Villopoto wins in Thailand

In case you missed it — and I did — Ryan Villopoto has already secured his first victory in the World Motocross Grand Prix Championships.

After placing seventh in the season opener at Dubai, where some critics wondered if the American was really all that, the rider from Poulsbo bounced back to win in Thailand.

Villopoto won four-time Supercross championships, stamping himself as one of the all-time greats, but decided to skip the 2015 season and head to Europe for the MXGP World Championships. It’s the first time in the modern era of motocross that a U.S. rider has competed in the full series. For Villopoto it’s a one-shot deal. He says he’s retiring at the end of the year.

The next race is March 29 in Argentina.

Chandler, Edwards, Owens, Sumners, Walker, Pocock elected to state HOF

The Washington State Hall of Fame announced its class of six inductees on Thursday morning. Here’s the press release:

Chris Chandler and James Edwards, who starred at the University of Washington then went on to long pro careers in football and basketball respectively, are among six individuals voted this year into the State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame.

The others are figure skater Rosalynn Sumners, women’s basketball phenom Joyce Walker, the late Post-Intelligencer sports columnist John Owen and legendary racing shell builder George Pocock.

 “This is a wonderful class for our hall of fame that started in 1960,” said executive director Marc Blau. “It was selected by a panel of experts, many of them sportswriters and broadcasters, from throughout the state.”

Chandler, who earned letters in five sports at Everett High School, was MVP of two bowl games as a Husky. In his 17-year NFL career he passed for 170 touchdowns and more than 28,000 yards. He led Atlanta into the 1999 Super Bowl after a 14-2 regular season record.

Edwards, a 7-footer from Roosevelt High School, played 19 seasons in the NBA following an All-American career as a Husky. He won two NBA championship rings with Detroit (1989, 1990) and one with Chicago (1996). He scored 14,862 points and collected 6,004 rebounds in his pro career.

Walker is considered one of the best female basketball players in state history. She led Garfield to a state championship and in the 1980 tournament opener outscored the entire Renton team with 40 points in a 68-35 victory. She starred at Louisiana State where she averaged 25 points, played in Europe and later was one of the first women to play with the Harlem Globetrotters. She is the girl’s basketball coach at Garfield and formerly assisted at Kingston.

Sumners, who grew up in Edmonds, was world figure skating junior champion in 1980, U.S. champion in 1982, 1983 and 1984 and a silver medalist in the 1984 Winter Olympics.

  Owen was at the P-I for 36 years until 1993 and seven times was named state sportswriter of the year. He was sports editor as well as columnist for much of that span and also wrote a popular food column “Intermediate Eater” that he continued to write after retiring. Owen died last year.

Pocock was a native of England and a master boatbuilder who was invited by UW rowing coach Hiram Conibear to establish his shell-building business on campus. He mentored UW coaches and athletes and became famous internationally as a boat-builder and rowing authority. His expertise and contributions to the 1936 UW crew that won the Olympic Gold Medal are described in the best-selling book “The Boys in the Boat.”

 The State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame was started by sportscaster Clay Huntington of Tacoma. The addition of this year’s class will bring the total of inductees to 195. An induction ceremony will be held at Safeco Field prior to a Seattle Mariners game at a date to be determined. Plaques honoring hall of fame members are on display in the Tacoma Dome at the Shanaman Sports Museum.

For additional information visit www.washingtonsportshof.com.

  

Collegians: Flora, Seattle U come up a victory short

Seattle University’s Jarell Flora,  senior guard from Bremerton, scored just five points in an 82-61 loss to New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference championship game at Las Vegas on Saturday.

A victory would have advanced Seattle U (16-15) to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1969.

Flora is Seattle’s second-leading scorer (14.0 points) and third-leading rebounder (4.6).  He was a second-team All-WAC selection. The 6-foot-3 guard finished with 165 3-pointers in his career, fifth all-time in school history.

There’s a chance Flora hasn’t played his last college game as the Redhawks could be a candidate for the College Basketball Invitational, or possibly the NIT.

Jalen Carpenter (jr., Bremerton) was Weber State’s leading scorer (11.8 points) and rebounder (7.9). Weber State finished 11-8, 7-8 in the Big Sky Conference.

Rhyley Callaghan (fr., South Kitsap) and Deonte Dixon (fr., Bremerton) helped Peninsula to a third-place finish at the NWAC Championships. Callaghan averaged 17.5 points, 15th in the NWAC, and was the conference’s fifth-leading shooter from the free-throw line (87.2 percent).  Dixon averaged 16.4 points and 4.1 rebounds.

Western Oregon’s Dana Goularte (sr., South Kitsap) was a second-team All-Great Northwest Conference pick. For the second straight year, she ranked among the conference’s top five in scoring (15.6 points, fifth) and rebounding (8.6, second). Goularte led the Wolves (8-18) in 13 statistical categories this season.

Krista Stabler (jr., Central Kitsap) was an honorable mention All-GNAC pick for St. Martin’s.  She led the Saints (11-16) in scoring (12.1 ppg) and assists (48).

Sadee Jones (sr., North Mason) was an All-Cascade Collegiate Conference first-team pick for Evergreen State. Jones averaged 15.6 points and a conference-leading 8.6 rebounds a game despite her 5-foot-6 stature. Jones had 14 double-doubles. Irene Moore (sr., King’s West/Olympic College) was a reserve guard for Geoducks (16-10). Brittany Gray (sr., Bainbridge/Skagit Valley) averaged 15.9 points and 9.3 rebounds in 12 games before using up her eligibility.

Ashli Payne (so., Olympic HS) and Sawyer Kluge (fr., Bremerton) helped Umpqua to a 27-5 record and third-place finish at the NWAC Championships. Payne, who is playing in the NWAC All-Star games on Sunday at Clackamas, Ore., averaged 17.8 points (5th in the NWAC), 10 rebounds (4th), 4.3 assists (8th) and 2.1 steals (18th). Kluge averaged 14.7 points (18th) and was seventh in the conference in free-throw shooting (81.6 percent).

BASEBALL

Shane Matheny (fr., Olympic HS) is the starting third baseman at Washington State. Matheny was hitting .229 with a home run and seven RBI going into Saturday’s Pac-12 game at USC. He had started all 17 games for the Cougars (11-6).

Central Washington first baseman Kasey Bielec (sr., North Mason) was 9-for-15 in a four-game series against Northwest Nazarene and it hitting .397 with four HRs and 16 RBI for the Wildcats (12-10). Infielder Tanner Romo (jr., South Kitsap/Everett CC) is a backup infielder at CWU.

Catcher Curtis Windung (jr., North Kitsap) is hitting .243 with a home run for Pacific Lutheran (14-6).

Tyler Ludlow (fr., South Kitsap), a first baseman, is hitting .292 (7-24) with a double for Jamestown (N.D.). Nick Torres (fr., Bremerton) is also playing for the Jimmies (8-4). Torres has a save and 6.23 ERA in 4.1 innings after appearing in three games in relief.

Arory Milyard (so., North Kitsap) is a relief pitcher at Whitworth (11-8). He’s got a 6.97 ERA after six appearances and 10.1 innings (10 strikeouts, 4 walks, 13 hits, 8 earned runs).

SOFTBALL

Alissa Buss (so., South Kitsap) and Erin Kinney (so., Bainbridge) are holding down the left side of the infield for Linfield (11-5). Buss, playing shortstop, is hitting .441 (26-for-59) with a double and triple. Kinney, a third baseman, is hitting .306 (15-49) with a home run and 9 RBI.

Emma Keller (fr., North Kitsap) was hitting .353 (12-34 with 2 doubles) for the NAIA Jamestown (N.D.) Jimmies (10-8). She has made two pitching appearance and had a 14.8 ERA for 5.2 innings of work. Kalea Chapman (jr., Juneau, Alaska/Olympic College) is a backup utility player for the Jimmies.

GOLF

UNLV’s Carl Jonson (sr., Bainbridge) tied for 43rd at the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters, which was played at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas this week. UNLV finished 10th in a field that included 10 of the top 25 teams in the country. Jonson ranks No. 168 in  the World Amateur Golf Rankings, down 12 spots from the previous week.

UCLA’s Erynne Lee (sr., Central Kitsap) is coming off a victory in the Bruin Wave Classic and is off until the Liz Murphy Collegiate Championship, which begins March 27 in Athens, Ga. Lee’s victory boosted her from No. 55 to No. 29 in the women’s World Amateur Golf Rankings.

 

 

The argument: multi-sports athletes vs. one-sports athletes

This isn’t anything knew, but it’s a good reminder about a topic that seems to pop up all of the time.

The author of the blog, Mark Rerick, is from Grand Forks, N.D. He’s a coach, an athletic director, and a dad, and his post on his blog about multi-sports athletes vs. one-sport athletes received more than a million views.

Rerick talked with the Grand Forks Herald after his post went viral.

 

 

Golf notes: Seattle Golf Show, Snorting Elk, Free golf, U.S. Open practice round tickets & more

The golf show, the golf show

Sunday is the final day of the Seattle Golf & Travel Show at CenturyLink Field Event Center.

Cost is $14 for adults with youth 17 and under free.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Go to this website for more information.

Snorting Elk

The annual Snorting Elk tournament, held at Kitsap Golf & Country Club, drew a full field with 20 more golfers with handicaps of 0 or less. The field is probably the best for any tournament held on this side of the water.

Congratulations to Randy Grosz, a former Kitsap member now living in Portland, for putting it all together every year. Somebody from Oregon won with a 4-under 67. We’ll try to get complete results.

Free golf

In case you missed it, you can play Port Orchard’s Village Greens, an executive course run by Kitsap County Parks & Rec, for free on Monday, March 9 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 871-1222 for information. PGA Club pro Ron Weir is also staging free clinics (12:30-1:30 p.m. full swing; 1:30-2:30 p.m. short game).

Practice round tickets available for U.S. Open

Tickets for the four rounds at the 2015 U.S. Open, being held at Chambers Bay in University Point on June 18-21, have been sold out, but you can still buy tickets for the practice rounds.

For $100, you can buy a gallery ticket for all three practice days (June 15-17). They are free for active-duty military and children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult ticket holder.

For more information to to purchase tickets online, visit usga.org/tickets.

U.S. Open qualifiers

The Home Course in Dupont (May 11) and Wine Valley Golf Club in Walla Walla (May 12) will be the only state courses hosting 18-hole local qualifiers for the  U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. They are two of 111 local qualifying sites across the country.

Pros and amateurs with a handicap 1.4 or lower are eligible. The top scorers at the local  qualifiers advance to play in sectional qualifiers, which take place June 8 in a 36-hole format at 10 courses around the country. Japan and England will host international sectional qualifiers on May 25.

Collegians

UCLA’s Erynne Lee, a senior from Central Kitsap, tied for third individually and helped the No. 5-ranked Bruins to a second-place finish at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate in Baton Rouge, La. Lee finished at 1-under 215, moving up to No. 48 in the Golfstate collegiate rankings and dropping her scoring average to 72.9 in 18 rounds. The Bruins and Pepperdine co-host the Wave Classic March 2-3 at the El Callabero Country Club in Tarzana, Calif. No. 3 Washington is the highest-ranked team in the field.

UNLV’s Carl Jonson, senior from Bainbridge, shot 75-75-76 and tied for 49th at the John Bruns Collegiate in Hawaii. Jonson’s scoring average is 73.6 after 18 rounds. His best finish this season has been a sixth. The Rebels host the Southern Highlands Collegiate Masters on March 9-11 at Southern Highlands Golf Club in Las Vegas.

Troy Kelly update

Central Kitsap grad and former UW golfer Troy Kelly has missed the cut in all four PGA Tour tournaments he’s entered this year. Still on a major injury exemption, Kelly has six tournaments left to earn $563,111 or 353 FedEx Cup points to maintain full-time playing privileges.

And finally, some linkage

ICYMI, Kitsap Golf & Country Club is opening its doors to the public beginning April 1. I wrote about it earlier this week.

Tiger Woods still No. 1 when it comes to earning money off the course, but the gap is closing, according to this Golf Digest story.

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune wonders if Tiger Woods will be ready for the U.S. Open.

Jimmy Walker leads the PGA Tour money list with $2,281,345 in winnings. Ryan Moore of Puyallup is currently No. 10 and former Husky great Nick Taylor, a Canadian, is No. 26. Here’s some others: No. 42 Andres Gonzales (Olympia/UNLV), No. 61 Alex Prugh (Spokane/UW), No. 75 Spencer Levin (No. 75, grandfather was a Bremerton High grad/New Mexico); No. 94 Michel Putman (Tacoma/Pepperdine), No. 122 Andrew Putman (Tacoma/Pepperdine), No. 184 Kyle Stanley (Gig Harbor/Clemson).

 

 

Links: The selling of ‘Beast Mode’ & Shaq & Tark & More

The debates rage about the future of Marshawn Lynch, but there’s no question about his growing brand. The Seahawks’ running back is cashing in off the field.

Lynnley Browning of Newsweek writes about how you market an athlete who doesn’t talk to the media:

The less Lynch speaks to the media, the more his popularity grows. He doesn’t even want to talk about his company right now. Mitch Grossbach, president of M3/Relativity, which oversees the development of BeastModeonline, says Lynch couldn’t speak to Newsweek for this story because he was “in no mood to talk right now. He’s emotionally debilitated by [the loss]—he needs a week to recover.”

In a world of professional athletes happily shilling everything from Cialis to car insurance, Lynch’s verbal striptease is a test case for how to grow an emerging rock-star athlete into a brand worth millions. “He’s maintaining the irony of not talking, and that has made him more marketable and more endearing with fans and consumers,” says Bob Dorfman, a sports marketing expert who is executive creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco. “It’s the antithesis of how you would go about becoming a marketable star, and it’s working.”

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Washington Huskies star Shaq Thompson figures to a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft. Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s MMQB recently caught up with Thompson:

The NFL is still trying to figure out what position best fits Thompson, who wasn’t a good fit for baseball. He went 0- for-39 with 37 strikeouts during his pro baseball career:

King writes:

… In his freshman year at Washington, coaches created a hybrid safety/linebacker position just to get him on the field. Over the next three years, he played five other positions. His mere presence was a weapon. “We put him at personal protector, not only because he’d be good at it,” says Huskies coach Chris Petersen, “but also, teams would be so worried about us snapping the ball to Shaq that they backed off on trying to block our punts.”

That’s the paradox of Shaq Thompson: Nobody knows exactly what he is. They just know they want him.

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Alexander Wolff of Sports Illustrated  writes about Jerry Tarkanian, the former UNLV basketball coach who died Wednesday. He was 84.

The headline says it all: Always A Rebel: Jerry Tarkanian was college sports’ original honest man

Wolff writes:

Tarkanian spent most of his professional life as a poster boy for disreputability. Today, with the NCAA itself in broad disrepute, it’s almost as if he lived just long enough for public opinion to catch up to him. There would be much worse things than if, in death, Tarkanian were to earn something like vindication.

********************

You want more offense in baseball? Raise the strike zone. MLB is taking a look at doing just that. Read this story by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports.

Passan writes:

At baseball’s GM meetings last November, the room of executives teemed with discussions about how to jolt offense in a game lacking it. Radical ideas were proposed, from putting rules into place on defensive shifts to the possibility of forcing relief pitchers to throw to more than one batter. Generating the most agreement was the problem of the low strike.

********************

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports writes about college football’s most intriguing head coach. Tony Sanchez guided Bishop Gorman HS to an 85-5 record in eight seasons.

Wetzel writes:

Sanchez is a rare breed; the college football coach hired directly from the high school ranks. He’s just the fifth in the modern era – Jim Bradley to New Mexico State in 1973, Bob Commings to Iowa in 1974, Gerry Faust to Notre Dame in 1981 and Todd Dodge to North Texas in 2007.

None lasted very long.

UNLV is arguably the worst program in the country, posting a pathetic eight two-win seasons across the last 11 years. It’s been to four bowl games … ever. The glory days are that time they finished tied for third in their division of the Mountain West.

*****************

Charles Barkley doesn’t like analytics, but analytics like him. Neal Paine of FiveThirtyEight.com compared Barkley to power forward greats Karl Malone and Tim Duncan.

The numbers breakdown came after Barkley ripped Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey for his over-reliance on analytics. Morey in turn ripped Barkley on Twitter:

Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment

Here’s Sir Charles’ words that sparked the debate:

“I’ve always believed analytics was crap. … I never mention the Rockets as legitimate contenders ’cause they’re not. And, listen, I wouldn’t know Daryl Morey if he walked into this room right now.”

“The NBA is about talent,” Barkley added. “All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common — they’re a bunch of guys who have never played the game, and they never got the girls in high school, and they just want to get in the game.”

Haas going into Salukis Hall of Fame this weekend

Former Olympic High standout Lauren (Haas) Peters, daughter of Patti and Dan Haas, is being inducted into the Southern Illinois Hall of Fame this weekend.

Haas played softball for the Salukis from 2005-08 and left the Missouri Valley Conference school as one of the top hitters in school history. Haas was the MVP of the conference her senior year after hitting .388 wit 39 RBI. She hit .320 for her career with 24 home runs (fourth all-time at SIU).

Haas was discovered by coaches while recruiting at the annual Colorado Fireworks tournament.

Her former head coach, Kerri Blaylock, said this about the 2008 Olympic High grad:  “You look back in the record books, and she kind of did it quietly. You look back now and you go ‘Wow, she’s in all these categories,’ but I don’t think this was this flashy player. She just did it very quietly. I knew she had a Hall of Fame career, and I’m really pleased that she’s able to make it in. She was one of the grittiest, toughest kids that I ever coached.”

Haas works for the Navy in foreign military sales. She and her husband, Ryan Peters, have a 2-year-old son, Camden, and are expecting their second child in May.

Hass started out as a shortstop and ended up playing first base her senior year.

Her father, Dan, is in his fourth season as the head softball coach at Olympic College.

 

 

Too much hype about signing day

I get the fact that national letter of intent day is a big deal, but well, why is it such a big deal?

I remember attending a Scripps Howard (the newspaper group that owned the Kitsap Sun in the early 1990s) sports editor meeting one year and talk shifted to national letter of intent day and  how it should be covered etc. I voiced my opinion, wondering if giving 17- and 18-year-olds so much attention was a good idea. The whole recruiting process seemed a bit slimey at the time.

My opinion didn’t go over well. Most of the other sports editors, many of them from newspapers that covered SEC football, looked at me like I had three eyeballs.

Now, it’s become a big business. Fans get all giddy when their favorite universities sign a 4-star running back they’ve never seen play. I don’t fault the kid who are given scholarships, but I don’t see a need to call a press conferences and pull hats out of the air like a magician before announcing their picks. That’s a little overboard don’t you think?

But I guess it is the world we live in. As Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski accurately summarized, “We are a society of gross overstatement and exaggeration,” and that’s no more evident than in recruiting.

I love it how all of the “experts” rank the recruiting classes. It’s like preseason polls. They don’t mean a thing. It takes two, maybe three years to figure out how good your recruiting class really is.

That said, I did a little (and I mean a little) research about this year’s national letter of intent day as it pertains to the Pac-12.

I discovered that Washington out-recruited Washington State big-time in our state. The Huskie signed eight state players; WSU got just one (safety Deion Singleton from Chiawana High in Pasco).

Washington also signed one player from Oregon, which is more than Oregon signed.

The Ducks did sign three kids from our state: OT Shane Lemieux (West Valley-Yakima), OT Calvin Throckmorton (Bellevue) and OLB Foto Leiato (Steilacoom).

WSU also signed five junior college players, same as Arizona. Nobody in the Pac-12 signed more JCs. Washington signed one. The only Pac-10 school that didn’t sign a JC player was Stanford.

USC and UCLA graded out tops in the recruiting game. Washington ranked No. 6 in the Pac-12 by ESPN (No. 28 nationally). WSU was No. 9/No. 57.

Rivals.com had USC No. 1 nationally. UCLA was No. 13, Oregon No. 17, Stanford No. 18, Arizona State No. 20, California No. 29, Washington No. 30, Arizona and Utah tied at No. 41, WSU No. 56,  Oregon State and Colorado tied at No. 70.

One more thing: Snoop Dogg’s been a longtime USC fan, but his son, Cordell Broadus, signed  with UCLA.

And here’s a fun recruiting story from athlon.com: The 2015 Recruiting All-Name Team. 

You’ll have to go elsewhere for the in-depth analysis. And, a day after signing day 2015, you can find several stories about the what colleges need for 2016.

C’mon, man.

 

 

Charlie Pierce writes about the Deflatriots

Charlie Pierce might be my favorite writer.

He writes about politics and other issues for Esquire.com.

He also writes for Grantland.com, a popular sports and pop-culture blog.

I’m as tired as the next guy about this story about deflating footballs, but this story by Pierce is worth reading.

Here’s the ending:

And, as the sun went down on a long day’s journey into nonsense, I’m sorry, but if you can’t see the humor in this preposterous burlesque, then you’re having nowhere near enough fun in showbiz.

Quick hits from the desert: Troy Kelly, Joey Dean, Seahawks, questions & more

Some quick hits on a Tuesday night from Super Bowl country:

TROY KELLY is entered in this week’s Humana Challenge, the PGA Tour event in La Quinta,  Calif. Kelly, a Central Kitsap grad now living in Tacoma, still has PGA status because of a Major Medical Extension he received after going through knee surgery in the 2013 season.

Kelly has 10 starts and needs to make $563,133 or 353.837 FedExCup points to retain his status. I’m not positive, but I think Kelly has to use those 10 starts this season. He missed two PGA cuts earlier in the fall, and took some time off to give an aching body some rest after not playing well. Kelly cashed in just two of nine Web.com Tour starts in 2014.

Kelly, now living in Tacoma, was based out of La Quinta for a few years and is familiar with the Nicklaus and Palmer courses at PGA West.

In case you missed it, Bob Kelly (Troy’s dad) operates Hackers Bar & Grill at Madrona Links in Gig Harbor.

JOEY DEAN is MCing the Kitsap Sports Hall of Fame banquet at Kiana Lodge on Saturday (11 a.m. social hour, dinner and program at noon). The 1984 Olympic High state championship baseball team is among the teams being inducted. Dean was in the class of ’83 at Oly and played football and baseball. He’s also got some motorsports history and, of course, remains one of the most popular singer/songwriters in Kitsap County. Nice for Joey to give back to the Kitsap Athletic Roundtable, the non-profit that puts on the annual HOF shindig.

PLAYED SOME GOLF Tuesday in Gilbert, Arizona, where the weather was outstanding (76 degrees), and the company even better. The golf game? I’m not talking about mine, but Glenn Carden hit ‘em straight and far while shooting a 78 at Western Skies Golf Course.

SOME OF US DEBATED this question on Twitter Sunday night: What’s the greatest game in Seattle sports history. Was it the Seahawks unbelievable NFC Championship comeback victory over the Packers on Sunday, or the Mariners’ win over the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALCS in 1995?

For me, it’s the football game. It was stunningly, mind-blowing, coming from 12 down with 3 minutes left to win the way they won after playing so poorly on offense. I’m a baseball guy but to be in a position to win back-to-back Super Bowls trumps what Edgar, Junior, Randy and Lou’s Boys did on that magical night in the Kingdome.

What do you think?

IF YOU COULD SPEND an evening with one Seahawk, who would it be? Russell Wilson? Marshawn Lynch? Richard Sherman? Earl Thomas? Jon Ryan? Pete Carroll? Who’s your guy?

PETER KING of mmqb.si.com writes that the Seahawks need to feed the Beast if they want to win Super Bowl 49. I couldn’t agree more.

QUICK, NAME the only team to beat the Seahawks and Patriots this season? Yep, Kansas City.

BROADCASTER BILL WALTON called the Pac-12 basketball game between Utah and Arizona in Tucson on Saturday. Paola Boivin of The Arizona Republic tailed Walton at the Pac-12 Networks crew before and during the game.

At one point, Walton wished Muhammad Ali a happy 73rd birthday and shared a favorite Ali quote: “If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can surely make something out of you.”

ANOTHER PAC-12 BROADCASTER, MIKE MONTGOMERY, got a call from former South Kitsap athlete and Michigan State coach Jud Heathcote recently. “He said, ‘You’ve got a face for radio’ and hung up,” said Montgomery during a recent broadcast. Heathcote and Montgomery, the former Stanford and Cal coach, are both part of the Montana coaching tree. Heathcote, 87, is still living in Spokane, and remains an avid follower of Gonzaga and college hoops.

I WROTE ABOUT ASHLI PAYNE, sophomore guard at Umpqua CC, last month. I’m glad to see I didn’t jinx the Olympic High grad. She’s eighth in the 32-team Northwest Athletic Conference in scoring (17.28 points), sixth in rebounding (8.83), ninth in assists (4.28), 10th in free-throw shooting (82.3%) and 20th in steals (2.13). You can see why her coach, Dave Stricklin, thinks she’s the best player in the NWAC.