Nevada and Washington squared off at Lawlor Events Center on Sunday, Oct. 21, playing in the Carr Fire Exhibition. An uncharacteristic second half where Nevada surrendered 52 points while only scoring 33 led to an embarrassing 18-point loss.
There’s no need to hit the panic button as Nevada led going into the half before collapsing in the second — a 180 for an Eric Musselman Nevada squad. Coach Musselman said it was not worth yelling at his team after the game, something the players took notice of.
Nevada star Caleb Martin was the most outspoken as he mentioned how Musselman’s silence comes from the player’s lack of effort and thought of being able to turn up their game whenever they want. Martin struggled to score only 10 points in the game on 3-13 shooting — 2-8 behind the arc — while brother Cody was 5-8 with 11 points. Cody Martin said the loss was “embarrassing.” Jordan Caroline led the team with 21 points while going 10-15 from the foul line — something he has been working on during the summer but it still seems like there is work to be done.
In his first collegiate appearance, Jordan Brown went 5-14 from the field. Although he is just a freshman, Brown has played for Team USA in the U16 and U17 levels, so he knows that more is expected of him. The four main players for Nevada’s bench — Tre’Shawn Thurman, Jazz Johnson, Corey Henson and Nisré Zouzoua — were all playing in their first games in over a season after sitting due to NCAA transfer rules. This is the first time Nevada has played competitively as a unit — the loss can be attributed to being rusty and never playing together.
Additionally, Washington is a solid team. The Pac-12 is a tough conference and the Huskies were picked to finish third. The last time the two teams played in 2016, it took a Marcus Marshall game-winning bucket to win by two. Also, former UNLV head coach and Nevada assistant Dave Rice is a coach for the Huskies, so he has inside knowledge on Musselman and the Pack.
Washington has all of its starters returning this season, while Nevada only has three. One of those returning players for the Huskies is the Pac-12’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year Matisse Thybulle — and proved why as he won it as he had three blocks and five steals. The biggest issue for Nevada was its defense, especially on Jaylen Nowell who scored 26 points on 12-15. The question for Washington is how much can head coach Mike Hopkins trust his bench. Three starters for the Huskies each played 37 minutes, Thybulle played 34 and the fifth starter — Sam Timmons — only played nine minutes because of foul trouble. This may work for one game but if this were a midseason game, the edge would go to Nevada and their depth.
Musselman is a coach who knows how to get the best of his players, and the overreaction — or lack thereof — of his team’s play is what the Wolf Pack need to get into gear.
Nevada’s next game is a lot less challenging as they face San Francisco State in their annual throwback game at Virginia Street Gym Friday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Look for the Wolf Pack to live up to the preseason hype and return to usual Eric Musselman standards.
Darion Strugs can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @dstrugs.