The Wolf of Virginia Street, Week 26

Basketball and baseball each get splits, another program gets its first Mountain West title, and Doug Knuth gets a contract extension...hopefully.

The Bullet Points

  • You know how Cameron Oliver had a career night against Fresno State with his mother in the crowd at Lawlor? Well, the athletic department can ignore last week’s suggestion that they pay for player’s families to attend as many games as possible. My usual Midas touch with helpful ideas is now tarnished, and they can safely take me off of speed dial in Doug Knuth’s office. With plenty of family and friends in attendance, the super freshman and his teammates looked much more human against a Spartan team that was much less pathetic than they typically are. Nothing about the game was easy, from free throws (13 of 23) to three pointers (2 of 12) to rebounds (32 to 40 for the Spartans) to bench points (8 to 18) to the state of the team itself, but the all-important final score nonetheless favored the visitors 61-55. Scoring runs proved critical, with a 13-0 run erasing an 11-point deficit early in the second half, and a 15-3 run decisively closing out the game. More encouragingly, the team took much better care of the ball while forcing plenty of their own turnovers, and the 23-9 edge in points off of turnovers was a key difference rather than a bugaboo.

  • And while the following game didn’t erase the good from Wednesday’s win, it’s hard to view it as anything but a tremendous missed opportunity. With New Mexico’s stunning setback and Fresno State having won earlier, Nevada had a chance to pull in to a three-way tie for second place with a win at %%MATCH_7%%. But it wasn’t meant to be, with a back-and-forth affair willed to overtime by a desperation three at the buzzer, and the Wolf Pack crashed and burned for the remaining five minutes in a 102-91 loss. A host of factors ultimately cost them the game, from poor performances by Fenner and Criswell to turnovers to defensive lapses at most of the game’s critical moments. With all of the missed opportunities that proved decisive, I had to remind myself I predicted the teams would split their two regular season games in my conference preview back in January. And with four more critical games still left before the Mountain West tournament, the team has no time to wallow.

  • Wolf Pack baseball stumbled out of the gate in the first two games of the T.J. Bruce era, dropping both halves of a Friday doubleheader to Northwestern 4-2 and 5-1. In a sign of how much of the rest of the season will likely play out, hits were much harder to come by and 17 runners were stranded on the day. Nevada recovered in time for an 11-2 win the following night, with local sophomore Mark Nowaczewski (gesundheit) holding the Wildcats to 3 hits in six innings of work, and then out-slugging Northwestern 10-6 to earn a series split on Sunday. Big Ten team or not, it’s worth pointing out that the Wildcats went 18-36 last year and failed to crack the top six teams picked by coaches to lead the league this year. Maybe that sixth place prediction from Mountain West coaches was more cautionary than insulting? In any case, the waters will hopefully become a little clearer after a visit to Arizona State on Tuesday — an NCAA Tournament team last year — and a three-game series at UC Irvine the following weekend.

  • The Wolf Pack swimming and diving team won their first Mountain West title and the school’s second conference title overall since joining the league. The superb work of coaches Neil Harper and Jian Li You neatly coincided with Doug Knuth being offered a three-year contract extension that will go before the Board of Regents on March 3rd and 4th. It raised some eyebrows, both for its increase in base salary coupled with a removal of benefits for a net loss, and its complete absence of any kind of buyout clause. Knuth will leave Nevada for bigger places at some point, if not soon, depending on how his alma mater decides to proceed. Unless the contract’s approval was contingent upon both of these exclusions, or some other valid reason unknown to everyone else is at play, university president %%MATCH_8%% deserves to be publicly questioned for such a suspect move.

The Beer

Green Flash Passion Fruit Kicker Wheat Ale (San Diego, %%MATCH_9%%) ~ Fruit in beer is is a tricky thing. Put in too much and it becomes a new age wine cooler with a gimmicky grab for attention. But done right, it can be a refreshing change of pace in the quest to quench one’s thirst. I thought Green Flash’s experiment with passion fruit fell somewhere in between. It poured a cloudy gold-yellow with minimal head, smelling of that aforementioned fruit and a teeny bit of bubble gum from its yeast. The taste was all sweet and tart passion fruit, and light in body with a clean finish. I don’t dislike this beer, but I finished my glass feeling a little disappointed. Compared to Otra Vez — a similarly unusual beer with a fruit ingredient and tart taste — I liked that one more, and can’t quite recommend this one. I give it three tipsy Wolfies out of five.

All fan mail (burning or otherwise) can be sent to:

Andrew Maurins
c/o North RV Lot
Campus of THE University of Nevada
Reno, NV 89557

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