A GRIP ON SPORTS
If you are a football fan, it's going to be a long day. If you're not a football fan, well, college basketball season kicked off for real yesterday. Does that help? Read on.
• This time of the year is crowded. The football games are still going strong and the basketball teams are trying to elbow their way in for coverage. Crowds can be uncomfortable, but they do offer the silver lining of a lot to watch. Wherever you turn, there is a football game or basketball game or a half dozen of each to take in. For us, the day will start with whatever football game I find this morning, then transition through the 90-minute drive to Pullman to a basketball evening. When that ends, we'll put on our heated football helmet and wander over to Martin Stadium to watch the football game. When that's finished, we'll wait around an hour and then take phone calls from folks. The topper: We'll drive back to Spokane. What fun.
• Before the season began, I tried to determine how many football games Washington State would win. My final guess: Five. I figured the Cougars were assured of three, what with UNLV, Eastern Washington and Colorado on the schedule. I also figured they were assured of a couple defeats in Oregon and Stanford. The rest of the games were toss-ups, with the BYU, Utah, Oregon State and Arizona State games tougher because they were on the road. That left California, UCLA and Washington. To get to five wins, I figured, WSU would have to win a couple of those toss-up games. Well, putting UCLA in the toss-up category caused me financial problems. My brother-in-law, a proud Bruin if there ever was one, called me on the statement. So we have a bet. If WSU wins, he owes me a gift certificate to the Onion, his favorite Spokane eatery. If UCLA wins, I owe him a gift certificate to In-N-Out, my favorite So Cal spot. Before the season started, I thought it was a fair bet, especially if it was going to be cold and snowy on Nov. 10. But since then, my impressions of the two teams have changed a bit. Now I wish I had gotten a couple touchdowns. Live and learn.
• Washington State: It's a bit colder in Pullman than it is in Los Angeles, and that's the subject of Christian Caple's advance of tonight's game – not whining or anything but a 7:30 start up here in November; really? Christian also has his pick 'em game, a blog post from this morning and his keys to tonight's game. ... On the court, the Cougars host Eastern – we'll have the story here sometime this evening – and Christian has an advance. ... The WSU women's soccer team lost a first-round NCAA playoff match with Portland in a shootout. I understand if an NCAA playoff baseball game is tied after 11 innings this year, it will be decided with a home-run derby (just kidding). ... The ESPN.com guys have a Q&A with Jeff Tuel and their Friday mailbag.
• Gonzaga: OK, we understand Southern Utah isn't Duke or Memphis or even Illinois. But the Thunderbirds were GU's opener last night. And the Bulldogs blew their doors off. Jim Meehan was in the Kennel to watch Przemek Karnowski's debut (pictured) and filed this story and blog post. ... The Gonzaga women opened their season at UC Riverside last night and struggled early on before pulling out a 60-53 win. ... The BYU men won, though it was tougher than they hoped. ... Santa Clara is hoping for a rebound season.
• EWU: This is senior day in Cheney and the group Eastern is honoring is a pretty darn good one, as Jim Allen's story shows. He also has a blog post this morning. ... The Eagles basketball team will be in Pullman this afternoon. ... Jim also has links this morning. ... Former EWU coach and current Idaho State coach Mike Kramer will not face criminal charges over the shoving incident at practice. ... His Bengals are in California today.
• Idaho: The basketball season started on a down note with a loss at home to Wright State. Josh Wright (no relation to the school) was there and had this story and blog post. ... Jason Gesser's football team is in Prove this evening for a game with a BYU team looking to bounce back on senior night after a few hard weeks. Josh has an advance.
• Whitworth: John Tully has been the Pirates' coach for more years than he probably wants to remember, but he can't recall a football game impacted by snow. As Jim Meehan's advance shows, he can mark that off his bucket list.
• Chiefs: Mitch Holmberg came back just in time to help Spokane post one of its bigger wins of the season. Correspondent Steve Christilaw has the story. ... Portland comes to town tonight toting a 10-game winning streak.
• Preps: There is a lot of prep volleyball to pass along, including the 1A, 2A, 3A and 4A state tournament stories. Greg Lee was at a lot of matches yesterday. ... Idaho had its big-school semifinals last night, with Coeur d'Alene punching its ticket to the finals but Lake City going down to top-ranked Madison. ... The smaller Washington schools played last night and we have a roundup.
• I hope you are ready for this long Saturday. I'm not sure I am. But we'll get through it. Heck, if I can just remember it tomorrow, that's a win. Until then ...