Joe Santoro
Special to the Tribune

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April 3, 2014
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Wolf Pack basketball loses another to transfer

An already dismal outlook for the 2014-15 Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball season grew even more dreary this week. Cole Huff, arguably the best player returning off of this past season’s 15-17 team, has decided to leave the program with two years of eligibility remaining. This is the most damaging transfer loss for the Pack since forward Malik Cooke left the program after the 2008-09 season. The 6-foot-8 Huff (12.4 points, 5.4 rebounds last year) was the Pack’s best shooter, one of its best rebounders and one of its most consistent and reliable players. It looks like coach David Carter has yet another ready-made excuse for yet another losing season at Nevada.

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The Wolf Pack needs to figure out why Carter can’t keep his players happy. It can’t be that the players are merely Pack rats jumping off a sinking ship. Huff is the fifth player to transfer away in the last two seasons. Why would Huff, a good player but not a great one, leave a program where he was guaranteed big-time minutes for the next two seasons? Why would Devonte Elliott, Kevin Panzer, Jordan Burris and Jordan Finn -- four players who were lucky to be on a Division I roster -- all leave last year? The Reno Aces seem to have more stability than Carter’s Wolf Pack from one year to the next. The Pack needs to figure out what, exactly, Carter is building at Nevada. After five years his building site is still merely a hole in the ground.

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Wolf Pack offensive lineman Joel Bitonio seems to be headed to a long NFL career. Bitonio, a starter at Nevada the last three seasons, could be drafted this spring as early as late in the first round. NFL scouts seem to love his character, work ethic and size (6-4, 320 pounds) as well as his competitive spirit. Bitonio tested as one of the top four offensive linemen in five events at this winter’s scouting combine in Indianapolis. But none of this should surprise anyone. Bitonio will be the 10th player drafted off the Wolf Pack’s 13-1 team in 2010.

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Major League Baseball’s new instant replay system has a few bugs to work out. Managers don’t really argue with umpires anymore. They just calmly come out of the dugout and chat with an umpire until someone on their bench looks at the replay and gives a thumbs up or thumbs down on whether to challenge the play or not. Managers now seem required to make an issue out of every single close play. The whole process has slowed down an already slow game. It took almost 10 minutes on Wednesday to determine whether or not Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton caught a ball. Technology and baseball, a game without a clock, doesn’t seem to work all that well together. The umpires don’t even seem to get all the calls right even after reviewing the replay.

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A year ago the Wolf Pack football team received its fewest rushing yards and rushing touchdowns from its quarterbacks (684 yards, eights touchdowns) since the 2007 season. Even so, a lot of the blame for the lack of a dominating Pack running game (just 3.8 yards a carry) fell on running backs Kendall Brock, Don Jackson and Chris Solomon. But it wasn’t their fault. Brock, Jackson and Solomon are good enough. The three combined for over 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns. Jackson has the ability to get that by himself this year if he just stays healthy. In the pistol offense it’s all about the quarterbacks running the ball and opening up the rest of the offense.

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The Houston Texans need to deal away the No. 1 pick in the draft. Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Jadeveon Clowney, among others, have all been rumored to be the No. 1 pick. The safe pick is probably Clowney. He’s an amazing physical specimen and should be a productive NFL player just by showing up before kickoff. Manziel, Bortles and all the rest of the quarterbacks could be anything from a Hall of Famer to a first-round bust. That’s not good when your first-round pick is also the No 1 pick in the draft. The problem with owning the No. 1 pick is that you have to pay the No. 1 pick whether he deserves it or not. The Texans should give that problem to somebody else.

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Is the NCAA basketball tournament still going on? Is it really a great event when hardly anybody cares about the championship game? It’s the same with the college football title game. By the time the game rolls around everyone seems to have lost interest. Football fans are worn out by all the bowl games and basketball fans are emotionally drained because of their losing tournament bracket. That’s not the case in professional sports. The World Series, NBA Finals, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup Finals are the pinnacle of their respective sports. The most boring day of the year in college football and basketball for everyone except the fans of the two schools involved is the championship game.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Apr 3, 2014 07:56PM Published Apr 3, 2014 02:40PM Copyright 2014 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.