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Murray's Mailbag: Was Jalen Harris the best one-year wonder in Pack history?

Jalen Harris
Jalen Harris only logged one season at Nevada, but it was a great one. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

If you've ever doubted the power of Titanic, just know my 5-year-old son watched it for the first time over the weekend and was glued to the television, and he doesn't usually have the patience to sit through a regular-length movie, not to mention Titanic's 195-minute run time. But he was so concerned about Jack Dawson and Rose DeWitt Bukater he watched the whole thing to make sure they didn't drown (for some reason, he though Jack was Rose's dad, which makes the nude sketching scene a little weird). Anyway, Titantic remains a powerful movie 23 years after it debuted. I actually saw it twice in the theaters. I don't know why. For now, let's get to your questions for 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.)

Basically you're asking if Jalen Harris was the greatest one-year wonder in Nevada athletics history. Great question.

Nevada basketball has never had a one-and-done player, but it has had a number of one-year standouts. In addition to Harris, you have Kendall Stephens, who was a huge part of Nevada's 2018 Sweet 16 team and broke Jimmer Fredette's record for single-season made threes in Mountain West history; Romie Thomas, whose 26.1 points per game in 1970-71 remains a single-season Wolf Pack record, although he only shot 39.2 percent from the field that season (he attempted 24.4 shots a game); and Jordan Brown, whose numbers clearly don't match those of Harris, Stephens and Thomas, but he'll be remembered for only spending one season at Nevada, especially if he eventually becomes an NBA player.

For Nevada football, it starts with Horace Gillom, who began his career at Ohio State, served in the U.S. Army for three years in World War II and then joined Nevada, where he led the nation in scoring in 1946 before dropping out of school due to academics. Gillom played for the Browns for 10 years and won three NFL titles, three AAFC titles and was a Pro Bowl punter and offensive/defensive end. There's also Doug Betters, who transferred to Nevada in 1977 after playing for Montana for three years. Betters was an All-American for the Wolf Pack before a 10-year career with the Dolphins that included him being the 1983 NFL defensive player of the year.

In baseball, you're looking at Kevin Kouzmanoff, who transferred in from Arkansas-Little Rock and hit .361 with 17 homers in his lone season at Nevada in 2003 before spending seven seasons in the majors, hitting .257 with 87 homers. I should also mention Zak Basch, who is a Friend of the Program™ and transferred in after three years at Hofstra, where he played for Reggie Jackson (but not that Reggie Jackson). Basch posted a 2.27 ERA and had a single-season program-best nine saves before later being drafted by Theo Epstein and traded for by Billy Beane, two great baseball minds. Zak also has a cat named Boris.

The only other one-year wonders I could think of were Brandon Rock, an All-American and future Olympic sprinter who spent one season at Nevada before the track and field program folded; and softball pitcher Brooke Bolinger, who was 16-6 with a 2.81 ERA and 118 strikeouts in 161.2 innings as a freshman at Nevada before transferring to Texas, where she posted ERAs of 1.78, 2.20 and 2.34 en route to All-Big 12 honors.

The only coach who fits this category would be swimming and diving coach Neil Harper, who led the Wolf Pack to the only women's MW championship in school history in 2015 (with the help of Jian Li You's divers) before leaving for Arkansas.

This is a pretty good list. You're talking about two Pro Bowl football players in Gillom and Betters; three record-setting basketball players in Harris, Stephens and Thomas; an Olympic runner in Rock and a baseball player who spent almost a decade in the bigs in Kouzmanoff. If I had to pick one based on what they achieved in only that season at Nevada, I'm taking Harris or Gillom. We'll give the small edge to Gillom because of his pro career, which included six world championships and consideration as best punter in football history. But Harris has time to close the gap with a standout pro career.

It depends on Nevada's goal. Does the Wolf Pack want to try and be more competitive in 2020-21 or is it aiming to be as strong as possible in 2021-22? The answer to your question depends on the answer to my question. If Nevada wants to try and win more games in 2020-21, grabbing a graduate transfer and allowing more scholarship flexibility after next season would be the right path. But there aren't a lot of impact grad transfers on the market anymore, so grabbing one maybe moves you from 14 wins to 15 wins. The bigger advantage would be getting that scholarship back for the 2021 class. The second path would be grabbing a sit-out transfer like Utah's Both Gach, which would add no value to this year's roster but would beef up the outlook in 2021-22. The problem with that is it would leave Nevada with zero scholarships in the 2021 class, a class the Wolf Pack has been targeting high-level recruits. That lack of scholarship flexibility would be an issue. If I could get a sit-out transfer who was an All-MW player, I'd take him. Preferably, you'd like two good sit-out transfers a year, and Nevada only has one right now with Wichita State's Grant Sherfield. Short of getting an All-MW-caliber sit-out, I'd go the grad transfer route to keep a 2021 class scholarship spot open, especially considering Nevada only had two scholarships available in the 2022 class.

Getting Utah's Both Gach or Indiana's Justin Smith would be ideal, but it's highly unlikely. Smith would be more ideal since he's a graduate transfer. But both guys will have their pick of Power 5, Top 25-caliber schools. Nevada has reached out to both, but they are long shots to join the fold given the options they'll have. Might as well shoot for the stars. It's going to take a star to replace what Jalen Harris gave Nevada last season.

Coach Amanda Levens has a Zoom press conference Thursday to announce the remainder of Nevada's 2020 recruiting class, so I will write something up off that. But it's looking like a rebuilding year for both Wolf Pack basketball programs in 2020-21. Anything better than .500 for either team would be unexpected.

Marcelus Kemp. He never gets mentioned when discussing the Wolf Pack's all-time team, but he was a beast who was always great in the NCAA Tournament. If not for two torn ACLs, he probably would have had an NBA career. Those injuries robbed him of the athleticism required to play in the league, although he had a really good overseas career. Great shooter, underrated passer and play-maker, never shrunk in big moments and was a solid defender, too. He was an excellent individual player but also was on some of the greatest teams in program history.

If we're going a cut below that in terms of star level, I'd go with guys like Kendall Stephens (Nevada doesn't make a Sweet 16 without him), Jerry Evans Jr. (very versatile and has had a nice pro career), Dario Hunt (was always overshadowed by guys like Luke Babbitt, Armon Johnson, Deonte Burton and Olek Czyz), Mo Charlo (crazy long and maybe the best perimeter defender in school history) and Corey Jackson (set the culture for the four NCAA Tournament teams in the mid-2000s). None of these five will get into the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame, but they were outstanding and winning players.

Deonte Burton had so many great dunks, but his top three are below. The last dunk is the most difficult, but the first one is probably the best since he threw down on a 6-foot-9 all-conference player in the process.

Burton's career highlight, however, was his senior night, a 24-point, 11-assist, eight-rebound effort in a 76-72 win over rival UNLV after Nevada trailed by 17 points in the second half. Burton had a lot of thrilling dunks and game-winning shots in his career, but he never had a better night than that one.

D1Baseball.com has a good review of the massive proposed changes to college baseball, which includes starting the season March 18 rather than Feb. 14 like Nevada. That would push conference tournaments to June 22-26 (rather than May 23-26) and the College World Series to July 15-25, the thought being baseball would make more money (or rather lose less money since most programs operate at a sizable financial deficit) if the season started later when the whether was better. That'd make drawing fans easier. While this could help limit Nevada's travel and increase home games, my main issue is the time frame. Nevada's finals are over in early May, so players would be playing ball for an additional seven to eight weeks after school ends? They're basically employees at that stage, and any additional revenue made by moving the season back could be lost by having to house and feed players through late June or early July. This also would kill, or at least badly wound, summer leagues. The people who sketched out the plan know a lot more about college baseball than I do, but I'm not comfortable with a season going on two-plus months after the school year ends.

Less than a month ago, Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth said "cutting sports is not on the table" at Nevada. The Group of 5 did ask the NCAA for permission to go below the mandatory Division I minimum of sponsored sports for a few years, which led to speculation some schools will start dropping sports. The current minimum to be a Division I school are at least six men's sports, at least eight women's sports and at least 16 sports combined. Nevada is currently at six men's programs, nine women's program and 16 programs combined (since indoor and outdoor track count once each). So the Wolf Pack is at the minimum. It can't cut sports and stay at the D-I level unless the NCAA changes its minimum requirements, which it has denied doing to this point. Central Michigan cut its men's track and field program to fall below the D-I minimum (it only has five men's sports now). It will be interesting to see how Nevada navigates the financial future. It already was barely scraping by and now could be without ticket revenue (depending on whether football and basketball teams are allowed to field full crowds this year) and potentially state monies (which totals almost $6 million annually). But Knuth said cutting sports is not on the table, so we will take his word for it.

There's nothing to report at this stage. The schools that are part of the California State University system, at least SDSU and SJSU, have said they plan on moving forward with fall sports even as campuses might not be open, which goes against what NCAA president Mark Emmert and MW commissioner Craig Thompson said (both said campuses must be fully operational). California Gov. Gavin Newsom said pro sports could return in June with no fans, so I'm assuming the California teams will play in 2020 as the MW reverses course on "campuses must be open." Nevada is moving forward with a plan to open campus in July. My guess is football is played in the fall with limited or no fans, but that hinges on where we are on the COVID-19 curve as the country re-opens. At best, it looks like things have plateaued. The curve isn't really going down.

Nevada, UNLV and Louisiana all went 5-1 in the Big West that season, resulting in tri-champions (although Nevada technically went 6-1 in conference, although one of those games -- against Arkansas State -- was considered a non-conference game even though Arkansas State was in the Big West). Under the current MW tie-breaker rules, Louisiana would have won the championship because it was 1-0 against UNLV and Nevada. UNLV was 1-1 against those two teams. And Nevada was 0-1 with a loss to UNLV (it didn't play Louisiana).

So why was UNLV the only Big West team that went to a bowl that season? For starters, there were only 19 bowls as opposed to the 40 played last season, so not every team that is .500 or better got to play in the postseason. The Big West had four teams that fulfilled the modern-day benchmark to be bowl eligible in Nevada, Louisiana, UNLV and Pacific. But only UNLV went bowling. Why? I have no idea. I was 11 years old at the time. I will assume it is because UNLV beat Nevada, 32-27, in late November in the Red Defection Game to assume the role of Big West representative, although as outlined above, that title should have gone to Louisiana, which went 6-5 overall and 5-1 in the Big West, with that lone conference loss coming to 3-8 San Jose State.

UNLV beat Central Michigan, 52-24, in the Las Vegas Bowl, and that 1994 co-championship remains the only regular-season title in Rebels football history. UNLV went 7-5 that season, and the team was inducted into the UNLV Hall of Fame in 2010. Could you imagine Nevada putting a 7-5 football team into its Hall of Fame? I cannot.

Nevada's best golfers ever are Kirk Triplett and Michael Allen, so they'd take the spots as "golfers" in the field. With the quarterbacks, I'll go Colin Kaepernick and Chris Vargas. If Kap isn't available, and he most likely is not, I'd swap in Cody Fajardo for the fourth spot. I thoroughly enjoyed The Match with Tiger Woods/Peyton Manning vs. Phil Mickelson/Tom Brady. It was the best sports event of the pandemic, and it showed why we all love/hate golf. Brady was playing horribly and then holed out from 100-plus yards away. That's the shot that keeps everybody coming back.

Well, Nevada has twice been punished by the NCAA, so those two have to make the list. Those came in 1977 when Edgar Jones' high school transcripts were put under the NCAA's microscope (potentially on a tip from Dick Vitale), and also in 2010 based on major NCAA rules violations by men's and women's golf coach Rich Merritt, which included him paying a female student-athlete $25 to eat regurgitated food. For the final three, I'd include the Brandon Wimberly shooting and everything that surrounded that incident; the Tyrone Hanson Halloween episode that left three people dead and Hanson kicked off the team; and "What really happened to sabotage Nevada basketball's 2018-19 season?" Honorable mention to Nevada basketball player Ahyaro Phillips taking the gun of a teammate and confronting a group of Wolf Pack football players on campus with said gun. Very scandalous.

I guarantee you nobody slices their drive more than I do. I have to aim about 40 yards to the left of the fairway for the ball to land in the fairway (not an exaggeration). But my slice is consistent, so I hit fairway about 80 percent of the time. The problem there is you lose a good 30 to 40 yards off your drive given the spin on the ball. So I'm probably not the right person to answer this question. But I did do a story on the club pro at Old Greenwood a decade ago, and he tried to fix my slice. In short, if you slice, your club face is open upon contact with the ball. You need to (a) change your grip to a strong position (meaning rotate your hands clockhand on the club); (b) take the club back with the face pointing toward the ground further away from your body; and (c) turn the club face on the downswing so it is flush when you hit the ball. That last one is the hardest part. And since I golf maybe three or four times a year with zero range time, I didn't want to put in the work to fix my slice since it is consistent enough I am able to hit the fairway so often. But here is a good video explaining the three items above.

It was very productive. Tons of quartz up there just sitting on the mountain, and you could dig for more treasures if you really wanted to. Perhaps I will sub in for Alex Margulies on this week's Exploring Our Backyard feature with a full write-up of The Crystal Mine. In terms of the hike rankings, you can literally drive to the mountain, so there isn't much hiking involved except. My top-three Reno/Tahoe hikes are: (1) The Flume Trail; (2) Mt. Rose; and (3) Marlette Lake Trail.

So here's the houseboat, which is more than 3,300 square feet and is listed at $2.6 million after being put on the market for the first time in 36 years. It includes a home gym, a hot tub, a pool table, a spacious deck and some nice finishings. But one commenter on the story hit the nail on the head by writing, "The best days of boat ownership are the day you buy it and the day you sell it; preferably as close together as possible, if one cannot manage to avoid the former." I've never owned a boat, but I'd rather live in a $2.6 million house on the shores of Lake Tahoe than on a boat docked in the Bay Area. Cool name (Wolf Pack Island), but I will pass on houseboat living. Houseboats are fun for a week, though.

I haven't seen a single second of the documentary, so it's hard for me to comment on it. Also, I'm not a doctor, so I don't know if his doping could have contributed to his cancer. I have little sympathy for a guy who called those telling the truth (namely Emma O'Reilly) a "whore" and an "alcoholic." Armstrong was a bad dude who the media enabled, largely because he had a "cancer shield," and now he's getting to craft his story with this documentary, which Tyler Hamilton is casting doubts on by saying it is full of "half-truths." Every person has good and bad, and Armstrong did a lot of good raising money for cancer and giving hope to people with cancer. But, deep down, he was an arrogant jerk who used his power to bury people less famous than him, and that was true even when I did my thesis before he admitted to doping. It didn't take a genius to know he was doping. The whole sport was dirty, so how is he crushing everybody while being clean? Armstrong, to me, is one of the best cyclists ever. He also was one of the biggest frauds ever. At least he leveraged his fame into some good. But I'd be fine never hearing from him again.

1. Blueberry

2. Jalapeno cheese

3. Plain

4. Everything

5. Sesame

But it depends on whether you're simply eating them with cream cheese or eating them as part of a breakfast sandwich, at which point jalapeno cheese is first. But you're right about bagels being pre-sliced. It should be the law.

I didn't do much clubbing in my day, so I have limited knowledge here, but the rise and fall of the Freight House District as a party spot is fascinating. It went downhill after the Brandon Wimberly situation, but I spent many a night there after covering Aces games when the park first opened.

Both the National Bowling Center and Reno Events Center were funded by hotel room tax increases, so you could certainly make the case it was Boondogglish. Greater Nevada Field was built with funding from a rental car tax surcharge in Washoe County. We're all too willing to pass taxes for toys, although you could make the case the National Bowling Center and Reno Events Center brought in more revenue than it cost the taxpayer. I haven't done any research on that topic, so I'm not sure where the numbers lie there.

I've never been in the bowling stadium, so I didn't know it lacked an ice cream shop, but I did like banana splits. Given how infrequently the Reno Events Center is used, you could turn that into a football practice facility, although the Wolf Pack wouldn't want to pay the freight to make that happen, and it's off campus. The main reason these practice facilities exist is for recruiting. No recruit is going to be wowed by an off-campus facility that's 15 years old and is largely used for concerts.

I'm going to call @FakeCoachMumme's bluff on this one because I think it is impossible to have "Participated in the Running of the Wolves" since the event started in the 2010s and is only for students and "Attended the Weber State Comeback in 1991." There are 25 spots on that card, and I hit 18. I didn't get:

* Recited the Law of the Jungle (sure as hell ain't doing that)

* Participated in the Running of the Wolves

* Attended the Weber State Comeback in 1991

* Seen a Game in All Three of Coach Ault's Tenures

* Rushed the Field During Blue Friday (I rushed the media room after the game)

* Attended 2005 Win Over Fresno State (I was working on the desk at the RGJ)

* Attended Either of the Snow Bowls

But if @FakeCoachMumme wants a story on his real identity, he can DM me and I can write one. There's not much else going on right now. So hit me up @FakeCoachMumme. See y'all next week!

Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. He writes a weekly Monday Mailbag despite it giving him a headache and taking several hours to finish. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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