Nevada travels to meet the Beavers
Appeal Sports Editor
CORVALLIS, Oregon – The first road trip of the year, and against a Pac-10 opponent at that.
Needless to say, the 23rd-ranked Nevada Wolf Pack (1-0) are excited about tonight’s game (7 p.m., KREN-TV) against Oregon State (2-1) at Gill Coliseum. Nevada will be the first ranked non-Pac-10 school to play in Corvallis since the mid-1990s.
“It’s exciting to get back on the road again,” forward Nick Fazekas said prior to Monday’s practice. “You always like to play (teams) that are in conferences better than yours. They are a good, solid team from what I know.”
The Beavers hosted the Oregon Rain Invitational last weekend, beating Portland (65-48) and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo (78-65), and losing 65-63 to Southeastern Louisiana.
“I have seen them on tape,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “They are a very, very physical team that has some quality returning players. So far they appear to be a complete basketball team.”
Leading the Beavers is 6-foot-8 220-pound junior Marcel Jones, who leads the Beavers in scoring (18.7) and rebounding (9.0) after three games. His running mates up front are bulky – 6-9 258-pound senior center Kyle Jeffers and 6-10 255-pound junior forward Sasa Cuic (16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds). All three return from last year, and make no mistake, the Beavers’ success depends on the success of the veteran frontcourt.
“They didn’t start many games, but they started enough,” OSU coach Jay John said. “Marcel is long, and Sasa and Kyle are both in the 250-pound range. We need Marcel and Sasa (to score).
“We don’t have the shot-blocking presence we’ve had in the past. In terms of big guys, certainly their size will help (underneath).”
That size is certainly something the Pack don’t have. Their big people – Fazekas, David Ellis and JaVale McGee – are longer rather than thicker. Fox admitted Monday that the Pack miss Chad Bell’s bulk under the basket.
The Beavers start the Tarvers – redshirt freshman Josh (12.7 points, 3.3 assists) and the point and true freshman, Seth, at shooting guard. Both played against Nevada’s Lyndale Burleson at the prep level.
John is impressed with Nevada’s veteran group. He knows it will be difficult defending the Wolf Pack because of their versatility
“Obviously their experience goes without saying,” John said. “This is a group that has been together for a while. (Nick) Fazekas is good enough to beat teams by himself, and they have some kids (Marcelus Kemp, Kyle Shiloh, Denis Ikovlev) that shoot it from the outside. In some ways, it’s pick your poison.
“I can’t say I’ve watched a lot of him (Fazekas) to get a true sense of who he reminds me of. One kid that comes to mind is Brian Scalabrini (former USC star). He is so skilled and has a great touch. He continues to get better.”
Fox said he wants more improvement on both offense and defense.
“We need improvement in every area,” Fox said. “We’re always looking to improve. Defensively, we’re hoping to get better; be more consistent.”
Fox said that it’s possible that point guard Ramon Sessions and Kemp will both be back in the starting lineup. Kemp scored 17 points in 17 minutes against Alaska-Anchorage, and Sessions scored 15 and dished out six assists in 18 minutes. Neither started because their practice efforts weren’t up to par, according to Fox
Notes: Fazekas is 37 points away from passing Edgar Jones and becoming Nevada’s all-time leading scorer. The record could fall tonight, but most likely will be broken Saturday when Nevada hosts University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff … Sessions is on the preseason watch list for the Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award. Sessions was second in the WAC at 4.9 assists per game … Following the Oregon State game, Nevada returns to Reno for home games against Arkansas Pine-Bluff and UC Irvine (Nov. 21).
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
NEVADA (1-0) AT OREGON STATE (2-1)
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Gill Coliseum
Radio: ESPN Radio 630 AM, pregame starts at 6:35 p.m.
Probable starters: NEVADA – F Nick Fazekas, Denis Ikovlev or David Ellis; G Marcelus Kemp, Kyle Shiloh and Ramon Sessions. OSU – F Marcel Jones (18.7), Sasa Cuic (16.7); C Kyle Jeffers (5.7); G Seth Tarver (1.0), Josh Tarver (12.7)