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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: We may end up with a white Christmas, but there are more holiday treats than just snow

North Dakota's Carson Shanks, right, and Drick Bernstine, center, defend against Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)
North Dakota's Carson Shanks, right, and Drick Bernstine, center, defend against Arizona guard Allonzo Trier (35) during the second half of a first-round game in the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Thursday, March 16, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It snowed yesterday in the Spokane area, a lot in some place (read, our house). Sports fans know what the white stuff heralds. Yep, it really is basketball season. Read on.

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• Most will see snow on the ground and think “White Christmas.” A true sports fan understands, though, it means more than that. Winter is here. And the best winter sport is really here.

When you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, it’s hard to do much outside in December, January and February. Heck, March is a crapshoot. So an indoor sport is essential to good mental health.

Which is why basketball fit such a great niche.

It was invented by a Canadian, which makes sense. Not everyone in Manitoba wants to be skating on a frozen pond this time of year. Some of them have enough sense to come indoors. And basketball is as good a reason as any to pound the snow off the boots.

There is youth basketball, high school, college and the NBA. The latter two are all over the TV this time of year, so if you don’t want to risk the Chevy’s bumper getting around, there is still basketball available. So we’ve got that going for us and we didn’t even have to give the Lama golfing advice.

• Speaking of basketball, the Seattle Times did an in-depth story this morning on former Whitworth and Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford. It featured photos and conversation from inside the program, something Hayford has been willing to share since his days leading the Pirates to Northwest Conference titles.

In another life, I covered Whitworth on weekends. Watched them win game after game. And waited patiently outside the Fieldhouse locker room for players to emerge, all the while checking my watch – I said it was another lifetime ago – worried about deadline.

Then one game Hayford invited me into the locker room for the postgame talk. Hadn’t happened before or since. It was illuminating – and darn smart.

Granting access is one way to earn more coverage. So is answering questions respectively. And treating reporters as what they are, people just trying to do a job.

That isn’t easy after losses. For some, it is almost impossible. Not for Hayford. He was – and is – good at it. It’s part of the reason he’s been successful on and off the court.

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WSU: Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s name has been mentioned in connection with multiple job openings since the regular season ended. And the mentions continued Friday with his name appearing about a new opening at Ohio State. Theo Lawson has a story, which covers the bases. Theo also tweeted out the salaries of Ohio State assistants yesterday and if the Buckeyes are going to give him a raise to join the staff, their new 10th assistant would become one of the higher paid members of Urban Meyers’ crew. … Theo also talked with WSU forward Drick Bernstine about tonight’s Gonzaga game against Bernstine’s former team, North Dakota. … All of Theo’s interviews after yesterday’s Holiday Bowl practice can be found on our WSU football page. … If you are worried about Mike Leach leaving Pullman for another job, this piece in an Alabama newspaper, and its followup in Baltimore, should help you rest easier. … Erik Powell had a great senior season. The Times’ Stefanie Loh examines why.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the bowls get underway today, with Oregon in the first wave. The Ducks match up with Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl, a place where Oregon, and one of its best players, has some history. … There is more to Seth Collins’ departure from Oregon State than was first reported. … Just what is going on at Arizona State? The Sun Devils football program is certainly different these days. … Arizona’s defense would like to shine in its bowl game. … On the basketball courts, Stanford won its first game after finals last night. … It took two overtimes for Colorado to get past South Dakota State. … UCLA faces off with Cincinnati today in Westwood. … Utah is back facing in-state rival BYU. … Oregon State believes this season will be better. 

Gonzaga: If this game had been last season, North Dakota would have been an excellent nonconference test for the Zags. This year, the Fighting Hawks are trying to find their way. Jim Meehan has a preview of tonight’s game as well as a look at UND’s guards. … We also can pass along a story from Grand Forks and should also mention Theo’s piece we linked above.

EWU: Football’s new early signing period is next week and the Eagles should have a few players take advantage. Jim Allen features one of them in this story. … Jim also previews the basketball team’s first home game in a while. The Eagles host Cal State Northridge on Sunday. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, the NCAA sanctioned Northern Colorado’s basketball program

Idaho: It took the Vandals a while to get going, but once they did, they breezed past Simon Frasier 73-54 in Moscow. Peter Harriman has the story.

Whitworth: For the second time, Dan Ramsay has resigned as the Pirates’ baseball coach. This time it looks as if it will stick. Ramsay is taking a position in Minnesota’s minor league system.

Preps: We mentioned above the snow that hit the area, and the white stuff did cause a few basketball games to be postponed or cancelled. But what was played we have covered in our boys and girls roundups. … Dave Nichols also has coverage of Post Falls’ win at Lewis and Clark and the all-state volleyball teams.

Chiefs: Everett has been on a roll recently, but Spokane snapped the Silvertips’ nine-game winning streak last night in the Arena. Kevin Dudley has more on the 5-3 decision while Dan Pelle has a series of photographs.

Seahawks: There was some outright dirty plays and fights at the end of the Jacksonville game last Sunday, but the Seahawk who was fined the most was Germain Ifedi. His transgression? He said something to the umpire. The NFL is amazing. … Kam Chancellor is not just being an idle bystander. … Will Bobby Wagner and others be bystanders Sunday versus the Rams? … The Rams will probably feature a healthy dose of Todd Gurley running the ball. Or maybe they will pass it a lot to Cooper Kupp. Jim Allen has a story on the importance of the game to the former Eastern star.

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• With Christmas just around the corner, I’m sure many of you will be out and about on this fine Saturday. We will be too. Stay safe. … We will also be back here with our TV Take on the Gonzaga game this evening. Until later … 

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