A lot happened during the week I was in Hawaii, so let's take a look at each of the events with my quick take on each of them.
Nevada Wolf Pack
I'll have more on this in the Monday Mailbag since I got a lot of questions on it, but in the end, Steve Alford retained three of the top five players he inherited at Nevada (by my early estimation). He kept No. 1 (Jalen Harris), No. 3 (Eric Parrish) and No. 4 (Lindsey Drew), but lost No. 2 (Jordan Brown) and No. 5 (Shamiel Stevenson). I said he would be a wizard if he was able to retain all of my top five and should take retaining four of those five. Instead, he got three. It's a shame Brown was not among those three as he had the most potential of the top five and also played the most important position given Nevada's lack of depth in the frontcourt. Brown's loss basically puts Nevada's talent level on par with the 2015-16 team, Eric Musselman's first at Nevada, which won the CBI. With the loss of Brown, this feels like a CBI/NIT-caliber team rather than an NCAA Tournament-caliber team. Let's quickly compare the two rosters:
2015-16 Nevada: Lindsey Drew, Cameron Oliver, D.J. Fenner, Marqueze Coleman, Elijah Foster, Tyron Criswell, Eric Cooper, AJ West, Lucas Stivrins, Kaileb Rodriguez
2019-20 Nevada: Lindsey Drew, Jalen Harris, Eric Parrish, Jazz Johnson, K.J. Hymes, Nisré Zouzoua, Kane Milling, Zane Meeks
I'd take that 2015-16 roster over the 2019-20 one, but this year's roster is more veteran and has a winning culture in place, which is helpful. That 2015-16 team went 18-12 in the regular season and 10-8 in the MW. I could see a similar situation this season. That team did end the year 24-14 thanks to its CBI run, but a 20-win season will be a good mark for the team to aim for this season.
This also leaves Arizona with one scholarship over the limit, a situation Nevada faced last season when it was two over the limit and said goodbye to Josh Hall and Ehab Amin. I hate when teams do this, as you're essentially cutting a player late in the process. Nevada's situation was a little different as it had the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline return to school late after withdrawing from the NBA draft, but it's one of the more dislikable things about college basketball.
We predicted the Wolf Pack would have a couple of players selected in the MLB draft, but Grant Ford went quite a bit higher than I anticipated (the Pirates took him in the fifth round with the 154th overall pick). ESPN might have even been out of the loop on Ford as he wasn't mentioned in Keith Law's review of the Pirates' class, which included breakdowns on the team's No. 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 picks. But Ford had a huge junior season, posting a 2.76 ERA with five saves and a .195 BAA with 51 strikeouts in 45.2 innings after struggling in his first two years at Nevada. Ford has excellent stuff, so it's easy to see what the Pirates liked about him. Ford is the ninth-highest draft pick in Nevada baseball history behind Braden Shipley (15th), Darrell Ranser (46th), Chris Singleton (48th), Rob Richie (53rd), Chad Qualls (67th), Brett Hayes (79th), Rob Richie (85th, he was drafted twice) and Matt Wells (132th). Ford's draft slot was valued at $343,400, so I don't see any way he comes back to school.
Ryan Anderson also went in the 12th round to the Yankees, his favorite team growing up, and seems bounds for the minors despite being a junior. Jalyon McLaughlin went quite a bit later than I thought, being selected in the 37th round by the Cubs. He already said he's returning to school.
So, Nevada lost its Friday starter and closer, which are some big blows, but retains the rest of its roster, which is a decent outcome.
The Mountain West announced its basketball schedules and Nevada drew Utah State and Fresno State once each, and while I see some fans are upset the Wolf Pack won't host the Aggies, this was a very favorable draw for Nevada. The Wolf Pack has only one game with the preseason favorite (Utah State) and only one against another preseason top-five team (Fresno State). The MW did Nevada a favor with this schedule, and also disproved how I believe the schedule had been done. The MW has said it uses a random scheduler to pair the basketball matchups, but I always figured it matched up the top projected teams in the conference once each with the lesser teams in the conference so it had a relatively uniform strength of schedules for the top contenders. This year's draw shows that wasn't the case as Nevada got a softer schedule, although not playing Utah State at home does kind of suck. Dates to circle:
Jan 22: Nevada hosts rival UNLV
Feb. 19: Nevada plays at the Pit, a return to Albuquerque for Steve Alford and Craig Neal
The Nevada sophomore track and field star was the first Wolf Pack athlete to take part in three events at the NCAA championships, and she won second-team All-American honors in all three. That's added to her second-team All-American honor from the indoor season, giving her four All-American honors in one season. According to Nevada's list of All-Americans, the Wolf Pack has never had an athlete win more than two All-American honors in any sport in one Division I season, so Ader's year was unprecedented (it did have a couple of three-time All-Americans in one season in swimming during the AIAW years). A round of applause for the German native who has two years of eligibility to improve upon her already historic career at Nevada.
Aces homer four times in 9th, win 12-11 on walk-off blast
The Reno Aces aren't having the best season, sitting at 28-36, last place in the PCL's Pacific Northern, but it has had some crazy games this season. The latest came last week when Reno trailed 11-7 heading into the bottom of the ninth against Nashville before Abraham Almonte hit a solo homer. Yasmany Tomas hit a two-run bomb, Wyatt Mathisen tied the game with a solo shot and Matt Szczur hit a walk-off solo homer to win it. That was the Aces' fourth last-AB win of the year. Add that to this list of incredible games for Reno this season:
* The Aces had one game in which a player hit four homers (Yasmany Tomas) and another hit for a cycle (Matt Szczur), something that has happened only once in MLB history (in 1923 by the Yankees).
* The Aces had another game with two players each hitting three homers (Cron, Locastro), something that last happened in the big leagues in 2001 (by the Brewers).
* The Aces scored 25 runs in a game earlier this month, tying the PCL record with 10 homers (set in 1974) in that contest. It had 15 homers over a two-game span, breaking the previous PCL mark of 13.
* And it rallied from a 13-5 ninth-inning deficit to score a 14-13 win (the team trailed by 10 runs at one point). Since 1957, MLB teams are 0-1,945 in games in which it trailed by eight-plus runs heading into the ninth inning.
Aces victorious in front of sold out Greater Nevada Field
I had to double-take this headline since Greater Nevada Field does not sell out very often and the couple of games I've been to this season has seen tiny attendance numbers. Alas, it was Star Wars Night, so 7,454 fans were in attendance, which marked the 54th sellout in Greater Nevada Field history. Greater Nevada Field has a listed capacity of 9,013, so I'm not sure how 7,454 is a sellout, but it was a good crowd thanks to Star Wars. I don't completely get the Star Wars fascination, but good marketing job by the Aces. May the force be with you.