Nevada to host tournament
RENO – Nevada will attempt to break its two-game losing streak when it hosts Florida Atlantic in the first round of the Dodge Holiday Classic tonight (7:05 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center.
The Wolf Pack enters the four-team tournament with a 4-3 record, including their first loss at home since the final game of the 2002-03 regular season against Tulsa. Florida Atlantic is 1-4 after beating Campbell 82-59 earlier this week.
The tournament begins at 5 p.m. when Eastern Illinois, 3-3, of the Ohio Valley Conference battles Idaho State, 3-4, of the Big Sky Conference. First-round losers play Saturday at 5 p.m. for the consolation title and first-round winners will play Saturday at 7:05 for the championship.
Florida Atlantic is coached by ex-UNLV star Sidney Green, who was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls. The Owls, who lost 90-47 to Florida and 84-68 to Miami of Florida, are an interesting team according to Nevada’s first-year head coach Mark Fox.
“They like to shoot the three,” Fox said. “They are probably averaging eight a game. (Quinton) Young is probably the most potent kid. I think he’s averaging about three (three-pointers) a game.
“We’re not laying good enough defense; enough defense to win games. We’re creating a hole. It’s not one major thing. It’s several small things. It’s been hard to hold water.”
Nevada has given up 85, 78, 83 and 72 points in each of the last four games (1-3). Fox knows that won’t cut it now, and it especially won’t cut it when WAC play starts later this month.
Mike Bell, a 6-9 forward leads FAU in scoring at 14.6, and he shoots 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. Young is next at 13, followed by center Robert Williams (8.4, 8.0) and 6-5 forward Jimmy Bishop (7.0, 2.5), who shoots 37.5 from beyond the arc.
Nevada’s offense, led by 6-10 senior center Kevinn Pinkney (13.6, 6.6) and 6-11 sophomore power forward Nick Fazekas (20.1, 7.1), has played decently. Freshman point guard Ramon Sessions is coming on strong, averaging 10 points and 6.1 assists per outing.
“We’re still trying to get better offensively,” Fox said. “We’re nowhere near where we want to be offensively. I have no qualms about our offense the other night (against UOP). We shot 52 percent. I don’t think we’re getting to the foul line enough, and on Saturday, we didn’t shoot well from the foul line (11 for 17).”
Fox believes that the Wolf Pack have given away games against UOP (72-69) and Toledo (83-75). He said Nevada should be 6-1 at this point.
At this point, Fox said he doesn’t plan any lineup changes. The only logical change could be starting 6-7 Mo Charlo (8.1, 2.9) at off guard instead of Kyle Shiloh (4.7, 2.1).
EASTERN ILLINOIS-IDAHO STATE
Eastern Illinois has two tough teams to date, losing to DePaul, 53-51, and knocking off Evansville, 79-74.
The backcourt of Emanuel Dildy (16.7, 2.2) and Josh Gomes (15.5, 4.5) have accounted for more than 50 percent of the scoring among the starters. Forward Aaron Patterson is next at 9.8.
EIU doesn’t have a starter taller than 6-5, but the Panthers have out-rebounded their opponents by a 40-34 margin.
Idaho State has only two starters that average in double figures – guard Jeff Gardner (14.4, 1.9) and 6-7 forward-center Slim Millen (12.6). Swingman Doug D’Amore is next at 9.4 and 6-10 center Jesse Smith averages 8.7.
The Bengals are a small team, too, essentially playing a three-guard lineup. ISU has been out-rebounded by a 33.1-31.7 margin through its first seven games.