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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: Catching up can take some time, what with upsets and all, but it’s something the NCAA needs to do

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Where were we? Oh, right. In the midst of the biggest weekend of upsets around these parts. OK, that’s a little much. Hyperbole aside, though, it was kind of interesting how many upsets there were over the weekend.


• One upset? As far as we can tell, not a single tree in our neighborhood fell last night. The wind wasn’t hurricane-force, sure, but it was bad enough to worry us. Even with no leaves.

A couple of ranked teams certainly did fall, though. One of them is parked just 90 minutes south. Washington State, after its exciting, put-everything-in-its-hands win Thursday night, gave a lot of the momentum back Saturday in Tempe, losing to an Arizona State team that, while athletic and exciting, hasn’t been all that successful. Against a Cougar team that was somewhat hungover, in the basketball sense, however, the Sun Devils had enough.

It wasn’t the only surprising Pac-12 result that day. How about Oregon State winning 85-73 on the road? OK, it came at Stanford, the school known for its prowess in only one thing basketball-related the past few years. Late-season fades. But USC once again handled UCLA as well, taking the Bruins’ hard-earned momentum and handing it back to them in a 62-56 bag.

Sunday, the deep and talented conference women took the court and just about everywhere one looked there was an upset. One in Los Angeles, with 18th-ranked Utah topping No. 7 USC 74-68. Another in the Bay Area, with Arizona continuing its late push, pasting Cal in Berkeley 87-68. And in Seattle, where Washington posted its biggest win of the season, 61-51, over Oregon State, effectively handing the conference regular season title to third-ranked Stanford.

The West Coast Conference was a little more on-point, what with Gonzaga outscoring Santa Clara on Anton Watson’s second-consecutive Senior Night and the women moving within one game of an undefeated conference regular season.

Meanwhile, down south, Saint Mary’s earned the first two of three key goals, clinching a bye into the semifinals of the WCC tournament with an 88-62 win over USD. The Gaels also assured themselves of at least a share of the title. A win Thursday at Pepperdine gives them the final goal: A solo conference crown, their first since 1989.

The Zags, meanwhile, face a tough week in their quest for safety in the NCAA at-large ranks. Thursday against third-place USF at the Chase Center and Saturday in Moraga against the Gaels, more-then-likely trying to finish out an undefeated conference run.

• You know what’s not an upset? The NCAA doing the wrong thing. Once again, everyone’s favorite punching bag is being battered around, though this time the reason is less about the future than the past.

Caitlin Clark’s run to the organization’s all-time basketball scoring record shined a national light on something we’ve been harping on here for more than a decade: The idiocy of not recognizing pre-NCAA player records.

We discovered this sham long ago. Found a copy of UC Irvine’s basketball record book. And noticed an omission, that has since been rectified. Our wife Kim’s name was not included in the school’s rebound records. Her senior year, 1979, she averaged nine boards a game. How do we know? We were the sports information director in charge of those statistics. Worked our tail off for less than $500 a month. Kept the book at away games, ran the stat crew at home, did all the grunt work to make sure everything was as official as the men’s. Under the auspices of the AIAW.

Remember, the NCAA, with no money to be made, didn’t oversee women’s sports’ championships until 1982. No oversight, no records. That policy is in the news now because Kansas’ Lynette Woodard still holds the women’s scoring record. Will until Clark passes it sometime next month. But not to the NCAA. Those points don’t count.

Funny, though. As we’ve pointed out here many times, the people who coached those players whose records don’t count? The NCAA gives them credit for the wins and losses. They are part of Pat Summitt’s legacy. Record-holder Tara VanDerveer’s too. But the players’ marks? Ghosted.

Did everyone keep meticulous marks then? Maybe not. But the same could be said about records in many men’s sports a century ago. And yet they are still recognized.


WSU: The women avoided the upset bug Sunday by handing Oregon its 11th-consecutive loss, 71-61, which ties a Duck school record. … We want to pass on the key stories from out day off, including Greg Woods’ coverage of the 21st-ranked (for now) Cougars’ 73-61 loss at Arizona State. Greg also has a look back on Saturday’s defeat in this morning paper. … The baseball team lost in Texas yesterday but still won the weekend tournament. That’s part of this roundup. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, court-storming took centerstage again over the weekend, with the high-profile injury to Duke’s Kyle Filipowski. What’s to be done? As someone who has been involved in one at the high school level, a rush that injured one of our players, we aren’t a big proponent. But we also understand the joy that is being exhibited. Better postgame security is one thing. Tougher penalties another. Maybe a forfeiture of a home game the next season? No matter what is done, the students who want to be on a court post-upset, will find a way. Or there will be incidents and injuries among the crowd. It’s a tough nut to crack. … Jon Wilner looks back at the weekend’s upsets. … We mentioned some of the women’s games above. And linked stories as well. The final game of the weekend is tonight at UCLA, with the 12th-ranked Bruins hosting No. 11 Colorado. … No. 3 Stanford’s win over Arizona State clinched a share of the regular season title. … On the men’s side, Washington laid down a bit at Arizona on Saturday. … UCLA has to win the conference tournament to be in the NCAA tourney. There is no doubt anymore. The same can be said about USC and most other schools outside Tucson and Pullman. … What is up with Utah after another loss? … Colorado has to focus on this week, not March. … Same with Oregon. … In football news, though “news” is probably not correct, The Athletic looked back at the Pac-12’s recruiting classes of 2020.

Gonzaga: The past was feted before Saturday night’s game, with Anton Watson doing the senior walk for the second consecutive year. The Gonzaga Prep graduate deserves it. But as he settled into his usual role as do-everything-guy for the Zags in their 94-81 revenge win against Santa Clara, he could look over at Isiah Harwell and possibly see the future. Jim Meehan has Watson’s story while Theo Lawson has the other two stories covered, as well as writing a rewind of Saturday’s win.

EWU: The Eagles picked up a key 85-76 win at second-place Northern Colorado on Saturday night. Dan Thompson covered that and the women’s win at home. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana is on a roll and we include the men and women in that assessment. … The Montana State men are certainly up-and-down, losing at home to last-place Sacramento State. … The Bobcat women won. … Idaho State handled Weber State in their rivalry matchups Saturday.

Idaho: The Vandals trailed by double digits early at Northern Arizona on Saturday but rallied for an 86-76 victory.

Whitworth: The Pirate men will find out this morning who they will play this Friday in the NCAA Division III tournament first round. It will be on the road. And more than likely Whitworth will be playing the host of the four-team pod.

Preps: Dave Nichols takes a look this morning at every one of the State basketball games facing our area’s schools.

Seahawks: The Hawks are set at corner. They expect to revamp the linebacking corps. But the coaching staff won’t be at the Combine for a bunch of reasons.

Mariners: OK, if you only have time to read one story today. And you are interested in the M’s, where they are headed and how they will get there, read this one from Ryan Divish. It’s not only informative, it’s enlightening. It’s about Scott Servais and how he spent time shoring up the confidence and trust of key players over the offseason. … Mitch Haniger homered Sunday. … Andres Munoz seems healthy. That’s good.

Kraken: Seattle lost at home to the Wild on Saturday.

Sounders: Seattle opened MLS play with a loss Saturday at LAFC.


• Sorry we weren’t here for you Sunday. One-man show and all that. We’ll miss a few days here and there over the next few months, as always, mainly on weekends. As is our M.O., we will let you know as early as possible. Until later …