Nevada men’s basketball opens season tonight
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – It’s time to get down to business for the 24th-ranked Nevada men’s basketball team.
After an impressive 93-77 exhibition win over Chico State on Tuesday, the three-time defending Western Athletic Conference champions open their season tonight (7 p.m., ESPN Radio) against Division II University of Alaska-Anchorage at Lawlor Events Center.
“I have a lot of concerns about our own team, but we have to be concerned about the other team,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “We didn’t defend very well; we gave up 77 points. I’d like to see a lot more consistency. We made lots of little errors.
“We’ve only had one practice since the game, and they had a good approach to practice yesterday.”
Fox said he hasn’t made a final decision, but there is a good chance that Denis Ikovlev could make his second straight start opposite Nick Fazekas in the frontcourt.
“He played well enough,” Fox said. “It depends on how he practices. It’s likely he’ll be in the starting lineup.”
Nevada will face a short-handed UA-A squad that went 19-12 last year and qualified for the NCAA Division II Championship for the 12th time in school history.
Junior forward Joe Davis, the Seawolves’ top returning scorer (11 points per game), is academically ineligible for the first semester. And, to make matters worse, 6-8 forward McCade Olsen slipped on a patch of black ice and dislocated his shoulder. He’s expected to miss a minimum two weeks of action.
“He (Davis) is a big body,” UA-A coach Rusty Osborne said. “He’s 260 pounds, but he’s able to move with that weight, too. We expected big things from McCade. You need two big men like that to play a team the caliber of Nevada. We’ve got some nice post players, but they are only 6-6 and 6-7.
“We’re trying to find out about ourselves. The games last weekend (Lancaster Bible 105-68 and 102-30 wins) didn’t challenge us. There’s no way I know how competitive we’ll be. We’re going on the road for the first time and going into a hostile environment.”
Osborne knows the task of defending Nevada will be tough.
“I know they have two great outside shooters (Marcelus Kemp and Kyle Shiloh), an experienced point guard (Ramon Sessions) and a 6-11 All-American (Fazekas) who can score inside and out. There is not a lot of room for errors. We’ll have to pick our poison and see how it works out. We’ll try to do what we can do.”
The Seawolves are 45-121 against Division I teams, but they have never won a true road game. They played two solid teams last year, losing by five to South Carolina and then got beat at the buzzer by USC.
Notes: Fazekas starts the season 66 points behind all-time leading scorer Edgar Jones. Barring two huge games (tonight and Oregon State on Wednesday), Fazekas would probably become the all-time scoring leader at home against Arkansas Pine-Bluff on Nov. 18 … Nevada is ranked 25th in the ESPN/USA Today poll.
ALASKA-ANCHORAGE (2-0) at NEVADA (0-0)
When: Tonight, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Lawlor Events Center (11,784)
Radio: ESPN 630 AM, pregame starts at 6:35 p.m.
Coaches: Nevada’s Mark Fox (52-13) is in his third year; UA-A’s Rusty Osborne (32-28) is in his third season
Probable starters: UA-A – F Carl Arts (6-6, Jr.) and Buddy Bailey (6-3, Sr.); C Ivan Platenik (6-7, Soph.); G Luke Cooper (6-0, Jr.) and Eric Draper (6-2, Sr.); NEVADA – F Nick Fazekas (6-11, Sr.) and Denis Ikovlev (6-7, Sr.); G Kyle Shiloh (6-3, Sr.), Marcelus Kemp (6-5, Jr.) and Ramon Sessions (6-3, Jr.)