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NEVADA NOTEBOOK: Barnett named preseason All-American by college baseball writers

JOE SANTORO
For the Nevada Appeal

Wolf Pack baseball player Brian Barnett has been named to the National College Baseball Writers Association Pre-season All-America team.

Barnett was named to the second team as an outfielder after hitting .348 last year for the Pack with 18 homers, 71 RBI, 21 doubles and nine stolen bases.

The former McQueen High and Western Nevada College player also led the Pack last year with a .701 slugging percentage.

Barnett was one of just two Western Athletic Conference players named to the team. Fresno State first baseman Jordan Ribera was named to the first team after hitting .343 last year with 27 homers and 69 RBI.

GOOD START TO RECRUITING

The Nevada Wolf Pack football team has already started thinking ahead to 2011.

The Wolf Pack, which will meet Boston College in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Jan. 9, announced the addition of six players to its roster for the spring semester.

Five of the players are freshman who delayed enrollment until the spring semester (which starts next month) and another is a junior college transfer who will have three years of eligibility remaining.

The five freshmen are offensive lineman Connor Talbot (6-foot-3, 270 pounds), of Reno’s Bishop Manogue High School, defensive back Ryan Goforth (6-1, 203), of Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High, defensive lineman Zack Brickell (6-4, 245), of Fallbrook (Calif.) High, offensive lineman Sebastian Tretola (6-5, 300), of San Bernardino (Calif.) Cajon High and defensive lineman Rykeem Yates (6-3, 271), of Fresno (Calif.) Edison High.

The junior college transfer is linebacker Jon McNeal (6-2, 230), of Santa Monica (Calif.) Junior College.

“This is a good group of athletes and we will benefit from having the in winter conditioning and in spring football,” Pack head coach Chris Ault said.

The Wolf Pack will lose 17 seniors (12 starters) off of this year’s 12-1 team that is ranked 13th in the current Bowl Championship Series standings.

The Pack starters that will play their last college game in the Kraft Bowl are offensive linemen John Bender and Jose Acuna, tight end Virgil Green, wide receiver Malcolm Shepherd, quarterback Colin Kaepernick, running back Vai Taua, defensive ends Ryan Coulson and Dontay Moch, linebacker Kevin Grimes, cornerback Doyle Miller, punter Brad Langley, and kicker (for kickoffs and long field goals) Ricky Drake.

The Pack also will lose valuable backups Adam Liranzo (linebacker), Mike Andrews (defensive end), Moe Patterson (wide receiver), running back Courtney Randall and wide receiver Chris Wellington, who has missed much of this year with an injury.

OLSON STILL INJURED: It might be a while before Douglas High graduate Keith Olson sees the court for the Wolf Pack men’s basketball team.

The 6-foot-10 junior center, who played 16 games for the Pack last year (1.1 points, 1.1 rebounds in just under six minutes a game) after transferring from Northern Arizona, has yet to play a game this year because of a nagging foot injury.

“It’s been a strange injury,” said Pack coach David Carter, whose 2-7 team will take on Arizona State (4-4) Friday night (6:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center. “Nothing is broken. There’s no swelling. It just aches a lot. Some days it feels better than others. He’s going to have an MRI soon to see what’s wrong. Keith just hasn’t been able to practice much with us so far.”

Carter said Olson injured his foot in October.

“He just kind of came down on it wrong,” Carter said.

Carter still has hopes Olson can play this season.

“We just don’t know when he’ll be ready to play,” Carter said. “And when he does, we don’t know how much because we have a lot of people at his position.

CUKIC STUCK ON BENCH: Olson isn’t the only Pack big man struggling to get on the court.

Sophomore Marko Cukic, who played in all 34 games a year ago as a freshman, has played in just four of the Pack’s nine games this year.

The 6-9 Cukic, who averaged 8.9 minutes a game, 2.6 points and 1.5 rebounds last year, has a total of six points and three rebounds all season in just 20 total minutes this year.

Cukic has not played in four of the Pack’s last five games, including a 78-64 victory over San Francisco State last Saturday when Carter emptied his bench, playing 13 players.

“We plan to utilize him more,” Carter said. “But it’s just been difficult to find minutes for him (at center). Dario (Hunt) is playing real well and Devonte Elliott is playing well and needs minutes. It’s just hard to get Marko minutes. But it’s like I tell all our players, “Just be prepared to play because you never know.”