RENO - Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox will get an opportunity to see just how resilient his basketball team is.
The Wolf Pack, who dropped to 20th in the Associated Press poll and are 21st in the ESPN poll after an 11-point loss to UCLA last weekend at the Arrowhead Pond, return to the friendly confines of the Lawlor Events Center for a nonconference game tonight against Division II Seattle Pacific (5-0).
Nevada is coming off its worst defensive game to date, allowing UCLA to hit more than 52 percent from the floor. The Wolf Pack seemed a step slow the entire day trying to defend the Bruins' screen game. Credit UCLA, or blame the Pack's lack of quickness. Either way, the job didn't get done.
"They need to have some adversity to learn from it," Fox said after Saturday's loss. "If they look in a mirror, they will see a lot of the mistakes we made. We have to evaluate, individually, how we played as a group. If we address the areas of concern, we will get better."
Nick Fazekas, the Pack's All-American candidate, believes the Pack will rebound from their first setback since a 71-59 loss to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
"I think we'll be fine," Fazekas said. "We'll come out with a lot of fire and tenacity. It's not fun to lose."
Jeff Hironaka, Seattle Pacific head coach, said Fazekas is much better than he was a year ago. The SPU coach said Fazekas was doing a better job of posting up inside, and that he still was a threat from the 3-point line and the perimeter.
"They're very good," Hironaka said. "They run their stuff extremely well, and they have one of the best big guys in the country. They have athleticism with Demarshay (Johnson) and Mo (Charlo). (Marcelus) Kemp takes pressure off Fazekas with his outside shooting.
"We're winning. We're playing well enough to win, but not at the level I'd like. It will be a test tonight versus the Wolf Pack. Hopefully we'll be able to make it a game. Realistically, we're a team they bring in for a breather before finals. Hopefully, we can make them work for it."
This starts a four-game homestand for the Pack. After a week off for finals, Georgia (Dec. 21), Norfolk State (Dec. 27) and Louisiana-Lafayette (Dec. 29) visit Lawlor. During the week of finals, the Pack will practice each day, and hopefully be able to fine-tune various aspects of their game.
Seattle Pacific, which was off fro 10 days because of finals, is no slouch.
The Falcons are ranked fifth nationally and off to their best start since the 1998-99 season. They shoot 46.5 from the floor, including 33.3 from 3-point range. Dustin Bremerman, a 6-foot-4 swingman, is averaging 20.2 per game, and is the team's best shooter at 53 percent, including a 41.2 mark from beyond the 3-point arc. He needs six points to surpass the 800-point plateau for his career.
Point guard Tony Binetti is averaging 16.1 points and 6.4 assists per game. Robbie Will, a 6-10 center, blocked six shots in the Falcons' last game. He's averaging 11.6 points and nearly 7 rebounds a game.
"We're not shooting the ball as well," Hironaka said. "We're capable of being a good shooting team. For whatever reason, we're not as good as we were last year. Our defensive effort has been good the last couple of games. Sometimes that goes hand-in-hand. Our defense has improved."
NOTES: This is SPU's third trip to Reno. They lost 73-56 in an exhibition game last season, and dropped an 89-80 decision in a nonconference game three years ago ... SPU hasn't beaten a Division I opponent in its last 16 attempts. The Falcons' last D-1 win was against Eastern Washington in 1986-87. Nevada is the highest-ranked team SPU has faced since playing at No. 6 Kansas during the 1991-92 season... Sophomore point guard Ramon Sessions is expected to miss this game because of his nagging hip flexor injury. Fox said Saturday the earliest he may come back is the Georgia game, but that he might hold him out until after Christmas, too.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com or 881-1281
SEATTLE PACIFIC (5-0) at NEVADA (6-1)
When: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Lawlor Events Center
Radio: ESPN Radio 630 AM
Coaches: Nevada's Mark Fox (31-8) is in his 3rd season; Seattle Pacific's Jeff Hironaka (55-33) is in his 4th season
Probabale starters: Seattle Pacific: F Drew Matzen (5.4), Chad Williams (8.8); C Robbie Will (11.6); G Dustin Bremerman (20.2), Tony Binetti (16.0). Nevada: F Nick Fazekas (20.9), Mo Charlo (14.4); C Chad Bell 4.0); G Kyle Shiloh (4.7), Lyndale Burleson (2.4)