Sessions has been a key to Nevada’s success
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – What a difference a year has made for Nevada point guard Ramon Sessions.
Sessions suffered a hip flexor injury right before the first exhibition game last year that nagged him for the entire season. Though he only missed one game, Sessions was just a shell of his former self when he won Freshman of the Year honors in the Wetern Athletic Conference.
Sessions, who leads the 13th-ranked Pack against Hawai’i tonight (5:05 at Lawlor Events Center), is healthy now, and he’s having fun playing the game he loves so much.
Through 22 games, he’s averaging 13.8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists a contest, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and more than 40 percent from 3-point range.
Though Nick Fazekas gets much-deserved accolades, there are some people around the conference who think Sessions deserves to be an MVP candidate, too.
He’s become a complete player, mainly because of his outside shooting. He can create his own shot, and he can catch and shoot. His jump shot has become an important aresenal in his scoring repetoire.
“I worked hard all summer,” Sessions said recently. “I had a great off-season. It’s probably the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life. I worked hard on my jump shot. I made some adjustments on my release.”
When he came to Nevada, Sessions kind of shot his jump shot from a little across his body. Now, he’s shooting the ball in a more textbook fashion, and following through properly.
“He’s played very well,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “He’s shot the ball very well. I’m not surprised. The amount of time he spent in the off-season shooting the ball …
“Ramon was a good player last year and the year before. He didn’t score as much last year because he hurt his hip right before the first exhibition game, and he fought through that the whole year. He’s back (healthy) and playing well for us.”
His game has evolved as he’s matured.
As a freshman, he was a scorer/slasher and distributor, a guy who generated points more for himself and his teammates because of his uncanny abiity to get to the basket. He averaged nearly 10 points a game in conference his first season, shooting 41 percent from the floor, but only 22 percent from 3-point range.
When he injured himself last season, Sessions’ scoring dropped almost in half (4.7). Teams sagged off him, daring him to shoot, and Sessions, because of the hip injury, shot just 36 percent from the floor and attempted only three 3-pointers, hitting none.
Now, he’s just as dangerous shooting the 3-pointer as he is driving to the basket, and his amazing body control enables him to hang in the air and knock in one-handed floaters when he’s roaring down the lane.
His improvement and stellar play has not gone unnoticed around the conference, either. Opposing coaches have seen Sessions grow up so to speak. He is a guy you have to game plan for, and not just for his ability to penetrate. He has improved his own skills, and he’s been mature enough to take on a bigger role offensively.
“He’s good,” Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard said. “As an opposing coach, it’s nice to see a player grow in the program. He gets better every year. It’s where I’d like our Drew Washington to be after three years.
“It’s all that (maturity, experience and filling a need for the team). It’s been a natural progression for him that you hope happens to a high school kid that you recruit.”
Boise State’s Stew Morrill agreed.
“He’s playing with so much more confidence,” Graham said. “He’s playing at a really high level right now. “
Sessions’ maturity shows in his shot selection among other things. He knows there are some games he doesn’t need to score, and he’s content to get his five or six assists a game and chip in a basket or two.
In other games, most notably Cal and Gonzaga, he’s shown that he can step up and dominate a game much like his roommate Fazekas.
Against Cal, with Fazekas hobbled by a sore rib, Sessions scored 12 of the team’s final 14 points in a five-minute span to spark the Pack to a 77-71 victory at the Pete Newell Challenge in San Jose.
In the game against Gonzaga, with Fazekas having fouled out with 5:15 left, Sessions buried a critical 3-pointer with the shot clock winding down to snap a 67-all tie. It sparked a game-ending 21-7 run and a 82-74 win over the Zags.
Sessions is one of the most unassuming guys on the Pack team. He usually deflects praise headed his way, instead, praising his teammates for getting him the ball in good places to succeed.
Fox has pointed out that Sessions has made good use of the defense’s efforts to key on Fazekas and Marcelus Kemp, which gives the junior point guard more room to operate and penetrate.
And, make life miserable for the opposition.