Three transfers making a big impact early for Nevada Wolf Pack basketball
NEVADA (6-2) AT BRADLEY (4-3)
When: Today, 5 p.m.
Where: Carver Arena (11,060)
TV-Radio: ESPN3/95.3 FM
Coaches: Nevada’s Eric Musselman (30-16) is in his second season at Nevada; Bradley’s Brian Wardle is 9-30 in his 2nd season at Bradley after coaching at Green Bay and winning more than 90 games.
Probable starting lineups: NEVADA - F: 6-8 Cameron Oliver (16.8, 6.4) and 6-7 Jordan Caroline (9.9, 9.1); G: 6-3 Marcus Marshall (20.0, 2.0), 6-4 Lindsey Drew (6.1, 4.8) and 6-6 Josh Hall (1.6, 1.0). BRADLEY - C: 6-10 Koch Bar (7.9, 7.2). F: 6-9 Luuk van Bree (5.4, 3.5) and 6-5 JoJo McGlaston (12.7, 4.4); G: 5-10 Darrell Brown (15.2, 2.1) and 6-3 Antoine Pittman (6.4, 2.2) or 6-3 Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye (8.1, 4.2)
NOTES: The team will play its second game with suspended forward Elijah Foster, who was arrested on domestic battery charges last week and is awaiting his initial court hearing. Freshman Josh Hall filled in capably in the win over UOP, but Foster’s absence puts more of a burden underneath on Cam Oliver and Jordan Caroline… The bench is thin. Nevada is now down to eight scholarship players, and although coach Eric Musselman talked favorably about freshman Devearl Ramsey, he hasn’t played many significant minutes...Oliver blocked five shots against UOP, giving him 125 and fifth place n the Nevada record books. Oliver has blocked three or more shots 26 times in his brief career.
Eric Musselman pulled off a coup when he lured transfers Marcus Marshall, Leland King and Jordan Caroline to Nevada last year.
All three were accomplished players at their former schools, and their collective presence has helped Nevada get off to a 6-2 start entering today’s nonconference game at Bradley (5 p.m., ESPN3/94.3 FM) as part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge.
Marshall has been the most productive, averaging a team-leading 20 a game, and reaching double digits eight straight times, including 25 against Saint Mary’s College and Oakland. The senior has either led or tied for team scoring honors five different times. The senior transfer from Missouri State, who sat out last year after transferring as per NCAA rules, has proven to be a valuable commodity for both his scoring and ball handling. When it’s crunch time, the ball will often be in his hands.
His ability to knock down the 3-ball has made Nevada a dangerous and better team.
“We are a high volume 3-point shooting team this year,” Musselman said. “Last year it would have been hard to do that. Marcus changed everything for us this year. We’re a completely different team (with him here).”
Marshall is shooting 35 percent beyond the arc, and in every game but one has made three or more 3-pointers. His scoring isn’t a surprise because he averaged in double figures all three years at Missouri State.
“I was excited to get out and play this year,” he said earlier in the season. “Last year was tough having to sit out. It gave me a chance to work on my game. I’m a smarter player. I’m looking to score a lot this year.”
And, he admits it helps he has a green light from Musselman to shoot the 3-pointer. That shows the confidence Musselman has in his team.
Caroline has brought a football mentality to the hardcourt, which isn’t surprising when you consider his dad, Simeon Rice, was an NFL star for many years, and his grandfather, J.C. Caroline, played for the Chicago Bears and the legendary George Halas.
Caroline is nearly averaging a double-double at 9.9 and 9.1, respectively. He isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and he’s worked hard to become more than just an inside player.
“He gives us an identity in how we play because of his energy and effort,” Musselman said after a recent game. “He takes on challenges. Playing against Jordan, it’s non-stop energy coming at you. He has been high energy ever since we met him.”
Caroline, who transferred from Eastern Illinois because he thought it was a bad fit, said he only knows how to play that way.
King, a double-figure scorer at Brown two years ago, had a limited role through the first six games, but with Elijah Foster’s legal issues, his playing time is expected to increase.
He played nine minutes in the win over UOP and scored six points and pulled down four rebounds.
All three were unhappy with their roles at their former schools, and all three picked Nevada because of Musselman and his prior experience at the professional level.
Many, not all, of the players in the college game today have aspirations of playing at the next level, and what better way to find out what it takes than to play for somebody who has coached at the professional level.
“The biggest thing was coach Musselman and his ability to develop players,” said King. “I know I’ll get batter playing for him. I’m very happy, it’s been everything I expected it to be. I’m getting the opportunity to play high level basketball. He has been very truthful in what I need to do (to play consistently).”
“I felt at home when I visited here,” Caroline said. “I heard he was good at developing players for the next level. I knew he had some NBA experience (Warriors and Kings). I wanted to pick his brain.”
Marshall said Musselman’s attitude about the game was a big selling point.
“The man eats, sleeps and breathes basketball,” Marshall said. “You have to like that from your coach.”
How does Musselman find these guys?
Word of mouth, newspaper articles and the Internet. Often times, players just come to him because of his background.
Nevada has three transfers sitting out this year — Caleb and Cody Martin from North Carolina State and Kendall Stephens from Purdue.
And, hopefully they will make the same impact this year’s transfers are making.