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Grip on Sports: WSU gets whipped, Edgar gets close and undefeated Gonzaga heads out of town

Utah forward Tyler Rawson, left, and Washington State guard Malachi Flynn go after the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Utah won 88-47. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)
Utah forward Tyler Rawson, left, and Washington State guard Malachi Flynn go after the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Pullman, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Utah won 88-47. (Young Kwak / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • One thing about Thursdays this time of year: There is a lot going on. College basketball is the main element, of course, but today also features college football news as well. And a little bit of baseball. Read on.

••••••••••

• Gonzaga is on the road tonight, in the Bay Area to play Santa Clara. What do the Broncos bring to the table? Jared Brownridge (pictured), one of the better guards on the West Coast, and a savvy veteran coach.

Herb Sendek, he of the matchup zone in his days at North Carolina State and early on at Arizona State, took over Santa Clara in the offseason and immediately gave the Bronco faithful hope.

They have a bit more right now, as Santa Clara has won four of its last five games.

But hope can only take you so far. A good stat-line from beyond the arc would be a lot more important against the Zags tonight.

• There have been stinker games turned in by WSU over the past dozens years, none worse than the memorable – in a bad way – 81-29 loss at Oklahoma State in the 2004-05 season.

Last night’s 88-47 defeat might have been worse in a couple ways.

It happened at home, before 2,928 at Friel Court. It came in a Pac-12 game, against Utah. And, unlike that 04-05 team, this Cougar squad doesn’t feature a handful of freshmen expected to take WSU to another level.

Oh, and Utah didn’t have its leading scorer, David Collette, out with a concussion.

• Edgar Martinez didn’t make the Hall of Fame. That was to be expected. But he also didn’t garner 60 percent of the vote, something that seemed attainable in the run-up to the announcement.

There are a few things working in Martinez’s favor for next year or the year after, his last two chances. His vote totals have jumped from 27 percent in 2015 to 58.6 this year. And there seems to be less reluctance to hold his position – designated hitter – against him.

But there are other things working against him as well, especially next year.

He finished sixth in this year’s voting and the other two players who had a better percentage without getting the necessary 75 percent, Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero, will be back on the ballot along with first-timers Chipper Jones and Jim Thome. A 16.4 percent leap – he jumped 15.2 percent this year – might be tough to make in 2018.

• The Pac-12 football schedule was released yesterday and, once again, the conference didn’t do too many favors to the Pullman school.

Granted, having five home games in the great weather of September sounds good, but it comes with a cost.

One home game in October. One in November. Eleven consecutive weeks without a bye. Two Friday night games, one of them on the road following a Saturday road game.

Nope, this fall’s Washington State football schedule isn’t what you would call favorable. But maybe it will contain one twist. Maybe it will be the first time in Mike Leach’s WSU tenure the Cougars win their home opener. We’ll see in a little more than eight months.

•••

Gonzaga: Tonight’s game from Santa Clara will be on ESPNU. Jim Meehan will be in the South Bay and will have the coverage. He has the pregame covered pretty well, as per usual, with an advance focusing on Sendek, a look at Brownridge’s year, and some history of the series. … John Blanchette, who joined more than a dozen folks last night in remembering former GU coach Dan Fitzgerald (Fitz died seven years ago today), has a column about the Jekyll and Hyde nature of Gonzaga fans. … We’ll be back late this evening with our view from the living room. … The Zag women are home tonight and Whitney Ogden has an advance. … Elsewhere in the WCC, there are some grumblings about BYU’s record going into tonight’s home game with Pepperdine, grumblings that always get back to the head coach. … Richland’s Steven Beo was going to walk-on at BYU. Then he got a scholarship.

WSU: Jacob Thorpe braved the awful weather – classes were cancelled yesterday due to the ice everywhere – and chronicled the 41-point defeat to a short-handed Utah team. He also recorded postgame interviews with coach Ernie Kent and senior post Josh Hawkinson. … Jacob didn’t miss the football schedule story either. … The 2017 schedule is also covered by Stefanie Loh in the Times. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the Huskies rallied in the second half and won a conference basketball game (pictured), 85-83 in overtime over Colorado. The Buffs are still winless in Pac-12 play. … There are few more games tonight, with Oregon hosting California with a chance to tie a school record. … Oregon State, coming off a blowout loss to the Ducks, will try to get going against Stanford. … Arizona will be without Allonzo Trier when it travels to USC tonight, but at least now we know why. … UCLA has been putting up some impressive numbers, unlike Arizona State.

EWU: Football is still in the spotlight in Cheney, as the Eagles try to deal with Beau Baldwin’s departure. Jim Allen has a story on the changes, and may have been given a hint what’s ahead for Eastern. … The basketball team will be hosting Northern Arizona tonight and Jim has an advance. … Around the Big Sky, Southern Utah is at Idaho trying to turn around a rough start to conference. … North Dakota has a tough homestand this weekend. … So does Northern Colorado. … Idaho State has received a contribution from a well-traveled player. … Montana would like to continue its Big Sky success on the road. As would Montana State.

NIC: The Cardinal men lost their first conference game and a former Post Falls player, Dalton Thompson, played a big part in Walla Walla’s road win.

Chiefs: Interstate 90 was closed over the pass yesterday, which meant the Seattle Thunderbirds were stuck on the other side. So the game with the Chiefs was postponed a week. Josh Horton has the story.

Preps: Greg Lee is doing what a lot of us do early in a new year: look back at the past one. He has his favorite stories from 2016. … Maybe this feature on Coeur d’Alene’s Joey Naccarato will be one of his 2017 favorites. … We also have a wrestling roundup from last night.

Seahawks: Let the rebuilding begin. The Hawks are already out looking for cornerbacks, what with DeShawn Shead suffering a bad injury in the playoff loss to Atlanta. … Tom Cable will be back next season. Will his bag of tricks be needed? … Jimmy Graham and Kam Chancellor should be back as well, but there are contract issues to be worked out.

Mariners: So it’s on to next year for Edgar Martinez. One thing is for certain: The baseball writers have a tendency to change their minds about guys.

•••

• The post is up early today because, basically, I couldn’t sleep last night. When your Great Dane mix is antsy, for whatever reason, everyone is antsy. Until later …


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