NCAA

Sorry not sorry, Duke: Gonzaga is the top dog once again

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Sorry not sorry, Duke: Gonzaga is the top dog once again

For the second time this season, the Gonzaga men’s basketball team is back on top of the Associated Press college basketball standings.

The Bulldogs (27-2) snagged the top spot from Duke in the latest basketball poll released Monday. Gonzaga received 44 of 64 first-place votes and now have a chance to hold onto the top spot heading into the NCAA tournament.

The Blue Devils fell two spots in the standings after suffering a 88-72 loss to the UNC Tar Heels on Wednesday. Duke also lost Zion Williamson, the projected No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, to a grade 1 knee sprain in the upset. He is day-to-day, according to Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Despite losing Williamson to injury, Duke (24-3) bounced back against Syracuse over the weekend. They are now third behind Virginia (24-2), who received 15 first-place votes.

The Bulldogs spent two weeks atop the AP Top 25 in week 5 after beating the Blue Devils in the Maui Invitational in November. Despite losses to Tennessee and North Carolina, the Zags are riding a 18-game win streak and sit in first place in the West Coast Conference. 

Gonzaga has been dismantling its opponents as of late. In the last four homes games (BYU, Pepperdine, San Francisco, San Diego), the Bulldogs have won by an average of 35 points. And that's all without French big Killan Tillie, who suffered a partially torn ligament in his right foot against San Francisco, and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. 

The Zags monster frontcourt of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke, and the standout play of redshirt senior, Josh Perkins, who was named WCC Player of the Week for the second time this season, make the Bulldogs a force to be reckoned with. 

Gonzaga is once again considered Final Four contenders. Can they make it back to the big game for the second time in three years? 

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

Will Chris Petersen coach again? The door isn't shut, but not right away

On Monday morning, then-Washington Huskies head coach Chris Petersen shocked the college football world by resigning as head coach following their bowl game next month. 

Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Lake was named as his successor. Immediately following the announcement, speculation ran rampant of what Petersen would do next. Was he USC-bound? What about the NFL? Would he be the next head coach of the Dallas Cowboys?

Official word is that Petersen will transition into an advisory role with the Huskies, at least, in the immediate future. 

At his press conference today, Petersen discussed if he’s done coaching when asked. 

I’m not falling into that trick question...my whole plan is to get rested, to get recharged, and get redirected. Like the one thing I know is that I’m not ready to do nothing. I just gotta figure out where all this energy and this passion and inspiration goes. I don’t want it to be on the football field.

It sounds like Petersen doesn’t want to return to coaching football anytime soon. He's burned out, which is understandable considering how heavy and constant the workload is when running a program the size of Washington's. That position demands around the clock work hours between recruiting, game-planning, running practice, watching film, and oh, the actual games themselves.

Petersen said he likes being around people who strive for excellence, he loves people who are great at their jobs.  

The now former Huskies head coach becomes another in a recent trend of major programs having their coaches step down during their 50s. Other recent examples include Bob Stoops at Oklahoma (56) and Urban Meyer at Ohio State (54). In both cases, one of the coordinators was promoted in their place. And in both cases, they eventually returned to coaching.  

New Huskies coach Jimmy Lake wants an 'aggressive' program

New Huskies coach Jimmy Lake wants an 'aggressive' program

On Monday morning, Chris Petersen shocked college football by resigning as head coach of the Washington Huskies after six seasons in Seattle. His replacement is former defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake, who according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman, has turned down multiple offers waiting for this opportunity. 

At his introductory press conference, Lake said he will follow a similar formula as how Petersen ran the program, but he had the following to say about what he’ll do differently as head coach of the Huskies.

We’re going to have a different style on offense. We’re going to have a different style on our special teams. We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to attack, and this place is ready to roll.

Earlier in the press conference, he highlighted his love for X’s and O’s and football strategy will also separate his program from Petersen’s.  

Also, recruiting for the Huskies should increase as Lake, who has been the Huskies ace recruiter for years, will now be running the entire show. He’ll be able to be more aggressive in recruiting than when Petersen was at the helm.

Looking for proof of that? Not a single Huskies commit has decommitted more than 24 hours after the shocking head coaching change announcement, which is nearly unheard of whenever in a situation like this one. For example, when Willie Taggart abruptly left Eugene a handful of the Ducks’ commits immediately decommitted. To not have any recruiting collateral damage is quite impressive.  

It’s unclear how Lake will handle running an entire program since this will be his first head coaching gig; however, he’s set up as well as anyone could hope.

Breaking: Chris Petersen to step down as Huskies head coach

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USATI

Breaking: Chris Petersen to step down as Huskies head coach

Shocking news out of Seattle. The University of Washington announced Monday that head football coach Chris Petersen will step down following the team's bowl game. 

In a statement released by the school, Petersen said "It has been a privilege and a professional dream fulfilled to be part of this world-class institution... I will forever be grateful, honored and humbled to have had the opportunity to coach our fine young men on Montlake for these past six seasons. I thank each of them, as well as our coaches and administrative staff for the incredible commitment they've made to Husky football during my tenure. The football program and Husky Athletics across the board will continue to prosper, and do it the right way, with Jen Cohen's leadership and the University administration's commitment to excellence. I'll be a Husky for life, but now is the right time for me to step away from my head coaching duties, and recharge."

Petersen spent six seasons with the Huskies, going 54-26 over that span and winning the Pac-12 Conference title in 2016 and 2018. Prior to arriving at Washington, Petersen was the head coach for the Boise State Broncos. In eight seasons at Boise State, he led to team to a 92-12 record and an improbable win over Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. For his career, Petersen holds a record of 148-38, and his .793 winning percentage ranks second among active coaches with at least five years at the helm.

Washington has already named defensive coordinator Jimmy Lake as his successor. 

You can read the school's full press release HERE.

Mike Leach goes off on reporter after 7th straight Apple Cup loss

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Mike Leach goes off on reporter after 7th straight Apple Cup loss

Chris Petersen continues to have Mike Leach's number. In fact, Washington has never lost to WSU with Petersen at the helm. 

The Washington Huskies once again shut down Mike Leach's air raid attack to clinch a 31-13 win in the 112th Apple Cup on Friday.

The Cougars finish their season 6-6, the Huskies close the season 7-5. 

After the game, head coach Mike Leach was... unhappy. Or, maybe, unapologetically himself.  

Leach speculated that UW's better recruiting classes had something to do with it. But, when pressed by John Blanchette, columnist for The Spokesman-Review about whether he wasn't supposed to beat teams with better recruiting classes, Leach said this:


I don’t really care to have a big discussion with you (Blanchette) on it, because I don’t really care what you think. You know, you run your mouth in your little column and stuff like some sanctimonious troll. You’ve never been fair-handed with us. So, I really don’t care what you think. Ok? Go ahead, because you’re going to write some nasty stuff like you always do. And, I don’t know which Coug did something back when that offended you, and I really don’t care about that, either. But, you can live your little meager life in your little hole and write nasty things. And if that makes you feel even, you can go right ahead. 

It’s unknown exactly what set Leach off on Blanchette. Possibly, a previous column where he wrote “Whatever you choose to call it, Washington State shows lack of electricity.”

“This was mostly #Pac12Afterthought for the Cougs, Blanchette wrote. “Generally feckless on defense, curiously flat on offense. And soft.”

Blanchette has yet to comment publicly on Twitter since his run-in with Leach. We’ll keep you posted. 

Young Florida State fan uses lemonade stand to fund Willie Taggart buyout

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USA Today

Young Florida State fan uses lemonade stand to fund Willie Taggart buyout

How much are you willing to spend for a glass of lemonade? 10 cents? 25 cents? a dollar? How about a 20 spot? $20, that's what a young Florida State fan was charging people for a glass. But there was a reason for the high-priced refreshment. Four-year-old Grayton Grant opened up a pop-up stand hoping that sales of his lemonade could bring in enough cash to fund the buyout of head coach Willie Taggert. Taggart is due to make $30 million this season, while Grant pulled in just $241 dollars. He may have fallen short of his goal, but that didn't stop him from putting the money to use. 

According to a story published by the Tallahassee Democrat, Daniel Grant, Grayton's father, matched his son's total and together they sent a $482 check to Florida State marked  “Taggart Buy Out!” 

That's not all. Grant also wrote a letter to the university that read “I am tired of losing football games and being made fun of at school for being a Seminole fan. At four, I am already starting to gravitate towards the color orange. You don’t want that for an innocent kid like me….” 

For those of you not in tune with college football, Orange is the school color of Florida State's biggest rival, the Florida Gators. It's also the color of the pen Grant used to sign his letter. That's a deep cut. 

Of course, the letter was all tongue-in-cheek. Nothing can really come between a fan and their favorite school, and it's what makes college sports so great.

Taggart is remembered in the Northwest as the former coach of the Oregon Ducks. Taggart spent just one year at the helm before bolting for his dream job with the Seminoles. Taggart when 7-5 in his lone season with the Ducks, and is 6-9 in his time with Florida State. 

The Bridge Podcast: Eugene native and former WSU QB Alex Brink

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NBCS NW

The Bridge Podcast: Eugene native and former WSU QB Alex Brink

Host Justin Myers sits down with former Washington State Cougars quarterback Alex Brink. Brink recounts his college career in Pullman and what it was like playing in the Pac-12 as a starting quarterback.

Also, Brink talks about his transition into broadcasting for the Cougars and life post-football.

You can listen to the podcast below!

Are Ducks more potent, Beavers better, Viks tired of Missions Almost Impossible?

Are Ducks more potent, Beavers better, Viks tired of Missions Almost Impossible?

Opening weekend, finally, for our area’s college football teams and I’m happy about that – primarily because stories from “fall camp” (even when it’s nowhere close to fall) are usually just a combination of hopeful hype and injury reports with little real news. I know, because I used to write those stories. Anyway, just a few random thoughts about the Ducks, Beavers and Vikings leading into Week 1:

  • Yes, I know bowl games are different than regular season games and not necessarily an indication of what’s to come for a team in the following season. But when I think about the Ducks and the upcoming year, it’s pretty hard for me to get the Redbox Bowl out of my mind. And I also understand that if you’re an Oregon football fan, you probably flushed that game out of your memory bank the day after that debacle. Certainly, pollsters don’t remember it, or I don’t think they’d be voting the Ducks as high as 11th in the AP preseason poll. But seriously, UO rushed for 37 yards on 27 carries and had only 11 first downs. Oregon won 7-6 against Michigan State. I saw that game as a summary of the season on offense for the Ducks. They underachieved with the ball, especially considering they had a quarterback who was touted as a Heisman candidate at the start of the season. I would hope they would make better use of Justin Herbert this year.
  • Oregon State has a long way to go from where it was last season just to become a respectable college football team. I am optimistic that Jonathan Smith can engineer a turnaround, but I don’t expect it to happen overnight. Can the Beavers upset Oklahoma State Friday night? I doubt it, but I also think they have their best chance to win early in the season, before the inevitable injuries start to pile up. Depth is going to be a problem, as it always is, for schools trying to make the climb from the bottom to even the middle of Power-5 conferences. It’s hard for them to recruit enough quality starters, let alone bench players, at this point of their development.
  • The prime funding mechanism for some FCS football programs has become sending their teams on Missions Almost Impossible to FBS schools, scooping up six-figure guarantees in exchange for playing the role of patsy for those higher-level teams. Meet Portland State football. The Vikings this year open their season at Arkansas and then also play on the road at Boise State. For Viking players, the only good thing about a game at Arkansas is they don’t have to undergo a long bus ride. I assume they will fly, as opposed to those long motor coach rides to other away games during the season. I realize that a few years ago PSU traveled to Pullman and upset Washington State. Stuff happens. But for me, there is something unseemly about a system that requires players to take a beating from more powerful schools, just for a paycheck they don’t get to share. But good luck, Vikings, stay healthy and remember, the Razorbacks went 2-10 last season, including a home loss to North Texas.

Portland State athlete killed in NE Portland shooting, two others injured

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goviks.com

Portland State athlete killed in NE Portland shooting, two others injured

News outlets in the Portland area are reporting a shooting in Northeast Portland has ended with a fatality and two others injured. 

The man who died has been identified as Deante Strickland who was a two-sport athlete at Portland State University playing on both the basketball and football teams. 

Portland State Athletic Director Valerie Cleary released the following statement from the University:

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Deante. He represented everything it means to be a Viking in his hometown of Portland. He will forever be remembered for his character, determination and warm smile. Our prayers go out to his family and friends."

Strickland was a local, a graduate of Central Catholic High School and was studying Social Science at PSU. 

Update on the shooting from KGW:

You can read more about the tragic event at the following links:

KGW News

KPTV News

Portland State University 

Gonzaga draftees make history in more ways than one

Gonzaga draftees make history in more ways than one

Basketball fans around the country may still not know that Gonzaga University is nestled away in Spokane, Washington. And, they may not know how to properly pronounce Gonzaga or Spokane, but NCAA and NBA fans do know that the Zags have produced some NBA level talent and have been a force to be reckoned with come March.

Twenty-four Gonzaga players have now been drafted to play at the next level and eight of those NBA draftees have come in the last 10 years.

Gonzaga Forward Rui Hachimura made history this year.

Hachimura became the first Japanese player ever selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, when he was picked No. 9 overall to the Washington Wizards.

The son of a Japanese mother and a father from the West African nation of Benin, Hachimura's athleticism did not go unnoticed in his three years as a bulldog. The 21-year-old averaged 19.7 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists his junior year.

This year’s draft marked the first time in program history that the Zags produced two first-round picks with Hachimura and teammate Brandon Clarke.

Clarke started 36-of-37 games last season for the Bulldogs, averaging 16.9 points per game and 8.6 rebounds. He also became Gonzaga’s all-time leader for blocks in the season, with 117.

The Phoenix native was drafted 21st overall by Memphis, after the Grizzlies acquired the pick in a draft-night trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The last time a West Coast Conference team had a pair of first-round picks was back in 1978 when the San Francisco Dons’ James Hardy was selected 11th and Winford Boynes was taken at No. 13.

As for Gonzaga, the program has produced seven first-rounders overall.

GU has had two players selected in the same draft twice. The most recent draft was in 2017 with Trail Blazers lottery pick Zach Collins and second-rounder Nigel Williams-Goss.

Gonzaga’s Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins went undrafted this year. However, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Norvell will reportedly sign a 10-day contract with the Charlotte Hornets. While Perkins has reportedly agreed to a two-way contract with the Los Angeles Lakers, according to ESPN.