Saturday, November 21, 2015

EWU's defense not enough to stop Portland State on Senior Night

Posted By on Sat, Nov 21, 2015 at 8:28 PM

Redshirt junior QB Jordan West exits Roos Field for the last time in 2015. West did not play on Saturday. - MAX CARTER
  • Max Carter
  • Redshirt junior QB Jordan West exits Roos Field for the last time in 2015. West did not play on Saturday.

It was a bad start to a bad day for the Eastern Washington Eagles, as their season most likely came to an end Saturday in Cheney with a 34-31 loss to the Portland State Vikings

The loss, the third consecutive for an EWU team that's struggled as of late, is quite likely to keep the Eagles out of the FCS tournament. That would mark the first time since 2011 that the Eags have stayed home the playoffs.  

Still licking their wounds from last weekend's devastating 57-16 loss to Montana, things didn't look good for Beau Baldwin's Eagles after redshirt freshman Simba Webster muffed the opening kick, immediately surrendering possession to the Vikings. That was certainly not the start EWU was looking for in a must-win game, and Portland State quickly found the end zone to go up 6-0 after a missed PAT.

While the Eagles have certainly had their struggles this season, one thing they have done well is fight to stay in games until the final play, and they did just that on Saturday night.
Redshirt junior WR Cooper Kupp elevates after catching a 78 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, his 56th career touchdown reception. - MAX CARTER
  • Max Carter
  • Redshirt junior WR Cooper Kupp elevates after catching a 78 yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, his 56th career touchdown reception.

Fueled by a 63-yard touchdown run from junior receiver Kendrick Bourne on a reverse pitch, and a 78-yard touchdown reception from FCS insta-legend and redshirt junior receiver Cooper Kupp, the Eagles took a 17-13 lead to the locker room at half time. In addition to the touchdown catch, Kupp hauled in eight receptions for 136 yards. Number 10 is now fourth all-time in the FCS with 310 receptions and sits only two touchdowns behind David Ball's FCS record of 58 career touchdown receptions.

Despite the absurd compilation of receptions, yards and touchdowns amassed by Kupp during his career at Eastern, he remains humble. Following the game, it wasn't the touchdowns or the 200 yard games that was on the Yakima native's mind, but the memories he has made with his senior teammates.

"On senior night, being able to have the opportunity to play with these guys and do what we did, it's been an honor," said Kupp.

Although Kupp was the offensive centerpiece for Baldwin's Eagles in 2015, the efforts of Kendrick Bourne cannot be overlooked. Dwarfed by Kupp's numbers, Bourne quietly had a fantastic season, catching 73 passes for 998 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Portland, Ore., product also ran the ball twice for 75 yards and a touchdown. 

Leading 20-17 early in the second half after a quick seven-play, 79 yard scoring drive, Portland State faced a third and 25 after a couple of untimely penalties, giving the Eagles — and their season — a window of hope. That hope was quickly crushed, as junior quarterback Alex Kuresa completed a pass down the middle of the field for a first down. One could basically feel the wind blow out of the sails of the Eagles' defense.

76.5% — That is the rate at which the Eagles' defense allowed Kuresa and the Portland State offense 
The future of Eastern's offense will likely land in the hands of one of the Eagles' two redshirt freshman QBs, Gage Gubrud (15) and Reilly Hennessey (12). - MAX CARTER
  • Max Carter
  • The future of Eastern's offense will likely land in the hands of one of the Eagles' two redshirt freshman QBs, Gage Gubrud (15) and Reilly Hennessey (12).
to convert on third down. In the four games leading up to Portland State, the EWU defense allowed opposing offenses to gain a first down on 52 percent of their third down attempts, a horrific number.

The only thing preventing this game from becoming a blowout was the turnovers surrendered by Portland State throughout the game. At the end of the second half, as the Vikings drove deep into Eastern territory, Kuresa's pass was deflected at the line and intercepted by redshirt freshman defensive back Josh Lewis, keeping at least three points off the board. Then, with the Eagles' chances of victory looking slim-to-none following a fantastic touchdown catch by Portland State junior receiver Darnell Adams, the EWU defense made one last stab at glory.

Finishing off a strong, yet injury-filled career at Eastern, redshirt senior defensive back Todd Raynes will now begin focusing on his goal of becoming a Navy SEAL. But not before getting in the end zone for the third time in his career. 

With 5:48 left in the game and his team down 34-24 on senior night, Raynes saw the whole thing as sophomore defensive lineman Jay-Tee Tiuli forced the football onto the red turf. Raynes closed on the exposed football, corralled it up and sprinted for the end zone with some blocking help from fellow defensive back, redshirt junior Zach Bruce. 

"It was indescribable. I mean, senior night against Portland State, in front of my whole family, in front of all these fans who have been here for me the last five years," shared Raynes. "In a close game like this, like I said, it was indescribable."

As the Eagles head in to the off-season, Baldwin plans to spend a lot of time focusing on the details that are vital in finishing off victories.

"We just have to be more on point, I think that's the biggest thing," said Baldwin. "That starts with me, and that starts with what we do in the off-season, and that starts with all the little things and discipline. And we are going to get there."

As Baldwin and his coaching staff begin preparing for the 2016 season, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered, the most significant of which is at the quarterback position. After establishing himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the FCS in the first half of 2015, redshirt junior quarterback Jordan West saw his playing time surrendered to a pair of redshirt freshman in the second half of the season, beginning with Eastern's 52-30 home loss to Northern Arizona. West did not play a single snap against Portland State, as redshirt freshman Reilly Hennessey threw all 27 of Eastern's passes.

After a disappointing season for a usually successful Eastern Washington football program, Beau Baldwin will have his work cut out for him to produce a championship caliber team in 2016. Ranked as high as fourth in the nation on November 7, the Eagles have to be wondering what exactly happened.

The good news is, with their season ending earlier than planned, they will have plenty of time to think.

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Why Gonzaga University School of Law offered buy-outs to its tenured professors

Posted By on Sat, Nov 21, 2015 at 1:00 PM


Gonzaga University School of Law is no exception to a dip in enrollment nationwide. 

From 2011 to 2014, GU's School of Law has seen its application pool deplete by 36 percent. Enrollment has dropped by 28 percent in that same time.

As a result, the administration has offered buy-outs to all of its tenured professors. So far, four of the 17 faculty members have taken the offer. Law school dean Jane Korn does not anticipate the need to cut any more positions. 

"Nationally, since 2011, applications to law schools have dropped around 40 percent," Korn says. "Every dean had to make a decision to lower standards or take a budget hit, and we decided to take the budget hit." 

Korn declined to give the law school's budget, but says the school is staffed for a student body of 525 students (175 per class). In 2010, enrollment for first-year students was 183, and that number dropped to 125 in 2014 (still an increase from the 108 first-years in 2013). 

Nationwide, enrollment among schools approved by the American Bar Association has decreased by nearly 7 percent from 2013 to 2014, and by 17.5 percent since 2010, when numbers reached a historic high, according the American Bar Association. Enrollment for 2014 is the lowest it's been since 1987, but the number of ABA-approved schools was much lower at the time. 

"We're doing this because when you look at the situation ahead, you want to make sure Gonzaga has a bright and successful future," Korn says. "We did this to avoid problems in the future." 
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Seattle high schools are starting later. Here's why Spokane schools aren't

Posted By on Sat, Nov 21, 2015 at 9:00 AM

This week, Seattle Public Schools made a major announcement: The Seattle district was moving the start times for high schools and most middle schools to 8:45 am. With the American Pediatric Society suggesting that high school students perform best when schools start at 8:30 or later, Seattle's school board championed the change as a step toward better academics. 

“This is a great win for our students,” Board Vice President Sharon Peaslee said in the Seattle Times. “We will unleash a torrent of public schools shifting to bell times that make sense for students.”

So what about in Spokane? After all, earlier this year, Hans Van Dongen, director of Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center, suggested Spokane high school students should get more time to sleep in.

At Spokane Public Schools, the 8 am start time for high school students is smack-dab in the middle of the nationwide average. When the Spokane district was analyzing adding an extra half-hour to its elementary school day recently, it also considered moving high school start times as well. Yet while middle school start times were ultimately moved to 9 am, high school times remained the same. Part of the issue is that bus schedules are a sort of complicated logic problem. Move one piece, and the other pieces have to move as well. A later start time for high schoolers would likely mean an earlier start time for elementary school students. 

"We looked at the sun rising and setting in the winter months," Chief Academic Officer Steven Gering says. If elementary school students were walking to the bus in the dark, and crossing busy streets, it could be a safety problem. 

Not only that, Gering says, while there is an academic benefit for an earlier start time, it's a small one.

An article in American Educator cites three studies. One, from Minneapolis, suggested later start times resulted in less depression, fewer absences and less reports of students sleeping in class, but had not discernible impact on student grades. The second, from North Carolina, found high schools that switched to earlier start times saw a 2 percent decline in standardized test scores. And a third, from the Air Force Academy, found that students that happened to have later start times earned higher grades. But the overall effect is about "d=.10" the article says, statistician-speak for a measurable, but small, effect. 

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Friday, November 20, 2015

THIS WEEKEND IN MUSIC: 6 shows helping you stay warm in the darkness

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 4:25 PM

Deep Sea Diver (pictured above)
Coming back to Spokane after closing out October’s Bartfest, Deep Sea Diver is here to get us excited all over again. The alt-rock outfit began as a solo project for Seattle-based Jessica Dobson, of the Shins and many others, and soon grew to a full band. Sisters and Water Monster open the show that starts at 8 pm. Cost is $12. You’ll get to dance a lot at this one.

Flannel Fest 2015
The warmth is all in the title, and this year once more, the Lantern Tap House requests people show up wearing flannel for its Flannel Fest — any kind of flannel will do. This year’s beer is provided by No-Li Brewery. Live music happens Friday (Silver Treason) and Saturday (Buffalo Jones, McDougall) night. There’s even a beard contest happening Saturday. Cost is $10. Check here for all details.

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The dream or the team: Should EWU's Cooper Kupp stay in school or spread his wings in the NFL?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM

On Saturday the 18th-ranked Eastern Washington Eagles (6-4, 5-2 Big Sky) will host the 11th-ranked Portland State Vikings (8-2, 5-2 Big Sky) with their playoff hopes on the line. After a devastating 57-16 blowout loss on the road to the now 17th-ranked Montana Grizzlies last weekend, the Eagles have fallen from fourth in the nation to their current ranking, while watching their hopes of a fourth consecutive Big Sky Conference title vaporize.

EWU Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin takes a timeout during the Homecoming game on November 7 against Northern Arizona. - RON SWARDS
  • Ron Swards
  • EWU Eagles head coach Beau Baldwin takes a timeout during the Homecoming game on November 7 against Northern Arizona.
That being said, despite the tough losses and nail-biting victories, the Beau Baldwin-led Eagles still have a shot at making the FCS playoffs. Consisting of 24 total teams, (11 automatic bids for conference champs and 13 at-large bids) the FCS has been using a playoff system for years. Since EWU lost to Northern Arizona at the beginning of November, the Eagles' statistical hopes of winning the conference outright have been eliminated. Translation: Saturday's game is a must win for Eastern if they hope to get one of the at-large selections.

It has been an up-and-down season for the Eagles, who won six in a row after starting the season 0-2 against Oregon and Northern Illinois. While the season has been unpredictable for Baldwin's team, one thing has been as consistent as ever—Cooper Kupp.

Since Kupp set the EWU record for single-season touchdown receptions as a redshirt freshman in 2013, everybody that knows anything about Eagles football has known that this kid is special. Whisperings of the receiver's potential in the NFL draft—even the second or third round—have been circulating around the football world ever since. But FCS prospects are almost never valued as much as FBS players, and FCS stars often go overlooked in the NFL draft. 

So, should Cooper Kupp be taken seriously as an NFL receiving prospect? His performance against Oregon should be enough to answer that question. 

Kupp, widely considered to be an excellent teammate, has a few things to consider in his decision. On top of the money, fame and potentially unbreakable records that the 22-year-old has to mull, his little brother, freshman linebacker Ketner Kupp, also plays football for Eastern. 

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PHOTOS: Whitworth University ravaged by storm; nobody hurt

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:45 PM

It's not every day that you walk past 80-foot pines laying felled on the ground. That is the scene as one wanders through the apocalyptic devastation that is currently Whitworth University's campus following the historic wind storm Tuesday night. It is certainly a somber sight considering what the majestic pines mean to the Whitworth community. 

The Whitworth campus has been a part of my life for three-plus years. The beautiful green grass, the noble yet understated buildings, the hundreds of trees, varying in species — these are all staples in the memories that I will hold of my days as a Pirate. There is still a large population of trees standing on campus, but estimates of 40-50 fallen trees—mostly the tall ponderosa pines—have surfaced in the days following the wind storm. 

As a senior at Whitworth University, it is surreal to see the campus that I know and love in complete destruction. I snapped some photos of my point of view as I arrived on campus Friday morning. 

My Day in Photographs:

The first sight as I arrived on campus Friday morning. - MAX CARTER
  • Max Carter
  • The first sight as I arrived on campus Friday morning.

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Comic genius Steven Wright is coming to The Bing; tickets are on sale today

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 12:06 PM

In the '80s, when comedy blew up from dirty little clubs into a booming industry thanks to HBO specials and MTV's Half-Hour Comedy Hour and the like, Steven Wright rode the wave to fame, using a lethargic stage presence and non-stop onslaught of one-liners like: 

"What's another word for thesaurus?"

"Everything is within walking distance if you have the time." 

"I stayed up late playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died." 

His 1985 album, I Have a Pony, is a classic, and led to a cult following that expanded into mainstream success. In 1989, he co-wrote and acted in an Oscar-winning short film, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, and his voice is heard on the radio as a DJ in Reservoir Dogs, and he had an utterly odd role in stoner comedy Half-Baked

The past few years he's gotten back into standup, and his tour is stopping in Spokane on Friday, Jan. 8 at The Bing. Tickets are on sale today via TicketsWest, and are $41.50. 

Here's a compilation of some of his best: 

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Here's what you need to know to start your day

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 at 9:07 AM

A downed tree in Browne's Addition - JAKE THOMAS
  • Jake Thomas
  • A downed tree in Browne's Addition

Windstorm update

Residents of Spokane and North Idaho are going into the third day without power as a result of Tuesday’s historic windstorm. The Spokesman-Review reports that 20,800 homes and businesses are still without power.

Here’s a map the city has compiled of all the downed trees.

Here’s a list from the city of where to get groceries, stay warm and receive medical care. The library is also offering outlets to allow people to charge their phones.

The Kootenai County Board of Commissioner has issued a declaration of disaster as a result of the windstorm. The declaration allows emergency management services to spend whatever is necessary to deal with the crisis.

The Red Cross has opened a warming shelter that welcomes pets.

Did the Department of Natural Resources react quickly enough to the summer wildfires?
Three people in Okanogan County are suing the state Department of Natural Resources alleging that the agency didn’t respond swiftly enough to the past summer’s historic wildfires. The plaintiffs in the case fault the department for what they call a sluggish response and for preventing them from fighting the fires themselves. 

Are you ready for genetically modified salmon?
Genetically engineered salmon has been approved for human consumption. The Food and Drug Administration has given the green light for a company called AquaBounty Technologies to sell Atlantic Salmon that’s been modified to grow faster. The approval comes over objections from consumer advocates who say the fish may escape into the wild and the decision came without adequate study. 

Refugee showdown in D.C. 
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation suspending President Barack Obama’s plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees and increase the scrutiny they face once the program resumes. The bill faces a less certain fate in the Senate. 

About that whole border wall thing
A new report from the Pew Research Center has found that fewer Mexicans are immigrating to the U.S. and are instead going home. The report suggests increased raids and fewer jobs may be reason why they are leaving. 

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Spokane Mayor David Condon to get a pay cut

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 3:26 PM

David Condon
  • David Condon

A citizen-led panel has concluded that the mayor will get a relatively small pay cut in the upcoming budget cycle.

Earlier this week, the five-member Salary Review Commission voted unanimously to decrease the mayor’s current pay rate from an annual $179,484 to $168,000 for the 2016 budget cycle. The decisions means a 6.4 percent pay cut for Mayor David Condon who earlier this month became the first Spokane mayor to be reelected in 40 years.

In the past, the city charter mandated that the mayor’s salary match that of the city’s highest-paid employee, who was most recently former Police Chief Frank Straub. Since last year, City Council and the mayor have clashed over the issue of salaries, particularly during the budget process. In August, voters passed an amendment (supported by Condon and the council) to the city charter giving the Salary Review Commission the task of setting the mayor’s salary.

The commission came to its conclusion after meeting for a total of eight times since August and conducting interviews with Condon and Heather Lowe, the city’s human resources director. Additionally, the commission reviewed the mayor’s duties, the salaries of city council members and the council president as well as how much is paid to mayors in other cities. The commission also took into account the condition of the regional economy and reviewed other salary data associated with the mayor’s position.
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The Time Traveler Lounge brings virtual reality to Spokane

Posted By on Thu, Nov 19, 2015 at 1:49 PM

NovaWake founders Lew Strachman and Anna Czoski in the Time Traveler Lounge - MAKAYLA WAMBOLDT
  • Makayla Wamboldt
  • NovaWake founders Lew Strachman and Anna Czoski in the Time Traveler Lounge

If you aren’t privy to the world of video games and emerging technology, you might not think about virtual reality very often. In fact, you might have never given it a thought. Anna Czoski and Lew Strachman of NovaWake Studios are giving Spokane, along with the rest of the world, a reason to consider the exciting new technology that is virtual reality.

“One misconception that we run into is that [virtual reality] is for gamers or only people who like video games. It’s a new medium just like TV, just like movies, or Broadway shows. You don't have to be a certain demographic to watch a movie,” says Czoski.

The founders of NovaWake Studios, a local Spokane startup, aim to transform the way we consume media through the endless possibilities of virtual reality. They have been operating with a small team out of the Turner Mansion building on East Illinois Ave. since April, developing new virtual reality experiences for the local community and a broader audience as well.

“We’re thinking local and global all at the same time,” expresses Czoski. “We’re making experiences for everybody across the globe and in Spokane. It’s exciting to be able to introduce this new medium into the city.”

Strachman adds, “There’s no question that this medium is a new way of viewing material, a new way of viewing content and it’s even difficult to understand what it is because there are ways of communicating that we’re just experimenting with right now.”

These experiences are made available to the Spokane community in what the team is calling the Time Traveler Lounge, which, according to Fandango, is the first virtual reality theater in the entire country. “They had to create a new category for us just so they could post us,” Strachman proudly exclaims. “Virtual reality doesn’t really exist yet in the sense that nobody can see it, except here at the lounge.”

Upon entering the lounge, viewers have the opportunity to purchase drinks and snacks before settling into their virtual reality experience, and can then choose their desired escape. Engage in a full body immersive experience, dodging missiles, shooting asteroids while floating in a cosmic-colored galaxy in the game Nova Asteroids. Or, sit back and explore radiant glimmers of light within a dark and mysterious cave to the sound of an original composition in Gravity Compass. Czoski and Strachman once again reiterate that these are experiences that anyone, not just gamers, can enjoy. “At Terrain 8 we showed Gravity Compass, and it was a more relaxing meditative experience, mostly passive but there are still interactive elements, and so those people maybe have never played a game before, but they loved it because it was an escape.”

A short escape from our own realities is an enticing offer of virtual reality, but this escape isn’t available without the creative talents and hard work of developers working on the other side. While Strachman has roots in the technology industry and Czoski in 3D graphics, both express a deep appreciation of art as being the heart and soul of what they do.

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