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The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ No Pressure or Anything

Heading into the Mountain West tournament, four games now separate the Pack from either (very) modest greatness, or also-ran status.

The Bullet Points

  • In his public quotes to local media before last week’s games, Eric Musselman made it clear that he’s through playing Mr. Nice Coach, if that was ever a thing for him. The proving time for that anger started off on two positive notes, with a dominant 78-59 win at Air Force followed up by a somewhat less focused 77-66 closing out of Utah State. In Colorado Springs, a tweaked starting lineup was apparently all the motivation Cameron Oliver needed to plow through the Falcons with a 25-point, 15-rebound effort. He led the way as the Pack completely controlled the game on both offense (52% shooting, including 13 of 24 threes) and defense (holding Air Force to 39.3% shooting and 8 of 30 threes). On Saturday, it was Marcus Marshall’s turn to finally get his groove back to the tune of 22 points, while his teammates chipped in by continuing to pound the glass (a 45-29 advantage in rebounds) and make the most of their chances for put-back points (18 of them).

  • Nevada now finds itself once again tied for first place, with Boise State and Colorado State, of all teams. Not many people expected either of them to be in the mix this late in the season, but then again, not many people expected San Diego State to wait this long to finally show up to conference play. But just like those surprises, getting both the Broncos and the Rams at home in the final two weeks of the regular season is a big advantage that practically fell into the Wolf Pack’s lap. You really want to believe that this is when Nevada finally stops messing around and powers through to a regular season title and the top seed at the conference tournament. And my answer to all of that is an emphatic “maybe…?”. This is what all that time I’ve spent harping on the importance of home court advantage this season has been building up to. Those consecutive crowds of 10,000+ eager fans (taking exception to Saturday’s turnout, which looked much less than what was announced) will be awfully hard for visitors to overcome. We’ll find out if Nevada is done frittering away its leads, how thirsty for revenge Boise State will be, and how much off-court drama it will take to distract Colorado State. You have my permission to get excited. Or terrified. That works, too.

  • When Nevada moved to the Mountain West in 2012, this is the exact kind of race that Pack fans wanted to see their team in the thick of. Throw that one-bid league stuff out the window, no matter how applicable it may be. Every fan wants their ability to affect the outcome of a crucial game to be put to the test, and on Wednesday, that’s exactly what we’ll get when the Broncos come to town. Nevada won the first game with surprising ease, but with both teams as closely matched in statistics as they are, it’s hard to imagine round two unfolding as perfectly. That will be followed up with a game at UNLV, where the Pack will be under a lot more pressure to blow the home team out of the water than the Rebels will be under to not totally suck. If anything, I’m putting that UNLV game at greater risk of being a trap for Nevada than the following tilt at San Jose State. The Spartans are playing well enough to demand the full attention of anyone they play, while UNLV…isn’t. Let’s hope you’ve got your finger nails still intact, that Nevada doesn’t buy in to their own hype anymore, and that the Cardiac Pack come through.

The Beer

Pigeon Head 2X India Pale Lager (Reno, Nevada) ~ A prime example of the devil-may-care daring of American craft beer is the India pale lager, a hybrid creation fermented like a lager instead of an ale. And beyond that starting point, there really aren’t any hard and fast requirements of what goes into making one. Not surprisingly, the lager experts over at Pigeon Head have had an IPL in their core lineup of beers since opening in 2014, and their first bottled offering ($10) is this bigger, stronger remix. It poured a clear orange with a moderate, off-white head, and smelled of orange peel, piney hops and a tiny bit of peach. That orange and piney combination continued into the taste, along with light biscuity malts, and finished cleanly with a barely noticeable bitterness. Just like their original IPL, it succeeds in balancing hop bitterness with the smooth drinkability of a lager. I’m a little more partial to their original, but this one also deserves a try, and is a worthy start to what will hopefully be a long line of bottling runs. I give it three and a half 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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