The Bullet Points
- The Wolf Pack returned to its den at Lawlor Events Center for the first time in two weeks, but their 83-76 win over Air Force was, how you say, “not a good look.” After building up a 15-point halftime lead thanks in large part to D.J. Fenner’s career night, the Falcons fought back to tie the game at 59, and never truly went away until the final seconds ticked off the clock. In spite of shooting almost 55% from the field, Nevada’s poor ball control and even poorer rebounding performance enabled Air Force to backdoor cut and snipe their way back into the game. This proved to be a harbinger for Saturday’s game against Fresno State, as a season-high 10,236 fans came inches away from exploding on several occasions before going home disappointed to the tune of 81-76. With the two teams’ backcourts basically matching each other shot-for-shot, the onus fell to Nevada’s frontcourt to be the difference, and they were…in favor of the visitors. Once again looking utterly helpless to stop the Bulldogs from dominating the key, decisive edges in rebounding and points in the paint delivered Nevada its first home loss of the season.
- To the surprise of no one who had seen them a few days earlier, Nevada played with similar flaws on Saturday, and was forcibly made to pay for it. All the setbacks the team’s frontcourt have been dealt this season finally proved to be too much for another frantic second half surge to overcome. What is it about Fresno State’s post players that make them such a nightmare match-up for Musselman and company, but not other teams? The short answer, I think, is surrounding depth. The Bulldogs can lose a player like Cullen Russo and still more or less keep their general game plan intact. But Muss can only MacGyver up a solution so many times before that good ol’ lack of bodies brings his team to another wall. Two bench points against the Bulldogs further reinforce this. And outside of a possible return of Elijah Foster -- fraught with its own myriad problems we won't go into unless it comes to pass -- there's really no quick fix for this problem, either.
- Looking ahead, this is valid cause for concern with the Pack’s next two games against Boise State and New Mexico. It doesn’t bode well for the team’s chances at the Mountain West Tournament in March, either, but that bridge is thankfully still a ways down the road. The Broncos are a team that can score in bunches, but are also youngish enough to have long bouts of inconsistency, while the Lobos are the dictionary definition of “inconsistent,” and will be seeking blood for now-legendary reasons. Did we mention the first of these two tilts will be for first place in the Mountain West? At first, it would seem like Pack fans have a little less to worry about than Boise State. More often than not, Musselman’s teams have bounced back from losses in authoritative fashion. But their trip to the not at all ludicrously named Taco Bell Arena will put that to the test in a big way.
Out of Bounds Powdered Toast Man Spiced Brown Ale (Rocklin, California) ~ Another week, another non-traditional brown ale. I, along with many of my readers of a certain age, fondly remember the off-color, surprisingly adult Nickelodeon cartoon “The Ren and Stimpy Show.” One of the show’s recurring characters was a cartoon pitchman named Powdered Toast Man, a flatulent, backwards-flying superhero who scraped toast shavings from his head (“The 90s! You kinda had to be there”). Fortunately for Out of Bounds, their beer of the same name doesn’t have to rely on cheap nostalgia alone. PTM poured a clear gold brown with an off white head, smelling of sweet malts and maple. The taste was, astoundingly enough, just like powdered French toast and maple syrup, along with a teeny bit of vanilla, and its fairly light body finishes sweet. The French toast angle is, admittedly, a bit of a gimmick, and much of your enjoyment will depend on whether you can get past this fact. I sufficiently enjoyed it, but will acknowledge it as something of a niche experience. If you can find it on draft around town -- and I've seen it at Beer NV, Piñon Bottle Shop and Beefy's in the last few months -- give it a try. I give it four tipsy Wolfies out of five.
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