Mountain West Notebook: Nevada coach Eric Musselman awards walk-on Charlie Tooley with a scholarship
Eric Musselman has always raved about sophomore guard Charlie Tooley.
Tooley, one of two walk-ons on the Nevada roster when the season started, was awarded a full scholarship for the rest of the season Monday afternoon. The scholarship became available when Darien Williams, a grad transfer from St. John’s, was removed from the team for undisclosed reasons.
The announcing of the scholarship was made in an unconventional manner. The team was going through a drill, and then Tooley sprinted toward and corralled a loose ball. The rest of the team sprinted to the other end of the court. Musselman stripped off his T-shirt and announced that Tooley was getting a scholarship. Taped to Musselman’s body was the scholarship agreement which Tooley happily signed.
“Our coaching staff is so excited to reward Charlie with a scholarship for the spring,” Musselman said. “Charlie’s confidence, work ethic and willingness to sacrifice for his team is exactly what Nevada basketball is about.
“Having a player like Charlie on your roster elevates your team in so many ways. He comes to practice on a daily basis with a blue-collar mentality and competes. He is a guy in the locker room that everyone loves to be around and provides unbelievable chemistry for us.”
Musselman & Co. put together a video that lasted several minutes. It included a message from his parents, congratulating him on the good news. The announcement was greeted with applause from his teammates. Tooley was clearly emotional during the presentation.
Tooley said he was stunned, and had no idea that the offer was forthcoming.
Tooley, who lettered four years at Granite Bay High School, was a three-time all-league selection. He said he knew it would be a challenge walking on, and he admits he has been frustrated at times.
“I had some offers from lower-level schools (D-2),” Tooley said before a Monday night class. “I knew I could play at this level. I had confidence in myself.
“It’s definitely been frustrating sometimes. I love being here at the university, I love my teammates and I love the coaching staff. They have made it so easy to come to practice every day.”
Tooley is usually first to arrive and last to leave. That is what Musselman loves in his players, the desire to put in the work.
Tooley only scored nine points last season, but three of them were the biggest of the Pack’s season. He jump-started Nevada’s historic comeback at University of New Mexico with a 3-pointer that helped the Pack wipe out an 11-point deficit in 90 seconds. At one time. Nevada trailed by 25 points with 11 minutes left.
It was Tooley’s only shot of the game, and he made it count. He played six minutes in the 105-104 overtime win.
Many players might bypass an open shot upon entering the game. Not Tooley. If he has room, that ball is going up.
“It’s just my mentality,”Tooley said. “I have a lot of confidence in my game.”
There is still plenty of basketball to be played in the regular season, but ESPN’s Joe Lunardi seems to be warming toward the Nevada Wolf Pack basketball team.
The Pack, 20-4 overall and 9-1 in league, are now a projected No.7 seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament. It is the highest seed that Lunardi has given the Pack all season.
If that ranking were to hold true, according to Lunardi’s projections, Nevada would play Washington in the first round in Detroit.
One thing that is hard to figure why the committee or pundits fail to keep conference champions in a nearby region. Both Boise State and an Diego State are hosting first and second-round games. Why not send the Pack to one of those sights if the win the MW again?
Lunardi said that Boise State is a possible No. 12 seed.
The future of Eustachy?
As chronicled on Sunday, CSU coach Larry Eustachy has been placed on administrative leave. Steve Barnes is the current interim head coach.
This is the second investigation into Eustachy in four years. Former CSU AD Jack Graham, who hired Eustachy in 2012, conducted an investigation during the 2013-14 season. Graham wanted to fire Eustachy at that time, but was overruled by the university president, according to a story in the Coloradoan.
Graham said later that the coach should be fired for running a program of “fear and intimidation” that included attacks using unacceptable language that were directed against players and staff members, both within the program and elsewhere on campus. The report became public last winter, and the Coloradoan obtained a copy and verified its content with 14 people who were involved.
The plan that the school came up with that there would be zero tolerance for negative behavior, including directing profane or derogatory remarks toward players, staff or anybody else.
Throwing, punching or kicking objects in the presence of players, staff and others. Seeking retribution against any person believed to have participated in the investigation. It’s not known whether he completed those requirements.
Deion James and Anthony Bonner both supported Eustachy, who has three years left on his contract.
Wyoming hard to figure
The Wyoming Cowboys are an enigma.
They knock off league leader Nevada at home in double overtime, but come out against Fresno State and fall flat, losing 80-62, also at home.
“You never want to dig yourself a hole, but we have been in this position before and able to fight our way back,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said. “There were times when I felt like we stopped the bleeding, but I felt like Fresno State did a good job of staying composed.”
Rebels extend BSU to OT
UNLV extended second-place Boise State before falling short in overtime at Taco Bell Arena.
The performance should give the Rebels plenty of positive mojo heading into Wednesday’s game (8 p.m., CBS Sports Network) at Lawlor Events Center against No. 23 Nevada.
“There was en energy in the building and it was an exciting place to play,” UNLV coach Marvin Menzies said. “Proud of my guys and proud of their fight. We showed improvement, and that’s what we have to keep doing.”
Utah State star honored
Koby McEwen, who scored 31 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to lead the Aggies past New Mexico last week, was named the MW Player of the Week.
It was the second double-double for McEwen, who shot 75 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.