A New Look Nevada Wolf Pack
Expectations are sky high for the Wolf Pack next year.
There are a lot of new faces for this Wolf Pack team
Gone is deadeye Kendall Stephens and Lindsey Drew is still in the rehab stage coming back from an Achilles injury. With four sit one year transfers eligible this season along with Grad transfer Trey Porter and McDonalds All-American Jordon Brown it seems that this year Eric Musselman has lots of puzzle pieces at his disposal, how they fit together is still up in the air.
Coach Musselman has changed the way Nevada has played every year he has been there. Last years team, while possessing some of the ideal traits of positionless basketball that is the trend in the NBA had some glaring weaknesses. In a lot of ways Nevada’s team philosophy last year was “you can’t guard us, we will outscore you.” While that mentality will likely still prevail, Nevada wants to play even faster this year, it is Nevada on defense this year that I can’t wait to see.
Rim protection and lob pass are two phrases you didn’t hear in Reno last year except in a yearning capacity. Both are expected to return to local vernacular with the addition of three players listed at 6’11”, Jordan Brown, Trey Porter, and K.J. Hymes. With athletic bigs offering some protection and a deep bench Nevada should be able to extend their defense and play with more intensity defensively every possession.
With seven scholarship seniors on this year’s squad don’t expect coach Musselman to be calling many timeouts. With a coaching philosophy that has a heavy focus on empowering the players on the court, and trusting them to know what to do Nevada led the nation with fewest timeouts per game, calling less than one per game. There may not be another team in the country with as much D1 experience as Nevada, but could that be a problem?
One of the prevalent topics in Reno this summer has been about time. Not in the metaphysical sense but in the pragmatic, as with only 200 minutes in a college game how will those minutes be divided up. In his first three years at Nevada, Musselman has played with a short rotation, only going seven or eight deep. Due to the way Nevada went about rebuilding their program they earned the nickname Transfer U.
While this had it’s upside it also meant that on any given year there would only be seven or eight scholarship players eligible to play. It will be interesting to see if Musselman finds those seven or eight players he trusts and they get the bulk of the minutes or with the deep experienced bench, we see those minutes spread around.
Flexibility is what Nevada will have a ton of this year, they can go big with 6’11” Brown, 6’11” Porter (with an eye-opening 44.5 inch vertical) 6’7” Caroline and the 6’7” Martin twins Cody and Caleb. Want to go small, just go with 6’7” Thurman, 6’7” Caroline, 6’7” Cody Martin, 6’2” Nisre Zouzoua and 5’10 Jazz Johnson or 6’3” Corey Henson.
With the likely starting line up of Brown, Porter, Caroline and the Martin twins, the second team of Johnson, Zouzoua, Henson, Thurman, and Hymes is certainly formidable on paper. Lindsey Drew the starting point guard last year is still rehabbing from an Achilles injury.
eIt will be mid-November before he will be able to evaluate his situation as to whether he will return this season or sit out. Needless to say, a healthy Lindsey Drew would just give Nevada another weapon and even more senior leadership.
Whatever this year’s iteration of Nevada Basketball under Musselman end up looking like there are some things we will see for sure. You will see the scoreboard at Lawlor working hard this year, you will see the Martin twins make a couple blind passes to one another that will make you ask “how did he know his brother was there?” and should Nevada meet preseason expectations and win their 3rd consecutive MWC regular season title you will also see a shirtless coach Musselman again.