Despite wins, Pack attendance still down | RecordCourier.com

Despite wins, Pack attendance still down

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . Attendance at Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball games is down about 700 fans per game compared to a year ago. The Wolf Pack, which drew a school-record 8,923 fans a game last year, is 8-0 at home this year and 26-1 since March 2016. And attendance is still down about eight percent. The Pack had six crowds last year of 10,000 or more but has yet to attract its first one this year with just seven home games remaining. The reason for the decline? A less-than-thrilling home schedule so far is the biggest factor. Another huge factor is that the Pack has played just one Saturday game at home so far. It's not a coincidence that the largest home crowd of the year so far (9,530 against New Mexico) came on a Saturday. All things considered, the Pack should be happy with its average attendance so far of 8,284 fans. The big games (UNLV, Boise State, Fresno State, San Diego State) are all ahead. Three Saturday games are coming. Student attendance at Lawlor will swell tremendously as the postseason tournaments draw near.

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It appears that Boise State is going to be the Wolf Pack's biggest challenger for the Mountain West men's basketball regular season title. Boise is 13-2 overall and a perfect 3-0 in conference, whipping UNLV, New Mexico and Colorado State. The Broncos, who feature 6-foot-7 senior Chandler Hutchison (17.4 points, 8.5 rebounds) and 6-6 sophomore Justinian Jessup (14.5 points), added a couple pieces (6-1 senior Lexus Williams from Valparaiso and 6-9 senior Christian Sengfelder from Fordham) and just might be deeper than the Pack this year. Both teams, though, could be headed to the NCAA tournament, giving the Mountain West more than one tournament team for the first time since 2015. The Pack and Broncos meet Jan. 20 in Reno. Expect 11,000-plus fans that night at Lawlor.

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Good news, Reno Aces fans. Ryan Radtke said Wednesday night that he expects to do about two-thirds of the Aces games this season. Radtke, the Aces broadcaster since the team moved to Reno in 2009, left the Wolf Pack before this football season to join Westwood One's national broadcasting team. Radtke, who still lives in Reno, has done national college football and basketball games this fall and winter for Westwood One and said he will head to South Korea next month to do the Winter Olympics.

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Kansas City should whip Tennessee and New Orleans should take advantage of Cam Newton's erratic play and beat Carolina this weekend as the NFL playoffs get underway. But the other two games — Buffalo at Jacksonville and Atlanta at the Los Angeles Rams — look like toss-ups. Atlanta is obviously still recovering from the greatest Super Bowl choke in history but the Rams have zero postseason experience. Buffalo and Jacksonville are simply two mediocre teams that are further proof that too many teams qualify for the NFL playoffs. The pick here is Buffalo and Atlanta in a couple of mild upsets.

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame has released its 15 finalists and there appears to be four sure-fire Hall of Famers: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens and Brian Urlacher. Lewis will undoubtedly get in but the other three might have to wait another year or two because, well, the 48 Hall of Fame voters are biased. Moss and Owens had off-the-field issues during their careers and Urlacher never won a Super Bowl and played for the underachieving Chicago Bears. All three, though, were always among the best at their positions and you cannot tell the history of the NFL without at least mentioning them. Moss and Owens were two of the greatest receivers to ever play the game. Lewis and Urlacher were two of the greatest linebackers. If any of the four do not get in it is time to start voting on who should be among the 48 men and women who judge Hall of Famers.

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Former Wolf Pack center Cam Oliver is making an impact in the NBA G League. Oliver is playing for the Wisconsin Herd in Oshkosh, Wisc., in the same state he played his last game in a Wolf Pack uniform (losing to Iowa State in Milwaukee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament). The 6-foot-8 Oliver, who was undrafted last summer after leaving the Wolf Pack after his sophomore year, has played in 16 games with the Herd and is averaging 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. Oliver was signed by the Houston Rockets last summer but broke his hand in training camp and was later released. The Herd is an affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks and do not play the Reno Bighorns this season.