Sports Fodder: Gorman’s dominance could still wane
March 2, 2012
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The Bishop Gorman Gaels are making a joke out of the Nevada Class 4A state championships this year. The Gaels of Las Vegas destroyed Reed High in the 4A football title game 72-28 in December and they pounded Hug 96-51 in the 4A basketball match-up last weekend. Both games were painful to watch. And now everyone in the state, it seems, wants to ship Gorman out to the middle of Utah or Montana, let them apply for membership into the Mountain West Conference or, better yet, burn them at the stake. Relax. A little patience is required here. Don’t forget that Gorman’s basketball team was beaten just last year by Bishop Manogue in the state tournament. Don’t forget that Las Vegas High was the football power in the state not that long ago. Yes, Gorman recruits athletes. But they’ve always recruited athletes. What has changed? Are they breaking rules? Has Gorman turned into merely a sports academy? All those things must be investigated before anything else happens, like booting them out of the NIAA or making them play for a meaningless private school title. And, don’t forget, you can be sure they are not the only school in southern Nevada (or northern Nevada) that recruits. If Gorman continues to embarrass the rest of the state over the next 3-5 years then send them to the middle of Montana.
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Gorman should be applauded for taking it easy on both Reed and Hug in the football and basketball title games. Both of those games could have been a lot uglier and messier than they turned out to be. The Gorman football team could have scored 100 points and the basketball team could have scored 135. The Gaels showed tremendous sportsmanship in both games. That should not be overlooked before the rest of the state gangs up on them.
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Since the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team joined the Western Athletic Conference in the 2000-01 season, just 11 WAC teams have won at least 25 games through the conference tournament. And all 11 have made it to the NCAA Tournament. A handful of those 11 teams — Fresno State in 2001, Tulsa in 2002, Nevada in 2007 and Utah State in 2010 — made the NCAA tourney without winning the WAC Tournament. Three WAC teams since 2001, in fact, were selected for the NCAA tournament as an at-large team without even winning 25 games through the conference tournament (UTEP in 2004, Nevada in 2005 and Utah State in 2006). But now, for some reason, the so-called experts are claiming that the Wolf Pack this season, even if they have 26 or 27 wins and finish second in the WAC Tournament next week, won’t be selected for the NCAA Tournament. And you thought only the BCS was an unfair system.
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UNLV, for some reason, seems to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament (if you believe the experts) despite the fact that they have lost four of their last seven games and already have seven losses. The Rebels haven’t even won a road game since Jan 28 at Air Force, a team that Bishop Gorman would beat by 20. But Joe Lunardi, ESPN’s self-proclaimed NCAA Tournament expert, has the Rebels as a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament. He has the Pack winning the WAC Tournament and settling in as a 14 seed. But if they don’t win the WAC Tournament they’ll have to settle into the NIT.
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Is this the Wolf Pack’s last great chance to make the NCAA tournament for a while since the program is heading into the Mountain West Conference next year? Boise State finished second in the WAC last year and they are struggling to keep their heads above water this year in the Mountain West. But don’t worry, Pack fans. The Pack should make an easy transition into the Mountain West. This year’s Pack team will return three starters next year (Deonte Burton, Malik Story and Jerry Evans) and they should be as good if not better than they are this year. The one thing, though, that the Pack must eliminate in the Mountain West is its nasty habit of playing down to the level of its competition. You can get away with that in the WAC. In the Mountain West you’ll be treading water hoping someone tosses you a life jacket.
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Five Wolf Pack football players — defensive lineman Brett Roy, linebackers James-Michael Johnson and Brandon Marshall, wide receiver Rishard Matthews and running back Mike Ball — participated in the NFL’s Indianapolis combine this week. And all five did fairly well. Ball finished in the top 15 at his position in six categories, Johnson in four, Marshall and Matthews in three and Roy in one. Matthews and Johnson graded out as solid draft picks with the potential to be an eventual starter while Marshall, Roy and Ball were deemed on the bubble as far as their chances for getting drafted are concerned. Expect all five to be in a NFL training camp one way or another this summer.
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The Oakland Raiders are stuck in NFL limbo. They have finished 8-8 the last two years, haven’t made the playoffs in over a decade and are on their third head coach in the last three years. And, to make matters worse, they don’t even have a first round draft pick this year thanks to the Carson Palmer trade. Unless the St. Louis Rams take a dozen Al Davis polyester track suits, an old John Madden tie and a couple dozen cans of Fred Biletnikoff and Lester Hayes Stick ’em in a deal for the No. 2 pick, it looks like another 8-8 year in 2012. Robert Griffin, though, would look awfully good in Silver and Black. Maybe the Raiders could throw in a few Ted Hendricks masks in the deal to sweeten the pot for their former Los Angeles neighbors.