A GRIP ON SPORTS
Like a volcano or an earthquake, sometimes you just have to let loose. It's happening here this morning. Don't miss it. Read on.
• Did you get a chance to watch Arizona State's upset of Arizona last night? Not the most artistic game, for sure, but a tough rivalry-fueled college basketball game. With a bizarre ending. An ending that I am sure caused blood pressures to rise all over Cougar nation – especially in one nice Pullman home. If you watch the video of the game's end, you might notice one thing as Jahii Carson dunks the ball to give ASU it's final margin. Make that two things. You might notice the ASU players rushing the court, which made it nigh-near impossible for the Arizona player to do anything with the ball, so he didn't even try. And you may have noticed the clock still read 0.5 seconds left, plenty of time for the Wildcats to grab the ball, throw it the length of the court and, quite possibly, hit a game-tying 3-pointer. That is if the court weren't overrun by Arizona State's students, who followed the bench's lead and rushed the court. And, oh by the way, you might have also noticed Carson doing a chin up on the rim, an act that should have incurred a technical foul. Why should this matter? To explain that, and to explain why WSU fans everywhere were screaming at their television sets, we have to take you back to a simpler time and place. December 31, 2009. Beasley Coliseum, Pullman, Washington. The Cougars were 10-2, opening Pac-10 play in Ken Bone's first year, hosting a good Oregon team. Tied at 78 as time wound down in overtime, Klay Thompson found DeAngelo Casto for a spinning, game-winning layup to give the Cougars momentum for the conference season ahead. Except one of the Cougar reserves, overcome by emotion, ran onto the court. And there were .3 seconds left. A whistle blew, the officials huddled and Mike Littlewood's crew assessed a technical foul on Washington State. Tajuan Porter converted both free throws, the Ducks won in double overtime and the Cougars – and quite possibly coach Ken Bone's tenure – never recovered. It was a near mirror-image of what happened last night. Except, between Carson's rim-hang and the entire team – and student section – rushing the court, last night's incident was more egregious. Yet no technical was whistled. After a discussion, the court was cleared, Arizona was given .8 seconds and the Wildcats' last-second play – after ASU had been able to set up its defense – failed. But let's go back to the WSU-Oregon game for a second. The call seemed odd at the time. It seemed inappropriate. But the conference didn't think so. It issued a statement later, supporting the basic decision of a technical, though it did say the officials erred in the rule they cited after the game. According to the conference, it was different rule that was broken. Either way, the conference said, if players from the bench interfere with the play on the court, a technical must be called. Which means last night's officials – Randy McCall, David Hall and Michael Reed – erred. So I fully expect the conference will be issuing a statement Monday to that effect. (And let's hope the Carson rim-hang is mentioned as well.) Because you can't have it both ways. You can't cost a team a game by enforcing a rule one time and then ignore the rule the next. That leads to anarchy. Or, in other words, what we saw on the court in Tempe last night.
• And, if you didn't get the sarcasm, I really don't expect the conference to say a thing. That would make too much sense. The office will probably find some technicality to hang their response on, like the Arizona player didn't pick up the ball (as if he was supposed to while five or six ASU players rushed off the bench at him) so it wasn't live. Or that, because Carson did his rim chin-up, the play was technically dead. There will be something.
• WSU: In Pac-12 news, not related to the desert, Washington State will entertain Stanford today in Beasley. Jacob Thorpe will be there and, in advance of the game, he has this story and his usual morning blog post. … For some reason he didn't link ESPN.com's Saturday morning Pac-12 mailbag. I don't get it. … The WSU women defeated Utah behind Tia Presley's 32 points. … One player leaves WSU's football program and another one enters.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan, as promised, returned to the blog yesterday with his day-after post on the Pepperdine victory. He also has an advance of today's game with Loyola Marymount, the four seniors' final game at McCarthey. Yes, it is February 15. … The Gonzaga baseball team opened the season with a loss at Oregon State. … Back to basketball, BYU and St. Mary's have a pretty important game today. The Gaels are pulling out all the stops, including retiring Matthew Dellavedova's mouthpiece, er, his number. … Matt Bouldin is changing his address.
• Whitworth: The Pirates had no trouble whatsoever with visiting Linfield, winning 91-59. Thomas Clouse has the story.
• Preps: The big news from Thursday went a bit unnoticed, as the Rogers girls snapped a 129-game GSL winless streak spanning much of a decade. Greg Lee has a story on the accomplishment. … Greg also has an advance of the 4A and 3A basketball playoffs, which kickoff tonight. … We also can pass along girls and boys roundups from Friday night's action.
• Seahawks: Life is beginning to return to normal for Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith. … The Hawks made a roster addition yesterday. … Bob Condotta is beginning to grade the positions for Seattle and he starts with the quarterbacks.
• Sounders: Speaking of rosters, the Sounders are still tweaking theirs. They added a local guy yesterday and dumped a long-time member of their announcing team. … Obafemi Martins says he is having fun and Sigi Schmid says a lot of things.
• That's it for this Saturday. I hope everyone enjoyed their Valentine's Day. We are celebrating tonight. Veteran move. Fewer folks in the restaurants. Fewer folks in the movies. Fewer brownie points. Until later …