The Nevada Basketball team’s third preseason “Throwback” game featured new uniforms, old-school music, and a sold-out Virginia Street Gym. Leading up to the game, fans lined up outside the doors of the gym in order to get first choice at seats in the general admission game.
With the coaches, cheerleaders, and players dressed in their throwback gear, along with an overhauled Wolf Pack volleyball court lined with tape to mark the necessary spots on the basketball court, Virginia Street Gym took a step back in time.
“It’s an amazing experience getting to play in a compact environment like this,” Hall said. “The crowd really got into it and the fans showed a lot of energy. I’ve never played like anything like this since the gyms in high school so it was a really good experience.”
Alongside the players, the coaches also took part in the wearing throwback outfits as they each wore 70’s themed attire. Coach Ruta and the other assistants, took it a step further and wore fake moustaches.
The Wolf Pack, who donned its new “throwback” uniforms, one of five new additions this season, found its groove on both ends of the court to give the sellout crowd of 3000 a bang for its buck.
“I thought it was a really neat environment,” Musselman said. “Fun for the fans, fun for all of us to participate in something that was a little bit different. We’re overly pleased with our turnout.”
Offensively, Nevada was led by sophomore forward, Josh Hall who scored a game-high 27 points. Hall made his living from beyond the arc as he made seven threes (on 7-of-8 shooting).
“Josh just keeps getting better and better,” Musselman said. “He’s got great confidence. Obviously tonight he shot the three ball phenomenally. I thought that we really stretched out their defense by knocking down the three.”
Hall, who got the start for the first time this preseason, was pleased with the team’s performance heading into the non-conference season.
“I just came out aggressive,” Hall said. “I got a good rhythm in the beginning of the game. I got a couple of open threes to keep the rhythm going so tonight’s a good night.”
The Wolf Pack saw the return of junior forward Jordan Caroline. He sat out the last game as he was nursing an ankle that he injured during practice a few weeks ago. Caroline scored ten points (on 4-of-11 shooting). In addition, he recorded six rebounds, one assist and two steals.
Nevada was hitting on all cylinders offensively as it had two more players score in double digits in addition to Hall and Stephens in Cody Martin (16 points; 5-of-12) and Kendall Stephens (13 points; 5-of-15)
Musselman, who in Nevada’s previous outing against Stanislaus State was disappointed with the defensive performance of the Wolf Pack, challenged his team to play with greater effort on the defensive end. This time around, the Wolf Pack stifled their opponent en route to a blowout performance.
“I thought we played better defense,” Musselman said. “We held them to 30% but there’s still some things that we need to clean up for sure from a defensive standpoint.
The Wolf Pack forced the Penguins into 14 turnovers in the first half. Of those 14 turnovers, the Wolf Pack converted to 15 points off of turnovers on the other end. Midway through the half, Nevada ramped up the intensity as it held Dominican scoreless for over seven minutes.
In the second half, Nevada continued its intensity on the defensive end as they held their opponent to 33 points in the second half while forcing another 11 turnovers.
“That was one of our main goals—to get more steals,” Hall said. “We’re a little bit smaller this year so we want to take more charges and to take more steals. We definitely achieved our goal for this game.”
The Wolf Pack was without projected starter Caleb Martin who was ruled out of the game with lingering turf toe.
The game against Dominican wraps up the preseason slate for the Wolf Pack. After three games, Nevada handily defeated each of its opponents which include WAC favorite Grand Canyon and Stanislaus State.
“We feel really good,” Hall said. “We feel really confident to get back into it on Monday to just lock in on them. We feel really confident on what we can do and how we played tonight and how we moved the ball. So we’re all really excited.”