Look who’s calling the shots: Polian adds to schedule
June 12, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
It is obvious who is calling the shots when it comes to the Nevada Wolf Pack's football schedule. Head coach Brian Polian has only been in town for a little more than a year and he's already added three of his former employers (Buffalo, Notre Dame and Texas A&M) to the Pack's future schedules. We're waiting for the announcement that the Pack is dropping Arizona from the 2015 home schedule and replacing them with John Carroll. Since Polian has been here the two most attractive Pack opponents (Oregon last year and UCLA in 2016) have vanished from the home schedule. UCLA, especially, would have been the most anticipated game ever at Mackay Stadium.
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The one school from Polian's past that Pack fans would love to see at Mackay Stadium is Stanford. But we get Buffalo instead. Oh, well. But don't blame Polian. Stanford hasn't played the Pack anywhere since 1931. Prohibition was still going on and Herbert Hoover was president. Uppity Stanford has never played in Reno. Even Cal came here once. It took them over a century to get here in 2010. But they got here. If Polian can get Stanford to come to Reno we'll forgive him for letting Oregon and UCLA to get away.
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It is always dangerous and a bit shortsighted to allow your head coach to dictate who he plays. When Chris Ault did it, he put northern Nevada into a deep sleep for decades. Ault would never schedule any non-conference team he couldn't beat. It wasn't until his third era as head coach (2004-2012) that he started to play non-conference teams he could lose to, like Washington State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Missouri, Notre Dame and Oregon. But that was only because the Pack was now in big boy Division I-A football and needed the paycheck. And, by the way, Ault wasn't calling all the shots starting in 2004 with Cary Groth in charge (see 2011 schedule). Who is in charge of football now? It's not the athletic director.
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Despite what has happened in three of the last four seasons, there is reason for optimism surrounding the Wolf Pack men's basketball team. The Pack, in fact, should be more exciting and entertaining this year than they've been in a while. Marqueze Coleman, who plays like a bug on the kitchen counter when the lights are turned on at 3 a.m., will be handling the ball for 30-plus minutes a night. There will be an influx of youth and talent with all the new recruits (assuming they are all healthy and academically eligible). And there is the sitcom that is A.J. West. Will he block the shot? Will he know what the play is? Will coach David Carter's head explode on the bench watching him play? You won't want to miss a minute, Pack fans.
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The biggest reason for optimism is that Carter can get back to coaching a team with which he is more comfortable. Deonte Burton was a wonderful player but Carter never truly figured out how to use him. Carter's system does not lend itself to the point guard being the featured player on the floor. So what we got was basically four guys standing around doing nothing in the crucial minutes of the game while Burton threw up ridiculous 3-pointers or broke his neck driving to the basket. It was amazing when it worked because, well, it had to be and Burton could do amazing things. But when it didn't, which was most of the time, it was like watching the final three minutes of the final episode of the Sopranos over and over again. You walked away thinking, "Really, that was the best you could come up with?"
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All of the fuss over coach Jurgen Klinsmann saying that the United States soccer team realistically doesn't have a chance to win the World Cup is silly. What else was he supposed to say? Polian's Wolf Pack has a better chance of winning the national championship than the U.S. has of winning the World Cup. But Predictably Pack Positive Polian would never say his team can't win the national title, would he? Of course not. This is a guy who wouldn't say before the 2013 season that the Pack would win 10 games (they won four) because he didn't want to limit the expectations. And then after the year, just as predictably, he said four wins was about right because, well, the Pack didn't have enough talent. Klinsmann needs to take the Polian Press Protocol seminar. Optimism before the game. Excuses after it.
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Will it be the San Antonio Spurs winning the NBA title? Or will it be the Miami Heat? Who cares? All that matters is whether or not Carmelo Anthony will join the annual beach party conducted by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami next fall. The rumor now is that if the Heat doesn't beat the Spurs, James, Wade and Bosh will all opt out of their contracts and re-sign with the Heat at a reduced rate so Pat Riley can bring Anthony to South Beach. And you thought you couldn't hate the Heat more than you do now, didn't you?