This thing is more than 6,300 words long, so let's just get straight to the questions for this week's Murray's Monday 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).
I got a deluge of questions about the NCAA Tournament selection committee making Nevada a four seed in its first bracket reveal over the weekend, so I'll just use this tweet above as a springboard to address that topic.
Lots of Wolf Pack fans were upset about Nevada getting "just a four seed" considering it was No. 6 in the nation at the time of the reveal. I asked Nevada coach Eric Musselman, who was on that selection show, about that seeding after Saturday's win over New Mexico.
"I think a couple things," Musselman said. "No. 1 with the show today, what incredible exposure for the university. Incredible. To be on that show and the exposure, they talked about us as much as any team for whatever reason. We're just happy to be a part of that 16. Anybody who says differently, those are some really big names in there. But like I said during the telecast, there are five weeks to play basketball. We have such a hard schedule coming up. We have so many hard venues to go play in. With the media, the fans, my wife, my daughter, nobody understands how hard it is to win a game. I've said over and over, you walk out there every night and it's a 50 percent chance. We have a lot of games to play and our goal is, 'How do we win the Mountain West regular season? That was our goal at the beginning of the year and then we readjust after that. We're playing really good basketball right now."
I also asked Cody Martin, who said he didn't watch the show.
"I don't really watch TV," Martin said. "I don't really pay attention to what's going on and all that other stuff. I do the same stuff every day. I come to practice, I practice, I go home, chill, come back to the gym and do the same thing all over again. I don't really pay attention to that stuff. I know we're going to have to compete at a high level, and I think we'll have to win games at a high level to prove ourselves, but at the end of the day we have to prove it to ourselves. That's the stuff we want to do anyway. We don't want to just get by. I'm trying to play hard, I'm trying to have fun, it's my last year. It's hard to win no matter what, no matter home or way, no matter what team. This conference is really, really underrated and this conference is really good and we'll have to bring our 'A' game every time we play."
So, we haven't gotten too much meat yet on whether Nevada was pleased or disappointed with its four seed. Then I asked Caleb Martin about the seeding, and Caleb is always straight-forward.
"I didn't see that until it was on Twitter or something like that," Martin said. "I don't really care. As long as I've been here, we've always been the team that had to prove ourselves. It doesn't matter how we're doing. It doesn't matter how far you go last year. It doesn't matter what you're ranked. All people see is, 'You're not in the ACC, you're not in the Big 10' or whatever. Guys are always going to figure out a way not to put respect on your name and always figure out a way and find excuses on why we shouldn't be as high as we should be or maybe we should be lower or shouldn't be ranked this. I don't really care. We're just trying to play and win the conference to be honest with you. And then, just like last year, when we get to the tournament we'll figure it out then and do what we need to do."
So, not very pleased. Martin did admit when he played in the ACC he looked down on mid-major teams given their strength of schedule. But back to the No. 4 seed. Honestly, I don't think Nevada was thrilled. The Wolf Pack is 23-1, after all, and has been ranked in the top 10 the entire season. It went to the Sweet 16 with the same core pieces last year. That being said, Nevada has zero Quad 1 wins (it's the only team in the top 130 of the NET rankings that hasn't played a Quad 1 game, which is insane). And it's hard to get a top seed without playing top competition, although Nevada did attempt to schedule up this offseason (more on that below).
Beyond the lack of Quad 1 wins, Nevada has the worst loss of any Top 25 team, a 27-point defeat at New Mexico, which is 176 in the NET rankings (that's a Quad 3 game). Furthermore, Nevada is the only Top 25 team with a NET strength of schedule above 100. And the Wolf Pack's average NET win of 146 (that means the teams Nevada has beaten ranks, on average, 146th in NET) ranks fifth worst among Top 25 teams ahead of only Texas Tech (148), Gonzaga (150), Buffalo (167) and Virginia Tech (168). So, a lack of quality wins, a lack of average win strength and a really bad loss means Nevada is a four seed right now.
Unlike the AP Top 25, where teams are largely ranked on eye test and gut feel, the NCAA Tournament bracket is set based on résumé, and the Wolf Pack's résumé is thin, in large part because its opponents this season have underachieved. I think the four seed is fair. A three seed also would have been fair. But I also think, based on eye test, Nevada is one of the top 10 teams in the nation and a Final Four contender. Those things don't have to be mutually exclusive. Nevada is an elite team that lacks an elite résumé. It was stupid for the committee to put Nevada in the South Region, though. There are two good teams in the West this season: Gonzaga and Nevada. They both need to be in the West Region. And I think they both will be in the West. The committee probably wants to move things around every week so there's movement and there's newsworthiness from their show so things don't get stale. I expect Nevada to be in the West when all is said and done.
Big 10: Michigan
Big 12: Kansas
Big East: Marquette
You might notice I just picked the best team in each conference. Those are usually the toughest matchups.
I've been saying this on NSN Daily for a couple of weeks. There's minimal difference between being a two seed, a three seed or a four seed. Those teams are all playing each other in the Regional round anyhow. Yes, you'd prefer to be a three over a four so you don't have to play a one seed in the Sweet 16 round. But the first two rounds, whether you're a two, three or a four, aren't that much difference and then those seeds (if they make it) are all facing each other on the second weekend. For me, location (the West Region) is much more important than whether Nevada is a two, three or four seed. The Wolf Pack wants the San Jose-Anaheim turn to have as much support inside the building as possible.
I don't see Nevada getting a two seed if it loses again this year. It'd probably be a three or worse. But it does depend on what other teams do.
One loss = Two/three seed
Two losses = Three/four seed
Three losses = Five/six seed
Here is how Nevada's non-conference schedule this season breaks down.
* 0-0 in Quad 1 games
* 6-0 in Quad 2 games
* 3-0 in Quad 3 games
* 4-0 in Quad 4 games
That's OK, but obviously the lack of a Quad 1 game is a big issue. Here is how this year's exact same non-conference schedule would break down if we used last year's RPI rankings for each of the Wolf Pack's opponents (this is the first year of NET, so we'll use RPI, which was the previous metric used for ranking games in Quads).
* 3-0 in Quad 1 games
* 4-0 in Quad 2 games
* 1-0 in Quad 3 games
* 5-0 in Quad 4 games
So, yes, if Nevada thought each of its opponents were going to be exactly as good as last year, it could have expected three Quad 1 non-conference games. The games at USC, at Loyola Chicago and at Utah would have been Quad 1 games using last year's RPI. But everybody knew Loyola Chicago would be a lot worse and Utah lost a ton of talent and was was picked to finish eighth in the preseason Pac-12 poll. You had to expect those two games would not be Quad 1 games. USC has been a disappointment. That should have been a Quad 1 game. But everything else has more or less played out how you would have expected going into the season. USC, Arizona State and Utah were ranked 5th, 6th and 8th in the preseason conference poll, so the Pac-12 didn't expect these to be great teams.
Nevada has gotten some bad luck from its non-conference schedule, but the Wolf Pack also played two fewer true road games in non-league, which thinned its chances at Quad 1/2 games. The Mountain West being horrible also hasn't helped the cause. Nevada got two Quad 1 games out of its conference schedule last season. It might get one this year. But Nevada going from playing five Quad 1 games in 2017-18 to zero (as of today) has been a limiting reagent in its potential seeding come Selection Sunday.
Nevada has seven games it has already won that could potentially move into the Quad 1 category.
* Utah State is 39 in NET and needs to move into the top 30
* Fresno State is 76 in NET and needs to move into the top 75
* Utah is 94 in NET and needs to move into the top 75
* USC is 95 in NET and needs to move into the top 75
Neutral site games
* Arizona State is 72 in NET and needs to move into the top 50
* Tulsa is 81 in NET and needs to move into the top 50
* Grand Canyon is 85 in NET and needs to move into the top 50
Most likely, only Fresno State will turn into a Quad 1 game. Also, Nevada's game at Utah State later this season will be a Quad 1 game. Nevada is most likely looking at two Quad 1 games by season's end, but with some luck that number could rise.
No. Utah State is 39th in the NET rankings and needs to be in the top 50 at the end of the season for the game at Logan to be a Quad 1 game. Barring a collapse by the Aggies, that shouldn't be an issue.
Find a coach who cares more about quality of life than money and the spotlight. Gonzaga's Mark Few is almost literally the only college basketball coach to pick the former over the latter. But Few also was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and spent 10 seasons as a Gonzaga assistant before becoming the team's head coach. It's his home, so he was more prone to making it his destination job rather than a steppingstone. Few makes fewer than $2 million per season, which ranks directly below Minnesota's Richard Pitino and Oregon State's Wayne Tinkle in this database. Those are average coaches making more than Few does. Few people (a pun!) will take that kind of cut below their market value (he'd make $4 million-plus a year on the open market). You just need a special person who cares more about where he lives and what he means to the community than money and the potential at a Power 5 program offers. They're exceptionally rare. Few might be the only one.
My advice to coaches who think bigger is better comes from the John Butler Trio song Better Than.
So why, oh why
Do I look to the other side
'Cause I know the grass is greener but
Just as hard to mow
And a Fun Fact on Mark Few: It took him 16 seasons at Gonzaga to get past the Sweet 16. Musselman might do that at Nevada in his third season. Shows how hard it is to get the Elite Eight.
Who says teams don't get punished for playing Quad 4 games out of conference? That's taken into the equation when ranking and seeding teams. Plus, Nevada's eight Quad 4 games are tied for the second most of any Top 25 team (only Gonzaga, with 10, has more). Half of those Quad 4 games for Nevada are in conference, and you can't change that, but penalizing for Quad 4 games would hurt Nevada more than help it.
That said, Quad 1 games are given more reward than Quad 4 games are given punishment because teams historically have been measured on whether they can beat the best teams in the nation. Those are Quad 1 games. You usually need some wins (or at least games) over NCAA Tournament at-large teams to get an at-large berth into the tournament. Nevada had three of those last season with a win over Rhode Island and close losses to TCU and Texas Tech. Nevada has zero such games this season, unless Arizona State sneaks in. Nevada has not proven it can beat NCAA Tournament-caliber teams this season. We just haven't seen it. I believe Nevada is legitimately one of the 10 best teams, but the Wolf Pack hasn't actually beaten a NCAA Tournament team to prove that, so if some are skeptical, that's OK. That's why they play the NCAA Tournament. Nevada will get its chance to prove itself.
I'm not sure this is actually true. In 2017, Wichita State was 31-4 overall and 17-1 in conference when it was ranked No. 19 in the nation on Selection Sunday and was given a 10th seed. In 2004, Utah State was 25-3 and ranked 22nd in the nation and didn't even make it in the NCAA Tournament field. In 2014, SMU was in the Top 25 on Selection Sunday and didn't make the field, either. The AP Top 25 isn't super predictive of the NCAA Tournament seed given to teams. And like I wrote about, AP poll is more based on eye test than results. Seeds are more based on results than eye test.
I'll say "Yes." I just don't see any Mountain West team being good enough to beat Nevada at its current level of play. ESPN's BPI gives and Team Rankings both project Nevada to lose 1.8 games at the end of the regular season. So they both lean toward the Wolf Pack losing one more game. But I think Nevada enters the NCAA Tournament at 33-1.
Nevada has to make its 3-pointers. Gonzaga ranks first in KenPom offensive efficiency. Duke ranks second in KenPom offensive efficiency. I don't think you're beating those teams by holding them in the low 70s. You have to get to 80 points, so you have to hit your threes. Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura (20.2 ppg, 60 FG%) and Duke's Zion Williamson (21.8 ppg, 68.4 FG%) are probably the two most difficult players in the nation to guard. I imagine Tre'Shawn Thurman would draw the assignment against both, and given the talent on the rest of the roster, double-teaming them wouldn't be easy. So they'd need a great defensive game from Thurman to hold those guys below their averages.
The only four Wolf Pack seniors with a chance at the NBA are Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Jordan Caroline and Trey Porter. I've been trying to talk to as many scouts as possible to get intel on those guys. Here's the consensus (more or less).
* Caleb Martin: The most likely Wolf Pack player to get drafted. Most believe he will get drafted, with some saying he has a chance at the first round if he plays well in the NCAA Tournament against elite competition. Given Nevada's schedule, scouts haven't seen him play elite competition much this year. But if he plays well in the tournament, I wouldn't be shocked to see him move into the first round (I mean, Boise State's Chandler Hutchison was somehow drafted in the first round last year, and I like Martin more than him). Martin is looked at as a good bench scorer.
* Cody Martin: Scouts like his game but are tying to figure out what he is exceptional at. He does everything at an NBA level except for shoot the 3-point shot, but what's the standout skill? That's the big question with Martin. His versatility is intriguing and his size for a point guard is excellent. He's in play in the second round but more likely will have to take the undrafted path onto an NBA roster. He's multi-skilled enough to make a roster and find a niche in the league, but like all undrafted players he'll need some good fortune.
* Jordan Caroline: He's definitely raised his stock this season, largely because he's hitting 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers (his career high at Nevada prior to the year was 33.7 percent from three). He has the body and physicality to play in the league. He's an excellent rebounder, and rebounding translates the best from college to the NBA. He's shown he can play on the wing this season. Can he be a Paul Millsap lite? Many believe he can, although I'd guess he goes undrafted (teams like to draft Euro stashes in the second round) as teams look to sign him to a two-way deal and start him in the G League.
* Trey Porter: He's going to have to start in the G League for sure. He has the size and athleticism to play modern pro ball. Odds are he doesn't reach the NBA, but never count out an athletic 7-footer (technically he's 6-11).
Tre'Shawn Thurman and Corey Henson are more likely overseas players.
It plays a significant part. When you think of great basketball twins over the last 20 years, you have the Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus), the Lopez twins (Brook and Robin), the Graham twins (Joey and Stephen) and the Collins twins (Jason and Jarron). It's rare to have players this good who look the same, so it has certainly raised their profile. Cody Martin is pretty similar to Ramon Sessions, but Sessions never got this kind of buzz. Caleb Martin is pretty similar to Marcelus Kemp, but Kemp never got this kind of buzz. The NCAA, CBS and Turner Sports have all flown crews out to Reno to do stories on the twins, and if they weren't twins and just good basketball players that wouldn't be the case.
It also helps that both were top-100 prospects in high school who played at the famed Oak Hill Academy. So much of a basketball player's reputation these days is cemented in high school (it happens more in basketball than any other sport). It also helps that the twins are smart, articulate, charismatic, good-looking (at least this is what the ladies tell me) and media-friendly with an amazing backstory. Throw in the fact they're excellent players who have transformed a mid-major program into one of the top-10 teams in the nation and that's why they're getting so much buzz. If they couldn't play nobody would care about them. But they can play and the twin angle is a big deal and helps elevate their profile over a guy like Jordan Caroline, who is equally as good but has to settle for not having a mirror image on the same court (although his bloodlines -- son of NFL All-Pro Simeon Rice and grandson of College Football Hall of Famer J.C. Caroline -- does add to his national allure).
The Internet tells me about 800 calories per game, but we should use your Fitbit just to double-check.
Those Martin twins are intense, and they were especially so in the revenge win over New Mexico. Cody Martin might be the best teammate in Wolf Pack history. That's a guy you'd love to play with.
Cody Martin if he wanted to coach, although I have no idea if he wants to coach. Lindsey Drew has it in his blood, too, with his dad the head coach of three NBA teams. But it's a mild surprise Nevada has never had an alum become a Division I head coach. You figure that would have happened at some point.
Too much research required. Skip.
(But, for real, I can't imagine another college team has had eight 1,000-point scorers on the same roster. Nevada's transfer formula certainly helps that, but the Wolf Pack has nine healthy and eligible scholarship players this season and eight will be 1,000-point scorers. That's unheard of).
The Wolf Pack announces a "sellout" whenever only single tickets remain (meaning there aren't any two seats next to each other). So while Nevada calls those "sellouts," there are seats remaining for purchase. That helps explain why some games have had announced attendances of 11,200 and been called "sellouts" when Lawlor officially holds 11,536. For example, I checked the Wolf Pack's website last week prior to the New Mexico game and you could buy tickets for that game even though it had been announced as a sellout weeks prior. To my knowledge, Nevada is announcing tickets distributed in all sports. It does so in football and women's basketball, so I can't imagine men's basketball would be any difference. There's also a theory that Lawlor Events Center doesn't actual hold its listed capacity of 11,536. The seats haven't been counted in a long time. Finally, if all the student tickets aren't used, you could see a number below the capacity. All and all, it's a little odd to see a "sellout" listed below capacity, but the bottom line is Lawlor has more or less been full every game this season, which is good news for Nevada.
It's exceptionally rare to be invited to the NFL combine if you're not invited to at least one of the all-star scouting showcases (the Senior Bowl, the East-West Shrine Game or the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl). For Nevada, only Malik Reed was invited to one of those bowls, and it was the least prestigious of the three (the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl). So I wasn't shocked no Wolf Pack alums make the combine cut this season, although I thought Reed had a chance. He's been exceptionally productive in his career, and as a player moving positions in the NFL (he played all of his career at defensive end before moving to linebacker last season), you'd think NFL personnel would like to see him in a combine setting to see how he might translate athletically to a relatively new position. I would have invited Reed if I were running the combine, but combine officials take feedback from NFL teams on who they want to see and that's how players are picked. Reed just didn't make the cut.
It was odd to see Fernley High offensive lineman Tyler Roemer invited to the combine given the fact he was kicked off San Diego State late in the season. But the NFL isn't looking for choir boys, which Reed is (he's a great, hard-working guy). The good news for Reed is he'll have the Wolf Pack pro day to showcase his skills, and there should be plenty of scouts in attendance in Reno to see him and Asauni Rufus, Dameon Baber, Ty Gangi, Korey Rush, Wes Farnsworth, etc. Bummer that Reed didn't get a bigger spotlight at the combine, though. Nevada's relative lack of winning during his tenure didn't help. The Wolf Pack was sending three-five players to the combine a year for a stretch during the Colin Kaepernick years. When you have an elite prospect, everybody on the team benefits.
As long as he passes the background checks with whatever happened at SDSU that required him being kicked off the team, odds are he'll get drafted. Roughly two-thirds of players at the NFL combine get drafted, so that's good news for Roemer. He certainly has the size to play in the NFL. He's a good run blocker. The big question is his mobility and proficiency in pass protection. If he checks that box, he'll get drafted.
(And, on average, a couple dozen players per year who aren't invited to the NFL Combine get drafted, so those Wolf Pack alums have a shot, too).
It's certainly not a great sign to lose three returning high-level starters like Nevada has done this offseason (assuming Gabe Sewell does in fact transfer). That'd mean WR McLane Mannix, LB Gabe Sewell and DB Nephi Sewell, who each started since their freshmen seasons, would have transferred out of Nevada. I understand the Wolf Pack staff's belief that they are being penalized by finding hidden gems and developing those talents before being treating as a farm system for the Power 5. But Boise State, Fresno State, Utah State, etc. are doing the same and didn't have three returning starters leave in the offseason. Nevada should do a deep dive on the issue and see if it can change anything rather than simply shrug it off as pure poaching, although I'm sure there's a lot of that going on, too. I wouldn't be concerned with the lower end of Nevada's roster having transfers. That happens everywhere. But losing three keys starters in an offseason is pretty rare and a bit concerning.
It's a different bus every game. The driver just puts a Nevada basketball decal on the bus for branding purposes (here's the sticker). The driver, however, is almost always the same. I've efforted doing a feature on him. I guess he just likes driving the Wolf Pack and will fly to the location of their game.
That stuff is hard to retrieve. In previous years, when Nevada would release streamers after home wins, the Wolf Pack staff had to blow up balloons, tie a long string to it, put two-sided tape on the balloon and try and have them catch the stuck streamers to get them off the rafters. That's time consuming, and you could argue a waste of time, so they stopped doing the streamers. I would have suggested putting double-sided tape on those bats in Lawlor and had them fly around to catch the streamers.
Does Jordan Caroline actually come out during games? The guy was sick last Monday and Musselman vetoed him from practicing. And on Wednesday he played 40 full minutes against Colorado State and scored 40 points. I didn't realize he actually came off the court during games. (Fun Fact: Caroline is averaging 35.5 minutes per game, which is the highest since Deonte Burton averaged 38.6 minutes per game in 2013-14. Caroline's 1,289 minutes played last season are a Wolf Pack record. He's on pace to break that record this season). But to answer your question, Caroline probably knows he's not staying out of the game for more than a minute, so he might as well stay as close to the check-in table as possible.
I'm assuming you mean in basketball only. If that's the case, Nevada has played (in alphabetical order and with overall record): Alaska (3-2), California (11-26), Colorado (2-2), Connecticut (0-1), Georgia (2-0), Hawaii (21-12), Idaho (37-26), Illinois (0-1), Indiana (0-1), Iowa (0-3), Kansas (2-4), Maine (1-0), Missouri (0-1), Montana (19-22), Nebraska (1-3), New Mexico (6-7), North Carolina (0-5), North Dakota (1-1), Oregon (1-6), Rhode Island (1-1), South Carolina (0-1), Texas (1-1), Utah (1-10), Vermont (4-0), Washington (4-4), Wisconsin (0-3) and Wyoming (6-14). So that's 27 states, which leaves 22 more to go since Nevada can't play itself.
Five (out of just nine teams) in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. That was Nevada's first year in the Mountain West. Nevada's strength of schedule that season was 5.35, the second highest in school history behind only the 2003-04 year. Nevada's strength of schedule this season ranks as the 10th highest in school history since the Wolf Pack joined the Division I level.
So Nevada's current team against: PG Justin James, SF Braxton Huggins, SG Sam Merrill, PF Jalen McDaniels and C Nico Carvacho, with Deshon Taylor, Devin Watson, Justinian Jessup and Neemias Queta off the bench for coach Leon Rice? I'd take the Mountain West All-Stars by 6.5 points on a neutral site.
I don't think the Wolf Pack ever made the New Mexico game a blackout. I think that was a social media push that was too little, too late. You have to publicize those things pretty early for them to be successful.
A statement directly from the Wolf Pack!
"As I’m sure people have noticed, there’s a lot we do differently from a digital perspective this year. Our video department transformed into a wider digital department over the summer with a bigger emphasis on graphics, social, etc. One of the moves we made was focusing more on the sport accounts. So, all the GIFs and highlights you used to see from WPTV are still there, they’re just now coming from the football account, women’s basketball account, men’s basketball account, volleyball account, etc. We also killed off the Gameday account for this year. So rather than having three different places to go for gameday content, it’s all just centered into one place. So, then we needed to do something with the WPTV account. We have a lot of funny people here that have a lot of funny (and dumb) ideas, so we created a place for those funny (and dumb) ideas, inspired by MLB’s Cut4 or the NFL’s Checkdown accounts."
I don't know what a stock ETF is. I am illiterate when it comes to financial markets.
Per Nevada's website, in regard to obtaining NCAA Tournament tickets through the athletic department:
Please note that tickets to the Salt Lake City and San Jose sites will be in high demand. You will most likely need to be in our top 50 donor list to qualify for tickets to these host sites. You will be limited to 4 tickets for these two sites.
So, yes, Nevada gets about 200 tickets to sale to fans for the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, so you'd have to be top 50 in points to buy those. If you're not, you can still get tickets from other sources.
The secondary market is the best place to get tickets. SeatGeek. StubHub. VividSeats. Etc.
0.69 percent. (Nice)
Didn't watch it. I also didn't watch the NFL this season outside of the conference title games and the Super Bowl. I have more than enough football in my life.
Next year's depth chart.
PG: Lindsey Drew/Jazz Johnson/JoJo Anderson
SG: Jalen Harris/Nisré Zouzoua
SF: Eric Parrish/Jalen Townsell
PF: Shamiel Stevenson (eligible in December)
C: Jordan Brown/K.J. Hymes
Redshirting: Mike Lewis II
Plus four scholarships to use this offseason. I do expect Nevada to add a lot more firepower before that depth chart is settled. But it's the Mountain West favorite even if it doesn't add anything.
Nevada will have to sort plenty of things out after losing its entire starting lineup and six players in its nine-man rotation. That being said, I think Nevada will still win 20-plus games and challenge for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth. Losing the Martins and Caroline is huge, but there's still talent here and if Musselman is leading the group, they're going to be good. And I think it will be fun to watch a team with so many uncertainties who are learning on the fly. It'd be a lot like Musselman's first season in that regard, although the 2019-20 team would have more talent top to bottom.
I'm going to post an FAQ for the South Reno Ice project later this week (it's already written up). But when that project gets done (50 percent of the money is fund-raised to break ground), that would give a potential minor-league team a place to practice on a daily basis. Somebody would still have to come up with the $4 million-$8 million required to make Reno Events Center "hockey ready." I don't think getting a team would be that big of a hurdle (even one affiliated with the Knights) if the so-called practice facility was built and the renovation at REC were done. But those are the first two steps. So, yes, it's still probably unlikely Reno gets a minor-league hockey team in the next five years, but if the South Reno Ice project gets done, those odds go up as one box becomes checked.
Kyree Walker in a Wolf Pack uniform, although I hope both happen. Bryce Harper would cost at least $35 million a year. At that rate, the Giants would have $174 million wrapped up through the 2020 season in the 10-player core of Harper, Buster Posey, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Mark Melancon, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Derek Holland and Tony Watson. That's a fourth-place team for about $175 million. As a Dodgers fan, I approve.
I don't think Nevada has a tough time getting recruits to visit Reno. There is, however, a limit in the number of official visits you can have over a certain period and Nevada doesn't want to blow all of them now when the majority of its recruiting work is done in April-June when the transfer market heats up. I'm sure Walker will take a visit to Nevada at some point.
I think it is a necessary evil for teams that don't have five capable starters. I don't think MLB teams want to use an opener, but if they are short on starters who can turn over a lineup more than twice, it makes sense to use one. The numbers show it works, so teams that are limited financially or who have had injuries thin their rotations are wise to use them. But you're not using an opener when you have a Madison Bumgarner and/or Clayton Kershaw lined up to pitch. As for your question, "What's Kershaw have to say?" I have texted Kershaw and will get back to with his comments when he returns my message.
But baseball is in a weird spot as things that improving winnings (using openers; lots of pitching changes; relying on homers while increasing your strikeouts) make the game a less appealing product. Tough situation.
I'll have a full preview of Nevada baseball before its season opener but college baseball doesn't get the same buzz as college football or college basketball, which makes sense given the best non-MLB players are in the minor leagues and/or playing in Japan. It's still a good product, but it just fights an uphill battle against minor-league teams, especially when they share a market like in Reno. But the Wolf Pack should be solid this year and definitely has a shot to make its first NCAA Regional since 2000. More on that later this week.
The new fence and scoreboard should be up before next month's home opener, but there are still other projects to finish. The big facility upgrades include new locker rooms, coaches offices and indoor cages/mounds. There's also the goal of making the stands wrap-around the stadium so you can walk from the left-field line to the right-field line in one seamless walk. There's also a goal of basically adding a balcony level down the right-field line. We're talking major millions for all of this, so I'm not sure it will get done in the near future, but there are artist renderings of what that'd look like and it's amazing. I'd consider that "phase two" of the Peccole Park project with "phase one" being the new playing surface that went in last year and the fence/scoreboard that's getting done this season.
I am not bummed. I assume Nevada is taking a plane.
But the drive to Wyoming is really scenic. It's crazy seeing bison as you drive along a highway. What a majestic animal.
The game is on ESPNU. Every Wolf Pack game this season was on/will be on TV.
There are only three home games left. One is against UNLV, which will be fun because it is the in-state rival. One is against Fresno State, which will be fun because the Bulldogs are the second/third-best team in the league. And one is against San Diego State, which will be fun because the Wolf Pack's seniors (namely the Martin twins and Caroline) will be honored before the game since it's senior night. Can't go wrong with any of them.
A full Mailbag takes 5-6 hours to write because we're looking at 50 questions or so of late and I try to answer each one to the best of my ability and then have to re-read the whole thing and edit it, add a photo, a headline and a lead-in, etc.. Honestly, it's not a great time-to-pageview ratio. I could write four or five other stories in the time it takes to do a Mailbag. But people like this and I like writing it, so we'll keep doing it until we stop doing it.
Go outside. There are fun things to do outside, and the weather is supposed to be decent this week. I think we all need to go outside more often. Less being plugged in. More nature. That's why we live in Northern Nevada, after all. So let's end this Mailbag and go outside and take a walk so we can enjoy some fresh air.