The State Of The Nevada Wolf Pack
Explaining the Nevada basketball season so far.
What to make of Nevada’s hoops.
Has The Ship Been Righted?
This article has been simmering for the better part of a week, with different ideas filtering through my mind as to what to write about. At first, I was going to write about Eric Musselman‘s love/hate relationship with Twitter and how he bristles at unsolicited advice from fans, but Chris Murray at NevadaSportsnet.com addressed much of that in his Monday article. It was after listening to Mike Randle, from Screen the Screener podcast, in an episode called “Nevada Wake Up Call” that the subject I would write about crystalized.
It is time for some real talk about the state of Wolf Pack basketball. I will be the first to admit that from time to time I have been an apologist for Nevada basketball and coach Musselman, but sometime I have those lucid moments where reality takes over an I am able to see things without the cloud of fandom interfering. Nevada fans have to wake up and smell the aroma of reality and accept the fact that Nevada has not been playing Final Four caliber basketball for most of this season.
I, like many of you, watched the Duke-Virginia game this past weekend. Both of those teams played like teams that want to win a championship and have been playing that way game in and game out. For most of the season, Nevada has underperformed, yes underperformed and not by a little bit but by lots. Sure Nevada is 19-1 but there are caveats to that record, many of them. But isn’t winning everything? All that matters is getting the W right?
If you just enjoy watching a good basketball team, rooting for the home team and live in Northern Nevada then this has been a great season except for that fluke of a night down in New Mexico. If, on the other hand, you think or thought that Nevada was a final Final Foul team coming into the season, then you likely agree with me that all is not well in Reno. We have all heard the excuses as to why most of which I don’t buy.
Let’s begin with the “we get everyone’s best game” and “we have a target on our back.” We have heard this from Musselman and some of the players, and on the surface it had credence. Nevada is “THE” game for most of their opponents, there is no denying that.
Yes, every team is sky high when they play Nevada and coaches are working overtime trying to gameplan a victory against a ranked opponent. While valid, does it justify having to rely on a 20% shooter from long distance to nail one from behind the arc with time running out against a Boise State team that now sits at 8-11 and ranked 134th by Kenpom?
When we look at other teams that came into the season with somewhat reasonable dreams and expectations to make it to the final 4, we see that they are handling the pressure of the expectations game quite differently. Is the target on the backs of teams like Duke, Virginia, Gonzaga and Michigan somehow smaller that Nevada’s? If you want to be the best and have high poll rankings you had better be prepared to have everyone, especially in conference, trying their hardest to take you down a peg.