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

A Grip on Sports: You don’t need to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows (and the temps rise) this weekend

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Long before Hoopfest began in the early 1990s, we had figured out the perfect weather for a sports-challenging weekend. It had to do with muscles, unused during the week, and how they responded to the stress put on them over a 48-hour period. This weekend is nearly perfect in that regard.

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• Our extensive research – catching five or six or more fastpitch games or playing on two Hoopfest teams for decades – reached one conclusion. Our optimum efficiency was reached if Saturday was relatively cool, with highs, say, in the high-70s, and Sunday was much warmer, hitting, maybe, the low 90s.

Why?

After a week of working in an air-conditioned office, we were always raring to go Saturday. A few stretches, a good warmup and off we went. As the day wore on, we started to tire out. If it was too hot, we sweated way too much and felt so drained after, sitting in a nice cozy place where everyone knew your name seemed like a stretch. But a coolish day allowed for rehydration in a social setting – after a long cool shower of course.

If Sunday dawned too cool, the muscles would revolt. Ask, in a loud way, what the heck we were doing to them. Announce to the brain they needed a rest. Even after a scalding shower they were still balky. But if it was warm, they often gave the rest of the body a break, allowing more blood to visit and get them up off the bench.

A long stretch, an even longer warmup and they would, still grumpy of course, allow us to play whatever it was we wanted to play. As the day wore on and they wore out, the heat seemed to prop them up, keep them moving. And they were easier for the brain to convince, just work for another hour or so and we could quit. Lay down somewhere in the shade and never move again. Suckers.

Walking through downtown Spokane yesterday, we observed many folks negotiating with their muscles, though they may not have known it. Some had already surrendered, standing nearly motionless at the 2-point line, hoping to make one more shot before calling it a day. Others, most of them younger, were still in the race-around-the-asphalt mode, having bribed their muscles the past few months with, God forbid, exercise and healthy foods. We still harbor some animosity for those people.

Anyhow, everyone who made it through Saturday and have games today – not a given in Hoopfest – are pulling themselves out of bed this morning. Even the in-shape ones probably are hurting a bit. Basketball on a street is different than anything done in training. The only thing that prepares you for it is basketball on a street, and how often is that training available?

Is Mother Nature cooperating. Sort of. It dropped into the 50s last night, but should be back into the 70s by 9 a.m. And the afternoon will be in the low 80s.

Another 5-to-10 degrees might be better for the legs, but this will have to do.

Good luck.

• We mentioned above playing on Sunday isn’t a given. How do we know that? Well, for about seven consecutive years we didn’t play on Sunday. The teams we played on with our friend Steve were just good enough to win one game on Saturday before losing twice in the double-elimination competition.

We were so talented at producing the lose-win-lose outcome we even started naming our team Never on Sunday. If you know where that comes from you are either really old or a cinephile. Or both.

We finally broke the streak in the most-Hoopfest way possible. We lost two consecutive times and were thrown into the Loser King bracket. And then we won both games Sunday, earning the most-coveted shirt in the competition. We still have it.

It doesn’t fit anymore, but we still have it.

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WSU: Washington State women’s assistant coach Laurie Koehn is playing in Hoopfest once again. And she thinks it is “just the coolest thing I’ve ever seen or been a part of.” Charlotte McKinley has more in this story. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, you are wondering, Jon Wilner doesn’t see the Cougars producing a player in the NBA draft next season. … We are still enthralled by the use of the word “commitment” when it comes to transfers. Oregon found out how binding it is with an Arizona State player. … A Utah player who missed two free throw and cost the Utes an NCAA game, is ready to bounce back. … A Colorado player who had an incredible year is ready to build upon it. … And Arizona is ready to show its talent, including transfer Caleb Love, in a summer trip to the Middle East. … It happens every year. People are once again realizing Utah football is going to be good again this fall.

Preps: Dave Nichols traveled to Yakima yesterday to pick up an award. He had some thoughts about it in this column.

Hoopfest: Naje Smith played his high school basketball at Lewis and Clark. He played college ball at a junior college and then at Boise State. Now he’s playing in Hoopfest, trying to win an over-6-foot elite division title. Justin Reed talked with him Saturday for this story. … Playing in Hoopfest, as we alluded to above, is a grind. Ignacio Cowles writes about players going through that grind yesterday. … Colin Mulvany has a photo gallery from all the goings-on downtown yesterday.

Indians: Spokane has started the Northwest League’s second half quickly, with two wins. The second came last night at Avista Stadium with a 6-4, come-from-behind victory over Tri-City.

Seahawks: It isn’t easy being a married couple with different coaching careers. But new Hawk quarterback coach Greg Olson and his wife Lissa have made it work for decades. Dave Boling delves into how in this column. Lissa went to Lewis and Clark High and WSU while Greg, a Richland High grad, played at Central Washington before becoming a graduate assistant in Pullman, where they met.

Sounders: Another boring home match with another boring scoreless outcome. At least Seattle earned a point against Orlando City. … The MLS’ switch to Apple TV has many fans still searching.

Mariners: The 6-4 decision in Baltimore on Saturday may be a crushing blow for the M’s, who had a chance to ensure a break-even road trip yesterday. It seems to make today’s game a must-win (and yes, we are getting into that territory). … Julio Rodriguez did something he always wanted to do, rob a home run. Then he did something every player should want to do, make a little kid’s day (or month or year). … Larry Stone picks his all-stars and the list doesn’t include a lot of Mariners. .. In preparation for next month’s game, there was a cleanup done in the Sodo area. … Who is to blame for all these home run props? Maybe the Dodgers.

Storm: The Mercury is even worse than Seattle, if you can believe it. Even with Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi back in the lineup. The Storm won 97-74 at Climate Pledge Arena yesterday.

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• We found this PGA/LIV story interesting. Maybe complaints from the Tour’s players were behind the merger in the first place. Until later …