RENO - Another basketball season is here, and nothing has changed for Kyle Shiloh. He's in another tough fight to get significant playing time for the Nevada Wolf Pack.
Shiloh has played on the past two Nevada NCAA teams, and last year he made significant contributions with his ballhandling and defense.
Shiloh started all 32 games last year, tying teammate Nick Fazekas for that distinction. He averaged 5.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and was second on the team with 88 assists. He was calm under fire and had the second-best assist-to-turnover ratio on the team. Not bad for a guy playing out of position.
The Pack was thin at guard a year ago, forcing Fox to use Shiloh as the starter at shooting guard, though he would play about 10 minutes a game at the point, which is his natural position. Defense and ballhandling won him the starting job.
Fox didn't dispute that.
"Without question he was the best defender on that team," Fox said. "He still hasn't gotten the respect; the awards from around the league. He's a very complete basketball player. There's not a part of his game which I consider weak in my opinion.
"He did a lot of great things for this team last year, he played well for this team."
Yet with Marcelus Kemp (injury) and Lyndale Burleson (academic issues) back off redshirt years, Shiloh may not play 29 minutes a game as he did a year ago. Throw in starting point guard Ramon Sessions and reserve shooting guard Seth Taylor, and you have the proverbial logjam at guard.
"Competition is a good thing," Shiloh admitted. "It makes you a better player. Marcelus and Lyndale, we push each other everyday. "
"Kyle enjoys the competition," Fox said "It's made him a better player."
And, Shiloh knows that he is the best defender of the group, which he hopes leads to big minutes.
"I've always been a good defensive player, ever since I played club basketball," Shiloh said. "The coaches had the same expectations back then. Eighty percent of defense is desire and just working hard. It's basically hard work.
"I'm not saying it's easy, you just have to want to do it. Most people want to come in and shoot. You have to play both sides of the court. There is always going to be a guy that you have to stop on the other team. I like that challenge."
It's a challenge that Shiloh met head on in last year's Bracket Buster win over Vermont, 74-64. T.J. Sorrentine blitzed the Pack with a 4-for-4 effort from 3-point range, including two three-pointers against Shiloh, in the first half. Shiloh, with some help from Mo Charlo, put the clamps on Sorrentine in the second half. The Vermont point guard went 4 for 10 in the final 20 minutes and was a nonfactor.
"He caught me off guard at first," Shiloh said. "The last 20 minutes I was determined not to let him score."
Fox said that most of Shiloh's time will come at shooting guard again, but that he will see time at point guard and even some time at small forward. Fox used all three of his point guards at the same time on the team's trip to Italy, and he doesn't rule out that happening again if the Pack want to press and play more up-tempo.
"I always wanted to be an off guard," Shiloh said. "I wasn't tall enough. I'm more comfortable there than I was at the start of last year. Our offense has changed so much, you can get shots from anywhere. We have different options; a lot more options."
Shiloh said he worked extremely hard on his outside shot in the offseason, cleaning up what is perceived to be the only sub-par portion of his game. He shot just 30 percent from the floor and only 21 percent from 3-point range.
He's made some adjustments technique-wise that he hopes pay off. He's working on going up and landing in a straight line on his jump shot, and not leaning one way or another on his release. He's also trying to shoot the ball more at the apex of his jump, and not coming down like he found himself doing at times last season.
"Now if I miss it will either be long or short," Shiloh said. "Sometimes you don't see (or feel) certain things. The coaches have worked with me."
"He (Shiloh) is a better outside shooter than he realizes," Fox said. "He's worked hard on that portion of his game."
And, no doubt Fox would love to see the hard work pay off.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
The Shiloh File
Hometown: Bakersfield, Ca.