Grading Nevada: New rock bottom for Wolf Pack

Nevada Athletics

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF
Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 74-61 loss to the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday at Laramie, Wyo.:

The Pack point guard struggled once again missing 11-of-16 shots and never making as many as two shots in a row. Sherfield scored just 12 points, missed 6-of-8 threes and never got to the free throw line once in 38 minutes. It was just the second time in 24 games this year that Sherfield did not get at least one free throw and just the fourth time in his 50-game Pack career. Sherfield has now missed 25-of-38 shots (12-of-14 threes) over his last two games combined. Four of Sherfield’s five assists came in the first half as the Pack fell behind 42-26 at the break.
The Wolf Pack simply cannot afford Sherfield to be mediocre. Sherfield, who missed three Pack losses with a foot injury this year, has averaged 22.1 points, 7.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds and has shot .500 overall and .466 on threes in 12 victories this year. In a dozen losses he has averaged 14.8 points, 5.8 assists, 3.0 rebounds and has shot .355 overall and .233 on threes.
Cambridge scored 10 of his 12 points in the game’s first 12 minutes. The rest of the game he scored two points on 1-for-10 shooting. Cambridge and Sherfield had almost identical games (both scored 12 points with five rebounds). Cambridge was 5-of-15 from the floor and Sherfield was 5-of-16. And neither player got to the free thrown line once in their 69 minutes combined. Cambridge did have two steals, both in the game’s first three minutes. But he also had just one assist and two turnovers.
The 24 points combined by Sherfield and Cambridge is tied for the second lowest output by the two players in the same game in their two-year Pack careers when they have both played at least 30 minutes. Cambridge did make two more threes against Wyoming and remains hot from outside the arc, draining 29-of-51 threes (57 percent) over his last seven games. For some reason, though, his 3-point attempts have declined in each of the last three games.
Blackshear rebounded from an awful zero-point, 0-for-7 shooting night against UNLV earlier last week to score 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting against Wyoming. Unfortunately for the Pack, though, Blackshear’s forgettable UNLV performance did spill over into the Wyoming game. Blackshear did not score a point (he took just one shot) and had two turnovers and two fouls against Wyoming in the first half. He then turned the ball over a third time just three seconds into the second half.
The rest of the evening, though, Blackshear was solid, though the Pack was already down 46-26 when he finally turned his game around in the final 18 minutes. All 11 of Blackshear’s points came in a span of roughly 12 minutes in the second half when the Pack was down by 10-plus points.
Washington has been efficient and productive in his two games back from a finger injury. The 7-foot center scored 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting (his only miss was on a dunk attempt) against Wyoming with six rebounds. The last two games (over 50 minutes) he has scored 23 points on 11-of-15 shooting with 17 rebounds.
His jumper opened the scoring against Wyoming just 28 seconds after the opening tip, giving the Pack its only lead of the game. Washington was a force in the first half, scoring eight points and making all four of his shots. He scored just three points in the second half, though, for some reason, he took just two shots. He clearly needs more minutes and shots.
Coleman had six points (2-of-6 shooting) in his 32 minutes. He was 1-for-4 on threes and now has at least one 3-pointer in his last four games and seven of his last eight. That is welcome production from a guy who connected on a three in just five of his first 19 games this season. The 6-foot-7 Coleman, though, did not have a single rebound and turned the ball over a season-high three times, all in the first half. And his only 3-pointer of the game came in the form of a parting gift with 18 seconds left.

Baker played just 15 minutes because of foul trouble (he fouled out with 4:19 left) and he didn’t do much when he was on the floor except foul. Baker was 1-of-6 from the floor, turned the ball over three times and scored just four points. He also didn’t have a block, steal or assist. All five of his misses were either on short jumpers in the paint or attempted layups. After making 18-of-22 shots and scoring 39 points in two victories against San Jose State (Feb. 15 and 17) Baker has gone 5-of-16 from the floor with just 13 points in loses to UNLV and Wyoming.
Foster missed all five of his shots but he gave the Wolf Pack 23 minutes of hustle and hard work just the same. The 6-foot-6 Foster led the team with seven rebounds and four free throws (all good) and he tied for the team lead with two steals. Four of his seven rebounds were on the offensive glass, which is one more than 7-footers Washington, Baker and K.J. Hymes combined for in 46 minutes. Foster turned one of his offensive rebounds into a pair of free throws as the Pack cut Wyoming’s lead to 66-56 with 5:41 to play.
Hymes played just nine minutes and did have a pair of rebounds and a point but he also was called for three fouls. Hymes did not take a shot for just the second time this season in 18 games. The 6-10 center now has five fouls over his last two games (one point in that same time span) over just 22 minutes. So, as expected, an old Hymes nemesis (foul trouble) is still alive and well, even after two games (and 33 minutes) against San Jose State two weeks ago when he had just two fouls combined.
Steve Alford has struggled to bring out any sort of consistency in this team all season. Yes, there have been a lot of legitimate excuses for that rollercoaster ride along the way. But the schedule has settled down, players have returned from injury and the inconsistency has remained. Old habits, though, seem to die hard with this Pack team this year.
This was the first game that Sherfield, Cambridge and Washington all played at least 20 minutes since a 77-73 win over Fresno State on Jan. 21 and it still didn’t make a difference. The Wolf Pack was never really in this game after the first few minutes. The Pack led (2-0) for a whole 10 seconds. Wyoming led by 10 or more points over the final 33:45. The Pack never made a serious run and never made Wyoming sweat.
Why couldn’t Alford, one of the best free throw shooters in the history of college basketball, figure out a way to get his two star players (Sherfield and Cambridge) to the free throw line at least once the entire game? Alford doesn’t seem to be having any impact on this team, during games and in between games. This team seems to play the same way every single game. That needs to change quickly.
The Wyoming loss needs to be rock bottom for this Pack team or else the season will end in Las Vegas next week at the Mountain West tournament. When you boil it all down, this game simply came down to each team’s Big Two. Wyoming’s Graham Ike and Hunter Maldonado combined for 45 points, nine assists and 24 rebounds. Cambridge and Sherfield produced 24 points, six assists and 10 boards. Neither team, after all, has a bench that can overcome a sub-par performance by their two stars.
The 12-15 Pack, if it is going to avoid finishing under .500 for the first time since it went 9-22 in 2014-15, needs its stars (Sherfield and Cambridge) to play like stars. The fact that both Cambridge and Sherfield did not go to the free throw line even once against Wyoming in 69 minutes combined is, well, disturbing. And it needs to never happen again. The two have played 49 games together at Nevada and that has happened just twice. The other time was in a 75-72 loss at Utah State on Feb. 26, 2021.
The Pack now has just two games remaining in the regular season (Tuesday at Boise State and Saturday at home against San Diego State) to get some semblance of confidence heading into the Mountain West tournament next week.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment