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Grip on Sports: No, college basketball around here isn’t finished just yet

Oregon Coach Kelly Graves, left, talks to his team as they work out at the Spokane Arena Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 in preparation for the NCAA Tournament women's regional games Saturday. At right is assistant coach Jodie Berry. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Oregon Coach Kelly Graves, left, talks to his team as they work out at the Spokane Arena Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 in preparation for the NCAA Tournament women's regional games Saturday. At right is assistant coach Jodie Berry. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • It’s Saturday. You have a long list of things to do, good and bad. I get it. So let’s get right to the news. Wait, what news? Read on.

••••••••••

• If you thought basketball season around here was over, think again. Yes, our colleges are finished, from Whitworth to Idaho to Gonzaga. But there is still college hoop going on, at least this weekend.

There are four teams playing at the Arena, hoping for a berth in the women’s Final Four.

There is Notre Dame, a name that carries tradition like a Buick carries the residents of a retirement home. There is Oregon, the new kids on the block and featuring former Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves at the helm. There is Texas A&M, which won one of the few NCAA titles the past 10 years not taken back to Connecticut. And there is Central Michigan. Let me check that. Eastern? Western? Nope, Central Michigan. The 10th-seeded Chippewas are the Cinderella team in this regional.

So there you have it. Four teams enter Spokane’s Thunderdome this weekend, one will emerge and head to Columbus, Ohio, for the Final Four.

• We’ve been sharing some high school sports-related stories recently that have little to do with the competition on the field. Directly, anyway. Indirectly, the series of stories from The Oregonian highlights a growing problem in that sector of our sporting society.

The Seattle Times entered the fray today with a story on the WIAA, Washington’s high school sports governing body. Nathan Joyce’s work explains what the organization can do, what it can’t and how that might change in the near future.

If you appreciate prep sports, it’s worth boning up on the mechanisms that govern it.

•••

Gonzaga: The season is over. Looking back, how was it? John Blanchette feels it should be remembered as one that exceeded expectations. He’s right. … The big, bad ACC has been the Zags’ nemesis in the NCAA Tournament. Jim Meehan examines how GU has done against the best basketball conference in the nation. … The surprising news yesterday that Jill Barta would not return to Gonzaga for her senior year led to much speculation. And to this story from Jim Allen. Barta, who has her degree, expressed a desire to return to Montana and get going on the rest of her life. But I’m guessing there are college coaches from all over America trying to get her to rethink her decision and play one more year. … Larry Weir’s Press Box pod looks back on the Florida State loss.

WSU: I just realized why it snowed around here this morning. Washington State began spring football this week. It always snows during spring football time on the Palouse. At least the baseball team was in Tucson. … Around the Pac-12, spring football is almost over at Colorado, is going strong at USC, Utah and Arizona State and has yet to get underway at Washington. … In basketball, Arizona has some questions to figure out.

EWU: The Eagles have a really fast freshman sprinter.

Idaho: With the Vandals hosting the Spokane women’s regional, we link our coverage here. It starts with Oregon, with all its Spokane ties. Jim Allen has a story on the Ducks’ late arrival, their practice and media sessions and their star guard. He also checks in with Central Michigan. … Greg Lee has the other participants, both of whom have dealt with key injuries this season. Texas A&M wouldn’t be in Spokane if not for the heroics of a freshman guard. … Jesse Tinsley has two photo reports from the practices. … There is also more coverage of the regional from the Oregon papers.

Chiefs: The WHL playoffs begin for Spokane tonight in Portland. Kevin Dudley has a preview of the series with the Winterhawks. … Everett opened with a win over Seattle.

Preps: Yes, there were spring sports yesterday. We can offer roundups in soccer, softball, baseball and tennis.

Mariners: A handful of M’s were playing in a minor league game yesterday, just to work out some kinks. But another kink occurred, when Ichiro was hit in the head with a pitch. He seems fine. … Hisashi Iwakuma seems fine as well and should help this season. … The M’s tied the White Sox, which happens in spring training. Other things happen as well.

Seahawks: The national news yesterday included Michael Bennett indicted in Texas for an incident at the Super Bowl over a year ago. The Seahawks have made it clear they didn’t even know it happened. … There were some signings yesterday, bolstering areas of need with veteran players. … Earl Thomas isn’t sure what his future holds.

•••       

• Yes, we woke up this morning to snow on the ground. It is still March, after all, so it’s not that unusual. We’ve had snow in June before. But we were kind of hoping to see grass every morning between now and October. Until later …

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