Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman to see familiar face when Damon Stoudamire, Pacific Tigers comes to Lawlor |

Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman to see familiar face when Damon Stoudamire, Pacific Tigers comes to Lawlor

Darrell Moody

Wherever he goes these days, Nevada basketball coach Eric Musselman sees a familiar face.

Today he’ll see another one when Damon Stoudamire, one of his former players when he was an assistant with the NBA Memphis Grizzlies, brings the Pacific Tigers to Lawlor Events Center for a 7 p.m. non-conference game.

Stoudamire played 13 years in the NBA (Raptors, Grizzlies, Blazers and Spurs), averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 assists per game. He scored in double figures in 12 of his 13 seasons, and after college coaching stints in the NBA and at University of Arizona and Memphis, he landed his first college head coaching job last March.

Stoudamire was a smart player, but despite his high IQ for the game, he said he never considered coaching until he was out of the game.

“I always thought I would go into (NBA) broadcasting,” he said while traveling on the bus to Reno Monday night. “I knew I wanted to be around the game; stay in the NBA.

“Chris Del Conte was at the University of Arizona when I was there, and he moved on to Rice (as AD). I was talking to him, and he suggested I talk to Ben Braun (then the Rice coach) to see if he needed help, and that’s how it happened.”

Stoudamire spent the 2008-09 season as director of player development at Rice, and then from 2009-11 served as an assistant with the Memphis Grizzlies.

Stoudamire spent 2011 to 2013 with the University of Memphis, left for a two-year stint at his alma mater, the University of Arizona and then went back to Memphis for the 2015 season before UOP offered him his first head-coaching job.

The former NBA star is only four games into his first season, and he’s enjoying his new gig, but he also admitted it’s no easy task.

“I was an assistant coach for six years, and people would tell you how hard it is,” he said. “Nothing can prepare you for moving 18 inches (into the head coaches chair) and having to (and being responsible) do everything.”

By the time Stoudamire got to Memphis as a player in 2005, he was a seasoned veteran and a fountain of knowledge for younger players. That wasn’t lost on Musselman, who was an assistant coach with the Grizzlies.

“Not at all,” said Musselman when asked if he was surprised that Stoudamire turned to coaching. “He would suggest things during games; thoughts during time outs. He commanded respect.

“When he went to Portland my dad (Bill) was an assistant there. It was the year he died (2000), and they talked all the time.”

Stoudamire had a lot of respect for the elder Musselman.

“He loved the game,” Stoudamire said. “I’d never been around a guy who loved the game like he did.

“One time Mike (Dunleavy) couldn’t coach and Bill ran the team. In the NBA, the rotations are bigger (9-10) than they are in college. Bill played six guys the whole game. He said he wanted to win the game and he didn’t care whether guys got in or not.”

Stoudamire said Portland used Musselman as an inspiration for its 2000 playoff run, which ended in the Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

“Muss-win was our mantra,” Stoudamire said.

And, Stoudamire said the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Eric Musselman is fiery just like his dad.

“Muss has a lot of energy,” Stoudamire said. “He used to lead the defensive drills when I was with Memphis.

“I haven’t seen him since ’06, but I know he’s probably up at 3:30 a.m. texting or sending notes to staff and working out at 4 in the morning.”