Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball team after an 86-69 victory over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors on Friday night ...
OLEK CZYZ: A
We saw all that Czyz has to offer against Hawaii. The junior had 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and a block in 32 minutes. Czyz carried the offense in the first half, nailing three 3-pointers during a 16-5 run as the Pack took a 45-29 halftime lead. Czyz, who can struggle with his accuracy at times, had a strong night from the field, hitting 9-of-13 shots and 3-of-5 3-pointers. He did turn the ball over three times but this is a young basketball player who only needs consistent minutes to blossom as a true all-league player.
DARIO HUNT: A
There isn't a more valuable player in the Western Athletic Conference than Dario Hunt. Hunt fills up a stat sheet as well as anyone in the WAC. The Pack junior also was 9-of-13 from the field and also scored 23 points. He grabbed nine boards and blocked three shots with an assist and a steal. You don't want to think about where the Pack (4-10 overall) would be without Hunt this year.
JERRY EVANS: B
Inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since the third game of the year, Evans battled early foul trouble which limited his minutes to just 21. The red-shirt freshman, though, had a productive 21 minutes, scoring four points (2-of-3 from the field) and pulling down five rebounds with an assist. Evans is the Pack's utility man and might be their best overall defensive player. He did a nice job on Hawaii guard Zane Johnson, helping to limit him to just five shots in 32 minutes.
DEONTE BURTON: A
Burton had one of his most efficient games of the season. The freshman point guard didn't have to force things on offense as Czyz, Hunt and Malik Story were hitting big shots. Burton was content to be a facilitator on offense, dishing out five assists and taking just five shots himself in 30 minutes. He scored a timely 11 points and also turned the ball over just once.
MALIK STORY: A
Story can carry a team when he's hitting his 3-point shot and that's exactly what he did against Hawaii. The sophomore drained six 3-pointers, including four early in the second half to put the game away. Story was 6-of-11 from 3-point range and scored 18 points in 31 minutes with a rebound. He also didn't turn the ball over. Story seems to have settled into his role as well as anyone on the team right now.
The Pack didn't get much from its bench against the Warriors. Jordan Finn played 19 minutes as Evans sat on the bench with foul trouble and he did contribute a couple steals and five points in 19 minutes. Finn, though, was just 1-of-7 from the field as the entire bench struggled to contribute offensively. Head coach David Carter played nine players off his bench in the blowout victory and the reserves combined to shoot 1-of-16 for seven points in 54 minutes. And this was on a night when Hawaii simply stopped playing defense in the final 18 minutes of the game. Freshman center Devonte Elliott brought some energy off the bench with four rebounds and two blocks in seven minutes and point guard Derrell Conner had three assists and two turnovers in 11 minutes. Kevin Panzer (10 minutes over the last two games) and Jordan Burris (20 minutes over the last five games) seem to be disappearing from the rotation. One or both of them need to find a way to contribute on offense, especially with Evans in the starting lineup.
It looks like Carter has finally settled on a starting lineup. He likes Evans' overall game (offense and defense) as a complement to Czyz, Story, Burton and Hunt in the starting five. With the start of WAC play on Friday, it wasn't a shock to see Carter play four players (Czyz, Hunt, Burton and Story) 30-plus minutes in the same game for the first time this season. The Pack was 8-10 last year in games when four or more players played at least 30 minutes. Over the last two years Carter's Pack is 6-1 at home and just 3-9 on the road when four players play at least 30 minutes in the same game. Carter's next biggest challenge, though, now that Evans is in the starting lineup, is to find someone off the bench who can supply some consistent offense. The Pack looks like a WAC champion when the starters hit their 3-pointers (they were 10-of-18 against Hawaii). But can they win when the starters don't hit their threes? That's where the bench (0-for-8 from 3-point range on Friday) comes in.