Fox was the safe and right choice

It was the safe choice and the best one.

It didn't make sense for Nevada to go outside the Wolf Pack family when it searched for Trent Johnson's replacement as head men's basketball coach.

Mark Fox was a good choice. He knows the game, is personable, is a great recruiter and more importantly, he knows this team.

Does it mean the Wolf Pack will repeat as Western Athletic Conference champions?

Who knows. Much depends on how well the replacements for Kirk Snyder, Todd Okeson and Garry Hill-Thomas perform. Those three provided a lot of offense, and in the case of Hill-Thomas and Okeson, a lot of leadership.

Who knows where the leadership will come from this year?

This year's group with the exception of co-captains Nick Fazekas and Kevinn Pinkney, and reserves Jermaine Washington and Marcelus Kemp is inexperienced.

Mo Charlo, who averaged 26 points a game last year at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Calif., is a prime candidate to nab one of three open spots as long as he adjusts to the Nevada system. Sophomore Kyle Shiloh, who had a tough time last year, and Lyndale Burleson, will battle for Okeson's spot. Washington, Kemp and freshman Kevyn Green are expected to fight it out for that third spot.

Chad Bell, a 6-foot-11 transfer from New Mexico, sat out last year and will see considerable playing time at center. He's a big-time shot blocker and gives the Wolf Pack a big body inside.

There will be times when you might see Bell and Fazekas on the floor at the same time depending on the matchups defensively.

Fox said he won't change much, and that includes recruiting. The Wolf Pack have stayed pretty much in California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and the Rocky Mountain region for the bulk of their players, and Fox said that won't change. Also, he indicated that he may try to expand the recruiting area, and if the Wolf Pack continue to have success, you may see an occasional player from the Midwest pop up.

The one thing that really stuck in my mind at Fox's press conference is when the new coach said this program was about the players.

Covering the Wolf Pack for the first time last year, I felt at times it was all about Trent Johnson, who was difficult to approach. Johnson was all about coaching and was a great coach. His dealings with the media weren't the greatest at times, however, and let's face it, dealing with the media and boosters is an important part of the job. A coach needs to be able to sell the program all the time. The Wolf Pack never sold out any games, and you have to wonder if Johnson could have done more in that respect.

Fox is friendly and approachable, and I don't see that changing. Sure his schedule will be more cramped now that he's in the No. 1 chair, but I don't see his personality changing.

Former Galena High pitcher Henry Bonilla was called up to Rochester and will make his Triple A debut today in Indianapolis.

Bonilla compiled a 4-4 record with a 5.53 ERA in 10 starts with the Double A New Britain Rock Cats. In 50 2/3 innings, he allowed 67 hits and struck out 32 batters.

Bonilla was en route to his new team and unavailable for comment.

"We've had a lot of injuries and two pitchers asked for their releases, so we needed starting pitchers," said Chuck Hinkle, public relations director for the Rochester Red Wings.

The Nevada football schedule was finalized earlier this week, and Chris Ault's team will open with Louisiana Tech on Sept. 6 at 10 a.m. The game will be televised nationally by ESPN2.

The Wolf Pack were supposed to open with Sacramento State, but that game has been moved to Sept. 11, which means a short week for the Wolf Pack. The Nevada-San Diego State game has been moved from Sept. 11 to Sept. 25.

"This is an exciting time for Wolf Pack football, and an excellent opportunity for our football team to be seen on national television," Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said. "It's a great way to kick off the 2004 season."

All told, eight WAC games will be on television this season.

The University of Nevada finished sixth in the Commissioner Cup standings this season.

Points are awarded to each school based on where they finish in the various sports throughout the Western Athletic Conference season.

The Wolf Pack, despite winning the women's cross country, indoor track and field and men's basketball championships, finished with 76 points.

Rice University, located in Houston, won the Cup with 100.5 points. The Owls won men's tennis, baseball, and men's and women's outdoor track.

The annual Sertoma All-Star Football Classic is scheduled for University of Nevada's Mackay Stadium at 7 p.m. on June 18.

Douglas' Mike Rippee, who guided the Tigers to a school-best 11-1 record, will coach one of the squads, and I expect he'll have a full complement of DHS players on the roster.

Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281.

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