Sunday, April 21, 2024

THE CHEAP SEATS with STEVE CAMERON: That other unbeaten team in the region, and sticking up for Russ

| December 9, 2020 1:25 AM

Yes, it’s time for our notes and quotes this week, but…

Seriously, the pandemic has made such a mess of the sports world (not to mention society in general) that things keep getting stranger by the minute.

Don’t believe me?

OK, how about the fact that UNLV quarterback Max Gilliam made a public apology for eating sushi off a nude model on a reality TV show?

No, I didn’t make that up.

Gilliam’s bizarre stunt came on Bravo’s show “Below Deck,” and…

Eating sushi off a nude model?

I can’t even begin to imagine who thought up the idea in the first place.

Gilliam’s apology was the school’s idea, and in case you’re wondering, he did not break any NCAA rules.

Whatever happened to that cardinal rule: “Whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”?

Right, let’s get back to the real world…

ITEM: Gonzaga isn’t the only undefeated hoops team in the neighborhood.

Washington State is 3-0 heading into tonight’s rivalry squabble with Idaho (0-2) at Beasley Coliseum.

The Battle of the Palouse, which resumes this time in Pullman, dates back to 1906.

No, I didn’t cover the first one.

As for this latest meeting, WSU Coach Kyle Smith said in a Zoom call: “It’s tough to feel the rivalry with no fans in the stands.”

Smith agreed, though, that both teams will generate their own excitement for tonight.

This season’s young Cougs haven’t exactly blown anyone away yet — having to come from behind in consecutive defensive struggles against Texas Southern, Eastern Washington and Oregon State to win by four, three and four points.

But hey, Wazzu is finding some resilience during Smith’s second year in charge.

The Cougars have trailed at halftime in all three games and rallied to win — as opposed to last year, when they were 3-11 when lagging at the half.

Here’s kind of a cool note, although it tells you a little about the program Smith inherited…

The victory over Oregon State was WSU’s first in a conference home opener since 2004.

Idaho, meanwhile, has stumbled out of the gate — losing twice on the road to Sacramento State by 22 and 16 points.

Finally, here’s something I suspect you would not have guessed…

WSU has absolutely owned the Northwest recently.

The Cougs swept Oregon, Oregon State and Washington last year, along with wins over Seattle, Idaho and Idaho State for a perfect 9-0 in the region.

Yes, and they’ve beaten Eastern and Oregon State already this season.

Oh, and the Cougars got votes in this week’s AP poll, so…

When do we see Wazzu matched with the Zags?

ITEM: Fans and media critics are absolutely murdering Russell Wilson for his recent performances — especially the Seahawks’ dismal 17-12 loss to the Giants last Sunday.

Coach Pete Carroll is taking heat, as well, for punting on fourth-and-six from the Giants 37, and for play-calling that has seen the Seahawks get stuffed on numerous fourth-down running plays all year.

This time, the Hawks let Russ roll out on an option on fourth down with just a yard to go, but Giants defended the edge brilliantly all day and broke up the play.

As for Wilson overall…

Yes, there have been times over the last few games when he’s been a bit indecisive, and he’s made some occasional odd throws — along with that fumbled snap that cost a possession against the Giants.

I’m not saying Russ has been terrific, but last week he had no chance to create any rhythm.

New York’s defensive pressure kept Wilson under constant fire, and the secondary coverage was really good.

I couldn’t see where Russ had much hope of looking downfield very long, and then the Giants were all over him.

Wilson wasn’t any MVP candidate, agreed, but he wasn’t the biggest problem in that loss.

So there.


Steve Cameron’s “Cheap Seats” columns appear in The Press on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “Moments, Memories and Madness,” his reminiscences from several decades as a sports journalist, runs each Sunday.

Steve also writes Zags Tracker, a commentary on Gonzaga basketball which is published each Tuesday.