Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: It’s about time to move on to another month – and another season

A GRIP ON SPORTS • January is about to exit stage left. February, the month of Groundhog and Valentine’s Day is about to enter the spotlight. What’s ahead – and behind – in the world of sports? Let’s check.


• February is the end. The end of football season. In a couple weeks many of us will be glued to our comfy couch or chair, celebrating a Super Sunday with food, drinks and the American tradition of yelling at the TV.

February is the middle. The middle of the college and professional basketball seasons. The middle of the hockey season. All seem unending this time of year – like winter – but we can assure you, barring the apocalypse, they will finish before you’ve had a chance to build your summer tan. Well, maybe not. But they will end.

February is the beginning. The beginning of baseball season. Pitchers and catchers report to Arizona and Florida later this month. Soon there will be pictures of your favorites running, throwing, hitting and going down with season-ending injuries. OK, that last one will only happen to those of you unlucky enough to root for the Mets or Nationals or Angels or some other star-crossed franchise. The rest of us will be anticipating another full summer of trying to catch the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres despite playing with a third of their payroll.

Sure, February is the shortest month of the year. It’s just four weeks long. But it sure seems packed.

• January gave us lots of memories didn’t it? Then why can’t we sort them out? Maybe it’s because there is too much to tabulate, even locally.

Want highlights? How is this: Eastern Washington’s men played eight games in the month. Won them all. The closest? A couple of three-point wins, including at home against Sacramento State, this Thursday’s opponent in California.

If you are a bit more masochistic, there were also lowlights. The lowest might have come courtesy of Gonzaga. The Zags were rolling along in West Coast Conference play … no, that’s not right. Mark Few’s team was getting by. Winning close ones on the road. And then the Bulldogs welcomed Loyola Marymount into the Kennel. And lost.

A bunch of winning streaks went out the door with the celebrating Lions. The longest home winning streak in the nation. One hundred games without a loss to less than a Quad 1 opponent. A long WCC streak.

Speaking of streaks, the Cougars ended a long one as well and they were happy about it. The went into Tucson on Jan. 7 having never won a road game against a team ranked in the Associated Press’ top five. That’s ever, folks. They left with a 74-61 upset.

• We really didn’t follow hockey when we were young. Living in Los Angeles, the Kings were probably sixth or seventh in the hierarchy of the area’s pro sports, well behind even USC football and UCLA basketball.

But we knew about the stars. Gordie Howe. Bobby Orr. But most importantly, Bobby Hull. The Golden Jet. The possessor of a slap shot of Sandy Koufax-like speed. A hall of famer.

Hull died Monday, another of our childhood legends no longer with us. Of the triumvirate of hockey stars we remember from then, only Orr remains. It’s inevitable, of course, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

• We are into spirit week among Greater Spokane League basketball programs. Some of the rivalry games have already been played. But the Arena hosts the largest local ones.

The first occurred last night between Cheney and Rogers. The Rubber Chicken is tonight. The rest of the week is filled as well.

The noise is deafening. The emotions raw. The memories priceless.


WSU: There will be an Inland Northwest component to the Super Bowl, with three Cougars and a Vandal on the rosters. Jaylen Watson is the standout, a starting defensive back for the Chiefs. Colton Clark has all the particulars in this story. … We now know why Charlisse Walker-Leger has been back to New Zealand twice in the past few weeks. She talked with Jeff Metcalfe about the death of her grandmother and the strains of the travel. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and college basketball, mental mistakes are hurting Colorado. … It’s a big week for the Arizona schools. … Who has done well for the Wildcats in the first half? … In football news, the next signing period opens tomorrow. Jon Wilner takes a look at what’s left in the Mercury News. … Could Washington lose hard-to-replace offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb? He’s reportedly interviewed with Alabama for the same job. … Oregon State has set its spring schedule. … How did the transfer portal treat Utah?

Gonzaga: The Zag men moved up a couple spots to 12th in the latest A.P. poll, though a showdown looms Saturday in Moraga with No. 18 Saint Mary’s. Theo Lawson has that story. … The women stayed at 17th in their poll despite two wins. Jim Allen has more on their ranking. … It’s also awards time, with Julian Strawther grabbing the WCC’s weekly award (Theo has that story) and Drew Timme remaining in contention for the Wooden Award (Jim Meehan covers that). … Jim Meehan and Richard Fox return for another Zags Basketball Insiders Podcast. We have a transcript and you can listen here. … The Gonzaga track team announced its schedule recently. That news leads off the S-R’s most-recent local briefs column. … Elsewhere in the WCC, the BYU program contemplates its future in the transfer era. … Saint Mary’s has fired its longtime women’s basketball coach Paul Thomas. However, following a lengthy investigation, the school did not say why.

EWU: The Eagles’ success hasn’t escaped the notice of a couple former players. Tanner and Jacob Groves have been following closely from Oklahoma. … Elsewhere in the Big Sky, Washington quarterback Sam Huard is headed to Cal Poly. … How can Idaho State basketball be consistently successful?

Preps: The rivalry last night at the Arena is named the Railroad Rumble. The Cheney teams won both games, though the Pirates took home the spirit trophy. Dave Nichols was there and has this story. The story is also accompanied by a dozen photographs from Cheryl Nichols.

Seahawks: At what price is Geno Smith too expensive? The new salary cap was released and it looks as if the Hawks have a lot of wiggle room. … Patrick Mahomes has lived up to his hype.

Kraken: After what the Seattle coach termed a “garbage” hit, Matty Beniers won’t be in the all-star game. He hasn’t been cleared to play.

Storm: Reports have Breanna Stewart down to picking Seattle or New York for next season. Kevin Durant is trying to get her to come to the Big Apple.


• The best part of February, other than it moving through as fast as a summer storm? When it’s done, it’s March. The beginning of spring. The best season of the year. Until later …

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe to the sports newsletter

Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.