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Tuesday, March 26, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Another crowded Thursday night looms as games vie for your attention

Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire pleads for help from an official while playing Gonzaga, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Pacific coach Damon Stoudamire pleads for help from an official while playing Gonzaga, Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • What’s on your agenda for this evening? Planning on watching a little college basketball? Maybe sit at home and peek at the Cougars or the Zags on the television? Or maybe get in your car and watch the Griz and Eagles renew their rivalry? Or maybe there is something else that has caught your eye. Whatever, there is a decent amount to focus upon. Read on.

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• As the daylight part of the days grow longer – way too slowly, I know – it’s amazing how many sporting events there are to take in each evening during the week.

And that doesn’t even include loading up the car and heading to the slopes, if that is your type of thing.

The sun disappears and the night comes alive. Last night alone, you could have watched a kid score more than 50 points to lead Marquette to an overtime victory, or watch Stanford determine the coefficient of least resistance and it lost to Arizona for the 18th consecutive time.

Heck, if you were really willing to be surprised, you could have tuned in as Tony Bennett’s Virginia team scored more than 80 points in an ACC road win. How often did that happen when he was at WSU?

Speaking of WSU, the Cougars are in Colorado tonight, the middle game of three-game road swing to open Pac-12 play. When Robert Franks decided to return for his senior year, there was much rejoicing in Cougar-ville. Much deserved rejoicing, actually, as he’s one of the better offensive players on the West Coast.

When healthy. And that’s been part of the problem. Franks hasn’t been healthy, at least recently. He’s missed their last two games, both losses and, in at least one of them, he may have made the difference.

Gonzaga is just getting through a bout of injury-itis, and the Zags seem poised to take off once again. At 14-2 and ranked fifth nationally, it’s not as if the Bulldogs have been sputtering. But it’s pretty obvious they can compete with anyone in the nation and are a legitimate national title contender.

First, however, they have to navigate the WCC schedule. Tonight’s opponent, Pacific, has yet to really show its capable of putting a scare into the Bulldogs, especially in the Kennel. The Tigers’ two best wins, Long Beach State and UC Irvine, both came at home.

Out in Cheney, the two teams that met in the Big Sky Conference tournament final last season, with an NCAA berth on the line, renew their rivalry tonight. But the only similarity may be the names on the uniforms.

The teams have gone in the opposite direction since that night in Reno. The Griz (10-5, 3-1 in conference play) have continued to roll. The injury-saddled Eagles (3-12, 1-3) have been grounded. Tonight’s matchup is a chance for Eastern to turn their season around. For UM, it’s more about not stubbing its toe.

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Gonzaga: Pacific will rely on guard Roberto Gallinat for a spark off the bench. That’s Jim Meehan’s key matchup tonight as he previews the game with the Tigers. … Rui Hachimura has been named to a couple midseason watch lists. Jim also has that story. … Around the WCC, everything seems to have been worked out between BYU and guard Jahshire Hardnett. … Two USD players have left the program.

WSU: The Cougars have added a junior college linebacker/long snapper to their recruiting class. Theo Lawson has the story. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, maybe the most interesting story comes from Oregon where a former football player has filed a lawsuit related to an offseason workout while Willie Taggart was coach. … Utah running back Zack Moss explains why he is returning for another season. … An Arizona defensive lineman has reasons to enter the NFL draft. … A USC player will transfer to Miami. … By the way, the Arizona Cardinals’ owner said new coach Kliff Kingsbury had to resign at USC before interviewing with the team. … Moving on to basketball, there were two games last night involving the Bay Area and Arizona schools. At Stanford, Arizona hung tough down the stretch and defeated the Cardinal for the 18th consecutive time. … In Berkeley, Arizona State hung another defeat around California’s neck. … Colorado hopes one of its key players stays out of foul trouble against the Cougars. … The Huskies have exhibited better balance but one Washington player has risen to a new level. … Oregon State hasn’t started 3-0 in conference since the last century. … Kenny Wooten may return for Oregon wearing a mask. … Utah is having trouble stopping people. …The matchup with Oregon was supposed to be a big one for UCLA. It still is, but for different reasons than earlier imagined. … Kevin Porter Jr. can’t wait to get back on the floor for USC. … Finally, the University of Utah, and the McCluskey family, are still dealing with Lauren McCluskey’s murder and the events leading up to it.

EWU: A lot of news from Cheney, not the least of which is Ryan Collingwood’s preview of tonight’s basketball game with Montana. … Ryan also has a notebook of football news, including the denial of a coaching change. … Dan Thompson delves into the Eagles’ club hockey team. … Around the Big Sky, there has been a coaching staff change, more than one actually, at Montana State. The Bobcats have already moved to hire a new defensive coordinator. … There is an issue at Idaho State, with one assistant football coach let go and the head coach under investigation. Some players don’t understand why. … In basketball, Weber State’s fortunes have been boosted by the return of an injured player. … Montana State hopes it has learned from the past.

CCS: Both the men and women won last night in Yakima.

Chiefs: Spokane gave its newest goalie a start and he came through in a 4-2 win over Prince George. Kevin Dudley was at the Arena and has this coverage of Reece Klassen’s first Chief win.

Preps: As is usually the case on Thursday morning, we have some really interesting stories to pass along. Topping that list today is Dave Nichols’ piece on a Mead gymnast who succeeds at a high level despite a vision problem. … Dave also delves into the GSL girls’ basketball race in his notebook. … We can also pass along roundups from wrestling and gymnastics.

Seahawks: There has been a change in the coaching staff, as longtime strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle is out. … As the offseason goes on, the Hawks have some roster and contract decisions to make. … Russell Wilson is going to the Pro Bowl after all. … Ed Dickson believes the Seahawks can be really good.

Mariners: Dustin Ackley needed a place to land. The M’s need minor league depth. The two got together.

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• If you read this feature yesterday and want to see how I can mess things up more, then by all means listen to Larry Weir and I talk on the latest Press Box pod. Heck, just listen to it anyway. Until later …

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