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


If you don’t get your Hoopfest entry in today you may be stuck in a back pew

Desert Horse' JR Camel reacts after defeating Charlies Gold during Hoopfest 2015 on Sunday, June 28, 2015, at Nike Center Court  in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman Review)
Desert Horse' JR Camel reacts after defeating Charlies Gold during Hoopfest 2015 on Sunday, June 28, 2015, at Nike Center Court in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland / Spokesman Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • You know what day it is? Nope, it has nothing to do with a camel or its hump. It has everything to do with basketball. Street basketball, actually. Read on.


• When you think sports and Spokane, what do you think of first? Is it Gonzaga basketball? Or is it Bloomsday? A nice summer evening at Avista Stadium watching the Indians? A cold November Friday night at Joe Albi watching the North Central Indians – or some other high school team? Golf at Indian Canyon? All of those things are special in their own way. But when I think of sports and Spokane, I think of one weekend a year. Hoopfest weekend. Special is one way to describe the weekend. So is unique. How many other cities in the world turn over their downtown to a basketball even for a weekend? And how many other places would attract the crowds Spokane does? The last weekend in June is a can’t-miss weekend in this town and, out of the 52 weekends available every year, it is the only one I can say that about. So why are we writing about a weekend that is still more than a month away? Three reasons, actually. It’s a Monday in early May and there aren't a lot of subjects to cover. The deadline for guaranteed entry for the event is today. And, for the first time since Hoopfest began back in 1991, this guy won’t be involved. Not as a player, which I was for the first 15 years or so. Nor as a reporter, which I did a couple times. Nor as a spectator, which became my main way of participating the past few years. For some unknown reason, my nephew decided to get married on Hoopfest weekend. In California. And for some other unknown reason, I have to go. Why me? OK, even I know the answer to that rhetorical question. When the first nephew or niece on your wife’s side of the family ties the knot, the most important person in your life is going to be there. And you better be there too. If only I were still working, I could ask the boss to assign me the coverage and then there would be a built in excuse. But no. I’m “retired.” I’m always free. So Hoopfest will go on without me and I’ll have to have my headstone epitaph redone. “Never missed a Hoopfest” just won’t be true anymore.

• Vernon Adams let it be know yesterday he didn’t sign with the Seahawks after a weekend tryout – though the possibility is still open that he may sign with them in the near future. But for now his schedule calls for him to move on to Washington and another tryout.. So let’s look back at the past 18 months or so, shall we? After leading Eastern Washington to the FCS playoffs three times in three years, Adams decided playing at a lower level wasn’t going to help him reach his goal: becoming an NFL quarterback. He had played exceptionally well in Eastern’s matchups with Pac-12 teams and felt he needed more of those performances against that level of school to catch the league’s eyes. So he decided to graduate – leading to the most-anticipated test in Oregon since Bluto Blutarsky and the boys failed mimeograph 101 – and head to Eugene. He played well, when he played healthy. But overall his experience in Oregon wasn’t what he wanted it to be. And one has to ask if it helped him. Eighteen months ago an argument could be made it was a smart play. In hindsight, it doesn’t seemed to have been. And may actually have hurt. Since his college career ended, Adams has done what all NFL-aspiring quarterbacks do, he attended the combine, showed his skills when asked and interviewed with teams. The same things would have happened if he had played his final year at Eastern. Yet he wasn’t drafted. He wasn’t even offered a contract as an undrafted free agent. He’s having to go from city to city looking for work. Could that have happened as an FCS product? Sure. It’s happened to him as a Pac-12 quarterback. But maybe if he had stayed in Cheney, playing behind a veteran offensive line with a solid corps of receivers, he would have put up such eye-popping numbers someone would have drafted him just to see what he could do against superior athletes. We don’t know. Maybe not. After all, he spent a season showing what he could do against the best and no one took him. He spent the past weekend doing that and the Hawks passed. He has another chance. Maybe this is the only one he needs. Let’s hope so. He is, by all accounts, a good guy worth rooting for. He has a dream. A goal. Maybe Washington will give him a chance to achieve it.


• WSU: The Pac-12 track championships are underway and a couple of Cougars had decent finishes during the multi-event weekend. ... Utah evened its baseball series with WSU with an 11-5 win.

• Gonzaga: Former USF guard Devin Watson has found a new home outside the WCC.

• Mariners: The Astros 5-1 win Sunday continues a troubling trend of Hisashi Iwakuma having a start every now and then without his best stuff – more often than in the past. The Houston win also meant the teams split the four-game series and snapped the M’s series-win streak at six. ... Lost in the Robinson Cano hot streak is Kyle Seager warming up. ... Should Seattle sign Tim Lincecum? ... The new Mariner ownership will have a chance in the not-so-distant future to show fans what they really think about money vs. winning.

• Seahawks: Though it was a rookie minicamp, some of the biggest news to come out of the weekend concerned a veteran offensive lineman. ... There were some standouts over the weekend – including quarterback Trevone Boykin – and that means the Hawks will have to shuffle their roster some to make room.

• Sounders: Seattle won Saturday night. Maybe even more importantly, the Sounders played like winners. ... Robbie Keane returned, scored twice and the Galaxy defeated New England 4-2.


• Of course I was joking about being upset about missing Hoopfest for a wedding. I wish it were on another weekend, sure, but that’s not going to happen. I checked. So I’m thinking of asking folks to send me video of games from all over downtown. When I'm not in the church, I’ll sit on a street corner under the broiling California sun, watch a video, walk a few blocks, watch another, find a port-a-potty, walk a block, watch another, drink some bottled water, watch another. That would be sort of the same experience. Until later ...

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

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