A GRIP ON SPORTS
We have a clock on the living room mantle that chimes each hour. When the batteries are fresh, it's loud enough to be heard all throughout the upper level of the house. But as those batteries wind down, the chimes become softer and softer until, finally, the clock just clicks on the top of the hour. The basketball season is a bit like that. We're to the point where the chimes are winding down and soon they will cease all together. But tonight in Spokane, there is still some noise to be heard, with Gonzaga's women hosting the University of Miami in the NCAA's second round. And it could be very loud. Read on.
• The announced crowd Saturday was less than the usual McCarthey Athletic Center sellout of 6,000. The reason for that is simple. The men were playing somewhat concurrently, keeping a few fans with tickets home I'm sure. But that problem is not a problem tonight – the game tips at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN2 – and the Mac should be full to the rafters. Not many of those in attendance will be there to support the third-seeded Hurricanes, I'm sure. I don't think it is possible to get further from Miami and stay in the continental U.S. than here (O.K., Blaine, but they ain't hosting an NCAA tourney in Blaine anytime soon). So the Canes are facing a hostile crowd. And it better be, if the Zags want to move along to the Sweet Sixteen once again. After watching the two teams play Saturday, any uninterested observer would say Miami is the more talented. From the size of 6-foot-6 center Pepper Wilson to the all-around play of Shenise Johnson to a deep bench, the Hurricanes have the ingredients to make a deep run in the tournament. If they can get out of Spokane.
• Speaking of a crowd, Christian Caple passed along the news last night the Cougars, as of Saturday, had sold a bit more than 1,000 tickets – not including students – for tonight's CBI quarterfinal game with Wyoming. Seems like there should be more, but I can't chastise anyone. I would like to be there myself, but will be working in Spokane this evening – this "retirement" thing involves more work than I expected, thank goodness – so I won't be able to make it. It's an excuse, I know, and I'm sure the other 10,000 Cougar fans that can't make it have one as well.
• Gonzaga: We'll start with the S-R story from Jess Brown on the Hurricanes, who have to play in the lion's den. ... From the west side papers, Dave Trimmer has this story in the Times and Howie Stalwick has this piece in the news Tribune. ... Dave also has a story in the Fort Lauderdale paper and the Miami Herald has this advance. ... In the men's tournament, there were only a couple of real upsets yesterday, but one thing that wasn't surprising was the poor showing of schools west of the Rockies. There are none left in the final 16. ... More small schools should be included, this writer's opinion.
• Washington State: Christian has you covered for tonight's game with this advance and his morning blog post. The latter also covers all the Pac-12 basketball action that is still ongoing in the secondary tournaments. ... Christian adds some links to spring football stories and we found one more out of Tucson. ... Left Ted Miller's mailbag for Monday, when the basketball noise has wound down.
• Eastern Washington: The Big Sky's final representative in the postseason, Weber State, bowed out of the CIT in Los Angeles.
• Chiefs: The playoffs are just around the corner. The WHL regular season wound down last night with Portland winning big over Seattle.
• Seahawks: OK, now the big news (and if the area basketball was done, it would have been the lead to today's column). On Friday while doing the radio show with Rick Lukens, I said the Seahawks were note going to let Matt Flynn get out of town without a contract. I was wrong. They let him visit Miami then signed him on Sunday night. With the financial investment it just made with Flynn (though as Jerry Brewer writes, it wasn't all that substantial and was probably a good buy), it looks as if he'll be the frontrunner to start when camp begins. A guy with two NFL starts under his belt. OK, one was a great NFL start – he threw for a Green Bay-record 480 yards and six touchdowns – but it was just one start. Just follow the links for everything you need to know (by the way, there is one really funny picture of a Packer fan on the Milwaukee Journal with the Flynn story, though who knows if it will still be there now).
• Yes, the end is near. The Gonzaga women and the Washington State men are the last Inland Northwest teams still playing basketball. We'll be in the Kennel working for the S-R tonight, but our thoughts will be in Pullman with Marcus Capers, Abe Lodwick and the rest of the Cougars as they battle Wyoming. Until later ...