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Grip on Sports: No matter what, or how, you want to watch, there is something for you today

File - Central Valley twins Lacie (24) and Lexie Hull (10) race up-court against Mead on Dec. 5, 2017. Central Valley routed Stanwood 71-34 at the Cam Jam Clash for Cancer at Central Valley HS on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
File - Central Valley twins Lacie (24) and Lexie Hull (10) race up-court against Mead on Dec. 5, 2017. Central Valley routed Stanwood 71-34 at the Cam Jam Clash for Cancer at Central Valley HS on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • So what’s happening this weekend? Just about anything you could want. Read on.

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• You like college basketball? Then today’s the day for you. I count two-dozen games on the local broadcast schedule, starting at 9 a.m. and not ending until sometime after 10 p.m.

That’s a lot of college hoops.

There is quality too, with Villanova playing at Butler, WCC rivals Saint Mary’s and BYU meeting in Provo and the best of the Pac-12, Arizona State, traveling to Tucson to face Arizona.

There is also the local factor, as Gonzaga hosts Santa Clara in a 4 p.m. game, which means you can watch the Zags and still have time to catch dinner and a movie.

Sweet.

But maybe you aren’t a college basketball fan. Maybe football is your forte. Well, there are two bowl games that shouldn’t be missed. The best is in Phoenix, where Washington will try to salvage a little of the Pac-12’s tarnished reputation when it takes on Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl.

If you haven’t been paying attention – and commissioner Larry Scott hopes you haven’t – the conference is 1-7 in its bowl games. That’s the most bowl losses in conference history. And, if the Huskies lose today, the Pac-12 will have the worst single-season conference bowl record in NCAA history.

Sweet.

But maybe you aren’t the type of person who likes to take in your sporting events via cable. Being in a gym is your preferred method of viewing enjoyment. Well, there are places you can go and games you can see – even if you want to watch college hoops.

Getting into the Gonzaga game isn’t easy, sure, though the students are gone so there are more seats available for the general public. But there are games going on today at Whitworth, with the highly ranked Pirates hosting Calvin (without Hobbes) in the second game of a twinbill at the Fieldhouse.

And there are plenty of high school games available, from Lewiston to Central Valley and a few places in-between. Heck, checking our local schedule, there is a wrestling tournament at Freeman and the Chiefs are in town tonight if that’s your preference.

No matter what you choose, the last weekend of 2017 offers something worth watching. You can sit down, tune in and munch on the last of your Christmas candy.

Sweet.

• Washington State opened Pac-12 basketball play last night in Westwood, where UCLA ran to a 96-82 victory.

Theo Lawson was there and tweeted out a picture of the John Wooden statue beforehand, which brought back a ton of memories – good and bad.

One of the high points of my time as the Washington State beat writer came at Pauley Pavilion. Tony Bennett’s Cougars were playing Ben Howland’s Bruins on a Saturday and my dad, in his 80s, accompanied me to the shoot around. He wanted to watch as I worked. But that wasn’t the best part.

John Wooden was there too. And my dad got to meet him. 

You have to understand, Wooden was a hero to many in Southern California during the 1960s and 1970s, the guy who won every year, put the area on the college basketball map and did it while projecting an image of decency.

But he was also just one of millions of people in the L.A. area and, though my father had seen him on television often, had contributed money to UCLA through his daughters’ tuition and his football tickets, he had never met the best coach ever.

He got to on this day. Two old men, one needing a cane to get around, just sitting and talking for a few minutes.

It was special to dad. Special enough that over the next few years until his death, he would mention it most every time we visited together.

That’s a special memory. A sad one sure, because I miss talking with my dad, but one that also brings a smile to my face.

•••

WSU: Theo’s memory of covering his first WSU game at Pauley won’t be of a win, as Washington State couldn’t stay with the Bruins. … It was a big night for a couple of UCLA players. … The loss comes on the heels of the Holiday Bowl defeat, one that still is resonating. Stefanie Loh has a couple of follow-up stories in the Times and we looked around to find a few more pieces from elsewhere. … Speaking of out of the area, we found this story about a former WSU basketball player.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the conference’s bowl problems will end in the Fiesta Bowl today, one way or another. After Washington and Penn State meet, the bowl season is over for the Pac-12. The Huskies have a lot to prove and they expect to do it. … USC had a lot to prove last night and fumbled away its chance against Ohio State, losing 24-7. Now Sam Darnold has to make a decision. … Arizona State played its last game under Todd Graham and didn't show up defensively, losing 52-31 to North Carolina State. One of the new Sun Devils assistants probably could have told you it was going to happen. … In basketball last night, the Huskies picked up a road win, beating USC in Los Angeles. That’s news for UW. … Oregon State handled Colorado rather easily in Corvallis. … Oregon hasn’t been playing well and the struggle continued as the Ducks lost at home to Utah. … California and Stanford, who may finish as the bottom two teams in the standings, open conference play today. … So do Arizona State and Arizona, who may just be the top two teams in the standings.

Gonzaga: Though Santa Clara has struggled this season, the Broncos will bring a three-guard attack into the Kennel this afternoon, one that Jim Meehan examines in this piece. Jim also has a story on Corey Kispert’s health. … Around the WCC, the best game of the day is in Provo, where either BYU or Saint Mary’s will leave the first conference weekend with a defeat. … USD is trying to improve its home-court advantage.

EWU: The Eagles’ Big Sky schedule began with a road loss, as they couldn’t contain Northern Colorado, falling 88-75.

Idaho: Both Inland Northwest Big Sky teams played last night (the only conference games going on), and the Vandals had little trouble with North Dakota in Grand Forks, winning 74-57.

Whitworth: The Pirates opened up their two-day tournament with a 79-71 win over Wisconsin-Stout. James Snook has a photo gallery from the game.

Chiefs: The Seattle Thunderbirds scored three times in the third period for a 5-4 win over the visiting Chiefs. … Around the WHL, Everett scored 10 fewer goals in the rematch with Vancouver and lost, 2-1.

Preps: The last Friday night of 2017 included a bunch of basketball games, the results of which are contained in our girls and boys roundups. … Dave Nichols was also at the finale of the Lake City Invite and has this story of Post Falls’ win over Mead.

Seahawks: It will be a sickness-depleted group that will face Arizona in a win-or-be-done game in Seattle tomorrow. … Even if they win, Atlanta loses and the playoffs await, will they play more than a week or two? … At least Justin Coleman wasn't fined. … Brothers don't have to be close to be close. … Giving is a two-way street. … Bobby Wagner loves Seattle.

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• Enjoy your viewing pleasure today, no matter what that may be. Until later …