Nevada Wolf Pack basketball returns to court at Washington on Sunday
NEVADA (7-2) AT WASHINgTON (4-4)
When: Today at 5 p.m.
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Network/94.3 FM
Probable starters: NEVADA — F: Cam Oliver (15.8, 6.6) and Jordan Caroline (11.3, 8.7); G: Marcus Marshall (19.1, 1.9), Lindsey Drew (6.7, 5.8) and Josh Hall (1.9, 1.0). WASHINGTON — F: Matisse Thybulle (10.8, 2.1), Noah Dickerson (11.4, 8.1) and Sam Timmins (3.6, 4.5); G: David Crisp 12.4, 1.9; Markelle Fultz (23.0, 7.1).
NOTES: The Huskies are dangerous on the offensive glass. They grabbed 29 offensive rebounds against Gonzaga and turned those caroms into 22 second-chance parts... The Pack’s RPI rating was No. 40 as of Dec. 8. As chronicled, this is Nevada’s best start since the 2006-07 season ... The last time Nevada beat two Power 5 teams in the same season was 2011-12 (Arizona State and Washington) ... Lindsey Drew’s 14 rebounds against Bradley are a season-best for Nevada ... D.J. Fenner’s dad, Derrick Fenner Sr., played in the NFL for three different teams as a running back, and he once scored 16 TDs in a single season.
When a team plays every few days like Nevada’s basketball team did in November, it’s easy to get into a rhythm.
It has been seven days since Nevada dominated Bradley, and coach Eric Musselman knows the break was needed, but he’s also worried about a little rust when the Pack (7-2) visits University of Washington (4-4) today at 5 (Pac-12 Network, 94.5 FM) at Alaska Airlines Arena.
“We had a good rhythm going,” Musselman said last week. “We were playing every other day or every third day. Hopefully we can keep the rhythm we had against Bradley. That’s always a challenge for a team when you have a long break, We did have a lot of bodies that needed rehab and rest and hopefully they were able to recuperate somewhat.
“When you’re winning, you kind of want to keep playing. A break this long, our bodies don’t need this long of a break but we do have guys who needed to heal up and hopefully we’ll keep our confidence and understand where we are.”
The Pack has won seven of its last eight, the lone loss in that span coming against Iona on a last-second lay-up at the Great Alaska Shootout.
In Washington, Nevada is facing a team that has lost three straight, including a 98-71 decision to national power Gonzaga on Wednesday night in Spokane.
“They’re whole team does a great job offensive rebounding,” Musselman said. “They’re really good in transition, the have size and anytime you play a Pac-12 team on the road it’s a challenge..
“They’re so long, so athletic, they pursue rebounds and loose balls.”
Washington is averaging nearly 15 offensive rebounds and are a plus-6.5 a game thanks to the efforts of 6-9 Malik Dime, 6-6 Dominic Green, 6-3 Carlos Johnson, 6-4 Markelle Fultz and 6-8 Noah Dickerson.
Fultz is a name to remember. The freshman from Maryland is averaging 23.7 points and 7.1 rebounds a game.
“Fultz is a guy who is triple-double threat at any moment,” Musselman said. “He can rebound the ball from the guard spot, he can shoot the three, and he does a great job in transition. You’re talking about a special, special talent.
“He can do so many different things. It looks on film like he’s always playing downhill and he’s getting to the rim when he wants. He has great, great court vision and anytime you talk about a guy who’s projected where he is, it’s a challenge.”
Fultz is shooting 50.8 from the field, including 48.5 from beyond the arc. He also averages nearly six assists a contest.
“He’s an extremely talented player,” Nevada senior D.J. Fenner said. “He struggled some the other night, and we want to continue to make him struggle.”
Musselman points out that the Huskies have other weapons, and to focus just on Foltz is risky.
David Crisp (12.4), Dickerson (11.4) and Matisse Thybulle (10.8) average in double figures, and Dominic Green is right there at 9.8.
“Anytime we play a great player, we always talk about, ‘It’s five men. It’s five defenders understanding where the ball is and being alert.’,” Musselman said. “I think our guys have understood it’s not any individual assignment with any great player. It’s about how the team does.”
Washington coach Lorenzo Romar has been impressed with Nevada.
“They are the scrappiest team we’ve faced (this year),” Romar told reporters on Saturday. “They have a terrific NBA prospect in Cameron Oliver. He is really good. He is a 6-8 big who can step out and shoot the ball. They are a good team.
“I watched the Oregon State game, and I was very impressed. They have guys that can flat out fill it up. They play extremely hard.”
Romar is still waiting for his team to put together a complete game. He pointed out that the 2012 team started 5-5 and won the league with a 14-4 record.
“I’ve seen us have flashes of being of a good basketball team,” he said. “If I hadn’t seen flashes there would be a little more doom and gloom. We have the pieces to get orselves together.”