Wolf Pack grades: Nevada needs another scorer
Grading the Nevada Wolf Pack’s 65-60 and 69-67 losses to the San Diego State Aztecs last week in San Diego:
Grant Sherfield: A
Sherfield, who rarely leaves the floor, sure knows how to fill up a stat sheet. The 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard had 22 points on Thursday in the 65-60 loss and 20 two nights later in the 69-67 loss. He also had 14 assists and nine rebounds and was 12-of-13 from the line. The officials also called just five fouls on him in the two games, which is fortunate for the Pack. Sherfield avoiding foul trouble just might be the most important thing this year for this Pack team, which really doesn’t have a reliable backup point guard.
Desmond Cambridge: B
Cambridge isn’t spectacular. But he is steady and productive. The junior scored 33 points in the two games, converting 13-of-29 shots and 7-of-14 threes. The Pack needed him to flirt with 25 points on both nights in order to win but the Aztecs’ defense is always ranked at or near the top of the Mountain West for a reason. Cambridge, though, only went to the free throw line for one shot (he missed) in the two games combined. Give Cambridge a handful of free throws in each of the two games and the Pack might have won both games. But he also needs to be even more aggressive. Cambridge is just 21-of-24 from the line over 13 games this year.
Warren Washington: C
The 7-foot sophomore, as expected, has yet to find a way to avoid the officials’ whistles. Washington was solid on Thursday in the five-point loss with nine points, four boards and a block in 25 minutes. And he did it all while picking up four fouls. But he disappeared in the two-point loss on Saturday, picking up two quick fouls to start the game and another foul in the first minute of the second half. He played just seven minutes the entire game and didn’t score. The Wolf Pack’s two centers, Washington and K.J. Hymes, are averaging one foul every 5.6 minutes this year.
Tre Coleman: D
The 6-7 freshman’s performance did not warrant the big minutes (61 in the two games) he received in San Diego. Coleman missed all five of his shots (three 3-pointers) on Thursday and had just one assist and two points in 30 minutes. On Saturday he had five points in 31 minutes. He did have three assists but he also turned the ball over three times and didn’t get to the free throw line. The Pack’s youngest starter is learning on the job.
Zane Meeks: C
The 6-9 Meeks had 12 points and nine rebounds over 44 minutes in the two games. One of the Pack’s most talented shooters, Meeks was just 2-of-5 on threes and 5-of-10 overall from the floor. He struggled on defense, picking up nine fouls in the two games. He also did not have a single assist in the two games. The Pack is still looking for a consistent No. 3 scorer behind Sherfield and Cambridge and Meeks, who can always get off his shot because he is 6-9, needs to fill that role.
K.J. Hymes: B
The 6-10 sophomore turned in arguably the best performance of his young Pack career, scoring 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting in 23 minutes in the loss on Saturday. Hymes was also 4-of-5 from the line and had three rebounds as well as an assist, block and steal. On Thursday, while he didn’t score much (two points on 1-of-4 shooting), he did have four rebounds and two blocks in 15 productive minutes. His continued development this year could be a key to the Pack’s chances in the Mountain West tournament in March.
Kane Milling: D
The 6-4 sophomore had a difficult two games, going 2-for-10 and scoring just four points in 44 minutes. He missed all four of his 3-pointers to go along with four assists and three rebounds. He is now shooting just 34 percent overall and 31 percent (8-of-26) on threes this season. One fourth (14-of-57) of his points and half (4-of-8) his threes this season have come in one game (against New Mexico on Jan. 2).
DeAndre Henry: Incomplete
Henry played just five minutes with a rebound and a turnover in the loss on Saturday and didn’t get off the bench on Thursday.
Alem Huseinovic: Incomplete
The 6-4 freshman, who was playing 12 minutes a game entering the San Diego State series, played just one minute on Thursday and didn’t play on Saturday.
Robby Robinson: B
Robinson, a starter last year, seems to be settling into his bench role this year. He is a valuable veteran piece in reserve, considering the other big men on the roster (Washington, Hymes) seem to always fall into foul trouble. Robinson seemed to be motivated playing in his native San Diego and turned in a productive two games. He played 40 minutes combined in the two games (he averaged 19 minutes last year when he started 31 games) and had four points (2-of-4 shooting) and 11 rebounds. Offense will never be his forte (he is just 6-of-23 from the floor this year) but he is averaging 4.5 rebounds (third on the team) in his 14-plus minutes a game.
Steve Alford somehow kept both of these games close. The Pack didn’t do anything particularly well in the two games but still had a chance to win both games down the stretch against arguably the best team in the conference on the road. That might say more about San Diego State than it does the Pack but, for now, we’ll take it as a positive week for the Pack despite the two losses. These two games reminded us that Alford’s toughest challenge this year is developing the roster beyond Sherfield and Cambridge. So far, though, that has been a struggle, limiting Alford’s options from game to game.
Winning games at San Diego State with or without fans in the stands has never been easy for the Wolf Pack. Not even former coach Eric Musselman could do it. The Pack is now 0-9 at San Diego State since joining the Mountain West in 2012. Yes, odds are, some of those first seven losses likely would have become victories if the stands were empty. But the Wolf Pack should consider last week’s losses a solid step in the right direction for a developing team whose goal it is to play its best basketball in March and not early January.