Nevada basketball went undefeated, Aug. 19-22, during their four day, five game stint in Costa Rica, seeing its first live action since exiting the first round of the Big Dance against Iowa State on March 16.
Wolf Pack basketball players and staff rose from their Reno beds at four in the morning on Aug. 18 to begin their trip to the paradise of Costa Rica. They began play the very next day against the University of British Colombia Thunderbirds. UBC started off strong against a formidable Wolf Pack team, leading by ten points at the end of the first quarter. However, the Thunderbird’s success was short lived, as Nevada outscored their opponent 68-39 for the remainder of the exhibition, defeating the Thunderbirds 77-55. Transfer student Caleb Martin had himself a day, scoring 20 points while pulling down nine boards. Along with Martin’s performance, Jordan Caroline added 13 points and seven rebounds to the final total for Nevada.
Following the Pack’s victory over the Thunderbirds, Nevada defeated the Costa Rica national team in an all out shellacking. The Wolf Pack began the game on a huge 11-0 run and never looked back. By capitalizing on its fast break opportunities and utilizing its entire roster, Nevada won by a score of 93-68, with huge point contributions coming from Jazz Johnson (21), Kendall Stephens (14) and Elijah Foster (14). Even though the Wolf Pack had a healthy amount of steals, these extra possessions were cancelled out by the team’s 13 turnovers.
After the Pack’s back-to-back games on Aug. 19, they concluded their three-game span with a gaudier win over UBC on Aug. 20. Nevada jumped out to an early lead, as the Thunderbirds trailed by nine points at the end of the first. Across the next three quarters UBC put up 47 points compared to Nevada’s 88 points. When all was said and done, Nevada boasted a 50-point victory over UBC.
Nevada appeared to improve from game-to-game as they defeated the Costa Rica national team for a second time on Aug. 21 by a lopsided score of 105-49. The point distribution was fairly even throughout the team with five players scoring in double digits. There was no one man assist guru, as this facet of the game too was put on the shoulders of every player. The Costa Rica national team started in an early hole ending the first quarter down by 18. As the game went on the deficit grew larger and larger until the Pack had created an insurmountable lead.
Aug. 22 marked the date of Nevada basketball’s final game in Costa Rica against the Costa Rica national team. Once again, Nevada proved why it is a force to be reckoned with this upcoming season. The game started off a great deal closer than the previous one, with Nevada only leading by six points at the end of the first quarter. At this point, the game had the potential of becoming a back and forth affair, until Nevada put on the jets opening up a 32-point lead at the end of the second quarter. The final score saw Nevada win by a whopping 61 points in a game that looked like it was men against boys.
“It was great to see so much energy on the court and I think our whole team is starting to really come together on this trip,” said associate head coach Johnny Jones after the Pack’s final win in Costa Rica.
While the Pack put on an impressive display of pure athleticism and skill on the court, the Nevada men’s basketball team did much more than play basketball in this tropical paradise. On the fourth day of its time in Costa Rica, the team took a trip to an orphanage that stretches eight city blocks. According to the Director of Player Development Hays Myers, the first room they walked into appeared to be that of a nursery.
“Jordan Caroline pulled out his cellphone and started using the Snapchat filter with some of the kids,” said Myers. “I have never seen more joy on someone’s face as they tapped on a little screen and saw themselves in it.”
Wolf Pack basketball doesn’t appear to have lost a step with its transition into life after Cameron Oliver and Marcus Marshall. Nevada will begin its conference play on Dec. 27 in its match-up against the Fresno State Bulldogs.