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

A Grip on Sports: Finding clarity in the sports world isn’t easy as the fog of uncertainty rarely recedes

A GRIP ON SPORTS • We love the ocean. The beach. The marine layer. There is something special about waking up to a mist that makes it hard to see what’s ahead. It’s akin to being a sports fan, isn’t it?


• Sports is about the future, isn’t it? What’s next. Who’s next.

Sometimes that future seems clear, as is the case with the next great American basketball player. We are referring to Duke-bound Cooper Flagg, the 17-year-old who wowed the American media Monday at U.S. Basketball’s training camp for the Olympics.

That’s appropriate, isn’t it? Flagg flew over, around and past the National Team in a scrimmage pitting LeBron James, Steph Curry et al against the U.S. Select Team, a group of NBA players (including former GU star Jalen Suggs) and assorted others, picked to test the most-recent “Dream Team” in Las Vegas.

And test they did, though Steve Kerr’s squad held on for a one-point victory. Despite a late Flagg flurry of 11 consecutive points.

Sitting on the U.S. Olympic bench was one Mark Few, in his role as one of Kerr’s Paris assistants. Next year he’ll be back sitting a couple seats over in his role as Gonzaga’s head coach. He may have to figure out a way to control Flagg if the Zags’ want to win their elusive first national title. We have to wonder if he was taking notes and already trying to devise a plan to shut down the wonderkid.  

Like the fog that rolls in off the Pacific Ocean, how successful the Bulldogs can be next season is still unclear. With a deep roster assembled, most experts are predicting clear skies and sunny weather. But integrating new talent, and new talents, into Gonzaga’s team concept is not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s hard work, work that is ongoing in Spokane while Few exercises the hard-earned honor of helping the U.S. team on its gold-medal path.

Flagg is all the hot incoming college freshman this summer. Next summer? Maybe that role will be filled by Davis Fogle, the 6-foot-7 guard from the West Side who has already decided he wants to be the next Zag star.

In preparation, Fogle will spend his winter in the sunshine of Arizona, leaving the Washington high school ranks for a prep school challenge. Not looking for clear skies, per se, but more a stormy one that is more like the gales, as well as the Gaels, he will face at GU.

• The fog of the future has engulfed the Mariners as well. It was bound to, as the baseball season always features storms. The most recent one has caused a few fans to abandon ship, we’re sure. But most are clamoring for some supplements to the crew.

It’s understandable, considering the offensive woes. If the M’s win, most of the time, it’s due to their pitching.

The last one of those many games? That would be Andrés Muñoz, the one Seattle player who has a beef with the All-Star selections. In an era dominated by analytics, Muñoz’s season, from his WHIP to his WAR. No, those aren’t not nautical terms. They are ways of delving into a pitcher’s command (walks plus hits divided by innings pitched) and value (wins above replacement).

In all those things, Muñoz is as good as anyone. And yet, the Mariners, one of six division leaders, have just one All-Star representative.

It’s Logan Gilbert. It’s not Muñoz. For now. Expect Muñoz to be added to the roster at some point.

• Cam Ward plied his quarterback trade the past couple years about as far from the ocean, in college football terms, as he could. Pullman, Washington, won’t ever feature beachfront property, even if “Waterworld” comes true.

But he’s in the bright sunshine now. He will be the starter for the “U,” the University of Miami, technically not a beach school but, well, it is in Miami.

A place of sand, waves and bright sunshine. Oh, and bright lights.

They shined on him this week. He and Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders did what college kids do, talk trash to each other. And it was caught on video, which seems to be the default these days.

What was said was not as important as what the exchange represents. Ward, who was certainly not quiet in his two years with Washington State – on and off the field – has discovered a truism of college athletics these days. The camera is always on. Nothing is missed. Especially when you are a star.


WSU: We linked the Ward story above. And here as well. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12 and the nation, it’s Tuesday, so we can pass along John Canzano’s Monday mailbag. … Maybe football recruiting stories do stop. We actually had trouble finding one today. But we succeeded. It’s from Oregon State. … There is another installment of the Oregonian football numbers story to pass along. No. 54 for Oregon State and Oregon. … Utah’s roster may be strong but there is still a question to answer. … The Big 12 media days are set to start and Arizona will be one of the featured schools. … Despite heading off to independence next season, the Beavers’ baseball roster has stayed mostly intact and added a few transfers. … A former Colorado men’s player has joined the school’s basketball coaching staff. … California is looking for a new golf coach after almost three decades.

Gonzaga: Why did we mention Fogle above? In large part because Jim Meehan spoke with him this week and put together this story. We did link it above. … There are a lot of former GU players in the Las Vegas summer league, as there always is. The story behind the league’s inception is pretty interesting.

EWU and Idaho: Around the Big Sky, former Weber State player Dillon Jones is showing off his talents in the NBA summer league. … The Idaho State women’s team is showing of its talent in Paris. … Montana State’s football team is adding talent.

Mariners: The offense has been awful. It doesn’t take a deep dive into the stats to know that. But they certainly support that assessment. … We always liked Paul Sewald. It doesn’t make us happy to pass along this story, but the trade to the Diamondbacks seems to have worked well for the M’s. … Catie Griggs resigned as president of business operations, hinting she was headed to another job in the East. She was. She went to work for the Orioles.

Kraken: Another draft pick, another story.

Sounders: Seattle seems to have turned some sort of corner. It may be health. It may be schedule. Whatever it is, the Sounders have been winning. They try to keep it going tonight in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal tonight against Sacramento.

Storm: Seattle and Australia have had tight ties for years. It shows in the makeup of the Australian women’s Olympic basketball team.

Wimbledon: The American stars have bowed out. But others are emerging from the fog. Two men have made the quarterfinals for the first time since 2000.


• If there are typos today, we blame our grand-nephew – if that’s the right term for the son of our nephew and his wife. Seven-month old babies have the ability to distract anyone, even a grizzled veteran of press boxes and loud newsrooms. Man, we forgot how cute babies are. Until later …