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THE AFTERNOON PAPER: Bjornstad, budgets and basketball

Not a lot out there to pass your way this afternoon, but there are a few links worth checking out.

First, Vince Grippi makes his triumphant return to SportsLink following an extended summer vacation/sabbatical, and boy have we missed him. One of the things that makes him an excellent beat reporter is that he has a penchant for getting little nuggets on our teams from coaches and players, and his return post is no exception, as he gets the inside scoop on our newest basketball recruit, Steven Bjornstad:

(Bjornstad) visited Pullman, where his presence in pickup games earned him mostly positive reviews from the players – his size will be an asset, according to the ones I talked with, but he’ll need to get in a lot better shape if he wants to play Ken Bone’s style.

Those of you wondering why a big man with skills wasn't a hotter commodity even after getting released from his letter with Nevada, I think this is your answer. In fact, check out what Ken Bone said in the news release of Bjornstad's official signing:

"Steven adds depth to a position we really needed in the post. He has a really nice frame, is a very skilled big kid who can pass it and is an outstanding shooter. I believe he has the skill set to develop into a real nice Pac-10 player."

Translation: He's a project. Don't expect too much from him this year -- it sounds like the college game is going to be a huge jump for this guy. If he does play a significant role, it will likely be a bad sign that someone is hurt.

Grippi also alludes to upcoming news regarding the final athletics budget, which still is not finalized (at least not publicly). One thing I did run across today, however, was a news release from the athletic department explaining how they've worked and are working to get the budget under President Floyd's mandate. Among the modifcations:

  • Evaluating travel squad sizes in all sports along with using ground transportation to competitions within 400 miles of Pullman.
  • The printing of media guides for all sports will be greatly reduced, as will the amount of professional development travel and international recruiting travel.
  • There will also be a discontinuation of some internships and some positions will not be filled.

An interesting piece of this is that Sterk said he'll basically watch the money during the year, see how it's going, and adjust on the fly.

My interpretation? This budget crunch might not hit WSU as hard (or at least as obviously) as we all feared. Sterk has said before that because WSU always has to do more with less, the athletic department is used to running lean. Where a lot of other departments have efficiency issues, those are smaller at WSU.

If you're interested in reading more budget stuff, check out this piece from Bud Withers at The Seattle Times examining the impact of Title IX on university athletics budgets. It's an interesting read, if a little weirdly timed on a Thursday.

Back to basketball.

  • Still no definitive word on DeAngelo Casto's knee injury.
  • Serbia and Nikola Koprivica have advanced to the semifinals of the World University Games, with Nik scoring three points off the bench ... on a 3-pointer! (Stop laughing.) 
  • Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor says bring on Australia in this FIBA Q&A. One of the questions deals with fatigue, which definitely is becoming a factor after three games in three days. This is one area where both Team USA and Australia both should have an advantage, as they've appeared to dip much deeper into their benches than most of their opponents.
  • I'm trying to put together another post on Team USA for this evening -- I don't know if I'm going to make it or not -- but I will pass this along: You can indeed watch tonight's game at 1:30 a.m. at FIBATV.com. It will cost you $8, but that will get you the rest of the games through the end of the tournament. (Assuming they keep winning.)

I'll hopefully be back with more before long, but I've got a birthday party I have to go to tonight. We'll see if I can finish my post up in the next 90 minutes ...