Nevada needs to make decision on Powers
April 20, 2012
Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . . It is time the University of Nevada athletic department eliminates the cloud of uncertainly hanging over the Wolf Pack baseball program this season. Coach Gary Powers, who is working with a one-year contract, has said he will sit down with athletic director Cary Groth after the season to talk about his future as Pack head coach and that the decision “is out of my hands.” Well, if that is indeed true — if Powers and Groth haven’t already agreed that this will be Powers’ final year — then both Powers and Groth are doing the baseball program a disservice. It never helps to have a lame duck coach in any sport, especially in a sport as fragile as baseball. Recruiting suffers. Community interest in the program suffers. Coaches coach with one eye on their next job. Players are more susceptible to leaving the program. It’s just not a healthy situation. And Powers, who won his 900th career game this week, and the baseball program deserve more respect than that. One of two things — either a contract extension for Powers or an announcement that this is his last season — needs to happen before the season is over.
Everything points to this being Powers’ final year. Why would Powers agree to just a one-year contract after his 29th season and 880 victories? Why would the university leave one of its greatest coaches in school history (for any sport) hanging by his neck all season? Also, the simple fact that the university made such a big deal out of Powers’ 900th victory this week, when they barely noticed victories 1 through 899, let alone such milestones as 500, 600, 700 or 800, also points to this being Powers’ last year. There was sort of a “thanks for the memories” feel to the celebration last Tuesday after victory No. 900. And, if that’s the case, if Powers has no intention of coaching in 2013, then they should let us all in on the year-long celebration instead of keeping it a secret. The other alternative — that Powers is indeed fighting for his coaching life — is an undignified way for the university to treat one of its coaching legends.
Luke Babbitt, it seems, is turning into the Portland version of Tim Tebow. “The only reason I’m in the NBA is because of God,” Babbitt said recently. “If you look at the statistics, it’s not very common for a 6-8 white guy from Reno, Nevada to be here. This is an opportunity for me and I’m going to use it to glorify God.” Tebow would be proud. But Babbitt should be crediting new Portland Trail Blazers coach Kaleb Canales for that opportunity instead. God, we’re sure, has no control over how the Blazers dish out their minutes. Since Canales took over for the fired Nate McMillan last month, Babbitt, the former Galena High and Wolf Pack star, has been given an opportunity to prove that he actually belongs in the league. The last two games he has averaged 17 points and five rebounds in 37 minutes a game and has become one of the top 3-point shooters in the league.
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