Experienced Pacific to invade Lawlor
RENO ” Take a look at the recent basketball history between Pacific and Nevada, and you see a ton of close games.
The Wolf Pack has lost three of the last five meetings, including a 70-66 setback last year in Stockton. All five games have been decided by seven points or less. The closest game was a 72-69 loss back in 2004 which snapped a 19-game home winning streak at Lawlor Events Center.
Pacific, 1-1, after losing to Cal and beating UC San Diego, invades Lawlor again Wednesday (7:05 p.m./ESPN Radio 630AM). The game concludes a two-game homestand, as Nevada, 2-1, goes on the road again for games against Portland (Nov. 29) and Colorado State (Dec. 2).
Pacific has several returners from last year, including 6-7 center Anthony Brown, a fifth-year senior, 6-9 forward Sam Willard, 6-6 Joe Ford, 6-3 guard Chad Troyer, 6-4 guard Terrell Smith and 6-3 guard James Doran.
“We’ve had a lot of (good) battles with them, and I anticipate another one,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “They have quite a few seniors and they understand (the system).
“Anthony Brown is a good post-up player. He’s experienced in the system. Ford is playing point guard right now. That’s an advantage defensively. Joe is a very good player.”
Fox is pointing toward improvement at both ends of the floor. Nevada is giving up nearly 67 points a game, and opponents are shooting 44 percent. Meanwhile, Nevada is averaging a shade over 67 a game, but shooting just 37 percent.
“There isn’t anything we’re doing well,” Fox said. “We have to work on everything. We’re trying to be a defensive team, but we’re not there yet. We want to build our man-to-man defense. We have to be more proficient offensively.”
As Fox keeps saying, this team is a work in progress. No doubt this young Nevada team will go up and down like an elevator.
“The whole thing is to keep our focus on getting better,” said ex-Galena star Luke Babbitt, who is averaging 14.3 through his first three college games. “The big picture is March and the post-season. We have to take one game at a time.
“I feel like it’s been more than three games. I feel like I’ve been playing for a while. I’ve learned a lot. Everybody is a little quicker, bigger and a little stronger. I knew that going in.”
One thing that’s been impressive early
on with Babbitt is his coolness under fire and just his outright competitiveness.
Babbitt opened the season with a 20-point effort against Montana State, suffered through a horrible game at San Diego (3 points) and came back with a 20-point effort against Oregon State in a 79-71 win.
“Luke is very diverse offensively,” Fox said. “He can score inside and outside. He’s trying to find his comfort level. It’s going to take some time.”
The other half of Nevada’s area connection, ex-Hug star Armon Johnson, is coming off his best effort of the young season. Johnson scored 11 and dished out 11 assists in the win over Oregon State. Johnson shot 40 percent overall and 40 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.
No doubt Fox would like to see Nevada continue to share the ball. Nevada racked up 20 assists, which was more than twice what the team had combined in the road trip at Montana State and San Diego.