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Murray's Mailbag: Indiana Jones and the Nevada Wolf Pack

Indiana Jones
Indiana Jones (Handout photo)

We're going to get to your local sports questions, but first we're going to talk about Indiana Jones since I watched all four movies in the series last week for the first time. As the tweet below says, I'm not sure if the movies were good or horrible, but I watched them all (I regretfully even watched the Crystal Skull one). So let's talk Indiana Jones before getting into Nevada basketball with this week's Monday Twitter Mailbag. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

(Note: If you're not seeing the tweets, it's probably because you're not using Google Chrome. Use Google Chrome).

1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: This was an actual good movie. The interplay between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery was great.

2. Raiders of the Lost Ark: This movie was fine. I'm sure it was good when it debuted back in the day.

3. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Good thing this movie had Short Run because it was not great outside of that.

4. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull: As Uncle Frank says in Home Alone, "Horrible. Just horrible."

Here was my issue with Indiana Jones. Some of the scenes were just too hard to believe. In Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and two companions jump out of a plane on an unpumped air raft and safely land on a snow-covered mountain several hundred yards below without dying. That raft then falls another several hundred yards into a river and lands perfectly (see the scene here)? In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and a gigantic crew are digging less than 50 yards from the main site and none of the Nazis notice them?!? In Crystal Skull, Jones' son swings via vines through a forest faster than monkeys?!?!? And he fends off a world-class swordsmith while straddling two cars going 35 miles per hour in a rocky jungle?!?!?!? I'm fine with tearing out somebody's heart through their chest without them dying, which happens in Temple of Doom, but I draw the line at some of these Shia LaBeouf shenanigans. Also, in Last Crusade, I have no idea why they go to Berlin to get Sean Connery's book when he had already memorized said book and is mumbling what to do when he's dying and Indiana is completing the challenges to get the Holy Grail. He could have just told his son what to do since he memorized the steps in the book rather than head into the heart of Nazi Germany.

But they were solid movies. Some of the scenes had clearly fake backgrounds and none of the villains could shoot Indiana Jones with a machine gun despite being 10 feet away from him with no obstructions, but they were entertaining movies and had some great one-liners. Ford is an excellent actor. And composer John Williams, who wrote the Home Alone theme, created a masterpiece with the Indiana Jones theme.

Of course it should have. Crystal Skull was an atrocity. Were people clamoring for an Indiana Jones with alien heads? I'm going to ignore it like it never happened.

And the best line in a movie ever is "Squints was pervin' a dish." Or "The Royal _________ is clean, your Highness" from Coming to America.

Folks, we've made history here. This is my wife's first tweet. Let's give her a round of applause. And let's thank her for watching these movies with me. Top five side characters are:

1. Short Round: An easy No. 1. This was the first movie made by Jonathan Ke Quan, who played in Goonies a year later. What a one-two punch for Quan, who was 13 and 14 when those epic movies came out. Shorty brought a nice comedic bend and was the best part about Temple of Doom.

2. Henry Jones, Sr.: Sean Connery was brilliant as Indiana Jones' dad. He brings lots of laughs and adds to the depth of Jones' character in the Last Crusade. And as my wife pointed out, Connery looks the same today as he did in this movie 30 years ago. He's always had that older look.

3. Sallah: The "best digger in Egypt," as he's called, is one of the rare supporting characters who appears in multiple films. The hefty, bearded Egyptian, who appears in the Lost Arc and the Last Crusade, is a trusted friend for Jones, who has few of those. I loved when he took the camels to repay his brother, whose car is blown up, despite Jones telling him to leave the camels behind.

4. Dr. Marcus Brody: Coleman from Trading Places! It took me a second to remember why Dr. Brody looked familiar, but the actor Denholm Elliott also was the butler in Trading Places, a great Eddie Murphy movie. Brody comes off as clueless, which makes him a stark contrast to the expertise of Jones.

5. Elsa Schneider: Of the four female leads, Schneider is my favorite (she's the Nazi in the Last Crusade). It helps that she played Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn's girlfriend in Major League II. She also was a bond girl in A View to a Kill.

The next five: Major Arnold Toht, Mola Ram, Marion Ravenwood, Willie Scott, Simon Katanga

Excellent scene. One of the best.

The whip. The whip is one of the coolest weapons in movie history.

Han Solo. Space war is way cooler than Earth war. And I'd get to be friends with Chewbacca.

I don't like snakes.

Mountain West angry coach rankings.

1. Nevada's Eric Musselman

2. New Mexico's Paul Weir

3. Boise State's Leon Rice

4. Wyoming's Allen Edwards

5. Fresno State's Justin Hutson

6. Air Force's Dave Pilipovich

7. San Diego State's Brian Dutcher

8. UNLV's Marvin Menzies

9. San Jose State's Jean Prioleau

10. Colorado State's Niko Medved

11. Utah State's Craig Smith

Indiana Jones in Cairo. He rates much higher on the Cool Rating than John McClain. Jones had hair, a cool hat and a cool whip.

I thought we said we aren't talking about this movie.

I believe Nevada shoots too many threes. Yes, the team is 16-1, so it's all good, but if Nevada is going to shoot this many threes every game, it will come back to bite it in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolf Pack attempted 37 3-pointers against Fresno State, making just 10 (that's 27 percent). Nevada ranks first in the MW in 3-pointers attempted but is seventh in 3-point accuracy (33.3 percent). I'd prefer Nevada to not take more than 20 3-pointers per game. It's a much stronger offensive team when it is focused on ball movement, driving and getting to the free throw line, the latter of which Nevada does a good job of.

Defenses are baiting Nevada into taking threes with its zone schemes, and the Wolf Pack is obliging. The Wolf Pack is a streaky shooting team, but not a good one (this is in games only; Eric Musselman said his team shoots better in practice, but until we see it in games we can't trust it completely). There will be games when Nevada lights it up from outside and blows teams out. There will be games when it can't hit a three but keeps going to that well. (Nevada has played eight games where it has made 29 percent or worse from three). The good news is Nevada almost never turns the ball over and plays great defense, so it has some margin for error in its shooting performance. But if it keeps taking 30 3-pointers (it has averaged 30.1 per game over its last seven contests), it will get burned at some point. Hopefully that doesn't come in the NCAA Tournament.

And I prefer Adidas over Nike as far as personal gear goes. I don't care what Nevada wears.

I believe the impact cool uniforms has on landing recruits is greatly exaggerated. It might help you catch their attention, but players aren't picking schools based on uniforms. That'd rank behind: rapport with teammates, trust in coaches, playing time, development plan, academics, comfort with campus/city, proximity to home, fan support, etc. Jerseys aren't even in the 10 reasons to attend a college.

Nevada did this last season, adding Texas Tech and TCU to its schedule and it paid off big time. Texas Tech was an Elite 8 team and TCU also was an at-large team, grabbing a sixth seed in the tournament. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 went 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament, with only one team (Arizona) reaching the 64-team draw. I know the Pac-12 is convenient given its proximity, but trying to get more Big 12 teams on the schedule at the expense of the Pac-12 would be a wise idea (the Pac-12 has only two teams in ESPN's current Bracketology, and both are 11 seeds). Nevada already has two Pac-12 teams on next year's schedule (USC and Utah, both at home), so it will still be Pac-12 heavy, but adding Big 12 teams is a good idea given the strength of that conference and relatively close locations.

It has to be coaching. Arizona State has shown high highs and low lows. Consistency has not been a strength, which comes back to coaching. Bobby Hurley has done a good job there, but you never know what you're going to get out of the Sun Devils, which has to be an unsettling feeling for fans. And Nevada needs Arizona State to win the Pac-12 to make its victory over the Sun Devils look as strong as possible.

Nevada's single-season double-double record is 22 by Pete Padgett in 1972-73 (he played 26 games that season). Nick Fazekas is second with 21 double-doubles in 2006-07 (out of 32 games). Jordan Caroline has 10 double-doubles in 17 games this season, so he's on pace for the 20-21 range. It will be close.

Martin by a nose. Caleb Martin definitely has more name recognition, and him being on the preseason All-American team is a big deal because writers will go back and look at who was on the preseason team before making their postseason picks. Plus, he's still been highly productive (19.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.9 apg) despite being less efficient as a shooter. Martin also has the small edge in PER, so he's been the better player by the advanced metrics. But, I might edge toward Caroline right now based on his efficiency. I just don't think the national media knows him as well as Martin.

Anomaly. Fresno State runs a lilliputian lineup outside of Nate Grimes. One of my keys in the "Three keys and prediction" for that game pointed out Nevada had a big size advantage and should win the rebounding battle. Credit Nevada for doing just that, winning the board battle, 42-34, and the second-chance points, 27-3. The 17 offensive rebounds were a season high. But the Wolf Pack ranks 175th in the nation in offensive rebounding rate, grabbing only 26.3 percent of its misses. That's not great. One game doesn't change that. Nevada is a good defensive rebounding team that is exactly average on the offensive glass. I expect that to continue.

Nevada's starting lineup from now on should be fluid. I think you'll see seven players in and out of the starting lineup with Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline, Trey Porter, Corey Henson, Tre'Shawn Thurman and Jordan Brown depending on the matchup. Nevada likes Jazz Johnson off the bench, so I think he'll stay a reserve. Really, the finishing lineup is way more important than the starting lineup, but Henson has done enough in recent games to get 15-20 minutes a night.

My guess is Nevada is trying to jolt its struggling offense. Tre'Shawn Thurman ranks No. 1 on Nevada in defensive rating but is sixth in offensive rating. He's shooting 42.6 percent from the field and 24.4 percent from three. I think Nevada is looking for a little more offense, but Coach Musselman and staff clearly trust Thurman, so I'd expect his minutes to rise again at some point. By adding Henson to the starting lineup, you get another scoring threat out there. Also, Thurman is one of those ultimate team guys, so he's not going to pout if he does come off the bench, which makes a move like this easier. That Henson/Thurman position will likely hinge on the opponent Nevada is playing. Henson for smaller teams; Thurman for large teams.

It really depends on who Nevada is playing. Boise State is more like Fresno State than New Mexico because it has a smaller lineup. My base starting group and rotation would be:

Starting: Caleb Martin (35 minutes), Cody Martin (35 minutes), Jordan Caroline (35 minutes), Corey Henson (20 minutes), Trey Porter (20 minutes)

Reserves: Jazz Johnson (25 minutes), Jordan Brown (20 minutes), Tre'Shawn Thurman (10 minutes)

I'd like to get more minutes for Brown and let him play through freshman growing pains. I like Henson in the starting five because he adds shooting without giving back a ton back defensively. I like Johnson off the bench as an offensive spark.

Nevada softball returns seven of its top nine hitters, with the big loss being outfielder Erika Hansen. This team will be able to hit. The big question is whether Nevada will get the kind of pitching required to win a conference title and make an NCAA Regional. Special softball teams have a stud pitcher, like Nevada had with Jordan McPherson and Katie Holverson in the Michelle Gardner era. Nevada had that in Brooke Bolinger in 2016 before she transferred to Texas after one year in Reno. Can Julia Jensen step into that role as a sophomore? If Nevada is going to do special things this season, it will need that kind of performance. I'll peg Nevada softball at 30-25 overall, 13-11 in the MW this season.

Nevada lost three of its four hitters, its Friday stater and its closer, so there's some rebuilding to do here, but the Wolf Pack has had highly rated recruiting classes under T.J. Bruce, so there should be a good talent level.

Biggest strengths

* Nevada's infield should be excellent (lots of good hitters in that group)

* Nevada's defense should be above-average

* Nevada has an ace in Jake Jackson, a freshman All-American last year

Biggest questions

* How will top prospect RHP Owen Sharts do in his freshman season?

* Who will replace Keone Cabinian as closer?

* Who wins the starting outfield jobs next to Weston Hatten?

It really depends on whether Nevada will keep its salary at $1 million or shrink it back down to the $500,000 range, thus limiting its pool of candidates. Five I like: Tommy Lloyd (Gonzaga assistant); Dennis Gates (Florida State assistant); T.J. Otzelberger (South Dakota State head coach); Russell Turner (UC Irvine head coach); and Joe Pasternack (UCSB head coach, as long as everything checks out). And then you have friends of the program like Mark Fox, Dave Rice, Doug Stewart, Johnny Jones and Gus Argenal, but I'm guessing Nevada brings in somebody fresh.

It's the same reason JaVale McGee was a more valued draft prospect than Nick Fazekas. There's a line of thought that believes basketball players are essentially finished products by the time they're 23 years old. I'm not sure I agree with that, but that's clearly what many NBA executives believe or else production in college would out-weigh potential in the pros. It does not. It's all about upside, which is the reason many college players are basically forced to turn pro early. Luke Babbitt would have loved to stay at Nevada for his junior season, but if you're a first-round pick you have to go. If you come back and you put up the same numbers, you're costing yourself money. It's that simple. Drafts are all about projections, and that's especially true in basketball. The fact Nevada doesn't have a for-sure future NBA player on its roster makes what it is doing right even more impressive. You usually need a couple of those guys to be a top 10 team in the nation. That's also why I compared Nevada to a G-League team a couple of weeks ago.

Caleb Martin, NBA team

Cody Martin, G League team

Jordan Caroline, G League team

Trey Porter, G League team

Tre'Shawn Thurman, Overseas

Corey Henson, Overseas.

Caleb Martin made 4-of-15 threes in the win over Fresno State. That's 26.7 percent, below his season average of 33.1 percent from three. I wouldn't say his shooting slump is over, but he's doing everything else on the court well. He's a much better defender and driver this season. He's probably going to be a streaky shooter for the rest of the season. But when he gets hot, he's tough to stop. He can hit high-degree-of-difficulty shots as well as anybody in the nation.

There are too many to choose from. I usually pick based on interview quality, since that's kind of my main job. Among the group are: Joel Bitonio, Deonte Burton, Luke Babbitt, Krysta Palmer, the Martin twins, Lenny Jones, EmKay Myers, Cameron Oliver, Colin Kaepernick, Devin Combs, Zach Sudfeld, James-Michael Johnson, Austin Byler and Brandon Marshall. Eric Musselman is also a super interesting guy to cover. But, if I have to pick a favorite, I'm going with Fred Gatlin because it is my personal quest to get him in the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame.

Nevada does not have this stat in its record book, so I had to go game-by-game and look it up myself. The furthest I could find game logs going back was 2000. Here are the results.

* Jeff Rowe's longest streak was 20.

* Colin Kaepernick's longest streak was 12.

* Zack Threadgill's longest streak was 10.

* Cody Fajardo's longest streak was nine.

So looks to me that Ty Gangi's streak of 27 straight games with a touchdown pass is in fact a Wolf Pack record. At least we can call it one and assume it is, at least in Nevada's FBS era. That's an impressive streak. Gangi threw at least one touchdown in every game he started at Nevada.

It was a lateral move at best. It might have been a step down in program. Terry didn't get great support from Fresno State fans or administration, and I think that led him to believe he couldn't do any more in Fresno, whether that's true or not. He did an excellent job there and left first-year coach Justin Hutson a nice roster. The team he left behind is better than the team he inherited. Terry also has Texas roots, so getting close to home was likely a factor. But it was a bad sign for the Mountain West, which needs to be adding coaches like Terry and not watching them leave for Conference USA jobs.

I'd have to go back and look at each game, but I'm guessing it's about .500. After going 12-1 in football and starting 16-1 in basketball, I'm shocked my 28-2 record this season hasn't made more national headlines. This is big!

Lots of research on some of these questions today.

Nevada is 70-4 when leading at halftime under Musselman.

It is 25-24 when trailing at halftime under Musselman.

It is 2-2 when tied at halftime under Musselman.

Nevada is 54-1 over the last three seasons when leading at halftime. That's pretty good.

Never. I stumped for it in late August, but I don't think it will happen. I'm not sure there's any precedent for a FBS conference kicking out a member for lack of performance. It just never happens. And it's not like there's a for-sure upgrade out there for the MW unless it just cuts the dead weight and doesn't add anything. But the fact SJSU hasn't posted a winning record in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and/or baseball in any season since moving to the MW in 2013 is a joke.

No. As bad as San Jose State is, there is no JuCo team that is better than an FBS team. The talent difference is too vast.

2001 Miami Hurricanes. That team won by an average score of 42.6-9.8 per game. That team beat five top-15 opponents. That team had 38 players drafted. That team had 17 first-round picks. 17! That team had 13 players who became NFL Pro Bowlers. That team is the best ever, its only short-coming being QB Ken Dorsey, who was solid but not great.

Per new rules, players do not have to tell their current staff if they are transferring. All they have to do is ask compliance to put them in the NCAA's new transfer portal, which is accessible to all schools. Once they are entered in the portal, coaches are allowed to contact the player. Still, I assume most student-athletes let their coach know they are transferring as a courtesy. But the new portal has given a lot more power to players in the transfer process.

You can look at Nevada's media guide here, which has all-time leaders.

Caroline is on pace to finish fifth in Wolf Pack history in scoring and rebounding (in only three seasons). Caleb Martin is one pace to finish in the 10-12 range in all-time scoring (in only two seasons).

I had not noticed that those scoreboards were gone, but I do remember the 3-point numbers leading to free pizza. Now that Nevada seems to be giving away free Jumbo Jacks every game, perhaps the free pizza was unnecessary.

Nevada draws well on the road in three locations: Bay Area, Los Angeles, Las Vegas. Whenever the Wolf Pack plays in those places, you'll see a good chunk of Nevada fans.

1) That did happen in a game at Lawlor Events Center earlier this season (Jordan Caroline tipped it in for the opponent). It goes down as a team basket. Nobody gets credit for it.

2) No, there isn't, sadly. One of the few things Fresno has on Reno.

3) Thanos beats everybody if he has all of his stones.

No idea, but the New Mexico head coach has apparently increased his red sweater wearing this season, as he explained to the Santa Fe New Mexican prior to the season opener:

“I read something about a year ago on Steve Jobs and, I don’t know if you remember, but Jobs wore the same thing every day,” Weir said. “Black turtleneck and jeans. Never shaved his face. All this was in some business magazine or something like that, and the author asked him why he did it. His answer is that it just saves him time. He doesn’t worry about what he’s going to wear every morning.

“So last year when I started wearing the sweater I was kind of like, this is awesome. I don’t have to worry about tie combos and this and that. Like, coaches don’t need to think about stuff like that. You shouldn’t have to go to the dry cleaners and think about what suits go together, so I started thinking and was like, you know, at some point I’m going to do this.”

“I mean, why should I have to worry about what $5,000 suit to wear? I don’t want to do that anymore.”

$5,000 suits!

Better odds he wears a red sweater than a suit this season.

Virginia. The Cavaliers are great defensively and slow the pace, but if Nevada hits 40 percent of its threes, it beats Virginia.

(This could be a knee-jerk reaction to Virginia's lopsided loss to a No. 16 seed in last year's NCAA Tournament.)

The quadrant system was installed last season so every game is sorted into one of four quadrants (one being the highest-quality win and four being the lowest). Here is how the quadrants break down, with the opponent's NET rating being used.

Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75.

Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135.

Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240.

Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353.

Fresno State is 68 in the NET ranking, so that fits as a Q1 win (Away 1-75). The Fresno State win could slip to a Q2 by season's end. It is the NET rating at the end of the season that determines which quadrant the game falls into rather than the NET rating when the game is played.

I did not travel to Fresno for Nevada's game, so I did not get the tri-tip at Dog House Grill, but I did put in an order for leftovers and really hope my NSN teammates came through for me.

The only Western sites for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament this year are Salt Lake City and San Jose (also Tulsa, if you consider that West). The Anaheim site is for the Regional round (Sweet 16 and Elite 8). If Nevada is a top four seed in the tournament, I expect it to be in SLC or SJ.

TeamRankings.com puts it at a 1.8 percent chance. I'll bump it up to 2 percent for Wolf Pack fans.

Damn! Snails are putting the tooth fairy in the poor house!

I try not to brag, but I did walk into my son's preschool last month when a 4-year-old said, "I've seen you on TV!" So I'm pretty much a big deal in the preschool ranks. All jokes aside, it is pretty cool when your kids get excited to see you on a billboard. But beyond that, I love the NSN is investing into its product, which is something new for me. (We hired another person today, a producer who will work behind the scenes and should help us create a better website experience). I also love how the readers/viewers/sources have embraced NSN. I was able to access out analytics a couple of weeks ago and NevadaSportsNet.com is doing great numbers, better than the numbers at my previous job despite being a start-up. Thanks for your readership and for following me over to NSN. It's been a great start, and we have some great things in store for the future.

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