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No Dickie V this year, Pack hoops fans

By JOE SANTORO

 

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .

We’ve all been spoiled by the University of Nevada men’s basketball team the last five seasons. One Western Athletic Conference regular season title and postseason appearance after another. A seemingly steady stream of players fleeing to the NBA. A suitcase full of Top 25 votes. Endless visits by ESPN. It’s been quite a party up on North Virginia Street. We are reminding you of all of these good times because, well, the Pack has earned our loyalty. It’s not going to be a steady stream of Top 25 votes, Dick Vitale shout-outs, WAC titles and postseason parties this year. It’s a young team. It’s a short team. It’s an inexperienced team. And it’s a team that only has nine active players right now because three of them decided to add to the steals column on their stat sheet off the court. But be patient, Pack fans. You’ll be rewarded.

The WAC coaches and media both picked the Pack to win the WAC this year. The WAC coaches even picked Pack sophomore Armon Johnson as the conference’s Player of the Year and the media picked freshman Luke Babbitt as the league’s Newcomer of the Year. Hold on a minute, guys and gals. All of those things might still come true. I, for one, will never bet against Johnson and Babbitt. But this team has a lot of maturing to do before the honors and accomplishments start to pile up. Patience, patience, patience.

Patience, by the way, is something that doesn’t exist in the NFL anymore. What, exactly, did the San Francisco 49ers expect out of Mike Nolan? With that talent? With those quarterbacks? When a NFL team goes sour, it’s rarely the coach’s fault. The blame in the NFL almost always starts at the top. Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit, Cincinnati… the list goes on and on. Fire the owners. Start over. That’s the only way to clean up the mess in the NFL. The 49ers won Super Bowls in the ’80s and ’90s because they had innovative and intelligent management. The Raiders won Super Bowls in the ’70s and ’80s because their owner had a brilliant mind. That’s all changed.

Mike Singletary, though, was a good choice by the 49ers. The problem, unfortunately, is that the 49ers probably don’t know it. Singletary is great leader but he’s an inexperienced coach. He’s probably going to struggle out of the gate, especially with this team. So the first time Mike Holmgren or Pete Carroll glance their way, the 49ers are probably going to throw millions of dollars at their feet and ship Singletary out of town. We’re guessing, though, that Holmgren and Carroll are each too smart to jump on that sinking 49ers ship.

Looking for a team to root for in this World Series? Well, there is an obvious choice for Northern Nevadans, especially those in Carson City. Former Carson High School star Charley Kerfeld is the Special Assistant to General Manager Pat Gillick with the Philadelphia Phillies. One of Kerfeld’s duties is to serve as an advance scout of the opposing team’s pitchers. If anyone deserves a World Series ring, it’s Kerfeld, a guy who has taken a long and winding and frustrating road back to the big leagues after injuries cut his career way too short in 1990. Kerfeld, who even managed here in Reno with the Blackjacks in the 1990s at Moana Stadium, would make an outstanding general manager for some lucky big league team. Listening A’s and Giants?

The Phillies seemingly have an excellent chance to win this World Series now. They did, after all, win Game 1. And, as everyone knows by now, 10 of the last 11 teams to win Game 1 went on to win the World Series. Remind me again, Giants fans. Which was the only team to win Game 1 during the past 11 World Series that ended up losing (or was it choking) the Series? In case you are wondering, the 2002 Giants and 2008 Phillies do have something in common: Pedro Feliz. And Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon was a coach with the 2002 Angels, the team that beat the ’02 Giants. Sorry, Phillies, fans.

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Brett Favre supposedly gave former Lions general manager Matt Millen some tips of the Green Bay Packers game plan earlier this year. Big deal. First of all, Favre has no more of a clue about the Packers’ game plan this year than Millen has in building a team. Favre never even stuck to the game plan when he was with the Packers. What would he even know about the Packers’ game plan with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback? And, second of all, what if he did talk to Millen? Every team does exactly the same thing against the Lions every single week. They get the ball, march down the field and score. Simple. The Packers, by the way, beat the Lions that week, 48-25. Nice scouting report, Brett. It’s time we just leave Favre alone.

Jose Canseco now claims that he made a huge mistake by writing his first book, “Juiced.” Yeah, no kidding. It was definitely a mistake for Canseco and some of his former buddies like Mark McGwire. But it certainly wasn’t a mistake for Major League Baseball or baseball fans. Without Canseco’s book, Bud Selig would still be looking the other way as players turned into Popeye right before our naïve eyes.

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Can the Wolf Pack football team actually go to Hawaii and win? Good question. The last time that happened was 1948 with Team of the Century players Stan Heath, Tommy Kalmanir, Ken Sinofsky, Dick Trachok and Scott Beasley, led by coach Joe Sheetketski. Great players. Great coach. Great team. Maybe the greatest team in Pack history. They whipped Hawaii, 73-12, in Honolulu 60 years ago. That team, keep in mind for next week, also beat Fresno State, 53-7. Chris Ault was 2 years old in 1948. Yes, it was a long time ago. But the hunch here is that the Pack will party like it’s 1948 all over again on Saturday night. They might want to score 73 again, just to make sure.