1. What a disappointing end to the Wolf Pack’s season. In a year where they completed a worst-to-third turnaround, Nevada loses 75-62 to No. 6 Boise State in the MWC Tournament quarterfinals. After a dramatic end to the regular season, it seemed like Nevada had enough magic to make a run in the tournament, but the Broncos had other plans. Despite being a higher seed, Nevada entered the game as 6.5-point underdogs. I guess sports books knew something many fans didn’t. No cinderella story for the Wolf Pack. Rather, an anti-climatic ending.
“It hurts but I can’t hang my head,” Nevada point guard Deonte Burton said. “We had a good run all season, but it hurts a lot that we lost and we don’t have anymore games left and we’re done. But I can’t hang my head.”
2. Despite a huge turnaround from last season, you can’t help but feel disappointed about this year after this finish. Nevada won seven more conference games this season, but like last year’s MWC Tournament, are one-and-done. But don’t tell that to head coach David Carter.
“They showed great character and great fight,” he said. “They never gave up.”
That’s nothing to sneeze at. Last years squad threw in the towel. This years team wasn’t short of adversity — injuries piled up, non-conference play was atrocious., and five-game losing skid during conference play. In spite of all that, they earned a No. 3 seed. But one conference win would have gone a long way.
3. Will Nevada score a postseason invite elsewhere? Perhaps, NIT or CIT? The Wolf Pack finished the year 15-17 (10-9 MW) and earned a No. 3 seed in a respectable conference with two nationally-ranked teams — not a bad resume. Burton thinks they will.
“I think so,” Burton said. “We should get invited and I’m looking forward to that. But nothing is guaranteed.”
4. If they don’t, this marked the end of the Deonte Burton era. The senior finished with a game-high 22 points and four assists. In what’s been the story of his four-year career, Burton played great but got little help elsewhere. Besides Burton, the rest of the team shot 29 percent. Only Cole Huff (17 points) reached double figures. Burton had high praise for his four-year run with the Silver and Blue.
“I loved it,” Burton said. “I had a great experience. I’m glad I chose Nevada over other schools. I think I made the right decision coming out of high school.”
5. The big knock on Burton’s legacy will be he never won”the big one.” He has just just two conference tournament wins to his name and a regular-season Western Athletic Conference championship. Moreover, three of his four years ended in losing seasons. It’s tough to compare him to Nick Fazekas or Kirk Snyder, guys who were part of NCAA Tournament teams. But can you blame Burton? His supporting cast has been limited.
“He truly raised the bar for the program in terms of his work ethic, competitiveness,” Carter said. “I always knew what I was getting from him. That’s a special player when you know he’s coming to battle for you — win or lose.”
The big-picture question is, how are they going to replace Burton? Drawing a player of his caliber is unlikely. Can Marqueze Coleman or D.J. Fenner step up? It’s going to be a long offseason for Carter.
6. Jerry Evans Jr. career came to a disappointing end. He played a mere 22 minutes, scoring seven points and notching eight rebounds. The senior sat on the bench most the second half.
“I don’t think he’s head was in it,” Carter said.
According to Carter, Evans asked him to sit. Very strange situation. A sad ending to a solid career with the Wolf Pack.
7. Like he has been most of the second part of the year, AJ West was a non-factor. He scored four points in 16 minutes. His early-season success could be attributed to teams not having film or a scouting report on him. Teams figured him out eventually. The question now, is the verdict out on West? Is he an error-prone big man? Or can he lead Nevada in the post next year?
“He probably hit a wall,” Carter said. “First-year players go through that. He didn’t play preseason so he didn’t have a chance to hit wall and bounce back and understand Division I basketball.”
8. The Broncos live and die off the three-point shot. On Thursday, they knocked down 9-of-25 (36 percent) from beyond the arc to the Wolf Pack’s 25 percent. Carter said they hit “timely” threes throughout the game.
However, Carter said the turning point of the game came early in the second half when Michael Perez lobbed an alley-oop in the direction of both Evans and Burton. The confusion led to a turnover and was the play that Evans told Carter to sit him afterward. The error came during a 15-0 run by Boise State. The Wolf Pack rallied back to tie it, reminiscent of its comeback against UNLV, but it ran out of firepower late.
9. What a turnover palooza by Boise State after intermission. The Broncos turned the ball over 10 times in the second half after a mere four in the first half. And these were sloppy turnovers like overthrown passes, too. They were practically gift wrapping Nevada a chance to comeback, but the Wolf Pack didn’t capitalize.
“They gave us a chance to get back in it,” said Carter about the turnovers. “We didn’t take advantage of that. We missed a couple of lay ups. We missed a couple of wide-open shots and had good looks. You can’t do that against good teams. We didn’t make them pay for the turnovers they had.”
10. In one of the most bizarre technical fouls of all time, Boise State was gifted a pair of free throws because Nevada had an error in its scorebook. Marquee Coleman, who wears a No. 1 jersey, was labeled as No. 0 (his number last year). Any guesses who is to blame for that goof? At halftime when the score was tied, I had an uneasy feeling thinking the game would be decided by two points… Bullet dodged.