Nevada Wolf Pack hopes to get Stephens, Hall going
RADFORD (5-4) VS. NEVADA (8-2)
What: Continental Tires Classic
When: Sunday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Lawlor Events Center (11,536)
TV-Radio: AT&T SportsNet/630 AM or 94.3 FM
Coaches: Nevada’s Eric Musselman is in his 3rd year and has a 60-23 record; Radford’s Mike Jones is in his 7th season and is 98-107
Projected starters: RADFORD - F Ed Polite Jr. (12.3) and Randy Phillips (6.0); G Donald Hicks (9.0), Travis Fields Jr. (5.3) and Justin Cousin (4.6). NEVADA F Jordan Caroline (17.4) and Caleb Martin (19.7); G Lindsey Drew (5.9), Cody Martin (16.2) and Kendall Stephens (9.2).
News & Notes: Jordan Caroline became a 1,000-point scorer in the 84-80 loss to TCU. The first 303 came at Southern Illinois and the last 698 have come at Nevada … Nevada’s current two-game skid is just the third time the Pack has dropped two in a row under head coach Eric Musselman. Twice it happened in his first season with the last time being Mar. 2 at Boise State and Mar. 5 at home to New Mexico…The final two games of the tournament will be played at the Orleans in Las Vegas against Southern Illinois and USF, respectively.
RENO — Kendall Stephens has been an enigma through the first 10 regular-season games for the Nevada basketball team.
Stephens, a senior transfer from Purdue, has scored just 26 points in four home games this year compared to 66 in six games away from Lawlor Events Center.
Nevada coach Eric Musselman hopes that changes Sunday when Nevada hosts Radford as part of the annual Continental Tires Classic. Tip-off is set for 2:30 p.m.
“Kendall has been phenomenal on the road,” Musselman told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “It is not often that you have a guy play better on the road than at home. When we looked at his numbers the other day we were baffled why he is almost twice as productive on the road.
“We have a 10-game sample size. We would like to get him off to a quick start at home. He is shooting at a high clip and (defending) a little better. We have to get him to join us in the rebounding. In four games (at home), two of the four have not been good.”
Stephens is 9-for-22 from the field in four home games, including 6-for-18 from beyond the arc. He was a combined 0-for-3 in the wins over Davidson and Rhode Island. On the road, Stephens has reached double figures three times (20 at Pacific, 17 at Irvine and 15 at Texas Tech). He scored nine in one other game. He is 22 for 49 overall, including 19 for 39 from beyond the arc.
Musselman said that earlier this year he got a text regarding Stephens.
“I got a text from Caleb (Martin) and he said, ‘Hey let’s run some stuff for Kendall early,’” Musselman said recently. “And that’s the type of teammates we have because Caleb’s a big-time scorer and here is texting me and he said, ‘Hey do you have any new plays we can add to try and get Kendall kick started that the opponent hasn’t seen yet?’’’
Stephens went out and scored 17 at UC Irvine and had five 3-pointers against Texas Tech.
Another guy who Musselman would like to see break out is sophomore Josh Hall, who had 25 at Pacific and 17 against Davidson, but has just 12 points in his last five games since, including scoreless games against Irvine, Texas Tech and TCU.
“I look at it like a baseball player in a slump,” Musselman said. “He has struggled (recently). We have great confidence in Josh. He knows how much we love him as a player. He knows how much we love him as a player.
“He needs a good game. He needs to hit a shot; hit a lay-up. We believe he will be right back where he was.”
When Hall scored 42 points in two games, he stressed he was “taking what the defense gave him.” Teams were sagging off, giving him an open look.
In recent games, it appears Hall is shooting the 3 and not looking to score other ways. Is he settling too much for the 3-pointer?
“That is something he’d have to answer,” Musselman said.
Radford comes into today’s game with a 5-4 record. The Highlanders have played both Ohio State and Vanderbilt, losing by 10 and 12 points, respectively.
“They are athletic and get up and down the floor,” Musselman said. “Their power forward (Ed Polite Jr.) is undersized and a match-up problem. He can dribble drive.”
“They are not pushovers,” forward Jordan Caroline said. “They are very quick.”
Since Nevada returned on Sunday from Los Angeles, Musselman has established a training camp-type of regimen.
“We haven’t put as much emphasis on our opponent as we usually do,” Musselman said. “We know we have four games in short time frame. It’s about cleaning up our offense and defense.
“We’ve added a lot of new offensive sets. We know this is the last opportunity to add because from this point on we’re playing twice a week.”