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Snyder honored before Thursday’s game

DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Nevada coach Mark Fox remembers Kirk Snyder’s first day on the Nevada campus.

“I brought him to this very arena and turned on the lights,” Fox said. “He said he was going to put this place on the map and that’s what he and his teammates did.”

Snyder returned to Lawlor Events Center as a spectator with his wife, Haley, a former women’s basketball player at Nevada, and his infant son, Kanai.

The night started with a video message from Fox and then highlights from his three seasons with the Wolf Pack.

And when the lights came on, Snyder was introduced to a well-deserved standing ovation. Snyder was WAC Player of the Year his junior season and an honorable mention All-American.

“It was very emotional,” said Snyder, who talked with the media briefly during halftime of the Pack’s 83-60 rout of San Jose State Thursday night. “Everybody was clapping. A lot of people know who you are.

“It was kind of heartwarming. I saw Terrance Green and Corey Jackson (when they were seniors) and they’d be crying. I used to call them babies.”

Snyder, who plays for the Oklahoma City/New Orleans franchise after being traded from the Utah Jazz, said he was happy that coach Fox gave him an opportunity to be honored and to be presented with the same jersey he wore when he led Nevada into the third round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago.

He admitted that he regretted leaving Nevada early, though nobody blamed him. He also told former teammate Nick Fazekas to stay and finish his career at Nevada.

“My rookie season that’s all I thought about that I should have stayed,” Snyder said. “It (Utah) wasn’t the best situation.

“I told him he (Fazekas) needed to stay. Nothing replaces college. The NBA is always going to be there.”

Snyder did say that he was certain Fazekas would be a first-round draft pick, guaranteeing him a three-year contract.

“From what I see, he’ll be OK,” Snyder said. “All it takes is one team to really like you.”

CONTRACT TALKS ON HOLD

Cary Groth, Nevada athletic director, emphasized that contract talks with Fox to renogotiate and improve his existing contract are on hold until after the season.

“It was both of ours decision,” said Groth of the decision that was announced earlier in the year. “We had the presidential change … We didn’t want to take away from the team.”

Fox has one year left on his original three-year contract.

Groth should be concerned. There are several jobs expected to open soon, including one at Arizona State, and Fox would be an ideal candidate for that job based on his experience in the Pac-10 when he was at Washington.

TOUGH SCHEDULE AHEAD

Who said it’s hard to schedule big-name schools?

The Spartans are playing Duke and Arizona State, and they have also been invited to Stanford’s preseason tournament.

The Duke game came about because of Andy Borman, the director of basketball operations at SJSU. Borman’s uncle is Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. Borman was a reserve guard on Duke’s 2001 national championship team. He also lettered three seasons on Duke’s soccer team.

FAZEKAS UNDER THE WEATHER

Fox said that Fazekas, who finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds despite not playing the last 7:52, was bothered by a head cold.

“He didn’t have quite the juice he normally has,” Fox said after the game. “He’s a lot better than he was on Monday.”

Fazekas now has 1,695 career points, 36 behind Alex Boyd who is No. 2 on the all-time scoring list. If he doesn’t break the record Saturday night against Fresno State, he’ll certainly move into the No. 2 spot when the Pack play Idaho next Thursday in the first round of the WAC Tournament.

FACTS & FIGURES

Nevada has won 10 straight with the combination of Fazekas, Demarshay Johnson, Ramon Sessions, Marcelus Kemp and Kyle Shiloh in the starting lineup … San Jose outrebounded Nevada 43-40 thanks to a 22-11 edge on the offensive boards … Nevada blocked a season-best 11 shots, five by Johnson and four by Fazekas. David Ellis and Denis Ikovlev each had one block … Seth Taylor scored late in the game, his first points since Jan. 12 against Idaho … Ikovlev finished with six points, his first points since an 81-67 win over Boise State back on Jan. 14.