By Rob Stone
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Last season: 28-7 (13-1)
Key losses: Olek Czyz, Dario Hunt
Head Coach: David Carter
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Deonte Burton 6-1 Jr.
SG: Malik Story 6-5 Sr.
SF: Jerry Evans Jr. 6-8 Jr.
PF: Kevin Panzer 6-9 Jr.
C: Devonte Elliott 6-10 Jr.
PG: Keith Fuetsch 6-0 Sr.
PG: Marqueze Coleman 6-3 Fr.
SG: Jordan Finn 6-4 Jr.
SG: Brice Crook 6-4 Jr.
SF: Jordan Burris 6-7 Jr.
SF: Patrick Nyeko 6-6 Sr.
PF: Cheikh (Ali) Fall 6-9 Jr.
PF: Richard Bell 6-9 Fr.
PF: Cole Huff 6-8 Fr.
University of Nevada-Reno associate athletic director Keith Hackett will always remember the exact date when the Wolfpack were first asked to join the Mountain West Conference (MWC).
“It came on August 15, 2010, just out of the blue,” Hackett said. “On that day, we got a call from the commissioner, of the MWC, Craig Thompson, inviting us to join. When we were invited into the MWC, we looked right away. Those are the kinds of institutions we want to be a part of.”
Nevada finished off their final season in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) by winning the 2011-12 regular season title with a record of 28-7 overall and 13-1 in conference play before being upset 78-73 by the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs in the semifinals of the conference tournament.
The loss to Louisiana Tech cost the Wolfpack a dance card to last spring’s NCAA Tournament, so Nevada made plans for the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) instead, eventually ending their season with an 84-56 loss to the Stanford Cardinal in the quarterfinals. It was the first time in school history that the Wolfpack had advanced that far in the NIT.
Three starters return for Nevada, led by 6-1 junior point guard Deonte Burton. Burton, the WAC Player of the Year averaged 14.8 points per game (ppg), 2.6 rebounds per game (rpg), and 4.2 assists per game (apg) for the Wolfpack last season.
Burton also put up some big numbers in the postseason for Nevada. He posted 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists in a 54-44 victory over the San Jose State Spartans in the first round of the conference tournament, 17 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 68-59 win over the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles in the first round of the NIT, and 18 points and 2 assists in a 75-67 victory over the Bucknell Bison in the second round of the NIT.
The Wolfpack return two other starters in 6-5 senior shooting guard Malik Story (14.1 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.3 apg), and 6-8 junior small forward Jerry Evans Jr. (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 apg). Last season, Burton, Story, and Evans Jr. started all 35 games for Nevada. 6-9 junior power forward Kevin Panzer (2.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 0.4 apg) and 6-10 junior center Devonte Elliott (1.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.3 apg) also return for the Wolfpack and are projected to be starters.
Nevada suffered a tough 71-67 defeat to their rivals, the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) Runnin’ Rebels once last year in a non-conference matchup last November at the Thomas & Mack Center. Now, the Wolfpack get to meet UNLV, the San Diego State Aztecs, and the New Mexico Lobos twice a year and as conference foes.
“They (the Runnin’ Rebels) have been excellent partners in helping us move into this conference,” Hackett said. “We knew we could count on their athletic director, Jim Livengood, and the president at UNLV to help us as we moved into the conference. It’s good for the state of Nevada. Both of our institutions should be in the same conference. We’re not going backward, we’re going forward.”
The Wolfpack fans can also look forward to a bench that will feature 6-7 junior small forward Jordan Burris (2.6 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.0 apg), 6-6 senior small forward Patrick Nyeko (1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 0.5 apg.), 6-4 junior shooting guard Jordan Finn (1.4 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.5 apg), 6-0 senior point guard Keith Fuetsch (1.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg, 0.6 apg), 6-4 junior shooting guard Brice Crook (0.4 ppg, 0.4 rpg), 6-9 freshman power forward Cheikh (Ali) Fall, 6-9 freshman power forward Richard Bell, 6-8 freshman power forward Cole Huff, and 6-3 freshman point guard Marqueze Coleman.