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Is it basketball season already?

A GRIP ON SPORTS

Wow, that was quick. As soon as the election ads end, the Christmas ones begin. And the college basketball stories start showing up. Read on.


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• It's lucky the election and Christmas ads didn't overlap. I might have ended up voting for Santa Claus. Instead, when I fill out my ballot, I pick whomever I believe will lose the race and vote for them. It's the same with the schools I root for in college basketball (hey, have you ever heard of UC Irvine winning anything, hoops-wise?). But when it comes to coverage of local schools, all I root for – or vote for – is more, more, more. And we got it today. As I read through the stories contained in the S-R's basketball preview section, it amazed me. The stories just kept on coming. Stories from Gonzaga, stories from Eastern, stories from WSU. Heck, stories from all over the globe. Interestingly enough, it's those international stories that are at the centerpiece of the section, with the players from outside the U.S. highlighting our coverage. Everyone but Idaho and Whitworth has them this season, though UI coach Don Verlin is no stranger to overseas recruiting and the Pirates best player last season was from Europe. I think at the end of the season I will add up all the points, rebounds and assists on our three local teams with international players and see what percentage of them came from players not carrying U.S. passports. For now, I'll just sit back and read the stories.

•••

• Washington State: We'll start with football. Christian Caple was at practice last night and filed this blog post (with video). That follows on the heels of his live chat yesterday. He also made his Pac-12 picks in today's paper and has this story on Saturday's opponent, UCLA. To catch you up on all the Pac-12 news, Christian has his usual morning blog post. … As for the basketball coverage, Christian has a Cougar story and sidebar, of course, and possibly more, though I couldn't find it on-line. There are quite a few Cougar mentions in the international hoops section below as well. … CBSSports.com has this preview of the WSU season.

• Gonzaga: That international hoops section is filled with Gonzaga stories and mentions, so we'll highlight the two main pieces Jim Meehan did on the Zags, including this season advance and this sidebar on Gary Bell, Jr. … Tacoma's Dave Boling looks at this year's GU team. … The GU women, coming off another Sweet 16 appearance, lead the way in correspondent Dave Trimmer's roundup of the local schools. The Bulldogs also received a commitment from a Central Califonia star this week. … The BYU men will offer one of the sterner challenges in the WCC this season while USF is rebuilding and USD will rely on a core group of seniors.

• EWU: There are a lot of new faces in Cheney this year, with coach Jim Hayford trying to meld them into a cohesive unit. Jim Allen has the story. … The Eagles' football team wants to win out and grab a high seed for the playoffs. Of course it does. … On the Big Sky football front, Weber State and its star receiver hope to end their disappointing home season on an up note.

• Idaho: This is Verlin's fifth season in Moscow, so, as Josh Wright's story shows, he's got ownership of the program. The sidebar highlights two guards who have to help with the scoring load. Josh also has the season's five keys. … This is their last year in the WAC and the Utah State Aggies expect to win it.

• Whitworth: The Pirates had one of their more successful seasons last year and lost key players. But as Jim Allen's story and sidebar shows, they will be in the reloading mode, not rebuilding one.

• International hoops: With almost all the local schools relying more and more on recruits from outside the U.S., some of their recruiting trips can get a bit hairy. … The players from beyond our borders add a different touch to each program. … The best of the best who came here from abroad. … John Blanchette touched base with one of the first of our area's foreign recruits and one of the first coaches to go looking for them. … GU's Tommy Lloyd has made a name for himself here and overseas. … The influx of talent not only helps the local programs, but benefits the players as well. … Adjusting to life in the States has its challenges.

• Preps: The Washington state volleyball tournaments are this weekend and there are more than enough story lines to go around. Up north, the Colville seniors hope to hit 100 victories in their career, which would give them a second consecutive state title. Greg Lee has the story. He also has a summary of all the other tournaments. … State football playoffs in Washington and Idaho continue this weekend, though, as Greg Lee's column shows, there is a move afoot in Idaho to take a berth from the local schools starting next year. … As per usual, we have a roundup of Wednesday's action.

• Seahawks: This could get interesting. When Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez left USC a year early, then-Trojan coach Pete Carroll said, at his press conference, he didn't feel Sanchez was ready for the NFL. And, the way Sanchez' career has turned out, Carroll was right. But Jets coach Rex Ryan (look up blowhard in the dictionary and you'll see Ryan's picture) says that's not the real reason Carroll didn't want Sanchez to leave. He wanted his talents in Southern California another year. It's just another thing to think about this Sunday when the teams meet. … One man enters, three men leave. … The offensive line is earning an identity. … Is it time for a special teams touchdown.

• Sounders: It's simple for the Sounders in Colorado: win or this year's MLS playoffs end like last year's, with an early exit. … The exit part happened to both No. 1 seeds last night. … Real Salt Lake has a player Sigi Schmid wanted on his team long ago. … Will Mauro Rosales play? No one knows.

• Mariners: The M's are building a new facility in the Dominican Republic. When they will build a winning team in Seattle is still unknown. Maybe they are worried winning would cause too much traffic for the Port of Seattle. … Larry Stone looks at Jason Bay, the former NIC and GU player released by the Mets yesterday, and says, “why not?” Why not indeed.

•••

• That's it for today. There are enough links here to fill your day, so why don't you call in sick to work, grab a cup of coffee or two and spend the morning reading them? Then you can spend the afternoon looking for a new job. Until later …


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Jim Allen (@srjimallen) Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan (@srjimm) Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Chris Derrick Chris Derrick is a sports reporter. His primary coverage areas are the Spokane Chiefs, Spokane Indians, women's basketball and high school softball and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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John Blanchette (@SRjblanchette) John Blanchette is a freelance writer who covers the University of Idaho football team and men's basketball team.

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Vince Grippi is the online producer for SportsLink, a product of The Spokesman-Review.

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