A whirlwind of Friday sports news
What a Friday it was for local sports figures and teams (see all the other Portland Tribune sports stories on our website).
Some of the highlights (and one last-second lowlight) involved the Oregon Ducks. These began with the headliner himself: Willie "Make no definitive statements. Blame social media (even though I use it constantly when it serves me and to lure recruits). Do something (for myself that gets me more money or where I really want to be, wherever that is, while I coach my current team)" Taggart.
A day of speculation about whether Taggart was going or might be going from Oregon to Florida State ended with the UO football coach essentially trying to say he was so locked into having a good practice he hardly had a clue about anything else, including a big raise if he stays in Eugene.
A little later in the day, the Oregon volleyball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
And a little after that, the Oregon men's basketball team had its 46-game homecourt winning streak (longest in the nation) snapped when Boise State hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer for a 73-70 victory at Matthew Knight Arena.
Here's more of the day's local sports news:
Pac-12 volleyball almost perfect, and a well-deserved deal for Oregon's Ulmer
Nine Pac-12 teams made the 64-team NCAA women's field. That's more than from any other conference. And eight won their first-round match, with only Oregon State eliminated — and the Beavers just barely, as they dropped the fifth set to North Carolina State, 15-13.
It was a big year for OSU, which became as tough as any team in the Pac-12 other than defending national champion Stanford. Kudos to Oregon State coach Mark Barnard, who was most deserving of his recent Pac-12 Coach of the Year award.
The Ducks, meanwhile, will face a big challenge in Saturday's 6 p.m. PT second-round match at BYU, which is 29-2. The Cougars are ranked 12th in the nation and are 13-1 at home; Oregon is ranked 24th.
But it's been a promising first year at the helm for Ducks coach Matt Ulmer.
At a practice this week, Oregon players were told by UO deputy athletic director Lisa Peterson that Ulmer, who worked on a one-year contract as the successor to Jim Moore, had just been given a new, four-year deal.
Although everyone knew Ulmer would be back — he'd just recruited arguably the best class in UO volleyball history — the announcement moved his players to tears of joy and prompted a team hug-a-thon with the happy coach.
Ulmer has brought a huge breath of fresh air to the program. He embodies the best of what Oregon aspires to offer its student-athletes. With his new deal in place, it's a very happy flock of Ducks with an exciting future.
Two local college coaches are out in men's soccer.
Steve Simmons has been let go at Oregon State, and NAIA Multnomah's Tom Stephens has resigned.
OSU athletic director Scott Barnes, a day after announcing the hiring of new football coach Jonathan Smith, relieved Simmons of his duties after nine seasons (67-82-15, one NCAA tourney appearance, in 2014). Assistant coach Ben Stoddard has been named interim coach, but a national search is underway.
Stephens helped launch the Lions' program in 2014. The former Faith Bible and Glencoe High coach said that after 18 years of non-stop coaching it is time to switch gears and devote more time to his family.
"It has been a joy to work for Multnomah," he said, adding that the school "needs a coach who can be here on more of a full-time basis."
Ross for less in Orlando
Orlando is moving on without former Jefferson High standout Terrence Ross, who could be out for the season with a sprained right medial collateral ligament and non-displaced fracture in his right leg.
The 6-6 shooting guard/small forward was averaging 9.0 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game this season. This is his sixth NBA season.
Ross was hurt colliding with Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook as he challenged a shot by the Thunder guard on Wednesday.
"It's part of the game," Ross said. "I'm just going to be with the team every step of the way, be surrounded by everybody and just come in every day like I'm about to play the next game. It's another opportunity for me to take a step back and kind of help look at myself and see what I can do when I get back."
In Friday's 133-112 loss at home to Golden State, Jonathan Simmons got his third start of the season at small forward and scored 18 points in 38 minutes.
Former Trail Blazers guard Aaron Afflalo, who was averaging only 1.9 points in 11.3 minutes per game, got 15 minutes off the bench, Afflalo was 0 for 3 and scored two points, so he might not be the answer. Mario Hezonja and rookie Wes Iwundu, who was called up from the G-League Lakeland Magic, also could get more minutes in Ross' absence.
For the Warriors on Friday, ex-Duck Jordan Bell notched a career-high 16 points in 16 minutes.
IndyCar South of the Border on hold
Mexico City won't join Portland on the 2018 open-wheel race circuit schedule.
IndyCar says it still hopes to add Mexico City for 2019, though.
The series will return to Portland International Raceway next year, with the race set for Sunday, Sept. 2.
Big Sky duel
Three Big Sky teams made the FCS playoffs this year. One of them, Northern Arizona, lost a week ago in the first round, 41-10, at San Diego.
The other two, Weber State and Southern Utah, will go at it at 5 p.m. PT Saturday in a second-round game at Cedar City, Utah.
Weber State beat host Western Illinois, 21-19, in the first round, while Southern Utah had a bye.
Southern Utah downed Weber State 32-16 during the regular season.
• The Trail Blazers will play host to New Orleans at 7 p.m. Saturday.
• The Portland Winterhawks are on the Moda Center ice at 5 p.m. Sunday against Saskatoon.
• The Seattle Seahawks face the team with the NFL's best record, the Philadelphia Eagles, at 5:30 p.m. Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
• Clackamas meets South Medford for the Class 6A football title at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Reser Stadium in Corvallis.