Here’s what’s going on inside Darnell’s head on a Sunday as the snow continues to fall. Hey, I’ve got a BYU baseball game to cover this week, the home opener against Utah Valley, and the snow won’t help. I know Miller Park has the new field where it can melt the snow so the game can go on and I get to sit in the comfy press box. But I’m thinking of you, the fan. That’s how I roll.
The West Coast Conference will release its all-league teams early this week, and I have some thoughts.
On the men’s side, it’ll probably be Rui Hachimura of Gonzaga (20.6 points per game) for Player of the Year, but it really could be any one of four Zags starters. Josh Perkins, the school’s all-time assist leader, is a candidate and so is the smooth shooting Zach Norvell Jr. But I’m kind of rooting for junior forward Brandon Clarke, who is such a force on both ends of the floor. He’s an elite shot blocker (as if Gonzaga needed another edge) and has been super-efficient (16.6 points per game on 69 percent shooting) on offense this year. The voting could make Hachimura the POY and Clarke the Newcomer of the Year.
I think both Yoeli Childs and TJ Haws deserve first team honors but that’ll be about it for the Cougars. Gavin Baxter and Connor Harding might get a few votes for the All-Freshmen team.
Coach of the Year? Man, how could you give to anyone other than Mark Few?
On the women’s side, BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales is a legit candidate for Player of the Year AND Freshman of the Year. She does a lot of good things for the Cougars with 16.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. Gonzaga won the league but it’s a really balanced team where the leading scorer’s numbers – Zykera Rice at 14.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game – don’t even crack the Top 10. Pepperdine’s Yasmine Bacote-Robinson is averaging 20 points per game and the Waves finished third.
Gonzales, sophomore Paisley Johnson, junior Brenna Chase and sophomore Sara Hamson will probably make the all-league team.
Coach of the Year could go a lot of different ways. BYU coach Jeff Judkins deserves consideration for beating Gonzaga twice and Pepperdine’s Delisha Milton-Jones could get some votes.
Can’t contain my excitement
I’m going to see “Captain Marvel” on Thursday with my family. I haven’t been this excited for a movie since Star Wars came out. My two sisters, my brother and I went to see it in Grants Pass, Oregon, for my 14th birthday. It was two months after the movie came out but the theater was full and we were late, so we sat on the floor with our backs against the door. That was a fire hazard, obviously, but it was the late 1970s. We rarely even wore seat belts then.
A crying shame
Stanford men’s volleyball fans were up in arms on social media over perceived missed calls at the end of Thursday’s volleyball match with BYU, which the Cougars won by taking the fifth set.
I know Stanford coach Mark Kosty used at least one of his three video challenges to slow BYU’s momentum earlier in the match. He also used one to gain a point in the fourth set on a Stanford serve that was called out but was obviously in.
But did he need to? Sure, the point was there for the taking, but it’s one point in a match where a point is scored on every serve and 214 points total points were scored. In a fifth set, you might want to make sure you have some challenges to use because the points become more important the longer the set goes.
Honestly, though, I hate video review in volleyball. It’s always been a fast-paced, free-flowing sport and the video review brings the matches to a screeching halt.
The big gold trophy
Congrats to American Fork for winning the Class 6A boys basketball title this weekend. Ryan Cuff, in his first year as the coach for the Cavemen, is one of the nicest guys around and I’m happy for him. Especially since he got to coach his son, Tanner, who scored the winning basket in a triple OT victory in the semifinals. What a memory for both of them.
There are a lot of crazy numbers when it comes to Gonzaga basketball.
Here’s another one: The Zags have a 77-game winning streak over WCC opponents not named BYU or Saint Mary’s. That win streak now spans more than five years. It began on Feb. 27, 2014 in a loss to Pacific in Stockton.
The Zags are 22-6 against BYU and Saint Mary’s over that same span.
A quick couple of thoughts on the WCC Tournament for the BYU men’s and women’s basketball teams.
For the men, the only way to the NCAAs for the Cougars would be to win the WCC Tourney but getting to the final would be good enough, I think, to host an NIT game or two.
Key factor: Gavin Baxter as a rim protector makes BYU a much, much better defensive team.
For the women, I think getting to the WCC final is enough to earn an NCAA at-large bid. It’s been a surprising season for the Cougars because they are so young.
Key factor: Sara Hamson and the rest of the starting five will have to be iron women unless a bench player or two can step up their game and make in impact. BYU is not that deep.
Why is it that a fly sneaks into your car through a two-inch crack in your window but can’t figure out how to leave the car when you open that window all the way? Just something to think about as, rumor has it, spring may be coming.
Not to brag, but I made an amazing play while in my bi-weekly volleyball game: I dove for a ball and ended up on my back. The second hit went right over my head and while still on ground with my back to the net I was able to hit the ball over to keep the rally alive.
And we won the point.
I owe it all to watching BYU and high school volleyball for years. And my wife, who bought me a T-shirt that has a stick figure falling off a bike with the caption, “I do all my own stunts.”
Like actually falling off my bike and nearly impaling my leg with a sprinkler. Or falling while hiking and dislocating my shoulder. Or bruising a rib while tubing at Solider Hollow.
You get the idea. I’m kind of a klutz.
That’s all I’ve got, but for this: I try to eat healthy but on average I spend about $80 a year to watch bananas turn brown.
Have a great week.