Game Preview: Nevada

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by Craig Yamada

Who: Nevada (3-8) vs. UW (7-3)

When: Wednesday, 6 PM

Where: Hec Ed

Coverage: FSN NW

The Huskies are fresh off a 28 point route of the San Francisco Dons and are eager for the Pac-10 season to start. As excited as the Dawgs are right now, they will need to focus on Nevada first.  The Wolf Pack is coming off a 79-73 win against Portland State, following up its heartbreaking loss to the ASU Sun Devils just four days prior. Although their record is unimpressive, Nevada is blessed with a lot of athleticism and youth

The Numbers:

Nevada 101: What used to be a two man Wolf Pack in Luke Babbit and Armon Johnson, Nevada has had to reload with youth and a balanced scoring attack in 2010. Nevada lost its three top scorers in Luke Babbit, Armon Johnson, and Brandon Fields to graduation and the NBA Draft. Nevada is now headlined by two transfers who had to sit last year out per NCAA rules. The first is their leading scorer, Malik Story, who played with Indiana in 2008-09. Story is averaging 13.5 ppg with his new team and is the team’s best threat from downtown (47% on the year). The second transfer was a player Nevada received from Duke. Ever heard of the song “Pretty Fly for a White Guy”? Well this dude can fly pretty high for a white guy. His name is Olek Czyz. And in case you haven’t seen his talents, here is a taste:

Czyz hails from Poland originally and played for Coach K for two years where he averaged under 10 minutes a game. He has since found new life with Nevada and has two games under his belt this season. Czyz is a 6’7” small forward who is agile and can stretch the floor inside and out. He is second on the team in rebounding average with 6 per game and is averaging 7.5 points thus far. Nevada is bringing him along slowly in his first two games, but I expect him to see bigger minutes against UW tomorrow.  Their second leading scorer is PF Dario Hunt who is averaging near a double-double each game with 12.1 ppg and 9.5 rebounds per game. However their most talented player may just be their heralded freshman, who Lorenzo Romar knows well, Deonte Burton. UW showed early interest in Burton in 2009, however never offered him a scholarship. Burton is as dynamic a point guard as they come. He has a quick first step, great handles and can explode to the basket. Don’t believe me? Here are some high school highlights:

IT will likely square off against Burton and attempt to keep him out of the lane and pressure him beyond the arc.

Nevada Starting Lineup:

  • SF – Olek Czyz, 6-7, 7.5 ppg.
  • PF – Dario Hunt, 6-8, 12.1 ppg
  • F/C – Kevin Panzer, 6-9, 4.5 ppg
  • SG – Malik Story, 6-5, 13.5 ppg
  • PG – Deonte Burton, 6-1, 11.2 ppg

UW Starting Lineup:

  • PF – MBA
  • SF – Justin Holiday
  • C – Aziz N’Diaye
  • SG – IT
  • PG – Abdul Gaddy

UW Wins if:

  • Create turnovers: Nevada is coming off a game where they turned the ball over 19 times. As a team they average 16 turnovers a game. And that is against teams not as defensively gifted as UW. I expect UW to showcase a ¾ court press, in effort to get the game at their pace from the opening tip.
  • Crash the boards: Same story, different game. With the front court of MBA and Aziz, UW should have the advantage in size in the post for rebounds. They will need to block out Dario Hunt from getting second opportunities as he is averaging over 4 offensive rebounds a game.
  • Contain Burton: He’s only a freshman, but he did drop 18 points on a usually effective Herb Sendek Sun Devil defense. IT will need to be in his hip pocket all game taking him out of rhythm.
  • Guards off the bench step up: With Venoy Overton hampered with yet another injury, he may have to sit this game. At least two of three swingmen will need to step up big to help relieve IT and Gaddy. Look for Wilcox to come off the bench early and often to spell Abdul Gaddy and move IT to the point. Ross and Suggs will need to be ready for a larger share of minutes as well.

Game Prediction: With as much talent that Nevada possesses, they are 3-8 for a reason. And that reason is turnovers. UW will likely force 19-21 TO’s this game and garner 20+ points off those TO’s. UW rolls 98-70.