Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolf of Virginia Street ~ And Then There Were Two

Hold on to yer butts.

The Bullet Points

  • Facing two very different kinds of tests last week, the Pack could’ve easily tripped up in either one of them. But instead, Nevada took care of business both times, maintaining control over their own destiny heading into the final week of the regular season. In the first test, the Pack came from behind to top Boise State 85-77 in a heavyweight prize fight at Lawlor. After yielding eight three-pointers and falling behind by eight at the half, Nevada took better care of the ball, did a better job of defending the three, and built a second home at the free throw line with an outstanding 30-of-34 showing there. But if the Broncos were King Hippo, the Rebels were more like Glass Joe, putting up seemingly token resistance during the course of a 94-58 vivisection at the Thomas & Mack Center. Two Wolf Pack players scored more than the entire Runnin’ (Crawlin’?) Rebels team, and that just about sums up how the game went. Special attention is deserved for Marcus Marshall, who followed up a program record 15 consecutive free throws made in the win over Boise State with a personal best eight three-pointers made against UNLV, becoming the third Mountain West player to make 100 or more threes in a season.

  • There’s a lot to be pleased with from last week’s wins, and that’s before seeing the Pack still hanging on at the top of the league standings. For all of the criticism we’ve heaped on to this team — relatively tame, all things considered — they’ve responded with four straight wins of varying degrees of impressiveness at the right time. This is much closer to how we expected them to play at the halfway point of the season. Some of it can be chalked up to catching bad teams (Air Force, Utah State and especially UNLV) at the right time, but it still takes a village to keep a good team on task and focused on the prize when they’ve already shown a tendency to drift away from it. Not unlike last season’s CBI title run, a combination of renewed focus and lackluster opposition has enabled the Pack to shift into a different gear and go on a multi-game winning streak.

  • Nevada looks to continue that trend in their final road and home games of the season: a trip to San Jose State’s Event Center before a senior night showdown with Colorado State. While the Pack have an edge over the Spartans in many statistical categories, they’ve played above their station enough times this season to warrant real concern. Even with their all but guaranteed spot in a play-in game at next week’s Mountain West tournament, the Spartans won’t lack for confidence. The date with the Rams is all kinds of intriguing, as they’re currently riding a six game winning streak and look nothing a like the team that was picked seventh in the media’s preseason poll. In spite of having a depth problem the Pack can sympathize with, Colorado State has been getting it done with defense while riding the hot hands of Gian Clavell and Emmanuel Omogbo. The latter has been a double-double machine, and is exactly the kind of big, muscular post presence Nevada has often struggled to defend. This is the finish we’ve been waiting for: we’ll finally find out if the Pack have what it takes to call themselves champions.

The Beer

Avery Raspberry Sour Ale (Boulder, Colorado) ~ Long before brewers truly understood what yeast was, they discovered that something strange happened whenever wort was cooled in open air, or beer was stored in wooden barrels. Wild strains of yeast infiltrated the brew at these times, often imparting flavors that were acidic, tart or sour. As cleaning and sterilizing brewing equipment became more common, these sour beers turned into more of a niche style. But recently, craft breweries around the world have helped introduce a new generation of drinkers to these (literally) funky beers. This particular bottle poured dark ruby red, had a smallish head that didn’t take long to disappear, and smelled strongly of raspberries and fruit jam. Where do I begin with the tastes? Raspberry was front and center, like you’d assume, but there were also notes of balsamic vinegar, bread malts, cranberry sauce, oak, tobacco smoke and lactic acidity that didn’t overwhelm before finishing with more raspberry tartness. Sour beers are often an acquired taste, and I confess I don’t know if someone new to them would enjoy this one. I, however, loved it. Avery struck an elusive balance with this one: sweet, but not too sweet, and tart, but not too tart. It deserves to be enjoyed on its own to fully appreciate the interplay of all of its different elements. I give it four and a half tipsy Wolfies out of five.

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