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Grip on Sports: Yes, April is about to begin, but basketball will still shower over us today

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (24) celebrates as Connecticut's Crystal Dangerfield (5) walks away as time expires in overtime in the semifinals of the women's NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament, Friday, March 30, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Notre Dame won 91-89. (Tony Dejak / AP)
Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale (24) celebrates as Connecticut's Crystal Dangerfield (5) walks away as time expires in overtime in the semifinals of the women's NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament, Friday, March 30, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. Notre Dame won 91-89. (Tony Dejak / AP)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We are on the cusp of April, the month of showers, flowers and the Masters. And yet, today, the last day of March, we are thinking about little else than basketball. As Major Clipton said, “madness, madness.” Read on.

••••••••••

• Sorry about “The Bridge on the River Kwai” reference. I know the movie is more than 60 years old (like me) but it’s one of my favorites. And there is the little-known fact the man who wrote the book it is based on, Peter Boulle, also wrote “Planet of the Apes,” which has similar themes – though a completely different setting.

But I digress, if only a little. We are a bit ape over the NCAA Tournament, right? 

Last night the women took center stage, with Notre Dame almost coughing up the upset of the decade – if not for last year when Connecticut lost to Mississippi State in the same manner. And then the Bulldogs were handed a second-consecutive finals berth when a whistle got caught in the throat at the end of regulation. (Just wondering: Does the “let-the-players-decide-it” crowd also believe it’s OK to knock someone into the basket support on every shot? Or just the ones when the game is tied and the clock is running out? Asking for a friend.)

Today the men are on the clock, with Loyola Chicago and Sister Jean all the rage nationally but a different Catholic institution, Villanova, the favorite to hoist the trophy Monday night. 

It’s a basketball weekend.

Heck, Kim is downstairs as I write this watching Central Valley High play a game on TV from New York. Talk about madness. (UPDATE: The CV girls did win, 66-61, to win the tournament.)

All this comes on the heels of baseball opening its season – Pittsburgh’s 13-10 win in Detroit yesterday was one of the wildest games I’ve watched in a while – in winter-like conditions or sunny-and-75 days.

It’s time to get outside, right? To run around, to dig in the dirt, to take the dog walking. It’s spring, which is supposed to signal the end of indoor sports and the enjoyment of sun, shine and barbecue.

Instead we will be glued to the TV set this afternoon, watching hoops. 

Oh well, it can’t last much longer. Then again, when do the NBA playoffs begin?

•••

WSU: Cougar assistant Benny Seltzer was on the Loyola Chicago bench a year ago as an assistant. He shared his thoughts on the Ramblers magical run with Theo Lawson. … Washington State added Colorado State to its football schedule in a few years. Theo has that story as well. … For the second consecutive night, the Cougars topped Arizona State in extra innings. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, spring football is rolling along all over, with Washington’s defense once again showing how good it could be. … Utah, which scrimmaged yesterday, and Arizona State also are still working this spring. … In basketball, Utah hopes to build off its NIT finals appearance. And the Pac-12 overall needs to rebuild.

Gonzaga: As college basketball hosts its final weekend, Jim Allen took some time to look back the GU women’s hard-fought season. And he also touched base with Jill Barta to see what her future holds. It looks as if she will join the ranks of rare players who enter the WNBA draft with college eligibility left. … Johnathan Williams earned another national honor. … Around the WCC, USF lost to North Texas 88-77 to finish second in the CBI tournament. 

EWU: Former Eastern Washington coach Ray Giacoletti sees a lot of similarities in Loyola’s story to a school down by the Spokane River. Whitney Ogden has that story. … Northern Colorado, in front of a packed house, won the CIT title last night at home with a 76-71 victory over the University of Illinois-Chicago.

Chiefs: Everett routed Seattle 7-3 last night to take a 3-1 lead in their WHL series.

Preps: As we mentioned, Central Valley’s girls are playing as we write. They won yesterday in the New York-based tournament. Dave Nichols talked about that with Larry Weir on the Press Box pod. … Yesterday’s action including competition in softball, baseball and track and field

Mariners: Gene Warnick takes over the “Out of Right Field” spot, writing about tonight’s pitching matchup at Safeco Field. … You know the soreness Mike Zunino was feeling? It turned out to be a strained oblique, which is an injury that could last weeks and weeks. He’s on the disabled list. Nice start to the season. … His injury gave Mike Marjama a chance to play.

Seahawks: Thomas Rawls was always appreciative of his opportunity in Seattle. He had a heartfelt goodbye on his way to New York. 

Sounders: Some players have returned but a defender is out for a month

•••        

• We were visited by the garden fairy yesterday. Magically, someone came into our yard while we were out buying a new clothes dryer – that’s another, sad, expensive story – and someone punched our lawn. I didn’t contract with anyone to do it. It wasn’t scheduled. There was no sign or bill left. It just happened, front and back. Like a gift from the lawn bunny or something. Hopefully, the same benign spirit will mow the grass all summer. Until later … 

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