Struggling Nevada set to face Sonoma State |

Struggling Nevada set to face Sonoma State

Darrell Moody
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Nevada basketball coach Mark Fox admitted Monday morning he was just starting to dig into Sonoma State.

That isn’t surprising considering Nevada played on Saturday. Certainly Fox isn’t showing the Seawolves any disrespect, but Nevada is in a world of hurt these days.

The Pack has lost three of its last four games, and in that span is shooting 42 percent from the floor, including a frigid 25.9 from beyond the 3-point arc. Nevada is shooting a so-so 72 percent from the line, but has 11 more turnovers than assists and has been outrebounded in four of six games (one tie).

“I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with our own team,” said Fox, whose 3-4 Wolf Pack squad hosts Division II Sonoma State, 3-3, Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center “We’ve just got to get better everyday, It’s all we’re trying to do.

“Certainly it’s an important game; they are all important. They have a couple of guys averaging double figures. We know (Mike) Nelson from Reno High. He shoots the ball terrific. They (the team) shoot the 3 very well.”

Fox’s biggest problem has and will be lack of experience. When you start two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior, there are going to be times when the Pack coach just stares in disbelief at the action on the floor.

“It (lack of experience) leads to bad reads and decision making is part of it,” Fox said. “In athletics you can’t speed up experience. You have to understand the situation you are in.”

Nevada’s shot selection has been inconsistent thus far, and the Pack, because of its lack of height up front, has become more of a perimeter-oriented team. Save for freshman Luke Babbitt, who is averaging 15.3 a game, and Armon Johnson, who is averaging 13.4, nobody has been consistent scoring the ball.

Malik Cooke had four straight double-figure games, but didn’t score against Colorado State and scored just two points against UNLV. Joey Shaw, who was recruited for his offense, has hit double figures three times but went scoreless against UNLV and had only three against Portland.

And when is Brandon Fields going to get back to his 2007-08 ways?

Since coming off his two-game suspension, he has managed just 24 points in the past five games. Fields was a consistent double-figure scorer a year ago, and he needs to snap out of his funk. The 6-foot-3 guard is just 8-for-26 from the floor, including a woeful 1-for-14 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“He’s not playing well right now,” Fox said recently. “Physically he’s fine. I think a lot of it is rhythm. He missed a lot of practice time. I’m sure he’s pressing. That’s obvious.”

Starting forward James Sandoval (12.7) and reserve guard Keith Garner (10.2) lead Sonoma State’s scoring attack. Ben Washington is at 9.8 per game and Nelson is at 7.3. Freshman Steven Pratt is shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.

The Seawolves come into the game on a two-game losing streak after defeats at the hands of Humboldt State and UC San Diego. Sonoma State is averaging 69 points a game, outscoring its opponents by an average of eight points a contest.

Notes: One of the assistant coaches on Sonoma State’s team is former Carson High star Vince Inglima, who is in his second year on the Seawolves’ staff. Inglima played ball in Australia after a successful career at Cabrillo College and Sonoma State … This may be a game where local fans get their first looks at Ahyaro Phillips and London Giles, who have seen limited action since coming off the suspended list. Fox said that players earn time on the floor by the way they practice … After the Seawolves, the Pack will host Southern Illinois in a rematch of last year’s BracketBuster game … Nevada leads the all-time series against Sonoma State 5-0. The last time the teams played was 1984, and Nevada rolled to a 109-70 decision in Reno.