Pack fans nervously await NBA draft
May 16, 2018
Sports fodder for a Friday morning …
Just the sight of it would make any Nevada Wolf Pack basketball fan a bit nervous and queasy. There was Wolf Pack senior Caleb Martin on Monday, wearing a basketball jersey with "Los Angeles" printed boldly across the front, smiling and answering media questions while standing in front of a backdrop covered with Los Angeles Lakers logos. Good-bye 2019 Final Four hopes? Well, not yet. The NBA, which has already stolen Wolf Pack underclassmen Kirk Snyder, Ramon Sessions, JaVale McGee, Armon Johnson, Luke Babbitt and Cam Oliver in the past, is seemingly at it again. But there's no need to worry. Yet. Odds are Martin and his twin brother Cody will return to lead the Pack to the promised land in 2018-19. But we understand if you do not get a peaceful night's sleep until June 11, the deadline for underclassmen to take their names out of the NBA draft.
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Caleb and Cody have been invited to the draft combine in Chicago later this month to exhibit their wonderful skills to all NBA teams. The NBA obviously recognizes what Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman figured out two years ago when he swiped the talented twins from North Carolina State. At 6-foot-7 and the owner of a variety of skills, the Martin twins fit the mold of what the future NBA player is going to look like. Musselman was one of the first college coaches to figure that out when he was putting together the Pack and he is changing college basketball and, ultimately, the NBA. The Pack coach has put together an entire team of interchangeable parts that can all play almost any position of the floor and do almost anything asked of them. The Martin twins are the model for that type of all-purpose player.
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This Nevada Wolf Pack football season all boils down to two words. Ty. Gangi. If the Wolf Pack quarterback fills the skies with footballs and touchdown passes this season, the Pack could be headed to the Mountain West title game. All signs point to a monster season for Gangi. It will be his senior season and, well, Wolf Pack senior quarterbacks have been known to put up some eye-opening numbers, starting with Stan Heath who became the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for over 2,000 yards in a season in 1948. And don't forget Colin Kaepernick (2010), Cody Fajardo (2014) and Jeff Rowe (2006), who all led the Pack to bowl games in their senior seasons. Eric Beavers went 13-1 in his senior season of 1986 while Chris Vargas (1993) and Mike Maxwell (1995) led the nation in passing yards. John Dutton passed for 3,528 yards in 1997, David Neill tossed 33 touchdowns in 2001 and Zack Threadgill passed for 3,418 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2002.
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The NBA is finally down to Golden State Warriors-Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers-Boston Celtics, just like most everyone predicted all along. It is official. The NBA regular season is completely meaningless. A twisted ankle here or there or a Draymond Green meltdown or two can change the outcome of a game or a series, but it's difficult to imagine a NBA Finals that doesn't include the Cavaliers and Warriors. And it is difficult to imagine anything but another Warriors title.
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Also as predicted, all of the LeBron James versus Michael Jordan talk has started up again. The more LeBron wins in the postseason the more people want to talk about whether or not he is the greatest NBA player in history. You can always point to Jordan's six championships and declare him the best but that argument only holds water until you remember that Bill Russell won 11 titles. If you are starting a NBA team and have a chance to pick Jordan or James in their primes, it would be silly to not pick LeBron. He can play any position on the floor and do whatever (score, rebound, pass, play defense) you need him to do. And, as the Cavs are proving this year, all you need to do is put four players with a pulse around LeBron and you can get to the Finals every year.
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Tired and bored waiting for the Wolf Pack football and men's basketball seasons to start up again? Well, you might want to check out what is going on at Peccole Park. The Pack baseball team could be headed to a Mountain West regular season championship. With just two weekends remaining in the regular season, the first-place Pack leads San Diego State by just two games. The regular season title will likely be determined next week (May 17-19) when San Diego State comes to Peccole for three games.
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Regular season championship or not, the Wolf Pack chances of making the NCAA regionals for the first time since 2000 will most likely hinge on the Mountain West postseason tournament. The Pack is 26-19 overall with a RPI ranking of 61. San Diego State is 33-15 overall and is at No. 50 in the RPI. Don't forget the Wolf Pack was not picked for the 2015 regionals despite a 41-15 record and a RPI in the same neighborhood where it is located right now. San Diego State has won four of the last five Mountain West tournaments, including 2015 when they beat the Pack and everyone else at Peccole Park. And, oh yeah, this year's four-team tournament will be at San Diego State on May 24-27.