A GRIP ON SPORTS
Ever feel as if you have a connection with something occurring on television? I'm not talking about having a crush on a sitcom star or being on a first-name basis with an HSN operator. We're talking sports here. You know, the hard-to-prove psychic connection that's at the heart of so many recent beer commercials. Read on.
• I'm not sure what it is, but recently I've felt a bit like a bad-luck charm for the Gonzaga Bulldogs. I'm pretty sure you know the drill. I watch and they play poorly. I step away from the television and they play well. Odd. Don't believe me? Well, here's what happened yesterday. It's noon and Kim turns on the WCC women's semifinal game between Gonzaga and BYU – on BYU television, I might add, sandwiched between a high mass on the Catholic channel and a station featuring a guru speaking about, well, honestly, I couldn't understand what he was talking about. Anyhow, I sit down with her and we watch. We watch the Zags turn the ball over on almost every possession, play iffy defense and struggle with a Cougar team they handled pretty easily throughout the regular season. Luckily (for GU), I have to leave the house for a previous commitment. That allows Kim to enjoy what turns out to be a rout. As she was describing it to me later, I could see her edging away from me every time I mentioned the men's game, still a few hours away. Being part of the senior brigade, we head out to an early dinner and watch the WSU game in the bar of a local restaurant. No jinx here. But I had the distinct feeling the bartender was hoping I would leave before the place filled up with GU fans – no reason to risk a ritual burning-at-the-stake in his establishment. He got his wish and we headed home. But there was no way I was going to miss a WCC semifinal. With the Loyola Marymount Lions as the opponent, I was sure this was a great evening to prove there was no psychic connection, I wasn't a talisman of doom and I didn't have to hold my beer bottle a certain way. I could just watch as the Zags raced to an easy victory. I lasted a half. Then, with Kim giving me the evil eye, I left the room. You know the rest. While I was on my computer trying to figure out a way to save the world from an evil warlord, the Zags destroyed Loyola. Ripped the Lions apart. Played like the No. 1 team in the nation. Kicked rear. And I saw none of it. It was a sacrifice, but I was willing to make it. After all, who wants a mob armed with pitchforks and torches at my house Monday night, demanding the remote control?
• Gonzaga: Funny, the bad luck doesn't seem to carry over when I watch in person, so if any truly generous GU fan wants to send me airfare and a ticket to Monday's finals, I will accept. ... Jim Meehan is already in Las Vegas and he has this story of Gonzaga's totally different halves (and we know the reason for that). He also has a blog post from last night and will be back today with a day-after post. There are also photos from Colin Mulvany. ... We also can pass along Bud Withers' column from the game and the wire story. ... It looked as if Gonzaga would be facing another team with a losing record in the final until Matthew Dellavedova buried a 3-pointer to send St. Mary's to overtime with USD. The Gaels then buried San Diego and moved into the finals. ... BYU expects to be headed to the NIT. ... Jim also covered the women's win over BYU in this story and blog post. John Blanchette adds a column on the women and Colin offers more photographs. ... BYU coach Jeff Judkins wasn't happy with the officiating in the loss and expressed his opinion. ... San Diego, which hammered St. Mary's, will be Gonzaga's opponent in the final Monday.
• Washington State: It's been a while since the Cougars have won back-to-back game and, when it last happened, it was against a little easier competition. But they did it Saturday, routing USC in their final home game of the season. Christian Caple was there to document Brock Motum's 31 points on senior night and the win over the Trojans. He also has his usual bonus coverage here on the blog with interviews, tale of the tape and, in a twist, a live chat before the game. There is also the usual morning post.
• EWU: The Eagles' season is over, done in by Weber State in Ogden. There will be no postseason for EWU this year. ... Idaho State continued its run of better late-season play with a win over Portland State.
• Idaho: The Vandals are riding a bit of a crest entering the WAC tournament next week in Las Vegas after their win over Seattle U last night. Josh Wright was in attendance for senior night and has this game story and blog post. ... Denver defeated Louisiana Tech and tied for the WAC regular season crown. ... Utah State overcame its injuries and finished with a win.
• Whitworth: Another week, another home NCAA Division III playoff victory. Jim Allen has the story of the Pirates relatively easy win over Emory at the Fieldhouse. Whitworth may host again next weekend, but that has yet to be decided. ... Tyler Tjomsland has this photo story from the game.
• Shock: Spokane will scrimmage today in the Arena and it is open to the public.
• Mariners: For the first time in a spring game this year, the M's didn't hit a home run. And, predictably for a team that is built around the long ball (that's what passes for humor here folks), they lost. ... Even though Seattle was on the wrong end of a 3-2 score, Jon Garland (pictured) continued his excellent pitching. It looks as if the veteran will be in the starting rotation. ... Jesus Montero hit a triple in a "B" game. That's worth noting. And, no, no outfielders were injured while chasing the ball. ... Are the Mariners on the right track?
• Seahawks: Don't expect the Hawks to dive head first into the free agent pool.
• By the way, if you are reading this, you are probably a pretty dedicated reader of this daily on-line column. So what I'm about to pass along will be superfluous to you. But today marks the beginning of a new feature in The Spokesman-Review's Sunday section called Give & Take. It's basically a summary of the week past on the SportsLink blog. I don't see a reason to link the main content here – it all appeared over the past seven days – but I will pass along sports editor Joe Palmquist's column explaining the purpose of the new page. I will also tell you, it seems pretty funny to be back in the print again. But I also hope this will drive more of the print readers to this site, where they will, hopefully, become involved. I ask you veterans of "A Grip on Sports" to welcome them with open arms. After all, the more folks who join our cheering section, the more enjoyable the games are. Until later ...