Sports

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

World Cup Reflections: Team Howard vs. Belgium and what’s next

Posted By on Wed, Jul 2, 2014 at 1:43 PM

That damn chant.

“I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win, I believe that we will win ...” Over and over.

And the thing is, as a country we did believe it, almost. Because we’re Americans and how often are we the underdogs at anything? Even when our own coach thinks we don’t have a chance, even when one of best strikers Jozy Altidore is out, there was hope we could beat Belgium.
Yesterday at Geno’s restaurant, whole families, bros and people who probably called into work sick all gathered together decked out in red, white and blue to cheer on the home team. With the sun shining brightly, people cheered for every minute. Every time we nearly made a goal there was clapping, every time a call went our way there was hooting, every time goalkeeper Tim Howard deflected the ball — which appeared to be every other second — we shouted in unison. In general, the atmosphere was positive, no hollers about how much Belgium sucked or our distaste for waffles.

Silence (and despair) fell over the Geno's crowd watching the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match yesterday. - LAURA JOHNSON
  • Laura Johnson
  • Silence (and despair) fell over the Geno's crowd watching the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match yesterday.

When that second Belgian goal ripped through during overtime, though, things became positively forlorn. No one spoke. Our team came back as 19-year-old Julian Green hammered in one goal, but to no avail.

We lost.

America freaking lost.

But Howard played one heck of a game, so much so he set a World Cup record for the most saves in one game, 16, since the stat has been tracked — this led to the US Secretary of Defense Wikipedia page being changed to Howard’s mug before it was caught. The reaction on Twitter was especially creative. Some amazing tweets included:

@TVMcGee This Howard's End made me more depressed than the Merchant-Ivory version. #WorldCup2014
@fuggirls You can't say we didn't go down swinging. Tim Howard shouldn't have to buy a beer again. EVER. - J #USA
(Inlander’s own) @danieltwalters Expecting this game to look like we barely pulled it out somehow, then Howard's skull is crushed by The Mountain.
@FigDrewton Tim Howard doesn't have Twitter followers because he blocks everyone

My heart still hurts. I wanted us to defeat Belgium so bad. But as the dust settles one day later, the exciting thing here is that after surviving the Group of Death we made the Top 16 in the world, and that is nothing to be embarrassed about. In a World Cup that saw traditional powerhouses like Spain, Italy and England not even clear their groups, we persevered.
Americans don’t care as much about soccer as the rest of the world. When Mexico or Brazil wins a match the entire country takes the next day off due to hangover. It is not ingrained in us. But as ratings for this World Cup have blasted past the homegrown sports TV ratings  and as Major League Soccer continues to grow and draw crowds, it appears change is on the horizon.

So who’s still in this?

Brazil, Argentina, Germany (Go Deutschland!) and Costa Rica are who I’m predicting for the Final 4, but absolutely anything can happen. The Top 8 will play Friday and Saturday, and even though USA is out, I bet people will still watch. The final match will be played Sunday, July 13.

Here’s to 2018 and the great Tim Howard!


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Monday, June 30, 2014

PHOTOS: Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2014

Posted By on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 5:10 PM

On Sunday, the city and surrounding area of Coeur d’Alene turned into what women’s winner, Heather Wurtele, called “the easiest and hardest Ironman.” More than 2,460 athletes battled through choppy waters for the 2.4-mile swim, then biked through strong winds for the 112-mile bike ride and completed the 26.2-mile run. The weather was cool and breezy, perfect for the athletes competing this year. Andy Potts won the men’s professional division with a time of 8:25:44 and Wurtele won on the women’s side with a time of 9:34:32.

2,466 athletes battled their way through the cold waters at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • 2,466 athletes battled their way through the cold waters at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

Partly cloudy skies and a cool breeze made for ideal conditions for the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Partly cloudy skies and a cool breeze made for ideal conditions for the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

Competitors ran into Coeur d'Alene Lake to begin the 2.4-mile swim, the first portion of the Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Competitors ran into Coeur d'Alene Lake to begin the 2.4-mile swim, the first portion of the Ironman.

Family, friends and spectators watched as more than 2,000 competitors ran into the lake. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Family, friends and spectators watched as more than 2,000 competitors ran into the lake.

Spectators line City Beach anticipating the start of the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Spectators line City Beach anticipating the start of the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

The professional men dive into Lake Coeur d'Alene at the start of the Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • The professional men dive into Lake Coeur d'Alene at the start of the Ironman.

The professional women swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • The professional women swim in Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The second, third and fourth place men swim to shore for the start of their second lap at  the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • The second, third and fourth place men swim to shore for the start of their second lap at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

More than 2,000 competitors swim the 2.4-mile course. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • More than 2,000 competitors swim the 2.4-mile course.

Two friends and competitors enter the brisk water of Coeur d'Alene Lake for the start of the Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Two friends and competitors enter the brisk water of Coeur d'Alene Lake for the start of the Ironman.

Jesse Thietten happily walks onto shore after his first of two laps in Lake Coeur d'Alene. Thietten finished the race in 14:34:16. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Jesse Thietten happily walks onto shore after his first of two laps in Lake Coeur d'Alene. Thietten finished the race in 14:34:16.

Spectators line the bike area to watch as competitors start the 112-mile bike portion of the triathlon. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Spectators line the bike area to watch as competitors start the 112-mile bike portion of the triathlon.

Jesse Thietten happily walks onto shore after his first of two laps in Lake Coeur d'Alene. Thietten finished the race in 14:34:16. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Jesse Thietten happily walks onto shore after his first of two laps in Lake Coeur d'Alene. Thietten finished the race in 14:34:16.

Craig Thorsen, left, strips a competitor of his wetsuit with Greg Gallagher at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Craig Thorsen, left, strips a competitor of his wetsuit with Greg Gallagher at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

A competitor exits the transition area to begin the 26.2-mile run at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • A competitor exits the transition area to begin the 26.2-mile run at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

Erica Ziemer, left, pulls off a competitor's wetsuit with another volunteer. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Erica Ziemer, left, pulls off a competitor's wetsuit with another volunteer.

Bikers begin the 112-mile ride. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Bikers begin the 112-mile ride.

An encouraging sign sits as competitors mount their bikes. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • An encouraging sign sits as competitors mount their bikes.

Alexander Baumstark, of Germany, finished the Coeur d'Alene Ironman in 11:28:21. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Alexander Baumstark, of Germany, finished the Coeur d'Alene Ironman in 11:28:21.

Bikers ride along Lake Coeur d'Alene around Mile 4. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Bikers ride along Lake Coeur d'Alene around Mile 4.

A competitor wears a helmet with encouraging notes, one that reads, "You are amazing! Love you so much mommy you got this!" - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • A competitor wears a helmet with encouraging notes, one that reads, "You are amazing! Love you so much mommy you got this!"

Jeff Judson completed the 112-mile bike ride in 7:18:57 and the entire race in 14:24:35, placing his rank at 1,275 at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Jeff Judson completed the 112-mile bike ride in 7:18:57 and the entire race in 14:24:35, placing his rank at 1,275 at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

Alvaro Galindo, right, bikes alongside Phillip Kriss. Galindo finished in 13:50:57 and Kriss finished in 12:35:39. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Alvaro Galindo, right, bikes alongside Phillip Kriss. Galindo finished in 13:50:57 and Kriss finished in 12:35:39.

Peter Lorhmann, center, rides through downtown Coeur d'Alene with other competitors as they begin their second lap of the 112-mile bike race. Lorhmann finished in 10:26:12, 90th overall. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Peter Lorhmann, center, rides through downtown Coeur d'Alene with other competitors as they begin their second lap of the 112-mile bike race. Lorhmann finished in 10:26:12, 90th overall.

Ali Black, right, hands her bike to Brian Kingsburry. Black finished the race in 10:28:45 and in 97th place overall at the Coeur D'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Ali Black, right, hands her bike to Brian Kingsburry. Black finished the race in 10:28:45 and in 97th place overall at the Coeur D'Alene Ironman.

Ray Fiori, right, hands his bike to Ron Lahner. Fiori finished in 9:30:23 and 13th place overall at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Ray Fiori, right, hands his bike to Ron Lahner. Fiori finished in 9:30:23 and 13th place overall at the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

A communication error between 3-year-volunteer Brian Kingsburry, right, and a competitor resulted in a crash at the end of the bike portion. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • A communication error between 3-year-volunteer Brian Kingsburry, right, and a competitor resulted in a crash at the end of the bike portion.

Volunteers rub sunscreen on John Poisson, who finished 96th overall. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Volunteers rub sunscreen on John Poisson, who finished 96th overall.

A competitor runs through downtown Coeur d'Alene for the final portion of the triathlon. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • A competitor runs through downtown Coeur d'Alene for the final portion of the triathlon.

Andy Potts, winner of the 2014 Coeur D'Alene Ironman, finished in 8:25:44. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Andy Potts, winner of the 2014 Coeur D'Alene Ironman, finished in 8:25:44.

Andy Potts, winner of the 2014 Coeur d'Alene Ironman, finished in 8:25:44. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Andy Potts, winner of the 2014 Coeur d'Alene Ironman, finished in 8:25:44.

Andy Potts is met by his son at the finish line after winning the Coeur d'Alene Ironman. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Andy Potts is met by his son at the finish line after winning the Coeur d'Alene Ironman.

Women's winner Heather Wurtele finished the Coeur d'Alene Ironman in 9:34:32. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Women's winner Heather Wurtele finished the Coeur d'Alene Ironman in 9:34:32.

Derek Garcia finished in 7th place with a time of 8:57:57. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Derek Garcia finished in 7th place with a time of 8:57:57.

Sean Schnur excitedly crosses the finish line. Schnur finished 10th overall. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Sean Schnur excitedly crosses the finish line. Schnur finished 10th overall.

Oleysa Prystayko crosses the finish line with a smile on her face. Prystayko finished 10:07:59 and was the 4th woman to finish. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Oleysa Prystayko crosses the finish line with a smile on her face. Prystayko finished 10:07:59 and was the 4th woman to finish.

Ivan O'Gorman of Ireland finished the Coeur D'Alene Ironman 9:33:59 and was the 15th athlete to cross the finish line. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Ivan O'Gorman of Ireland finished the Coeur D'Alene Ironman 9:33:59 and was the 15th athlete to cross the finish line.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

PHOTOS: Basketball fills the streets for Hoopfest

Posted By on Sat, Jun 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM

On Saturday, the streets of downtown Spokane turned into the street basketball headquarters of the world, with 42 city blocks taped over for the nearly 7,000 teams expected to play in the 25th Hoopfest. Players and spectators alike enjoyed the sun and cool breeze that swept through downtown all day.


Teams play under fair weather. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Teams play under fair weather.

Spokane streets were turned into a sea of basketball. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Spokane streets were turned into a sea of basketball.

Anthony Parker, center, gets blocked by Will White, right, and Mike Zorich. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Anthony Parker, center, gets blocked by Will White, right, and Mike Zorich.

15-year-old Grace Byrd, center, finds a hole to pass the ball to a teammate. Her team, the Hash Slinging Slashers, won both of their games on Saturday. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • 15-year-old Grace Byrd, center, finds a hole to pass the ball to a teammate. Her team, the Hash Slinging Slashers, won both of their games on Saturday.

The 6-to-12-year-old age group of Built In Athletics performs at center court. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • The 6-to-12-year-old age group of Built In Athletics performs at center court.

Alex Brey, left, Erik Dunkin, Jake Mulean and Chris Sharpless of Madagascar Unleashed pose for a photograph. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Alex Brey, left, Erik Dunkin, Jake Mulean and Chris Sharpless of Madagascar Unleashed pose for a photograph.

Players and spectators walk along Wall St. and Main Ave. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Players and spectators walk along Wall St. and Main Ave.

Spokane local Matt Miller, right, finds his way to the basket. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Spokane local Matt Miller, right, finds his way to the basket.

Players and spectators walk through River Park Square. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Players and spectators walk through River Park Square.

Forty-two city blocks were blocked off for the 25th anniversary of Hoopfest, including Howard Street. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Forty-two city blocks were blocked off for the 25th anniversary of Hoopfest, including Howard Street.

Spokane local Aj Avery, left, plays hard with friends from high school and pushes past Alex Steinmetz on Washington Street. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Spokane local Aj Avery, left, plays hard with friends from high school and pushes past Alex Steinmetz on Washington Street.

Players and spectators filled downtown streets. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Players and spectators filled downtown streets.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

PHOTOS: Opening Weekend With the Spokane Indians

Posted By on Mon, Jun 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

The Spokane Indians started this season off in a way they have not since 1997, extending their season-opening win streak to three games on Fathers Day against the Eugene Emeralds, 5-2, at Avista Stadium. Pitcher Derek Thompson struck out five batters during the game.

Families flocked to Avista Stadium for the 3:30 pm game attended by 4,334 people. All fathers in attendance stood and received a warm round of applause from their loved ones.

The Indians will hope to clench a fourth win on Monday against the Emeralds. The game will begin at 6:30 pm.

Seth Spivev (11), left, respects the American flag as the National Anthem is played at Avista Stadium. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Seth Spivev (11), left, respects the American flag as the National Anthem is played at Avista Stadium.

Steven Gardner, a section leader at Avista Stadium, performs a magic trick while waiting for the first pitch between the Spokane Indians and the Eugene Emeralds. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Steven Gardner, a section leader at Avista Stadium, performs a magic trick while waiting for the first pitch between the Spokane Indians and the Eugene Emeralds.

Sean and Rebecka Jenno play with their daughter Anabella while waiting for the first pitch. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Sean and Rebecka Jenno play with their daughter Anabella while waiting for the first pitch.

Derek Thompson (40) and Jose Jaimes, the pitching coach, gather with the infield players on the pitching mound. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Derek Thompson (40) and Jose Jaimes, the pitching coach, gather with the infield players on the pitching mound.

Two-year-old Ethan Bordoeux high fives Otto from the stands. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Two-year-old Ethan Bordoeux high fives Otto from the stands.

Derek Thompson (40) struck out five players for the Eugene Emeralds on Sunday. The Spokane Indians won 5-2 and are 3-0 for the season. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Derek Thompson (40) struck out five players for the Eugene Emeralds on Sunday. The Spokane Indians won 5-2 and are 3-0 for the season.

The Spokane Indians played for 4,334 fans at Avista Stadium against the Eugene Emeralds on Father's Day. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • The Spokane Indians played for 4,334 fans at Avista Stadium against the Eugene Emeralds on Father's Day.

Seth Spivey (11) eyes an incoming ball as the Spokane Indians play the Eugene Emeralds. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Seth Spivey (11) eyes an incoming ball as the Spokane Indians play the Eugene Emeralds.

Mike Mens, a Spokane Indians snack vendor, has been in this business for over 35 years. Mens says: "I find it funny when I run into people who knew me when they were kids and now they are buying beer from me." Mens sells snacks at the Spokane Arena, for the Mariners and the Seahawks and has been working for over two years at Avista Stadium. - MATT WEIGAND
  • Matt Weigand
  • Mike Mens, a Spokane Indians snack vendor, has been in this business for over 35 years. Mens says: "I find it funny when I run into people who knew me when they were kids and now they are buying beer from me." Mens sells snacks at the Spokane Arena, for the Mariners and the Seahawks and has been working for over two years at Avista Stadium.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Map of NBA fandom exposes teamless Northwest

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 3:55 PM

NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times

Are we tired of these professional sports fandom maps yet? Seeing the island of Seahawks fans here in the Northwest was fun given the way the Super Bowl turned out, and the MLB map confirmed Yankees-haters’ worst fears. They’re everywhere. But now, with the NBA playoffs, we’ve got a map of professional basketball fandom — and with the SuperSonics long gone, it’s clearly a sore spot for the Northwest.

Just look at that vast lavender swath of sorta-Lakers-fans, which seems to be the default for any part of the country without a team. When it comes to basketball allegiance, Seattle’s in the same aimless group as the Dakotas.

This is partially a limitation of the data being used, since it measures Facebook “Likes” of teams’ official pages. But a whole section (scroll to the bottom) is devoted to poor Seattle, which has not happily adopted the Trail Blazers.

Northwest fans seem to be holding out for the day when the perennial rumors about a new team come true, even after hopes have been dashed again and again. Speculation started up all over again when new NBA commissioner Adam Silver took over in February, but he quickly clarified that the league isn’t planning to add teams anytime soon. And, just today, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray told the Seattle Times that there’s no proposal or anything solid at this point. Keep on hoping, NBA fans.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

According to this map, you're probably a Mariners "fan"

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 1:57 PM

NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times

I say "fan" because a) being a Mariners fan is to subject oneself to the sort of heartache that can only result from the type of play Seattle's low-scoring, injury-prone team gives us and b) the study uses Facebook "likes" as its sole source of information. Believe it or not, there are people who don't like their favorite baseball team's Facebook page. Also, some fans don't even use Facebook.

Regardless, the map gives us an awesome county-by-county look into the baseball allegiances of our nation. As it turns out, a lot of people like the Yankees, which is disheartening. It's fine to like the Yankees if you're from the greater New York area or your parents or grandparents were Yankee fans, but for the 14 percent of Facebook users in Gallatin County, Montana, who make the Yankees that county's favorite club? No, not cool. I often liken this to watching Rocky IV and cheering for Ivan Drago.

NEW YORK TIMES
  • New York Times

Here in Spokane County, 43 percent of Facebook users prefer the Mariners. The Red Sox came in second, followed by, you guessed it, the Yankees. If you really zoom in, you can see how each zip code identifies.

Play around with that map. It's pretty fun. What you notice about this immediately is that the Mariners' Nation is remarkably large in geographical terms. But that's not that useful for the franchise because cows and evergreen trees don't watch baseball.

Also, the Mariners (no longer on a losing streak, BTW!) play the Yankees in New York for a three game series starting on Tuesday.


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Monday, March 31, 2014

WSU hires Ernie Kent as its new basketball coach

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Screen_Shot_2014-03-31_at_4.02.25_PM.png
Less that two weeks after the much-expected firing of Ken Bone, Washington State University has found its next head basketball coach.

And he's no stranger to the Pac-12. Ernie Kent, who coached at the University of Oregon from 1997 to 2010, during which he took the Ducks to two Elite Eights, was named the new head coach this afternoon.

“I am excited that Ernie will be the leader of our men’s basketball program. I have witnessed firsthand his many talents. He has proven that he can win championships in our conference. Together we saw tremendous success at his alma mater and I have every reason to expect to see the same at mine," said WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos in a statement.

Kent will be formally introduced in Pullman on Wednesday.

The hire comes just a few days after WSU's efforts to woo Boise State head coach (and former Gonzaga assistant) Leon Rice fell flat and Rice decided to stay at BSU, receiving a nice raise in the process.

Before coaching at Oregon, Kent — who played at Oregon, too — had a successful run at Saint Mary's. His all-time head coaching record is 235-174.

Since being let go by Oregon four years ago, Kent has been a commentator for the Pac-12 network.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

NCAAs in Spokane: North Dakota State's magic ends

Posted By on Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 5:27 PM

North Dakota State's fans couldn't bring home the win today in Spokane.
  • North Dakota State's fans couldn't bring home the win today in Spokane.
Whatever upset magic was in the Spokane Arena air on Thursday doesn't seem to be in as great of supply today.

North Dakota State, despite bringing in one of the nicest, loudest crowds to Spokane with them, couldn't overtake San Diego State, who held the NDSU to just 44  points in a game in which the Aztecs played some of the best defense that's been seen in this year's NCAA tournament. The final score of 63-44 is a little deceiving. NDSU was in the game for most of it, but their cold shooting saw them fall farther and farther behind as time ticked down.

The Aztecs were led by 30 points from Xavier Thames. If that Senior guard's name sounds familiar to you in the Inland Northwest, that's because he played for Washington State his freshman year before transferring south.

It's the end of a run for North Dakota State, who earned no shortage of fans in Spokane this weekend after their hard-fought win on Thursday over Oklahoma.

A WORD ABOUT MASCOTS
Poor kid...
  • Poor kid...
If you were at the game, you probably couldn't help but notice the bare-chested, headressed young man waving around a conch shell during every stoppage of play. This is San Diego State's mascot. Assumedly, this guy is supposed to be an Aztec. But walking around half naked in a part of the country that's yet to emerge from winter, the Aztec threw around a whole lot of weird at the Arena this weekend.

From his habit of yelling odd taunts at the North Dakota fans to blowing his conch while his own team's pep band was playing, this guy was far and away the most amusing mascot of the games in Spokane. This is why mascots where masks, FYI. That's him on the right.

NDSU, on the other hand, had a burly ol' Bison. He didn't do anything terribly interesting today, but that was only because it's likely that he was afraid SDSU's beefcakey warrior was fixing to slaughter him. For the record, the kid who portrays the SDSU Aztec is probably a perfectly nice kid who just happens to have a crappy job. Still, I really hope SDSU continues through the tournament so more people can get a look at this college basketball oddity.

NEXT UP
Harvard and Michigan State just took the floor for the nightcap here at the Arena. So far, the crowd appears to have a lot of Spartan green in it. Michigan State — picked by many to win the whole tournament, despite being a 4-seed — will have their hands full with Harvard's guards. Don't expect this one to become a blowout — unless MSU's Adriean Payne drops 41 points like he did on Thursday.
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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Welcome to the city of Spokane, North Dakota

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Screen_shot_2014-03-20_at_7.32.31_PM.png
In a crazy day of college basketball, one of the craziest games happened right here in Spokane.

North Dakota State, whose fans we told you about earlier today, just beat Oklahoma 80-75 in overtime. And it was crazy.

By the time Lawrence Alexander hit a three pointer with 10 seconds left to tie the game, everyone in the Spokane Arena not wearing Oklahoma gear was on their feat cheering for the Bison. It was easy to do, considering how many people made the trek westward on I-90 from Fargo. There was more than an entire section of the arena decked out in yellow. Apparently, the yellow blazer is an easy-to-come-by piece of clothing in North Dakota, as evidenced tonight.

It's going to be nice to have these rowdy, yellow-loving folks back here on Saturday. They might even earn some bandwagon fans in the meantime.

So far, two different 12 seeds have emerged out of Spokane, after Harvard knocked off Cincinnati earlier today.

And nationwide, this was the third overtime contest. Not a bad day of hoops. Hopefully you didn't waste your day doing something stupid, like working and got to see some of this.

Next up, New Mexico State takes on San Diego State.
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NCAA Spokane: Harvard pulls the upset, pep bands and road trips

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 3:10 PM

The first game of the four contests at the Spokane Arena is in the books and it was a good one.

Twelfth-seeded Harvard pulled off a shocker and downed fifth-seeded Cincinnati by a score of 61-57. Because people love an underdog, the Spokane crowd was behind the Crimson for pretty much the whole game as they maintained a slim lead over the Bearcats throughout the entire contest. In the end, it was Harvard's defense that won the game, holding Cincy to just 37 percent shooting.

The weird thing about this game was that it was an upset for sure, but Harvard looked like the better team for most of the contest. They didn't look small or unathletic. They straight outplayed Cincy.

On the court now, the Michigan State Spartans are showing why so many folks have them winning the whole thing in their brackets, even if Delaware is hanging in there. The Spartans have a 44-33 lead on Delaware at halftime.

And here are some other things that happened today...

The Harvard band looks like Harry Potter, sound like a dream.
  • The Harvard band looks like Harry Potter, sound like a dream.

THE HARVARD BAND
If you go to Harvard, you're probably a smart person. That's kind of their thing — being smart. And some of those smart people make up the Harvard pep band, which was on hand for this morning's contest.

They played some Top-40 hip hop in their set, with some added flair. They also looked downright awesome doing it. If you didn't know any better, you'd think they just came from pumping up the crowd at a Hogwart's quidditch match (yeah, I know my Harry Potter). Their blazers and ties are the sort of class you'd expect from Harvard, which also brought with them a sizable cheering section.

Whether it was the band or not, the Spokane Arena sided with Harvard today. When time ran out and their win was final, you would have thought it was Gonzaga on the court by the way folks roared.

Anthony Lee, left, and eight of his buddies drove all the way to Spokane from North Dakota.
  • Anthony Lee, left, and eight of his buddies drove all the way to Spokane from North Dakota.

SPOKANE OR BUST
It's been awesome getting travel stories from all the fans who've descended on Spokane for the tournament. The best I've found so far is from nine guys from Westhope, North Dakota (a tiny town near the Canadian border) who drove all the way to Spokane in one push — all in one rented passenger van.

Anthony Lee is one of the guys who charged some 16 hours straight to cheer on his North Dakota State Bison in a game against Oklahoma later today.

"The second we heard that they were playing in Spokane, we decided we'd make the drive," says Lee.

He and his buddies haven't had a chance to see much of the town. They rolled up to their hotel, checked in and then came to the Arena. Hopefully they'll get some sleep in there sometime.

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