The Nevada men’s basketball program could go by many names.
You could call it LSU West. Nevada had three coaches with strong LSU ties, but that number shrunk to two this week when Ron Dupree took a job in the NBA. Head coach Eric Musselman was the associate head coach under Johnny Jones in the bayou before coming to Nevada. Now Jones is the associate head coach under Musselman.
You could call it Bryant West. Former Bulldogs Nisré Zouzoua (6-2 junior guard) and Marcel Pettway (6-5 junior power forward) both announced in the offseason they were transferring to Nevada. Zouzoua will join the team in Costa Rica Aug. 18-26. It’s unclear if Pettway will. His name is curiously absent from the online roster. Pettway would be a walk-on and occasionally walk-on players aren’t added to the roster until the season begins. However, Jones’ son, a 6-2 freshman guard, is also walking on and is already on the online roster. That’s something to watch.
You could also call it Transfer U. Of Nevada’s 13 scholarship players, 10 are NCAA Div. I transfers. Only Elijah Foster, Lindsey Drew and Josh Hall came to Reno as freshmen with scholarships and remain in Reno.
Implementing the transfer model has quickly worked for Musselman. He’s gone 52-21 in two seasons with a CBI title, Mountain West regular-season and tournament titles, and an NCAA Tournament berth. The model is not without its cons, including the lack of prep signees who can build within the program. Foster and Drew will be imperative this winter and the consensus is that Hall will join that list after seeing meaningful minutes as a freshman.
Part of the reason Musselman has hit the transfer market so hard is because he hasn’t had a choice. Assistant coaches are responsible for the bulk of recruiting: Making contact, building a relationship with routine conversations, maintaining trust, and ultimately selling prospects on the program. Entering his third season, Musselman is yet to have an assistant coach return for a second year. Dupree was going to be the first before last week’s development.
There’s no question the constant turnover on the staff has played a significant role in the limited number of prep players who have chosen Nevada. With at least four scholarships set to open after the upcoming season, it’s likely the majority of those vacancies will once again be filled with transfers.
Nevada not without questions going into fall camp
Jay Norvell opened his first fall camp at Nevada on Monday, with players reporting Sunday and question marks aplenty.
Will the team surpass lowly expectations? Nevada was picked to finish fourth in the weak West division and Vegas has set the over/under for total wins at 3.5. How will players adjust to the new schemes? Who will emerge at the running back position in James Butler’s absence? How will the numerous new names (43 players and more than 20 staffers) gel? That’s to name a few of the inquiries.
Norvell came on my radio show this week to shed some light, starting with his task of putting all the pieces into one puzzle.
“That is a real challenge for us. It’s our No. 1 challenge. We have a lot of different individuals from a lot of different places,” he said. “To bring that group together and make it a football team, is our challenge.”
He also downplayed the notion that Butler’s departure was the biggest development of the offseason while saying it won’t prevent the team from running in the air-raid.
“I don’t think it was the biggest event and we are going to run and throw the football,” Norvell said. “I chuckle at all these blanket statements that get thrown around about our program. If anybody’s paid any attention to my career and what we’ve done the last 30 years, we will run the football. And we believe that’s really important.”
His thoughts about getting picked fourth in West division, ahead of only San Jose State and Fresno State, were as expected.
“It just kind of is what it is. It doesn’t really register with us, either positively or negatively,” Norvell said. “At the end of the day, we can’t control it. It doesn’t have any bearing on our season. I kind of take it as it is.”
Reno 1868 picks up best win in franchise history
The last time out was frustrating for Reno 1868 FC.
Playing at Greater Nevada Field last Saturday, a stingy defense conceded the equalizer with seven minutes left in regulation and had to settle for a 1-1 draw with last-place Portland. It was arguably the most difficult result in the young franchise’s history.
Reno recovered on Sunday and picked up what was certainly the best win in the franchise history. The home side went to Kansas City and picked up three points with a resounding 4-1 win over the third-place Swope Park Rangers, snapping their 10-game unbeaten streak and seven-game winning streak.
Two games into the second half with 14 remaining, Reno (8-4-6) remains in fourth place, now eight points behind Swope Park (12-5-2) and two points in front of Sacramento (8-6-4). The final two legs of the road trip consist of games at OK Energy FC (6-8-4) tonight and Tulsa Roughnecks FC (8-8-1) on Saturday.
Nathan can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. His weekly column, ‘Shoup Shots,’ was named the best column in the state of Nevada (community division) by the Nevada Press Association. It runs in the hard copy of the Sparks Tribune every Tuesday morning. Nathan’s weekly radio show airs Fridays at noon on ESPN Radio 94.5 FM.