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Sunday, May 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: It’s hard to concentrate on making the perfect green bean casserole when so much is going on in the world of sports

Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, who scored 24 points, shoots over Arizona forward Ryan Luther on Tuesday night at the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Marco Garcia / Associated Press)
Gonzaga forward Rui Hachimura, who scored 24 points, shoots over Arizona forward Ryan Luther on Tuesday night at the Maui Invitational in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Marco Garcia / Associated Press)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Honestly, this week is getting a bit overwhelming. And it’s not even the holiday yet. Read on.

••••••••••

• Sensory overload is what my college psych TA called it when he offered me $5 a session to be part of an experiment. Being your typical college student, I said yes. Then I had to listen to Led Zeppelin in one ear and some Mozart or something in another. I ran screaming from the building.

Which probably explains a lot of the way I write, doesn’t it?

And reminds me of this week.

In one ear I’ve been listening to Bill Walton and Jay Bilas and Dan Schulman describe Gonzaga’s journey through the highly hyped Maui Invitational.

In the other I’m trying to keep up with the run-up to the most important Apple Cup since Johnny Appleseed’s progeny made it over the Rockies.

It isn’t easy.

Most of you are lucky. It’s one or the other. Wave the flag or don a Hawaiian shirt. You decide. For some of us, we have to keep one foot in two worlds. And when those worlds collide, it can cause your knees to buckle.

• The preliminaries are over. ESPN got the matchup it wanted in the Maui final. No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Gonzaga.

It is so good – young guns vs. veteran gunslingers – Jim Meehan sat down and put together a preview.

But for some reason the worldwide leader decided it wasn’t good enough for prime time, not even in North Carolina. The tipoff is at 2 p.m. in these parts, which seems awful early in the islands.

And gives the Zags very little time to recover from last night’s game with Arizona.

A tournament like this, three games in three days, is the toughest physical test in college hoops, tougher even than an NCAA Tournament weekend. Playing three times in less than 72 hours is challenging, especially to a team like Gonzaga that is dealing with an injury – Killian Tillie will be a spectator for a while – and poor play by one of its top seven players – Geno Crandall has been MIA in Maui.

The GU rotation is pretty short right now. The starters played a lot of minutes last night.

It’s probably OK to wonder if that will catch up with them this afternoon. It may not matter against an Illinois or Arizona but this year’s version of the Duke Blue Devils will make you pay.

• Watching the Zags last night, I noticed an old friend in the front row behind the GU bench. (And by old, Rick Seefried has been a friend a long time … plus he’s ancient.)

He was being a fan the first time I noticed him, yelling at an Arizona player after he picked up his fourth foul. Good for Rick, that’s why you spend the money to travel to Hawaii, right?

The next time I saw him on the ESPN broadcast, he was holding his nose. No, he wasn’t showing his opinion of a whistle or a coaching decision. He had been hit in the face by a basketball. It had caromed into the stands. It seems Rick’s reflexes aren’t as quick as they were when he was playing quarterback at Idaho in the early 1970s.

And I know that some Idaho fan that just read that last sentence and said “I watched him play back then. Yes they are.”

•••

WSU: Honestly, is it possible for there to be more awards in college football? Isn’t it about time Washington State handed out an award to the most disinterested football fan? The Cougars could call it the Popcorn Man Award. Theo Lawson has the news WSU’s offensive line is a Joe Moore Award semifinalist. Yes, there is an award for the best offensive line. … Tracy Claeys is a semifinalist for the Broyles Award. Theo has that as well. … Theo also passes along some schedule news for 2019 – what ever happened to the one-game-at-a-time mentality Cougs? – and a new defensive back committing to the school. … We know who will raise the flag Friday. … If you are looking for more Apple Cup-related news – and every Cougar fan with a crimson sweatshirt is – I talked with some quarterbacks with extensive experience with the game. I asked them what advice they would have for Gardner Minshew. Timm Rosenbach probably had the best answer to my question. … The Huskies have owned the Apple Cup for the past handful of years. Why has that been the case? And will this one be any different? The biggest change may just be Minshew. He may lead the Cougars to the promised land.

Elsewhere in the Pac-12, neither Oregon school is near the top of the power rankings. But at least Oregon State will bring a power running game into the Civil War. … The duel in the desert features two teams, Arizona State and Arizona, that have exceeded expectations in some way. … Colorado is more relaxed going into its game with California. … Stanford’s week off has helped the Cardinal headed into their game with UCLA. … Can anything help USC against Notre Dame? … Utah swears it isn’t looking past BYU and toward the Pac-12 title game but does anyone believe that?

Gonzaga: You know, I could think of tougher duty. Watching college basketball games all day in an intimate gym is my idea of heaven. What, Jim Meehan and John Blanchette are in Hawaii and probably doing other things during the day? What could be better than watching hoops? Anyhow, Jim and John got to watch bad Gonzaga and good Gonzaga, all in one game. That’s the theme of John’s column. Jim has the game analysis and the three keys to GU’s comeback victory. … There is also a photo report and a recap with highlights. … And, yes, I watched from my living room and have my TV Take. … As we said above, Jim has a preview of this afternoon’s matchup with Duke. … Jim spoke with Larry Weir yesterday for this Press Box pod. I will be talking with Larry today about a variety of topics (maybe even the ongoing yams vs. sweet potatoes debate). … Arizona played really well in the first half. And then everyone in the state went to sleep, including the team.

EWU: The football season to remember around these parts has gotten the attention of the S-R sports editor, who just happens to be an Eastern alum. Ralph Walter writes about how impressive a year it is for the Eagles, WSU and Whitworth. … As we said, it’s awards season and Eastern has picked up a major one. Ryan Collingwood has the news Jay-Tee Tiuli was named Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year. … Another Eagle defender has an NFL example to lean upon. Ryan has Chris Ojoh’s story as well. … Around the Big Sky, Northern Arizona is looking for a new football coach. … Surprisingly, Northern Colorado isn't. … Montana State's playoff opponent has come from almost nowhere. … Sacramento State picked up a big basketball win.

Whitworth: The women’s basketball team won its second consecutive game.

Seahawks: Shaquem Griffin knows there are kids out there that look up to him. … What is the injury news? … The Hawks are different.

Mariners: What does Jerry Dipoto mean when he says the M's will take a step back? … James Paxton said thanks to Mariner fans.

Sounders: For Ozzie Alonso to stay, he will have to take less money.

•••       

• Sorry this is a little later this morning. The week’s hectic pace included a late night last night and a Seattle radio hit this morning. Until later …

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