Column as I see ‘em...
My assignment on Saturday was to go to the University of Washington and write about the 2 p.m. women’s basketball game between the Huskies and Utah. It didn’t start well.
Minutes before I was out the door, I learned my laptop password had expired. Translating Sanskrit might be easier than resetting laptop passwords, and by the time I hooked up with a tech support hotline, I was running late enough to consider bagging the basketball game.
But I had finished the heavy-lifting part of the morning, waking up at 7, and waking up at 7 on a Saturday morning is a terrible thing to waste.
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I headed to Hec Edmundson Pavilion with modest expectations of a satisfying afternoon. All I wanted was a functional laptop and a final score that didn’t require overtime.
Three hours later, I decided I had witnessed a performance more impressive than any I’ve ever seen on a basketball floor. Kelsey Plum breaking the NCAA all-time scoring record with a 57-point barrage in the final home game of her Huskies’ home finale was one of those unanticipated spectacles that make sports magical.
Sports magic occurs only sporadically, which is OK. If we watched magic on a regular basis, it wouldn’t be magic.
You never know what awaits once the arena gates open and the band cranks up during the warm-up drills.
You never know.
▪ Plum broke the lifetime record former Missouri State guard Jackie Stiles set in 2001, with 3,393 points. In case you’re wondering, college basketball’s all-time leader remains the late Pete Maravich, who between 1968-70 — before the implementation of the 3-point line — scored 3,667 points at LSU.
It’s conceivable Plum could compete in as many as nine more games for the Huskies: Three in the conference tournament and six more in the NCAA tournament. If Plum were to average 30 points over those nine games, she’d finish with, yep, 3,667 points.
No chance she’s entertaining any thoughts of that crazy scenario. Plum’s sole ambition is for the Huskies to return to the Final Four and win the national championship that eluded them last season.
▪ Speaking of national champions, congratulations to Wilson freshman Casey Canonica, who finished first in the 14- and 15-year-old division of the Punt, Pass & Kick tournament. After the finals, held at the NFL Pro Bowl Experience in Orlando, Florida, Rich Pope, a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, challenged Canonica and Mary Richardson, 11-year old winner of the girls’ competition, to a skills duel.
Pope admits he got “demolished,” and posted a video to prove it.
▪ Rod Simons was the kind of sports broadcaster inclined to accentuate the positive. In his world, there were only two types of days: good days and days that, well, were even better.
Simons was covering Minnesota Twins spring training camp in Florida when he died of natural causes last week. He was 56, with no health problems.
A Pasco native and 1983 Washington State graduate, Simons realized his dream of covering Seattle teams when KSTW hired him as a sports anchor in 1986. He took on a similar role after his 2003 relocation to the Twin Cities. In 2008, Simons began operation of his own media company.
Survivors include his wife of 18 years, Pam, and 11-year-old daughter Annie.
“On the airplanes traveling overseas, in Australia, anywhere we’ve been, we’ve run into someone that Rod has known or touched or helped,” Pam Simons told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s been overwhelming. We know we shared Rod with the world, but we had no idea how many people he touched and impacted in a very intimate way.”
A funeral mass, at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Pasco, has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday.
▪ Gonzaga’s inability to protect a 10-point second-half lead Saturday night in a home game against BYU cost the Bulldogs their potential No. 1 overall seeding in the NCAA tournament. A pair of last-minute turnovers suggested Gonzaga, with a perfect season at stake, has been on the cruise control side of too many West Coast Conference blowouts.
This still is the same, well-balanced powerhouse that beat the likes of Florida, Arizona and Iowa State in nonleague play, but two months without facing a serious challenge tends to soften a college athlete’s edge at crunch time.
▪ Tiger Woods participated in his first PGA Tour event 25 years ago Monday. He was only 16, this 140-pound prodigy who needed permission from the high school principal to tee off in the 1992 Nissan Open instead of attending an advanced geometry class.
Woods missed the cut, a prominent inducement to remain an amateur for the next four-and-a-half years. Upon turning pro, he won 79 tournaments — second to Sam Snead’s record 82 PGA Tour victories — but there’s reason to suspect Woods’ persistent back problems will prevent him from another one.
Then again, it’s sports. You never know.