The Bullet Points
- First, the good: suck it, Rebels! Continuing my trend of lousy score predictions (I’m horribly broken up, as you can probably guess), the Pack turned in what will likely go down as one of the most satisfying, if not surprising, victories of the David Carter era with their third straight win over the Nevada Southern Runnin’ Hotel Managers. Between their opponent’s nationally-praised recruiting class, 13,000+ fans cheering for their demise and an 11.5-point line in the home team’s favor, there wasn’t much reason to anticipate anything but misery. Luckily for us, that memo apparently wasn’t delivered to the team, and with a combination of rebounding prowess, some timely help from the bench (Oh hi, Eric Cooper!) and a whole lot of plain old stubbornness, the upset was sprung. For at least the next two weeks, Reno is now home to both the Fremont Cannon and the best college basketball team in Nevada. Even the Governor's Series is finally coming up Wolf Pack now. Hell to the power of YES.
- Even more than the bragging rights, what ultimately makes a win over UNLV so satisfying is the straw-grasping that inevitably follows from Rebel fans. Their grieving will start with invocations of Tark and the national championship that no current student at UNLV — save for a certain 40-year old student body president minoring in public indecency — was alive to witness. Their utter contempt for anything outside Clark County will be especially thick, rich enough to be poured over a stack of “Scoreboard” pancakes and eaten in huge bites with a side of “Kindly Shut Up” bacon like some delicious, heavenly Schadenfreude breakfast. Our own Neil Henderson sat courtside on Gucci Row that night and heard enough abuse heaped on the team to make his victory meal big enough for a family of twenty.
- But just as quickly as the basketball gods saw fit to bless us, they plopped us right back in our customary spot with a home loss to Fresno State the following Saturday. Nevada’s winning streak ended at four games, the Bulldogs’ Marvelle Harris performed a 40-point mic drop, and it seemed as though the Pack’s triumph over the Rebels was for naught. I’m honestly not quite as discouraged by this loss as others seem to be. Granted, any home loss in the Mountain West represents a missed opportunity, but I still saw plenty of positives. A.J. West continued a streak of very strong performances that will continue to put Nevada in position to win conference games, Marqueze Coleman and D.J. Fenner found their groove again after an off night in Las Vegas, and the overall scoring balance among the starting five continues to be solid. Chalk up this loss to a rare, spectacular performance from one guy that’s unlikely to get repeated this year, and move on to the next game, speaking of which…
- The Pack is in Fort Collins tonight to take on the Rams, who went 13-for-13 through a non-conference schedule of mixed difficulty and were briefly ranked before dropping two in a row in conference play. CSU can score with ease, is aggressive on the glass and aggressive in general, but will be without starting forward J.J. Avila after he successfully defended his Mountain West Wrestling Federation championship belt. Once again, the Pack find themselves as double-digit underdogs on the road against a strong home team, and again, it’s probably unreasonable to expect a Nevada win. But Avila’s absence, coupled with the Rams’ spotty three-point defense (currently 10th out of 11 Mountain West teams) and occasional tendency to play down to their competition (they’ve squeaked past their share of mediocre teams this season) afford the Pack some opportunities to potentially exploit. The realistic objective of this game? Keep the positive trends of the last three weeks going and don’t let whatever setbacks befall you become the start of a tailspin. Put A.J. West down for another double-double, put Nevada down for a better-than-usual three-point shooting night, but also be skeptical of a win. Rammers 67, Rammer Jammers 62.
Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout (Chico, CA) — I reached into my fridge for this week’s pick, and in doing so reached a little into my past. One of my first two introductions to the world of craft beer — or “more expensive but better-tasting beer,” if you don’t care for that term — was Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. Along with New Belgium’s Fat Tire Amber Ale, they were a titanic departure from my prior experiences with the usual domestics, and let me know that beer didn’t have to be innocuous or forgettable. Since that time, I’ve learned a lot more about the weird, wonderful world of craft beer, while things like, say, coffee continue to elude me (I’m aware that segue was tenuous — just humor me). Sierra Nevada’s Coffee Stout pours as black as its namesake, with a head thicker than that of a Rebel fan making preseason conference title guarantees. The initial smell is (do you actually have to ask?) coffee and baker’s cocoa, with a taste combining those with dark roasted malts, caramel, and even some very light hints of espresso, bread, hazelnut and raisins. You read that right: raisins. The coffee’s bitterness lasts for a good while after each sip, and its medium body keeps all that bittersweetness manageable. Even from a guy who doesn’t drink coffee, this is a great-tasting beer, so much so that its biggest downside is not even really the beer’s fault. It’s only available in a seasonal twelve bottle variety pack, where you only get three of them. Not unlike basketball, it seems we’re destined to have nice things for only so long. I give it four tipsy Wolfies out of five.
I’m heading back to school next month, so my columns will be less weekly starting on February 11th. At least bratwurst-making is part of paralegal studies, right?
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