Joe Santoro
Sierra Nevada Media Group

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March 29, 2012
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Joe Santoro: Kentucky too tough to take down in NCAA Tournament

Can anybody beat the Kentucky Wildcats? Not this year. The Wildcats should roll over Louisville on Saturday and either Kansas or Ohio State on Monday to win their first NCAA Tournament title since 1998. Kentucky coach John Calipari is like a fantasy sports owner, drafting nearly a new team every year. Call them the Kentucky Rent-A-Center Wildcats. The Fat Cats go against everything that college sports is supposed to be about. You know, the heartwarming story of the kid who works hard for four years to get his degree and plays basketball simply because he loves his school, his classmates, teammates and alumni and the game he learned as a kid shooting jump shots on a gravel driveway. There is nothing heartwarming about Kentucky basketball. But don’t blame Calipari. His job is to win basketball games and, well, four-year players will get you 20 wins and an NIT spot at best.

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The pick here is Kansas over Ohio State. Kansas’ size with Jeff Withey and Thomas Robinson, as well as their talented guards Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, should be enough to hold off the Buckeyes and Jared Sullinger. Johnson is also a nice Nevada story, having played at Cheyenne High down in Las Vegas. Ohio State, too, nearly had a nice Nevada story. Former Galena High and Wolf Pack star Luke Babbitt originally committed to the Buckeyes and this would have been his senior year.

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You can’t find four more basketball tradition-rich schools than Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas. There are no Cinderella stories in this Final Four. It’s just a bunch of multi-millionaire head coaches and their basketball factory schools looking to get richer. Sort of brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

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The Nevada Wolf Pack football team opened its spring session Thursday with the first of 15 practices. This team has more questions to answer and holes to fill this offseason than it has had in the last four or five years combined. Cody Fajardo is the quarterback but nobody really knows who his running backs or wide receivers will be. The defense’s front seven is up in the air for the most part, as are most of the key players on special teams. Don’t expect many or maybe even any of the questions to be answered this spring. That’s what summer camp in August will be for when the recruits show up.

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Magic Johnson is now an owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. What’s next? Kobe Bryant buying the Los Angeles Kings? Shaquille O’Neal buying Disneyland? Maybe Magic and the Dodgers isn’t so strange a marriage as it might appear. The Dodgers, after all, would probably make the NBA playoffs in the Western Conference with Dee Gordon at the point and Matt Kemp at forward. Can’t you just see Dodger Girls dancing on top of the dugouts at Dodger Stadium and Jack Nicholson sitting next to Don Mattingly on the bench? It’s just nice to see the Dodgers become interesting again.

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Bill Parcells would have to be crazy to take over the New Orleans Saints. Why would a 71-year-old Parcells want to be a glorified babysitter for a year? Why would he want to coach a team full of bounty-chasing bandits who wouldn’t listen to him anyway because they know he’s going to be gone at the end of the year? And why would he want to take over a team that will be missing its general manager for a couple months as well as a roster that could suffer multiple suspensions? And this isn’t your typical Bill Parcells team with a grind-it-out running game and a shut-down defense. What does Parcells know about handling a high-flying, go-for-broke Drew Brees offense? The Saints should just let Sean Payton coach the team via Twitter and leave it at that.

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The San Francisco 49ers have obviously gone the if-you-can’t-beat-them-then-steal-their players route. The 49ers, who lost to the New York Giants in the NFC title game, have signed ex-Giant wide receiver Mario Manningham and running back Brandon Jacobs. Both should be good signings. Jacobs, for those of you who remember the last time the Niners won the Super Bowl, could turn out to be another William Floyd.

— Joe Santoro writes a weekly sports column for the Sierra Nevada Media Group.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 29, 2012 07:28PM Published Mar 29, 2012 07:26PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.