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Focus now on Fox

Darrell Moody
Appeal Sports Writer

Now that the intrigue around whether Nick Fazekas would declare for the NBA Draft is over, the biggest question is when will Nevada coach Mark Fox sign a new contract with the school.

Fox and Nevada athletic director Cary Groth are scheduled to talk again over the weekend, and hopefully something will be worked out early next week.

When I last chatted with Groth, she said that money hadn’t been the focal point of the early talks. Groth did admit that she threw a figure out there and Fox did the same. Groth wouldn’t divulge how far apart the figures were. Fox is supposed to make $270,000 this season, but Groth wants to start over and indicated a pay raise is in order.

Fox is 52-13 in two seasons as head coach with two regular-season championships, a WAC post-season tournament championship and a NCAA Tournament victory over Texas on his resume.

• Fazekas, during his press conference on Thursday, indicated he would work out for individual teams. He said family members will help finance the travel that goes with that.

While I think Fazekas needs to stay another year, he is approaching it the right way. By not hiring an agent he has an out if he hears from NBA people that he isn’t a lock to go in the first round, or that when he goes to Orlando for a tryout camp, he doesn’t do as well as he expects to do.

Louisiana Tech’s Paul Millsap declared last Tuesday, and he did hire an agent. I don’t agree with that move. While Fazekas’ defense isn’t up to NBA standards at the present time, Millsap’s offensive game needs a lot of work. I’ve watched Millsap for three years now, and he has trouble putting the ball in the basket from more than 12 feet away. At 6-8, who is he going to post up? I know Millsap is big (250 pounds), but he certainly lacks the length to play center. I’m not sure how effective he will be facing the basket.

The key for Fazekas is what team drafts him. I see him more as a guy that would prosper on a Western Conference team like the Mavericks or Kings where the play seems to be more wide open and not so much half court.

• Fox took his staff to Indianapolis for the Final Four. Hopefully he was able to make some inroads for future scheduling. Kansas and Vermont, and to a lesser degree, Akron, have been the only name nonconference schools to visit Reno in the last three years. Nevada needs to start getting some name schools in here even if it means some big guarantee money.

• Even if Fazekas leaves, Nevada will field a solid team. It may not be a team that can win 22 or 23 games, but in Ramon Sessions, Kyle Shiloh, Marcelus Kemp, Demarshay Johnson and Lyndale Burleson, you have some battle-tested veterans who have enough ability to challenge for another championship.

Much will depend on improved play from Denis Ikovlev, who has to prove he can do more than shoot, and rail-thin 7-foot center David Ellis, who hasn’t played much the last two years. A wild card is 6-7 215-pound Richie Phillips, who was a non-qualifier this season. Under NCAA rules, Phillips wasn’t allowed to work out with the team. He should be able to provide some muscle at either forward position.

• I just shake my head at the baseball coaches in the Sierra and High Desert leagues for their recent decision that league winners should get a choice on where they want to play their playoff games.

In past years, the zone playoffs were held at Carson and Reno because they had lights and were arguably two of the best facilities in Northern Nevada. It gave parents a chance to get to a 6 p.m. game without having to take a whole day off work.

McQueen is leading the High Desert conference. If the Lancers hold on to their lead, where are they going to play? McQueen’s field doesn’t have enough seating to be playoff approved.

Manogue has the best field in the High Desert League, but no lights. Spanish Springs has a great field, but not near enough seating. Nobody wants to go to Fallon and Galena’s new field isn’t done. Reed has some seating capacity, but it’s not a playoff quality field.

What’s the advantage of playing at Manogue? The game times would be at noon and 3:30. Heck students will have trouble making a 3:30 start, and at noon you will have just some parents unless kids play hooky.

Things are much easier in the Sierra League. Barring any major upsets, it will be either Reno or Carson in the No. 1 spot, so the winner will obviously choose to play at home.

The coaches will vote later in the year where the championships will be played.

Why change something that wasn’t broken. That’s my only response to the coaches.

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