Nevada Wolf Pack relies on transfers for success | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada Wolf Pack relies on transfers for success

Darrell Moody
dmoody@nevadaappeal.com
Nevada guard Hallice Cooke (13) and forward Elijah Foster (12) celebrate Nevada's win over Cincinnati. Transfers have been a key to Nevada's success.
AP | AP

NEVADA (29-7) VS. LOYOLA OF CHICAGO (30-5)

When: Thursday, 4:07 p.m.

Where: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.

TV-Radio: CBS/630 AM

BY THE NUMBERS

Loyola: 12-game winning streak

Nevada: 2-game winning streak

Loyola: 7-0 on a neutral court

Nevada: 3-2 on a neutral court

Loyola: 71.9 points per game

Nevada: 83 points per game

Loyola: 50.6 field goal percentage

Nevada: 47 field goal percentage

Loyola: 39.8 3-point percentage

Nevada: 39.6 3-point percentage

Loyola: 71.8 free throw percentage

Nevada: 73.9 free throw percentage

ABOUT LOYOLA OF CHICAGO

Students: 16,402 (20,060 at Nevada)

Miles to Phillips Arena in Atlanta: 724 (2,386 from Reno to Atlanta)

Mascot: Lu Wolf

Notable Loyola alumni:

John York, co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers

Lori Greiner, inventor, investor, entrepreneur, and television personality

William Scholl, founder of Dr. Scholl’s

Jennifer Morrison, actress

Bob Newhart, actor and comedian

Jim O’Heir, actor

ATLANTA — Nobody in the country has done a better job of building a team through the use of transfers than Nevada head coach Eric Musselman.

Each of his first two seasons at the helm, Musselman has had a group of sit-out guys. It has limited him on depth each season, but the Pack has played well enough to win back-to-back regular-season Mountain West titles and make the NCAAs last year and this year after winning the CBI in his first year.

The first year it was Jordan Caroline, Marcus Marshall and Leland King. Last year it was Kendall Stephens, Cody and Caleb Martin, and Hallice Cooke. King is the only one who didn’t work out. He graduated last spring and transferred to UC Santa Barbara where he had a phenomenal senior season.

And, Nevada has four more guys itching to take the floor next year in guards Jazz Johnson, Corey Henson and Nisre Zouzoua and 6-7 Tre’Shawn Thurman. If Lindsey Drew opts to redshirt, Nevada has enough depth at guard, though Drew would be missed.

“We needed that first group to come and believe in the vision we sold,” Musselman said. “All those guys had really good years, Jordan Caroline was part of that first class. Marcus Marshall, a first-team all-league MVP type of player. He had a season last year that was really good.”

Caroline has turned into an all-conference player, and Cody and Caleb Martin have raked in honors in their first season in Silver and Blue. Cody was Defensive Player of the Year and Caleb was Newcomer of the Year and a first-team selection. Leland King didn’t work out. He ended up transferring to UC Santa Barbara where he averaged a double-double.

Of the Pack’s 2,987 points this season 60 (1,801-of-2,987) percent is from transfers Caleb Martin, Cody Martin, Stephens and Cooke. The Martins alone average 32 combined points, and Caroline averages nearly 18.

“So when you start building that and guys have success, I think it becomes more desirable,” Musselman said. “And certainly when transfers are on the market now, we have a lot more name recognition nationally than maybe we did two or three years ago. It’s been a destination spot for some guys, and it really hasn’t had anything to do from a geographical standpoint.

“Probably the neatest thing is when guys come to our campus for a visit and see how beautiful the campus is and how much the community rallies around the team, and people are really surprised at our arena and how we now have a practice facility. All of those things have helped us tremendously.”

The influx of transfers to Nevada could get even bigger at Nevada and everywhere else should the NCAA lift its sit-out rule.

And, another thing that has helped is Musselman himself. Every transfer that has come in has bought what Musselman is selling, and they like the fact Musselman, being a former NBA head coach, knows what these players need to get to the next level. Musselman has done a great job in the player development area, and he also has a lot of guys who like to work hard at their games.

The community involvement has picked up immensely since the CBI championship run, and Nevada had several crowds of more than 10,000 this year. The community hasn’t been excited about basketball here since the Pack had a run of NCAA appearances under Trent Johnson and Mark Fox.

The sit-outs have created a depth issue at times this year with Darien Williams being removed from the team, Drew’s season-ending Achilles injury at Boise State, Stephens’ thumb injury and the Martins going through nagging injuries.

Musselman is playing with essentially a 6-man roster, as Foster plays less than 10 minutes a game. It shouldn’t be an issue next year.

Stephens, Cooke and Elijah Foster graduate this year, but Musselman has the four sit-outs plus two freshmen coming in. That should create enough scholarship depth that if somebody goes down everything will be OK.

•••

Loyola and Nevada have three common opponents this year — Indiana State, Boise State and Southern Illinois.

The Ramblers lost 87-53 at Boise State on Nov. 28, beat Southern Illinois twice by double digits, and beat Illinois State three times, twice by seven points and once by 16.

Nevada beat Illinois State by 30 early in the year, beat SIU by 22 in December, and beat Boise State twice in close games.