by Stone Harper
Ladies and gentleman, Eric Musselman is in the building.
The man who was hired on Wednesday to be the head coach of the men’s basketball team was formally introduced on Thursday in a news conference held at Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth began the press conference, which was attended by some of the Silver and Blue’s finest including head football coach Brian Polian, head volleyball coach Lee Nelson and University President Marc Johnson.
“When we began this search we looked for someone that would understand what this university stands for, what this community stands for” Knuth said. “We looked at someone who would understand what our true core values are for this university and this athletic department, and someone who would fit into this community and I have no doubt that we have found someone who hits on all of those points.”
While Musselman’s fit to Nevada was a part of his recruitment, so was his impressive resume. Musselman has been an assistant on seven different teams in both the NBA and college basketball including spending last season at Louisiana State University. Musselman has also coached at the highest level, spending 2002-2004 as the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Musselman also coached the Sacramento Kings from 2006-2007, acquiring a 108-138 record in his three season as head man in the big leagues.
Despite coaching in the pros, Musselman also had ties to Reno. In 2010 Musselman coached the NBA D-League affiliate the Reno Bighorns and led them to their only Western Conference title while coaching a few Nevada legends including The Wolf Pack’s all-time leading scorer Nick Fazekas.
“I could not be more excited to be back in the Reno community,” said Musselman. “My family and I spent time in Reno during 2010 and we absolutely loved living here, my father also coached in Reno for a season and this Reno community has been a part of my family for a very long time.”
Nevada also returns one of the most experienced rosters in all of college basketball. The Wolf Pack return all five starters from last year’s squad including all-league performer AJ West, who led Nevada in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
This roster has great potential, but it must also prepare for a major transition. When a new head coach is hired, players have to adjust to new offensive and defensive schemes. In Nevada’s case, the team will be adjusting from a half-court, slow-paced offense to the high-paced, full-court run and gun offense that Musselman will bring to the Wolf Pack.
“We told them they have to have a great commitment from now until our first game, because the pace we play at both offensively and defensively is at a high-octane place. And we tell our players we want to be cosmetically pleasing to the fans,” Musselman said. “We’re going to ask a lot out of them from a physical standpoint to play the style we want defensively. We want to try to create turnovers. We want our defense to create turnovers for us.”
Musselman has his work cut out for him. Last season, Nevada went 9-22 and was eliminated in the first round of the Mountain West Conference tournament by bitter rival UNLV. With all that put in front of him, Musselman seems ready for the challenge and excited to be the next head coach of the Wolf Pack.
“I have never had more energy, more excitement,” said Musselman, “I’ve coached at every level and I’ve coached at the highest level and I think this is the most excited I have ever been to take on a new challenge.”
Stone Harper can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @StoneHarperNVSB.