The main idea of an exhibition game is for a team to beat up on a lesser, opponent in front of the schools home crowd, in order to get them excited for the season. For most of Nevada’s exhibition last Saturday that goal wasn’t going as planned. The Wolf Pack trailed California State University San Marcos with as little as four minutes left in the game, until point guard Marqueze Coleman decided that enough was enough and took matters into his own hands. Coleman scored the teams last 17 points, leading Nevada to a 72-62 victory.
“I was just taking over shots,” Coleman said. “Whatever shots fit with the offense in rhythm, I was taking them and they kept falling.”
Coleman finished with a game-high 28 points, while going 3-6 from the three-point area and 11-13 from the free throw line. The main story of Coleman’s game was how differently he played during the first and second halves. During the first half, Coleman was 1-5 from the field and had only scored three points while the Wolf Pack trailed the Cougars 36-29.
However, in the second half, everything changed. The Wolf Pack players started to make smarter choices with the ball, the defense was stingier and Coleman started making his shots.
“I thought he found his groove,” said Nevada head coach David Carter. “I think in the first half [Coleman] wasn’t playing as aggressively as he should and in the second half he had more of a purpose.”
He played like former great Deonte Burton, the man Coleman backed up for his first two years at Nevada. He had the same mannerisms that Burton had in this game and everyone seemed to notice it.
“He kind of reminded me of [Burton] out there,” said junior AJ West. “We got fueled off of his energy and everyone enjoyed watching [Coleman] embrace his inner [Burton].”
However Coleman was not the only Pack player who played well, West had a double-double recording 12 points and 15 rebounds and paced the Wolf Pack defense, “Access Denied” as he refers to himself on Twitter blocked five shots to validate his nickname. His energy got the rest of the players more involved on defense, limiting the Cougars to 27 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
“We just wanted to do whatever it took to not disappoint the fans,” West said. “That was definitely our biggest priority out there.”
West did not disappoint the fans. However, there was a Nevada player who did not perform well in front of the Wolf Pack fans; senior Michael Perez. The team’s leader in points per game among returners struggled, scoring only five points and going 0-4 from the three point line. Even though this was just an exhibition game Perez will have to step up on the scoring load if the team wants to be successful this season.
Nonetheless, even with Perez’s off night, Nevada still had a excellent showing from several players in the rotation, including sophomore DJ Fenner, who scored 13 points, four rebounds and two assists on the game,.Fenner, who is projected to start at guard, was happy with the squad’s showing.
“It was a great way to get our feet wet,” Fenner said. “Especially with the big guys, I feel like it was a great way to get the season started.”
Though the night started out slow, it ended with a win and coach Carter realized this in the grand scheme of things.
“It was a tough game to play because we didn’t scout the way we usually do,” Carter said. “It was hard because we played a lot of kids, I just wanted everyone to get their feet wet and I wasn’t really worried about the score.”
With the exhibition game wrapped up Nevada will open up its regular season with a game against Cal Poly at the Lawlor Events Center on Saturday.
Stone Harper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB