Mountain West Basketball Profile: Nevada Wolf Pack
Can Nevada live up to the hype?
Nevada poised for banner run
Next in our Mountain West basketball preview series is Nevada Wolf Pack. After an exciting offseason that included the decision of seniors Caleb and Cody Martin along with Jordan Caroline to return for one more year, the signing of 5 star recruit Jordan Brown and grad transfer of 6’11” Trey Porter, Nevada is eager for the real season to begin.
Projected Starting Lineup
- G, Cody Martin, Sr., 6-7, 205
- G, Caleb Martin, Sr., 6-7, 205
- G, Jordan Caroline, Sr., 6-7, 230
- F, Jordan Brown, Fr., 6-11, 210
- C, Trey Porter, Sr., 6-11, 230
Player To Watch
Coach Eric Musselman has a circle of trust – players that he trusts to produce in game situations. That trust must be earned and of all the new additions to the team this year, Tre’Shawn Thurman may well be the first off the bench as well as being on the court at the end of games. A solid passer with good range and a hard nosed approach that resembles Caroline’s intensity, Thurman fits well into Musselman’s positionless style of play.
Nevada will need to replace the outside shooting of departed Kendall Stephens and Hallice Cooke and Jazz Johnson may be the most likely player to fill that role. The Portland transfer shot 41.5% from behind the arc for Portland before sitting out last year. Maybe the best athlete on the squad, if Johnson can stretch defenses the way Stephens did last year it will translate into playing time.
Joining Brown, Porter, Thurman and Johnson as new additions are more sit-one transfers: Nisre Zouzoua and Corey Henson. Henson displayed a nose for the ball coming up with 5 steals in an exhibition against San Francisco State. Zouzoua will be expected to provide a shooting spark off the bench as well.
Biggest Question Mark
Can Nevada defend? There were some assumptions made by yours truly and others that all Nevada needed to become a quality defensive team were depth and rim protection. On paper Nevada solved both of those issues, however the game is played on the hardwood and in two exhibitions Nevada’s defense was M.I.A. for a game and a half. Musselman has been touted as an offensive guru, this season one of his biggest challenges will be getting Nevada to defend. So frustrated over the teams inability to defend against a tough Washington team, Musselman has been experimenting with playing some zone defense.
Marquee Non-Conference Matchup
Mark your calendars for November 27th when Nevada travels to Loyola Chicago for a rematch of the Sweet 16 game that sent Nevada packing in a squeaker.
Nevada begins the season ranked #7 in the preseason. AP poll, its highest ranking ever. With all the hype Nevada has gotten this off season one of the questions often asked around Reno is “what makes this season a success?” Nevada is a sexy pick by pundits to make it to the Final Four – anything shy of a return to the Sweet 16 will be viewed as an opportunity lost.
Offensive Production Chart
Thirty Second Breakdown
Nevada is loaded, on paper they are National Championship material. They check off all the boxes if one is assembling a team poised to make serious noise come November. Senior leadership? Try 6 seniors that all sat out a year. Size? If you want height, take 6-11 twin towers of Porter and Brown and for more bulk just throw 6-8/230 Thurman on the court. Returning players? Few teams ever return their top three scorers and rebounders from a Sweet 16 team as Nevada does in the Martin twins and Caroline. Coaching? Musselman is a rising star on the college scene, his Nevada teams have gotten better every year. and his 81 wins ranks 4th all time for D1 wins in first three seasons as head coach.
Predicted Order of Finish