I thought it was neat to experience and see those guys and we had a lot of fun doing it and I thought that it looked fantastic for the game and I tend to think if they look good, they'll play good.

Q: Do you have a barbershop lined up for Seattle in a few days?
EK: I'm counting on Percy (Allen) to help me out. If that's what it takes, Bud (Withers).

Q: What jumps out to you about this Washington team?
EK: I feel like they are a team that got off to a great start and when you start to win, you're undefeated, you get ranked, all of a sudden now expectations come up and you're in a different level of pressure because of those expectations. They are an excellent basketball team that has just stumbled a bit and you need to find your rhythm again. But sometimes it's hard to maintain and play at that level all the time, of an Arizona, of a Utah, just those veteran teams that everybody has to play and hold themselves accountable to play at a certain level and that's hard to do.

Particularly when you talk about in and around school being out, breaks and Christmas break, guys are going home and looking forward to going home, there are a lot of factors that go into keeping young people as focused as they need to be. That's a pretty delicate balance. I think they're a very, very good basketball team. They have all the ingredients that they need to be successful this year.

Q: How do some teams improve throughout the season more than other teams?
EK: I'll speak to my team and I think nine months ago, getting this job, when you looked at the team they were really struggling with their confidence and their identity as a basketball team and everything. And we spent an enormous amount of time on the floor working on that confidence, helping them find out who they were to get that confidence back and then putting in a system. So our program, I felt like we had enormous growth potential from where we were. Now, granted, we were behind everybody else so we had more growth potential to catch up to everybody else.

Now I always use the term with our team, we went from the bottom ot the manhole cover. Now we've got to get to the top of the skyscraper. That's where Arizona sits. So we're still building and moving but our growth potential is there. You may have players in other programs that coming back their senior years aren't going to get any better as seniors. They're already there. They're big, they're strong, they've got it. There is not a lot of growth potential in them, where Jordan Railey had a lot of growth potential in him. Josh Hawkinson had an enormous amount of growth potential in him. DaVonte Lacy, maybe not as much, because he's already on his game. Ike Iroegbu, growth potential. Ny Redding, growth potential. There is so much of it there, untapped growth potential, that we needed to tap that, free them up, start to get them better, let them get their confidence and we still have more. If you look at our team, Que Johnson has yet to get on his A-game, Dexter Kernich-Drew has yet to get on his A-game, so we still have growth potential. Brett Boese is probably playing about as well as he can play. I think Jordan is getting there. Josh Hawkinson, I mean he's one of the best power forwards in the country I don't know how much more you can get out of him. So I look at it that way. Trevor Dunbar still has growth potential. So we just focus on growing them individually within their individual workouts and skill set and things they need to work on and then growing them in understanding the system and how much faster we want to play, and sharing the ball, and then growing them into competing in this conference. Some of those guys have never competed in this conference with the amount of minutes they're getting right now and how to handle themselves. The more they learn with us, the better we're getting. I don't know if other programs in the conference have the potential. Utah, they're pretty doggone good already. Colorado, they're pretty doggone good already. Arizona, they're pretty doggone good already. We have a huge ceiling we can grow in and that's what we focus on.

Morning links: look what Klay Thompson did

Former WSU hooper Klay Thompson will always be known for his shooting but the guy can dunk, too. Just ask Kevin Durant.
  

I guess Mr. Thompson was a little inspired after watching his former team beat California from his front row seat on Sunday.

Here are the links:

— The potential defensive coordinator pool got a bit smaller yesterday as David Gibbs, Manny Diaz and Todd Orlando found other jobs.

— Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson is headed to the NFL.

— Arizona will have a really good freshman next year, too.

— Bryan Caldwell stayed true to himself at the end of his life.

— California's wide receivers coach is leaving for Kansas.

— Colorado's Dustin Thomas is trying to become more consistent.

— Oregon's Jake Fisher responds to Jameis Winston's postgame comments.

— Oregon State picked up a quarterback recruit.

— Could the siren song of the NFL pull Jim Mora away from UCLA?

— Utah is set up for a pretty good seed in March.

Morning links: Cougars pick up conference road win

The Cougars nearly made it to the two-year anniversary of their Jan. 26, 2013 win at Oregon State.

That was the last time Washington State had beaten a conference opponent on the road before Sunday's 69-66 win at California. In the paper we have our story from the game and on the blog we have postgame videos of Ernie Kent and players, as well as the box score. Here is a story from the Cal perspective.

Now, on to the links.

— Former Washington and Washington State recruit has flipped again, back to the Huskies.

— Arizona shook up its starting lineup and blew out rival Arizona State.

— Colorado shot past USC, which was not at full strength.

— Sunday's game proved that Utah is really good and, right now, UCLA is terrible.

— A long scoring drought doomed the Huskies in an overtime loss at Stanford.

Morning links: WSU finishes Bay Area trip at California

The Golden Bears are a dangerous group, but have suffered some losses recently.  If the Cougars come away with a win then this will have been a pretty successful road trip. For now we've got some links to pass along.

— Our blog post yesterday looked back at WSU's loss to Stanford and at what the Cougars should expect from California.

— The WSU women won their Pac-12 opener.

— Washington heads into the offseason with plenty of questions after a disappointing season.

— The Arizona schools start down the conference path today.

— Colorado's coaches are working hard to upgrade the team's talent.

— Mark Helfrich has done wonders, but Urban Meyer has the superior track record.

— Marcus Mariota is even helping Oregon on the basketball court, apparently.

— Stanford is going to miss freshman forward Reid Travis.

— Jima Mora has had a couple of weird days on Twitter.

— USC landed a pair of major recruits yesterday.

— Utah will have a target on its back against UCLA.

Cougars hope to leave the Bay Area with a split

Washington State wasn't able to beat Stanford on Friday but can still have a successful road trip.

Pac-12 road wins are a big deal no matter what teams they come against, particularly for a program that hasn't had one in nearly two years. To beat California tomorrow the Cougars will need to start the game like they did against Stanford and avoid a similar letdown.

Hitting a few free throws would help, too.

Fortunately for the Cougars that's not a concern, yet, since WSU still ranks No. 4 in the conference in free throw average, hitting 72 percent this season, even after missing 15 of them yesterday.

There was a lot to like for the Cougars, too. Jordan Railey looks more comfortable on the court than I've ever seen and that new confidence has produced a more fluid, coordinated player capable of making positive basketball plays on both ends of the court.

That the Cougars were mostly competitive despite a subpar game from Lacy is ultimately an encouraging development, and Josh Hawkinson's ability to make a big impact record a double-double without actually making a field goal is sort of remarkable.

"It's a step in the right direction but that doesn't mean much in this conference," Lacy said. "It's a step in the right direction but we've got to take bigger steps to get where we want to get to. It's something to build off, of course, but we're not here for moral victories. We're here for actual victories."

Missed free throws were killers yesterday for the Cougars, and they were uncharacteristic.  You don't expect to see DaVonte Lacy miss the front end of a one-on-one, but when he did it likely took two points off the board. If WSU hit at its normal clip it might have been able to weather Stanford's second-half runs and make a game of it at the end.

One might expect free throws to play a key role in tomorrow's game against California, given new coach Cuonzo Martin's professed desire to instill a sense of physicality and toughness in the Golden Bears. That's certainly been the rhetoric, anyway, with Martin telling reporters at Pac-12 media day that the three things he talks to players the most about are passing, rebounding and playing hard.

He said, "Personally, my style is a level of toughness, defend, rebound, play hard … I've never really been a zone (defense) guy. We will be playing zone until we get to the level that we need to be defensively as far as our man-to-man is concerned."

"He's a coach that comes out of a conference down there in the SEC that's a physical, tough conference, everybody is big, strong," said Ernie Kent on Saturday. "And we sometimes get the reputation out here of being a finesse conference, in football too, but that's not always the case. There's a reason this conference puts so many people into the NBA: because it's really skilled. Guys know how to shoot it out here, too."

Tyrone Wallace has certainly embraced his coach's mindset and in turn has become one of the most improved players in the conference. A 6-foot-4 guard with a huge wingspan, Wallace leads the Golden Bears in points (19.1), rebounds (8.7) and assists (4.1).

The Cougars won't change the way they play much to counter Cal's physical style. But you may see some personnel tweaks. Brett Boese has played well offensively and gives the Cougars player with a big enough body to match up with posts offensively and the ability to stretch the floor offensively with his shooting.

I wouldn't be surprised to see even more of Boese tomorrow and, while Kent said that Railey started in part because of the matchups Stanford presented, I expect Railey will play a fair amount tomorrow as well.

Trevor Dunbar will likely continue to get chunks of minutes in the hope that he'll play well enough to stay on the floor. Dunbar is the team's quickest player and Kent believes he's the only one of the team with enough speed to change the game's dynamic simply by being on the floor.

I think Kent likes having him come off the bench to immediately increase WSU's tempo when it's needed and I don't think Ny Redding is in any danger of losing his spot to Dunbar.  But WSU's offense bogged down yesterday when neither guard was in the game, so the more Dunbar can play the better.

WSU will play at Cal tomorrow at 3 p.m. in Haas Pavilion.   

Morning links: Early lead slips away from Cougars

For about 10 minutes yesterday the Cougars looked like an upper-tier Pac-12 basketball team.

They hit their shots and played good defense, they just couldn't sustain it. Here is our story from the game and some postgame video of coach Ernie Kent. We also found out yesterday that defensive lineman Xavier Cooper will forego his senior season and declare for the NFL draft.

Here are the links:

Morning links: Ducks have a title shot

College football's national champion won’t hail from the SEC this season, but a Pac-12 team could win the title.

Andrew Greif has the story on Oregon's massive win over Florida State on the field yesterday and John Canzano has a column on how the Ducks won the postgame, too.

Because nothing is sacred anymore, there are still a couple marginal bowl games to be played today despite the fact that we're well into the playoffs. The Pac-12 basketball season also begins at noon today when Washington State takes on Stanford. We preview the opener in today's paper and we've got some more links below.

Morning links: Redding learning on the fly

It doesn't appear the Washington State point guard committee will be meeting any time soon.

After a couple years of trying to manufacture production at the position by inserting players that are more comfortable in different roles, WSU appears to have its floor general going forward in Ny Redding. In the paper today we have a story about the freshman starter and after the jump we have some more links.

The Hawks’ Super Bowl win was the best thing that happened in 2014

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Today is the final day of 2014. Really. I know it is hard to believe. A year isn't supposed to go by that fast. But it always does. Which brings us to a holiday tradition. Looking back at the year that just sped by. What the heck happened? Well, we went through the pages of the yet-to-be-written history books and came up with five events that were the most compelling around here. Sporting events, of course. This is a sports column. Read on.

Morning links: getting ready for Pac-12 basketball

(Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott is ready for some basketball.)

In two days Washington State will tip-off the Pac-12 basketball season with a noon game at Stanford.

While three teams were wrapping up their nonconference schedules yesterday, the rest of the conference was getting ready for the start of college basketball's "regular season."

That meant the first of the weekly Pac-12 coaches teleconferences and we've got a transcription of Ernie Kent's time on the call, as well as some relevant quotes from the coaches of WSU's opponents this week.

We also spoke with some players after practice and have videos of Ike Iroegbu, Josh Hawkinson and Jordan Railey.

At 11 a.m. today I'll be hosting a live chat on the blog to discuss WSU sports. Until then I've got some links to pass along after the jump.

This Gonzaga team has one more weapon

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Over the years Gonzaga has had some outstanding basketball teams. We all know that, right? The 1999 Elite Eight group. The 29-4 team in 2002. The team that finished 28-3 two years later. Another 29-4 group in 2006. The team that was top-ranked and a No. 1 seed a couple years ago. But I'm not sure any of them could have survived the offensive stretch Gonzaga had last night in San Diego. That the Zags were able to go seven second-half minutes without a point is a testament to an area in which this team is getting better and better. Read on.

Sad tidings out of Florida

The Washington State football community lost a good one yesterday when Chris Dyko, 48, was hit by an SUV while biking.

Dyko, affectionately known as "Mongo" by fans and friends, was riding a bicycle near Key West when he was struck and killed by a vehicle driven by an 88-year-old man.

It's a sad situation all around. Dyko, who played offensive tackle at WSU from 1984-88 and briefly in the NFL, was easy to spot at tailgates and other Cougar events. After playing his prep ball at Spokane's University High, Dyko started on WSU's 1984 Aloha Bowl team and helped Steve Broussard and Rich Swinton each rush for more than 1,000 yards that season.

I never got to meet Mongo, so before we get to the links I'd like to pass along some of the remembrances from the people whose lives he touched, after the jump.

Seahawks cap turnaround with NFC West title

A GRIP ON SPORTS

The Seattle Seahawks are your NFC West champions. Again. And they hold the home-field chip for the NFC playoffs. Again. Who is going to bet against them? Not me. I won't make the same mistake twice. Read on.