Darrell Moody: Important to protect one’s house
College basketball teams constantly stress protecting their home court.
I believe home teams need to win 80 percent of their games, and coach Eric Muselman’s teams have done a good job of that in the one-plus years he has led the team.
Anything less, and I think you’re doomed to finish in the middle of the pack. No pun intended.
The Pack is 11-1 at home this year, the only loss coming to Fresno State. In 2015-16, the Pack was 16-3. That’s 85 percent, and that’s doing a great job. It’s why Nevada will be a force the rest of the season.
Playing on the road? A whole different animal.
I look back to the 2004-05 season with Mark Fox at the helm. The Wolf Pack went 9-0 on the road, which is phenomenal. In fact, during Fox’s five-year tenure, the Pack went 46-21.
Fox only had one losing road season, and that was when his 2007-08 team went 7-9. In the Pack’s defense, two of the losses were to North Carolina and Northern Iowa, two pretty good tournament-type teams. The Pack also lost to in-state rival UNLV. The Rebels were pretty good back then.
Granted some of the conference venues back then weren’t as tough as today’s Mountain West, but UTEP, New Mexico State, and Hawaii weren’t easy places to get wins. UTEP was probably the toughest place, and NMSU was a close second. It was tough to win in Hawaii, well because it was Hawaii.
Utah State, San Diego State and New Mexico are probably the three toughest venues in terms of crowds.
Another thing that made Nevada’s road success all the more incredible was the schedule. Back then, the WAC was in a travel-partner situation which meant you were either on the road all week or home all week. Games were played Thursday and Saturday, meaning you had to fly to your next destination, practice and game plan on the travel day.
Under Musselman, the Pack is 10-14 in true road games, including 5-4 this season, and 7-2 in neutral games.
The road record needs to be better. Winning on the road can impress the people at the NCAA, and that’s important. Winning on the road can also make the Mountain West more than a one bid league.
That being said, the Pack at 21-6 has four regular-season games left, and Musselman’s group should be favored in at least three of them. The Pack is probably going to have to win all four to win the regular-season title, which would assure the team of no worse than an NIT bid.
Teams that win the regular-season title and don’t win the conference title get an automatic bid into the NIT.