No point guard is hurting Nevada
Before another game is lost at the buzzer, before another game is started with two quality point guards on the bench, before another grown man cries, can the experiment with Terrance Green as a point guard be over?
Green, despite what coach Trent Johnson thinks, is not a point guard. More inches of rain have fallen in Northern Nevada since November than Green has assists this season. Trying him at point after losing Andre Hazel, a bad thief but good point guard, was an appropriate gamble, and one that could’ve had a nice payoff. It hasn’t worked.
If Jerry Petty and Todd Okeson don’t start sharing the point guard duties fast, as in prontito, as in vroom..vroom, as in today’s game against Pacific, nothing about Nevada’s season will change. Close games will end more often as losses than wins and the players will be teary-eyed in post-game press conferences, much like they were after a 82-80 loss to UNLV on Wednesday.
It was a game in which the Wolf Pack led 71-64 with 7:06 left in the game. With the shot clock never dipping below 20 seconds over their next few possessions, that seven-point lead evaporated and then was forgotten after Marcus Banks hit a game-winning floater with four-tenths of a second left in the game, the second time this season Nevada has lost a game in the final second.
Afterwards when discussing the topic regarding Nevada had lost its lead because of a series of rushed shots in a critical part of the game, Johnson didn’t go as far as saying the shots were by design, but did consider them warranted.
Nevada was lost on offense. It didn’t know what to do. Players hid behind UNLV defenders. Heads swiveled like a Saturday afternoon on Miami’s South Beach. They didn’t have anybody to handle the rock, didn’t have anybody who wanted the rock, didn’t have anybody who knew what to do with the rock.
So they shot quickly and gave the ball back to the Running Rebels, who knew what to do–give the ball to Banks, their point guard. No team can win without a true point guard, especially in tight games, which is something Nevada has been good at creating, by default, not merit.
The point guard position isn’t an issue, Johnson says. With a few breaks here or there, the Wolf Pack could be 4-0, Johnson says. I say this team could be 0-4. I say that with a point guard, this team could be 4-0. Without a point guard, this team is 1-3.
Petty and Okeson are point guards, savvy and understanding of where the ball needs to go, which is in the hands of Green, Kirk Snyder and Garry Hill-Thomas. They are the shooting guards, the scorers, the best players Nevada has.
Johnson knows it but wants all three players on the floor at the same time. Can’t happen. One ball, one basket and not enough shots to go around to display all three sets of pearly whites.
Those three played a combined 94 minutes out of a possible 120 against UNLV. Petty and Okeson, the two players who, combined, should play almost every nanosecond in any game were in for 31 minutes. That’s nine minutes without a point too many.
It’s too bad Hazel dropped off the earth. He would’ve been perfect for this team. Even with all the razzle-dazzle, erratic play and, at times, his Allen Iverson shot selection, Hazel was a point guard. In short, he ran the offense. This year’s offense is a fraud. Rough and ragged, like five players on a buzz saw.
Green didn’t become one of the all time leading scorers in school history with a PG next to his name. The guy can score. So take the ball out of his hands and put it into someone’s who will allow him to. Otherwise Green and Co. will be snapping, and rightly so, at reporters all season out of frustration when they try to explain how they lost another game when they didn’t have to.
Jeremy Evans is a Nevada Appeal sports writer.