In his short time at Nevada, Eric Musselman has made giant strides on his track to becoming maybe the greatest basketball coach in the school’s history. He’s won 24 or more games in each of his first three seasons, has two regular season Mountain West championships and one Mountain West tournament championship under his belt. Throughout his coaching career in Reno, there has been one common issue with Musselman — and it’s not his temper. In fact, Musselman’s fiery spirit has become an endearing trait to many Nevada Basketball fans.
Musselman has built the Nevada program mostly by acquiring players via transfer and not incoming freshmen. It has handicapped the current Nevada roster, not in terms of performance, but in depth. Nevada currently has eight scholarship players, only seven of whom play meaningful minutes and five of whom are transfers. The roster also has four players — Jazz Johnson, Tre’Shawn Thurman, Corey Henson and Nisré Zouzoua — sitting out this year due to NCAA transfer rules. Lastly, it has four non-scholarship players on the bench, two of which are also receivers for the university’s football team.
Notable transfers include all five starters from the Wolf Pack’s game against Colorado State this past Sunday. Jordan Caroline, Cody and Caleb Martin, Hallice Cooke and Kendall Stephens. Another is the leading scorer of the 2016-2017 team, Marcus Marshall.
Only two current players have played for Musselman immediately coming out of high school on scholarship: Lindsey Drew and Josh Hall. Hall has become a crucial part of Nevada’s rotation in his first two seasons with the Wolf Pack. Drew had been a staple for Nevada as a three-year starting point guard, before tearing his Achilles in a game versus Boise State earlier this month.
Drew’s injury is not the only one that has jeopardized Nevada’s tournament hopes. Both of the Martin twins have sustained injuries in the final minutes of games that were in the bag for the Wolf Pack. Caleb re-aggravated a foot injury with 26 seconds remaining in a win against Colorado State, while Cody injured his Achilles with 46 seconds to go in a win against Utah State. The twins’ injuries spur from the lack of trust he has in his bench. Instead of trust, he risks three of his best players by playing them for over 32 minutes a game each.
If Musselman has gotten this type of production from the only two freshmen he has obtained commitments from, why does he not continue to search for players that can play for four years under him instead of one, two or three years if he is lucky enough? If he did this, his trust in players would be much easier to gain and lead to a full roster every season.
Darion Strugs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.