NCAA

The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

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The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

Portland State has begun construction of it's new "pavilion" on campus, in case you haven't noticed. But I find it interesting how much the vision for the new arena has changed over the last few years.

This project is a little more than half of what I remembered it was supposed to be.

Webster's has a definition for "pavilion" that is "a large building that is used for sports or public events." As such, I'm not sure the "pavilion" part of "Viking Pavilion" applies these days. I wouldn't call this new structure "large."

At one time, I seem to remember the seating capacity of that building was going to be somewhere near 7,000. But I couldn't find any written evidence of that. But I have found various accounts listing the projected seating capacity of the arena as 5,500, and then "nearly 6,000-seat," and 5,000, then it dropped to "4,700 for sports," then I found 4,800, and now I'm reading mostly 3,000. On top of that, the early renderings of the building always showed what appeared to be a new arena sitting atop the previous Stott Center -- a spanking new top floor for the building.

The drawings I'm seeing now aren't so grandiose. Mike Lund, Portland State associate athletic director media/communications, provided the latest rendering, which is used with this post. And he explained the loss in seating capacity:

"When the project was first introduced the thought was we would be able to get about 5000 seats," he wrote in an email. "As plans evolved and space was actually worked out that was reduced down to 3000-3500. We do have to provide for a lot of academic space, larger sports medicine facility, more offices and some classrooms. I don't really think the seating will be a big issue for us."

And about the different look of the structure:

"As for the structure, the arena will not be on top. The building is being gutted on the east side. When reconstruction begins the final project will be taller than the original building so it is going up."

The Stott Center seating capacity previously was barely more than 1,000 so anything larger is an improvement. But I must say I'm disappointed that PSU is going to so much expense and trouble to build an arena for its Division I basketball program that is apparently going to seat just 3,000. That's too small. And yes, I know the program struggles to draw a thousand people to its games now.

But really, I had hope that the Portland State vision for the future would be something more than 3,000 fans per game.

 

 

Looking forward to this weekend’s Pac-12 football match-ups

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© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Looking forward to this weekend’s Pac-12 football match-ups

By SEBASTIAN PYCIOR
The Pac-12 finished the first-half of their season, paving the way for an exciting second-half finish. The Cougars are still without a loss and coach Gary Anderson has already, albeit mysteriously, left the Oregon State program. The state of Washington finally anticipates an exciting Apple Cup this Thanksgiving, and while it will be great having an Apple Cup holding significance again, ticket prices for the game have already skyrocketed.

Barring some miraculous upset, things look to be relatively quiet this weekend for the northwest college football programs.

#8 Washington State at California:

The Cougars didn’t give up 300 yards on the ground to Oregon last week as I’d predicted would happen. Their defensive front made a big statement as they took advantage of a Ducks team without their starting quarterback. The Cougs stopped the Ducks’ running game easily, forcing the Oregon team into an inefficient passing game, which sealed the victory for Washington State.

Cougars’ quarterback, Luke Falk, had his difficulties in the game as some passes were thrown short, and he posted his worst QBR of the year against the Ducks. Falk has been sacked 19 times so far this season, so it’ll be interesting to see what solutions the team has to keep their quarterback safe and away from constant pressure, especially up against a solid defense.

All that said, California shouldn’t be a threat for the Cougars Friday night. Falk and Leach look to keep everyone involved on offense and this should easily elude California’s questionable defense. Of course, there’s always a possibility that the Cougars could “Coug’ it” Friday night, given their reputation.

#5 Washington at Arizona State:

The Huskies look to take advantage of a weak Arizona State team on Saturday. Running-back Myles Gaskin should post his best numbers of the year against this team, since Arizona State’s defense is relatively poor. ASU hasn’t been able to compete well this year, barely beating Oregon and New Mexico State, while losing every other game.

It’s likely another easy win for the Huskies this season. It’s imperative that they strive for a large-margin win to avoid any possible blemish on their resume, as they’ll be compared to the other teams contending for a national playoff spot.

Oregon at #23 Stanford:

Both Oregon and Stanford have been fighting for third in the PAC-12 North division, but Stanford has been looking better as of late. If the Oregon Ducks can’t get their running game going early on Saturday, then they’ll struggle to find another answer on offense. Their backup quarterback had trouble completing passes to keep drives moving against the Cougars, dismantling their game-plan. Since they were forced to punt the ball often, their defense stayed on the field longer, which resulted in them being tired early in the game. Stanford should be able to run and win this game with ease.

Colorado at Oregon State:

The Oregon State program is in disarray after their coach left unexpectedly in the middle of this season. He did leave near $12 million on the table for OSU, agreeing to get the rest of this year paid out before he goes. It’d be surprising if any players can muster the will to play hard against Colorado after this sudden coaching change. The team isn’t playing very well at all on the offensive or defensive side as it is, so it’ll be curious to see whether the interim coach can get something extra out of the players. The Buffalos should walk away this weekend with a win after a rough start to their conference schedule.

Wait a minute! Corruption in college basketball? Who knew?

Wait a minute! Corruption in college basketball? Who knew?

Wait just a minute. What did I just hear? A major scandal involving college basketball? Money being funneled through coaches, agents, shoe companies, money managers to recruits?

Who would have ever expected something like this?

Well, only those with even a passive interest in college sports. Folks, college basketball has been dirty for decades and I think by now just about everybody is aware of that. But with the news of this scandal today I think we're going to hear more about it that ever before. This time it's not some soft NCAA investigation into a rogue program, it's an FBI probe three years old covering the gamut -- from shoe companies to the players. People are going to go to prison before this is finished.

It's about time somebody looked into this mess.

I have been in the business of following sports and writing about them for a long time and I have to go back at least 30 years to remember the first time I heard a story about illegal inducements being paid for a university to obtain a high school basketball player. Since then, there has been story on top of story. Former college coaches laugh about them over dinner and drinks. Why didn't I write about them? There was never proof. I didn't want to get sued -- and these guys have learned to cover their tracks pretty well. The NCAA has never seemed serious about putting a stop to it.

The first story I heard was about a well-known player who was recruited by a college entirely without contact with that player's high school coach. Which seemed crazy. But what happened was the player's AAU coach and personal workout coach was the one in contact with the colleges. He brokered the deal. That coach eventually hand delivered the player to a college and guess what?

That AAU coach soon showed up as a paid counselor/coach at the college's summer camp for kids -- at a rumored salary of $10,000 a week, which was way above the going rate for such things.

I've heard stories of players getting cars, money being passed through the hands of girlfriends or relatives and even brown paper bags full of cash being left for players at a secret location.

It's a nasty business that turned me off to college basketball -- even college sports in general -- years ago. And now, perhaps, there might be a chance to dive into the cess pool and see what can be done about the problems.

 

A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

A look at Portland State's million-dollar early season football schedule

Portland State this week is headed to Corvallis for the second half of a very difficult season-opening schedule against teams out of their league. Way out of their league.

The Vikings' first game of the season was at Brigham Young last week. This week, "Barneyball" heads down I-5 to meet Oregon State in Corvallis.

By now, you know the reason the Vikings have scheduled two games they won't likely win:

Money. Big money for a Big Sky football program.

Portland State, it has been reported, got $575,000 for its 20-6 loss at BYU and is scheduled to receive $500,000 for the bus ride and expected loss to the Beavers.

Those are pretty good paydays but nothing like what a team gets for getting massacred by college football's big boys. Arkansas State is getting $1.65 million for a trip to Nebraska and Wyoming -- a pretty good team -- is going to get a million bucks for playing at Iowa.

I've never liked the idea that the smaller schools seem to need these big guarantees to keep their programs going. Playing up in class brings problems. First -- even though PSU can point to an upset win at Pullman over Washington State a couple of years back -- they are most likely going to get beat. And beat by a large margin. Second, when you play bigger and faster teams you'll be lucky to get out of some of these games without taking a physical pounding.

I don't like the notion that players' health could be sacrificed for the sake of money.

But welcome to the reality of college football.

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

Josh Rosen: You think college athletes have it tougher than the rest of the student body?

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen made headlines this week with some remarks he made about academics and football -- and how they don't mesh very well. He got a lot of attention for an off-hand thought he had about raising the SAT requirements to get into Alabama but that statement was taken out of context.

But I have a problem with some of the other things he said, which to me came off as naive or insensitive about others trying to get through college without the benefit of a football scholarship:

Look, football and school don't go together. They just don't. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs. There are guys who have no business being in school, but they're here because this is the path to the NFL. There's no other way.

No one in their right mind should have a football player's schedule, and go to school. It's not that some players shouldn't be in school; it's just that universities should help them more—instead of just finding ways to keep them eligible.

Any time any player puts into school will take away from the time they could put into football. They don't realize that they're getting screwed until it's too late. You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they're more interested in helping you stay eligible. At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There's so much money being made in this sport. It's a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.

Pardon me if I'm not feeling all that sorry for these guys. I worked my way through school. So did my brother. And we had it easy. We had parents in a position to give us a little help. But what about that single mom with two kids working in a restaurant or clothing store trying to get through college? What about that young guy working eight hours of construction all day and then trying to put together enough night-school hours to get a degree? Or how about the kid who isn't working now but will be grinding for the next 20 years paying off that $100,000 student loan?

And those people aren't getting the "help" (tutors, advisers, etc..) that those football players are getting.

I understand the whole idea of big-time college sports generating a lot of revenue that never trickles down to the players. But I also see a whole lot of athletes -- including the ones who are in college ONLY as a path to the pros -- who place no value whatsoever on that college education. The athletes are often the rare ones leaving school without major unpaid loans hanging over their heads.

Let's talk about UCLA, where Rosen goes.

It's estimated that the cost of attending UCLA for just one year -- for a California resident -- is $34,056. For a non-resident it's $60,738. PER YEAR. So please, spare me all the talk about athletes not being paid for their athletic participation. They are being given something of great value, whether they realize it or not. Do they have to work for their scholarships? Of course, but maybe no longer or no harder than you or me or, more appropriately, our children did at jobs not quite as glamorous as playing college football or basketball.

There's nobody there to give you a standing ovation when you leave that janitor job every night on the way to night school. And certainly you're never going to be the Big Man (or Woman) On Campus -- with all the perks that go with it -- while slinging bento at a local food cart.

Spare me, Mr. Rosen. You and your teammates don't really have it so tough.

Brackets Revealed for PK80

Brackets Revealed for PK80

The brackets for the much-hyped PK80 tournament have been released, and if you are a fan of college basketball you are in for a treat.

The tournament, boasted as one of the largest regular season tournaments in college basketball history, features 16 teams – a list that includes a combined 24 National Championships, three of last season’s Final Four teams, as well as five other teams that made the field of 64 last season.

PK80 will consist of two brackets, “Victory” and “Motion,” with each bracket crowning their own champion over the weekend. 

According to a press release, the names were chosen to pay tribute Nike and Phil Knight –

- “Victory”: In Greek mythology, Nike was considered the goddess of Victory

- “Motion”: The swoosh logo is not only meant to represent motion, but to also resemble the wings of the goddess Nike

Here is a quick breakdown of both:

VICTORY:

The “Victory” bracket will play host to local teams Oregon and Portland, 2017 National Champions North Carolina, as well as UConn, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Arkansas.

Round 1 will see North Carolina vs Portland, Arkansas vs Oklahoma, Georgetown vs Michigan State, and UConn vs Oregon.

MOTION:

“Motion” will be headlined by 2017 runner-up and Northwest favorite Gonzaga, along with fellow local school Portland State. They will be joined by Coach K and the Duke Blue Devils, Texas, Stanford, Ohio State, Florida, and Butler.

Round 1 will see Duke vs Portland State,  Butler vs Texas, Florida vs Stanford, and Gonzaga vs Ohio State.

Click here to view a printable bracket

The two brackets will run simultaneously at Moda Center and Veterans Memorial Coliseum from Thursday, Nov. 23 to Sunday, Nov. 26, with no games being played on Saturday.

Note: The champsions of the individual brackets will not play eachother, instead the brackets are being treated like two individual tournaments. 

For more information visit pkinvitational.com

 

 

 

Washington Huskies softball team closes home stand with win

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Washington Huskies

Washington Huskies softball team closes home stand with win

BY 

The sun was out and so were the fans as the University of Washington Huskies softball team defeated the Stanford Cardinals 10-2 in their final Pac-12 regular season home game last Sunday at Husky Stadium in Seattle.

The atmosphere was full of excitement as everyone seemed to enjoy the annual Fan Fest and emotion as they prepared to say good-bye to seniors Ali Aguilar and Casey Stangel on Senior Day.

Trying to keep emotions in check during Senior Day is always tough but Huskies head coach Heather Tarr kept the focus on what it’s all about.

“I think that it’s a challenge but I think it being Senior Day before our seniors are truly done…makes it a little bit easier,” said Tarr. “But it’s just more of trying to think of it as a celebration and you’re celebrating them before their gone…We never want them to leave but that’s the whole of college athletics is that you graduate.”

It was a rocky start for Washington pitcher sophomore Taran Alvelo (25-6) who gave up a home run to the Cardinal’s lead-off hitter senior Kylie Sorenson.

Alvelo got out of the inning and her teammates quickly brought the game back to their side.

After senior Ali Aguilar and freshman Sis Bates hit back-to-back singles senior Casey Stangel worked out a walk to load the bases. Sophomore Morganne Flores doubled to left field scoring Aguilar and Bates.

This brought up junior Taylor Van Zee who deposited the ball over the left field fence to bring the remaining Huskies home and extend to a 5-1 lead.

Seventh ranked Washington (40-11) never looked back as they continued to pound Stanford pitchers. The second inning saw Bates triple and come in on a sacrifice fly by Flores.-

The third saw junior Kirstyn Thomas lead-off with a double then stole third. She come in on a single by Bates and the Huskies had pushed their lead to 7-1.

The Cardinals (19-29) produced another lead-off home run in the top of the fourth by senior Lauren Bertoy but Alvelo once again stayed steady and kept Stanford hitless the rest of the inning.

Washington head coach Heather Tarr liked what she saw in Alvelo’s ability to keep the home runs from rocking her game.

“I thought she did a good job. She could have easily given herself a hard time after that leadoff home run (in the first),” said Tarr. But I think she knew that she made a mistake and it was a good hitter and she got through the next pitch and she worked it and found a way to win the game for us.”

The Huskies closed out the weekend series when junior Kelly Burdick took first base by a Stanford error, stole second and watched as both Aguilar and Stangel walked to load the bases.

This brought up Flores who collected her third hit of the game with a single that brought in two runs and gave Washington a 10-2 walk-off win.

The runs gave Flores five RBIs as she joined junior Julia Deponte and Bates with three hits apiece of the team’s 13 total hits. Alvelo pitched a complete game with three strikeouts and four hits allowed.

Washington completes the Pac-12 regular season this weekend with a three-game series against the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I'm not certain that every NBA franchise wants to have to listen to Old Man Ball

I'm not certain that every NBA franchise wants to have to listen to Old Man Ball

I'm not sure whether we should laugh or cry at all the preposterous stuff LaVar Ball is saying about his basketball-playing sons -- and even himself.

Here's a compilation of some of the things Old Man Ball has said recently and you can make your own decision about which is the most ridiculous. For me, it was the latest remark:

“Back in my heyday, I would kill Michael Jordan one-on-one."

How in the world am I supposed to buy into all the wonderful things he says about his basketball-playing sons when the man makes a stupid statement like that one? He played one season of basketball at Washington State and averaged 2.2 points per game. There is delusional and there is DELUSIONAL. LaVar is the latter. And it's obviously not confined to his own basketball talents.

This man once famously said his son Lonzo is better than Steph Curry:

“I have the utmost confidence in what my boy is doing. He’s better than Steph Curry to me. Put Steph Curry on UCLA’s team right now and put my boy on Golden State and watch what happens.”

Here's the thing about that: Even if his kid IS better than Curry, what's the point in saying it? Why put that pressure on his oldest son? If he's that good, he'll prove it.

People tell me that the dad's plan is to make sure his kids get attention through his remarks. But come on, they are going to get plenty of attention if they're as good as he says they are. And I'm not sure any teenager needs to hear all this stuff. To me, it's all about getting some attention for himself.

You can look back at parents/coaches like Richard Williams and Earl Woods and say that Ball's kids have a chance to be every bit as good as their dad says they will. Or you can look back at the sad story of Todd Marinovich and his father, Marv, and shake your head.

But there are unintended consequences to all the attention the daddy is getting. Basketball is a team sport, unlike tennis and golf, and these kids have to fit into a team. A franchise, even. I am hearing there are some NBA teams that are worrying about what kind of a problem LaVar would cause if they draft Lonzo. What I'm hearing is that if the kid is judged to be about the same ability as another player, the other player is more likely to be drafted first because of the possible pain in the backside the elder Ball could turn out to be.

You don't want this guy in the ear of the media if his son doesn't get to play as many minutes as LaVar thinks he should. Or he doesn't start right away. Or... whatever. NBA coaches have enough problems without this guy yelling at them to use his son in a different manner, get him more shots, etc. The father makes a lot of noise and I'm not sure coaches and general managers in the league want to put up with it.

And over time, I'm not sure what it's going to be like for young Lonzo to try to live up to his father's lofty and very public expectations. As good as Steph Curry? Well, if he falls a little short of performing like a two-time MVP will he be a failure? Probably not to you or me... but to his father?

It's going to be very entertaining to see this story play out over the next three or four seasons, as sons No. 2 and 3 show up at UCLA and then, the NBA. And at some point we'll find out the truth about that old NBA truism, "Ball don't lie."

 

Unsportsmanlike conduct? What about those raging coaches?

Unsportsmanlike conduct? What about those raging coaches?

The cameras Monday night at the College Football Championship Game were constantly drawn to the head coaches of the teams. Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban were certainly an attraction, for sure -- especially when a call went against them.

We watched them both screaming at officials with very animated, ferocious and even threatening displeasure. It was stuff you'd never see on the sidelines of a college basketball game or on the field of a college baseball game without some sort of punishment or ejection. Why football? Why are football officials so reluctant to throw a flag on a coach who is so obviously showing them up, impugning their integrity or just plain using them as an emotional punching bag?

I have no idea. But with all the lip service the NCAA pays to "student-athletes" and all the lessons they learn from college football, that's not exactly the behavior you'd wish to be projected by high-profile people in a leadership position. I was embarrassed for those guys in stripes, having to stand there and take that guff without any penalty.

But I will say that the astute observer I was watching the game with had the line of the night on Clemson's last drive. It was when an Alabama lineman was caught doing something illegal to a Clemson player.

"Unsportsmanlike conduct..." the referee began.

To which my friend added, "... it couldn't be worse than what we've seen the coaches doing."

And I agree. On college football's biggest stage, you don't need to showcase a couple of psycho adults blowing up on the sidelines without any punishment. And in the days of young players being penalized for merely celebrating their success, I would suggest that misbehavior by their coaches should be severely punished.

Skip bowl games -- heck yes, even if you aren't an NFL prospect!

Skip bowl games -- heck yes, even if you aren't an NFL prospect!

When Stanford's Christian McCaffrey joined LSU's Leonard Fournette in opting not to participate in their team's bowl games this season, it unleashed a controversy. A lot of people feel it's going to destroy bowl games if this becomes a trend. Or that it's a terribly disloyal decision to bail on their teammates for selfish reasons.

And of course, those arguments are a major load of baloney mixed with a ton of naivete.

Let's talk about McCaffrey. He's skipping the Sun Bowl to protect his NFL draft future, when getting hurt in a very meaningless bowl game could cost him millions. Just ask former Notre Dame star Jaylon Smith, who tore up a knee in the 2015 Fiesta Bowl and is still paying for it during his aborted pro career.

It's a business decision for these players, just like the ones college coaches make when they abandon their teams for a new job prior to a bowl game, leaving an assistant coach to clean up their leftovers.

I whole-heartedly endorse these players sitting out the bowl games and, in fact, I'll take it a step further.

If my son happened to be a fifth-year senior playing for one of these teams heading for a meaningless bowl game -- even if he had NO NFL PROSPECTS at all -- I'd hope that he'd sit out all the practices leading up to the game and the game itself.

Enough is enough. The only reason teams choose to participate in these dud games is to get the extra practices bowl teams are allowed. It's a chance to further integrate young players into the system. I'd tell my son, go ahead and give up your spot to one of those young players.

You put in four or five years to a college football program, you've sacrificed enough study time during final exams and subjected your body to enough bumps, bruises and painkillers. Get out while you can still have the hope to walk 18 holes on a golf course or play a couple of sets of tennis.

Loyalty? Come on, by the time these kids have played three or four seasons of college football they've generated enough money for their school. They've proved their loyalty over and over.

Man, the Sun Bowl? El Paso, Texas? I've been there, seen that.

And it is really not worth anybody's blood, sweat and ACL.