by Joe Santoro

Back to: News
December 29, 2011
Follow News

Sports Fodder: Something special brewing at Lawlor


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

There is something special going on at Lawlor Events Center this season whether anybody knows about it or not. The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team has now won seven games in a row and 10 of its last 11 and appears to be on its way to its best season since the 2006-07 team that finished 29-5. And, oh yeah, don't be shocked to see this team back in the NCAA Tournament in March. With 17 games left in the regular season, plus the Western Athletic Conference tournament, the Pack could find itself in the hunt for even an at-large bid with 25-plus wins to impress the selection committee. Is a tournament bid what it will take for northern Nevada to come back to Lawlor? Just 3,376 showed up Wednesday to see the Pack beat Cedarville, leaving the home attendance this year at an average of  3,653 for eight dates. Those are high school numbers. It takes a community to build a consistent winning college basketball program, folks.

. . .

Don't hate this Pack team because the schedule isn't beautiful. All college basketball schedules in November and December are filled with glorified scrimmages. That's how you get to 25 wins. Don't forget that the 2004-07 Pack NCAA Tournament teams also used to fill up their first 15 games with cupcakes like Portland, Weber State, Alabama State, UC Davis, Georgia State, CU-Colorado Springs, Florida Atlantic, Eastern Illinois, Sacramento State, Seattle Pacific, Norfolk State, Alaska-Anchorage and Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Where do you think Pack coach David Carter learned how to schedule? He learned from Trent Johnson and Mark Fox.

. . .

What is it with the Wolf Pack's pistol offense in bowl games? Why can't it put points on the scoreboard like it does in the regular season? The problem seems to be the Pack quarterback's inability to run the ball in bowl games. Since the pistol was invented in 2005, Pack quarterbacks Jeff Rowe, Colin Kaepernick and Cody Fajardo have averaged 29 yards a game on the ground in seven bowl games. Kaepernick, one of the best running quarterbacks in the history of college football in the regular season, had a mere 86 total yards on the ground on 43 carries in four bowl games combined. The pistol is amazing for destroying bad defenses in the regular season. But give a decent opponent more than three days to prepare for it and, well, that's how you get a 2-5 record in bowls.

. . .

It's time we appreciate the career of Pack running back Lampford Mark. The senior had a school bowl game-record 183 yards rushing in the 24-17 loss to Southern Mississippi on Christmas Eve. Mark, who played his first three seasons as Vai Taua's caddie, finished his Pack career with 1,882 yards and 16 touchdowns despite getting more than 10 carries in a game just nine times. When he finally was given the starting job this season, he went over 100 yards in each of his last six games. Mark averaged 5.95 yards a carry for his career, which is better than Pack greats John Vicari (4.7), Chris Lemon (4.7), Frank Hawkins (5.6), Charvez Foger (5.2), Chance Kretschmer (4.3), Luke Lippincott (5.88) and Anthony Corley (4.8).

. . .

Since the Denver Broncos have now been outscored a combined 81-37 the past two weeks combined, can we now assume that Tim Tebow doesn't walk on water, cannot part the Red Sea and cannot turn Gatorade into wine? Tebow is simply an average quarterback in a league overflowing with average quarterbacks. Nothing more, nothing less. Then again, if he can bring the Broncos' defense back to life this week, we might have to stick a few extra bucks in the collection basket next week.

. . .

Alex Smith, the Bay Area's version of Tim Tebow, appears headed to a long-term deal with the San Francisco 49ers. What does that mean for the career of former Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick? Another two years on the bench seems likely. That's not exactly a bad thing for Kaepernick, who has tossed just five passes this year. And it doesn't necessarily mean that Kaepernick's future won't be with the 49ers. Alex Smith, after all, is still Alex Smith. Like Tebow, he is a solid quarterback as long as his defense is great. Ask Trent Dilfer what that feels like. Kaepernick just needs to be patient, keep working hard and wait for the Smith fairytale era to end.

. . .

Is this the best 49ers' defense ever? You can certainly argue that it is. The 49er defenses in the 1980s and 1990s were always a bit undervalued but could any of those defenses get Smith and these receivers to 12 or 13 wins and a possible Super Bowl appearance? This 49ers defense allows just 13.5 points and 308 yards a game. But hold off right now on labeling this the best Niners defense in team history. A good chunk of those numbers have been accomplished against the St. Louis Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals as well as the Tampa Bay Bucs, Washington Redskins, Cleveland Browns and a one-legged Ben Roethlisberger. And Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are lurking around the next corner.

. . .

It sure is tough to be an Oakland A's fan. It's one thing to peddle off your good players after they've won something, like the 1997 Florida Marlins. But it's quite another to deal them away when they are still young and cheap and before they've won anything. The A's are no longer letting go of establish stars on the verge of huge contracts, guys like Mark McGwire, Miguel Tejada, Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye, Jason Giambi and Tim Hudson. They are now letting go of young, cheap guys like Andrew Bailey, Ryan Sweeney, Trevor Cahill, Craig Breslow and Gio Gonzales. When will the A's ever be able to build a winner? The answer is never. What's the point of getting prospects in all these deals if you just have to trade them a couple years into their big league careers? It's time the A's get an ownership group that can afford a big league team


Stories you may be interested in

The Record Courier Updated Dec 29, 2011 04:48PM Published Dec 29, 2011 04:43PM Copyright 2011 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.