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Grip on Sports: Even as football season rolls on, college basketball elbowed its way in yesterday

Leading scorer with 17 points, Gonzaga guard Silas Melson (0) takes a shot over Utah Valley guard Jared Stutzman (24) during the second half of a college basketball game in the McCarthey Athletic Center, Fri., Nov. 11, 2016. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Leading scorer with 17 points, Gonzaga guard Silas Melson (0) takes a shot over Utah Valley guard Jared Stutzman (24) during the second half of a college basketball game in the McCarthey Athletic Center, Fri., Nov. 11, 2016. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • The new thing is always shiny and attractive. The old thing? Dust-bin ready. Well that’s not exactly the case with college basketball, which started off its 2016-17 season yesterday, and college football, which has been trudging along for a dozen weeks or so. But yesterday did feature one and today will feature the other. Read on.

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• Yes, the college hoops season tipped off yesterday. Around here, that means Gonzaga, the 14th-ranked team in the land, began play. The new-look Zags had little trouble against Utah Valley University, topping the WAC school 92-69 at the McCarthey Center.

We are playing a role in the Gonzaga coverage this season, giving fans a critique of the television coverage of each game. After all, most Inland Northwest residents interested in GU basketball don’t get to see the games live. The MAC only holds 6,000 people, after all.

That’s how many were there last night as Mark Few’s team introduced six players who were not on the roster last season, three transfers and three freshmen.

We have links to all the Bulldog coverage the S-R has to offer, and a few more, in the Gonzaga section below.

• The old? That would be college football, which ceded the stage last night only to retake it today with a vengeance. The Cougars hold a session of Pac-12 After Dark tonight and, if the past is any predictor, there should be a whole bunch of points scored.

The question is, will there be slippage? Washington State played its most complete game under Mike Leach last week against Arizona, a 69-7 avalanche that could have been more of a rout. So what happens tonight?

The expectations are for California to score a lot of points but for WSU to score even more.

Smart prognosticating, that. Except, the way Washington State’s defense has been playing, it would be surprising for the Bears to really get it going. Unless the press clippings – are there such things anymore? – go to their head, it looks to me as if the Cougars will win going away tonight. Or tomorrow morning, depending on what time the game ends.

•••

WSU: Jacob Thorpe, as he does every Saturday, gets you ready for today’s game with an advance and keys to a win. … What’s new today is a game story from the Cougars’ basketball opener yesterday afternoon. They barely got past Montana State before a sparse crowd at Beasley. … Back to football, Stefanie Loh has an advance and more on tonight’s game. … Even California expects a high-scoring game tonight.

Elsewhere in Pac-12 football today, we can start you off with ESPN.com’s mailbag, which is always fun. Then we move over to Seattle, where ESPN’s GameDay is in town in anticipation of No. 4 Washington’s showdown with USC. A lot is on the line. … With Utah winning Thursday night at Arizona State, Colorado needs a win at Arizona to keep pace in the South. … Oregon State would just like a win. So would UCLA. … Stanford is at Oregon today in a game that used to be a big deal.

Gonzaga: The Spokesman-Review is amping up the GU coverage this season, though we will begin with the usual links to Jim Meehan’s game story and John Blanchette’s column. As we said, we will have a TV column following each game. … There is also a Whitney Ogden story covering a subject we passed along yesterday, the death of longtime clock operator John Oakley. … One of the newcomers really stood out. Michael Gulledge has that covered. There were also keys to the game. And veteran photographer Dan Pelle covers about his 1,000th GU game. … Saint Mary's opened its season with a win.

EWU: The Eagles opened their basketball season yesterday as well, shooting down Linfield 70-47 at Reese Court. Jim Allen has that story. He also has an advance of today’s possibly emotional Senior Day football game against Idaho State. … The Eastern women lost their basketball opener at Washington. … Around the Big Sky in football, Montana tries to win a road game. … Southern Utah hopes to keep BYU from becoming bowl eligible. … North Dakota, which is thinking of leaving, tries to stay on pace to win a Big Sky title.

Idaho: The Vandals are in Texas to face Texas State today, hoping to win their sixth game and become bowl eligible. Josh Wright has an advance.

Preps: It was a big day in prep sports, with the big-school State volleyball tournaments going on in Kennewick. That’s where Greg Lee was and he covers Mead and Mt. Spokane’s marches into the State 4A and 3A semifinals, respectively. We also have a roundup of the smaller schools’ state tournaments. … Tom Clouse saw something last night no one has seen in almost 100 years: A Deer Park postseason football win. … Josh Horton covered Northwest Christian’s playoff win over Lake Roosevelt. … We have a roundup of other prep action.

Seahawks: There may be a new look in the backfield Sunday night as Christine Michael showed up on the injury list yesterday. The Hawks may have to rely on rookie C.J. Prosise.

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• We will be going from here to there today, so expect a short report tomorrow morning, if there is one at all. With the Cougars’ kicking off at 7:30 in Pullman, and our postgame call-in duties – you can listen on the Cougar IMG Network on this side of the state or via the TuneIn Radio app or the WSUGameday app – we don’t expect to be hitting the sack until the paper is already in the driveway. Which makes Sunday morning tough. Check here, check Twitter (@vinceg55). We will send out the Bat Signal if we have something. Until later …

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