Following the season-ending right Achilles injury to starting point guard Lindsey Drew, Nevada must find a way to fill that void in the rotation. With a short bench, the Wolf Pack must rely on somebody from its bench to step up in Drew’s absence. Whether that comes from one guy or a combination of guys, the Wolf Pack will have the luxury of testing out new lineups in the upcoming home games against the 10th and 11th ranked teams in the Mountain West in San Jose State and Colorado State.
Below are some of the most likely candidates to eat up the minutes left by Drew:
1. Elijah Foster — The Wolf Pack big man and the only holdover from the David Carter era lost his place in the rotation this season. In scarce minutes, he has shown spurts where he can be a serviceable defender, rebounder, and spot-up shooter.
Last season, Foster looked like the perfect compliment to Cameron Oliver in the post. He was averaging 12 points per game 7.4 rebounds per game through the first seven games of the season. This was done as the fourth or fifth option on offense. With a suspension due to a domestic battery charge halting his early success, Foster has yet to crack the rotation after his return this season.
Nevada has shown that it has struggled to defend the paint this season. While Foster is not a true rim-protector — he is as tall as the Martin twins — after Jordan Caroline he is most likely the only player that can consistently provide defense against traditional bigs.
Foster has always been a player reliant on confidence and rhythm. With a bump in minutes, he could provide some much-needed help in the interior on
both ends of the court.
2. Hallice Cooke — Hallice Cooke is most likely Nevada’s best “effort” guy. Every time he steps on the court, he provides the Wolf Pack valuable minutes on defense with the occasional long-range bomb. While he is not a player that manufactures his own shots, he always plays within the offense. His quick trigger on offense is tolerated because he brings a different spark when he is in the game.
As the primary backup to Drew, stepping up into greater minutes could allow the Wolf Pack to continue to use its small ball style of play. Cooke is a player that Musselman trusts. He may be the most likely candidate to get the lion’s share of Drew’s minutes.
3. Josh Hall — Josh Hall is like Foster in that he is a rhythm and confidence type of player. When his game is working, he can be a lights-out shooter and a great defender. In addition, he is a capable ball-handler that can bring the ball up the court on semi-transition opportunities. In the NCAA Tournament game against Iowa State, he had some key floaters that kept the Wolf Pack in the game.
However, also like Foster, his minutes have been inconsistent this season. Musselman is always quick to praise Hall whenever he does well on the court. In order to stay on the court, Hall’s floor must be at least a decent three and D. If he can do that, Musselman will most likely make him a part of the regular rotation.
While it seems like Musselman is experimenting with Cody Martin as the point-forward in the game against Utah State, once rest in between games shortens during tournament time, he will most likely have to turn to one of these players for extended playing time.