Grading the Wolf Pack: Painful learning experience for Nevada

Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 71-64 and 93-88 losses to the Wyoming Cowboys at Laramie, Wyo., last week:

STARTERS

Grant Sherfield: B-

OK, so he’s not perfect. The 6-foot-2 sophomore turned in his worst game of the season in the 71-64 loss on Friday. Sherfield was 2-of-16 from the floor, missed all six of his 3-point shots and scored just eight points in 36 minutes. Sherfield’s performance was reminiscent of the 3-of-19 shooting (1-of-8 on threes) for nine points that Jalen Harris turned in Nov. 16, 2019 in a 76-66 loss to USC. So, yes, even your best player can have an off night. Sherfield recovered nicely on Sunday, scoring 26 points (6-of-13 shooting) but that was mainly because he was 13-of-14 from the line as the officials called 29 fouls on Wyoming. Sherfield was still a worrisome 1-of-6 on threes on Sunday, going 1-of-12 from beyond the arc in the two games. Wyoming paid close attention to him, something Sherfield will likely see from here on out.

Desmond Cambridge: C+

Cambridge finally got to the free throw line last week but, then again, so did everybody else. He was 9-of-11 from the line in the two games combined after going 4-of-5 over his previous five games. But Cambridge never found his rhythm offensively against Wyoming. He did score 16 points in each game (he took 26 shots) but he also shot just 10-of-26 from the floor and 3-of-12 on threes. The Pack needed him to catch fire to pull out a win or two and it never happened. Cambridge played 70 of the 80 minutes in the two games (like Sherfield) and, as usual, did a little bit of everything with eight rebounds, three assists, three turnovers, two blocks, a steal and five fouls.

Warren Washington: B+

The 7-foot Washington flexed his muscles (and his height) against the small Cowboys and had his best week in a Wolf Pack uniform. Washington dominated on Friday, making 8-of-11 shots and scoring 21 points with nine rebounds in just 24 minutes. And those numbers weren’t even his most amazing stats of the night. He was not called for even one foul. This is the same guy who committed 3 or more fouls in nine of his last 10 games and 11-of-15 going into last Friday. Washington was also impressive on Sunday, scoring 13 points (7-of-8 from the line) with 12 rebounds in 23 minutes. Yes, he was called for three fouls but hardly anyone escaped the officials’ whistles on Sunday. If Washington keeps this up the Pack will win a lot of games over the next two months.

Tre Coleman: C

The 6-7 freshman is still looking for his first breakout game. He did, however, score 11 points on Friday and seven more on Sunday in 50 minutes. Yes, he was just 6-of-19 from the floor. But he now has 29 points over his last three games combined, a marked improvement over the 26 points he scored over his previous nine games. Coleman, though, continued to struggle from beyond the arc, going 3-of-13 at Wyoming. It must be noted, though, that he has become much more aggressive on threes, going 5-of-18 over his last three games after taking just 17 total threes (and making just three) over his previous dozen games combined. The hope is that the practice will finally pay off.

Robby Robinson: C

In the perfect Wolf Pack world Robby Robinson is not starting. But he’s started the last three games because Zane Meeks is out with an injury. It’s not his fault, but the problem with Robinson starting is that the starting five and the bench both suffer. Robinson, after all, doesn’t play starter minutes (just 36 total in the two games against Wyoming) and gives almost zero production on the offensive end. It’s hard to beat teams with just four true starters. And Robinson’s presence in the starting lineup leaves the Pack’s thin bench even thinner. Robinson was just 2-of-4 from the floor in the two games for four points (and five fouls). But he works hard on defense (12 rebounds and three steals in the two games) and is doing basically the same thing he did coming off the bench (eating minutes).

BENCH

K.J. Hymes: C+

Hymes was given 30 minutes in the two games at Wyoming and produced 10 points on 2-of-8 shooting, 10 rebounds, two turnovers and two blocks. The foul-prone Hymes, incredibly, was not called for a single foul in his 16 minutes on Friday as the officials took the night off (zero fouls on Hymes and Washington in 40 combined minutes). The officials made up for it on Sunday, calling three fouls on Hymes in 14 minutes on Sunday (and three on Washington in 23 minutes). The Pack will take 10 points and 10 boards in 30 minutes from Hymes every weekend.

Kane Milling: C

The Pack has needed Milling to step up offensively with Meeks out the last three games and, well, he finally did so on Sunday. The 6-4 sophomore had 10 points in 25 minutes on Sunday, connecting on 4-of-5 shots (2-of-3 on threes). In his two previous games, however, he scored five points in 58 minutes on 1-of-9 shooting, including a zero-point, 0-of-5 shooting performance (0-of-4 on threes) in 24 minutes on Friday. Milling did have six rebounds in the two games to go along with four fouls and two turnovers, so he wasn’t just sitting out beyond the arc waiting for a pass.

DeAndre Henry: Incomplete

Henry, a 6-7 freshman, played just three minutes (all on Friday) at Wyoming and committed a turnover and a foul and blocked a shot.

Alem Huseinovic: Incomplete

The 6-4 freshman played a total of 12 minutes in the two games and scored two points. He also had a rebound and a steal and is basically just getting his feet wet in college basketball this season.

Daniel Foster: C

The 6-6 freshman, who injured his shoulder before the season started, finally made his Wolf Pack debut this past weekend. And the Australia native (he played a year at an Oakland, Calif., prep school last year) showed a lot of promise. Foster fouled out in just 10 minutes on Friday and also found the time to turn the ball over twice. But he also had two assists and a rebound, packing as many stats into 10 minutes as humanly possible. He came back on Sunday and stuck around for 23 minutes. Yes, he fouled out again (his 10 fouls in 33 minutes even left Washington and Hymes shaking their heads) and had two turnovers but he also chipped in with eight points on 3-of-6 shooting, three rebounds and two assists. Based on what we saw last weekend, it might not be too long before Foster becomes the Pack’s sixth man. When Meeks comes back the Pack might actually have some depth.

Coaching: B

Alford can’t run out on the court and shoot the ball. The shorthanded Pack (with Meeks out) gave Alford few options last weekend. The Pack was a cover-your-eyes 10-of-49 on threes in the two games combined. Sherfield, Cambridge and Coleman were a combined 7-of-37. It’s rather remarkable the Pack only lost by seven and five points. The Pack sweeps the Cowboys with any sort of respectable 3-point shooting. Alford is doing all he can this year. He basically has just two consistent players (Sherfield, Cambridge) and a bunch of nightly mysteries. There's talent on this roster but that talent doesn't always show up. Even Sherfield picked a bad time to have his worst game in a Pack uniform.

Overall: C

We just witnessed the Wolf Pack’s worst back-to-back games since the end of last year with losses to San Diego State on Senior Night at Lawlor Events Center and Wyoming in the Mountain West tournament. Wyoming came into this series struggling (three losses in a row) and is a fairly mediocre team, even by Mountain West standards. The Cowboys are young (like the Pack), not very big (unlike the Pack) and can't rebound. Washington and Hymes took advantage of those last two things but the Pack took the absolute worst time to struggle with their shot. The Wyoming freshmen (Marcus Williams, Graham Ike and Xavier DuSell) also came up big last weekend and the Pack freshmen, well, looked like freshmen. The Wolf Pack really didn’t deserve to win either game, though they could have because, well, it was Wyoming. The Pack fell behind 41-21 on Friday and 12-1 on Sunday. Give them credit for fighting back to take leads in both games but the Pack struggled down the stretch both times with the game on the line. The officials also did as much as they could to keep Nevada in each game, giving the Pack 62 free throws (Wyoming had 48). And the Pack still lost twice. This was a painful learning experience for the Pack.

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