Pack grades: A solid ‘F’ ends season on a low note

Nevada lost its final four games and finished 22-11 in its fourth season under head coach Steve Alford.

Nevada lost its final four games and finished 22-11 in its fourth season under head coach Steve Alford.
Nevada Athletics

Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 98-73 men’s basketball loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils in the NCAA Tournament’s First Four round in Dayton, Ohio, on Wednesday:



Jarod Lucas basically vanished on Wednesday. The 6-3 shooting guard was the Pack’s most experienced player against Arizona State because of his three seasons at Oregon State. The Sun Devils never allowed Lucas to use any of his experience. Lucas was limited to his fewest shots of the season (six) and his second-fewest points (seven) in 33 empty minutes. Most (five) of Lucas’ points came in garbage time on a 3-pointer and a short jumper with under 12 minutes to go and the Pack already down by 20.


Blackshear, it seemed, was overwhelmed by the moment and the stage. The Pack point guard, looking out of control, turned the ball over twice on a pair of offensive fouls just 90 seconds into the game. That set the tone for a Pack disaster right from the start. He turned the ball over a third time six minutes later and was called for his third foul midway through the first half. His fourth foul came with more than 12 minutes to go in the game. But, by then, it didn’t much matter since the Pack was down by 20. Blackshear, who played just 17 minutes because of foul trouble, finished with four points, five turnovers and four fouls. He did have seven assists but five were on threes and four of them were meaningless in the second half.


Baker finished with a team-high 17 points and six rebounds in 27 minutes. His 3-pointer just 12 seconds into the game gave the Pack a 3-0 lead. The rest of Baker’s production (14 points, four rebounds in the second half) came long after most Pack fans stopped watching. All 14 of those second-half points came with the Pack trailing by 20-plus points. Baker played just nine minutes in the first half, mainly because of two turnovers on two offensive fouls. Give Baker credit for remaining active and engaged in the second half. But it was kind of like watching Red Klotz of the Washington Generals against the Harlem Globetrotters when two Globetrotters would go into the stands and pose for pictures with the fans (if you are under 60, check Wikipedia). Baker scored 10 of the Pack’s first 20 points in the second half as the Sun Devils turned off the intensity on defense. That was nice of them.


Coleman put up the good fight on offense, scoring 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting, including a pair of threes in a game-high 36 minutes. He also had three assists, leading to seven more Pack points. Half his points (seven) came in a span of five-plus minutes midway through the second half. Coleman, as usual, never stopped competing, despite the score and the inevitable outcome. He missed a 3-pointer, grabbed the offensive rebound and then fed Darrion Williams for a 3-pointer with just under eight minutes to play. But Coleman’s forte is supposed to be defense and, well, Arizona State scored 98 points and shot 64 percent from the floor.


Williams finished with 12 points on four threes in his 32 minutes. He never missed beyond the arc. His first two 3-pointers came just 2:21 apart early in the first half, cutting the deficit to 15-9 and 25-15. The rest of his production consisted of five rebounds (all on defense) and an assist. Arizona State outscored the Pack 41-18 when Williams was on the floor in the first half (14 minutes).



Davidson was only on the floor for 12 minutes, but it was painful to watch. His first five-plus minutes early in the first half were harmless enough. He had an assist, committed a foul and missed a jumper in the paint as the Pack fell behind 31-20 with 9:30 to go in the half. But then he returned to the floor with five minutes to go and things turned ugly. There was a six-second stretch in particular that resembled the most gruesome moments of the Zapruder film. He went up for a layup with 3:45 to go and was promptly rejected by a block by the Sun Devils’ Alonzo Gaffney. Davidson got the offensive rebound (big mistake) and went up for a short jumper right in front of the basket and Gaffney blocked that, too, with 3:39 to go. It was like watching a baby lion out on his first hunt trying to attack a full-grown lion. A staggered Davidson later in the half missed a free throw and a 3-pointer. The freshman would mercifully play just 75 seconds the entire second half.


Powell wasn’t shy or afraid of the moment. The Seton Hall transfer played just seven minutes but found the time to take four shots (he missed three), score two points and hand out two assists. He didn’t turn the ball over or commit a foul — the only player on the Pack that played more than a minute who could say that.


The 6-2 guard played 25 minutes off the bench, scoring eight points on 2-of-4 shooting (all threes), handing out three assists and pulling down two rebounds. He played 16-plus minutes in the first half and scored all eight of his points on a pair of threes and two free throws in a span of just three minutes. His two threes cut the deficit to 20-12 and 26-18. He played eight minutes in the second half (he should have played all 20) and had two assists as the Pack outscored the Sun Devils, 18-16.


The 6-3 freshman from Chicago turned in a solid 10 minutes, making all three of his shots and scoring seven points with two rebounds. When he wasn’t scoring, he was committing fouls (three). His jumper cut the Sun Devil lead to 34-22 with 8:39 left in the first half. His 3-pointer closed the scoring with 31 seconds left in the game.


The 6-8 freshman played just a minute. It was just his fifth appearance of the year and just his seventh minute.


Did the Wolf Pack look like a team that was well-prepared? The Pack hasn’t looked prepared the past three weeks. The Pack had no idea how to defend the Sun Devils. Arizona State, a team that was averaging roughly 70 points a game and shooting 41 percent from the floor, scored 98 points and made 64 percent of its shots. The Pack offense played well for 12 seconds and then scored 19 more points over the next 18 minutes. Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley got his team to play with a fire, intensity, confidence, focus and a chip on its shoulder. They knew what they wanted to do, who they wanted to do it to and when they wanted to do it. They basically ran the Pack out of the gym. Alford’s Pack looked overwhelmed, afraid of the moment and clueless. That’s what a team looks like when it is not prepared.


This was the Wolf Pack’s worst performance of the year, by far. The Pack never got closer than eight over the final 34-plus minutes. It was never closer than 19 the entire second half. Arizona State showed up for a heavyweight championship fight ready to throw punches. The Pack showed up thinking it was on the undercard going up against the guy who took the tickets at the door. A 12-loss team from the Pac-12 simply destroyed a 10-loss team from the Mountain West. Two former Pack players (Desmond Cambridge and Warren Washington) led the way for the Sun Devils. The Pack’s two best players (Lucas, Blackshear) basically didn’t show up. The Sun Devils attacked the Pack snake and simply cut its head off by devouring Lucas and Blackshear. That’s how you win important games. This should hurt, bother and concern the Wolf Pack on numerous levels.


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