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Thursday, September 19, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Gonzaga’s win in a taut, physical game had at least one blemish

Gonzaga guards Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins battle San Diego guard Isaiah Wright for a loose ball, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guards Zach Norvell Jr. and Josh Perkins battle San Diego guard Isaiah Wright for a loose ball, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • There are few things all sports fans in the Inland Northwest can agree upon. Maybe this is one: Wearing a Tom Brady jersey to a Gonzaga basketball game is just not right. Read on.


• For some reason, the members of the Kennel Club love to mug for the television cameras. The light comes on and, like Pavlov’s furry friend, the GU students begin to drool. And do other things.

A group of them were in the midst of this odd behavior during halftime of the Zags’ 69-59 win over San Diego last night when KHQ announcer Greg Heister noticed a No. 12 Patriots jersey in the front row.

He, meaning Heister, seemed a bit confused. So did I. Why wear a Brady jersey to a basketball game? What was the thought process behind that (lack of) fashion choice?

And then another thought hit. If the Gonzaga authorities can encourage students to make better decisions vis-à-vis BYU and missionary costumes, don’t you think they could counsel this young man about his decision-making process?

If video of this every makes it to the Net, this poor guy is unemployable outside of New England.

• All kidding aside, maybe wearing a football jersey to the game with the Toreros was a wise choice. After all, there were a lot of football-like moves displayed on the McCarthey court. Most of them by San Diego.

Under coach Lamont Smith, USD has turned the physicality up to 11 this season and it has worked. Silly me. I thought the NCAA’s wise words about cleaning up the game, words we’ve heard over and over the past few years, were actually mandates. Words like displacement, handchecking and verticality were all repeated again and again, seemingly underlining the idea of freedom of movement and a freer game.

All of which seemed to be ignored last night. Oh, the Toreros didn’t handcheck more than other schools. Nope, they grabbed and clawed instead. One time Johnathan Williams was actually pulled to the floor while trying to get a shot up through three San Diego players. Referee Deron White, less than 2 feet away, ignored it.

Another time Silas Melson tried to get out on a 3-point attempt and Isaiah Pineiro, setting a screen, slid about 18 inches to hip Melson almost to the ground. Tom O’Neill was within 5 feet, looking right at it, and ignored it. In a game filled with cut blocks, pass interference and clips, White, O’Neill and Mike Scyphers called 18 fouls on USD and 10 on Gonzaga. It made for a quick game, which is nice. But it also made the guy in the Brady jersey nervous.

• This may just be the most golden of golden ages for Eastern Washington University basketball.

The Eagle men’s team features all-time leading scorer Bogdan Bliznyuk, who put up 40 last night in a 74-54 win at Sacramento State.

And the women’s team also has its all-time leading scorer on the floor. Delaney Hodgins set that mark last night at home in the Eagles’ 83-76 victory, also over Sacramento State.

Hodgins finished with 28 points and has 1,879 in her career. That puts her 14 ahead of the second-place scorer. That would be her sister, Hayley, who was in attendance last night and set the record just a couple of years ago.

• It’s been a tough basketball season in Pullman. The Cougars started 6-0 but are now so far below .500 they would need a Little Giant to get back.

But they have a chance to ruin Arizona State’s season Sunday afternoon.

The 25th-ranked Sun Devils have also been in freefall, though not to WSU’s extent. ASU lost a tight one at Washington last night, dropping their Pac-12 record to 4-6, tied for eighth with Colorado.

This for a team that was ranked as high as third nationally and was the nation's last undefeated Division I team.

If Washington State can do the unthinkable and pull another upset – remember, the Cougars got past Saint Mary’s on a neutral court earlier this season and the Gaels haven’t lost since – the nature of the loss could put a nail in the Devils’ NCAA at-large hopes.

And really limit the Pac-12’s pool of available schools.


WSU: Around in the Pac-12 last night, Washington handed Arizona State another conference loss and head coach Mike Hopkins did a “Braveheart” exclamation in the hall afterward. Uh, Mike, after Mel Gibson yelled “freedom,” he was drawn and quartered. … Being that Arizona is Washington’s next opponent, that might be appropriate. … Stanford continues to win, topping Oregon State. … Oregon picked up a win over everyone’s punching bag, California, which lost for a ninth consecutive time. … Utah and Colorado will meet tonight. The Utes have won seven consecutive times in the series. … USC and UCLA will meet Saturday. The Bruins will need to solve USC’s improved defense to earn a resume-building win.

Gonzaga: After each game Mark Few talks with the media. This year he’s dwelt a bit on the team’s inconsistency, something that showed again last night. Jim Meehan dwelt on it a bit as well in his game analysis. … Jim also has the three keys. … Winning tough games is a trademark of this GU team, according to John Blanchette’s column. … Speaking of consistency, the win marked the Zags’ 21st consecutive season of winning at least 20 games. Whitney Ogden has more. … Dan Pelle has the photo report. … The guys in the office put together this package. … I watched from home and have my TV Take. … There is also a story out of San Diego. … The GU women won for the 13th consecutive time. … Around the WCC, BYU has lost two confounding games this conference season, but last night’s defeat at Loyola Marymount is a new low. … Saint Mary’s just keeps rolling and the Gaels really rolled over USF. … Portland picked up an overtime home win over Pepperdine. … Pacific won at Santa Clara.

EWU: Bliznyuk was the star last night in the men’s win while Hodgins starred in the women’s victory. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Montana is 10-0 in conference play after handling Northern Colorado on the road. … North Dakota held off Montana State. … Weber State is still second after win at Southern Utah. … Northern Arizona still hasn’t won a home conference game, losing last night to Idaho State. … Spokane’s Hannah Caudill set Montana State’s long-time assist record last night.

Idaho: The Vandals came this close to the century mark while overcoming Portland State 97-88 in Portland.

Preps: The Greater Spokane League basketball regular season came to end last night. Our Dave Nichols was at G-Prep, where the Bullpups won a third consecutive title and posted an undefeated regular season. … Central Valley had the same record on the girls side. Dave also has that story. … We also have roundups from girls and boys games around the area.

Seahawks: The NFL is all interconnected, so one team’s trade for a quarterback will end up costing the Hawks money down the road. … The offensive line has to improve. … Yes, the Super Bowl loss still lingers.

Mariners: Kevin Cremins retired from the radio booth at the end of last season. The M’s have named his replacement. Gary Hill’s name is also familiar.


• The weekend beckons. We will see you tomorrow. Until then …

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