FODDER: Tourney starts this week for Wolf Pack basketball team | NevadaAppeal.com

FODDER: Tourney starts this week for Wolf Pack basketball team

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . As far as the Nevada Wolf Pack is concerned, the Western Athletic Conference men’s basketball tournament begins March 4 and 6 when New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech come to Lawlor Events Center to conclude the regular season. Those two home games will be crucial in determining the Pack’s confidence level heading into the tournament at Lawlor on March 11-13. Yes, the Pack is 12-1 at home. But much of that dominance will be wiped away if they lose either game next week. The Pack cannot show any vulnerability at home so close to the tournament. The best thing this Pack team has is an abundance of swagger and confidence at home. You don’t want to destroy that heading into the most important three games of the year. The Pack wins a couple games next week and you can pencil them into the WAC title game on March 13.

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Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson this week told ESPN.com that “any Pac-10 movement will certainly affect the WAC and the Mountain West Conference.” By movement, Benson was talking about possible Pac-10 expansion and Boise State’s possible jump to either the Pac-10 or MWC. The most important bit of information to come out of that let’s-state-the-obvious story was that Benson also said he’d like the WAC to become a 10-team league. That’s great news. So, instead of sitting around and waiting for the Pac-10 and MWC to pick the WAC’s carcass clean, Benson needs to go out and recruit new WAC members and be ready to announce a stronger 10-school WAC as soon as this mess all shakes out.

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The Wolf Pack baseball team is 3-1 for the first time since 2004. Does this mean that the Pack is headed to a 35-win season and ready to compete for the WAC title? Well, let’s wait on that prediction for a while. The WAC coaches, don’t forget, predicted the Pack to finish sixth. But if this fast start continues – the Pack has three games at Pacific starting today – anything can happen. The schedule is very forgiving over the first 21 games. There’s no reason this team should be anything worse than 13-8 (how about 16-5?) heading into a big eight-game homestand on March 26.

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Mark McGwire’s bodybuilding brother Jay is coming out with a book that details Mark’s performance enhancing drug usage. Isn’t he a little late? We needed that book five years ago. Jay, though, is supposedly going to detail what drugs Mark used and when, how and why he used them. Mark, don’t forget, told us a few weeks back that, yes, he used PEDs but, no, they didn’t help him hit home runs. That’s sort of like the United States saying that the atomic bomb didn’t help them win World War II but, hey, he’s Mark McGwire and if he says it, Tony La Russa will believe him. The Cardinals should be embarrassed for hiring Mark as their hitting coach.  

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I’m as patriotic as the next guy, but it’s difficult to get all that worked up over the USA hockey team’s likely appearance in the gold medal game. It will be a fun game. Great hockey. But Olympic hockey is now just a bunch of NHL guys on a two-week vacation. It’s not even remotely the same as Lake Placid in 1980. Good for them and go USA. But, really, isn’t it time we give all of the Olympic sports back to our amateur athletes?

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Should college athletes be allowed to tell the world every little thought that passes through their heads on Twitter, Facebook and whatever social media has just been created? Of course they should. Media access to college athletes is restricted and controlled now more than ever. The universities don’t think the media – the media that doesn’t pay them rights fees, that is – is all that important anymore. College athletes can do little more than spew overused cliches told to them by their coaches in the few media opportunities they do get. They need an outlet for their creativity and thoughts. Tweet away, boys and girls.

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ESPN suspended Tony Kornheiser from his Pardon The Interruption show this week because he criticized an outfit of fellow ESPN employee Hannah Storm. Really? Couldn’t they have just taken away his parking spot for a month? Kornheiser’s value to ESPN is his willingness to poke fun at everything in the sporting world. He’s paid to be outspoken. Kornheiser and his co-host Michael Wilbon are a breath of fresh air on the network that gives us the bimbo team of Dana Jacobson and Jay Crawford every morning.

First, Hannah’s outfits. What else can’t he talk about? Chris Berman’s sportswriter gut?