Another Big Monday for Nevada
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It was another big Monday for the Nevada men’s basketball program.
The Wolf Pack, owners of a nation-best 26-2 record, finally cracked the Associated Press’ top 10 after road wins at Idaho and Boise State last week. The Pack had held down the 11th spot the past two weeks.
The news was even better in the USA Today/ESPN rankings where the Pack was a school-best No. 9.
As expected, Nevada coach Mark Fox didn’t have much to say about Nevada taking another step up in both rankings.
“The polls? I don’t pay attention to them,” Fox said during the weekly Western Athletic Conference teleconference. “I talked to the team one time about it when we made the top 10 (in the ESPN poll). There was more attention on campus than they were used to handling.”
It’s pretty heady stuff, though, when you consider the eight teams ranked ahead of little ole Nevada in the USA Today poll are Ohio State, UCLA, Kansas, Florida, Wisconsin, Texas A & M, Memphis and North Carolina. Those are some of the most elite programs in college basketball history.
Fox was asked if the team won its remaining games, what kind of seed did the team deserve and did he think they would get it.
“That is something we can’t control,” Fox said. “It’s not something we sit around and worry about. We’re just hoping we get into the tournament. We have no bid yet. We want to win as many games as we can, so we can feel comfortable on Selection Sunday. You won’t hear me complaining about seeding.”
Nevada has gotten plenty of love from various sites on the internet.
Gary Parrish from CBSSportsLine.com has Nevada as a No. 4 seed out of the East Region.
ESPN has Nevada as a No. 3 seed in its power 16 projections along with Washington State, Pitt and Georgetown, which is the team that moved up three spots into the No. 9 spot in the AP poll. ESPN points out that Nevada is only 1-1 against the RPI top 50 (loss to UNLV and win over Utah State), but is 7-1 against teams ranked 51 to 100.
The ESPN experts, a list that includes Jay Bilas and Dick Vitale, has Nevada ranked anywhere from 10th to 14th in the nation.
Fox said that a lot of expectations have been put on this team, and he said that the only ones that are important are the ones the team has placed on itself.
“We’re taking it one game at a time and hopefully we’ll find success down the road,” Fox said.
And, 6-11 All-American forward Nick Fazekas was named the WAC Player of the Week after averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds last week.
Fazekas connected on 19 of 28 from the field and pulled down 22 rebounds. He also contributed four assists and two blocked shots.
Fazekas averaged 28.5 minutes in the wins over Idaho and Boise State.
If you are a Pack fan, and this is the time when everybody is a Pack fan in Northern Nevada, you anxiously await each week’s ESPN Bracketology update by Joe Lunardi.
Nevada has been a solid 4 or 5 all year, and this week is no exception. The Pack is a No. 4 playing Penn of the Ivy League, which is ranked 13th, in Spokane.
The Pack would play the winner of the Duke-West Virginia game, according to Lunardi.
Interestingly enough, Spokane is a place most talked about when it comes to Nevada playing in the NCAA Tournament. There has been some mention of Columbus and some of Buffalo, but not a word has been uttered about Sacramento, Winston-Salem, Chicago, Lexington and New Orleans as possible sites.
No doubt Nevada would rather be assigned to Sacramento’s Arco Arena because of its proximity to the Reno campus. Fans, depending on the weather, would be able to drive and not have to fly.
GRAHAM WINS AWARD
Senior Traci Graham has been named the women’s Player of the Week after her efforts against Idaho and Boise State last week.
Graham averaged 19.5 points and 4.5 steals per game in the Pack’s wins. Against Idaho, she scored 17 points, pulled down five rebounds and had six steals, which tied a career best. In an overtime win over Boise State, Graham scored 22 points and added three rebounds and three steals.