The Bullet Points
- Hoo boy, where do I begin? Columns like this one are always the most fun to write, but it’s a little like winning an Oscar when you didn’t prepare an acceptance speech. Not out of laziness, mind you, but just having convinced yourself there’s no way you could ever conceivably win. I even said it myself as 8:00 pm approached on Saturday night, in true George Lucas style: “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” And yet here we are, so enough with the throat-clearing.
- In the second and third legs of Nevada’s most difficult stretch of the conference season, the Wolf Pack slugged, clawed and scratched their way to two similarly improbable wins. The first came in Laramie, Wyoming, where no Nevada team had won since the New Deal, and included some actual slugging for good measure. Cameron Oliver had his best half of the season, went into the locker room with no fouls, and apparently decided that some freshman mistakes were in order, getting T’ed up twice in the span of several minutes for a prompt ejection. We’ll assume he had a sudoku puzzle back in the locker room he was eager to finish and cut him some slack. Lindsey Drew and Tyron Criswell then bowed out shortly afterwards, albeit just to their own bench, and instead of buckling under the strain of finding themselves short-handed on the road, Nevada made big shots when they needed to.
- The second win came in thrilling fashion against a resurgent rival, whose fanbase -- even in defeat -- possesses all the self-effacing humility of General Zod from “Superman II.” The actual game itself was pretty rough from an entertainment standpoint, with both teams often at the mercy of the always enigmatic Mountain West officiating crews. But everything around it recalled the same Lawlor magic of the mid-2000s. The crowd was nothing short of stupendous: bigger than any of us could’ve hoped for, invested from the start, loud when necessary, and (hopefully) given plenty of incentive to return for a few more games. Ditto for the student section, long maligned in my columns, but finally starting to resemble something coherent and intimidating. They even wasted little time in drowning out the Rebel fans in attendance, and their own “[Bleep] the Rebels” chant was thankfully short-lived. It’s true that UNLV showed many of the same problems that led to Dave Rice’s firing, from turnovers to poor shooting and general bad decisions (like attending UNLV *rim shot*), but you wouldn’t have guessed it from their previous three games. It was going to take a collective effort of everyone wearing blue to pull out a win on Saturday, and that’s exactly what happened. There is no better metaphor for this win than 6’3” Tyron Criswell finishing with more points than the 7-foot forward he was assigned to guard. It’s not what one would call a “great” win — that would be a Kentucky or North Carolina or Kansas. But it’s the beginning of a return to form for a community and program equally eager to rediscover the national spotlight.
- Now comes the “What do we have to lose?” tests: San Diego State
at home and Utah State on the road. And I hate to harsh everyone’s
post-victory mellow, but losing both of these games is entirely
possible. The Aztecs have beaten the Pack every time since they joined
the Mountain West — often in embarrassing fashion — and they’ve only
won at the Smith Spectrum twice since 2006. As well as they’ve already
acquitted themselves of late, there’s still plenty to gain — and to
lose — as far as positioning for the conference tournament goes. Do
they have some more exceeded expectations in them?
Sierra Nevada Otra Vez Gose-style Ale (Chico, %%MATCH_12%%) ~ We’re gettin’ bilingual this week with a new year-round beer, whose name translates to “once again.” The weather outside may still be cold and wet, but you can at least pretend it’s warmer with a nice, tart gose (pronounced like “goes”). It’s named after the Goslar region of Germany where it originated, and the introduction of lactobacillus bacteria to the yeast lends it a distinct sourness. But enough with the science and geography, man! How does it taste? It pours a cloudy, golden yellow with a small head, smelling of lemon citrus and a slight funk. The taste is lemony, fizzy, salty and tart, with some grapefruit on the tail end of the sip. It also claims to be made with prickly pear cactus fruit, but without knowing precisely what that tastes like on its own, I couldn’t tell you much about it. In any case, sour beers are usually hit or miss for me, and this one is pleasant enough to come back to now and then. It’s a pretty good low-alcohol (4.5%) beer that can quench your thirst, or just offer up a fairly cheap ($8.99 for a six-pack) change of pace. I give it three and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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