Maybe the Mountain West knew what it was doing when it pitted Nevada and Colorado State against each other in the final game of the regular season. Maybe it just got lucky.
While a much stronger argument can be made for the latter, the process doesn’t matter.
On Saturday evening, Nevada will host Colorado State at Lawlor Events Center in the unofficial Mountain West regular season title game.
Regardless of what Nevada does on Wednesday at San Jose State, or how Colorado State fares tonight at home against Wyoming, Saturday’s winner will be the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament next week in Las Vegas.
Both teams are 12-4 in conference and playing some of their best basketball of the season.
Nevada has won four straight (matching its longest conference winning streak of the year) and is fresh off the most lopsided shellacking of UNLV in series history. Colorado State has won six consecutive, including a 13-point comeback to beat San Diego State in the final seconds on Sunday.
Considering what is at stake (a first ever Mountain West regular-season title, a No. 1 seed in the MW tournament, and maybe even NCAA tournament at-large implications) this is the biggest regular-season home game since the Mark Fox era (2004-09).
A streak of 10,000 in attendance at Nevada home games was snapped at a program-record four last Wednesday when an announced crowd of 8,625 showed up to watch the Pack beat Boise State.
Earlier this month, the largest announced crowd in Lawlor Events Center history (11,841) watched Nevada hand UNLV the first of two historic beat downs.
While nothing quite brings them out in Northern Nevada like the Nevada-UNLV rivalry, Saturday’s attendance and atmosphere will reflect the game’s significance.
Maybe the attendance record will be broken for the second time in 24 days. Maybe it won’t.
Either way, it will be loud. Championship basketball is back at Lawlor.
Massive all-league teams sending dangerous message
The 4A North boys and girls basketball all-league teams were officially released last Tuesday night.
Once again, one thing jumped off the page, er, pages: The staggering number of names.
In total, 97 hoopers on 24 teams in the 4A North received some form of all-league recognition. Simple math will tell you an average of more than four players per team were honored.
That suggests 80 percent of each team’s starting lineup was selected. When you hear people talk about the era or participation trophies and debate the message it conveys, this is what they are talking about.
What makes getting named to an all-league team special if eight other players on your team were also selected (as was the case for the Bishop Manogue girls)?
Of course, the all-league meetings have become overly political and it’s not exactly a marquee event for the region’s coaches. It’s easier to simply expand the list of names rather than engage in a lengthy debate about player x’s merit compared to player y’s.
There are five players on the court at a time. The all-league teams should represent that with a Player of the Year, five first-team selections, five second-team selections and five who receive honorable mention.
Would some talented players be left out? Absolutely.
Is that fair? No. But much of this life, discounting a batted ball between first and third, is not.
The monstrous all-league teams represent a message that’s becoming more prominent in our society, and it’s helping no one.
Mediocrity is being celebrated. Greatness is getting marginalized.
Gorman boys win sixth straight
They had to work for it this year.
This was not the same Bishop Gorman team that looked like it belonged in the Pac-12. There was a realistic chance the Gaels were going to miss the state tournament altogether. So, when they trailed Clark (a team they lost to once in the regular season) 58-53 with 1:27 left in Friday’s state title game, it wasn’t that surprising.
But Bishop Gorman did what Bishop Gorman does. The private school power rallied to win its sixth straight state title, 62-58.
To get to the title game, Gorman handled Reno 89-60 in the semifinals while playing nearly its entire bench.
The 4A North boys have now lost seven-straight games at state going back five years. The average margin of defeat during the seven-game skid is almost 27 points.
A state title for the 4A North boys is not realistic right now.
State titles will remain securely out of reach as long as Northern Nevada is competing against the likes of Gorman and Southern Nevada’s elite.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning.