Joe Santoro: Caroline makes case for player of the year | NevadaAppeal.com

Joe Santoro: Caroline makes case for player of the year

Joe Santoro

Sports fodder …

Jordan Caroline just might be the most dominating player in the Mountain West. Caroline scored 40 points (30 in the first half) in the Nevada Wolf Pack's 98-82 win at Colorado State on Wednesday night and certainly should now be a serious contender for the conference's Player of the Year award. "Jordan Caroline, I hope I never have to see that guy again," Colorado State coach Niko Medved said. "He is something, He is just a monster. It's a brutal matchup not just for us, but for anyone." Caroline is third in the Mountain West in scoring at 19.3 points a game, tied with teammate Caleb Martin. He's also second in rebounding at 10 a game, fifth in field goal percentage (.498) and second in minutes played (35.7 a game). If Caroline is named Player of the Year it would give the Wolf Pack the first back-to-back POYs in the Mountain West since Keena Young and Lee Cummard of BYU won it in 2007 and 2008. Caleb Martin would be the first back-to-back MVP winner in Mountain West history if he wins it.

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Caroline, who also had 12 rebounds at Colorado State, set a Mountain West record with his 41st career double-double, breaking the record of 40 by Kawhi Leonard and Andrew Bogut. Caroline, now fourth in Wolf Pack history in double-doubles behind Pete Padgett (72), Nick Fazekas (62) and Edgar Jones (59), is clearly going to end his Wolf Pack career this year as one of the best players in school history. He's currently eighth in school history with 1,624 points and seventh with 869 rebounds. And he has done it in just three seasons. He has a chance to finish his career as just one of five players in Nevada history with at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds along with Dario Hunt (1,103 points, 1,032 rebounds), Fazekas (2,464-1,254), Jones (1,877-1,120) and Padgett (1,642-1,464).

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You could also argue Caroline is one of the most consistent players in Wolf Pack history. In 95 games at Nevada, Caroline has scored 10 or more points 83 times (87 percent of his games) and has 10 or more rebounds 44 times (46 percent). He also has had a double-double in 43 percent (41-of-95) of his games. Caroline, who became the first Wolf Pack senior since Gabe Parizzia (43 against Northern Arizona on Feb. 18, 1989) to score 40 or more points in a game, has never gone more than five consecutive games at Nevada without recording a double-double. He has a current streak of 36 games in a row with 10 or more points. Fazekas, by comparison, had 10 or more points in 106 of his 131 career games (81 percent), including his last 62 in a row. He also had 10 or more rebounds in 63-of-131 games (48 percent). He had a double-double in 47 percent of his games and once went 10 games in a row without one (his freshman year).

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Caroline is 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds and might not even be drafted this summer by the NBA despite the fact he's one of the most dominating players on one of the most dominating teams in the country. Duke's Zion Williamson is the same height but weighs 55 pounds more at 285. Those 55 pounds seem to be the difference between not getting drafted and being the No. 1 pick in the draft. Who is better? Well, Williamson is averaging 30.6 points a game with 9.4 rebounds. Caroline is at 19.3 and 10.0. Williamson, who basically dunks the entire game, is shooting .657 from the field. Caroline, who takes more than half (85-of-152) his shots from beyond the 3-point circle, is shooting .498. Caroline has 39 threes on a .459 success rate. Williamson has 12 on .286 shooting. Whose game is more suited for the NBA? A 6-7 guy who can dunk or a 6-7 guy who can dunk and shoot threes? Williamson has slightly more assists (51-44) and slightly less turnovers (50-57) in far less minutes (633 to Caroline's 822). Nobody is saying Caroline is a better player than Williamson or is having a better season but we're saying if one is the No. 1 pick in the draft then the other should at least be a first-rounder.

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Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman is quietly becoming the greatest coach in Mountain West men's basketball history. Musselman is now 48-16 in Mountain West games and 103-30 overall since taking over the Wolf Pack in 2015-16. His .750 winning percentage in Mountain West games is second in conference history behind BYU's Dave Rose (78-18, .813). Musselman's .774 overall winning percentage (103-30) is also second in Mountain West history behind only Rose (159-45, .779). Musselman's 103 overall victories are already tied for 10th in Mountain West history.

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Did we watch the ugliest Super Bowl ever this past Sunday? Yes, it was a competitive game and, yes, it held your interest until the end, but this was one of the rare Super Bowls where neither team played all that well. There are only four other Super Bowls that compare on the ugly scale where both teams struggled. Those four are Pittsburgh over Seattle in 2006, Baltimore (Colts) over Dallas in 1971, Pittsburgh over Minnesota in 1975 and Miami over Washington in 1973. The New England Patriots' 13-3 win on Sunday over the Los Angeles Rams has the vote here for the worst Super Bowl ever played by both teams. The 16 points are the fewest in Super Bowl history. The 13 are the fewest by a winning team. Just one touchdown was scored in the game, another Super Bowl record for futility. The Rams punted a Super Bowl-record on eight consecutive drives. It was the worst Patriots performance in the Super Bowl since the Chicago Bears pounded them in 1986.

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The moment simply overwhelmed 24-year-old Rams quarterback Jared Goff and 33-year-old Rams head coach Sean McVay. A deer staring into a truck's headlights on a highway at midnight has more clue on what to do than Goff and McVay had on Sunday. The Patriots asked to be beaten all game long and the Rams never seemed to notice. McVay, who's supposed to be an offensive genius, had a boring and unimaginative game plan. He coached scared all game long. Goff looked like he wanted to run off and hide somewhere. Quarterback Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints, who should have been in the Super Bowl instead of the Rams, would have beaten Brady and the Pats by two touchdowns the way the Pats played on Sunday. Do you really think 13 points would have beaten the Saints? Brees would not have been afraid of the moment. Saints coach Sean Payton, who once pulled off an onside kick to start the second half in a Super Bowl, also wouldn't have wilted under the Super Bowl lights.

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Patriots' wide receiver Julian Edelman caught 10 passes for 141 yards and was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player. He was the best player on offense for either team the entire game. Edelman, though, wasn't the reason why the Patriots won the game. He didn't even score a touchdown. He didn't even have the most important catch of the game. That honor belongs to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had a 29-yard gain on a brilliant catch down to the 2-yard line to set up the game's only touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl should have gone to somebody on the Patriots defense. McQueen High graduate Kyle Van Noy had four tackles, a sack and three hits on Goff. Stephon Gilmore had five tackles, an interception, and defended three passes. Jonathan Jones had eight tackles and a sack. Dont'a Hightower had two sacks and three quarterback hits. The voters, though, were as unimaginative as McVay. They could have given the award to the entire Patriots' defense.