Get On The Nevada Basketball Hype Train
How good are the Wolf Pack going to be?
For basketball junkies, the beginning of football season means that fall is not far off and that magical season is when college basketball revs up its engines. The hype has started, Duke’s Zion Williamson has already shown near superhuman athleticism, R.J. Barrett is going to put up insane numbers and Nevada could be a final 4 team. Yes, Nevada is getting lots of pre-season hype and there is the talk of the Mountain West becoming a multi-league bid conference on a regular basis once again.
Not all hypes pan out. Last years Arizona squad is a good example. Preseason No. 2, Arizona lost its first three games and did so in a somewhat sloppy fashion. A week later they were the first No. 2 ranked team to fall completely out of the top 25 since the 1986-87 season. They did rebound enough to get a 4 seed but finished what can only be described as a deeply disappointing season with a first-round loss to 13 seed Buffalo.
Is Nevada headed for a season where simply being good is a huge disappointment or can they play up to their expectations and go deeper in the NCAA tournament than any other MWC team has?
There are lots of reasons to believe that Nevada can avoid an Arizona type season or worse. Experience is important, especially in March when things get tense. Nevada has six, fifth-year seniors that all averaged 13 or more points per game during their last eligible season. Back that up with a fourth-year senior and a pair of fourth-year juniors and you have one of the more experienced college teams ever put together, especially in the era on one and done. Experience alone does not guarantee success but it should help Nevada avoid multi-game losing streaks.
Last year Nevada was outrebounded over the course of the season and it got worse going up against the likes of Mo Bamba, Gary Clark, and Kyle Washington. Outrebounded by Texas 38-31 the lack of frontline size was brutally exposed by Cincinnati as they pulled down 44 boards with 15 coming on the offensive end compared to Nevada’s total 29 rebounds. If Nevada wanted to enhance their chances of making a deeper run in March their lack of interior size would need to be addressed.
Capitalizing on their success in the NCAA Coach Eric Musselman went to the transfer market and landed 6’11” Trey Porter. This is Porter’s third stop during his college career and being a grad transfer is eligible to play immediately. Porter has surprised coaches and teammates alike with his athleticism, passing and speed up and down the court… Nevada was not done and they sent shockwaves through college basketball when they landed McDonald’s All-American Jordan Brown. At 6’11” Brown along with Porter give Nevada a completely different look.
The absence of a rim protector was evident at times during the 2017-18 season. Last year Nevada was 71st in the country in blocked shots, but most of those came from the point guards Lindsey Drew and Cody Martin. With 6’7” Jordan Caroline moving from the five to the three position and often playing with two bigs at the same time and a much deeper bench, Nevada should be able to become much more disruptive on defense.
As the evenings get cooler and November edges closer the Nevada hype train is likely to get louder. Until we see this team in action, they open with BYU; we do not know how this team will perform. Looking good on paper or looking good getting off the bus is fun, but it doesn’t always translate into on the court success.
“The million dollar question”, as Jon Rothstein aptly put it on his recent podcast on the MWC, can Nevada’s bench players that may have arrived expecting to start, put their egos in check and become great bench players? Is it November yet?