Here is the latest Washington, Oregon and Alaska sports news from The Associated Press

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Associated Press

Posted on March 21, 2013 at 4:04 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The NBA has hired former All-Star Kiki Vandeweghe as vice president of basketball operations. Vandeweghe, also a former general manager with Denver and the Nets, and a Nets interim coach, will be involved in development of rules and interpretations, disciplinary matters and other details involved in the operation of NBA games. He will start April 1 and report to executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson. Vandeweghe played for Portland from 1984-1989.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gonzaga certainly won't catch anyone by surprise this year. Long ago considered the plucky underdog, the Bulldogs come into this year's NCAA tournament top-seeded in the West and with the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press poll. Led by 7-foot center Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga opens the tournament today against Southern University, the champions of the Southwestern Athletic Conference. Gonzaga is making its 15th straight appearance in March Madness.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A Pac-12 tournament title, a second-place finish in the regular season and a ranking in the final AP poll added up to very little for Oregon when it came time for NCAA tournament seeding. The Ducks ended up with the 12th seed in the Midwest Region in what was one of the more questioned decisions made by the tournament selection committee. For Oregon, the slight wasn't all bad as they get to stay on the West Coast this weekend in San Jose.

(AP) — Mercedes Russell's transformation into the nation's prep basketball player of the year took a turn between her freshman and sophomore years, when she grew five inches and moved from guard to the post. The 6-foot-5 Springfield (Ore.) High School star, who is headed to Tennessee in the fall, says the shift made her a better player. Others apparently thought she was good, too, because on Wednesday she was named the Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year, becoming the first girl from Oregon to earn the honor.

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — A quarterback battle looms as Washington State opens spring football drills today. Veteran Connor Halliday was a part-time starter last year, along with the graduated Jeff Tuel. Coach Mike Leach says he'll face a challenge from redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca. Leach returns eight starters each on offense and defense this season. But he said yesterday that all the starting jobs are open in the spring. The Cougars have 43 returning letter winners from a team that finished 3-8 overall. Spring drills will include 15 practices and run until April 23. The annual Crimson and Gray scrimmage will be April 20 in Spokane.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Organizers of Alaska's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race say changes are planned for the 1,000-mile trek after a dog was buried in snow by extreme winds and suffocated. Race officials said yesterday they also plan to meet with the owners of 5-year-old Dorado. The dog was found dead at a checkpoint last week, days after it was removed from the race because it was moving stiffly. Dorado belonged to the team of Iditarod rookie Paige Drobny of Fairbanks. Drobny's husband says the couple asked Iditarod organizers to develop new protocols for the care of dogs withdrawn from the race.

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