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Sunday, October 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Grip on Sports: Josh Perkins, senior version, earns his due as he passes his way into Gonzaga’s record book

Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins (13) passes the ball during the second half of a college basketball game, Thurs., Feb. 21, 2019, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga guard Josh Perkins (13) passes the ball during the second half of a college basketball game, Thurs., Feb. 21, 2019, in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Records are, more than anything, just a target to shoot at. A goal to aspire to. And any other cliché you can think of that ends in a preposition. But they are also the things headlines are made of. Read on.

••••••••••

• Thank goodness stories on the Interweb have headlines too, or that last cliché wouldn’t work for the youngest generation.

You know what does work for that group? Point guards like Josh Perkins. Guys who can pass and score. Guys with a bit of an attitude. Guys with some really cool tattoos. Guys who win.

OK, that last one works for every age and gender and whatever else you want to add. Winners always work.

But winning isn’t easy and neither is playing point guard for a coach like Mark Few. Which brings us to Josh Perkins biggest accomplishment – keeping his coach (relatively) happy.

Few wants specific things from his point guard. Consistency. Execution. Leadership. When you are tasked with being Mark Few on the floor, simplicity is better than flashy, control is better than being a highlight video. But most importantly, making sure the Zags score in the most efficient way possible is crucial.

Over the years – OK, maybe up until this one – Josh Perkins had trouble reaching those goals, even as the assists and points and wins added up. Heck, in the offseason, there was Mark Few, in a recruit’s home, telling a highly thought-of point guard, a one-and-done player if the hype is to be believed, how important he would be to Gonzaga’s success this year, if the recruit’s father can be believed.

Going into Josh Perkins’ senior season.

The recruit went to school with a warmer clime (and a heck of a lot more losses). Josh Perkins? He just soldiered on.

And Gonzaga’s offense is the most efficient in college basketball – heck, it’s one of the most efficient ever.

That’s not just Perkins, of course. It’s Rui and BC and Norvell and the rest of players on the receiving end of Perkins’ passes. But he’s the guy who makes it go, the guy who initiates the offense, the guy the bigs look for after another defensive rebound. Simply put, offensively, he’s the guy.

Is he perfect? Heck no. No player ever is and that goes double for point guards. Mark Few’s point guards too.

Don’t interpret this as Few acts like a marionette. Once you earn his trust, a Gonzaga point guard has incredible freedom. It’s a big reason why it is, as former assist record holder Matt Santangelo describes it, Point Guard U. But it isn’t easy to earn Few’s trust – and that is another reason why it is Point Guard U.

Few’s offensive philosophy is the right one for this day and age of college basketball. You can’t argue that. Numbers would make you look foolish. It has evolved some as the game has evolved. But what hasn’t changed is his dependence on players making the right decision with the ball. And the ball is in one guy’s hands much of the time. Josh Perkin’s hands, to be more specific.

Like Spiderman, though, with great power comes great responsibility. And with great responsibility comes great criticism, from many quarters.

Josh Perkins has accepted that. He’s learned from it, improved because of it, won over everyone through it. And now sits atop the Zags’ all-time assists list, the second-best measure of his position.

The first? Wins. And he’s got as many of those as any point guard in the school’s history as well.

Dunks? Well that’s another column.

•••

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs picked up another win last night, but who would have doubted that? They were playing Pepperdine, a school they have swept every year since before Perkins was in middle school. Heck, maybe even elementary school. Jim Meehan was in McCarthey last night and has the game analysis and the keys to the win. He also has a story on another award watch list for Brandon Clarke. … John Blanchette was there and he focused his column on Perkins and his accomplishment. … The guys in the office put together a recap with highlights. … I watched at home and bid adieu to the local broadcast trio for this season. They have become like family over the past few years and, like family, they do things we love and things we, well, don’t love as much. And, just like family, I can’t get any of them to come over and shovel my snow. … Colin Mulvany was there as well and has a lot of photos. For the life of me, however, I am unable to find a link to his photo report. … The women were in the Bay Area last night and defeated Santa Clara to move closer to another West Coast Conference title. … Around the WCC, San Diego picked up a home win over woeful Portland. … In the battle for second place, BYU blew a substantial second-half lead and lost to visiting USF. Now the reeling Cougars have to come to Spokane. … Saint Mary's picked up the defense in a win over Pacific.

WSU: The Cougars are on a roll. Larry Weir, who is in Southern Utah somewhere (and en route to Flagstaff where 197 inches of snow fell yesterday), spoke with Matt Chasanow for the latest Press Box pod. … Around the Pac-12, Oregon State traveled to Pauley Pavilion last night and the Beavers experienced something that has happened to visiting teams often since UCLA's facility opened in the 1960s. … Oregon didn't make many shots, and that's why the Ducks were never in the game with USC. … Arizona won. Of course, the Wildcats were hosting California, so they better have. … Colorado needs to regroup before it faces conference-leading Washington. … Even with a big-shot maker, Utah is up and down this season. … In football news, spring practice will be underway soon even in the North. … Myles Gaskins is headed to the NFL.

EWU: Larry called the Eagles’ 76-62 loss to Southern Utah last night. They are much better at home, that’s for sure. … Around the Big Sky, Weber State lost on a rebounding foul with a second left in Sacramento. … Portland State held off Idaho State at home.

Idaho: The Vandals aren’t doing well anywhere. They were snowed under last night by Northern Arizona.

Whitworth: Once more into the breach. After defeating Linfield 88-69 last night in the first round of the Northwest Conference tournament – Dan Thompson has the game story – the Pirates head to Walla Walla to face second-ranked Whitman in the title game Saturday. If the Pirates don’t win, they probably will be outside, looking in at the NCAA Division III playoffs, despite their 21-win season. The NCAA rarely does Whitworth any favors.

Preps: There was a little basketball last night, but the main State action is in wrestling in Idaho and gymnastics in Washington.

Mariners: It's not only the roster that has changed in the offseason. So has the coaching staff. … Braden Bishop will play in the big leagues someday. … It rained in Arizona yesterday.

Seahawks: The Hawks will be looking for defensive help in the draft. … There are a lot of reasons why that's the case.

Sounders: Seattle is not deep this season.

•••       

• Where the heck is March? Shouldn’t it have been here by now? I can deal with the lion part of it if it means we get to the lamb quicker, but even the lions seem to think it is too cold to make an appearance. Until later …

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