by Joey Santoro

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February 16, 2012
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Sports Fodder: Pack hasn't earned any rankings


Does the Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team deserve to be ranked in the Top 25 right now? Absolutely not. Yes, the Wolf Pack is 22-4 and in first place in the Western Athletic Conference. But that record is more Fool's Gold than 24 carat. There are nearly three dozen teams in the country -- almost all of which that play in a tougher conference -- that have a record within a game or two or even better than the Pack. Just three of the Pack wins have come against teams that have a record right now of better than four games over .500. This is also the weakest WAC since the Pack joined the conference a dozen seasons ago. It's clearly the WAC's fault that the Pack isn't among the Top 25 teams in the nation right now. So don't worry about a spot in the Top 25 just yet. Wait until the Pack wins at Iona on Saturday. That's when you can start screaming and yelling.

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Despite their soft and friendly schedule, the Wolf Pack still has a solid chance an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. A few things, though, likely need to happen. The first thing is a win at Iona on Saturday. That would alert the tournament selection committee members east of the Mississippi River about what is going on in Reno this year. The second thing that must happen is the Pack must sweep its final three WAC regular season games. And the third thing that must happen is the Pack must get to at least the title game of the WAC Tournament next month. That would leave the Pack with a 28-5 record. How do you leave a 28-5 team out of the NCAA Tournament? If that happens, then the NCAA basketball tournament is no less biased and unfair than the BCS.

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Don't be so quick to assume that WAC commissioner Karl Benson is making like a captain of an Italian cruise liner and is abandoning a sinking ship. Yes, Benson is leaving the decaying WAC and is jumping into the Sun Belt Conference's lifeboat to become it's new commissioner. But the rumors have already started that the WAC and Sun Belt will merge into yet another meaningless conglomeration of unrelated schools (see the Mountain West Conference-Conference USA merger). Here's an idea. The Mountain West, Sun Belt, WAC and Conference USA, as well as the Big West, the Big Sky and West Coast Conference, should merge into one absurd super universe, break away from the NCAA, call itself the NHL (National Have-Not League), break into about a dozen mini divisions, only play each other and then hold a tournament at the end of the year where Benson would hand out the Karl's Kup.

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Boise State might be on the move once again. Another rumor has the Broncos leaving the Mountain West immediately (instead of waiting until after the 2012-13 school year) to move to the Big East for football and WAC for all their other sports. It wasn't that long ago that Boise State was the shining example of everything that was right about college sports. Now, if you look in the dictionary under greed, gluttony, selfishness or mercenary, you'll see a picture of their ugly blue turf. It won't be long until they replace their Bronco head logo with a gigantic blue and orange dollar sign and change the spelling of Boise to Boi$e.

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It was a huge mistake for Chris Ault to sign just a two-year extension after the historic 13-1 Nevada Wolf Pack football season in 2010. It signaled a lack of faith in Ault's long-term commitment to the Wolf Pack as well as a lack of commitment by the university in Ault. You simply don't give a Hall of Fame coach, the best coach in your program's history, a legend who just went 13-1 a silly, meaningless, token two-year extension. That mistake was corrected Thursday when Ault agreed to another two-year extension that will keep him on the Pack sideline through the 2015 season. Will Ault retire after 2015? It looks that way. He'll be 69-years-old at the end of the 2015 season and he's always said he won't coach when he's 70.

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Jeremy Lin, who is the hottest thing in the NBA since, well, they cut a hole in the bottom of the peach baskets, is truly an amazing, heartwarming story once you get past all of the goofy ESPN "Linsanity" over-hyped garbage. Lin also has some northern Nevada ties. He played for the Reno Bighorns just last year and averaged 18 points, almost six rebounds and over four assists. And guess who was the head coach at Stanford who wouldn't simply walk across the street to Palo Alto High in 2006 with a scholarship offer in his hand when Lin was winning a state title and was arguably the best player in the state? It was none other than former Pack coach Trent Johnson.

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The list of coaches who didn't see the wonder of Lin, though, is a long one. It also includes every coach in the NBA in 2010 when Lin wasn't even drafted. Lin, in high school and college, was always one of the top point guards in the nation. He was everything coaches preach about -- a tireless worker, a fearless competitor, extremely intelligent, unselfish and a great teammate. Those things, though, really don't mean anything. In basketball it still comes down to how high you can jump and how fast you can run. It's time the sport of basketball develops a Billy Beane Moneyball approach and starts to go after players who can actually help you win and not just merely impress the old scouts with the stopwatches.


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The Record Courier Updated Feb 16, 2012 06:14PM Published Feb 16, 2012 06:08PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.