FODDER: NIT loss should help Babbitt, Johnson in NBA decision | NevadaAppeal.com

FODDER: NIT loss should help Babbitt, Johnson in NBA decision

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .  If there is anything positive to come out of the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 85-83 loss to Rhode Island on Monday it’s that it should convince Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson to stay in school. Babbitt and Johnson, who are currently flirting with the NBA, were roughed up physically and frustrated all game long by Rhode Island. The Rams clearly gave Johnson and Babbitt a sneak preview of what life could be like in the NBA. It wasn’t pretty. The two future NBA players combined to miss 21-of-28 shots. That’s not the way to end your college basketball career. Also, do you really think the competitive and proud Johnson and Babbitt will want to be remembered in their hometown as the two superstars who did not lead the Wolf Pack to the NCAA Tournament?

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 Being ready for the NBA and being drafted by a NBA team, unfortunately, are two different things. Many internet mock drafts still have Babbitt and Johnson selected anywhere from late in the first round to late in the second round in June’s draft. Some don’t have them drafted at all. So, right now, odds are both Babbitt and Johnson will be back next season. Their draft stock will only go up with another year of college basketball (and a couple NCAA Tournament wins) on their resume. Staying in college another year can’t hurt them. Leaving early might be a huge mistake and something they might regret the rest of their lives.

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 Why would Johnson and Babbitt want to leave the Wolf Pack now? The NBA will always be there. Why leave college basketball when the fun is about to start? The Pack is ready to return to the national stage. The NIT gave them a small taste of the national stage. But they really weren’t on the stage. They were just sitting in the audience. This team will win the Western Athletic Conference and go to the NCAA Tournament next year. Count on it. If everyone returns, it will be the best Pack team since 2006-07. The Pack will add the athletic and long Jerry Evans, Malik Story and Olek Czyz to replace the inconsistent senior trio of Brandon Fields, Joey Shaw and Ray Kraemer. This team will have an abundance of talent, depth and experience next year. And, hopefully, two NBA lottery picks.

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 Something to ponder: If Johnson returns next year, the Wolf Pack will have a senior point guard for the first time since the Weskan Wonder, Todd Okeson, ran the show in 2003-04. And we all remember what happened that year.

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 The National Football League made absolutely the right move in changing its overtime procedure for the playoffs. Now, if the team that wins the coin toss only gets a field goal on its first possession in overtime, the other team will get a possession. Smart move. The last thing the NFL needed was a Super Bowl decided on whether a team called heads or tails. It also seems likely the NFL will adopt its new rules for the regular season. That’s all well and good. But I don’t have any problem with having separate rules for the postseason and regular season in overtime. The National Hockey League does it and it seems to work. It makes the postseason special.

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 College football now needs to change its overtime rules. The way things stand now, you don’t even have to get a first down to get a field goal attempt. That’s like deciding a baseball game with a home run hitting contest, the Masters with a longest drive contest or a basketball game with a free throw or 3-point shooting contest.

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 Tiger Woods is going to answer media questions on April 5 to kick off Masters week. How nice. Nothing Woods does is by chance and doesn’t take place without a lot of planning and strategy. That includes press conferences, finding a trophy wife, setting up charities, making commercials and cheating on his wife. April 5 just happens to be opening day of major league baseball and the NCAA men’s basketball championship game. What better day to talk to the media about a messy situation? Next to the Super Bowl, it’s the biggest day in sports. Woods’ answers will get buried in an avalanche of headlines and sound bites. Well played, Tiger.

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 Urban Meyer went out of his way this week to make a public threat to the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. It seems the Sentinel had the audacity to print a quote from one of Meyer’s Florida players. The player had the nerve to praise the Gators’ newest quarterback which, in turn, made it sound like he was making a negative comment about Mr. Perfect Tim Tebow. So, what does Meyer do? Have a talk with the player who said the quote? No. He threatens to ban the Sentinel from covering the team. This is what happens when you make a coach feel like he owns the university.