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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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College hoop fans are always worrying

Gary Bell Jr. ranks in Gonzaga’s all-time top 10 in 3-pointers made, shooting at a 41.6 percent clip. (Jesse Tinsley)
Gary Bell Jr. ranks in Gonzaga’s all-time top 10 in 3-pointers made, shooting at a 41.6 percent clip. (Jesse Tinsley)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Honestly, I didn't have anything for today. So I opened the mail, realized there are lots of bills to be paid and decided I better come up with something. There is nothing like worry to provide a little motivation. Read on.


• Such is the case in college hoops around here. No matter whom you root for, you are worrying about something, right? Cougar fans worry everyday whether or not Ernie Kent can take the program back to where it was about a decade ago. Gonzaga fans worry about an upset this weekend in the Bay Area costing them a No. 1 seed and making the road to Indy a little tougher. Idaho fans worry about making the Big Sky tournament. And Eastern Washington fans? They have the most worries, even as their beloved Eagles seemed to have turned the corner toward respectability. Is Tyler Harvey, the nation's leading scorer, healthy yet? Is Venky Jois? How is Drew Brandon's back? What will the loss of Sir Washington do to the backcourt rotation? Can the Eagles sweep the desert road trip, with Northern Arizona waiting at altitude for a Saturday showdown? Worries, worries, worries. See, when it's been a while since you've reached the ultimate goal – the NCAA tournament – getting back causes stress. Especially when you are in a conference like the Big Sky. The NCAA has multiple bid conferences. The Big Sky isn't one of them. Either win the automatic berth or prepare for an NIT road game – or worse. And what's the easiest path to winning the conference's automatic berth? Host the postseason tournament. To ensure that, all the Eagles, 10-2 in conference play, have to do is win the rest of their conference games. And the all is italicized for a reason. Four of Eastern's final six conference games are on the road, starting tonight in Cedar City. The Thunderbirds haven't played well this season – they are 7-16 overall – but have won their last two games. Still, the big game this trip is Saturday in Flagstaff. Northern Arizona, though just 13-12 overall, is 8-4 in conference, just two games behind the league-leading Eagles. Survive this weekend and then the Montana schools come to visit. The Griz, who are in Cheney next Saturday, are just a half-game behind Eastern at 10-3. Finally, get through all that unblemished, then Eastern would probably still have to win at least one of two road games at Idaho State and Weber State to ensure the top spot, though Sacramento State, also 10-3, has a tough finishing stretch as well. Add it all up and what does it equal? Worry. The mother of motivation and the lifeblood of the college basketball fan.


• WSU: Though the Cougars only play one game this weekend – they host the Huskies on Sunday – Jacob Thorpe still has his weekend preview in the newspaper. He also has a short story on a football hire and blog posts on the football team's end-of-season awards as well as a Q&A with Kent. And, lest we forget, his morning post with links. ... Oregon State and Utah meet this week. The two coaches go back a long way.

• Gonzaga: The Zags' worries tonight should be miniscule, what with the road game at last-place Pacific. Jim Meehan has his preview of the weekend as well as this nice feature on senior guard Gary Bell. ... BYU will be saying goodbye tonight to one of the most prolific scorers in school history. ... The Gonzaga women will host St. Mary's tonight and Pacific on Saturday.

• EWU: As the Eagles hit the road, Jim Allen has a preview of the trip. ... Bud Withers has a feature on Harvey's long road to stardom.

• Idaho: The Vandals are also on the same trip, though the opponents are reversed. Sean Kramer offers a preview and a numbers-based blog post.

• Preps: The state wrestling and gymnastics tournaments are first up in Washington, with Greg Lee previewing both. He has a feature on Central Valley's Blake Beard (pictured) as well as an overall look at the state wrestling. ... He also has an advance of gymnastics. ... From Idaho, Greg previews the state girls basketball tournaments. ... There were basketball playoff games last night and we have this roundup.

• Seahawks: The combine is going on, so it's easy to find stories to pass along. The NFC West has more than enough storylines itself, from Larry Fitzgerald staying in Arizona to the chaos in San Francisco to St. Louis and the Rams' oft-injured quarterback. ... So what are the Hawks looking for? Art Thiel has a suggestion. It certainly isn't a top quarterback. ... Jake Locker will be available in the free-agent market. ... The NFL seems to always want to tweak the rules every year. ... The Jets have yet to make up their mind on Percy Harvin.

• Mariners: Though the M's injured pitching prospect seems to be making progress, he's still not conscious after the boating accident. His future is in the hands of the doctors. ... Hey, another preview. This one is on the infielders.

• Sounders: The Sounders won an exhibition match 6-0 last night. ... More from the general manager interviews.


• Sorry for the slow start to the day. It was hard to get going. But I know what you would say to me if you had the chance. "No worries." Until later ...

Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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