A GRIP ON SPORTS
Before we get into today's post, I hope everyone had as nice a Christmas as we did. It was just a relaxing, calm day at home with the family. Now back to sports. Read on.
• If you are not an NBA fan – and I'm pretty sure you know where I stand on that – there wasn't a lot of Christmas cheering going on. There just isn't a lot of sports on that day. Which is fine. But makes for a tough day-after-Christmas report. If we can't look back, however, we can always look ahead, which is what happened in today's Review. The first of many Four Corners pages miraculously appeared today, previewing the upcoming league opener for one of our local college basketball teams. What do we have this season? Gonzaga is the WCC favorite, but not the usual overwhelming one in a much deeper conference than years past. Eastern Washington is improved and should challenge for a Big Sky tournament spot. Idaho spends its last season in a new-look WAC before moving into the Big Sky next year. And Washington State, an evolving team in quite possibly the nation's toughest conference, will try to win enough games to ensure another season for an embattled coaching staff. Is that enough for you? It is for me. But then again, it always is for me. We are so lucky to have four different major college programs within a 90-minute drive from S-R headquarters in downtown Spokane. If you really want to sit in the stands for a local college basketball game, you can get in your car, drive a little while and indulge your desire. It's one of the nicer perks of this area in winter. Of course, some nights, four-wheel drive, good tires and a smokin' sound system helps ensure a calmer, safer drive.
• WSU: A preview of the Cougars' weekend and the lead to the local notebook all come courtesy of Jacob Thorpe, despite the football duties of the week. The Cougars don't open Pac-12 play for another week, so there is only one game on tap this weekend. Jacob also has morning links today. … For more on the conference, we offer this piece from the Bay Area and a story on Oregon State's last game in Hawaii yesterday. … We're mixing in some items we would have linked yesterday if we were not celebrating the holiday, including this mailbag from ESPN.com's Pac-12 blog. By the way, I got a little ticked on Christmas Eve when the Oregon State sports information department tweeted out Sean Mannion had set a Pac-12 single-season passing-yardage record early in the Beavers win over Boise State. They stated Mannion had passed UW's Cody Pickett to move into the top spot. I tried to gently remind them Pickett had been passed earlier in the week and WSU's Connor Halliday held the record, albeit only until later in the game. When Mannion finally did pass Halliday, I didn't see a tweet to that effect. Oh well, accuracy is only important in the passing game on the field I guess.
• Gonzaga: The WCC is better this year. Maybe there is no top-ranked team in the nation to lead it, but the league is deeper than it's been in a while. Jim Meehan has a conference advance, along with a preview of this weekend's games. … Thomas Clouse had a feature on Gonzaga's recruiting philosophy for the women's program in the Christmas edition of the paper.
• Idaho: The Vandals face Montana at home this weekend. Josh Wright has a preview.
• Seahawks: Can we stop looking back at the Arizona loss now? Sure we can. After all, the Rams, who visit Sunday, gave the Hawks fits in the first meeting in St. Louis. The matchup is sure to include lots of trash talk, from Golden Tate and others on the Seattle side to their counterparts in Rams gear. … Though the Hawks did not practice on Christmas, they had to release an injury report as if they did. And there was no Festivus Miracle, ie., Percy Harvin didn't miraculously become healthy. Don't expect to see him this season. … The Hawks may have a lot of players named to the Pro Bowl but they would love to have none of them play. … Yes, high school math teacher – and Lincoln High football coach – Jon Kitna was signed by the Cowboys to serve as a backup this weekend. He'll donate his $55,000-plus to his high school. … Kam Chancellor (pictured) has a nice Christmas story to tell.
• That's our short and sweet report for this Thursday morning. We'll be back here bright and early on Friday. Until then …