Lynch has stuck it out for Nevada
Appeal Sports Writer
I admire Curry Lynch, and I know that I couldn’t go through what he’s gone through for three years without getting ticked off.
Ninety-one minutes in three seasons. That’s been the extent of his playing time since he joined the Wolf Pack as a walk-on player for former coach Trent Johnson.
That’s not much when you consider all the hard work that goes into playing college basketball. It’s a big time commitment, especially when you consider the travel and the toughness of the practice sessions.
Many players would have gotten discouraged, and called it quits, but Lynch has persevered. He shows up to every practice and works hard to help his team prepare for its next game.
There is no doubt that’s why Nevada coach Mark Fox keeps Lynch around. Fox knows Lynch is dedicated and isn’t one to complain about a lack of playing time.
That’s the attitude you need from a walk-on.
“Would I rather go to a team that is 3-25 and play 15 to 20 minutes a game, or be on a team that goes to the NCAAs?” Lynch said after Nevada’s practice on Thursday afternoon prior to the tourney opener against Creighton. “The answer always is the team that goes to the NCAAs. I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.
“I just love working hard. If I’m not getting minutes, I can contribute in practice. I’m just happy to be here and work hard. The goal in my life was to play here.”
Lynch said Johnson came to watch him while he was at Virginia City, and offered him an opportunity as a walk on. Lynch said it was the only Division I opportunity he got.
“I got recruited by a couple of small schools,” Lynch said. “Azusa Pacific was one, and there was a small Christian school that I don’t even remember the team.”
Lynch’s minutes usually come in blowout situations, and when the clock’s running down, the Lawlor Faithful start to chant his name. His teammates are usually standing on the sidelines urging him on and hoping he will score, which really makes the crowd go crazy. He might be the second-most popular player behind All-American Nick Fazekas.
Lynch has played 13 minutes in nine contests this year, three of those appearances coming against last-place Idaho.
“Idaho I’m usually expecting to play because I know what is going to happen,” Lynch said.
Lynch made the only field goal he attempted all season, that coming in a lopsided win over Maine. He also added a free throw against the Black Bears for a season-high three points.
“At first I was embarrassed by it (the chanting),” he said. “I really embrace it now. I go to the mall, and people will come up and talk to me; tell me they stayed for the whole game to see if I get in a minute or two. That means a great deal to me.”
Lynch said it’s because of his red hair, which makes him easily recognizable to anybody who follows Wolf Pack basketball.
While teammates Marcelus Kemp, Kyle Shiloh and Fazekas were being interviewed by the national media, the rest of the team watched some NCAA action on the television in their locker room. They were a loose group.
“I’m good,” Lynch said. “I’m really enjoying it this time around.”
Lynch said the team didn’t have a chance to explore much of New Orleans because of the rain, but he said they enjoyed dinner at Bubba Gump’s, a seafood restaurant.
It’s highly doubtful that Lynch will play today against Creighton because everybody expects a close game. No doubt Lynch expects the same. Instead of grousing, he will be cheering on his teammates as he always does.
When I asked Lynch if he would be back for a fourth season, he was quick to answer.
“I’ll be back for sure,” Lynch said. “I don’t know if there is a scholarship available or not. I don’t know how it will be. I’ve come too far to quit now.”
That’s what makes Lynch a great young man, and that is what will make him a good college coach once he finishes up his education and starts coaching at the high school level.
• This is Nevada’s sixth trip to the NCAA Tournament, and the Pack has compiled a 3-5 record. Lynch has played in three of them.
In the five previous trips, Nevada has advanced past the first round twice – 2004 when it made the Sweet 16 with wins over Michigan State and Gonzaga and 2005 when it beat Texas and then lost to top-seed Illinois in the second round.
Fazekas was asked about learning from both winning and losing in the NCAA Tournament. He said that you can take things from both winning and losing. He also said last year’s first-round exit from Montana still stings.
Fazekas obviously would like to last longer than one game this year. It would be good for the program and good for himself individually. A good run here would show NBA scouts that he can play and is deserving of a first-round selection which means a guaranteed contract.
•Darrell Moody is a Nevada Appeal Sports Writer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1281