His teammates may dominate the headlines, but Tre’Shawn Thurman is the glue that keeps the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team bonded throughout a record-setting season.
“The rest of the team calls me the glue guy,” Thurman said. “I think I do a good job of that, I don’t want anything else … I’m comfortable where I’m at with my role.”
At the end of a long 31-game regular season and added postseason play in March, one thing for certain is that Thurman impacted the game in some type of way, whether it’s leading the Pack in scoring off the bench, guarding the opposing team’s best offensive player or simply taking flight and slamming home a thunderous dunk. The fifth-year senior averaged 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season. He was third on the team with 39 steals.
Once Thurman was checked into the game or etched into the starting lineup, he stayed in for as long as head coach Eric Musselman can keep him on the floor.
“He’s a guy that puts winning above all else,” Musselman said. “He’s just a winner. He practices hard every day, he talks and tries to do the right thing. You don’t want to take him off when he gets into these modes … and some of these games we don’t win without Tre.”
Coming off Nevada’s first loss of the year to New Mexico, Thurman shot 2-6 from the floor and recorded two turnovers in thirty minutes. The Wolf Pack’s season-high 27-point defeat to the Lobos prompted Musselman to make a change, substituting senior Corey Henson in place for Thurman in the starting five.
Henson started a total of four games before Thurman was re-inserted back into the starting lineup. He had a firm grasp of the job for the next six games averaging 7.3 points and 6.1 rebounds during that span — before an 0-4 outing during a 65-57 loss to San Diego State gave junior guard Jazz Johnson his first start of the season against a guard-oriented Fresno State squad. The move placed Thurman back on the pine for the second time this season.
“I thought Jazz has done a great job for us all season,” Musselman said. “I wanted to reward him since that was his first start. We did feel Fresno plays a lot on the perimeter with a lot of guards and Jazz seemed like a nice fit.”
Thurman’s dominant performance off the bench stole the show and helped propel the Wolf Pack past a feisty, physical Fresno State team, 74-68. The power forward tallied 14 points, collected 10 rebounds and dished out four assists in 34 minutes. For Thurman, his all-around game can be used in any situation, as long as the outcome of the contest ultimately ends up in Nevada’s favor.
“I’m just trying to help this team win no matter what,” he said. “Whether I play five minutes or 25 minutes, I can try to get a steal get a rebound or a block or just do something. It doesn’t matter who starts, what matters is if you bring it once you get on the court.”
Fellow teammate and shooting guard Caleb Martin has seen Thurman’s impact on both ends of the floor as well.
“He’s one of those guys that just finds a way to stay on the court,” Martin added. “He’s had a couple bad games but he’s bounced back and has helped us on both ends.”
It’s not just one single game that explains Thurman’s mindset, he bought into the bigger picture of the program. The 6’8” forward transferred to Nevada from the University of Omaha this past season, sacrificing his own personal stats for a winning team and a potential postseason run.
Thurman averaged nearly 14 points and eight boards per game during his junior season with the Mavericks and was named Summit League Player of the Week that same year. Thurman has put those numbers aside in order to become a seamless fit and lead by example on the court. He is first on the team in defensive rating this season and showcased his versatility against South Dakota State Dec. 15.
The combination of Thurman and Trey Porter held center Mike Daum to 1-10 shooting from the floor, marking the career-worst offensive performance for the Summit League’s all-time leading scorer.
“I don’t want to look back at my career and think I didn’t have it mentally,” Thurman said. “Twenty years from now, I want look back and say I had a blast with these guys and know (we) won a bunch of games.”
As Thurman adjusted to his new team, so did the rest of his game. He nailed 19 three-point attempts and his 58 assists ranked fourth on the team. Thurman’s game grew to new heights and it earned him the starting spot for good.
“I can’t say enough about how he’s responded,” Musselman said. “He puts in so much work before and after practice and I see he’s getting more confident in the different areas of his game and it’s making us a better team. He shares the basketball, takes smart, open shots and just makes the right play consistently.”
Thurman’s numbers aren’t mind-boggling, but his importance to the team was immeasurable for the Wolf Pack this season. Nevada was a better team with the senior power forward on the court and his impact can help propel the Wolf Pack to their third-straight NCAA Tournament appearance.
Isaiah Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.