FRIDAY FODDER: Difficult decisions await coach Carter | NevadaAppeal.com

FRIDAY FODDER: Difficult decisions await coach Carter

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning … Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball coach David Carter has some difficult decisions to make when this season ends. Has he put together a young team with the potential to be great someday? Or is it simply a young team that, at best, can be good but not great? Good can win a Western Athletic Conference title. Is that enough? Great, on the other hand, gets you to the Sweet 16 and beyond. Is there greatness on this team ready to come forth? Or is this team merely a collection of complementary parts in search of that one special piece? That’s what Carter needs to figure out before this program heads into two or three more years of mediocrity.

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This Pack basketball team has been in desperate search for a floor leader all season long. We’re not talking about an older player that everyone likes off the court. You don’t, after all, win games off the court. We’re talking about a guy who leads on the court. He doesn’t even have to say much. But he’s the guy who demands the ball down the stretch and puts his teammates on his back night after night. Right now this team does not have that. There is no Kirk Snyder, Nick Fazekas or Luke Babbitt. That’s what you need to be great.

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This is an important weekend for the Wolf Pack baseball team. The first six games on the road (all losses) were a disaster. And now UNLV comes to Peccole Park starting on Friday for three games. The Pack cannot afford to be 0-9 on Sunday night. But this series is even more important than their record after nine games. It’s about laying the foundation for future success. UNLV, with new coach Tim Chambers and former Pack assistant coach Stan Stolte, is building something special down south. Their goal is to dominate recruiting in this state, especially in southern Nevada. The Pack has gotten a lot of solid talent from the Las Vegas area in recent years as UNLV has struggled. That pipeline might dry up if UNLV’s program takes off.

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College baseball is on thin ice everywhere now. With the fragile current economic climate in college sports, especially at public universities, baseball programs can’t take anything for granted anymore. If the Cal Bears can drop baseball, after all, any university can drop baseball. Dropping baseball, though, would be a serious mistake for Nevada. The baseball program is part of the heart and soul of the Wolf Pack athletic department. It has a loyal following with a deep tradition. The Pack baseball team almost always has a higher percentage of Nevada athletes on its roster compared to football and men’s basketball. Pack baseball is Nevada. Let’s hope this athletic department never even thinks of dropping it.

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The Wolf Pack football program stole the show at the NFL’s Indianapolis combine. Defensive end Dontay Moch and  tight end Virgil Green opened up eyes all over the league. Both of them looked like a video game come to life. There is little doubt now that both Moch and Green will be drafted somewhere between the second and fifth rounds. The same for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Running back Vai Taua also did well at Indianapolis and remains a borderline draftable player. We just have one question. With all of that amazing talent on the roster, why did it take them four years to go 13-1?

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How much does the Indy combine mean to NFL organizations? Well, we’re going to find out in this year’s draft. Moch and Green were amazing in Indy. If the NFL truly values all of the testing and numbers they uncovered in Indianapolis, there’s no way Moch or Green will last past the third round. But the thing to keep in mind about the combine is that all it does is uncover the best athletes. It doesn’t necessarily reveal the best football players. Last time I checked, you never see NFL players running 40-yard dashes or sprinting around orange cones in their sleek Under Armour suits during a game.

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The San Francisco Giants would like nothing better than for some team to take Barry Zito’s contract off their hands this year. The Giants, after all, won the World Series last year without Zito. Getting rid of Zito, though, might be a huge mistake. You never have enough starting pitching. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals. Injuries happen, especially in the season following a long postseason run. The Giants should keep Zito until at least the trading deadline in July.