Nevada’s Grant Sherfield against UNLV at Lawlor Events Center in Reno on Feb. 22, 2022.
Grant Sherfield, as expected, is on the move again. The former Nevada Wolf Pack point guard will play for the Oklahoma Sooners this coming season, according to numerous media reports.
Sherfield, who averaged 18.8 points and 6.2 assists a game for the Wolf Pack the last two seasons, will be joining his fourth college program. He originally committed to UCLA and coach Steve Alford but changed his mind and signed with Wichita State. He played just one season at Wichita State in his hometown before heading to Nevada and Alford the last two years.
And now he is a Sooner where he will play for coach Porter Moser. Moser has now taken one of the best Pack point guards in school history four years after robbing the Pack of its best chance of getting to the Final Four. It was Moser, after all, that coached Loyola of Chicago past the Wolf Pack, 69-68, in the Sweet 16 in 2018.
Sherfield heading to Oklahoma and Big 12 country makes perfect sense. He was born in Wichita, Kansas and played one season of high school basketball there at Sunrise Christian Academy after three years in Fort Worth, Texas. Former Oklahoma star Buddy Hield also went to Sunrise Christian.
Sherfield, who scored 14 points for Wichita State in a game against Oklahoma in December 2019, combined with Desmond Cambridge and Warren Washington leaving for Arizona State this spring, signals a pivotal moment in Wolf Pack men’s basketball history. Wolf Pack basketball, thanks to the transfer portal and Name Image Likeness Deals, will never be the same.
The Wolf Pack’s greatest fear and concern in the past was losing its best players early for the NBA. The Pack now has to worry about also losing its best players to the Pac-12, Big 12, Big 10, Big East, SEC, ACC and any other school that can waive the potential of more money and exposure in front of a player’s nose. Schools like Nevada are now, more than ever before, mere stepping stone schools. They are burger-flipping jobs for 16-year-olds hoping to own their own business someday.
The concept of Nevada as a Stepping Stone University, of course, is not new. The coaches (Trent Johnson, Mark Fox, Eric Musselman) have treated Nevada basketball like Stepping Stone U. for the last two decades. But now the players are doing it. Where does all of this leave the fans? Well, nobody (coaches and players) cares about the fans. So shut up and turn in your season ticket money.
It might be time for the fans, the only ones truly loyal to the team, to fight back. What if the fans demand that the university take the players’ names off the back of the jerseys? The name on the front of the jerseys haven’t meant a thing to the coaches ever since television money made them all millionaires. But now that name on the front of the jersey obviously doesn’t mean a thing to players like Sherfield, Cambridge and Washington. That’s what we learned the last few months. So why should fans care about the name on the back of the jerseys anymore or even get to know the players? Take the names on the back of the jerseys off.
The Mountain West announced recently that its dozen football schools will no longer be split into two six-team divisions starting in the 2023 season. Unlike the transfer portal and Name Image Likeness Deals, this could be a great idea for the Mountain West.
The two-division format, used in the Mountain West since 2012, after all, has never worked well. It prevented some of its greatest rivalries (such as Nevada-Boise State) from taking place every year and in many years it prevented the two best teams in the conference from meeting in the conference title game. One division (usually the Wolf Pack’s West Division) was usually far stronger top to bottom than the other. Even the names of the divisions (Mountain and West) were goofy. It was sort of like splitting the Big East into two divisions and naming one division Big and the other East.
Of course, as is Mountain West tradition, the league will almost certainly do something ridiculous to mess up the concept of one 12-team league. What if the Wolf Pack and UNLV do not play each other every season? A season void of the Pack-Rebel rivalry could happen in a 12-team league that only includes eight league games.
How does all this affect the Wolf Pack? Well, it can’t hurt the Pack’s chances of getting to the title game. The Pack, after all, has never won a division title in the Mountain West. The Pack also didn’t even finish as high as second the one year (2020) all 12 teams were in one giant league because of the pandemic. The Mountain West likely could have split itself into four three-team divisions and the Pack still would have somehow found a way to finish no higher than second. That’s how frustrating the Pack’s 10 seasons in the Mountain West have played out.
A 12-team league would have been a bad idea just three or four years ago in the Mountain West. But now that all of the programs seem watered down, it makes sense. In the past it would have been Boise State and the other 11 teams fighting for the other playoff spot. But Boise State is no longer a dominating program. No Mountain West team is all that dominating anymore. Heck, even San Jose State won a league title just two years ago. Utah State won this past year. There’s no reason the Wolf Pack can’t be in the mix to finish at least second in most years in a 12-team league.
The Wolf Pack football team, which looked like a dumpster fire back in December and January, might turn out to be the surprise of the 2022 Mountain West season.
Of course that depends on a lot of positive things taking place. But if the Wolf Pack does indeed find a legitimate quarterback, an offensive line that can protect that quarterback and a defense that can actually tackle, well, anything is possible. If the Pack finds just two of those things it should finish no worse than 5-3 in league play. If it finds all three, well, look out.
Most of the Pack’s toughest league games this year (Boise State, Fresno State, Colorado State and San Diego State) will be at home where even bad Pack teams usually find a way to win on a consistent basis. And most of the Pack’s easiest league games (UNLV, Hawaii, San Jose State and Air Force) will be on the road.
Former Pack coach Jay Norvell has an extremely interesting schedule his first year at Colorado State. His Rams start the season on Sept. 3 at Michigan, where Norvell will coach in front of a crowd that will likely be bigger than five average Wolf Pack crowds combined. Norvell and the Rams will also play at Washington State on Sept. 17. Norvell took his first Wolf Pack team (2017) to Washington State and lost 45-7.
Norvell will return to Mackay Stadium to play the Pack on Oct. 8 for his first Mountain West game as Rams head coach. He will go up against new Hawaii head coach Timmy Chang, one of his former Pack (and Colorado State) assistants, on Oct. 22 and he will have to play at Boise State on Oct. 29, where the Broncos will want to get even with him for the Pack’s win last season.
Norvell and the Rams also have huge rivalry games against Wyoming and Air Force in November, though they somehow avoided playing Colorado at all this year. By the end of the year, Norvell will probably wish he also could have taken Carson Strong, Romeo Doubs and Cole Turner with him to Colorado State.
Is this year’s Golden State Warriors team as good as the Warriors teams that won NBA titles in 2015, 2017 and 2018? Of course not. Those Warriors teams, after all, had Kevin Durant, a young Andre Iguodala and some combination of Andrew Bogut, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Shaun Livingston, Quinn Cook, Zaza Pachulia and David West.
Steph Curry is now 34, Klay Thompson is now 32 and Draymond Green is now 32. And they aren’t as explosive and efficient as they were when they were in their 20s. But, fortunately for the Warriors, they won’t have to beat their former selves to win a title. They just have to beat an overachieving Dallas Mavericks team and either a Celtics or Heat team filled with flaws.
The Warriors don’t shoot the three as efficiently as they once did but they can still fill the nets. Watching the Warriors win another title is the only interesting thing about these NBA playoffs. We could be looking, after all, at the last legitimate chance the Steph-Klay-Draymond Warriors will have of winning a title. Coach Steve Kerr might also decide after the season he’s had enough of coaching. A title would be the perfect way to end one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history.