Joe Santoro: Sports fodder for a Friday
April 24, 2009
So, you want to be a college basketball head coach, huh? Well, coaching basketball is about the last thing you get to do in a typical work week. Take the first few weeks of the head coaching career of the Wolf Pack’s David Carter, for example. Carter has been on the job for only three weeks and he already has had to deal with losing a player to injury (Richie Phillips) and one to the law (Ahyaro Phillips). And it’s only April. Carter has a tough job ahead of him on and off the court right now. But forget the on-the-court issues. Those are trivial when compared to the off-the-court stuff. If Carter does nothing else his first year as head coach, he must get this program under control off the court. The list of Pack men’s basketball players in trouble with the law over the last few years is becoming a national embarrassment. Those players ” and don’t forget ex-players like Kirk Snyder who was recently arrested for aggravated burglary in Ohio ” are shaming the community, the university, their families, the coaching staff, the athletic department and the Wolf Pack uniform.
The Wolf Pack men’s basketball team unexpectedly always loses a player or two ” not to mention a head coach ” before every season for one reason or another. Ahyaro Phillips is just the latest surprise loss. They usually either leave early for the NBA draft, jump to Stanford or Georgia, get kicked off the team for breaking the law or fall victim to academic problems. The Pack has survived tough losses before and they will certainly survive this one. Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson are the key to the 2009-10 Pack anyway. The Phillips’ loss, though, just reminds us once again that managing a roster ” recruiting and keeping kids eligible and out of jail ” is a head coach’s biggest and toughest job. And you thought it was teaching Xs and Os, right?
Judging by all of the NFL draft experts on the World Wide Web ” all you need is a blog and a computer that doesn’t crash to become an expert ” it appears that Wolf Pack wide receiver Marko Mitchell will get picked somewhere in rounds 4-6 and linebacker Josh Mauga will go somewhere in rounds 5-7. Center Dominic Green will likely have to settle for a free agent deal after the draft. Mitchell’s biggest mistake was jumping into the draft with six other wide receivers who could all go in the first round. Mauga’s biggest mistake was playing in the Western Athletic Conference. All we know is that the teams that get Mitchell and Mauga will get a steal.
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The Reno Aces drew more than 9,000 fans to each of their opening-weekend games last weekend. Northern Nevada certainly did a nice job welcoming Triple-A baseball to town. But, to be honest, the crowds of 4,000-plus earlier this week can’t be considered a rousing success. Yes, we know it was a school night. And the crowds will no doubt go back up near 9,000 starting again tonight. But let’s face it, the weather was amazing this week.Triple-A baseball in town is still in its first-date excitement stage. You would have thought the crowds this week would have been in the 6,000 range. Are we bored with Triple-A baseball already?
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In the perfect world, they wouldn’t have built the new ballpark downtown. If you live in Northern Nevada, do you really want to go to downtown Reno? Ever? In the perfect world, we wouldn’t be stuck in traffic after the game in a downtown Reno parking garage. So maybe 4,500 or so fans on a school night in April isn’t so bad after all.
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In case you were wondering, Stanley Cup hockey is the best, most intense, grueling postseason in all of sports. No other sport comes close. There are no lucky victories in front of 3,000 sleepy fans on a neutral court on a Thursday morning in the Stanley Cup playoffs. There are no goofy play-in games, meaningless bowl games or fly-by-night dot.com tournaments created simply to make a fast buck. There is just three months of the most intense, fight-to-the-finish, gouge-out-your-eyeballs wars you’ll find in all of sports. But we are still more fascinated in this country by where some idiot wide receiver from Florida is going to be selected in the NFL draft after testing positive for marijuana. Go figure.
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Did you get upset this week when you learned that Jeremy Tyler intends to skip his senior year in high school and freshman year in college to go play basketball overseas until he is eligible for the NBA draft in two years? Why? The kid will earn about $1,000,000 in those two years. Would you trade your senior prom and freshman English 101 class in for $1,000,000? Of course you would. Athletes in other sports (baseball, tennis, golf, hockey, to name four) leave school early all the time to pursue professional careers. So why do we only get upset when basketball players do it?
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