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Murray's Mailbag: How much will AJ Bramah help the Nevada basketball team?

AJ Bramah is the latest addition to the Nevada basketball team. (Robert Morris athletics)

After taking last week's Monday Mailbag off for Memorial Day, we're back with another robust offering of almost 4,000 words of question and answer. There's a nice potpourri of stuff discussed this week, so let's get to it. Thanks, as always, for the inquiries.

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

When you call somebody a "nozzle" are you insulting them or complimenting them? I'm going to take it as a compliment. Water nozzles are very useful in life. So maybe he means I am of great use!

I've written previously that I would have taken the pairing of Addison Patterson and Trey Wade (the Wolf Pack's previous full roster) over the pairing of Kenan Blackshear and AJ Bramah, but there's not a huge difference for the 2021-22 season. And the addition of Bramah, the Robert Morris transfer who originally picked Arizona State over Nevada in March, helps offset the loss to Patterson, who parted with the team last month after a semester at the school, in a major way. Patterson had three years of eligibility remaining, has a higher ceiling than Bramah and would improve Nevada's 3-point shooting, which is an area that Bramah's addition doesn't address (Bramah is 0-of-3 from three in two Division I seasons).

So I like Nevada's first version of its completed roster better than this one, but the Wolf Pack should still compete for a Mountain West championship and an NCAA Tournament spot. This remains a very good roster, and I expect Bramah to play a big role. He should get 25 to 30 minutes per game and makes Nevada more difficult to defend than it was last season (Patterson would have done the same). Both are above-average players at putting the ball on the floor and scoring from the perimeter. Nevada only had one guy who was great at creating for himself last season, that being Grant Sherfield. Bramah gives the Wolf Pack a second player who can do that game in and game out.

The 6-foot-7, 210-pound Bramah is a good rebounder, which will improve an area where Nevada was just average last season. Bramah's true rebounding rate last season was 17.5 percent (that's the percentage of missed shots he grabs when in the game). The year before that he was at 16.8 percent. Both of those figures would have ranked first on Nevada last season as Warren Washington led the team at 15.5 percent. Bramah should especially help Nevada's offensive rebounding, which was non-existent last season. Bramah's game has some weaknesses. As we mentioned, he's not a 3-point threat and has more turnovers (88) than assists (63) in his career. But he'll bring a lot of good things to Nevada as a slasher on offense who can get to the free throw line and a rebounder on defense who ranked first at Robert Morris in defensive rating in 2020-21.

Bramah was near the top of the Wolf Pack's recruiting board entering the offseason, so it's good news for Nevada it was able to nab him after his initial decision to go to Arizona State. Nevada will compete with Colorado State and San Diego State for the MW title and should fight for a top-50 KenPom ranking and NCAA Tournament at-large berth (if it comes down to that). Additionally, as an undersized power forward, he gives the Wolf Pack some versatility in its frontcourt, filling a role Warren Washington, Will Baker and K.J. Hymes don't. Finally, he's in his last season of eligibility, so he gives the Wolf Pack a second scholarship for the 2022 class, assuming Desmond Cambridge doesn't return for a second senior season.

There's a lot to like about Bramah. Expectations for the Wolf Pack should be high entering next season. It's a talented roster.

Nevada scored 8.5 runs per Mountain West game and 4.2 runs per non-conference game. There was a major difference between the two levels of competition. The pitching side wasn't skewed as much as Nevada gave up 6.7 runs per game in non-league and 5.5 runs per game in the MW. Playing at altitude certainly helped Nevada's bats this season. Facing lesser pitchers helps, too. Nevada's NCAA Regional fate — losing to UC Irvine and North Dakota State by a combined score of 13-1 — doesn't take away from what the Wolf Pack did in MW play, winning the conference with a 22-9 mark and winning a program-best 15 straight league games, which is remarkable no matter what conference you're in.

But the Wolf Pack struggled mightily in non-conference games, going 3-11 in such games and losing its final 10 non-league contests. During that 10-game stretch, Nevada was out-scored by 42 runs and averaged just 3.4 runs per game. So this was an offense that took advantage of playing at altitude against lesser competition for much of the season. The Regional was a disappointing result after Nevada said nobody was talking about the team and the Wolf Pack felt disrespected as a result.

"We're a top-25 offense. We're a top-25 defense," coach TJ Bruce said before the Regional. "We have the NCAA leader in batting average and not one word was said to us, so there will be a little chip on our shoulder to put some respect on the University of Nevada."

Then Nevada managed just seven hits (all singles) over two games after entering with a top-five batting average and slugging percentage in the nation. You have to credit the pitching, but it's not like the Wolf Pack was getting robbed of hits during the Regional. It simply wasn't make solid contact, not the kind of contact it had produced in the 16 games leading into the Regional when Nevada was averaging better than 10 runs a contest.

Bottom line is Nevada wasn't a top-50-caliber team this season. That doesn't mean this wasn't a good year. The Wolf Pack won its second MW regular-season title in three years and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 21 seasons. That's great. But there are more steps to take before becoming elite, and that starts with winning more non-conference games as Nevada has won 65 percent of its conference games under Bruce against just 35 percent out of its non-conference games. Now, he schedules tough, which is commendable, but that's the next hurdle for Nevada.

Perhaps the Wolf Pack uses this Regional experience as a launching pad for more success like Eric Musselman's 2017 NCAA Tournament team did, following that with a Sweet 16 in 2018 and top-five ranking in 2019. That's the hope. But it was a sour end to a good year for Wolf Pack baseball.

That's one way to neutralize the opposition's best hitter.

I didn't have a problem with it because: (a) I don't think UC Irvine was hitting Dillan Shrum on purpose; and (b) throwing 90-mile-per-hour baseballs at people in retaliation is dumb (unless you're JOE KELLY?!?!?! doing it to Carlos Correa). The UC Irvine and Nevada coaching staffs are friendly. Coach Bruce knows the hit by pitches weren't intentional. Shrum got hit the following game (on a breaking ball) as well. He crowds the plate. UC Irvine was trying to bust him inside to neutralize his power. Shrum was hit 10 times in 35 games this season. That ranks top 90 in the nation on a per-game basis. It was far from ideal, but Nevada didn't need to retaliate and give the Anteaters free bases as it tried to rally out of an early hole.

The old NCAA revenue reports included the true expenses and revenues for all sports on campus, but a change was made a couple of years ago that require all expenses at least match the revenue column, so it's impossible to tell these days. But I'm 99 percent sure no Mountain West baseball program turns a profit. The last time Nevada listed the true expenses and revenues for their sports was fiscal year 2016. In that year, Nevada baseball lost $914,327, which was the third-largest net loss in the department behind track and field/cross country (lost $1,065,173), which was counted as one sport despite being two, and women's basketball (lost $1,398,491). Given the roster size and travel schedule, baseball is usually among the top three programs in biggest net revenue drain on the department. I doubt any other Mountain West school is making money on baseball if Nevada is losing almost $1 million on it.

Because it makes the person who got fired and the person doing the firing feel better? When Nevada fired Brian Polian, they termed it a "mutual parting." I wrote "fired." Because he was in fact fired. I interviewed Coach Polian hours after that news release came out and asked him about the wording by saying something to the effect, "I know you love these players and would not quit on them but the release said mutual parting. Are you telling me you left the team on your own accord?" He answered the question without really answered it. But it was clear he was fired. I can see using the phrase "mutual parting" if a coach's contract expires and isn't renewed, although that's even a stretch. But breaking a contract and still having to pay that person's buyout, which Nevada did with Polian, is a firing.

It's an exciting development and people are clearly interested given the readership and social media impressions our story did after we posted it. But this is a semi-pro team in the Mountain West Hockey League. It's basically a club team. There's a big jump from that to landing an ECHL (Double-A) or AHL (Triple-A) team. This is a nice opportunity for Northern Nevada to show it can support pro hockey. But to get an ECHL team, the Reno Events Center needs a renovation north of $5 million. So until somebody steps up to pay for that, I don't see there being any traction for an ECHL team. A team at that level couldn't play at the Reno Ice facility because there aren't enough seats. There would need to be a new arena, either one built from scratch (super expensive) or a renovation done in an existing facility (unlikely given the cost).

* Bill Murray (the actor, not my father; sorry dad)

* Andy Murray (pretty good at tennis)

* Eddie Murray (Hall of Fame baseball player)

* Conrad Murray (killed Michael Jackson)

Condolences to Anne Murray and Chad-Michael Murray. But it looks like I've still got time to make this list! Other than Bill Murray, it's not overly impressive.

1) I root for the Spanish national team in international competition because they once had Fernando Torres and can actually make the World Cup every year unlike Team USA.

2) Why is everybody so excited about winning the Nation Leagues final, which didn't even exist two years ago? Team USA supporters are acting like the team won an important tournament.

3) That was one hell of a stop by Ethan Horvath, one of the best saves you'll ever see.

You should have included Nevada softball coach Josh Taylor, who accepted the Louisiana Tech job today. But if we're keeping it to just your list, I'd go the following (listed from shortest time remaining at Nevada to most time remaining at Nevada).

* Jay Norvell (could be in position to take a Power 5 job this winter)

* TJ Bruce (has a good reputation in baseball circles and could level up)

* Amanda Levens (I could see this one going either way)

* Doug Knuth (he's sneakily coming up on 10 years at Nevada)

* Steve Alford (still has eight more years left on his contract)

* Brian Sandoval (UNR's presidency seems like a perfect job for him, and he's only 57)

* Jian Li You (she's outlasting all of us!)

Zero percent chance Nevada schedules a game with Arkansas this season. And I'd make Arkansas a 10-point favorite if Nevada was playing on the road. After all, the Razorbacks are currently No. 11 in ESPN's 2021-22 preseason rankings. The team remains good after last year's Elite 8 run. Nevada is probably top-75 in the nation right now but certainly not Top 25. Perhaps if the game was played at Lawlor Events Center, the Wolf Pack could ride an energized crowd to score an upset. But, again, this game is never happening.

No, because as much as academics matter, it's not the end all, be all in conference realignment, although the Pac-12 is the snootiest of the power conferences in that regard. BYU is good academically and San Diego State has the highest academic ranking among current Mountain West schools, per U.S. News & World Report (BYU ranks even higher than SDSU). Those are still my top-two departments, but neither is getting in the Pac-12 in the near future.

For those who don't know, a keto diet eliminates carbs and increases fat consumption. I've eliminated the carbs (to 25 or less grams per game while dietary guidelines advise 225-325 grams of carbs daily) while also keeping fat at normal consumption. Last time I did keto, I also boosted the grams of fat but am not going that this time and have lost 16 pounds in 50 days. Honestly, I've been surprised at how much weight I've lost even when I've slacked on weight lifting/cardio. I didn't do any weight lifting last week and still lost 3.5 pounds. I've always been of the thought that I'll work out every day as long as I get to eat what I want, but the healthier eating even when paired with less working out has worked out well.

To answer your question, two items have been my favorite: (1) chicken enchiladas, which have only 10 grams of carbs per three. You wouldn't think chicken enchiladas are healthy, but they can be with the right tortillas. And (2) pepperoni pizza with an almond flour and cream cheese base, which again is about 10 grams of carbs for three slices. If you're creative, you can eat well and follow the keto diet. We've even had keto-friendly brownies and ice cream bars.

We're never going to reach herd immunity because there are too many anti-vaxxers out there (who don't call themselves anti-vaxxers but also won't get the most important vaccine they could get in their lives). I'm proud to say three-quarters of the Murray family has been vaccinated, the only holdout being my 6-year-old son who isn't eligible yet.

And I'll take chunky chocolate cookie with macadamia nuts over Rice Krispy treats, which are slightly overrated. I like Rice Krispies cereal, though.

Animal doctor Ron Magill said it'd take more than 40 people, so I'm going with his opinion. I'll say 69 people would be required to kill a giraffe with an exacto knife.

I go to Stugotz for all my lacrosse information and he said in his latest Weekend Observations that Charlotte North is college's best lacrosse player, male or female, so I actually did know about her. Tremendous player. My top-five niche sports would be.

5. Axe throwing

4. Tetherball

3. Face slapping (which is legit)

2. Volleyball

1. Tennis

Although I've watched some pickleball of late, and that's mildly interesting.

That would takes months of research to figure out, but something's definitely up. There have been more injuries in MLB, the NBA and the NFL this last year than the norm. I'm sure some of it has to do with the uneven schedule caused by the pandemic, but teams are being gobbled up by injuries, especially in MLB and the NBA (which pushed more games into a shorter window, so that makes sense). In MLB, pitchers are blowing out more because they're throwing harder than ever and elbow ligaments can only take so much. It's a more difficult question to answer with the position players. I'm sure teams are using state-of-the-art science, but the next frontier of analytics in baseball is making real and sustainable advances in keeping players healthy. Some team will figure that out in the next decade and have a huge advantage. I just know I'm tired of Dodgers stars being injured.

Major League Baseball should crack down on it hard. If you're caught doctoring balls, you're suspended without pay. If MLB wants the ball in play more, it shouldn't allow its pitchers to put junk all over the ball, and I'd guess three-quarters of pitchers are doing that. It's not the easiest thing for umps to track, but MLB can get that out of the game if it's serious about it. Look at Trevor Bauer, who became an elite pitcher in recent years by jacking up his spin rate (and the easiest way to do that is by putting something on the ball). His spin rate fell steeply in his first start after MLB said it would crack down on substances. Coincidence? No. As Bauer said after his start Sunday, "If they're serious about the rule that's on the books, then that's all that I wanted for four years. I just want everyone to be on a fair playing field. If you're going to enforce it, then enforce it. If not, then stop sweeping it under the rug, which is what they've done for four years now." Agreed. Just make everybody play by the same rules and start enforcing those rules.

Answered above, although I do wish a pitcher came to the mound with as much crap on the ball as the photo above indicates. Doctoring the ball has been going on for 50 years, but it has been taken to the next step over the last couple of seasons. You want more offense in the game? Get ride of the sticky substances.

Of course I did not. That whole thing was a joke aimed at getting "Bros" to tune in. There's even video out there of Floyd Mayweather holding Logan Paul up so the fight goes the distance. Not interested.

I'm ill-prepared to answer this question because I've never seen a Broadway show, at least in Broadway. I've only seen a handful of plays, including The Nutcracker twice at the Pioneer Center, where I also saw Percy Jackson. And then I saw a show at Shakespeare's Globe in London and three Shakespeare shows at Sand Harbor. I enjoyed them all. But as I noted on Twitter last week, Hamilton is the most overrated thing since sliced bread (a parent of a Wolf Pack player sent me a DM disagreeing, so it was controversial!). As a U.S. history minor at UNR, I was super excited to watch Hamilton when it came out on Disney+. I did not make it through the whole play. Boring. Blasphemy, I know. But I did enjoy Lin-Manuel Miranda's songs on Moana. The only Broadway show I'd like to see is The Lion King. Hamilton is coming to Reno this summer, but the cheapest tickets are $301. The most expensive are $590. No thank you. I'll save my money for Dodgers World Series tickets.

Yep. There's nothing wrong with having the "Music Hall of Fame" because I would not consider Jay Z, Whitney Houston or Tupac, as great as they are, to be rock and roll artists. This year's class includes Jay-Z (rap) and Carole King (pop; singer-songwriter). Last year's class included Whitney Houston (R&B, pop, soul, gospel, dance but definitely not rock) and The Notorious B.I.G. (rap). They're all great and deserving of recognition. But they're not rock. So keep honoring a wide array of artists, but don't call it the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame if 25 to 35 percent of the recent inductees don't fit the genre.

I'd go the other way and end the nonsense of baseball coaches wearing full uniforms. It doesn't make much sense unless they plan on pinch-hitting or coming out of the bullpen. But seeing Nick Saban in full helmet, pads and a uniform is a funny image.

To the gold-medal game as long as he had Yao Ming as a teammate, but he'll be leading the Tune Squad this summer instead.

Dr. Paul Weir is still alive and kicking after agreeing to coach the Canadian national team at the upcoming FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup. Randy Savage's 2003 rap debut was once described as a "hysterically bad album." So I'll side with Dr. Weir, who still has time on his side considering he's 17 years younger than Macho Man.

I don't know of anything that's ever happened at Hayward Field other than Steve Prefontaine running there fast. So I'll pick Steve Prefontaine running there fast as my Nos. 1-10. But here's a story on the five coolest moments in Hayward Field history, which includes an item on Steve Prefontaine running fast as well as the movie Animal House. And here's a second story with a top-10 list of top achievements at Hayward Field.

That's a weird question, but I'll take Freddie Freeman among current Braves (watch how he greets every runner who gets to first base), and among all-time Braves, I'll take Fred McGriff, Mark Wohlers, Mark Lemke, Jeff Blauser, Otis Nixon and Deion Sanders. Basically the 1993 Braves plus Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, who played briefly for the franchise when it was in Boston. Definitely not John Rocker. He's bad.


Thanks for asking. We beat the Radical Tigers, 7-4, although one of the moms on our team said it was 9-4, so I'll take that score instead. Either way, we improved to 4-1-1 this season (some would consider our record 5-1). We close the season with games Thursday and Saturday. As you might recall, our one loss came to a team that may or may not have been using illegal tactics.

(Sidenote: They were definitely using illegal tactics by placing a player in front of the net in a goalkeeper-less league.)

(Sidenote, II: No, I have not forgotten.)

(Sidenote III: #NeverForget.)

(Sidenote IV: So we're technically 6-0. At least that's what I'm telling myself)

(Sidenote V: 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 it taking several hours to write. But people seem to like it, so he does it anyway. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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