By Alexa Ard
The Wolf Pack was a veteran team entering the Mountain West Conference as the “new kids on the block” in the 2012-2013 season.
The Mountain West presented bigger, stronger and faster competition that wiped the floor with Nevada, resulting in its last place finish in the conference.
At the Pack’s first practice of the 2013-2014 season on Sept. 27, head coach David Carter admitted that he felt like there were players on the team who didn’t want to be there last season. These players are no longer at Nevada, and instead of a team of veterans, the Pack consists of several newbies to the NCAA Division I level.
Although Carter and point guard Deonte Burton described these new additions as eager to learn and play at Nevada, their lack of experience in DI play could possibly be one of the Pack’s obstacles this season.
Of the 14 athletes on the team, eight have competed at the Division I level. Out of these eight, only seniors Burton and Jerry Evans, Jr. and sophomores Cole Huff and Marqueze Coleman have seen significant court time at this level.
Junior Chris Brown is a transfer to Nevada who has competed at a DI school. As a freshman, he played for Oregon State, but he saw little playing time. Last season he played at Western Texas College, a junior college where he averaged eight points in the six games he competed in before his injury.
This season he’s out indefinitely due to medical reasons. Even with his little experience at the DI level, I believe Brown could have been a force to be reckoned with in the paint standing at six-foot-eleven with a seven-foot-seven wingspan.
A.J. West is one of the transfers who also could have contributed down low for the Wolf Pack but is unable to play.
Junior Michael Perez used his redshirt last season after transferring from UTEP where he averaged 11 points per game in his sophomore year and saw 27 starts. After sitting out a year, he was forced to get back into his rhythm of playing again quickly since Carter has him in the starting lineup at shooting guard.
There are seven returners, three freshmen and four transfers. The newbies that have stepped up include freshman D.J. Fenner and junior Ronnie Stevens, Jr.
From my perspective, I only see seven players on the team that can make a positive impact when on the court. These individuals are Evans, Perez, Huff, Coleman, Fenner, Stevens and obviously Burton.
Center Ali Fall is the third senior for Nevada who saw limited playing time in his first year at Nevada last season. So in a way, he’s still getting used to DI play as well, and it’s shown so far.
He needs to take advantage of his size, be aggressive and take care of the ball like it’s his baby that no one can take away from him. He’s hardly notched any points or snatched any rebounds. It’s no wonder Carter started Stevens instead on Friday in the game against Missouri. My thoughts when I saw this switch: thank God.
Nevada consists of many fresh faces, and it’s a team with potential. But in the end, that potential is nothing if there is no execution.
Alexa Ard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.