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Tuesday, January 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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A Grip on Sports: The snow has yet to arrive but college basketball certainly has

Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Martynas Arlauskas (5) vies for a basket against Texas Southern Tigers forward Yahuza Rasas (0) during the second half of a college basketball game on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga won the game 101-62. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Martynas Arlauskas (5) vies for a basket against Texas Southern Tigers forward Yahuza Rasas (0) during the second half of a college basketball game on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, at McCarthey Athletic Center in Spokane, Wash. Gonzaga won the game 101-62. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • When James Naismith invented basketball, he was looking for a sport to keep young men busy and healthy during the cold winter months. It’s no surprise a Canadian came up with something nearly perfect get us through the annual trying times.

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• Oh sure, there is a lot to do outdoors this time of year. It’s just only a couple of them are fun. The rest, including sliding off the freeway or shoveling snow off the roof, are more on the really-hate-to-do-it side.

But basketball, that’s different. The snow can be up to the eaves – it isn’t now, but check back in late January – and it can be -12 outside and it is still there for us – either on TV, on some other streaming device or after a hair-raising (but memorable) ride to the gym.

We injected our basketball fix last night via the television. The big one in the family room. With the sound up. We had to watch the Zags play, of course, as we are paid to do that. Our verdict? Right now, the best player on the roster is either Joel Ayayi or Hawkeye Pierce, considering the injuries they are dealing with.

No matter. Last night’s opponent, Texas Southern, makes an annual trip here to pick up a paycheck and allow its players to see the sun go down at 4 p.m. It’s rewarding and educational. Winning, however, isn’t on the itinerary.

The ninth-ranked Zags had 10 players suited up and available. In that regard, it was more like an AAU travel team than a college squad. The 10 Mark Few could call on, however, were more than enough. But will they be the next couple weeks? We’ll see.

The next GU opponent is Washington, this Sunday in Seattle. The Huskies, ranked 22nd, had their shining moments against Eastern Washington last night, including a 14-2 run to end the first half. We saw part of that, after switching over from the Gonzaga game, but we also saw some mundane stretches after halftime, mainly on our phone as we had some more pressing matters to take care of later in the evening.

Even shrunk down to iPhone size, we could see UW was not sharing the ball well in stretches, allowing the Eagles to make a game of it. We’re guessing Mike Hopkins will use the video for a few lessons today.

Down on the Palouse, the most-played rivalry west of the Mississippi was held last night, with Idaho hosting WSU. The 275 times this game has been played officially doesn’t even include the thousands of times players from the two schools have matched up in the summer time over the years. Those pickup games are just as intense.

Though they are not televised. And, when the participants step out of the gym, the weather is a whole lot better.

•••

WSU: What’s the most impressive postseason run in Washington State history? Ryan Collingwood presents the current one by the Cougar soccer team as the winner. He may be right. WSU takes on North Carolina tomorrow in San Jose in the College Cup, women’s soccer’s version of the Final Four. … We have two stories from the Battle of the Palouse, one by Theo Lawson covering the Cougar end of things and one below in the Idaho section. … Theo also has a story on the heart problems Deion James is dealing with. He will miss the rest of the season. … The women picked up a win last night. … There was a bad movie made years ago called “It Happens Every Spring.” It was awful, if only because Ray Milland threw a baseball, well, poorly. The modern-day equivalent? Mike Leach rumors. They happen every late fall. But as Theo writes today, this year there may be more weight to them. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, the 12 football coaches come from all different backgrounds. … Washington has a new coach who will chart a new course. Where that leads is anyone's guess. … When Oregon's offense is being tested by Utah's stellar defense, how many empty seats will there be in Santa Clara? The weather isn't supposed to be great. Those who do show up will see a Utah offense that has come together this season. … Oregon State will rework Jonathan Smith's contract. … Maybe the biggest news around the conference came out of Los Angeles. USC is not firing Clay Helton. He'll be back next season. … In basketball, Oregon State is shooting it better from long range. … Colorado held off Loyola Marymount with a late push. Next up is No. 2 Kansas. … It took overtime, but Utah got past BYU in a renewal of an old rivalry. … UCLA has some time off. … California traveled to USF and lost.

Gonzaga: The Zags’ 101-62 rout is the subject of Jim Meehan’s game analysis, as always. He also has his three keys to the win, another staple. We have our TV Take and Tyler Tjomsland supplies the photo report. … The folks in the office put together the usual recap with highlights. … Around the WCC, Nevada routed Santa Clara. … Pacific held off Cal State Fullerton.

EWU: The Eagles had a shot, but couldn’t get past the 22nd-ranked Huskies at Hec Ed. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Weber State defeated Utah Valley. … In football, Weber State faces a unique challenge. The Wildcats also named an athletic director. He was already in the office. … Montana has a chance for legacy-building playoff run. … Montana State's offense was recharged midseason.

Idaho: As we said, Peter Harriman has this coverage of the Vandals’ loss to WSU.

Preps: It’s Thursday and we dedicate space today to the fall all-league teams around the area. … We also can pass along a roundup of last night’s basketball action.

Shock: It will be a while before Spokane begins its season, but Larry Weir and former Shock coach Adam Shackleford spoke yesterday for the latest Press Box pod.

Rodeo: The National Finals Rodeo begins its 10-day run today in Las Vegas and our buddy Dave Trimmer has a story on the local participants who will make their way to the desert.

Seahawks: It wasn't too long ago the Hawks' defense looked less than ordinary. Not anymore. … Tre Flowers has been part of the resurgence. … The offense is coming together in a weird way. Well, it's been manifested in a weird way. … Next up is the Rams again.

Mariners: The M's have taken a flyer on another pitcher.

•••       

• The road beckons this afternoon. We are headed out of town for a few days – that reminds me, I have to ask my son to check in on the dogs – on a basketball-related trip. Let’s hope the warm weather holds. Nothing less fun than traveling around our state on ice-covered roads. We’ll be back here tomorrow and Saturday because, well, it’s what we do. Until later …

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