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Wolf Pack basketball set to host Golden Lions

DARRELL MOODY
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

RENO ” Nevada’s young basketball team goes after its third consecutive win when it hosts the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Lawlor Events Center today at 7:05 p.m.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN Radio 630 AM.

Nevada, 5-4, is fresh off big wins over Division II Sonoma State (95-39) and Southern Illinois (62-48). It’s the first time in coach Mark Fox’s tenure that Nevada has held teams to less than 50 points in back-to-back games.

The Wolf Pack faces a Arkansas-Pine Bluff team that opened the season with seven consecutive losses before beating SMU, 64-62, for its first victory of the season on Monday.

All eight of the Golden Lions’ games have been played on the road against the likes of Colorado, Nebraska, Georgia Tech, Creighton, Purdue and Texas A & M, among others.

“The most glaring thing is their schedule,” Fox said. “They have played an extremely difficult schedule. It’s hard to be successful with a schedule like that.”

Fox said the team had not looked at the film of its 2006 game with the Golden Lions, an 82-63 victory for Nevada.

Arkansas Pine-Bluff’s tough schedule is financially driven, otherwise there’d be no reason to play a schedule with so many heavy hitters on it.

George Ivory, in his first year as the Golden Lions’ head coach, is pleased with the approach of his squad, which features six new players.

“We’re holding up very well,” Ivory said. “They are practicing hard and playing hard. We recruited six new kids to go along with the six kids that stayed. They have bought into what we’re doing. The kids that were already here I didn’t have to sell hard because they knew me from when I was here as an assistant coach.

“I want us to be a little tougher and get up and down the floor a little more. I want us to be able to score more points.”

That has been tough. The Golden Lions have only cracked the 60-point barrier once and the 50-point barrier three times. Only one player, guard Terrance Calvin (10.3 points per game), averages in double figures. Forward Tyree Glass is at 9.5 ppg and Lebaron Weathers averages 8.8.

“Those two (Calvin and Weathers) have stayed pretty consistent all year,” Ivory said. “I’m looking for a couple of others to step up and be more consistent.”

Fox said that preparation time for this game wasn’t normal because players were studying for and taking finals.

“It was very disjointed,” Fox said. “It was extremely disjointed because of exams. It has not been a good week for us.”

Fox said that mental preparation is much more essential for this year’s team compared to past years when there were more experienced players on hand. Fox said this team needs more repetition, and lack of practice leads to mental mistakes.

Nevada is nowhere where Fox expects the team to be by the end of the season in any phase of the game. He has continually harped that the team is still learning to play offense.

One thing that really sticks out is shooting. Nevada is shooting only 42.2 percent from the field, including a dismal 28 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Only once has Nevada eclipsed the 50 percent mark in a game, and that was against Sonoma State (53.4).

Freshman Luke Babbitt (42.9 percent) and Joey Shaw (37.9 percent) are the only players shooting well from beyond the arc. Armon Johnson is struggling at 4-for-27, Brandon Fields is 3-for-19, Ray Kraemer is 5-for-20 and Lyndale Burleson is 10-for-34.

“Alarmed is a little strong,” Fox said of his feelings toward his team’s shooting. “It’s always an area of concern. Brandon is shooting poorly right now, but he in the top 15 all-time. It’s timing.

“Players still have the green light. They have to understand what is a good shot, what is a green light and what is a yellow light. They can’t play the game looking over their shoulders at me.”

– Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com or (775) 881-1281