Wolf Pack hoops begin | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack hoops begin

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

Nevada Wolf Pack basketball is about to embark on one of its most interesting, fascinating and likely most successful eras in its long history. The Eric Musselman Experience is about to begin in northern Nevada and well, Pack fans, you don’t want to miss a single bounce of the ball. Nobody knows how many Mountain West titles or national championships Musselman will win at Nevada but there is one thing we do know. If this program doesn’t win big, it won’t be Musselman’s fault. Under Musselman the Pack will never be out-coached, they will be well prepared, they will play hard and they will compete from the opening tip to the final buzzer at both ends of the floor. Musselman will also always be the most brilliant basketball mind in the arena. Once everything gets in place and the machine starts humming the Pack will routinely win 20-plus games and go to the NCAA Tournament most every year.

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What can we expect from the Wolf Pack this season? The team, after all, is coming off a 9-22 season and three consecutive losing years. So nobody is expecting a Mountain West title right away. But departed coach David Carter also didn’t exactly leave the cupboard void of talent. A.J. West, Tyron Criswell, Marqueze Coleman, D.J. Fenner and Eric Cooper are all back and ready to have their best seasons. Coleman, who plays better when everything around him is a little out of control, could flourish in Musselman’s more frantic and furious style of play. With the holdover Carter Kids and a few Musselman imports (namely Lindsey Drew, Cameron Oliver and Juwan Anderson), there’s no reason to believe this team can’t at least finish with a winning record and go to some postseason tournament.

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It took former Pack coach Trent Johnson until his third season (2001-02) before he had a winning record and his fourth year before he went to a postseason tournament (NIT in 2002-03). But Musselman has been handed much more talent from the previous coach than Johnson received when he replaced Pat Foster in 1999-2000. And Musselman is a much more accomplished and experienced coach right now than Johnson was when he came to northern Nevada. Musselman will win quicker than Johnson did. Johnson, don’t forget, had a record of 19-38 after two seasons. Musselman will likely win twice as many games in his first two seasons than Johnson did.

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The most important game in the Nevada Wolf Pack football team’s season might be Saturday at Colorado State. No, the Pack won’t be there but San Diego State will be there with their 4-0 Mountain West record. The Pack will likely need Colorado State to beat San Diego State to have any chance at representing the West Division in the conference title game in December. San Diego State is two games ahead of the Pack in the league standings and this weekend might be the only realistic chance the Aztecs have of losing a game before they meet the Pack on Nov. 28. The Aztecs play Wyoming and UNLV after facing Colorado State. The only Division I team both Wyoming and UNLV has beaten this year is the Wolf Pack.

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The Wolf Pack, of course, has no right to even dream of winning a division title this year. The Pack hasn’t played well in any game this year and even when they win they don’t look good. If it wasn’t for running back James Butler running through walls and the fact that Hawaii quarterback Max Wittek was playing on just one good leg and couldn’t move, the Pack would have lost to the lowly Rainbow Warriors at home last week. But anything is possible in the morbid Mountain West this year. The Pack needs to win just two more games to become bowl eligible and San Diego State could very well lose not once but twice before Nov. 28. You have just one more chance (Nov. 14 against San Jose State) to see your 2015 Mountain West champion Wolf Pack at Mackay Stadium this year.

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There was absolutely no atmosphere at Mackay Stadium on the field or in the stands last Saturday. Wolf Pack fans, thanks to the ugly losses to UNLV and Wyoming, have officially checked out on this season. And who can blame them? The players don’t even get excited anymore. It might be time for coach Brian Polian to go crazy on the sidelines again. Ever since he was reprimanded for yelling at the officials earlier this year he’s toned it down and his team has played as if it was falling asleep. It might be time to turn Coach Bi-Polian loose to save the season.

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Will Matt Williams ever get another chance to manage in the major leagues? Williams managed the Washington Nationals for just two years and had a winning record in both years. He was the National League Manager of the Year in 2014. He didn’t deserve to get fired. Is it Williams’ fault that Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman, Anthony Rendon and Denard Span all had under 350 at bats this year? Is it Williams’ fault that Stephen Strasburg started just 23 games? Is it Williams’ fault that Max Scherzer was awful in July and August? Is it Williams’ fault that Ian Desmond hit .233? Williams should still be the Nationals’ manager.

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The nation is one more Kansas City Royals win from ignoring this World Series completely. If the Chicago Cubs and their century-long history of losing were in this Series it could have been a renaissance postseason for baseball. But, instead, we get the Royals (yawn) and New York Mets (snore), two teams that aren’t even the favorite baseball team in their own state. Major League Baseball needs the Mets to start winning or even the city of New York will tune out. But the Mets couldn’t hit on a windy day at Aces Ballpark. MLB should turn back the clock and play this Series in the afternoon so us old folks don’t have to stay up so late. We’re the only ones watching baseball anyway this time of year.