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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883


There’s a lot to do today – even without the NFL

Tyler Johnson (Chiefs, Central Valley High) is one of nine U.S. born players who could participate today. (Associated Press)
Tyler Johnson (Chiefs, Central Valley High) is one of nine U.S. born players who could participate today. (Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • This is the first Sunday in a long, long time without NFL football. (And don't even mention the Pro Bowl. Just don't.) Which leaves the day open for other things. Like what, you ask. We can tell you. Read on.


• In an amazing confluence of circumstances, the weather folks are calling for a high temperature of 49 in the Spokane area today. While that might not seem like much if you are living in, say, Key West, around here this time of year it's a veritable heat wave. And it opens a big old box of outdoor opportunities. For folks with knees and hips that still work, there is, as usual in January, skiing and snowboarding. You just won't have to bundle up as heavily – and the snow may not be perfect. But that's only one opportunity. The road beckons. Either with your tennis shoes on, your bicycle tires inflated or, if you are not up for physical exertion, your car's front seat. It seems like a near-perfect January day to do some exploring. Or knock some rust off the dog's paws. Of course there is some sports on the tube, with the NHL All-Star game on today. Former Central Valley High Bear and Spokane Chief Tyler Johnson (pictured) is an all-star though he missed yesterday's skills competition with a lower body injury and may not play today. And there is college basketball, including Mike Krzyzewski reaching for his 1,000 victory. But why stay indoors? A nearly 50-degree January day without the NFL? Heck, clean the gutters or wash the windows. Rake up the flotsam and jetsam from the winter. OK, I understand now. Sit down in front of the TV and catch up on "Blue Bloods" or the "30-for-30" collection you got for Christmas. That should recharge your batteries for the week ahead. Non-stop Super Bowl hype. Which isn't a bad thing.


• WSU: If you needed to talk a walk yesterday evening, doing it during the Cougar game at Colorado would have been just about right. After all, you wouldn't have wanted to watch that effort. The Cougars jogged through their defensive assignments much of the evening and were blasted by the Buffaloes, 90-58. Jacob Thorpe was there – sorry, man – and had this game story. He also has a morning post with links and a post from yesterday on an award for a member of the WSU football coaching staff. ... There was some positive news on the track front. ... After Klay Thompson's 37-point quarter, you knew this was coming, right?

• Gonzaga: The Bulldogs broke fast and broke Pacific's spirit in the Kennel last night. Jim Meehan was on hand and he has this game story as well as a blog post on the 91-60 victory. He will be back today with a morning-after post. ... The GU women also finished the first half of the WCC schedule undefeated, posting a 73-63 win at Pacific. ... It was an interesting night in the West Coast Conference, what with San Diego handing BYU another road defeat, Portland being unable to hang on against St. Mary's and Santa Clara getting past visiting Pepperdine. ... This seems like an interesting way to guarantee coaches a bit more money.

• EWU: You want to know why Eastern has 15 wins already this season? Not many teams can put up 67 points in a half with their best inside guy watching the game from the bench in street clothes. Venky Jois went through warmups but his ankle still wouldn't allow him to play last night. It didn't matter. The Eagles routed North Dakota 102-80 with a monster second half. Jim Allen has the game story. ... Eastern is still tied for second in the Big Sky though, a half-game behind Sacramento State. The Hornets won at Weber State for the first time in forever, 78-71. ... Idaho State got past Portland State, 80-76. ... Northern Arizona defeated Montana State, 71-64. ... Montana remains tied with Eastern after holding off Southern Utah, 58-56.

• Idaho: The Vandals got back on the winning track by rallying past Northern Colorado, 83-79. Sean Kramer has the game story.

• Whitworth: The Pirates were ungracious hosts to Pacific Lutheran last night. Tom Clouse has the stories on the wins by the men and the women.

• Chiefs: If you don't score, you can't win. It's the one truism in sports. The Chiefs are having trouble scoring right now and they aren't winning. The latest loss came last night in the Arena, 2-0 to Tri-City. Chris Derrick has the story. ... Everett found out this weekend how good Kelowna is, losing twice to the Rockets.

• Boxing: The U.S. National Championships closed up shop last night and John Blanchette was there to wish them many happy returns. He has a column on one of the male champions with a checkered past (pictured) as well as a story on Spokane's national title winner. ... Tyler Tjomsland also has this nice gallery of photographs.

• Preps: There was your typical Saturday slate of high school basketball last night and we have roundups of boys and girls action.

• Seahawks: Success has a way of inviting more folks into the tent, doesn't it? The Hawks understand this and will be expanding CenturyLink in the offseason. ... With all the talk of under inflated footballs (by the way, Bill Nye isn't buying it), Marshawn Lynch's all-too-typical action of grabbing his crotch – I resisted the urge to write something else – has been under the radar a bit this week. But it might be front-and-center during the Super Bowl media sessions and, possibly, during the game. ... The Hawks are scheduled to leave Seattle this morning and arrive in Phoenix this afternoon, where some of them will speak. ... If such things can be believed, the Seahawk defensive backs really do like each other and enjoy playing together. They also play pretty darn well together. ... Garry Gilliam is having the time of his life. ... The Hawks' comeback, presented visually.

• Mariners: Somewhat surprisingly, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker are still together with the M's.

• Sounders: Seattle began preseason camp yesterday, though some of the stars were absent and the roster is still in a bit of flux. That roster, however, has already been churned a bit since last season. ... The MLS and the players' union remain at a bit of an impasse over a new contract.


• I'm not sure what is on our agenda today. I will have to wait until my social secretary tells me what we are going to do. Usually, on weekends, Saturdays are mine, Sundays are hers. It's worked for more than 35 years. And yes, even on NFL Sundays. She's actually the house's biggest Seahawks fan. Until later ...

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

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