Now’s a great time to be a Wolf Pack fan, if you’re not already.
In the span of five days, Nevada retained the Fremont Cannon with a thrilling win over rival UNLV, the women’s basketball team played well against the No. 1 team in the country and the men’s team is on the cusp of being nationally ranked for the first time in a decade.
Under first-year coach Jay Norvell, the football team experienced a rough season but Nevada was able to turn it around late, winning three games. The Wolf Pack isn’t bowling this year but it showed hope for next year. The loss against Colorado State, strangely, is one of the big reasons to get excited about next year. Nevada lost by one possession but scored more than 40 points on the road and nearly came out of Colorado with a win.
There were some losses, though, that had you shaking your head. Most notably, the loss to FCS Idaho State in September was baffling. But, don’t forget that Nevada needed overtime to beat Cal Poly last year under Brian Polian. The FCS schools are no longer guaranteed wins; just ask UNLV, which lost to Howard this year.
But if Nevada can’t go to a bowl game or have a winning season, the cannon must stay blue, and it did. This team could have finished 1-11 as long as that one win was against UNLV. All would be forgiven. But the team ended this year winning two of its final three games, creating much-needed momentum and optimism into spring camp.
Three days after the Fremont Cannon was retained, the attention in the community turned to Lawlor Events Center where the Lady Pack welcomed UConn, the No. 1 team in the country, and ex-Reed star Gabby Williams. It was an impressive showing by the fans to pile into the arena and break the attendance record for a women’s basketball game.
The Huskies, which coasted to a 31-point victory on Tuesday, put on an impressive display in the first half with near-flawless execution. And Williams showed why UConn was the right choice when she signed her letter of intent. It was a great opportunity for any basketball fan, not just women’s, to experience watching the first top-ranked team to visit Lawlor since Roy Williams’ Tarheels played on New Year’s Eve in 2008. Hot Wire Electronic in Fallon even paid for the tickets for all three Greenwave girls basketball teams (including the coaches).
But just as important, the Lady Pack didn’t roll over and give the game to the Huskies. They had to earn it. Nevada forced nearly 20 turnovers and almost hit the 60-point mark against the perennial powerhouse. Nevada will be a force in conference play, giving fans two great basketball teams to watch this winter.
But the biggest show on campus is Eric Musselman’s men’s basketball team, which improved to 7-0 after another blowout victory on Wednesday.
The Martin twins (Caleb and Cody), who transferred from North Carolina State, have powered the Wolf Pack offense and prevented all the attention being drawn to returning starter Jordan Caroline. If you thought last year’s team was fun to watch, this year’s Wolf Pack is more exciting and talented.
The football team’s successful defense of the Fremont Cannon helped ease the pain of a tumultuous season but both Nevada basketball teams are giving fans enough reason to stop by Lawlor Events Center and watch two hours of high-quality basketball.
Thomas Ranson can be contacted at email@example.com