Nevada men's basketball coach Steve Alford hates arena bats, Wolf Pack players embrace them

The bats almost stole the show at Nevada's season-opening basketball game Tuesday night.

Nevada won the game 77-63 over Sacramento State, but the bats swarming and diving at Lawlor Events Center were featured on national social media outlets later Tuesday and again Wednesday.

Play was halted briefly in Tuesday night's game with about five minutes left as several bats dived around the court and stands at Lawlor Events Center. As the final seconds ticked off, the bats returned, but play was not stopped.

Nevada coach Steve Alford is not a fan of the bats, saying it is embarrassing for a Division I program to have to endure that. And he hates halting play, regardless of whether his team is playing well.

He wondered what his college coach, Bobby Knight, would have thought about the bats.

"There was a lot of things that came to mind. There was a time I thought about throwing a chair," Alford said, alluding to when Knight, his coach at Indiana, threw a chair on the court during a game. "The bat thing is getting pretty embarrassing and it needs to be fixed. It's uncalled for. We are a big-time basketball program and we shouldn't be dealing with bats."

Nevada head coach Steve Alford
Nevada head coach Steve Alford

Bats have been an issue at Lawlor in recent seasons, although there were not many instances last year, if any.

"It can't happen. I don't want stoppage of flow, whether we're doing well or we're doing poorly, it's not something that should be happening," Alford said.

A Nevada Athletics spokesperson told the Gazette Journal that the facilities crew is working to mitigate the bat problem.

Nevada associate head coach Craig Neal was waving a towel at the bats during the stoppage in Tuesday's game, possibly trying to persuade them back to the rafters at Lawlor. After the game was over and fans had cleared the arena, workers were on the court with big nets trying, in vain, to capture the bats.

But Wolf Pack players Jarod Lucas and Hunter McIntosh are both fans of the bats, saying they have become part of the Wolf Pack's identity and give a sort of home-court advantage to the team.

"It's home-court advantage. It's a little bit of our identity, this early in the season. We embrace it. We like it. It's cool," McIntosh said. "It's unique."

Bats are a protected species in Nevada. But bats can be a threat, carrying diseases like rabies, which is almost always fatal in humans. It doesn’t even take a bite or a scratch to get rabies; the deadly virus can be found in bat drool.

This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Bats fly at Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball season opener