by Joe Santoro

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February 24, 2012
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Sports Fodder: Time for Nevada hoops to step it up


Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

It is time for the Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team to step it up. The smell of postseason tournaments is in the air and the Wolf Pack needs to start salivating. The Pack, though, hasn't played all that well lately. They have been, in fact, downright mediocre at best. They are just 3-2 in their last five games and haven't played all that well in their last seven. Does this team have another gear to go to in the coming weeks? We'll find out. The first thing they must do is obliterate the last three teams on their regular season schedule starting with Saturday night at Fresno State and continuing through next week at home against New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech. It's time for the Pack to curl its lip and start showing its teeth.

. . .

There is no reason why the Pack cannot win the WAC Tournament and go to the NCAA Tournament. But in case that doesn't happen, can they get an at-large bid? What if the Pack wins its last three regular season games, loses in the WAC tournament title game and is sitting at 27-6? How can they leave out a 27-6 team? Well, they can. Just last year, for example, Coastal Carolina lost in the Big South tournament title game and was sent to the NIT with a 28-5 record. College basketball, remember, is not college football. In college football all you need is a pulse and a body temperature above 75 degrees to get a bowl bid. In college basketball you have to win and you have to look good doing it. So, forget 27-6. Better get to 28-5 with a WAC Tournament title and remove all doubt.

. . .

Can we just put the NBA's Slam Dunk contest out to pasture once and for all? This year's field is a slap in the face of NBA fans everywhere. Chase Budinger, Paul George, Derrick Williams and Jeremy Evans? Take 10 points if you even know what team any of those guys plays for. The slam fest has been on a two-decade decline ever since Dominique Wilkins won in 1990. The dunk is no longer a thrill to see. It has gone the way of the circus, record albums and telephones that plug into your wall at home.

. . .

Albert Pujols is upset because the Los Angeles Angels have put up billboards all over Southern California with his picture next to the words "El Hombre." Pujols is upset because he says the billboards disrespect former St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial, whose nickname was "The Man." Pujols needs to relax. First of all, Albert, you are not in St. Louis anymore. Only one in 1,000 Southern Californians have ever heard of Stan Musial, let alone his nickname. Second, Musial probably doesn't even know that El Hombre means The Man. And, third, it's just a silly phrase to put on a billboard to sell tickets to Angels games. Albert, you are getting $250 million over the next 10 years to play a child's game. You are lucky they don't make you stand on a busy corner every weekend shaking an "El Hombre" sign. Albert, if Charley Finley was your owner, "El Hombre" would already be on the back of your uniform.

. . .

Colin Kaepernick could have been Tim Tebow this year and then some. If Alex Smith had gotten hurt, Kaepernick would have come in and done exactly what Tebow did for the Denver Broncos. Actually, Kaepernick would have done even more because, well, he's twice the quarterback that Tebow will ever be. But Tebow captivated the national media and earned a cute little Tebow Time nickname. Well, how about Captain Kap? If given the chance, Kaepernick would have excited his teammates and the 49er faithful this year and he would have gotten the 49ers to the playoffs. But he never got the chance. The NFL is all about being in the right place at the right time and, right now, Kaepernick is not in the right place.

. . .

All of the hype and hoopla over Robert Griffin III is a little aggravating if you are a Kaepernick fan. Kaepernick had to wait until the second round of the NFL Draft before the 49ers took him in 2010 and then he barely got off the bench his rookie year. Griffin will likely be taken in the first five picks this spring and, depending on who picks him, will start from Day 1. Kaepernick is just as talented as Griffin. He's just as good an athlete as Griffin. He's 3-4 inches taller than Griffin. His arm is just as strong, if not stronger. He's a better runner than Griffin. Griffin, because he went to Baylor in the Big 12 Conference, got a ton of Heisman votes this year. And, yes, he has a cute little RGIII nickname. Well, how about CKI? And if Kaepernick played in the Big 12 in 2010 he also would have gotten a ton of Heisman votes. Right place, right time, folks. That's what the NFL is all about.

. . .

Billy Beane must be getting bored. Now that his Moneyball movie is finished and Brad Pitt changed his cell phone number without telling him, the Oakland A's general manager, it seems, is searching for something to get excited about. So, what does he do? Buy another I-Pad? Calls Dominos and sends two dozen pizzas to Brian Sabean's house in the middle of the night? No. He goes out and signs Manny Ramirez. Yes, the same Manny Ramirez who quit on the Boston Red Sox a few years ago and the Tampa Bay Rays last year. The same Manny Ramirez who refused to break a sweat with the Chicago White Sox two years ago. The same Manny Ramirez who still has a 50-game suspension to serve. Yes, that Manny Ramirez. Beane, though, is just using his old Moneyball approach. He's going out and buying undervalued talent. And, right now, old, fat, cheaters who quit on their teams are definitely undervalued in the big leagues.


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The Record Courier Updated Feb 24, 2012 01:54PM Published Feb 24, 2012 01:51PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.