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Another busy Saturday awaits

A GRIP ON SPORTS

What else is there to write about today than the NCAA tournament? I can't think about anything. Unless it's the women's tournament. Or playoff hockey. Or big Mariners news. Yep, it's one of those mornings. Read on.


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• Really, it is a Saturday and you don't have time to read and read and read (see above). So we will winnow it down for you. We covered Gonzaga and the NCAA tourney pretty extensively yesterday, including some quick thoughts about Wichita State that have been echoed throughout our paper, so we'll skip that. Though we will remind you to vote in our poll. Otherwise, the Chiefs first-round matchup with Tri-City just got a little more interesting with Everett's upset of Portland last night, giving the Tips a 1-0 lead in that series. No one expects Everett to knock the team with the WHL's best record out of the playoffs, but winning the first game gives it hope. Meanwhile, the M's refused to commit a roster spot to veteran pitcher Jon Garland thus, per his contract, allowing the right-hander to look elsewhere for employment. He will. It means two things: At least one of the M's five starters will be a youngster and Pasco's pride, Jeremy Bonderman, has a better chance of making the team.

• We will take a bit of time to talk about the women's tournament in McCarthey today, though. It's funny. My first memory of women's collegiate basketball was working with Kim's team at UC Irvine when I was a senior. This was post-Title IX, but the early years so there was little in the way of governmental push for equality. The Anteaters had one coach for the women, so Millie Burns went out looking for help. I, and a couple other students, answered the call. We were supposed to just be managers but before too long I was working with the posts, using drills I had learned in high school and elsewhere. Remember, this was an NCAA Division I school, though that organization hadn't deemed it important enough to overseeing women's athletics yet. They had left that to the AIAW. The two organizations would merge in 1982 after a contentious fight and, of course, a lawsuit. But that was in the future. During the 1977-1978 season, the term shoestring was applicable to women's hoop at UCI. Attendance? Don't laugh. If the study rooms in the library were overcrowded and a student needed a quiet place to work, the women's games were a good backup spot. Which makes this weekend so interesting. In the 35 years since Kim was the leading rebounder for her Irvine team, the inside players have grown quiet a bit taller and the crowds quiet a bit larger. There will be more than 5,000 folks in McCarthey today to watch the Zags face Iowa State. There may not have been 5,000 people in Crawford Hall to watch Kim's teams in the four years she played there – combined. Remember those Virginia Slims' commercials, back when cigarettes could advertise on TV? (Yes, kids, that was allowed back in the day.) The ones that touted “you've come a long way (word redacted because it is so sexist).” Well, when you are talking about women's basketball, that sentiment is true. It has come a long way. And that's a good thing.

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• Gonzaga: I guess I'll start in Salt Lake City where Jim Meehan, John Blanchette and Christian Caple have set up camp, hoping to be headed to Los Angeles next weekend. Jim had a day-after blog post yesterday and another one in the evening. He also has an advance. The Zags know how tough Wichita State will be. He also combined with Christian on a notebook. … John looks at the dismissal of the West's high seeds in his column. … Christian looks at Wichita State, home of former Oregon guard Malcolm Armstead, a subject for the Times' Bud Withers as well. … Withers has a story on GU and Jerry Brewer looks at the Zags' defense, a subject we've dissected here often this season. … Sports Illustrated has some Gonzaga coverage and there are plenty of stories from the Salt Lake City papers as can be expected. … BYU and Tyler Haws are prepping for Monday's NIT opponent Mercer. … OK, now to the women in Spokane. … Chris Derrick was at the press conference yesterday and has this advance. He also teamed with Greg Lee on this notebook. … Greg has a feature on Lake City's Katie Baker (pictured), a Montana star, and an advance of the Grizzlies' matchup with Georgia. … There is more Montana coverage from Missoula and the New York Times – though the latter is about the Tinkle family, which has connections to Montana, Gonzaga, Stanford and Spokane. … The Seattle Times has a feature on Jazmine Redmond.

• Washington State: Christian isn't too busy to avoid doing his morning blog post. And I'm not to overwhelmed to link ESPN.com's mailbag. There is also this from Jon Wilner in San Jose. Think about it, two Pac-12 teams rooting for each other. Is the apocalypse coming?

• EWU: The Eagle women traveled to UW last night and lost a heartbreaking two-overtime NWIT game.

• Idaho: The Vandals opened spring practice yesterday and Josh Wright was there and has this story.

• Whitworth: The Pirates have a new volleyball coach with a familiar name. Well, the maiden name is familiar.

• Chiefs: As we said, the Chiefs jumped ahead 1-0 in the first-round playoff series with Tri-City behind Mitch Holmberg's two goals. Chris has the story and a blog post. Jesse Tinsley also has these photographs. … The Tri-City Herald has coverage. … Yes, top-seeded Portland lost 4-3 and must rally in the series with Everett. … The second-seed, Kelowna, was also upset at home by Seattle.

• Preps: Softball season is underway and Greg has a feature on Lake City standout Casey Stangal.

• Mariners: The Times' Larry Stone wrote Friday morning he hoped the Mariners would go young with their starting rotation this season, building for the future. He got his wish in the afternoon when Garland and the team cut ties. … Felix Hernandez took the mound in the evening and shutdown the Padres. The M's scored late and won. … Carter Capps is trying to expand his pitch repertoire.

• Sounders: It's really good to have really good players, unless their national teams come a calling. That's happened to the Sounders this week. And it's making tonight's game with San Jose an iffy proposition up front. … Speaking of the national team, it played in a snowstorm last night (pictured). … The Sounders' roster is still in a state of flux. And the team has some injuries.

•••

• We're headed out to McCarthey this afternoon to watch the women with Kim – 35 years and counting of women's basketball together – but we will be back in plenty of time for the GU men. We have trepidation. But, then again, trepidation is March Madness' middle name. Until later …


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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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Sean Kramer Sean Kramer is a freelance correspondent 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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