Grip on Sports: Just about every college basketball game on television is a jewel, especially when you can’t get out of the driveway – The Spokesman-Review


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A GRIP ON SPORTS • We love hidden gems. Little surprises that pop up occasionally. Like finding the last piece of Halloween candy in February, and realizing it’s OK to eat. Or a couple quarters in the couch cushions just when you were craving a Slurpee. Or, as what happened last night, a really fun ending to a college basketball game on TV. Read on.

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• It’s pretty obvious I don’t watch much in the way of programmed television. We’re not the type of family to sit down in front of the big screen at 8 and watch until we go to bed – and no, it’s not because we hit the sack at 8:07.

It’s more because Little Brother or Chicago Hopeless or The OK Race doesn’t excite us much.

But we do sit down every once in a while just to see what’s on. And last night we caught the final minutes of the North Carolina/Virginia game.

And we never left our seat.

That’s must-see TV.

In the time we watched, we saw: A video overturn of a 3-pointer which would have given UNC a three-point lead – and all the momentum; more defensive stops than Saint Mary’s got in the entire first half against Gonzaga the other day; a “can-you-believe-that” 3-pointer from somewhere near Raleigh; another 3-pointer that included a foul; and some missed free throws that didn’t hurt the Cavalier cause.

One other thing. An entire arena packed to the gills turn silent as the game ended. Oh, and a Virginia road victory.

There is something magical about college basketball, even if you don’t have a cat in the fight.

It brought me back to when my eldest was young (he’s in his mid-30s now). He would fall asleep in my arms while I watching the Big East on ESPN, and we would inch closer to the TV, lying on the floor if need be, the sound from Pittsburgh’s quonset hut of a gym, or from Madison Square Garden or from somewhere else way-too-over-packed, wafting from the speaker quietly. He would drift in and out of dreamland while I sat, enjoying the palatable dislike between the Hoyas and the Huskies or whomever.

It was almost perfect. And it happened all the time.

No scripted show, not even “The Wire” or “The Sopranos,” as good as they were, can match it. And on a snow-bound February evening, it helps you forget the back pain and the bills and the pup’s bad hip. At least for a little while.

• The polls were released yesterday. Gonzaga had inched its way up to third. It’s so common now as to no longer even rate headlines.

If I could hop in the DeLorean and tell that much-younger Vince Grippi sitting in front of his TV watching Jerome send it in that’s what the future holds, I’m sure he wouldn’t believe me. Why would he?

The biggest question is, would he act on the Apple Computer stock tip? Heck, investing even a couple couch-cushion quarters back then would mean a lot these days.

•••

Gonzaga: As we said, the Zags are No. 3. Jim Meehan relays that news while Theo Lawson explains why he voted the way he did. … The NCAA released its preliminary seeding for the women’s tournament and Gonzaga earned a No. 4 seed. That’s about right. Jim Allen has that story. … The feature story of the day comes from Justin Reed as he checks in with players making their official visits with the Zags. … Awards are released on Monday. Brandon Clarke picked up the WCC’s player of the week award. Jim Meehan has that. … Jim also talked with Larry Weir for the latest Press Box pod. … Around the WCC, since being waxed at home by Gonzaga, BYU has bounced back with three consecutive victories.

WSU: Robert Franks is the Pac-12 player of the week and deservedly so. Theo has more in this story. … You want to reflect back on Klay Thompson’s time in Pullman? Many of his friends, and Klay himself, did in this Jayson Jenks’ piece for The Athletic. … I wrote a story about freshman sensation CJ Elleby for The Athletic as well. … Elsewhere in the Pac-12, Washington may have lost, but it didn’t seem to hurt its resume much. … Arizona doesn’t have much of a resume this season. … Oregon has to keep winning if it wants to improve the one it has. … Colorado is trying to build more mental toughness. … Utah has a rebounder it counts on. … UCLA is trying to have more fun. Winning always helps that. … In football, big time recruits don’t always translate into lots of NFL Combine participants. … Utah is starting to recruit more high school running backs.

Whitworth: Missed this story yesterday but the Pirates had a great swimming weekend.

Preps: The state playoffs are in a state of disarray thanks to the weather. Dave Nichols wandered out to West Valley High yesterday and watched a little hoops at about the only place it was being played. Probably nothing will be going on today as just about every school district in Washington is closed.

Mariners: Pitchers and catchers are in Arizona as is Ryan Divish, the Times’ beat writer and an old friend. As I look out the window at the snow, I wonder if there is a way I could join them. … The M’s bullpen is so different this season as to be unrecognizable. So is the new pitching coach. … If you want to throw your money away on the M’s or Hawks, you might be able to do it closer to home soon.

Seahawks: Kam Chancellor deserves his money. … So does Russell Wilson. … Sometimes there are no good answers to tough questions.

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• Yogi is doing better, if not great. He is able to get up and down the stairs, though he needs help most times. His younger brother, Junior, a Dane/Doberman mix, gives him a hard time for being so slow, like brothers will. Until later …