Work on outside game is paying off for Nevada Wolf Pack basketball’s Josh Hall
NEVADA (5-0) AT HAWAII (3-0)
When: Today, 10 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV-Radio: None/94.3 FM or 630 AM
Last game: Nevada topped Davidson 81-68; Hawaii beat Troy 72-67
Coaches: Hawaii’s Eran Ganot is in his 3rd season and is 45-22; Nevada’s Eric Musselman is 57-21 in his third season.
Projected starters: HAWAII – F Gibson Johnson (12.3, 7.0) and Mike Thomas (18.7, 7.0); G Jack Purchase (11.7, 7.0), Leland Green (10.3, 3.0) and Drew Buggs (4.0, 3.0). NEVADA — F Jordan Caroline (18.0, 10.0) and Caleb Martin (18.8, 5.0); G Cody Martin (15.0, 6.4), Lindsey Drew (7.8, 1.8), Kendall Stephens (7.2, 1.0) or Josh Hall (11.2, 3.4).
News & Notes: Expect Nevada to go small tonight as it did against Davidson … Elijah Foster didn’t play against Davidson, as Eric Musselman elected to go with Caleb Martin instead. Darien Williams got 8 minutes and was very productive, according to Musselman … Todd Okeson, who had two outstanding seasons with the Wolf Pack and helped the team to the Sweet 16, is the director of basketball operations at Hawaii. Before coming to UH, Okeson was an assistant coach at Southern Utah for four seasons.
When Josh Hall came to Nevada last year, coach Eric Musselman admitted he wasn’t quite sure what to do with the lanky freshman.
“We weren’t sure whether he was going to be a redshirt kind of guy that first week,” Musselman admitted. “We knew he played with great energy. When we got the job one of our biggest challenges as a staff was to develop players in order to compete at a high level.
“Josh Hall is a great example of that. He is an example of hard work and he continues to get better. He’s developed more confidence as a 3-point shooter.”
That’s an understatement.
Hall is on of those shooting streaks that everybody would love to experience, but few do. It’s like a baseball player on a hot streak. When a pitch looks as big of a watermelon coming out of the pitcher’s hand
After a slow start, Hall came alive from long distance, netting seven 3-pointers en route to a 25-point effort against Pacific, and adding five more 3-pointers and 17 points total in the win over Davidson.
Hall has made 12 of his last 16 from beyond the arc, and has given the Pack another valuable weapon.
“He is on fire, and we’re letting him shoot when he’s open,” Musselman said. “We haven’t run a single play for him. He’s done a great job of being patience,”
The 6-foot 7-inch swingman, who is averaging 11.2 per game through five contests, said he’s more confident this season, and that he worked hard on his outside shooting.
“It (my confidence) is pretty high right now,” Hall said after the Davidson win. “I’m letting the game come to me; not coming in and forcing shots. I take the shots when they are there.
“That was my main focus last year to improve my outside shooting over the summer. Last year I had less of a role in the offense. It (outside shooting) was my biggest weakness coming into college. I would shoot two or three times a day, and depending on the day would have 200 or 300 makes.”
Hall said he didn’t change his release, but he worked at making sure he was square to the basket. Worked on squaring up and getting my feet set.”
His teammates can attest to Hall’s work on his outside shot. He went from a freshman who was more of a slasher and who would shoot floaters to becoming a dangerous outside threat.
“He is in the gym all the time, taking shots and making shots,” Caleb Martin said Tuesday night. “We didn’t need him to shoot 3s last year. We had Marcus (Marshall) coming off a lot of ball screens. It is something he has added to his game.
“It shows how deep we are (of a 3-point shooting team). Josh is probably our “fifth” option, and he comes off the bench and scores 17 points and gets six 3-point shots up.”
Hall’s success make Nevada that much more dangerous down the road as the schedule gets tougher.
“I think Josh can be the X favor when teams scout us,” said Purdue transfer. “He goes for 25 and gets 10 rebounds.”
Hall’s value isn’t limited to the offensive end of the floor.
“He can defend one through four,” Musselman said. “He gives us versatility at the defensive end.”
And, versatility at both ends of the floor has played a big role in Nevada’s early success.