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Friday, August 23, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: There is no question success comes in many different looks

Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi plays tight defense on Denver guard Jase Townsend, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Joel Ayayi plays tight defense on Denver guard Jase Townsend, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We have questions. Some of which even have answers. Others, not so much. Read on.

••••••••••

• Some may ask why Gonzaga would schedule a foe the Bulldogs can defeat by more than 60 points. Why not play someone better?

The answer to that question is easy. Who knows how good a team will be when you schedule them. Sure, you can calculate that the University of Denver will not be the best opponent on the schedule, but you can’t expect them to play as poorly as they did last night.

Or for the Zags to play as well. Yes, the Pioneers were overmatched, even if GU was playing lackadaisically, as it did against Texas-Arlington. But the Bulldogs were locked in last night from the opening tip, especially on the defensive end – Richard Fox called it their best defensive effort of the season – and this one was a blowout from the get-go.

Yes, Mark Few wanted a few less-demanding non-conference games this time of year to fine-tune his team prior to WCC play. What he got last night was probably even beyond his expectations.

• Speaking of Fox, why isn’t he a color analyst full-time? He’s that good.

My guess is his last name. If it were James or Jordan or even Butler, he would be part of ESPN’s or Fox’s stable of college and pro basketball analysts. But no one around the nation knows Richard Fox from Wily E. Coyote, so he practices his secondary craft – he works in commercial real estate during the day – in relative obscurity.

• What’s going to happen to the Mariners’ reputation with Latin American players?

Former director of conditioning Lorena Martin filed a lawsuit against the team yesterday, putting all of her recent allegations about the team’s treatment of her and its Latin players into the public eye. The Times’ Geoff Baker has an in-depth story on her lawsuit, which is interesting to read.

But remember two things as you read through the allegations: Anyone can file a lawsuit and there are two sides to the story. Heck, that’s good advice whenever a suit is filed.

An old attorney friend of mine gave that to me years ago and I’ve followed it ever since.

• Why is the Pac-12 so poor in basketball this year?

Sorry, some questions have no good answers. At least no good answers that cover all contingencies.

Part of it is like football. When USC is down, the conference feels down, at least in the eyes of those around the country. In basketball, when Arizona and UCLA are playing poorly, the conference suffers the same fate. However, this season it’s not just Arizona and UCLA that is struggling. Everyone is. There are no good wins. There are no great teams. There is only mediocrity.

The best teams on the West Coast reside in the Mountain West (Nevada) and the WCC (Gonzaga). Heck, the WCC is home for half of the western teams with double digit wins.

There are six schools west of the Rockies with at least 10 wins – none in the Pac-12 – and three of them (Gonzaga, USF and Loyola-Marymount) play in the West Coast Conference. (The other three? Sixth-ranked Nevada, Jim Hayford’s Seattle U team and my alma mater, UC Irvine.)

Not all schedules are created equally, of course, but it’s not as if the Pac-12 schools are playing a Murderer’s Row every week. The best records in the conference? Five teams have eight wins, with Colorado (8-1) and Arizona State (8-2) probably the best.

•••

Gonzaga: Jim Meehan had the duty of covering the rout last night and he does, as usual, with his game analysis and keys to the victory. … Dan Pelle took his camera and has the photo report. … And we had our TV Take. … Before the game Jim had a story on Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke and a national award. … Around the WCC, BYU continues its tour of former Mountain West stomping grounds with a game against San Diego State.

WSU: The Cougars are still preparing for the Alamo Bowl, which is less than a week away. Linebacker Peyton Pelluer will finish up his college career at an all-star game. Theo Lawson has more in this story. … Theo also has a story on a local high school basketball player announcing a commitment to WSU. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the basketball woes continued, at least in the state of Oregon. The Ducks went down a bunch early and ended up losing at Baylor, 57-47. And Oregon State also fell behind against Kent State and lost, 66-63 at home. … Washington played poorly in the first half but still thumped Sacramento State. … Utah also picked up a win over a Big Sky school, stopping Northern Arizona. … A third win over the Big Sky? Sure. USC routed Southern Utah. … Arizona State will face top-ranked Kansas at home today. … In football, Washington will be receiving Rose Bowl rings. It’s been a while. … The new redshirt rule has Oregon wondering who it should play in its bowl game. … Colorado will emphasize the run game. … Utah coach Kyle Whittingham played in a Holiday Bowl for BYU. So well, in fact, he’s in the bowl’s Hall of Fame. … An Arizona player is transferring to Oregon State.

EWU: The Eagle men picked up their second win of the non-conference season, shooting down Corban behind Cody Benzel’s 23 points. Ryan Collingwood was in Cheney and has the game story.

Idaho: The Vandal men traveled to the Bay Area and were walloped by Santa Clara, 77-56.

Preps: The Christmas break is upon us, but even if school is out for a while, there are basketball games to pass along. We have a roundup of GSL games as well as girls and boys action from around the area.

Seahawks: There will be a lot of game-time decisions before Sunday's showdown with Kansas City. … The Chiefs' offense may be unstoppable. … People must have told Russell Wilson "no" in his life. … Michael Dickson can do some amazing things.

Mariners: The Martin lawsuit is not all the M’s news today. The team also made a trade.

•••       

• Funny, I passed along a couple “Christmas-is-coming” warnings in this space recently. I just happened to ignore them myself. Now I’m up against it. Any ideas? I hear candlesticks are always nice, or are those reserved for weddings? Until later …

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