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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD


The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

And the clock strikes 12 for the Aggies

By Tim Olsen

March 23, 2009 | BOISE, Idaho -- One spot separated Utah State and Marquette in the rankings heading into Friday morning's NCAA tournament opening-round game, with the Golden Eagles holding that advantage.

Marquette again had an advantage of one at the end of the game, as they held off the upset-minded Aggies, 58-57.

"That was obviously a tough loss. We gave ourselves a chance, we got up six and we missed some open shots, we turned it over, we don't rebound a ball, all of those things that can happen to you," USU coach Stew Morrill said. "But we battled back in the second half and really gave ourselves a chance to win. . . . I can't be any prouder of a basketball team than I am of this group."

The Aggies played their most competitive post-season game since pulling a first-round upset in the 2001 NCAA tournament, but in the end, the slipper was just a little too small.

After a weekend of great starts in Reno, the Aggies started ice-cold in Boise. USU missed its first three shots from the floor and shot a meager 30 percent in the first half.

"We weren't really ready for their pressure, they were kind of taking us out of our offense," said Aggie forward Tai Wesley. "I think our defense was real good, it was right where it needed to be . . . just came out slow in the first half offensively."

Wesley struggled in the first half as he was only 2-of-5 from the floor and was again hampered by fouls. He did respond in the second half, however, knocking down 5-of-6 shots and scoring 11 of his 15 points.

"We were stunned by their athleticism and pressure initially in the game," said USU head coach Stew Morrill. "We had a really hard time executing because . . . (of) their quickness and strength and those kind of things."

Despite one of their worst first halves of the season, the Aggies were able to build a little momentum heading into the break as they outscored the Golden Eagles 5-0 over the final 2:30.

Heading into the intermission, Marquette held a 26-18 advantage in the low-scoring affair.

Marquette opened the second half with a Maurice Acker three-pointer to extend the lead back to 11, but that was the last double-digit lead they would have. Wesley looking like a completely different player sparked the Aggies on a 10-0 run that cut the deficit to one, 29-28, with 16:10 still to play.

"We knew we could play with Marquette, so we just needed to really settle down," Wesley said. "We knew we could get back into the game. We battled back from deficits like that before, so we just needed to be patient and grind it out."

After a Golden Eagle timeout, Marquette pushed the lead back to five, but the Aggies weren't going to let the Big East power pull away again. Wesley was fouled on a layup at the 12:09 mark and completed the old-fashioned three-point play to knot the game at 33.

Marquette continued to hold the lead for the next six minutes until a three-pointer by junior Jared Quayle gave the Aggies their first lead of the game, 46-43, with 5:18 to play. Moments later swingman Tyler Newbold connected on his only shot of the game a three-pointer to give the Ags a six-point lead, their biggest of the game.

Quayle was a bright spot for USU as he finished with a team-high 18 points and knocked down 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. He also pulled down a game-high eight rebounds, but fouled out for the first time this season with only 1:45 left in the game.

"It was the first time I fouled out all year long and I didn't even mean to foul him at the end," Quayle said. "I was just trying to get back to my man."

As well as knocking down 12 of their first 20 shots of the second half, the Aggies were aided by a good zone defense that threw off the Golden Eagles' rhythm.

"The zones obviously tend to slow you down and to pull you down and I told our team at half time I anticipated that they would play the entire half in zone," said Marquette Coach Buzz Williams. "I just thought that that's what they were going to try to do to try to slow the game down and we did not attack it with pace."

With the Aggie faithful on their feet and the Taco Bell Arena rocking, things looked good for USU, but the Golden Eagles responded.

Led by forward Lazar Hayward Marquette clamped down on defense and chipped away at the Aggie lead by making 10 straight foul shots in the final few minutes. Hayward finished with a game high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

Shortly after Quayle fouled out, so did Wesley, and Marquette regained the lead for good.

In the final 1:30 the Golden Eagles survived two wide-open Newbold three-point shots that missed, a banked-in three by Pooh Williams with 18 seconds left, and an attempt at a three by Gary Wilkinson that would've tied the game with six second left. It looked good but fell just short.

"It's a play that we have at the end of, you know, to get a shot like that," said Wilkinson who finished with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting. "It felt good coming off and it was right on, it was just short. That's just the way the ball bounces, I suppose."

The loss marked the ninth straight post-season loss for the Ags and snapped a 57-game winning streak when holding an opponent under 60 points.

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