This past week the NCAA granted a special waiver that allowed teams to take part in an additional exhibition game wherein proceeds go toward relief efforts for recent tragedies across the nation. Multiple teams throughout college basketball scrambled to take advantage of this win-win situation as it allows for its basketball programs an extra opportunity for live competition while being able to contribute to charitable causes.
In collaboration with the Grand Canyon Athletic Department, Nevada was able to arrange a game between two teams that are projected to win their respective conferences.
The proceeds of tonight’s game will go toward the North Bay Fire Relief Fund for the victims of the recent California wildfires.
“This is the power of sports—to provide an opportunity to come together around a game and help support the thousands affected by this tragedy,” Nevada athletic director Doug Knuth said. “We’ve had family members and friends of our campus community, including those of our staff and our student-athletes, affected by these wildfires. To have our corporate community come together to help those in need is a powerful thing.”
The Wolf Pack, who is heading into the season as the preseason Mountain West Conference pick to repeat as champions, will try to follow up its 28-7 record and NCAA Tournament appearance from last year.
Its opponent, Grand Canyon University, is in its first year of Division I eligibility and is already the pundits’ favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference. After having to wait four years after making the decision to move up from Division II, the Lopes, led by head coach and former Phoenix Sun Dan Majerle, return a team poised to take reign of the WAC. During his time in the NBA, Majerle earned the nickname “Thunder Dan” for his high-flying, above-the-rim style of play.
The Lopes will be led by returning senior guard Joshua Braun. The crafty scorer averaged 17.5 points per game and was an All-WAC first-team selection last season. In addition, the Lopes added a key graduate transfer in Casey Benson. He was a member of an Oregon Ducks team that reached the Final Four last year. Benson averaged 4.9 points per game, playing an average of 20.9 minutes per game.
Despite losing three all-conference players in the offseason in Cameron Oliver, Marcus Marshall and D.J. Fenner, Nevada returns key contributors in Jordan Caroline, Lindsey Drew, and Josh Hall. In addition, key sit-out transfers will be eligible this year and will be key to reloading a fast-paced Wolf Pack attack. Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Kendall Stephens, and Hallice Cooke are all Power Five conference transfers that look to create an impact in the rotation.
The exhibition match will be held tonight at 4:00 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center and will cost fans $5 for general admission. The first 300 students will be able to attend the game for free.