David Carter is worried about his Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team’s mental state.
“When you lose a couple games in a row, more than a couple games for us, you get down on yourself,” the Wolf Pack coach said. “That’s why I’m just trying to stay positive, hopefully give the guys more confidence.”
The Wolf Pack, 2-6 on the season, have lost six games in a row for the first time since it lost eight in a row to close out the 2012-13 season. Long losing streaks have been common for Carter-coached Pack teams in recent years — the 2010-11 team lost seven in a row — but no Pack team that has lost as many as six in a row has ever finished with a winning season.
“After we lose I just want to be left alone,” junior forward A.J. West said.
The Wolf Pack, which is coming off a 63-56 loss to California last Sunday at home, will host the struggling Cal State Fullerton Titans (3-6 overall, 0-5 on the road) on Saturday night (7:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center. The Wolf Pack has won 11 in row against Fullerton dating back to February 1994.
“Hopefully this game on Saturday will get us in the right mindset,” West said.
“The only thing we can do is think about the next game,” freshman forward Robyn Missa said. “It’s hard to do. All the losses are scarring. But we have to think about the next game and move on.”
The Wolf Pack, which also endured a five-game losing streak late last season, has lost 13 of its last 18 games dating back to Feb. 1 of last season.
“When you are losing, you try to build their confidence,” Carter said. “That’s pretty hard. The kids are more fragile when you lose four, five or six in a row.”
“It’s tough to have to deal with losing, especially when you have six losses in a row,” West said. “I’ve never been on a losing streak like this before.”
Fullerton, of the Big West Conference, might be exactly the medicine the ailing Wolf Pack needs. The Titans, which played at Sacramento State on Thursday night, are 3-6 after going 11-20 last year and 14-18 in 2012-13. They are led by 6-foot-1 guards Lannerryl Johnson (15.2 points a game) and Alex Harris (14.0) as well as former Palo Verde High (Las Vegas) 6-6 guard Moses Morgan (10.1). Morgan spent the past three seasons at DePaul, averaging 6.6 points a game for the Blue Demons.
“Both teams are not in a good fame of mind,” Carter said. “It’s a game both teams want to win but unfortunately one of us has to lose.”
The last time the two teams met the Wolf Pack pulled out an 80-77 victory on Nov. 16, 2012 at Lawlor Events Center. Deonte Burton scored five points in the final 14 second to steal the victory. Kevin Panzer also added 18 points for the Pack.
“We can be a good team,” West said. “People had a lot of doubts about us but we came out real strong (against Cal). I really felt like that game was ours. Now we just got to get over the hump and actually start winning these games.”
The Pack has not won a game since a 69-64 win at Lawlor against Adams State on Nov. 17.
“We are getting better game after game,” Missa said. “We just have to execute on offense.”
Scoring points has been a problem for the Pack. The Wolf Pack has gone five games in a row without scoring as many as 60 points for the first time since the 1966-67 season. The Pack has also not reached 70 points in a game this season, their longest streak without reaching 70 to start a season since 1959-60 (11 games).
“Against Cal we felt like our defense was good enough for us to win the game but the ball just didn’t go in the basket,” Carter said. “I can’t put my finger on it. Hopefully our offense will catch up to our defense.”
D.J. Fenner leads the Pack at 10.6 points a game followed by Marqueze Coleman (10.4), West (10.4) and Michael Perez (10.0). The Pack is averaging 58.4 points a game and shooting 37 per cent. They’ve also made just 26-of-100 3-pointers.
“When you are losing you kind of want to change things up,” Carter said.
“But, at the same time, we still have to score the ball no matter who we put in the lineup. The last game (against Cal), our bench played well (Ronnie Stevens and Missa combined for 14 points in 27 minutes) but (starters) Marqueze (Coleman) and D.J. (Fenner) each went 1-for-8 (from the floor).”
The Wolf Pack is heading into a stretch of games (against Fullerton, Pacific, Northwest Christian and Marshall) through the end of the month where the wins might start to pile up if it can find some offense.
“We have a foundation,” Carter said. “We can guard people, we play hard and we rebound the ball. Hopefully the offense can catch up.”