RENO - David Carter isn't very happy with his Nevada Wolf Pack basketball team right now.
"We're not tough enough under the basket," the Wolf Pack coach said after a disheartening 76-66 loss to the Drake Bulldogs Friday night at Lawlor Events Center. "We've got to shake it up."
Carter said the Wolf Pack, now 4-3, will likely have two and maybe three changes in its starting lineup when it takes the court on Tuesday at Pacific.
"Guys are getting complacent," said Carter, who did not make any of his players available to the media after the game. "We have to make a change."
The only two starters assured of starting at Pacific are guards Deonte Burton and Malik Story. The other three starters - small forward Jerry Evans, power forward Kevin Panzer and center Devonte Elliott - might all be on the bench come Tuesday night.
Burton (12 points) and Story (19) combined for almost half the Pack's 66 points against Drake and took nearly half the shots (23-of-51). That has been normal for the Pack this year as the two have now scored 249 of the Pack's 526 points this year.
"We tried to rely on two guys," Carter said. "That's the way our games have been going lately. You can't do that against good teams and expect to win."
The formula worked in the first four home games - all victories - as Burton won three of the games with game-winning shots in the final minute. Drake, which had five players in double figures led by Richard Carter's 16 points and 15 from Jordan Clarke, didn't allow the game to be close in the final minute.
Jeremy Jeffers and Ben Simons each had three 3-pointers for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-3 after close losses to Detroit, California and Xavier and easy wins over William Jewell and Rice. The Iowa school, which is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference, also out-rebounded the Wolf Pack 36-30 for the game and held the Pack to 31 per cent (8-of-26) shooting in the second half.
"If Deonte and Malik aren't scoring, we're struggling," said Carter, whose Wolf Pack lost at home for just the third time over the past two seasons and 25 games at Lawlor Events Center. "Guys are out there watching Deonte score. This wasn't a good night for Deonte (just 3-of-10 shooting) and he can't do it all every night. We need other guys to make plays."
The Wolf Pack took its biggest lead of the night at 18-14 after a 3-pointer by Story with just over 11 minutes to play in the first half. Story also gave them a 20-19 lead 90 seconds later with a pair of free throws.
It would turn out to be the Pack's last lead of the game.
"Deonte had to sit quite a bit in the first half (he played just nine minutes in the opening half because of two fouls) but the guys were playing with a lot of energy and we were only down six (45-39) at the half," Carter said. "We were still in it."
Panzer quickly cut the deficit to just 45-42 with a 3-pointer from the right corner just 33 seconds into the second half. Panzer also had a lay-up to cut Drake's lead to 49-44 with 17:17 to play.
It would be his final points of the night. Panzer, in his first year as a starter after two seasons on the bench, finished with five points and two rebounds in 23 minutes. Elliott, also a first-time starter after two years as a reserve, had three points and four boards in 21 minutes. Evans, a junior in his third year as a starter, was productive at times, finishing with seven points, five rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes but he also led the Pack along with Story with three turnovers.
"They are playing hard but they have to make plays, too," Carter said. "You can play hard in practice but when it comes time for the games you have to make plays. You can play hard but if you don't have the numbers, it's wasted energy."
Drake extended its lead to 66-54 on a pair of free throws by Seth Van Deest (14 points in 16 minutes) with just over eight minutes to play. A large portion of the announced crowd of 6,469 started for the exits after a lay-up by Richard Carter gave Drake a 73-58 lead with 4:44 to play.
The Pack could get no closer than nine (73-64 with 1:38 left) the rest of the way despite Drake going scoreless for over three minutes.
Carter wouldn't hint at his possible starting lineup changes, though it is expected that Jordan Burris and Cole Huff are at the top of his list of possible new starters. The 6-8 Huff, a freshman, had four points and four rebounds in 16 minutes and Burris, a 6-7 junior, had six points and a team-high six rebounds in 17 minutes.
"I'm going to go home and think of some ideas," said Carter, who stuck with his same five starters (Olek Czyz, Dario Hunt, Burton, Story and Evans) for all 35 games last year.
"It's not a tough decision, really," said Carter of his lineup changes. "It's something we have to do now."
The statistic that stood out for Carter after the game was the zero second chance points the Pack had against Drake. Drake, which had 10 offensive rebounds, had 14 second chance points, the difference in the 10-point game.
"Second chance points come from second chance rebounds," said Carter, whose Wolf Pack had a season-low five offensive rebounds. "And we just aren't tough enough under the basket right now."
Carter said the changes he makes in the starting lineup could be permanent.
"You make changes to win games," he said. "If we're winning games, we'll stay the same. The goal is to have the five best players on the court to help us win games."