Wolf Pack notebook: Hall passes test for Nevada
November 29, 2016
RENO — Eric Musselman turned to a freshman on Tuesday to round out the Nevada Wolf Pack's starting lineup.
"Back in training camp I thought Josh was one of our best players," said Musselmam of 6-foot-6 freshman Josh Hall. "I just felt Josh was the guy to go to from a defensive standpoint, from a rebounding standpoint."
Hall, who played a total of just 21 minutes in the Wolf Pack's first seven games, played 23 in Tuesday's 77-67 victory over the Pacific Tigers in his first college start. He finished with eight points, three rebounds and an assist.
"I always believed Coach Musselman had faith in me," Hall said.
An opening in the Pack's starting lineup was created on Monday with Elijah Foster's arrest on domestic battery charge.
"I thought Josh was absolutely unequivocally phenomenal tonight," Musselman said. "He knocked down two big threes. You know, when we recruited him, the knock on him was that he wasn't a great shooter. He's spent countless hours in the gym working on his shot. Give credit to him for how hard he's worked."
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Hall played just six minutes and didn't score or pull down a rebound in the second half.
"I wasn't surprised he played well," senior guard Marcus Marshall said. "I see him in practice everyday. To me, he's like an upperclassman in my eyes. I'm proud of him."
"The sky is the limit for Josh," sophomore Cam Oliver said. "He's one of our best defenders with his length and his height. He adds a lot to the team."
Musselman said he approached senior D.J. Fenner about the opening in the starting lineup.
"I talked to D.J.," Musselman said. "I told if, 'If you are not happy about coming off the bench, I can start you,.' He just told me, 'Coach, do what's best for the team.'"
"That was a real mature move," Hall said. "He (Fenner) believes in Coach Musselman and he believes in this team. That was a real team player move. I really respect him for what he did."
PACK SHOOTING FROM LONG DISTANCE: The Wolf Pack made 11-of-25 3-pointers against Pacific. Oliver was 3-of-7 from beyond the arc while Marshall, Hall and Fenner each made a pair.
The 11 successful 3-pointers ties the team high for this season.
"We're a high volume 3-point shooting team," Musselman said. "Last year it would have been hard to do that. Everybody would have needed to wear a helmet because the ball was ricocheting all over the place. But Marcus changes everything for us this year. We're just a completely different team than we were last year."
Marshall made both of his 3-pointers in the second half. The Pack as a team was 6-of-12 on threes after halftime.
"It's just about taking good shots," Marshall said. "The shots we take as a team, I just feel we're all capable of making those shots."
Marshall said he enjoys the freedom to shoot threes.
"You don't fee like you have any handcuffs on," he said. "It's great."
MUSSELMAN HAPPY WITH DEFENSE: Pacific shot just 38 percent from the floor and was just 5-of-5 from the free throw line. The Tigers had been averaging 22 free throw attempts a game this season going into Tuesday's game.
"We just wanted to keep them in front of us," Musselman said. "We didn't want to gamble on defense and try for steals. We just made a decision to back off (Pacific's Ray Bowles) and just let him shoot."
Bowles finished with 22 points on 8-of-21 shooting.
"This was our best defensive effort of the year," Musselman said.
The Wolf Pack was 22-of-30 from the line against Pacific and has now outscored its opponents 145-68 from the line this season.
THIS AND THAT: The Wolf Pack is now 4-0 at home this season and has won nine consecutive games at Lawlor Events Center dating back to last year. Musselman is also 20-3 at Lawlor in his Pack career . . . Fenner still leads the current Wolf Pack roster in career starts with 56 though he has started just one game (the season opener at Saint Mary's) this season . . . Fenner scored 11 points against Pacific and is now just 52 points away from becoming the 26th player in school history to score 1,000 career points . . . Marshall scored 17 points, ending his streak of scoring 20 or more points in a game at four. Marshall is also just 27 points away from 1,000 in his career, though the first 813 came with Missouri State, where he played his first three seasons . . . Marshall could break the Wolf Pack single season record for 3-pointers made and attempted. The Pack is just eight games into the season and Marshall is already 27-of-78 on threes. The record for successful threes is 96 by Jimmy Carroll (1996-97) and the record for 3-point attempts is 232 by Malik Story in 2012-13.