By Brandon Cruz
Head coach Jane Albright and her coaching staff continue to search for a win during a lackluster regular season. There is a multitude of reasons as to why the team is struggling up to this point, but there are a few that stand out and must be addressed. The Pack’s injury blight, poor shooting percentage and inability to rebound are key factors to the team’s dreadful start.
Injuries are bound to happen in just about any sport that involves contact. While this may be the case, it’s hard to overcome losing three key players to season-ending injuries. Guard T Moe has been plagued by injuries since her sophomore season at Nevada; both her sophomore and junior seasons have ended due to knee surgery. If Moe had the ability to play, she would be a bright spot in what has been a disappointing season for the Pack so far. During Moe’s freshman campaign, she averaged three assists a game, 15.6 points, one steal and three rebounds. Granted, they’re not mind blowing stats, but for a freshman they’re impressive. One can only imagine the gaudy stats she’d be putting up at this point in her career. The next injury came during the Pack’s second game of the season against Montana State. Senior captain Julia Shelbourne went down with a season-ending knee injury in the first quarter. Her leadership and veteran knowledge of basketball were huge assets to the team, and this is undoubtedly a loss that stings. Just when Nevada thought matters couldn’t get any worse, the team lost its third starter, Ashlee Jones. Jones went down with a knee injury in a contest against Washington State. In eight games of her sophomore season, Jones contributed 4.5 points a game, which could’ve given the Pack’s offense a boost.
Over the course of eight games in the 2015-2016 season, the Pack has a 34.1 shooting percentage. While it may only be a 4.5-percent drop-off, such a small percentage could be the difference between winning or losing. The Wolf Pack hasn’t won a single game this season, the biggest factor being the team’s lowly shooting percentage. Also, there hasn’t been a single game this season in which Nevada’s shooting percentage topped its opponent’s. On average the team allows its opponents to shoot a sky-high percentage of 45.6. In this case the stats speak for themselves; if the Pack shoots better from the field or plays better defense, the team’s got a great chance of winning. In the two games of the season that the team shot just as well from the field as its opponents, it lost by as little as eight points and as much as 13.
The Pack has failed to out-rebound its opponent in half of the games this season. Those four games in which the team lost battle in the paint have resulted in trailing its opponents in average rebounds, 38-34. The Pack also only had two games this entire season in which the team outrebounded its opponents on the offensive side of the glass. If a team can’t obtain a significant amount of offensive rebounds, it’s losing out on second-chance points. The same case can be stated when talking about defensive rebounds. Due to the Pack’s inability to win the rebound battle on the defensive boards, the team’s giving its opponent prime opportunities for easy second-chance points. The Pack’s amount of rebounds per game has taken a huge step back since the 2014-2015 regular season. In that season the team accounted for 43.4 rebounds over the course of its first eight games. Those missing four rebounds are most likely due to the loss of 2014- 2015 Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Mimi Mungedi. Mungedi averaged 9.5 rebounds a game in her first eight games of her senior season with Nevada before being drafted to the WNBA by the Tulsa Shock. Nevada hasn’t been able to replace the enormous amount of production Mungedi brought to the table.
Brandon Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports