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

© Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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

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.

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

OMAHA –  Just one inning -- one nightmare inning -- and Oregon State has its back to the wall again after losing Game 1 of the College World Series championship round to Arkansas Tuesday night in front of 25,321 fans in TD Ameritrade Park.

The Beavers scored first but only once and lost 4-1 in the opener of the best-of-three series.

Trevor Larnach hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second on a line to right field for a double, the first hit of the game for either side. After Adley Rutschman struck out, Tyler Malone reached base on a slow grounder to short that moved Larnach to third. Michael Grettler followed with a hump-back liner over shortstop to drive in the game’s first run and stake Luke Heimlich to a 1-0 lead.

The Beavers ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth when they had runners at first and third and none out. Malone hit a one-hopper to first and Rutschman was charged with interference on a play at second. That meant Malone was also called out and the runner had to return to third base. It cost the Beavers a run and they didn’t score in the inning.

Then in the top of the fifth, disaster struck. Heimlich got the first out of the inning and couldn’t get another one. A couple of hits, an error by Madrigal and a couple of hit batters chased him before Christian Chamberlain came on to walk a run in with four straight balls.

Chamberlain snuffed out the rally with a pair of strikeouts but the Razorbacks got four runs in the inning. At that point Arkansas led 4-1 and Oregon State had outhit the Razorbacks 5-3. Chamberlain did a sensational job of finishing the game off for OSU, going the rest of the way while not allowing a run and fanning 11 over the final four and two-thirds innings.

The Beavers were involved in another controversial situation in the fifth when Cadyn Grenier’s liner down the right-field line was called foul but reversed upon review. The umpires were then put in a position where they had to place runners where they should have been had the ball been called fair. Then placed Steven Kwan at third, which was probably correct, but Grenier was sent to first when he should have been at second.

But Madrigal lined out to second to end that inning.

Oregon State faces its fifth must-win game of the Series Wednesday night at 4 o'clock (PDT) and right-hander Bryce Fehmel is the anticipated OSU starter.



Slam dunk wings: You'll want these for your March Madness parties!

Slam dunk wings: You'll want these for your March Madness parties!

Hosting a March Madness party this weekend?

Trying to figure out what to make for your guests to eat?

We've got you covered with these 'slam dunk party wings' with vegetarian and vegan options!  Watch the video above to get tips and advice on how to make these amazing chicken wings.


Kick’n Chicken Wings:

What You’ll Need

12 chicken party wings

1 ½ tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tbsp. garlic salt

½ cup flour

1 Ziploc bag

baking sheet

½ cup melted Earth Balance butter


The Method:

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees F.

Pat dry chicken party wings. In a Ziploc bag, add ½ flour. Then, add wings and coat thoroughly. Add in chili powder, paprika, and garlic salt and shake until wings are thoroughly covered.

Place wings on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with melted Earth Balance vegan butter spread. Bake for 30-minutes, then check. Turn and bake another 10 minutes.

Enjoy with ranch, your favorite hot sauce, and friends!


Kick’N Cauliflower Bites:

What You’ll Need--

1 large head cauliflower, cut into 14 bite-sized pieces

¾ cup buttermilk (or, to make these vegan, almond milk)

1 tbsp. paprika

½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. garlic salt

½ cup flour

1 Ziploc bag

baking sheet

½ cup melted Earth Balance vegan spread


The Method:

Preheat the oven to 425-degrees F.

Dip cauliflower bites in buttermilk or almond milk to soak.

In a large Ziploc bag, add flour. Then, add cauliflower bites and shake to cover. Add in spices and shake again until each piece is covered.

Place cauliflower bites on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, then turn and bake another 15 minutes.

Enjoy with your favorite ranch, hot sauce, and friends! And, don't forget to catch 'The Bridge' weekdays at 6pm on non-Blazer game days. 

We've got the perfect pie for watching NCAA tourney games

We've got the perfect pie for watching NCAA tourney games

We've got a must watch video above to help you make this this amazing, delicious, mouth-watering dessert because we all know pie and sports go together really well!


Here is the reciepe...


The mega, all-everything 2018 NCAA Tournament preview

USA Today Images

The mega, all-everything 2018 NCAA Tournament preview


Before we get to the teams and picks, let us take a moment to mourn the tournament Selection Show (1986ish-2018).

That’s right. TBS got the show for the first time this year, and hoo boy did they absolutely butcher it. Instead of using the tried-and-true, compact, dramatic, hour-long format, the folks at Turner went a little bit nuts.

They hosted the show in a studio the size of an aircraft carrier in front of a live audience (which added absolutely nothing), and, for reasons passing understanding, listed all of the teams in the field before unveiling the actual brackets, therefore killing all the suspense in the bracket unveiling.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the audio and video wasn’t synched up for the first segment of the broadcast, they couldn’t manage to correctly list the teams alphabetically, and all the hosts and analysts had to stand awkwardly while presenting.

Christ. What is wrong with these people?


Teams We Like:


  1. Virginia

There’s been a lot of talk this year about how there isn’t one great team in college basketball. Don’t buy it. Virginia dominated the best conference in the country, the ACC, going 17-1 during the regular season and sweeping through the conference tourney in Brooklyn over the weekend.

Their tournament struggles have been well documented, but Tony Bennett recruits and coaches the right way, and, like Mark Few was last year, he’s due.

The Cavs might not get the love and they might not have the stars, but they’ve done everything that has been asked of them this year and then some. They’re going to the Final Four.

  1. Villanova

Has the easiest path of any one seed to San Antonio, and two absolute studs in Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. This is the best offensive team in the country per Pomeroy, and they feel ready to make a deep run after being upended by Wisconsin in the second round last year.

  1. North Carolina

Unlike Bennett or GQ Jay Wright, Roy Williams is money in the bank as a favorite in March. The man hasn’t lost a first round game in 28 straight tournament appearances dating back to 1989.

The Tar Heels aren’t quite the team of destiny they were last year, but they have a ton of tournament experience and are playing their best basketball of the year right now. They’ll be around.

  1. Michigan

John Beilein is the best coach in the country, and once again, he has the Wolverines dealing in March. Michigan ripped through the B1G tournament two weeks ago at MSG, polishing off Michigan State in the final, and is led by towering Berliner Mo Wagner at center.

Maybe the extra time off will have hurt Michigan’s rhythm; maybe it’s given them much-needed rest. Whatever the case, this is a team to watch.

  1. Michigan State

It’s been a harrowing, traumatic, extraordinarily disappointing year at Michigan State, and Tom Izzo’s once-shining star has been irreparably and deservedly tarnished – both by his severely underwhelming response to the Larry Nassar case and its fallout, and then by his program’s involvement in the FBI investigation.

That said, from a purely competitive standpoint, Michigan State is worth watching. They’ve flown under the radar over the last month, but have been one of the elite teams in the country all year. As for Izzo… March is where he made his legend in the first place.

  1. Arizona

If the universe has a sense of humor, the Wildcats – the team with a coach accused of lining up a $100,000 payment to sign the star freshman – will win the title.

So far, the universe is feeling pretty funny: despite the ESPN report, Sean Miller still has his job, DeAndre Ayton is still playing, Alonzo Trier came back from a PED suspension, and the Wildcats have won five straight.

They’ve got a tough road to San Antonio, but if you want to see the NCAA burn, this is your club.

  1. Ohio State

The Buckeyes haven’t played in two weeks thanks to their early-round upset at the hands of Penn State in the B1G tournament, but Chris Holtman’s team had a pretty, pretty good year to be languishing down on the five line.

  1. Xavier

Not a lot of people are going to pick the Musketeers to get to San Antonio, and fair enough. They’ve got UNC, Michigan, and Gonzaga in their region, and have never made a Final Four.

But this team has a NBA lottery pick in guard Trevon Bluiett, a Grayson Allen-lite in senior J.P. Macura, and a coach in Chris Mack who doesn’t lose early round tournament games.

They’re deserving of their one seed, and won’t go away easily – though you have to figure the psychological aftermath of their Big East tournament collapse against Providence will come into play for better or worse.

  1. Kentucky

John Calipari thinks it takes six hours to fly from Lexington to Boise, has no idea where Idaho is, and hasn’t worn a tie all week. I like where he’s at this year.

His team is playing pretty well too. The Wildcats have won seven of eight since dropping four in a row to open February, and just won the SEC Tournament for the fourth straight year.

  1. Georgia State


  1. Marshall

One of the coolest stories of the last week, the Thundering Herd won the Conference USA title to snap a 31 year tournament drought behind seven three pointers from junior guard Jon Elmore.

The Herd’s coach, Mike’s brother Dan D’Antoni, wears a t-shirt under his suit jacket and hates analytics. Let the good times roll.

  1. Providence

This team is tough as all hell. They clawed their way through two overtime games against Creighton and Xavier to reach the Big East tournament final, where they played Villanova dead even before falling in OT. As a ten, they’re badly underseeded.

  1. Virginia Tech

Everyone loves Alabama because they have an NBA player in Colin Sexton and a former NBA coach in Avery Johnson, but it’s Buzz Williams’ Hokies – who beat Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina this year – who are going to win that 8-9 game and be a threat to make noise against ‘Nova.

  1. West Virginia

I don’t think like does it justice. I adore West Virginia.

Bob Huggins had a vintage year, getting tossed at Allen Fieldhouse, and Huggie’s old-school full-on bald senior point guard Javon Carter is just about the coolest player in college basketball. Carter’s backcourt partner Daxter Miles can fill it up as well.

This team is limited – they lost three times to Kansas despite having leads in every game – but you should be rooting for this team.

  1. Gonzaga

Don’t sleep on the Zags. They pressure is off in every way after they reached the title game last year, no one is talking about them, and they sure as hell know where Boise is.

  1. Houston

Kelvin Sampson, hired by the Cougars after serving a five year show-cause several years ago, has done a remarkable job.

Houston went undefeated at home this season, and knocked off Wichita State in the American tourney before coming up a point short against Cincinnati in the title game. Michigan will be an extremely tough second round matchup, but this team is for real.

  1. Rhode Island/Davidson/St. Bonaventure

That’s right! Two at large bids for the superb Atlantic 10 this year, and all three of their teams can do damage. A couple of them will get wins, Danny Hurley’s Rams being the most likely bunch. Whichever big Northeast school hires Hurley in a couple weeks is going to have done some fine business.

  1. Loyola Chicago

They’ve got a tough ask in Miami, but the Ramblers score a gazillion points a game and have captivated Chicago by making the tournament for the first time since 1985.


Teams We Don’t Like


  1. Oklahoma

This team is 4-11 in their last fifteen and 2-8 in their last ten. They finished the season as the ninth best team in their conference.

It’d be fun to see Trae Young fill it up in his only tournament, and this team got some lovely wins early in the year, but they’ve been terrible since late January and will dispatched in short order.

  1. Arizona State

It’s much the same story here: The Sun Devils were great to start the year, and then were a sub-five hundred team in an atrocious Pac 12.

Bobby Hurley – and maybe this won’t shock you – hasn’t exactly proven himself adept at steadying his team during bad stretches. The only hope for Hurley is that his first four opponent is…

  1. Syracuse

God. Not them again, not when they’re a piffling 20-13, 8-10 in conference, can’t score, and have no elite talent.

This is the ceiling these days for Jim Boeheim, by the way, and now that Boeheim has run Mike Hopkins out of town, not only will Syracuse be irrelevant for the next five years, but they now have no coaching succession plan. Well done.

  1. Florida State

The ‘Noles inspire no confidence. They went a soft 20-11, 9-9 in the ACC, and enter the tournament having lost five of eight. The ACC is going to have a lot of teams playing into the weekend and beyond, Florida State won’t be among them.

  1. Purdue

Purdue’s star center Isaac Hass is 7’2 and looks like a stone carving of Spartacus (really, they did a side-by-side comparison at Michigan State), and that – along with point guard Carson Edwards – is about the only thing fun about the Boilermakers. This team isn’t a serious threat to win anything.

  1. Cincinnati/Wichita State

Both of these teams won a lot of games because they’re miserable to play against: the Bearcats are suffocating on defense, while the Shockers are well-coached and have a couple of difference makers in transition.

But there are obvious holes. Wichita doesn’t have any depth, and the Bearcats don’t get any easy buckets. Those aren’t recipes for deep tournament runs.

  1. Texas A&M

Another one of these teams that was great to start the year and has been straight trash for two months.

  1. Florida

A lot of people rave about the guard play, but the Gators were just a 20-12 team for a reason: no inside presence, streaky offense, and not a lot of quality wins. The SEC had plenty of okay teams, but no great ones. Which brings us to…

  1. Tennessee/Auburn

I’m not buying either one of these clubs, being led by Rick “3-6 In My Last 9 Tournament Games” Barnes and Bruce “Actively Not Cooperating Into My School’s Internal Investigation” Pearl.

Their records were good, they were good stories, and they don’t pass the eye test. Whatever the seeds say, there wasn’t a second that Kentucky didn’t feel like the favorite at the SEC tournament in St. Louis last weekend.

  1. Missouri

We’re not done with the SEC yet. Mizzou brought back Michael Porter for the SEC tournament, and watched Porter shoot 5-17 in a 62-60 loss to a Georgia team coached by a lame duck in Mark Fox.

Unless Porter shakes off the rust and figures out his teammates in a week of practice, it’s going to be an ugly tournament appearance.

  1. Duke

No one likes Duke, obviously, but the real problem with the Blue Devils this year is that they’ve underachieved.

On talent alone, Duke should be the best team in the country – and while 26-7 wasn’t a bad season by any stretch, the Blue Devils didn’t come particularly close to winning the ACC regular season or tournament championship.

They’re awfully young, and Coach K in March has been, shall we say, hit or miss over the last decade. This could be a Final Four team, or Rhode Island could punch them in the throat in round 2.


Tips and Tricks


  1. If You Don’t Trust Me…

And you have absolutely no reason to, I haven’t picked a good bracket since Bush 43 was president, Five Thirty Eight’s predictor was on the money last year.

  1. Chalk At The End

I wrote this last year, and it bears repeating: barring Kevin Ollie – for whom life is not good right now – only the very best coaches win championships.

Here are your winning coaches since 1999: Calhoun, Izzo, Krzyzewski, Williams, Boeheim, Calhoun, Williams, Donovan, Donovan, Self, Williams, Krzyzewski, Calhoun, Calipari, Pitino, Krzyzewski, Wright, Williams.

It’s not a different story with the losers. Those guys in the last ten years are Calipari, Izzo, Stevens, Stevens, Self, Beilein, Calipari, Ryan, Williams, and Few. That is to say: get your upsets in early.

  1. Speaking of Upsets Early…

Last year was an unusually quiet year in terms of first round upsets, with all sixteen of the top sixteen seeds advancing. That won’t happen again this year.

  1. Don’t Pick Teams Who Can’t Score

If only because watching a team you picked lose because they shot 26 percent from the field and posted 49 points is the very definition sports hell. Looking directly at you, Jamie Dixon.

With that, godspeed and may your champion not be upset by Middle Tennessee in the first round. It’s time for the madness.

Gonzaga Bulldogs to the Mountain West – Are they bluffing?

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Gonzaga Bulldogs to the Mountain West – Are they bluffing?


Every day, thousands of gamblers bluff their way to victory in Vegas. This weekend at the Orleans Arena in Vegas, it’s up to the West Coast Conference to decide if Gonzaga is one of those gamblers.  Are they serious about leaving the conference, or just using their basketball dominance as a bargaining chip? Maybe they can get the basketball championship game back on Sunday instead of the BYU-demanded Tuesday? The timing of these rumors is far from random, and will give WCC commissioner Lynn Holzman something to stew over as she plays the slots and watches her conference’s basketball tournament this weekend.

The Zags have extreme leverage, as the WCC would be devastated if they were to leave. Reports also mention that BYU would follow suit and jump ship to the greener pastures of the Mountain West.

Why The Zags Would Leave:

  1. Basketball strength of schedule. Nevada, SDSU, New Mexico, and UNLV all have strong programs. Boise State is on the rise, and Wyoming is somehow building a good program despite having brown and yellow as their school colors. The Mountain West ranks 9th in conference RPI, while the WCC ranks 13th, just one spot behind the mighty Colonial Athletic Conference. If the Zags and BYU were to jump ship, the Mountain West would rise to sixth or seventh, and the WCC would probably get relegated to Division III.


  1. Less charity to WCC bottom dwellers. Every year the Zags go to the NCAA tournament, they bring in millions of dollars for the conference, to be split evenly among the 11 schools. Aside from St. Mary’s and BYU who else has earned any funds in the past decade? The answer is San Diego in 2008, and before that Pepperdine in 2002 (Pacific in 2013 doesn’t count, as they weren’t in the WCC yet). The profit sharing is intended to help improve the athletics of the bottom dwellers, yet it clearly is being squandered. Instead of being used to improve basketball facilities and attract recruits, it gets spent on chlorine for Pepperdine’s pool and new uniforms for LMU’s Beach Volleyball team- sports that the Zags don’t have up in Spokane. Basketball bottom dwellers seem content in letting Gonzaga bring home the bacon each winter. The Zags are clearly done being the primary provider to these moochers. Randy Bennett and the St. Mary’s Gaels could assume the role as conference bell cow in what would be a perennial one-bid league.


  1. Why Not? The Mountain West has larger enrollments, bigger budgets, and every sport that the Zags play. The only downside would be less trips to sunny southern California for the Zags. Instead, they would head inland to places like Boise, Colorado Springs, and Laremie, Wyoming. However, some would argue that annual trips to places like Vegas, San Diego, and Honolulu would more than make up for it.


  1. The Zags have been here before. The Zags were charter members of the Big Sky Conference in 1963 and didn’t join the WCC (then the WCAC) until 1979. In addition, the Zags baseball team was at one point in the NorPac Conference and Pac-10 Conference. An end to the Zags run in the WCC is tough to imagine, but with time will seem normal.

As a Zags fan, I will be rooting a little extra for them this weekend in Las Vegas. After each going 17-1 in their regular seasons, the men’s and women’s teams are both favorites to take home the trophy. It sure would be nice to go out on top.

Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s Get National Attention This Saturday

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Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s Get National Attention This Saturday


From a pure basketball standpoint, there hasn’t been a better rivalry game on the West Coast than Gonzaga vs. St. Mary’s. A non-hoops fan likely couldn’t put either school on a map (Spokane, WA and Moraga, CA for the handful of you reading this), yet these two schools continually play a high brand of basketball when they lock horns three times each year.

Speaking of Maps – this Saturday, ESPN will give viewers a global geography lesson, as they profile the six Australians that St. Mary’s has plucked from down-unda’ and the plethora of international Zags recruited by assistant Tommy Lloyd. Both teams being ranked in the top 12 adds intrigue to what was already going to be a great game in the confined quarters that is St. Mary’s gym.  If you’ve never been to a basketball game in Moraga, CA, you will notice that the gym is pretty small. Then if you leave the high school gym you are in, head down a windy, turkey-filled road to St. Mary’s College, you will notice the gym you are now in is really small.  It would be safe to say that of all the basketball gyms in California, St. Mary’s isn’t in the top 500 for seating capacity. In terms of bodies per seat on Saturday night, St. Mary’s will rank #1 in the world. The aisles will have droves of people in them, as apparently the fire marshal in Moraga isn’t too concerned with job security.

Despite being rather one-sided, Gonzaga and St. Mary’s has developed into a rivalry in-part because there literally isn’t anyone else in the WCC that matters.  The Zags have developed into a national power, but the Gaels remain a tough thorn in their side that has been known to draw blood at least once every couple of years.  To put the combined Zags-Gaels dominance over the WCC into perspective, these two schools have met in the WCC Tournament Championship Game in 8 of the last 10 seasons. To put Gonzaga’s dominance over St. Mary’s into perspective, the Zags have won six of those eight meetings. The two outlier seasons in which the Zags and Gaels didn’t meet resulted in Gonzaga taking down BYU. At the time, it seemed the guard could be changing for the right to play second-fiddle in the WCC, as Randy Bennett didn’t have enough miles on his account to make his usual recruiting trips to Australia and BYU was benefiting from a post-Jimmer renaissance. But the tide has turned back to St. Mary’s being the best conference foe Gonzaga has, at least for this season. In fact, St. Mary’s was actually picked by the WCC coaches to win the conference this year, as coaches were wishful in their thinking that Gonzaga’s loss of All-American Nigel Williams-Goss, lottery pick Zach Collins, and silent-assassin Jordan Mathews would result in a National Title Game hangover.

But the Zags had their ibuprofen and Gatorade ready, as they started the season hot and picked up wins over Ohio State, Texas, Washington and Creighton. But in January, after leading for 38 minutes, they lost to an unranked St. Mary’s squad up in Spokane. Can the Zags return the favor this time around? They will need to figure out a way to contain Jock Landale, who is an absolute issue in the paint. Mark Few will counter with a balanced cast of characters, as the Zags have six players averaging double-figures in conference play. Rui Hachimura has been great off the bench and is climbing draft-boards as we speak. Zach Norvell looks like the next coming of Ray Allen, and Silas Melson is filling the super glue-guy role to perfection.  The Zags are good, the Gaels are good, and this game should be highly entertaining. Both teams shoot well, are highly skilled. A Zags win would set the stage for an imminent rubber-match at the WCC tourney in Vegas next month. If history repeats itself, put your money on the Zags.

Northwest College Hoops Roundup – Conference Play Is Almost Here!


Northwest College Hoops Roundup – Conference Play Is Almost Here!


Non-conference play is winding down for northwest college hoops and there are a ton of bright spots to keep an eye on. Excitement for some of these teams will eventually come to a halt, but it’s fun to hope right? Christmas time is here and great records are abound, even if they’re supported by cupcake schedules.

PAC-12 basketball starts soon after Christmas on the 29th of December, so tune in!

Oregon Ducks

This team has a lot to look forward to this season after the tough Boise State loss. The Ducks success should be attributed to the emergence of Kenny Wooten off the bench. He’s a freshman who’s only missed 3 buckets over the past three games. Sure he’s a big man and shouldn’t be missing much, but he’s been part of huge runs that have helped get the Ducks out of offensive ruts.

Heading into PAC-12 play, expect the Ducks to start off hot. Their first two PAC-12 games include Colorado and Utah, neither of which would be able to handle guards Elijah Brown and and Payton Pritchard. As I write this, Pritchard is off to a fast start against Central Arkansas, scoring double digits in just the first half.

Don’t be surprised if this team ends up being ranked before facing Arizona State well into January.

Oregon State Beavers vs. Kent State, 4:00PM PT Thursday | ESPN3

The Beavers will face an underrated Kent State team tonight, and so long as they can contain Jaylin Walker, they’ll be fine. He’s averaging 16 points per game and he will be the Beavers’ biggest priority on defense.

OSU isn’t the flashiest team in the PAC-12, but they’ve proven so far that they’ll be a tough out. As they start conference play against Utah, Colorado, and Oregon, fans should be confident that the Tres Tinkle led squad will give their opponents a run for their money.

This team has displayed patience in their offense. 58% of team field goals end in assists for the Beavers, while averaging about 69 possessions per 40 minutes. Turnovers have been an issue, but the team has already surpassed their win total from last year and are buying into Coach Tinkle’s basketball philosophy again.

Washington Huskies vs Montana, 8:00PM PT Friday | PAC-12

The Huskies pre-conference slate of games has been a relative success. They nabbed a historic win against Kansas and will look to finish with 10 wins before PAC-12 play begins. They host the Montana Grizzlies in what should be an easy game.

The UW will have a tough beginning to conference play. Both USC and UCLA will be difficult, and PAC-12 success essentially hinges on Noah Dickerson’s ability to further sustain his strong play. Coach Hopkins has been able to improve Dickerson’s efficiency dramatically this year, as he’s making 63% of his field goals this year. Last year, he made 54% of his shots.

Another question remains with Jaylen Nowell. He’s a freshman guard with great size, and has been amazing on offense thus far. Can he sustain 17 points per game in the PAC-12?

If he can sustain his rise has UW’s main offensive option, it’d be great if he could get some support.For example, David Crisp struggles against decent competition. Even with a hot shooting performance against dead-weight Bethune Cookman, he’s only made 37% of his field goals this year.

Washington State vs. Bethune Cookman, 6:00PM PT Friday | PAC-12

As I’m typing this, the Washington State Cougars are behind the Kansas State Wildcats. Of course, the reason seems to be Malachi Flynn’s cold shooting. In the first half against the Wildcats, Flynn has made just one out of seven three-point attempts. He had a solid game against lacking IUPUI, but at this stage, I don’t think the Cougars will be able to readjust their dependence on the three point shot.

The Cougars currently rank seventh in the nation on percentage of field goal attempts from three-point range. Their offensive rating is middling, meaning that this team has decided to live or die by the three.

Washington State will feel brief relief against Bethune Cookman, breezing by a weak program. If the Cougars are looking to start PAC12 play against UCLA and USC, then Flynn will need to reconfigure his shot selection. WSU is making their threes against weaker teams now, but can they keep it up in the PAC12?

Gonzaga Bulldogs at San Diego State, 7:00PM PT Thursday | CBSSN

Fans should be happy with the state of this team heading into conference play. They’ve had impressive wins against Creighton, Texas, and Florida. Although Gonzaga lost to Villanova, this team has won three straight games heading into a game against the San Diego State Aztecs. Sure the game against North Dakota State was worrisome, but Gonzaga overcame their recent inconsistencies.

Turnovers have been causing setbacks during the win streak, but look for Coach Mark Few to right these wrongs immediately. The Bulldogs have coughed the ball up 34 times over the past two games. I don’t see the Aztecs beating Gonzaga though, since the Bulldogs are so efficient on offense. Gonzaga has the sixth best offensive rating for a team in the NCAA, right behind Arizona State.

What does conference play look like? This is the time of year when the Bulldogs take a break and practice for the rest of the year. Their first two conference games against Pacific and Santa Clara will be cakewalks.

In addition! Portland State Vikings at California, 8:00PM PT Thursday | PAC-12

Barrett Peery has the Portland State Vikings looking healthy as they head into tonight’s game against California, a game they have a very good chance at winning. In his first season with Portland State, he has the team at nine wins already.

Led by guard Deontae North, this offense just flies. They have about 82 possessions per game, and they don’t turn the ball over that much, which is pretty respectable. They score a ton of points at about 93 per game.

On the other hand, the Vikings are known to fly on offense. Last year, they were 8th in the nation with points per game. What makes Barrett Peery different?

Look for them to make some noise this year, as Peery looks to maintain the energy that the Vikings have displayed this year. After facing the California Bears, they’ll face paltry conference opponent Sacramento State.

Gonzaga is the top dog in Washington

© Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Gonzaga is the top dog in Washington


Nearly 12 years to the day from the last time the Gonzaga Bulldogs took the court on the Washington Huskies’ home floor, there was a palpable tension in the air. Having played each other the last two seasons, there was something different about this matchup. The Huskies, coming off a win over #2 Kansas, had a renewed sense of optimism. Fans had suddenly been reminded that yes, their Dawgs had in-fact started the basketball season and yes, Mike Hopkins may have turned this program around much sooner than anticipated.  Another key ingredient to this Sunday night game is the large contingent of Zags alumni and fans in Seattle. Having navigated UW’s tricky requirements of purchasing five-game plans just to get in the door, a couple thousand Zag-faithful decked in blue and red showed up, hoping to witness the Zags first win at Hec-Ed Pavilion since 2003.  Look down towards the court to see Adam Morrison (Zags radio color commentator) with a headset on, and flashbacks to his 2005 43-point performance spoiled in a 95-93 loss come rushing back to any Zag.

Was the perfect storm brewing in Seattle for the Huskies to top the Zags? A small but faithful UW student section, highlighted by frat-boys with “H-O-P-K-I-N-S” painted on their chests, seemed confident. David Crisp appeared calm, as he mingled with fans five minutes before the game, choosing to dap-up those sitting courtside before clanking a long three off the front iron.  Husky students invaded a good chunk of the Zags’ side during warmups, as they prepared for some sort of high-five tunnel that you may see at an 8u soccer game. Gonzaga’s basketballs would bounce over to students, only for the UW faithful take it upon themselves to shoot and miss ugly-looking jumpers.

If the UW season ticket holders sitting near the court looked up, however, they would see a dark cloud looming in their arena. A sleeper-cell among Husky Five-Game Ticket Package holders had been born, and tonight was their coming out party.  It would only take an electric play by the Zags before everyone in the arena would know just what they were in for. It only took four minutes, as Zach Norvell Jr. grabbed a steal, went coast-to-coast, and packed a dunk with his left hand that not many knew he was capable of. Norvell proved he was more than just a three-point threat, as he was undercut by a Husky defender, dunked with authority, and went spilling onto the floor for the and-one. The arena went nuts, with Norvell motioning to the crowd as you would expect he would if the game were in Spokane.  It was over from there, as the Zags out-rebounded, out-hustled, and out-played the Huskies all night long.

This 97-70 blowout by the Zags made a few things evident:

  1. Gonzaga is here to stay. It’s a national brand that is now too big to fail under Mark Few. Gone are the days of wondering if this is going to be an up or down season for the Zags. “Who did we lose from last season?” is no longer all that important of a question. Few and co. are attracting players from all over the country and world, have mastered the art of the redshirt season (Olynyk, Wiltjer, Goss, Williams, Norvell), and are unbelievably consistent year-in and year-out. The last three seasons have seen an Elite 8, Sweet 16, and Championship Game despite nearly complete starting-five turnover each season. It’s clear that the Zags are more similar to programs like Duke, Michigan State, and Villanova than they are St. Mary’s or Butler. Their fans travel like an annual Final Four contender and they play like it. UW better not bank on Gonzaga being a little mid-major that may give them some trouble from time to time. The Zags are a barometer that UW will have to try and measure themselves against for a long, long time.


  1. UW is going to take a couple years to rebuild. Riding high off their upset over Kansas (I mean, who isn’t beating Kansas these days?), Husky fans decided to start paying attention to basketball this week. Their football season is on pause, as a month passes by between games, and the 7-2 basketball team has grabbed their attention. #TougherTogether was splattered all over video boards and social media announcements throughout the game. Ultimately, true colors came through for the fair-weathered fans in attendance, as streams of people poured out of the stadium with eight minutes left in the game. If UW is going to be #TougherTogether at home, more than roughly 1/100th of their students are going to need to show up. The shirtless H-O-P-K-I-N-S crew in the front row does deserve some respect, as they stuck it out the whole game, even if the P, K, and N were on their phones for most of the second half. As for the UW students on the court, UW has a few good pieces. Dickerson is a monster down low and Nowell is a stud freshman that loves to taunt defenders when he makes buckets to close the gap from 20 to 18. UW does not play any senior significant minutes, which could be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, Hopkins will have an experienced team next year. On the other, he will have trouble freeing up any scholarships to begin bringing his own recruits in, unless he cuts a few players. The question remains- is Hopkins here to stay, or will he use UW as a springboard for his head coaching career? When Boeheim does retire, will Hopkins be on the first flight to Syracuse? It certainly seems like a possibility, and whether Husky fans totally buy into this program could depend on whether the Hopkins family is buying or renting their house.


  1. Hec-Ed (Alaska Airlines Arena) needs a face-lift. I hope Mike Hopkins put this into his contract, as this facility is not on-par with those of premier programs. With a listed seating capacity of 10,000, this arena should only be comfortably seating 8,500. This way, they could sell-out without the help of a couple thousand fans from the opponent. The upper bleachers are just that- bleachers with no backs. The lower bowl has bleachers as well. The band is cornered on an awkward second level walkway. Bathrooms saw lines 50 feet out the door, clogging up the concourse during halftime. Access was limited to four lines total, creating a log-jam outside along Montlake Ave. There are some great features to Hec-Ed, such as the classic windows and brick exterior. However, if fans are expected to pack this gym, they deserve an experience more similar to what’s currently available at the football stadium across the parking lot.

University Of Washington Men’s Basketball – Rebuilding Starts With The Coaching Staff


University Of Washington Men’s Basketball – Rebuilding Starts With The Coaching Staff


Former Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was largely credited with an affable personality for bringing in highly ranked recruits from California, and promoted a brand of basketball largely dependent on that kind of personality. Unfortunately, this brand didn’t translate into as many NCAA tournament appearances or PAC-12 championships as the athletic department wanted. The coaching style largely depended on familiar big-time Husky players to take over games and lead teams into the postseason. Unless the likes of Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy mightily willed the Huskies into tournaments, seasons were lost. This is slightly disappointing because Romar was really good at recruiting and was liked by many fans. These same fans however, should be ecstatic about their new coach Mike Hopkins.

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The hiring of former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins by the UW signified a push towards a traditional style of basketball, not just on the court but via recruiting front as well. Fans shouldn’t expect results quickly, but the signs are evident that major improvement is coming, and it starts with this coaching staff.

Will Conroy and Cameron Dollar are being retained as assistant coaches. Their ties to the local communities is paramount to the success of luring local high school basketball standouts down the Husky pipeline. Conroy has been on the Husky bench since 2015, and is also a decorated Husky player. Having also played locally on the high school level, his retention signifies Hopkins’ desire to maintain stability on the bench and the recruiting front. Dollar should be viewed as someone who can help strategically on the floor on a nightly basis. His last appointment was head coach of the Seattle Redhawks where he maintained winning records at home, and had his team appear consistently at the College Basketball Invitationals.

The assistant coach that doesn’t have the most recognition in the Pacific Northwest quite yet is assistant coach Dave Rice. There’s real significance to this hire, as I personally had the pleasure of witnessing his UNLV head-coaching tenure back in Las Vegas. To say the least, there was usually always some kind of drama, but his recruiting ability competes with the best recruiters out there.

In short, he wasn’t the greatest head coach from a playbook standpoint. While he was personable, he lacked the stratagem to bring some of his talented teams to the next level. He was able to bring the Runnin’ Rebels to the NCAA tournament twice, but couldn’t consistently dominate a relatively weaker Mountain West Conference. His recruiting classes were always outstanding for being in a city where playing college basketball had become lackluster.

The likes of Anthony Bennett, Rashad Vaughn, and Patrick McCaw came through his system before entering the NBA. He has experience building local pipelines as well and even poaching a couple players from PAC-12 programs. A lot of his former players are also on the edge of being in the NBA or are currently playing in lesser leagues around the world. Rice remains as the third most winningest coach at UNLV and his unique experience from Las Vegas brings a certain tenacity on the recruiting front.

The mix of carryover and new blood to the bench shows how Hopkins is willing to adapt to this new climate. Coming in, he’s showing Husky fans that he won’t just be copy-pasting his former mentor Jim Boeheim’s system from Syracuse.

The rebuild will take some time. Recently in an exhibition match, the Huskies barely escaped with a narrow win over a Division II school, Saint Martin. While scoring 91 points on any night is a great sign for offensive ability, giving up 87 points is a cause for concern. Nonetheless, Husky players David Crisp, Noah Dickerson, and Matisse Thybulle look to carry this offense early on. The loss of Romar also saw the loss of the highly touted Michael Porter Jr., who took his talents to Missouri, noting a big hit to the Husky offense. Hopkins will surely be stressing defense.

The first game for this new squad is this Friday against the Belmont Bruins, a team that has maintained relative success in the Ohio Valley Conference. Their senior guard is a premier passer and will cause trouble for the Huskies early in the game. Again, Husky players Crisp, Dickerson, and Thybulle will be responsible for responding with easy baskets. Fans shouldn’t expect much, but a win would be a great start to this season.