Nevada Wolf Pack
Overall Rank: #142
Conference Rank: #4 WAC
2010-11: 13-19, 8-8
2010-11 postseason: none
Coach: David Carter (34-32 at Nevada, 34-32 overall)
Nevada and Coach David Carter knew they would have a tough time during the 2010-2011 campaign. While forward Olek Czyz was waiting to become eligible in the spring following a transfer from Duke, the Wolf Pack played very poorly. Once Czyz was on the floor, the team appeared to be much improved, but they faded down the stretch and inconsistent play became the norm for the young team. Czyz averaged 12.3 points per game last year and stretched out the defense with his impressive outside shooting ability. Joining Czyz in the frontcourt again will be Dario Hunt. The 6-8 senior has turned into a leader on this team and made a huge jump in production last season, averaging 12.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks.
The only graduating senior on last year’s roster was little used Adam Carp. Illiwa Baldwin left early, but he was the big man who covered for Czyz while he was ineligible. Baldwin had a disappointing and surprisingly short career at Nevada, but he could at least hit the glass relatively effectively and gave the squad a much needed presence in the paint when he was on the floor. Derrell Conner played an important role off of the bench last year but is not returning for the 2011-2012 campaign.
The Wolf Pack had enough newcomers last year to cover this year as well. In all Coach Carter had to work in ten newcomers last season. A year in the system should help, but there are still needs, most notably in the frontcourt. Czyz and Hunt are fine players, but Nevada needs to find some quality players off of the bench in the frontcourt. Sophomores Kevin Panzer and Devonte Elliott, along with oft-injured Keith Olson are the only options. Panzer and Elliott got thrown into the fire last year and both played admirably, but will need to grow as players during their sophomore season.
Who to Watch:
The bigger question at Nevada is who is going to emerge as the team’s fifth scoring option, or at least their fifth starter. Last season four players averaged about 30 minutes per game and nobody else averaged over 20. There is a glaring hole in the lineup at the wing spot and the hope is Jerry Evans can fill it. The big 6-8 guard was usually the wing of choice last year, but in 19.1 minutes per game he averaged just 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds. Jordan Burris and Jordan Finn, a couple more sophomores, also earned a few starts and will look to play a bigger role. The same can be said for Patrick Nyeko who kind of disappeared last season as all of the freshmen developed their games and took over his minutes.
Along with Czyz and Hunt, Nevada has two other superb players in Malik Story and Deonte Burton. Story, a transfer from Indiana, led the Wolf Pack with 14.5 points per game during his first season in Reno and should be ready to put up even better numbers this year. He is not a superb outside shooter, but he will hoist up a lot of three-pointers and occasionally use his 6-5 frame to attack the basket. The main reason Story should have a better season is because of the now experienced point guard by his side. Deonte Burton was burdened by high expectations heading to Nevada, but he lived up to them. He proved to be a capable outside shooter, a solid all-around scorer and a great point guard. With Burton handling the ball, Story will get open looks and he can knock them down when he is not forcing the issue. The question is whether or not this team can come together after the disappointment last year. They need to find depth in the frontcourt and at the point guard position, but this could be a very dangerous team by March. They just need to stay fresh and focused all year long if they hope to make the postseason and even if they do stumble here and there, this Nevada squad has the talent to finish in the top half of the WAC and that should put them right on the cusp of a postseason invite of some sort.
Projected Postseason Tournament: none
Projected Starting Five:
Deonte Burton, Sophomore, Guard, 13.7 points per game
Malik Story, Junior, Guard, 14.5 points per game
Jerry Evans, Sophomore, Guard, 4.9 points per game
Olek Czyz, Senior, Forward, 12.3 points per game
Dario Hunt, Senior, Forward, 12.4 points per game
Check out another article about Nevada men’s basketball