Nevada notes: Sweet 16 is Father’s Day for Wolf Pack’s Muss
ATLANTA — Best friend and idol.
That sums up Eric Musselman’s relationship with his father, Bill, a long-time college and pro basketball coach.
Musselman, during his press conference on Wednesday, said he hears his father, who died in 2000.
“I hear it all the time before I go down and address the team,” Musselman told reporters Wednesday afternoon prior to Nevada’s practice for Thursday’s Sweet 16 game against Loyola (4:07, CBS). “I think about things that my dad would tell his team. It’s not often that your dad is — he was my best friend. He was my idol. I wanted to walk in his footsteps.
“You know, when most kids come down to get ready for school and watch cartoons, my whole life I was either talking Xs and Os or we had game film running. But I hear him all the time, and I also hear him talk about: Are you insane? Have you lost your mind? Why are you shooting so many threes? Why are you playing fast? Slow the ball down. Because obviously my dad’s teams were grind-it-out, defensive-oriented teams, and we play a completely contrasting style from the way that I was raised and watched his teams play.”
Musselman was asked what percentage he gets from his dad and what percent he gets from his mother, Kris.
“You know, probably 90 percent of my dad, and 50 percent of it, I need not to take,” Musselman said. “And then that’s where my mom comes in. So if it’s 100 percent, I’m probably going to go about 180 on percentile, even though I know it’s supposed to be 100. But my mom, you know, she’s a little bit lower key, more practical jokes and stuff than my dad, kind of a lighter side.
“I hope my sons take half of me and half of their mom, and I hope my daughter takes 99 percent of my wife and 1 percent of me.”
Musselman’s daughter, Mariah, has become a media darling. She was interviewed in Nashville by the sideline reporter Jamie Ergdhal, and she also did an interview with her dad.
EARLY ADVERSITY FOR LOYOLA
The Sweet 16 games are still a day away, but Loyola of Chicago has already had to fight adversity.
The Ramblers’ team bus took approximately 40 minutes to get to Phillips Arena for its practice and media obligations, and that caused a little frustration.
“In terms of what happened at the arena, we were supposed to get an escort,” Loyola coach Porter Moser said. “We didn’t and no one knew how to get here. Our bus driver didn’t know, and it took 35, 40 minutes to get here, but you overcome. You know, I told our guys, it’s our first thing to overcome, and it’s like getting a couple of turnovers early. You’ve got to put it behind you and overcome.
“Our guys handled it a lot better than me. I guess my immaturity came out. But no, it was frustrating. We couldn’t get here. But when we got here, everybody was great. We had a good practice. Guys got a lot of shots in. We went over a lot of things. You know, you can either let it bother you or not, so we’re not going to let it bother us.”
When the players were asked about it after Moser had left the podium, there were smiles and giggles around. Obviously, the coach had time to settle down.
“I mean, we were driving around, and even — like I think some of us were starting to be like, ‘what is going on right now?’” guard Clayton Custer said. “So I knew Porter was not happy about what was happening. We were driving around, driving around, and then when we finally made it.”
Jenny Bennett, the mom of Caleb and Cody Martin, was shown several times during last week’s broadcasts from Nashville.
“She feels like a celebrity now for some reason,” Caleb Martin said. “I don’t know why. She is having fun with it. It’s something that she hasn’t always been used to or anything like that, so I think it’s pretty cool for her to get some recognition, to shine some light on what she’s done for us and how we got here. It’s pretty cool, honestly.”
“She is just having fun with it, and to see her like that and have all smiles, all she wants us to do is have fun and enjoy what we’re doing,” Cody Martin said. “For her to be able to be here for that, it just means a lot, especially knowing the circumstances and situation that was early on in life.”
Bennett brought the twins up from the get-go. She was kicked out of her parents’ home, and she often worked three jobs to make ends meet.
FAME COMES WITH ADVANCING
From old teachers and coaches to big-time rappers, players commented on the outreach after winning two games.
“I mean, the outreach has been amazing,” Caleb Martin said. “Our elementary school has put signs and our names out there saying good luck and congratulations. And just all the people, old teachers and old teammates, old coaches, just the support around me and my brother from my hometown has been awesome. Just to see everybody reach out and know that everybody is keeping up with us, so it’s been great.
“So for us — for it to be a very, very small town, it feels like a big town, like everybody is behind us and supporting us, so it means a lot. Like I said before, it’s bigger than just us, and you don’t realize how many people that you touch and how many people recognize and realize what you’re doing.”
Loyola’s Donte Ingram got a shout-out from Chance the Rapper, a Chicago-based rapper. What’s funny is that prompted him to start a Twitter account.
“He didn’t even have a Twitter, and he got two (shout outs) by Chance the Rapper, so he made a Twitter,” said teammate Ben Richardson.
“Well, the real story behind that, I’ve never really been a huge Twitter guy, and to be honest, I have two classes that require a Twitter right now, so I was on the verge of making one anyway,” Ingram said. “I mean, obviously winning a couple of games in the tournament and the chances we’ve been getting, guys tweeting at us and getting a shout-out from Chance the Rapper, the South Side rapper, that was the icing on the cake, and I finally gave in to making a Twitter.”