Friday Fodder: Newcomers must have immediate impact for Wolf Pack hoops | NevadaAppeal.com

Friday Fodder: Newcomers must have immediate impact for Wolf Pack hoops

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … The key to this Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball season is going to come down to the faces we don't know all that well yet. The five newcomers — Kaileb Rodriguez, Eric Cooper, Elijah Foster, Robyn Missa and Tyron Criswell — will be the reason why this team keeps us interested until at least February. We'll get our first look at them on Saturday night (7 p.m.) when the Pack takes on Cal State San Marcos in an exhibition game. This Pack team should be fun to watch. It won't score all that much — it's a jumpshooting team that can't shoot — but it won't be boring. Point guard Marqueze Coleman is a bundle of energy and full of confidence and you never know what A.J. West is going to do. Those two alone will be worth the price of a ticket. But they will need help. Without significant contributions from at least two of the five new faces, this Pack team will be fortunate to win 12-15 games.

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When it comes to judging coaches all you can do is look at the results on the field. Right now Brian Polian is the best football coach in the Mountain West. His Wolf Pack coaching staff outsmarts most every opponent in the second half and his players never quit. We still aren't sure what Polian does from Sunday through Friday but for the four hours on Saturday night from kickoff to the final gun he's as good as any coach in the league. And that's all that matters. Nobody in silver and blue is afraid to make a mistake anymore. Nobody is looking over their shoulder after every play. Polian lets his coaches coach and he lets his players play and he allows them to have fun doing it. It's been a while since we could say that at Nevada.

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The Wolf Pack's toughest challenge over the final three regular season games isn't going to be the teams over on the other sideline. All you need to know about the final three games is Air Force is the toughest team remaining on the schedule. Fresno State and UNLV, the other two opponents this month, are awful football teams. The toughest challenge for Polian and his football team, then, is this week's bye week. The Wolf Pack is coming off an emotional win at home against San Diego State and is feeling pretty good about itself right now. It has visions of the Mountain West title game (Dec. 6) dancing in its head. It has to guard against coming out of the bye week flat, bored and overconfident.

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Since we are on the subject of flat, bored and overconfident, are we looking at Jim Harbaugh's last season as the San Francisco 49ers head coach? Last weekend, during an embarrassing 13-10 loss at home to the St. Louis Rams, it appeared Harbaugh had already checked out. The 49ers played like a bunch of guys who had just met each other in the parking lot before the game. There was no fire. No imagination. No sense of urgency. If the 49ers, a team that had Super Bowl aspirations going into the season, don't even make the playoffs this year Harbaugh would be better off coaching the Michigan Wolverines next year.

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The loss to the St. Louis Rams at home after a bye week, no less, is the 49ers' worst in the Colin Kaepernick era. Rams quarterback Austin Davis has now beaten Kaepernick and Cody Fajardo in his career. He beat Fajardo and the Wolf Pack while with Southern Miss in the 2011 Hawaii Bowl. He had a better supporting cast at Southern Miss than he had last week with the Rams. If Harbaugh has indeed checked out and if the 49ers have stopped listening to him, it's time Kaepernick takes control of this team. He needs to run the ball more. He needs to throw on the run. He needs to do everything on the run. He needs to play the final eight games of the season as if it is the final minutes against Boise State in 2010. Kaepernick finally overcame Chris Ault in 2010 and now he needs to overcome Harbaugh.

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It took Alex Rodriguez about five minutes to drag major league baseball back into the performance enhancing drugs mud. Rodriguez was reinstated by major league baseball this week after serving a one-year suspension and there has already been a media report about how he told the Drug Enforcement Administration last January he admitted to using PEDs. As long as A-Rod is wearing a uniform the PED era is never going to end. He needs to disappear. The Yankees need to give him whatever money is left on his contract (about $61 million) and send him away for the good of major league baseball.

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The Sacramento Kings are 4-1 and the Cleveland Cavaliers are 1-3. Don't you just love the NBA in November? LeBron James and the new-look Cavs are already bored. They are playing as if they've actually won something and are just biding their time until the playoffs begin. And you can't blame them. The Kings will finish far below .500 this year and well out of the playoffs while the Cavs will sleepwalk their way to 55 or so wins and probably be in the NBA Finals next June. Talent always wins out in the NBA. The regular season is meaningless.

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The Minnesota Vikings need to do everything possible to make sure Adrian Peterson never sees the field this year. If there was a video of Peterson beating his child do you think he'd ever be allowed to wear a uniform this year? Of course not. The public outcry would be louder than the reaction to Ray Rice's elevator incident with his fiance. But in today's society, if there's no video, you can get away with just about anything. Peterson hasn't even missed a pay day, yet.

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