A Grip on Sports: Gonzaga continues to test, even when they come from home

INFLUENZA IN SPORT • Have you ever been fooled by one of those Internet “tests” that claim to tell you if you’re going to get rich or famous or something? An hour and 55 clicks later, you find the answer is no. A categorical no. Well, at least Tuesday night, it only took 20 minutes of basketball to answer a whole bunch of questions. And most of them were with a definite yes.


• Here’s a simple one: If you stayed in the second half, you’re actually a Gonzaga fan. After all, with a 20-point lead, the best team in the country and a No.1 ranking in their back pocket, there was no way the Zags would lose to UCLA in this “showdown” of. start of the season in Las Vegas.

So if you stuck with him instead of, say, turning to the Seattle Sounders’ only MLS playoff game of 2021 (although no one suspected it at the time), you’ve proven your Zagdom good faith.

Other questions answered during those 20 minutes of the first half included, in no particular order, Gonzaga’s defense (strong to very good), the Bulldogs’ transition play (still among the best – if not the best in the country. ), their depth (the front court is still looking for a big fourth, the back court an embarrassment of wealth) and whether UCLA still harbored a grudge over the loss of overtime last season (a glaring foul before halftime and a whole bunch of other hits would seem to indicate he’s a roger, Roger).

A game doesn’t answer all questions, of course, not even when it comes to a No.1 vs. No.2 clash.

Heck, we still don’t know if UCLA will be the second best team on the West Coast – if you turned to the Zag game early on, you had a chance to watch Saint Mary’s finish an Oregon loss – or more like the team that was OK but not great until last season’s NCAA race.

And we don’t know if Drew Timme can adapt when teams overtake him so often, and from so many different angles he doesn’t find much room to operate. He certainly didn’t charge the Bruins often enough in the second half, despite plenty of opportunities in it. (Our guess? Yes, it can – and will.)

We do know, however, that ESPN can certainly put on a show when it thinks about it. And the network wanted it that night. It caused a stir and pushed Dick Vitale back into the arena. He touted and touted – literally – the location of Vegas. And he more than likely enjoyed decent grades. At least for 20 minutes.

• If you don’t know the story of Mitch Haniger, you should. The Mariners outfielder looked to be the team’s brightest future star in June 2019. Then he fouled the dirt and backed up in his groin. And ruptured a testicle. Goodbye 2019 – and goodbye a good night’s sleep for a while.

If that had been his only injury, Haniger’s return to the pitch would have been a success. But before he could return to the game, he would suffer two more serious injuries, undergo two more surgeries and miss the entire 2020 season.

All of this made his success in 2021 so remarkable. Thirty-nine circuits. A hundred RBI. A WAR 3.1. MVP Votes.

The best stats, by far, of anyone who hasn’t played in 2020, by choice or not.

And yet there was no way Haniger was called American League Returning Player of the Year Monday. He wasn’t.

As Boston manager Alex Cora said in April, referring to the Orioles’ Trey Mancini, “He should be the returning player of the year. He can hit .330 or .180 and he’s already the Returning Player of the Year. I know there are other guys coming back from injuries, but coming back from [colon cancer] It’s incredible.

Yes, the price was pre-ordered. Not because of what Mancini did on the pitch – he posted good numbers, with 21 homers, 71 RBIs and an average of .255 – but because he was on the pitch at all.

Coming back to the game after battling colon cancer is an incredible achievement. That’s enough of one, in fact, to make sure you win a prestigious baseball award, no questions asked. Especially if you are playing somewhere in the Interstate-95 corridor.

• Do you know what this daily feature is? Of course you do. It is an opinion column. That’s why my name (and, unfortunately, my photo) is on it. It is filled with my opinions every day. About sports and sometimes other stuff, including the best Thanksgiving side dishes (see below).

This is why I was a little baffled when I received some criticism regarding my thoughts on football from the Big Sky Conference and the idiocy of having 13 schools competing for a title, while only eight conference games are played.

It’s not that people didn’t agree. That’s great. Encouraged even. It is that a few people were angry that I did not write “a fair and balanced article”. You know, like journalists are supposed to.

Uh no. It is not my role. Everything I write here is my opinion. My thoughts on what has been reported. Mine and mine alone. There is no balance – although I always try to see both sides before I make up my mind. But once a decision is made, then I wouldn’t be a great defender if I dwelled on the points of emphasis, right?

So let’s recap. The Big Sky must either switch to a divisional setup in football or stop saying it’s picking a champion – on the pitch.


Gonzaga: If you thought the game was off balance last night, it wouldn’t be fair to compare the coverage of this one from the SR and other places, either. With Jim Meehan taking care of the history of the game, Theo Lawson adding an article about Andrew Nembhard’s performance, Jesse Tinsley’s photo gallery from Las Vegas, staff putting together the factors of difference and a recap with the facts highlights, and our contribution, the TV socket, the SR also dominated. …There was blanket to most of the big ones sports venues also. And blanket of Los Angeles Region. … Before watching yesterday, we spoke with Larry Weir for the last Press Podcast. Um, our predictions of what would happen weren’t very good. … There is no doubt that Gonzaga will retain the top spot in the power rankings of each, at least until Friday night’s game with Duke. … Chet holmgren won a lot of distinctions for his game.… Interested in college coaches think of some high officials? … Around the WCC, it was still a good night. Sainte Marie struck down Oregon – on ESPN no less, just before Gonzaga’s game – and Portland defeated the State of Portland. … Jeff Judkins, a BYU women’s trainer, is absent due to COVID-19.

WSU: Before we get to the Apple Cup articles, we wanted to convey this early notice of Derek Sparks’ death. Former Cougar running back died Tuesday. … It’s been a long time since Washington State won the Apple Cup. Nine years in fact. This group wants to end this drought. Colton Clark tells their story. … Sure, Washington wants the sequence to continue. This is what the Huskies Must do. … Colton also has the good news that tackle Abe Lucas will end his college career at the Senior Bowl. … Jon Wilner has his power ranking in the SR this morning. … Former WSU star Klay thompson is back in Warrior’s training after his lengthy injury rehab. … Elsewhere in Pac-12 and college football, Wilner also his latest bowl projections in the Mercury News. The Cougar is not going to attract a lot of support. … Oregon players have a NIL agreement with an Airbnb company. The question, however, is whether his quarterback has a productive deal with his receivers. … Oregon State uses Jack Colletto in so many different ways it’s hard to keep track. … The third down is the scourge of Coloradoexistence. … Utah isn’t in trouble anywhere right now, on or off the field. The Utes are the conference best team this week. … Jaxson dart will keep work like USC starting quarterback. The Trojans have other things to worry about. … UCLA’s Lake Quentin would like to join Lucas at the Senior Bowl. … A Bruin was just happy to play. … A the passion of the rivalry game sometimes must be learned. … Who’s gonna do it Arizona hire as a defensive coordinator? … In the basketball news, Washington won again. The Huskies are on a roll. … Oregon struggled offensively in a loss to the Gaels. … Colorado begins to prepare for the conference game. … The victory over Michigan was big for one Wild cat. … Utah lost a player to a late season injury.

EWU: Eric Barrière is going to have to rent a Pod or something like that. Just to hand over his rewards. He was named Big Sky’s Offensive Player of the Year again yesterday. There will be other rewards later. Dan Thompson has more in this story. … Around the Big Sky, teams all conferences were released and Montana edged Montana State by one player. … Bobcats Troy Andersen was defensive player of the year, however, who should count for two. … Northern Colorado must start looking forward to next season. … Despite a bad record, Weber State still had a lot of players from all conferences. … A place in the playoffs allows UC Davis to start over. … Idaho State will start again next season with a new coach. … In the basketball news, Montana is about to host a tournament. … Sacramento State overtook UC Davis. … Northern Arizona fell home to the UTRGV.

Chiefs: Top scorer Luke Toporowski is due to serve a three-game hitting suspension against Seattle on Friday.

Seahawks: No, the bad teams do not play on sunday evening in December. The Hawks’ game with San Francisco has been postponed to the afternoon. … Be brown had knee surgery.

Kraken: An expansion team always has a lot of players who feel like their previous team gave up on them too soon. Does it matter?

Sirens: Sort of Seattle season is over in a match in which he did not allow a shooting attempt. Weird. But the Sounders didn’t play well and lost 1-0 on penalties To Real salt lake. The quest for another MLS Cup is over.


• Everyone has a strange side dish for Thanksgiving they like it, right? Well, maybe not. But we do. It’s a casserole of green beans that Kim only cooks for Thanksgiving, but I would enjoy at least 53 times a year. Sure, it’s a veggie-based dish, which goes against everything we stand for when it comes to food, but man it’s okay. I think it’s the little French-friend-onion crust that takes over. Until later …

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