When Steve Alford was employed to be the Nevada males’s basketball coach in 2019, he was inheriting a program that was firing on all cylinders. Nevada was coming off a three-year stretch that included an 86-20 file, three NCAA Match berths and a run to the Candy 16 in 2018.
Alford, a head coach with almost 30 years of expertise and 11 NCAA Match appearances, appeared like the right match to maintain the machine buzzing after Eric Musselman left for Arkansas.
Because it seems, it took Alford somewhat longer than anticipated to get Nevada again on monitor. The Wolf Pack went 48-40 in his first three years and made zero NCAA Match appearances, whereas the disastrous 13-18 season in 2021-22 resulted in an exodus of main starters and contributors. Regardless of that, 12 months 4 was the season for Nevada to get again to its successful methods, going 22-11 general, ending fourth within the convention, and incomes a event bid for the primary time in three years. Coming into 12 months 5 in Reno, the 2023-24 crew is shaping as much as be Alford’s greatest crew at Nevada and one particularly constructed to make a postseason run.
Who’s in, who’s out
Nevada misplaced 4 gamers, together with three key contributors, to the switch portal: heart Will Baker (LSU), ahead Darrion Williams (Texas Tech), guard Trey Pettigrew (Bradley) and heart Michael Folarin (N/A).
Nevada added 5 new gamers, two transfers and three freshmen, to the roster this offseason: ahead Tylan Pope (Tulane), heart Jeriah Coleman (St. Francis/Clarendon Faculty), heart Jazz Gardner, and guards Tyler Rolison and Amire Robinson.
Nevada was picked to complete fourth in convention play at Mountain West media day, behind San Diego State, Boise State and New Mexico. No Nevada gamers have been named to the preseason all-conference crew.
Guards, guards, guards
Nevada’s energy seems to be within the backcourt. Second-Group All-Mountain West guards Kenan Blackshear and Jarod Lucas are each coming off massive seasons for the Wolf Pack.
Blackshear was thrust into the place to begin guard position after projected starter Hunter McIntosh was misplaced for a lot of the 12 months as a result of harm.
He stuffed the position properly, averaging 14 factors, 4.6 assists, 4 rebounds and 1.5 steals per recreation. His 6-foot-6, 215-pound body paired along with his quickness and athleticism additionally made him a ball-stopper on protection.
Lucas was Nevada’s greatest shooter and main scorer, averaging 17 factors a recreation whereas taking pictures 38 % from the 3-point line on 6.3 photographs per recreation. The mixture of Blackshear and Lucas provides Nevada among the best beginning backcourts within the convention.
Behind them is McIntosh, who solely appeared in six video games final 12 months. He was primed to be the place to begin guard earlier than present process knee surgical procedure that compelled him to overlook the vast majority of the season. A switch from Elon, he averaged 13.3 factors and a couple of.8 assists per recreation in his remaining 12 months whereas taking pictures slightly below 38 % from the 3-point line. Whereas he’s not projected to be a starter, his means to shoot, cross the ball, and unfold the ground provides Nevada loads of choices within the backcourt. If Alford needs to up the tempo, he can insert McIntosh with Blackshear and Lucas to run a three-guard lineup. If there’s an harm or lack of manufacturing, McIntosh gives high quality depth.
Senior Daniel Foster solely averaged 13.8 minutes per recreation final season, however his expertise and 6-foot-6 body give Nevada an excellent depth piece. Robinson and Rolison are two freshmen who, barring accelerated growth, will not be anticipated to get important taking part in time, however might see some mop-up obligation within the early a part of the season. Rolison is a top-175 recruit, whereas Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound combo guard with the construct of a college-ready participant.
Barring harm, Nevada’s backcourt will probably be a giant plus this season.
Depth is a energy
To piggyback off the depth of the guards, the crew depth as an entire is a significant optimistic. There doesn’t appear to be a obtrusive weak spot within the two-deep. Small ahead has Tre Coleman and Tyler Powell, two lengthy and rangy defenders who shoot between 35 and 38 % from 3-point land. Energy ahead has Pope, a junior with three years of expertise at Tulane who averaged 6.5 factors and 4.4 rebounds per recreation final season, and Nick Davidson, a sophomore who performed slightly below 20 minutes a recreation as a redshirt freshman.
Heart has Ok.J. Hymes is returning after lacking most of final season as a result of harm, together with newcomers Coleman and Gardner. Coleman performed sparingly at St Francis earlier than transferring to Clarendon Faculty, whereas Gardner is a top-150 freshman and held provides from a number of Division One packages. Each Coleman and Gardner are each 7-footers and can add dimension and rim safety.
Barring harm, the depth provides Nevada loads of choices when it comes to lineups. Nevada can play one massive man and 4 shooters; it could go along with two bigs; a small-ball lineup with three guards and two forwards; and even area out minutes to avoid wasting the starters’ legs for the house stretch of the season. Regardless of an ideal season general, ending on a four-game shedding streak might have been a results of too many minutes for the highest guys. 4 gamers averaged 30-plus minutes per recreation and one averaged 25.
The mixture of accidents and an absence of a bench compelled Alford to journey his starters, however with the depth this 12 months, that might not be as a lot of a problem.
Nevada ranked 121st out of 352 DI packages in 3-point share final season, averaging 35.10 %. The Wolf Pack returns three gamers who averaged 35-plus % from behind the arc with a minimal of 60 makes an attempt.
Add McIntosh, who averaged over 35 % in his three years at Elon, and that provides Nevada 4 high quality 3-point shooters to work with.
One (potential) weak spot
The middle place is one to control. Hymes, although productive, is an harm danger, lacking 9 video games in 2021-22 and all however 4 video games final season. Behind him is Coleman, a junior faculty switch, and Gardner, a proficient however inexperienced freshman.
In a super world for the Wolf Pack, Hymes stays wholesome and Coleman and Gardner develop steadily. If Hymes misses prolonged time, will Coleman and Gardner be capable to step up? Each being 7 toes tall is a large ceiling-raiser for Nevada, however it’ll be essential to see how polished they’re and in the event that they’re prepared for constant minutes.
Nevada suggestions off the common season towards the Sacramento State Hornets. The sport is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Lawlor Occasions Heart.
The Hornets completed sixth within the Large Sky final season with a file of 14-18 general and 7-11 in convention play.
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