Kouzmanoff gets the call

Former University of Nevada All-America third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff made his return to Major League Baseball when the Texas Rangers promoted him from Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday.  Kouzmanoff singled in his only plate appearance as a pinch hitter and remained to in the game to play third base as the Rangers lost 4-2 at Boston.

Kouzmanoff earned All-America and WAC Player of the Year honors for the Wolf Pack in 2003 after batting .361 with 12 doubles, 17 home runs and 67 RBI.  He made his MLB debut for Cleveland in 2006 and spent the next three seasons in San Diego after being traded to the Padres.  He played 143 games for Oakland in 2010 and 73 games combined for the A's and Rockies in 2011. 

Wednesday's pinch hit appearance was his first game at the Major League level since 2011.  He has played in 645 games at third base for five teams during his MLB career.

150 Local Children Get Shoes as Part of Barefoot Basketball Promotion

Over 150 local children now have a new pair of Nikes thanks to the efforts of Nevada women's basketball coach Jane Albright.

In January, Albright made a personal donation and encouraged Wolf Pack donors and fans to support Samaritan's Feet, a global non-profit aimed at providing shoes for impoverished children. The donations allowed her to purchase 150 pairs of Nikes for three local organizations with all of the shoes benefiting children in northern Nevada.

In addition to encouraging the donations, Albright and her staff coached barefoot in the Wolf Pack's home game against UNLV in January to raise awareness for the cause.

According to Albright, the organizations said that many of the children had never had a new pair of shoes, wore shoes that didn't fit or didn't have laces or only had inexpensive flip-flops, even in the winter. She received cute thank you cards from the organizations, including a basketball shaped card signed by many of the children.

shoecard.JPGThe accompanying letter from one of the organizations said they were "grateful for the grand gift of Nike shoes provided for the forgotten youth in Reno/Sparks... it (is) a joy to see them with proper footwear. Thank you for providing such a necessary part of their wardrobe. The kids have been flashing their feet to show off their shoes."

Samaritan's Feet is a non-profit organization founded by Emmanuel Ohonme in 2003. Their mission is to equip 10 million impoverished children with 10 million shoes. Since beginning in 2003, Samaritan's Feet has helped more than four million people in 60 countries.

A special thanks to all of the Wolf Pack fans who contributed to the cause this year and helped buy shoes for local children. Albright plans to collect donations to support Samaritan's Feet again next basketball season.


Happy Birthday: A Look Back at Alphie's 13 Years

Alphie for Blog.jpgSaturday, March 22 marks an important day for Alphie as the furry, lovable Wolf Pack mascot turns 13.

Nevada Athletics will throw Alphie a 13th birthday party at Saturday's baseball game when the Wolf Pack takes on Mountain West Conference foe Air Force. The party starts when the Peccole Park gates open at 1 p.m. There will be cake and cupcakes for the first 300 fans, and some of Alphie's mascot friends from around Reno will be in attendance. Alphie will throw out the first pitch prior to the game, and fans can join in singing to the Wolf Pack mascot.

Baseball tickets start as low as $6 for adults and $4 for youth/seniors and can be purchased at the gates or in advance at NevadaWolfPack.com.

With Alphie celebrating such a big milestone, we wanted to take a couple of minutes to look back on the highlights of Alphie's life so far:

March 22, 2001 - Checking in a whopping 347 pounds and 6 feet 1 inches tall, the bouncing baby wolf was born at 2:46 p.m. in Reno. Wolf Pack fans were very excited about his arrival and had a vote to pick his name. They decided on Alphie because he is the Alpha Wolf in the Nevada Wolf Pack.

Sept. 22, 2001 - Alphie saw his first football game at Mackay Stadium, cheering the Wolf Pack football team onto a 28-20 victory over Hawaii.
 
March 18, 2004 - Alphie made his first trip to the NCAA Tournament, traveling to Seattle with the Wolf Pack men's basketball team. It ended up being a long trip since he cheered the Wolf Pack all the way to the first Sweet Sixteen appearance in school history.

April 5, 2005 - One of the things on Alphie's bucket list came true when he was featured on CBS' "One Shining Moment" video after the 2005 national championship game. Alphie can be seen comforting his friend and former Wolf Pack standout Jermaine Washington at the 1:39 mark in the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7tr7aZbyI4

December 24, 2005 - 2005 ended with a bang for Alphie when he got to spend the holidays in paradise, joining the Wolf Pack football team at the Hawaii Bowl in Honolulu. He got the best Christmas present a mascot could ask for when the Wolf Pack edged out Central Florida in the thrilling 49-48 win.
 
April 14, 2007 - Alphie was on hand at Christina M. Hixson Park when Jordan McPherson threw the first no-hitter in Wolf Pack softball history, just 16 days after Nevada opened its gorgeous new softball field. McPherson walked the first batter she faced and then retired 15 straight in a 10-0 win over San Jose State. Luckily Alphie can't speak so he couldn't accidentally jinx the Wolf Pack by telling someone that they had a no-hitter going!
Summer 2007 -Alphie's life changed dramatically when his younger brother, Wolfie Jr., was born that summer, giving him a playmate to join him on the sidelines at all Wolf Pack games.

January 2010 - Alphie made a memorable trip to San Francisco when he joined the Wolf Pack football team at the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl. He got to join the team in his first trip to Alcatraz and starred at a pep rally in Union Square. He then joined the 20,000+ Wolf Pack fans at AT&T Park in cheering the team to a victory over Boston College to cap off one of the best seasons in school history.

March 20, 2011 - Alphie got to cheer for the Wolf Pack women's basketball team as it hosted USC in the second round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament, the first postseason home game in school history. Alphie had a lot to cheer for that season as the Wolf Pack, led by all-conference selection Tahnee Robinson, won a school-record 22 games.

January 2, 2012 - Alphie had one of the proudest moments of his life when his little brother, Wolfie Jr., won the Capital One Mascot Challenge. It was announced that Wolfie had beaten out Buzz from Georgia Tech at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Fans cast more than 45 million votes in the Capital One Mascot Challenge that year and Alphie hoped that his parents would understand the overage charges on his cell phone since he had texted so many times to help his brother score the victory and $20,000 for the Nevada spirit program.

Fall of 2013 - Alphie's wolf pack grew by one more when his little sister, Luna, was born in this fall. Now Alphie has two sidekicks to share in his antics on the sidelines and help him cheer on all of the Wolf Pack's teams.

Stay tuned because after he has had so many great adventures in his first 13 years, you know the rest of Alphie's teenage years are going to be a blast!
 

Pitchers gem in paradise

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The University of Nevada baseball team lost 1-0 at Hawai`i on Monday night at Les Murakami Stadium as both pitchers tossed complete game gems.  One rare occurrence was that only 52 batters came to the plate.  The 52 batters is the minimum that could come to the plate in a complete nine-inning game. 

Wolf Pack starter Tyler Wells suffered the loss allowing just two hits and struck out eight in a career-high eight innings.  Wells faced 25 batters, one over the minimum. 

The Rainbow Warriors leadoff hitter Stephen Ventimilia, in the bottom of the first inning was the only player that scored as he singled, stole second base and advance to third on the same play courtesy of a wild pitch.  Ventimilia scored the only run of the of the night on a groundout by Kaeo Aliviado.

After the single to Ventimilia Wells retired the next 18 batters before allowing a single to Aliviado in the seventh.  Wells caught Aliviado stealing second base and retired the next five batters to end the game.

UH starter Scott Kuzminsky earned the victory allowing two hits and walked just one facing the minimum 27 batters.  Pack first baseman Austin Byler walked in the first inning and was caught stealing.  Catcher Jordan Devencenzi singled in the fifth inning and was retired on a double play.  Byler singled in the seventh and was erased on a double play.

The only runner to get past first base in the game was Ventimilia in the first inning.

UH and Nevada last played a 1-0 game at Les Murakami Stadium on Apr. 29, 2004.  The Pack's Travis Sutton and the Rainbow Warriors Ricky Bauer both tossed nine shutout innings before both teams went to the bullpen.  UH scored a run in the bottom of the 10th inning with two out  to win 1-0.



Triplett wins Champion Tour event

Another week and another Champions Tour win for a Nevada Wolf Pack alum.
Last week it was Michael Allen who won in a playoff. This week, it was Kirk Triplett who made par on the 72nd hole to avoid a playoff and win the ACE Group Classic in Florida. Triplett beat Duffy Waldorf and Bernhard Langer for the title.
It was Triplett's third Champions Tour win and 10th professional victory overall.

Michael Allen wins again.

Coming off a terrific 2013 (on and off the course), Nevada alum Michael Allen got off to a great start in 2014 over the weekend.
Allen became the ninth PGA Champions Tour golfer to ever card a 60 when he did so Friday at the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Fla. That historic round catapulted Allen to a playoff victory on Sunday as the Nevada Hall of Famer recorded his sixth career Champions Tour victory.

Jake Lawlor at the Olympics

This was written by Senior Associate Athletics Director Rhonda Lundin

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With the excitement in Sochi starting today, we thought we would give you a little Wolf Pack blast from the past, Olympic-style.

 

When Squaw Valley played host to the Winter Olympics in 1960, many local leaders were involved in the planning and execution of the massive event. The Wolf Pack's director of athletics and former basketball coach Jake Lawlor was one of the volunteers at the Games. According to athletics director emeritus Dick Trachok, the former coach who had recently retired after the 1958-59 season served as a timer for the biathlon, the Olympic event that includes cross country skiing and rifle shooting.

 

In these great historic photos, you can see Lawlor in action on the slopes and as part of the volunteer contigent (Jake is in the back row, third from the right).

 

The photos of Lawlor as well as his actual volunteer patch are part of an enormous collection of artifacts donated to Wolf Pack Athletics by Steve Scott. His aunt, Erma, was married to Lawlor and spent years collecting photos, newspaper clippings and other artifacts that celebrate Lawlor's decades of service to the University of Nevada.

 

She put together an enormous scrapbook commemorating Lawlor's career following retirement from the University in 1972. The scrapbook includes hundreds of amazing photos, telegrams, mementos and newspaper clippings from his remarkable career as a student-athlete at both Virginia City High School and the University of Nevada, head coach of the Wolf Pack basketball, baseball and teams (and assistant football coach), athletics director and university professor.

 

Erma Lawlor included a letter to her husband at the beginning of the scrapbook that said in part "your life has been so full of great achievements and well-earned successes that backward glances of these pages will bring a deep and lasting satisfaction as well as precious memories."

 

The letter also included a postscript expressing her desire that the scrapbook one day be donated to the University so that everyone could enjoy it. Scott donated the scrapbook to the University in 2012 in accordance with his aunt's wishes.

 

 It is our hope to be able to share more glimpses into this amazing treasure trove of Wolf Pack history with you in the coming months and to ultimately create a display case commemorating Lawlor's career in the Hall of Champions lobby in Legacy Hall. We also plan to turn the scrapbook over to University Archives so that it can be catalogued and properly preserved for years to come.


Former Pack star Babbitt signs with Pelicans

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Former University of Nevada basketball standout Luke Babbitt has signed a two-year contract with New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association.  Babbitt the 16th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft played 126 games for the Portland Trail Blazers.  He spent part of this season playing for Nizhny Novgorod in Russia where he was averaging 13.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.  The Reno native will wear 8 for the Pelicans.

Babbitt played two seasons at Nevada after graduating from Reno's Galena High School.  In two seasons playing for the Wolf Pack he scored 1,316 points and grabbed 554 rebounds.  Appearing in 68 games he averaged 19.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

In 2010 he was named the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year after earning Freshman of the Year honors in 2009.  Twice he earned first-team All-WAC honors and was named to the All-Newcomer team his freshman season.  In 2010 he was selected as an honorable mention Associated Press All-American and to the ESPN the Magazine second-team academic All-America squad.

Powers honored at Dolan Dinner

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Former University of Nevada head baseball coach Gary Powers was honored at the recently held Bobby Dolan Baseball Dinner for his 31 years leading the Wolf Pack baseball program.  Powers said a few words to the crowd of over 600 in attendance, at a dinner he started 30 years ago to raise funds for the Pack baseball program.  He received a standing ovation from crowd. 

Powers' #17 was retired and a banner was unveiled that will hang on the Peccole Park wall along with the many Major League Players that played for the Pack, many during his tenure. 

In his 31 years Powers won 937 games, earned conference coach of the year honors four times, led the Pack to four NCAA Tournament appearances, won three conference titles and two division titles.  He coached 17 players that played Major League Baseball, produced 17 all-Americans, 141 all-conference selections, four conference players of the year, three conference pitchers of the year and three conference freshman of the year.  MLB drafted over 75 of his players and over 90 played professional baseball.

In 31 years Powers had 20 winning seasons and won 30 or more games 17 times including seven years in a row.  Twice he guided the Wolf Pack to 40 win seasons with a school record 43 coming in 1992. 

In addition to coaching the Pack he played baseball at Nevada.  Powers earned bachelors and masters degrees from Nevada.

Pack has five alums in NFL playoffs

The NFL playoffs get underway this weekend and the University of Nevada football program has five alums who will be part of the postseason this year.

Former Wolf Pack standout quarterback Colin Kaepernick has the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs as a starter for the second straight season after leading the Niners to the Super Bowl last season. San Francisco is at Green Bay on Sunday afternoon.

Linebacker James-Michael Johnson will not suit up for Kansas City on Saturday when the Chiefs travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts as the second-year pro was put on IR this week with a sprained ankle.

Former Pack tight end Virgil Green and linebacker Brandon Marshall are part of a Denver Broncos team that has a first-round bye and will play next weekend. The same case goes for offensive lineman Chris Barker of the New England Patriots.

Nevada also has three former coaches involved in the playoffs. Former head coach Chris Ault is an offensive consultant with the Chiefs. Former co-defensive coordinator Dave Fipp (2004) is the special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, who play host to the New Orleans Saints on Saturday. Former Pack defensive line coach Don Johnson is in the same capacity with the San Diego Chargers, who play at Cincinnati this weekend.

Also with the Eagles is Shaun Huls, a former staff in the Nevada strength and conditioning program. He is the "sports-science coordinator" for the Eagles.

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