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

A Grip on Sports: If you hate tight losses and/or blowouts for teams you follow, then luckily we have just the antidote

A GRIP ON SPORTS • Quick. It’s time to make a right turn. Then a left. Get away from all the noise about college football for a day. Or two. Even though November is that sport’s best month. We have to focus elsewhere. College basketball officially tips off today. Thank goodness.


• Over the years there have been many ways of celebrating the first day of the best sport college athletics has to offer. Our favorite? When ESPN used to show 24 consecutive hours of games, starting at 12:01 a.m. somewhere.

Those days are as gone as the peach basket, however, so we will have to make due with a bunch of not-so-exciting matchups throughout today and tonight.

Oh, don’t get us wrong. There are decent games to watch.

New-look Oregon – has there ever been any other kind since Dana Altman became coach? – plays Georgia in Las Vegas. It starts at 1:30 p.m. That’s OK, especially since it is on TruTV, which allows everyone to look up the cable number, vow they’ll remember it come the first week of the tournament, and then let it slip away again.

As a public service, it is 49 on Comcast’s lineup in Spokane. Where you live? How the heck would we know?

USC playing Kansas State, also in Vegas, is another matchup of teams with high hopes. This one starts at 7 tonight on TNT.

But that conflicts with all the local games.

The Gonzaga women are in Missoula to face the always-tough-at-home Griz, with the game being carried by SWX and starting at 6. Then the Washington State men – should we use the term “new-look” with them as well? – host an all-new Idaho squad, from coaches to players, on Pac-12 Washington, starting at 8.

That means, if we want to watch the Cougars and Vandals renew the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi, we have to stay up until 10 p.m.? Or 11 body time? That’s tough.

But worth it. It always is.

• If we were the betting type, we would have split on the Seahawks yesterday. We thought the Ravens giving six points was an easy win. Heck, we reasoned, they are good, but so are the Hawks. Fail. But we did rightfully feel as if there would be enough defense played to make the under 44 stand up. Yahoo. But only because there was one defense good enough.

Baltimore showed why it is a Super Bowl contender. The Seahawks showed why the rest of the season will be a test of their collective will.

Ravens 37, Seattle 3? Who saw that coming? Certainly not CBS, which grabbed the game away from Fox and sent its “A” crew – Jim Nantz and Tony Romo – to Maryland. They spent the second half vamping. Or was it bloviating? Whatever. It is never a good listen. Or look.

And the Hawks didn’t look any good either. Awful. On both sides of the ball.

What is it coaches like to say? Flush it and move on? Ya, that’s it.

On to Washington.

• It was a bad weekend for those of you out there who follow the Cougars and Hawks. Two awful losses in two different manners. One winnable game that turned out to be a couple dropped picks from actually happening. One thought-to-be winnable game that turned out not to be. It would have taken about 144 more successful Seahawk plays to make it happen.

But the best part? The Big Wheel O’Sports keeps turning. Grinding. Spinning. It may land on Bankrupt again today or tomorrow, but it also could land on Jackpot. It’s a big part of why we watch.

That and because it gives us something other than the latest episode of NCIS Springfield or Mayberry or Rutherford to watch until we go to bed tonight. That’s gift enough.


WSU: Looking back at the 10-7 loss to Stanford, Greg Woods zeroed in on the two dropped interceptions as plays that could have turned the tide. But those weren’t the only issues. … Charlisse Leger-Walker is on the Naismith Watch List as the season begins. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, Jon Wilner rewinds the conference’s football weekend, comparing and contrasting the games in L.A. and Pullman. … The two L.A. schools dropped out of the A.P. Top 25 and Arizona joined at 23. The top nine remained the same. … Was fifth-ranked Washington’s explosive running game a sign of things to come or just because it was USC’s defense on the other side? … We can’t write “Alex Grinch’s USC defense” anymore as the former WSU assistant was fired. He was vilified again on his way out the door. As we said yesterday, a tough part of a tough job. Now he has to be replaced. … Good news for the Cougars’ opponent this week. California running back Jaivian Thomas, carted off in Eugene on Saturday, seems to be OK. … The sixth-ranked Ducks are large favorites over USC. Their run defense has improved mightily. … Oregon State jumped to 12th in the poll and are a huge favorite over Stanford. … Jonathan Smith earned a contract extension with the win over Colorado. … After its lights-out defensive performance, Utah jumped too, all the way to 13th. … The changes Deion Sanders made last week didn’t work and some think they never will. Colorado could sure use a good performance this week. … Arizona State lost a player to the portal after the wipeout in Salt Lake City. … UCLA lost any semblance of quarterback continuity due to injuries. … In basketball news, if you want to start the season looking at a fun bracket, we offer this one. … Washington coach Mike Hopkins is on a much-hotter seat this season. For a lot of reasons. … The Ducks need to bounce back this season. … So does Oregon State. … We can pass along another California preview. … Colorado opens against Towson State. … The UCLA team will be huge. Will it have huge success? … USC has enough talent to win the conference. … Of course, Arizona does too. … On the women’s side, the Huskies took a large step at the end of last season. Will it continue? … Both Oregon and Oregon State are banking on getting back to basics this season. … A lot is expected of Utah. … USC may have the nation’s best freshman. … And UCLA is ranked in the top five. … Colorado opens against the defending national champions.

Gonzaga: Mark Few took some time after Saturday night’s exhibition win over Lewis-Clark State to reminisce about Bobby Knight. Jim Meehan has that and more in this story. … The Gonzaga visit in December is a key game for San Diego State. … Elsewhere in the WCC, is Saint Mary’s really the team to beat in the conference? … The Mercury News also has previews of USF and Santa Clara today.

Preps: Dave Nichols has all the State playoff pairings for local teams. … Speaking of local, former Shadle Park quarterback Brett Rypien started for the L.A. Rams yesterday. It didn’t go well. Taylor Newquist has more in his roundup of local players in the NFL.

Zephyr: The newest professional sports franchise Spokane held an event at the Davenport Hotel yesterday to announce its name. As you might have guessed reading the first word of this paragraph, the USL women’s team will be called Spokane Zephyr FC. Justin Reed was at the unveiling and has this story.

Mariners: If you want to look ahead, here are seven things the M’s have to work on in the offseason.

Kraken: How are the prospects doing in the minors?

Seahawks: Dave Boling tries to be nice. To use lots of nice words. To not criticize the Hawks’ performance too much. It must have been hard. Harder to write his column than to watch? Nope. … The word shellacking appears in the headline here. It is a good word. And appropriate. … As we say, there are always grades. But rarely this bad. … Yes, this was test. The Seahawks failed. We learned some things, including they just aren’t as good as we thought they were. … They also didn’t tackle worth a darn. Or take care of the ball.

Reign: Seattle will play for the NWSL title after defeating San Diego on Sunday.


• We’ll be here tomorrow and then be taking a couple days off following Tuesday’s surgery. Got to get a hernia (or two) fixed. The last time someone cut open our body, it was an emergency. This time we’ve had weeks to dread what will happen. Not sure which is worse. Thoughts and prayers will be appreciated. And a UC Irvine basketball win over San Jose State on Tuesday would be as well. Until later …