West shows signs of promise for Pack
December 27, 2013
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .
The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team did receive an early Christmas present under its tree last Sunday in the form of A.J. West. West made his Pack debut in the 80-72 victory over Iona and showed flashes of why the Mountain West season might not be such a disaster after all for the Pack this year. Make no mistake, West isn't Luke Babbitt, Olek Czyz or even Dario Hunt. Most of his numbers against Iona — four points, five rebounds, one block in 17 minutes — came in the final minutes with the game already decided. But it was a solid debut for the power forward just the same. And, head coach David Carter promises, he will get better.
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Forget the Little Caesar's Bowl, Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Belk Bowl and all of the other meaningless exhibitions college football stages this time of year just so that ESPN can sell commercials and overpaid coaches can meet their ridiculously easy contract incentives. The only football games that mean something from here on out will be in the NFL. The NFL bowl games start this week with Bears-Packers, Cowboys-Eagles, 49ers-Cardinals and Jets-Dolphins. All of the games mean something in the NFL. There are no Nevada-UC Davis games so that coaches can act like they won something important for a week. There are no fake games with the word bowl attached to them. In the NFL there is a real postseason.
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There are only two NFL head coaches that clearly deserve to be fired Monday morning — Washington's Mike Shanahan and Detroit's Jim Schwartz. Shanahan, always one of the most overrated head coaches in the NFL, can't get along with his franchise quarterback and Schwartz's team is a mess. But, of course, Shanahan and Schwartz won't be the only ones fired. Don't be surprised if Minnesota's Leslie Frazier, Tampa's Greg Schiano, the Jets' Rex Ryan and Oakland's Dennis Allen also begin to update their resume by the end of next week. Ryan, though, wouldn't stay unemployed for long. He'd be a perfect fit in Washington, for example. Robert Griffin III would love him because Ryan would leave him alone and Skins' owner Daniel Snyder would love all of the free publicity Ryan would provide.
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What is taking the Brooklyn Nets so long to get rid of coach Jason Kidd? In three short months, Kidd has already been suspended for a DUI, has been fined for intentionally spilling a drink on the court, demoted assistant Lawrence Frank because Frank actually dared to coach the players and has turned the Nets into New York's biggest joke since Mark Sanchez's butt fumble. And now, after a Christmas Day embarrassment to the reeling Chicago Bulls at home, he is calling his underachieving and overrated players out in public for not playing hard. Does any of this surprise anyone? This is what you get when you hand a guy a coaching position he clearly doesn't deserve and has not earned.
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There are a lot of major league teams that need the services of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, who was 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average for Japan's Rakuten Eagles last year, will be the biggest and most important off-season acquisition of the year. The Yankees, Rays, Orioles, Rangers, A's, Giants, Reds, Diamondbacks, Angels and Pirates could dearly use him to compete for a World Series in 2014. Experienced and successful Japanese pitchers are a pretty safe bet. For every Hideki Irabu, there have been two success stories like Yu Darvish and Koji Uejara. Hideo Nomo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kaz Sasaki, Shingo Takatsu, Takashi Saito and Tomo Ohka all were competent big league pitchers at one time or another.
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This has clearly been the year of the backup quarterback in the NFL. Josh McCown, Nick Foles, Mike Glennon, Case Keenum, Matt McGloin, Kellen Clemens, Kirk Cousins, Matt Flynn and others have emerged from the bench to play well this year. And now Kyle Orton will likely get his chance to save the Dallas Cowboys' season. It's time the NFL adds a roster spot so that teams can stash another quarterback. NFL teams don't need nine or 10 pitchers like baseball but they definitely could use four or five quarterbacks. It's silly that teams have just two or three quarterbacks available. Even bad college programs have four or five at any one time. The NFL game has become too physical and, despite all the rule changes, quarterbacks will always be sitting ducks in a shooting gallery.
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Boise State's ugly 38-23 loss to Oregon State in the Hawaii Bowl — it was 38-6 in the third quarter — is further proof that the Broncos' era of being a legitimate Top 25 program every season is over. They even had one player in Hawaii believe that his hotel balcony was a restroom and, well, let's just say that the first game of the post-Chris Petersen era was a complete disaster. The Broncos' Cinderella era actually ended two years ago when quarterback Kellen Moore left the program. Heck, even the Wolf Pack, a team that hasn't won a big game in three years, should have beaten Boise the last two years. The problem with being a Cinderella is that midnight always comes.
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The Boise State-Wolf Pack football rivalry will never again be what it was from 2007 through 2010 when coaches Chris Ault and Chris Petersen matched wits and offenses in four of the most exciting games in each school's history. Kellen Moore against Colin Kaepernick was brilliant theater from 2008-10. Vai Taua against Doug Martin. Dontay Moch chasing Moore. The Pack secondary chasing Austin Pettis and Titus Young. The list of future NFL players on the field in silver and blue and blue and orange from 2007-10 was incredible. The 2007 game (Taylor Tharp was the Boise quarterback) was one of the best in college football history. And the 2010 game will forever live in the memories of both schools' fans for very different reasons. Ault and Petersen will always be the best coaches in their schools' histories. The rivalry didn't die that night in 2010 at Mackay Stadium. Pack fans will always love to beat Boise, just like they did before 2007. But it will never be the same.
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