FODDER: Good season for Wolf Pack | NevadaAppeal.com

FODDER: Good season for Wolf Pack

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . What happened to the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team Wednesday night at Stanford (an 84-56 disaster in the third round of the National Invitation Tournament) likely would have happened to them in a first-round NCAA Tournament game. This was never a great Wolf Pack team. Nobody — not even coach David Carter or the players themselves — ever said this was a great team. It was merely a good Pack team that played to its potential on most nights against a ton of bad teams and some good ones. But don’t for a second, despite what happened at Stanford, lose sight of what this Pack team accomplished this year. This team revitalized and re-energized Wolf Pack basketball. This team went 28-7, won 16 games in a row, won its conference regular season title and won two games in a postseason tournament. It surpassed everyone’s expectations. One game doesn’t wipe that away.

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The NIT needs to do something to drum up some interest. Just 3,000 fans showed up at Stanford on Wednesday. The Cardinal had three home games in the NIT and drew a total of about 6,000 fans. Now that the NCAA runs the NIT, it’s time to combine the NCAA and NIT and make the NCAA Tournament a 100-team party.

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What does the future look like for the Wolf Pack basketball program? Well, the Pack is back. The two big losses off this year’s team will be the absence of senior forwards Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt. Czyz and Hunt carried this team over the final few weeks of the season. Hunt will go down in Pack history as one of the most underrated and most hard-working players to ever wear the silver and blue. Czyz gave the Pack an inside scoring presence and an athleticism that is hard to replace. They will be missed. But next year was always going to be more difficult than this year because of the move to the Mountain West Conference. So forget about 28 wins again next year. But 20 is not out of the question if point guard Deonte Burton continues to grow and becomes more consistent.

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National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s punishment of the New Orleans Saints is completely over the top. Goodell suspended Saints head coach Sean Payton for a year, fined the Saints $500,000, took away their second round draft pick this year and next year, suspended former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams indefinitely, general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games and assistant coach Joe Vitt for six games just because the Saints paid their players under the table for aggressive hits. It’s a wonder why Goodell didn’t also prohibit the sale of alcohol and colorful beads during Mardi Gras.

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The NCAA, though, could learn a lesson from Goodell. Williams, now the defensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, is no longer a New Orleans Saints coach. Goodell, though, still made sure he paid a price for his role as the architect of the Saints’ bounty system. Goodell should be commended for that. In the NCAA, a bandit coach (Pete Carroll, John Calipari are prime examples) can break all the rules he wants at one school and then leave that school before the NCAA catches up with him and never pay a price for his dirty deeds. Goodell’s punishments were out of line and too severe. But the precedent he set by punishing a coach for his actions as a member of another organization is a good one.

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The New York Jets’ traveling circus just got a bit more ridiculous. Why would the Jets want to add Tim Tebow to their already dysfunctional family? Tebow is a horrible NFL quarterback. Tebow will never be even an average NFL quarterback. He simply cannot throw the football. That’s never going to change. Is this just a way for the Jets to steal some of the New York spotlight away from the Super Bowl champion New York Giants? As soon as Mark Sanchez tosses two incomplete passes in a row, the delusional Tebow fans in attendance — and on New York sports talk radio — will start to boo and chant their hero’s name.

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Who said superstar players cannot turn into superstar executives? The Denver Broncos’ John Elway has already wrapped up the NFL’s Executive of the Year award. He not only found a way to get rid of his biggest headache — the presence of Tebow on his roster — he did it without Tebow’s fans burning down the city. Elway added Peyton Manning, the greatest quarterback in the NFL since No. 7 was playing in Denver. He then was able to steal a fourth and sixth round draft pick out of the Jets for Tebow. Elway, who has sold new and used cars for years in Colorado, is a master salesman.

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Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said this week that the 2012 season will be his last. Is Jones a future Hall of Famer? Jones is a first ballot Hall of Famer. He’ll end his career with somewhere around 2,750 hits, 470 homers, 1,600-plus RBI, a .300 lifetime batting average, 150 stolen bases, 1,500 walks and a .400 on base percentage. His Braves teams were in the postseason almost every year. Some players shouldn’t even have to go through the election process to get to Cooperstown. Jones is one of them.