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Grip on Sports: Another busy Saturday awaits as the seasons overlap

Sat., Nov. 11, 2017, 6:40 a.m.

The Zags head off the court after defeating Texas Southern 97-69 during a college basketball game, Fri. Nov. 10, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
The Zags head off the court after defeating Texas Southern 97-69 during a college basketball game, Fri. Nov. 10, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Every Saturday is busy. That’s a given. But Saturdays this time of year are busier than, say, in mid-June. So let’s get right to it. Read on.

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• Last night Gonzaga opened the 2017-18 basketball season. The S-R had a huge contingent at McCarthey. I wasn’t one of them. Our assignment, as it was last season, was to watch the TV broadcast and rely our thoughts on what we saw. For the 38th time in 40 games doing this, we saw a Gonzaga victory. And a solid presentation of the game.

On campus, our contingent saw a new-look Zag group dismantle an NCAA participant from last season – interesting fact: both Gonzaga and Texas Southern had their season end last year against North Carolina – that its coach, former Indiana mentor Mike Davis, thinks will be even better.

That’s a good start for GU.

• Also last night, the Pac-12 was unofficially eliminated from the national championship playoffs, as Washington couldn’t get a handle on Stanford’s offense and lost 30-22 at the Cardinal.

That’s Washington, with, statistically, the nation’s best defense. And that’s Stanford, the school that couldn’t do diddly the week before in Pullman.

What the heck is going on in the Pac-12?

• The Cougars will try to ensure the Apple Cup is for a trip to the conference title game when they face Utah this afternoon. Win, and Washington State goes into the bye week knowing a win over UW clinches the North, no matter what Stanford does against California.

Lose, and the Cardinal controls its destiny.

• Back to basketball quickly. Shantay Legans, the longtime Eastern Washington assistant, earned his first win as a head coach yesterday afternoon. His Eagles routed Walla Walla 82-61 at Reese Court.

Legans has waited years for this opportunity. It’s here. And it started off like he probably thought it always would.

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WSU: Luke Falk returns close-to-home for the final time as the Cougars’ quarterback, leading them into Salt Lake City to face Utah. That’s just one of the storylines Theo Lawson is following today. … Theo also has his keys to victory and his pick which team will win. … Stefanie Loh gets you ready for today’s game with a story on freshman receiver Tay Martin. … Utah’s offense clicked in last week, but will the production continue against WSU?

Elsewhere in Pac-12, as we said above, the conference will not have a participant in the playoffs after UW’s loss to Stanford. The Huskies just couldn’t get off the field on third down. And Bryce Love had another huge game. … USC can clinch the South title with a win this afternoon at Colorado. … Arizona will try to keep Oregon State winless in conference play. … UCLA and Arizona State will meet in the Rose Bowl this evening. … The basketball season began, with wins by about every Pac-12 school that took the court, from UCLA in China to USC at home to Arizona to Oregon and Oregon State. And Arizona StateWashington, Colorado, Utah and Stanford also won. Wait, California lost.

Gonzaga: The contingent inside the new-look McCarthey Athletic Center was led by Jim Meehan, again, and he has the game story, the three keys to the win and the news a couple of players were ready to play after dealing with injuries. … John Blanchette attended his 735th GU opener and has this column. … Whitney Ogden has a sidebar on Johnathan Williams’ game. … Colin Mulvany recounts the action through this photo report. … It is Veteran’s Day, so GU honored a World War II veteran. Ryan Collingwood was there to document it. … Finally, I have my TV Take. … Around the WCC, guard Nick Emery, under NCAA investigation, is dropping out of BYU. … Randy Bennett signed a 10-year deal with Saint Mary’s.

EWU: The Eagles’ win over Walla Walla was a lot like many of last year’s wins. Jim Allen has the story and Dan Pelle the photo report. … It’s still football season and Eastern has a pretty important game today at North Dakota. Jim also has an advance. … As we said, it’s a crowded Saturday. Jim has another advance, this one on the soccer team’s NCAA match at USC. … Around the Big Sky, there were a couple of big basketball wins for the conference.

Idaho: The Vandals, the Big Sky preseason favorites, opened at Nevada and struggled, losing 88-64.

Whitworth: The Pirates traveled to Missoula for an exhibition game (for them) against Montana. The home team prevailed 72-60. … The football team is still competing, finishing the season today at home against Willamette. Whitney has an advance.

Chiefs: Kailer Yamamoto is back in the Spokane lineup. His presence is important as he had a goal and three assists in a 6-3 win at Lethbridge.

Preps: The football playoffs are in full swing, with Central Valley taking out defending 4A champion Camas, 22-15 at CV. Dave Nichols was there and has this story while Dan Pelle adds a photo report. … Across the border in Idaho, Coeur d’Alene moved into the 5A finals with a 39-13 win over previously undefeated Mountain View. Peter Harriman has that story. … In the 3A ranks, Rainier Beach rallied with three fourth-quarter touchdowns and downed host Mt. Spokane 28-21 at Albi. Kevin Dudley has that coverage. … We can also pass along a football roundup with other games. … In state volleyball action, Mead and Mt. Spokane are both in the state semifinals while Colfax sent coach Sue Doering into retirement with another title. … The state soccer playoffs continued as well. … Some former GSL cross country stars excelled at the NCAA West Regional race.

Seahawks: The NFL is looking into whether the Hawks’ medical staff handled Russell Wilson properly Thursday night. … Of course the league cares. After all, if it didn’t care about the players’ health, they would play games on short rest. Wait, it does.

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• Have fun today. We will be back here this evening with our three takes on the Washington State game. And we will also be back on the postgame radio show with Derrick Deis. You can catch it on the Cougar stations on the east side of the mountains and on the TuneIn app. Until then …