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Crunch time for Nevada basketball and Shirley Temple
by Harry Spencer
Mar 07, 2008 | 6986 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AP Photo  Shirley Temple celebrates her 17th birthday at her home near Hollywood on April 23, 1945. On this special occasion she donated items from her personal wardrobe, including dresses and costumes she had worn in her movies, to the United National Clothing Collection.
AP Photo Shirley Temple celebrates her 17th birthday at her home near Hollywood on April 23, 1945. On this special occasion she donated items from her personal wardrobe, including dresses and costumes she had worn in her movies, to the United National Clothing Collection.
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When the University of Nevada men’s basketball team takes to the hardwood tonight in Fresno, Calif. against Fresno State the entire future of next week’s WAC tournament will be on the line.

Since Utah State beat Boise State on Thursday, if Nevada can beat Fresno the Pack can share in the WAC title.

Top seeding in the WAC tournament is important, since it usually guarantees a spot in the tourney final. Even the commissioner of WAC sports has said that probably the only WAC team that has a shot at being chosen to compete in the NCAA tournament will be the conference tournament winner. The tournament runner-up will likely get an invite to the NIT basketball tournament.

Should the Wolf Pack prevail in tonight’s contest the Nevadans will finish with a 12-4 record in league play this season. No minor accomplishment since head coach Mark Fox began the season with only one starter, Marcellus Kemp, returning from last year’s team. This season’s edition of the Pack five has had some brilliant efforts but those great games have been intermingled with some embarassing losses. Again to his credit, coach Fox became the youngest coach in the history of the Western Athletic Conference to achieve 100 victories.

With a much more mature squad returning next year, plus the acquisition of the Galena High scoring sensation, Luke Babbit, coach Fox is very high on his team for the 2008-09 season.

Probably the most interesting aspect of the current Wolf Pack team is the fact that when it is hitting on all cylinders it has the ability to score well near the Century mark. It is probably the fastest moving team that has been seen on The Hill in several decades and it has the added ingredient of any one of the five players on the floor becoming the high point man for the night.

While he is well aware of the scoring firepower of his starting five, coach Fox has consistently preached improving the defensive ability of his players. Another area in which the Nevada squad needs to improve, according to Fox, is in reducing the high number of turnovers given up in some of the Silver and Blue losses. Protecting the ball and playing more aggressively on the defensive side of the game are two areas to watch in the next week’s WAC tournament.



Celebrity corner



A familiar face surfaced on cable the other night when Clifton Webb showed up in a 1950 flick “Elopement.” While the story was a potboiler, Webb’s commanding screen presence held the weak tale together until the end. Webb made his Reno debut back in the fall of 1948 when he was present on the University of Nevada campus for his starring role in “Belvedere Goes to College.” In that picture, Webb reprised his initial role of the super-educated Belvedere that he played in a series of films featuring the character. The Belvedere location shoot here lasted some 10 days, three of which his co-star Shirley Temple was also in town. A couple of us on campus scored some pretty good walk-on parts in the film and on one occasion I had the opportunity to double for Webb on a long shot of him, wearing his freshman “beanie” and carrying a vaulting pole on his shoulder. The actual pole vaulting scene was performed by another university student, Doug Douglass.

One day on the set the location manager, Pat O’Hara, approached me and asked if I had a steady girlfriend. I replied I didn’t, and asked him “Who wants to know?” He responded that the director of the film had sent him over because they needed someone to act as an escort for Shirley while she was in Reno. I said I would be glad to accept the chore of escorting her to dinner each night in the Sky Room of the Mapes, but didn’t think I would be able to because of my limited wardrobe of a single sport coat and a pair of slacks. He grinned and said, “No problem. See that guy over there in the dark glasses — he’s the wardrobe master. Go tell him to give you a purchase order to whatever men’s store you want in Reno and go buy yourself a couple of nice outfits.”

“Shoes, too?” I asked, and he nodded,

“Shirts and ties, too, if you need them.” I wasted little time in going to Hatton’s haberdashery in downtown Reno and for the length of Shirley’s stay I had some fine meals and entertainment in the Sky Room. When she asked me to accompany her to the dance floor following the dinner show I was a little taken aback since I was a dancer of limited ability. Even the shiny new shoes didn’t help very much.

Harry Spencer is a freelance writer in Reno. His column about the past and present of northern Nevada appears weekly on Saturday.
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