The Bullet Points
- Two victories within easy reach snatched away both times, and by nearly identical scores. If it wasn’t missed layups one game, it was free throws and missed layups together the following game. Throughout it all, turnovers continue to be the singular, infuriating constant. After showing great resolve to come all the way back and take a three-point lead against the Rubbles, they fell to pieces almost immediately afterwards. Their mental shooting block and actual shooting deficiency have congealed into one humongous, self-sustaining boulder of inability and doubt. One teeny bit of real positivity in all of this? A shake-up to the starting five has already produced some promising returns, with Tyron Criswell and Eric Cooper Jr. proving their battlefield promotions were the right call. And though it isn’t “good news” per se, a little slack is also in order, given the continued absence of D.J. Fenner, and the fact that Robyn Missa’s new absence will further compound things for a bit.
- But here’s the frightening scenario now before us, Pack fans: that 2-5 stretch we just witnessed was against the supposed “easier” part of the Mountain West schedule. Unless some major breaks start coming their way, the worst may still be yet to come. What’s on deck for them in the coming month and a half? Two games apiece against Wyoming and San Diego State. Follow-up tilts with Colorado State and Utah State. Single contests against Boise State and New Mexico. The only “padding” to be found amongst all of that? A pair of games against San Jose State and a trip to Air Force. It’ll all finally end in mid-March, with a bottom-half seed in the Mountain West tournament currently staring them down. The team couldn’t get out of their own way or over the hump in either of their last two games, and the going won’t get any easier the rest of the way. If you’re feeling queasy after reading all of that, you’re not alone.
- In more random news, the RSCVA has submitted a bid to host the Big Sky Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments at the Reno Events Center starting next year. It’s one of two neutral sites (Billings, Montana is the other — catch the Billings fever!) competing along with a handful of Big Sky arenas for hosting rights. Given the abundance of hotel rooms within walking distance of the venue and the city’s long prior history of hosting other conference tournaments, Reno is arguably the best candidate of the group. But does the city stand to gain enough to make it worth their while? Specifically, enough revenue and exposure to justify sacrificing the events center for four or five days in March? And all while the Bighorns are presumably on the road? I’m not so sure. Salt Lake City or Boise would make more sense logistically, given the conference’s gigantic footprint extending from North Dakota to California (word of advice, Big Sky: the WAC already tried that and it didn’t work). Speaking of which, consider the following: last year’s tournament championship game for the WAC — a conference with similarly low national prestige and fan interest — listed 1,518 in attendance at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The box scores of some first- and second-round games in that same tournament listed a big fat zero B.I.S. (butts in seats). Would a Big Sky tournament in Reno draw any better than that? The city should make a push for this event only if they’re 100% certain the answer is “yes.”
New Planet Gluten Free Blonde Ale (Fort Collins, CO) — This was the first gluten free beer I’ve tried anywhere, much less reviewed for a column, and in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that I know basically nothing about the movement. This isn’t to say that I think gluten is the scourge of our age, or that people who believe they’re intolerant of it are making it all up — the whole debate is just a huge blind spot for me. I taste and review beers in this space, which keeps me plenty busy without having to wade into unrelated, highly contentious topics. For what it’s worth, I do think it’s neat that the world of beer has grown enough to find a way to bring the gluten free masses into its fold. New Planet, based out of Boulder (because of course they are) and brewed in Fort Collins, uses sorghum and corn extract in their beers, which don’t contain the glycoproteins that become gluten during fermentation. And if none of that sounds appetizing to you, that’s because it isn’t. The head is thin and disappears quickly, while the color is moderate gold — not blonde. It basically looks like darker, slightly flat ginger ale, which should’ve been my first clue to proceed no further. Orange peel, honey and Cascade hops are present, but the effect they lend is metallic, funky and unpleasantly bitter. The finish is dry to the point of lingering on the tip of your tongue, and practically begs you not to take another sip. I could only drink about a third of it before I poured the rest down the sink, and if my plumbing could’ve talked at that moment, it would’ve screamed in protest. I still don’t know if there are any good gluten free beers out there, but from my limited experience with New Planet, this isn’t one of them. If you fancy yourself gluten intolerant, my heart aches for all the great beer you’re missing out on, and you’re probably better off sticking with hard cider. I give it one tipsy Wolfie out of five.
I ain’t watchin’ the Super Bowl. As one of my friends has already put it, I’d rather watch ISIS play North Korea. And ENOUGH with Deflate-gate, man.
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