Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

A Grip on Sports: An early start to the day can mean more time downtown watching basketball, which is the traditional activity this weekend

A GRIP ON SPORTS • At about 5:15 this morning, we witnessed a blast from the past. A car pulled up to our neighbor’s house, the driver popped out, opened the trunk and waited. Out came the neighbor, carrying his golf clubs. An early Saturday on the course? Certainly. Smart move.


• We’ve loved playing golf since we first took up the game in our early teens. We’ve never been good at it, but that doesn’t much matter. Walking, talking, fresh air, adult beverages, the rare great shot, fun memories. A round can include all of those things and more. You know what we mean by “more,” right? Lost balls, broken clubs, foot stomping, prayers, pledges to never play again.

The best rounds we remember all were a mix of good and bad. Most, however, included one key element. Quick play.

That’s why the early morning pick up today hit home.

The neighbor who went off to play has two young children at home. We know what that means. It’s harder to find time to play. Free moments must be mined differently. We did the same thing more than 30 years ago.

Get on the course early, be done early. And when the weekend is populated by a big event like, say, Hoopfest, smaller crowds with which to contend. It’s a win/win. Until a 12-foot, hard-breaking putt for bogey looms on the first hole and you’re trying to make while nursing an aching back. Then you might have wished you had slept in.

• Ah, Hoopfest. Another memory maker. Also filled with fond and not-so-fond memories.

On our list includes, from the fond side, playing with the boys and Kim in the coed ranks one year, teaming with a great friend and his family for almost a decade worth of games, watching kids we’ve coached over the years smile as the watch their children play, a group of buddies giving one of our own a one-finger salute as he entered a bar Saturday night with a splint on his broken finger, and hitting a game-winning free throw while another member of the Spokane media talked trash in our right ear.

On the other side there was a fight in which we just a peripheral part, finding out a good friend was awful at hoops, walking from one side of Riverfront Park and back multiple times on a 90-degree weekend, having to deal with parents in a youth game, and losing track of our youngest son two consecutive years.

Wait, that is actually one of the good memories, though it wasn’t at the time.

Jack was a wanderer. Always has been. He wandered away one year while we were busy with his older brother’s game. Ended up at the medical tent. We were paged over the loudspeaker system while frantically searching for him. Found him eating a popsicle, sitting on a table and holding court with the docs and nurses, without a care in the world.

The next year we kept a better eye on him. Should have used two. While dad was playing, he disappeared once more. Mom was frantic. Dad finished his game, walked right into Boo Radley’s and found him sitting in a corner, playing with a toy. No loudspeaker that year.

• After experiencing almost every Hoopfest since its inception – by the way, we want to thank our buddy Rick Betts one more time – we have some advice, especially if you are going just to watch.

Don’t bring a chair. Too encumbering. The curb is just fine if you carry a couple towels in your bag. Oh, and always bring a small backpack with lots of water, towels, maybe those cooling towels. And something to read when you happen to find shade.

Comfortable shoes. And an extra pair (or two) of socks.

A wagon? C’mon man, that’s just selfish. There isn’t enough room.

An extra charger for your phone is mandatory if yours is as old as the ancient model we own. Everything is in the app, so you need to be able to access throughout the day.

Be prepared to miss the start of a lot of games. It always takes longer than you think to get from point A to point B.

If you get tired and cranky, don’t stick around. The grandkids don’t want Me-ma or Pops yelling at the court monitor.

Oh, and this one is key, put one of those Apple tags on your “Jack.” Might save or half-hour or so looking for them. Not that we would know. Such technology wasn’t around when we were scurrying about.


WSU: As always, there has been a flurry of activity since the NBA draft finished. Justin Powell found a landing spot, taking his outside shooting talents to the Miami Heat. Colton Clark has this story on the guard signing an Exhibit 10 deal. (If that term still mystifies you, there is an explanation here.) … The Cougars have a new baseball coach, officially. Nathan Choate has left Loyola Marymount, where he was this season’s WCC coach of the year, and is headed to Pullman. He’ll have to get used to the difference in the weather. Colton has a story on the hiring as well. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner has a mailbag in the Mercury News. Guess what the main topic of discussion is. … Recruiting never stops, especially in football. … Colorado enticed a walk-on quarterback to join its squad. … The Buffs’ basketball program also has a bunch of new faces. … Utah has supplied the NBA with a disproportionate number of top draft picks over the years. … Arizona is headed to the Middle East this summer – we guess Tommy Lloyd was looking for a place even hotter than Las Vegas in July – for an exhibition tour. … LSU is playing for the World Series title this weekend. That doesn’t sit well with Arizona baseball fans, considering they lost their coach to the Tigers.  

Gonzaga: We were a little surprised when we watched this year’s Nike Hoop Summit – a game that pitted the U.S.’s best young players vs. the World. this spring. We had heard so many good things about Alex Toohey, the Australian who was headed to GU, we were excited to see what he could do. And then he hardly played for the World team. Mainly, it seemed to us, because he couldn’t guard anyone. A trio of blow-bys and Toohey disappeared after 7 minutes on the court. We learned our lesson long ago not to judge a player by one game but the thought afterward, expressed here, was Toohey might be more of a long-term project than first believed. Little did we know he would decide not to even come north. Jim Meehan has this story which contains this little clue why he decided to stay in Australia: “Former Gonzaga assistant Roger Powell Jr., the head coach at Valparaiso, was the lead recruiter on Toohey …” Having the person who enticed you to Spokane heading out might have played a part in the decision. … Speaking of heading out, Drew Timme is, and he is headed to Milwaukee, the Spokane of the Midwest. Theo Lawson has this story on his post-draft landing spot, and Theo includes where Malachi Smith ended up as well. … Elsewhere in the WCC, Brandin Podziemski met with the Bay Area media yesterday. He’s not lacking in confidence.

EWU: Another Inland Northwest grad is headed to the NBA for the summer. The Eagles’ Angelo Allegri agreed to a deal with Charlotte. Dan Thompson talked with him and has this story. … As we mentioned yesterday, former Eastern (and Shadle Park High) player Tanner Groves agreed to a deal with Oklahoma City.

Indians: We bemoaned the lack of offense yesterday. Maybe our pleas were heard. Spokane, even with an injury-riddled offense, exploded for an 11-2 win over Tri-City at Avista. Dave Nichols has this story. And, no, we hardly heard last night’s fireworks at all.

Hoopfest: Yes, we have stories. Justin Reed covers the competitive aspect of the 3-on-3 tournament and Garrett Cabeza has the overview of one of Spokane’s best events.

Horse racing: We wanted to pass along Kip Hill’s obituary of Jack Pring for those of you old enough to remember Playfair Race Course. The Spokane businessman, who died Monday at 92, saved the place for a couple decades after it was about to bulldozed over in 1981.

Mariners: We watched the M’s game off-and-on Friday, but we didn’t miss the seven-run eighth which included about 35 consecutive singles. Behind that and Logan Gilbert’s strong outing, Seattle won 13-1. … Julio Rodriguez will be in the Home Run Derby again. … Yes, the grass is greener these days. … Felix Hernandez will be back in town for the All-Star game.

Sounders: The U.S. will host the 32-team 2025 Club World Cup and the Sounders will participate in it.

Storm: Jewell Loyd is on a record-setting scoring pace.

Kraken: Next season’s preseason schedule is set.


• We wish we had more Hoopfest memories to share with you. But we believe, probably correctly, we’ve shared in this space just about everyone we built over the years. We searched our memory banks today hoping to come up with something new and really didn’t. We’re going to keep at it and may have something fresh tomorrow. Even if our legs probably won’t be. Until later …