The Bullet Points
- On another damp Saturday night, the Pack played just well enough to keep its fans awake, but not well enough to overcome the same litany of mistakes still being lamented after a 35-26 setback. True, the play of Ty Gangi and some timely turnovers gave the team opportunities to break through, and they briefly did in a respectable first half effort. But subsequent chances in the second half were just as quickly squandered by three-and-outs, poor tackling, and an general inability to force the Lobos off the field. For all of the (at least partly justified) criticism Polian received for not changing quarterbacks sooner, the reasons for that reluctance became more apparent on Saturday. While Gangi gives the offense a greater ability to make opposing defenses pay with big plays, it has come at the expense of the greater number of his own mistakes compared to those of Stewart. Neither approach has resulted in more wins, of course, but as I said last week, at least a more explosive offense will make the continued flailing of this team a little more tolerable to watch.
- And you’d better put that word “tolerable" in quotation marks — or shelve it altogether — for the Pack’s next tilt against San Diego State. Even before the Aztecs officially clinched the West division last week, this game had all the makings of a blow-out. But now, at least that potential might be tempered a bit with some extensive action for Rocky Long’s back-ups. His team hasn’t lost a Mountain West game in almost two whole seasons, Nevada’s own season is in free fall, and the only subject up for debate is how many rushing yards Donnel Pumphrey will finish with. Remember the TCU game from 2000? The one where LaDainian Tomlinson churned out 7 yards a carry, and his team out-rushed Nevada by another 300 yards? There’s a real chance this week’s game could get even uglier than that one. Not quite “15 sacks” ugly, but still U-G-L-Y. The last quarter of their season will see the Pack with basically nothing left to play for but their own pride and a certain piece of artillery still badly in need of liberation. You won’t have to over-exert yourselves to keep that win streak alive, Aztecs. So just let us take a swig of whiskey, tie off the wound and bite on to something, and then we can get this over with. Preseason prediction: San Diego State 38, Nevada 21. New prediction: San Diego State 49, Nevada 20.
- But enough of that sadness: BASKETBALL IS BACK!!! Like a joyous blast of choir music in a dour Sunday sermon, Wolf Pack basketball is finally here again to make you believe that a Nevada team can be champions at something other than letting you down. And the team kicked off its hopefully victorious campaign with a 30-point exhibition throttling of San Francisco State that, admittedly, got off to a rocky start. Cam Oliver put up 21 points and 7 rebounds in less than 27 minutes of action, while Elijah Foster and Devearl Ramsey were the thunder and lightning of a much more convincing second half. And that lightning description is appropriate, as even though I couldn’t attend this game, I’m utterly convinced of Ramsey’s speed just from watching this highlight reel:
- So what, exactly, are the expectations for this year’s basketball team? I can definitely understand the hype preceding them, but are they a true NCAA Tournament team like some are predicting? I’ll say that’s a definite…”possibly.” They’ve already taken a big step forward from the previous coaching regime, and the influx of better talent from that time is clear, so it’s easy to be bullish on their chances for greatness this year. But the facts remain that they’re only slightly deeper in the front court, their three-point shooting improvement might not be big enough, and the rest of the Mountain West still might not be good enough to help their case for an at-large bid. Their toughest test in non-conference play comes at Saint Mary’s this Friday, and it seems unreasonable to expect an upset of a top 25 team right out of the gate. However, pretty much every other non-conference game is winnable, with Washington, a game in the Great Alaska Shootout and maybe one of the two Holiday Hoops Classic games being the next-most likely losses. I’m thinking a 10-3 non-conference record would put Nevada in the conversation for an at-large bid, with anything better than that the proverbial gravy on the biscuits.
Modern Times City of the Dead Export Stout (San Diego, %%MATCH_8%%) ~ Picking one beer to review from San Diego’s massive craft beer scene is a terrible burden — that is, a terribly delicious one. And since “City of the Dead” just about sums up the current scene at Mackay on Saturday nights, here we are. The first export stout was brewed by Guinness in 1801, with more hops and a higher alcohol content than other stouts in order to better preserve it during long sea voyages. CotD poured coffee-black with a thick, tan head and trace smells of coffee and roasted malts. It felt silky and a little chewy in my mouth — exactly my kind of stout — tasting of lightly bitter hops, baker’s chocolate, vanilla, and faint hints of coffee, bourbon and dark fruits. And there is, in fact, a little bourbon in this beer in the form of barrel-aged coffee beans grown by the brewery itself. My one and only hair-splitting critique of this otherwise tasty stout is the relative lack of strength from those coffee and bourbon tastes. They’re there, but they’re subtle to the point you might not even notice them. All the same, Modern Times is quickly becoming my favorite San Diego brewery, and I give it four and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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