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Rob Curley: The joy of watching college hoops … especially when you’re at school or work

We remember days like today forever.

We talk about them with reverence – almost always with a bit of a goofy smile, our voices rising as we describe the little details like they happened just yesterday.

The first round of the NCAA Tournament is magical, especially in a place like Spokane. Yet today has a a little extra crackle to it.

Why? Because there’s nothing quite like your favorite team playing a game that actually matters while you’re at work or school. It’s hoopified hooky. And it’s the best.

This morning’s 10:30 Gonzaga tipoff ensures there will be more bathroom and coffee breaks as well as early lunches across Spokane than there have been since, well … since about this time last year. And as much as we might gripe about it, secretly we all love it.

It brings back romantic memories of listening to the World Series on a transistor radio while we were supposed to be paying attention to our math teacher. As much as nostalgia equates this behavior with baseball, there are generations that don’t.

Or maybe the better word is “can’t,” because big games are now played during prime time. Nighttime is now Game Time. Especially for the important games.

There hasn’t been an afternoon World Series game played since 1987, when the Twins beat the Cardinals in Game 6. On a Saturday. Inside a dome. So, that doesn’t really count.

If you’re looking for an honest-to-goodness Fall Classic played on a crisp weekday afternoon, you’re going all the way back to Game Five of the 1972 series between Oakland and Cincinnati.

Which is part of what makes this morning’s game between the Zags and UNC Greensboro so fun. Big-time games are just a lot more fun when we really aren’t supposed to be watching them.

And it’s not often that a bit of misbehaving is such a community-bonding moment.

So, what’s happening at our schools?

Almost every school in the GSL is showing the game on projectors at lunch. Except for Mt. Spokane, which we’re told isn’t doing anything. So it’s pretty clear where the meanest teachers from my old school ended up.

Lewis and Clark is rolling out a couple of big screens in the hallways so students can see the game between periods … and on “trips to the bathroom,” if you know what I mean.

Though most kids have no idea what a Walkman is, let alone a radio, the real concern is cellphones. Ferris Principal Ken Schutz admitted that dealing with cellphones once the game starts will be an interesting classroom challenge. But …

“We’re going to be understanding of that at the same time,” Schutz said, like a leader who understands just how much happier and productive our community is when the Zags are winning in March.

For most businesses in the region, even through it isn’t Friday, today is a casual day — as long as your casual attire involves Gonzaga gear.

Many of the businesses we talked to said there would be numerous TVs in lobbies and conference rooms to make sure that Bulldog fans would know the latest score and be able to sneak a few peeks of the game.

We won’t drop any names, but if you need to do some banking during the game, you might try a place that rhymes with Rahshington Must. We’re not saying they have full-size hoops from Hoopfest or free pizza, but you might want to practice your free throws before you head in and possibly come hungry.

There are lots of lawyers in Spokane from Gonzaga. It’s just that all of the attorneys and interns at McNeice Wheeler are Zags. The entire office went to Las Vegas for last week’s WCC tourney.

But today will be a little different.

Today, they’ll be in the middle of a deposition while the game is being played.

“Unfortunately, work takes precedence, I suppose,” partner and founder Ryan McNeice said, speaking much like how the rest of us feel.

Because the forbidden fruit of tasty weekday hoops is best served in the mornings of March.

We might not have those afternoon baseball games, but we have the Big Dance during the daytime, and that’s not a bad substitute.

Which is exactly why we remember days like today forever.

(Reporter Whitney Ogden contributed to this report.)

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