Wolf Pack hoops fans staying home these days | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack hoops fans staying home these days

Joe Santoro
For the Nevada Appeal

Sports fodder for a Friday morning . . .The Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team is putting Northern Nevada to sleep. It's bad enough that head coach David Carter refuses to play an opponent worth watching at home. His home non-league schedule since he took over the program in the 2009-10 season has been filled with the likes of Fresno Pacific, South Dakota State, Nebraska Omaha, Longwood, Cedarville, Cal Poly, Cal State San Marcos and Morehead State. But now the Pack is losing to those teams at home. Northern Nevada, understandably, is simply bored with Pack basketball right now. The Pack averaged 6,929 fans in Mark Fox's last year as head coach and has averaged just 5,500 a game in Carter's four-plus seasons. Bad opponents. Mediocre Wolf Pack teams. Nine losses in 12 games at home since last Dec. 28. It's no wonder Pack fans are ignoring this program.

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The Wolf Pack should be ashamed for never bringing Trent Johnson's or Mark Fox's teams back to Lawlor Events Center for a game. Johnson has now been gone for 10 years and has coached three different programs since abandoning the Pack after his one standout season in Nevada. Fox has been gone for five years. Neither one of them has ever brought his team to Reno to play the Pack and repay the fans and the program that made their careers. All three coaches ­­­— Johnson, Fox and Carter — should take responsibility for that.

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Carter's head coaching career is treading water right now. Carter's Wolf Pack is just 16-27 since beating Bucknell at home in the NIT in March 2012. If the Pack doesn't turn this season around, Carter will go into next season with three losing seasons in the last four. Couple a mediocre record with mediocre fan support and, well, it might finally be time to start the transition into the post Johnson-Fox-Carter era. The Carter era has an eerie Lenny Stevens feel to it. The future might be even worse under Carter. Deonte Burton, Carter's one shining recruit in five years, leaves after this season. Nobody is suggesting that the Pack should be headed back to the Sweet 16 or even the NCAA Tournament. All we are saying is that it's time for Carter to start winning as many games as he loses. We don't ask for much.

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Yes, we understand that the Pack has had to deal with an incomplete roster so far. And help is on the way with A.J. West's debut Sunday against Iona. But that doesn't explain a 4-7 record. You should be able to beat teams like Omaha and Morehead State at home at Bakersfield on the road with Burton and four Lawlor Events Center security personnel. At least the security folks wouldn't let the opponents waltz into the paint at will. Carter has not done a great job coaching this team in close games this year. And his coach on the floor, Burton, has not done a great job leading this team. That all has to change starting Sunday.

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Do we really need a month of playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl? There should just be one playoff game in the NFC — the San Francisco 49ers at the Seattle Seahawks — and one in the AFC — the Kansas City Chiefs at the Denver Broncos. The winners go to the Super Bowl to play in the snow and cold in New Jersey. Seattle is the best team in the NFL right now. But the best team rarely wins the Super Bowl anymore. The days of the NFL dynasties are over and have been over ever since the salary cap took over the league. Dynasties these days last about three weeks.

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Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly is rumored to be one of the frontrunners to take over Texas for Mack Brown. The former Oregon coach has only been in the NFL for one season but he would be a fool to turn down Texas. Coaching in college is heads and tails better than coaching in the NFL. In college you can handpick half your schedule and two-thirds of the teams on your league schedule can't play the game.

You only have to win half your games to go to a bowl and act like you are in a championship game of some sort. You can become the king of your university and community and even push the university president around. You can bully an inexperienced, booster-type media. You can blame the BCS for not giving you a spot in the championship game. You can get your boosters to pay your players under the table. Ever since college football has been able to make even a Brian Polian at Nevada a rich man, the place to be for a football coach is in college.

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The best college basketball coach in the country is Barry Hinson at Southern Illinois. Heck, he might be the best ever. And we don't care if Hinson can coach a lick. Hinson committed coaching suicide this week when he ripped his team in front of the media after a loss to Murray State. He said his team is "uncoachable." He said that unlike his team his wife could score more than two buckets in 11 shots because his wife would at least shot fake one time. He called his team a bunch of "mama's boys." He also said his team "just won't buck up and bow our necks." In short, Hinson said all the things that Carter wanted to say last year about the Wolf Pack. Unfortunately, Hinson's tirade won't start a trend among coaches. They, after all, like making six and seven figures coaching kids a kid's game. But it was refreshing.