Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's changed since Gonzaga was last in the Elite Eight?

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 1:10 PM

RAJAH BOSE PHOTO
  • Rajah Bose photo

Yesterday evening, Gonzaga clawed their way to a hard-fought victory over UCLA to punch a ticket to the program's first Elite Eight since the program's Cinderella run in 1999.

The game, played inside what felt like the largest building on the planet, was marked by poor outside shooting by both teams, but gave us a Gonzaga team that knows how to grind out a win when they need to. Thanks to Przemek Karnowski's 18 points, the Zags knocked off UCLA. He also made TWO passes like this to lead the way to a 74-62 win.

Now, Gonzaga takes on Duke at 2:05 pm on Sunday. The game is on CBS.

It's been a long, long while since the Zags were in the Elite Eight and there are some naysayers out there who think that their inability to make it deep into March (and often getting stuck in the Round of 32) is a sign that Gonzaga is not a true national power. True, Mark Few's teams haven't always executed in the tournament, but the years since that first trip to the Elite Eight have seen the program, and the university, make some huge strides.

Here's just a few things that have happened since the then-Dan Monson-coached team beat Florida to get to the Elite Eight in March of 1999. 

- Gonzaga has won 438 games, averaging 27 wins a season.

- Undergraduate enrollment at Gonzaga was just 2,747 in 1999. Now it's 4,896.

- The Zags played in the tiny Martin Centre back then, now their campus is home to the 6,000-seat, $25 million McCarthey Athletic Center. 

- Back then, the team flew commercial and slept in often less-than-great motels. Now, the Zags travel by chartered jet.

- A total of 10 Gonzaga players have gone on to make an NBA roster (Richie Frahm, Dan Dickau, Ronny Turiaf, Adam Morrison, Jeremy Pargo, Austin Daye, Robert Sacre, Kelly Olynyk, Elias Harris,  David Stockton).

- Mark and Marcy Few's Coaches vs. Cancer events in Spokane raised about $7 million for cancer research and assistance for cancer patients.

- Gonzaga's acceptance rate dropped from about 85 percent in 1999 to about 61 percent in recent years asthe university became a more prominent regional school.

- The school has built about $56 million worth of new facilities (not including the McCarthey Center).

- Gonzaga has made 17-straight NCAA tournaments. The only teams with a longer streak are Duke and Kansas.

This article has been updated since it was originally posted. 

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Gonzaga's women take their turn in the Sweet 16 spotlight Saturday

Posted By on Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 7:21 AM


Five-on-five, the sixth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols are better than the unranked Gonzaga Bulldogs. That’s why the GU women are counting on about 9,000 of their friends to help them out Saturday afternoon when Tennessee and the Zags tangle at the Spokane Arena in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament.

“We’re so fortunate to have the support here,” Gonzaga forward Sunny Greinacher said at a Friday afternoon press conference in the arena.

“Our fans are amazing to us,” guard Keani Albanez added, “and to be able to play in front of those fans again, that just means to world to me.”

The Bulldogs, who had to hold their breath to find out if they would even be picked to play in the NCAA tournament, went 2-0 on the opening weekend of play to earn the right to play at least one more game in Spokane.

The Bulldogs are 26-7 and seeded 11th in the 16-team Spokane Region. Gonzaga has knocked off No. 6 seed George Washington (of Washington, D.C.) and No. 3 seed Oregon State in Corvallis. Now they face No. 2 seed Tennessee (29-5), the eight-time NCAA champion, on ESPN at 4 p.m.

ESPN also carries the 1:30 p.m. contest between fourth-ranked Maryland (32-2), the No. 1 seed, and 16th-ranked Duke (23-10), the No. 4 seed. Ticket sales for the Spokane games — including Monday’s Elite Eight contest, a Final Four qualifier — skyrocketed after Gonzaga pulled off two upsets in Corvallis.

The Bulldogs rank among the national leaders in women’s basketball attendance with a 5,366 average at the 6,000-seat McCarthey Athletic Center on GU's campus. Of course, Tennessee averages almost twice as many home fans (10,413), and the Lady Vols recently played in front of 14,390 mostly enemy fans at South Carolina.

“We haven’t even discussed the crowd, to be honest with you,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “Our schedule is pretty tough, and we have been in some pretty tough environments.”

Both teams have balanced scoring, but no overwhelming individuals. The Lady Vols lost leading scorer and rebounder Isabelle Harrison with a blown knee last month.
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Friday, March 27, 2015

Audition to be a Z Nation zombie Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 3:29 PM

ZAuditions_Cover1.jpg

Ever want to be on TV? Start practicing your best zombie moans and hobbling walks tonight, because locals are being cast as undead extras for the second season of Syfy's Z Nation series being filmed in and around Spokane

The last local audition session for the show is being held tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, from 9 am-4 pm in Spokane Valley, at Redeemer Lutheran Church. Interested actors must be at least 18 years old and live in Washington state. There's a $5 fee if you're not with a talent agent or don't have a Casting Networks Account.

Pre-registration for tomorrow's auditions is open online until 6 pm tonight, but those who miss this deadline can still show up — just be prepared to wait. 

While the next season of the Walking Dead lookalike is set to resume filming in Spokane later this year, the future of the Z Nation's impact on regional film industry professionals and actors in the coming years is a less clear. Right now, a bill in the state legislature (SB 6027) is seeking to boost Washington's film incentive program, which industry advocates argue is necessary for projects like Z Nation and others to continue being made in the Evergreen State.

Washington's film incentive program essentially offers cash rebates for qualifying productions made within state borders. Funded by a portion of the state's business and occupation tax liabilities (corporations/individuals can choose to contribute to this fund, getting a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $1 million), qualifying productions can apply to get 30 percent of what they spent here back from the state.

That fund, however, is currently capped at $3.5 million, making Washington's the fifth smallest incentive program in the nation — well behind many other states with enormous incentive pools for filmmakers. It's why so many movies are made in Vancouver, British Columbia (which has no cap on its incentives), and other states like Alabama, Louisiana and New Mexico. As of now, Washington Filmworks, which oversees the program, has already received more requests than it can award to qualifying projects seeking to get some money back in return for the economic impact of locating work in-state.

The bill being considered (no vote on it has been set yet; the current session ends on April 26) would gradually boost Washington's program to an annual cap of $10 million by the year 2019. This increase would result in a $3.5 million loss in state revenue during the current budget biennium and a $17 million loss during the 2017-19 biennium. These numbers are the biggest factors working against the request for an increased program cap, as state lawmakers work to balance the state budget while maintaining basic programs.

Film industry supporters from around the state testified on Wednesday during a Senate Ways & Means hearing (captured in the video below), including several Spokane residents whose livelihoods rely on their home state remaining competitive with its neighbors, like Oregon. Our southern neighbor caps its program at $10 million a year, allowing it to sustain several ongoing projects for films and television series. 

Earlier this month, a group of Spokane film workers also traveled to Olympia for a film lobbying day, taking the capitol by storm with a horde of Z Nation zombies. 


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THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: Local CD and video releases, CdA Blues Fest and Sir Richard Bishop

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 1:41 PM


FRIDAY

Local bands are on a hot streak this month, dropping records left and right, and this weekend we have two new ones. First up on Friday is Coeur d’Alene act the Static Tones, releasing their fuzzed-out, classic rock ’n’ roll disc Brotherhood of Strangers. The trio’s music is gritty and soulful, translating as well in a dive bar as it does on the open road with the windows down. The show kicks off at the Big Dipper with Blackwater Prophet, Stucco and Sorority opening at 7:30 pm. Cost is $5. 

Countrrrrryy fans listen up: homeboy-turned-Nashville recording artist Jeremy McComb comes through Post Falls’ Nashville North (which he co-owns) tonight with a posse of all-star players. Show up before 8 pm for free cover and dance lessons. The show starts at 9 pm. 

You pronounce the band called !!! as Chk Chk Chk — obviously. Tonight, the Brooklyn-based electronic indie band starts its weird dance party at 8 pm at the Bartlett, with Bandit Train opening. Cost is $15 at the door.

The Coeur d’Alene Blues Festival kicks off tonight at the Coeur d’Alene Resort with an intimate Blues Cruise on the lake. Then tomorrow, bluesy tunes continue with help from acts like Selwyn Birchwood and Lisa Mann. Check out the website here for all times, lineups and locations.

SATURDAY
Boat Race Weekend, on the other hand, hitting the stage Saturday night, take their emotional style of pop-punk very seriously on their first record, The Talisman. A Gonzaga three-piece — two members are seniors and the other graduated last year — the group is young, but they’ve got more than enough loud, pent-up angst to express in their songs, which translates to one hell of a ruckus onstage.Their Big Dipper performance starts at 7 pm and is $7. The Bight, the Camorra and Head Hiatus open the show. 

Marshall McLean Band, recently voted by the people as the best original band in Spokane, has an official music video release show (see below) up in Sandpoint Saturday night at the beautiful Panida Theater. Anna Tivel opens the show. Tickets are $15. Expect to be filled with a need to dance when you show up. 

Sir Richard Bishop, whose show was moved from the Palomino Club to South Perry Yoga, brings his storied mix of American Primitivism with Eastern mysticism to Spokane. Learn about his recent affair with an old six-string guitar in this week’s music story. The show starts at 7 pm and is $10.

Also worthy of your time on Saturday are rockin’ shows at the Hop! and Underground 15.

SUNDAY
Don't expect Joe Pug to sing as many hymns as he once did. Instead, show up Sunday at the Bartlett to hear the music from his new record that almost didn’t happen. The concert starts at 8 pm and is $14 the day of.  


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King Arthur sings, filmmakers slam, and getting crafty with some wine

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 11:01 AM


I know a lot of you will be hunkering down to watch the Gonzaga Sweet 16 game this afternoon, but that's only a couple of hours of your day. You'll want to peruse our event listings and Staff Picks for tips on how to fill the rest of your fine Friday. 

Here are a few highlights I saw for Friday, March 27: 

THEATER
| The oh-so-familiar tale of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and the whole Knights of the Round Table crew gets the musical treatment in Camelot, and the touring production is in town through Sunday. 

FILM | Spokane filmmakers, heads up! Tonight is the kickoff of this year's 50-hour Slam, in which creative types write, film and edit a short movie in just 50 hours. The public gets to see the winning films in May, but interested parties will want to get to the KSPS studio to get involved. 

CRAFTS | You can get a little crafty this eve in Spokane Valley by taking a Wine Glass Painting Class
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Sweet 16: Gonzaga vs. UCLA, round two

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 10:07 AM

RAJAH BOSE PHOTO
  • Rajah Bose photo

Because college basketball seasons are long enough to span two calendar years, let us remind you that Gonzaga has already played UCLA this season. And they already beat them, too.

Yeah, it seems forever ago when a Gonzaga team, one week after a soul-crushing, almost-had-it loss to Arizona, strutted onto the floor of Pauley Pavillion, one of the most hallowed halls in all of college hoops, and soundly crushed UCLA. A quick refresher: the Zags were led by 24 points from Kyle Wiltjer and another 20 from Byron Wesley to win 87-74. Gonzaga shot an incredible 58 percent from the field and hit 9 of 19 from three to come out of Los Angeles with the convincing win.

So, after that, UCLA played pretty sloppy, going on to lose five in a row, including a game against Kentucky where they embarrassed everybody to ever wear the baby blue by scoring just seven points in the first half. Seriously. But the Bruins came back, making a respectable run through the Pac-12 schedule and finishing strong enough to get a questionable bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Questionable or not, they made it into the field and proved doubters, like myself, incorrect by making the Sweet 16 with wins against SMU and UAB.

Here are some things to keep in mind going into today's game (4:15 tip off, CBS).

THE BIG MEN
Gonzaga is known for its big men, namely Przemek Karnowski and Domantas Sabonis, both of whom can play with just about anybody in the country. But they will get a test from probably one-and-done freshman center Kevon Looney, a man who appears to have been born to rebound the basketball. After Looney, though, the Bruins will struggle to match up against the Zags' bigs. But after a farm boy strapped on a jersey and muscled in 22 points for North Dakota State against Gonzaga in the first round, so who knows.

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MB: WSU brings billions to WA, Reid to retire, McMorris-Rodgers gets trolled

Posted By on Fri, Mar 27, 2015 at 9:53 AM


HERE


As two competing bills on the matter sit in the Legislature, the Washington Fire Chiefs association wants BNSF to submit directly to them information about oil trains moving across the state. (Inlander) Meanwhile, Spokane leaders have been granted seats at upcoming hearings regarding a proposed crude oil port in Vancouver, Washington. (Spokesman-Review)

Yesterday, the Idaho House of Representatives voted to approve legislation that would repeal a law legalizing instant horse racing machines. (Inlander)

WSU brought in big dollars to Washington state in the last year, to the tune of $3.4 billion. (Spokesman-Review)

THERE

Washington state Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers asked people to tell her horror stories about Obamacare as the ACA turns five, but instead, hundreds of people now benefiting from health care coverage trolled her with success stories. (Vox)

The co-pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525, who is believed to have intentionally crashed the plane, apparently tried to hide ongoing medical issues from his employer. (Washington Post)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won't run for another term. (Huffington Post).
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Idaho Leg votes to kills historic horse race machines, possibly kills horse racing

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 4:38 PM

Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz testifies in a March 11 hearing on "historical horse racing."
  • Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz testifies in a March 11 hearing on "historical horse racing."

Today, the Idaho House of Representatives voted 49-21 to send a bill to the governor repealing the law that legalized "historical horse race" machines. 

By the end, Greyhound Park Event Center manager Doug Okuniewicz, after arguing that Idaho's "historical horse racing" machines were significantly different than casino slot machines, shifted tactics. 

Okuniewicz began arguing that the machines were so similar to the "tribal gaming" slot-style bingo machines on the Idaho's American Indian reservations, as for the state's ban on imitation slot-machines to apply to both types. 

“We’re either both OK or we’re both wrong,” he said. “The spinning reels have absolutely nothing to do with the game outcome. They’re simply there for entertainment.... The way our games work is in some respects, almost identical."

Tribal gaming, run by sovereign nations, are regulated through an entirely different set of regulations, such as the Indian Gaming Act and the state gaming contracts with the state, laid out in Idaho code. 

But ultimately, the opposition to historical horse racing was pretty overwhelming. Many legislators felt duped when they approved them in 2013. "What was represented to them then was not clearly what was represented now," Rep. Melissa Wintrow said in the hearing. 

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On Bergdahl, Rep. Raúl Labrador straddles a wide partisan divide

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 1:09 PM

Bowe Bergdahl, formerly of Hailey, Idaho, has become a lightning rod for conservative critics. But not for Rep. Raúl Labrador.
  • Bowe Bergdahl, formerly of Hailey, Idaho, has become a lightning rod for conservative critics. But not for Rep. Raúl Labrador.

Typically, the return of an American soldier from enemy captivity doesn't become a bitter partisan issue. 

But the tale of Bowe Bergdahl, former Hailey, Idaho, resident, is not a typical one. From the moment the terms of his release came out – five Taliban prisoners for one American soldier – the tone shifted dramatically. Complaints that Congress hadn’t been involved in the decision, criticism from fellow soldiers, and the recent decision by the Army to charge him with desertion and misbehavior in front of the enemy has created a serious divide.

Liberals are arguing that America’s commitment to its troops should be absolute, that it doesn’t matter how he fell into the hands of the enemy, we have a duty to bring them home. They point to the agony of his grieving family. And they show his brutal, stream-of-consciousness letter Bergdahl wrote detailing his captivity. He was kept in a cage, shackled, and in the dark, his hands oozing pus, and starved.

“During the five years, I unsuccessfully tried to escape approximately 12 times,” Bergdahl writes. To liberals, he’s already suffered enough.

But conservatives are furious. They feel Bergdahl betrayed his unit by deserting it, and blame him for the deaths of six of his fellow soldiers. Despite comments by U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (a former Marine) and a military defense attorney suggesting that his captivity could count as “time served,” some conservatives pilloried even raising the question as biased idiocy.

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Washington fire chiefs to railroad company: We want more info on oil trains

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 11:15 AM


As we wrote in last week’s paper, the Washington State Legislature is currently considering two competing bills meant to address the safety concerns presented by the influx of oil trains passing through Washington in recent years. Spokane, which is the only urban center these trains pass through on their way to western Washington, faces particular risks if one these trains were to derail and explode.

Each bill would require varying degrees of transparency for rail companies that transport oil through the state so that first-responders would be better prepared in the event of a disaster.

The Washington Fire Chiefs, an association representing fire-fighting agencies across the state, isn’t waiting for a bill to become law and has directly asked BNSF, a rail company that moves large amounts of oil across the state every day, for more information.

The letter (obtained by OilCheckNW and shared with the Inlander) signed by Wayne Senter, the executive director of WFC, to BNSF cites several recent derailments of oil trains, including an infamous derailment in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Canada, that killed 47 people. The letter also mentions how in July of last year, three tanker cars derailed at a rail yard under Seattle’s Magnolia Bridge, which could have been disastrous.

“ The WFC is well aware that even if an infinite amount of foam was available, we can only provide defensive firefighting,” reads the letter, which goes on to state:
Normally we would be able to assess the hazard through right-to-know and other public documents; however, your industry has sought and gained exemptions to these sunshine laws. This exemption does not mean that your industry is exempt from taking reasonable steps to ensure catastrophic incidents do not occur. To that end, we are specifically requesting access to your information on what the US DOT calls High Hazard Flammable Trains operating most frequently with “unit trains” averaging 100 rail cars each, as well as on “manifest trains” with 10-20 cars of these cargoes that travel through the state of Washington. 
In the letter, WCF requests from BNSF the following:

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