Game Preview: Nevada

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by: John Chase

Washington hits the road for the next few weeks, stopping first in Nevada for a match-up against the Wolf Pack. Nevada is having an up and down season with a 4-3 record thus far. Their biggest struggles are a result of their ball handling (or lack thereof). Big man Dario Hunt, 6-8 230lb, is averaging 4 turnovers a game. Olek Czyz and Deonte Burton are also averaging over 2 turnovers per game, though Burton is also dishing out nearly 4 and a half assists per game, accounting for a third of the teams total assists.

The Wolf Pack has a very dangerous shooter in Malik Story, their leading scorer with over 15 points per game. He is shooting 53% from range with 23 makes on the season. For reference, C.J. Wilcox is shooting 55%, but only has 16 makes. At 6-5 and 225lb, Story will have a bit of a size advantage making it even tougher to keep him out of the lane. With three starters at 6-7 or 6-8, Nevada will be a tougher team to defend.

Outside of his turnover issues, Hunt is a very solid contributor for the Pack. With 8 points and 8 boards a game, he is shoring up the middle quite well. Add in his 2 blocks and 1.4 steals a game and you find yourself up against a complete player who can do damage on both ends of the court. Thankfully he matches up size wise quite well with Darnell Gant. I would honestly expect Aziz N’Diaye to draw this assignment, however, as Hunt is not an outside shooter as opposed to fellow 6-7 forward Olek Czyz who has attempted 15 shots (2 makes) from the arc. 6-8 forward Jerry Evans has taken 20 from 3point land and made 5. All things considered we will likely see Gant on Evans and either Wilcox or Terrence Ross against Czyz.

Statistically, Nevada has played eerily similar to their opponents. Look at their numbers. Nevada averages 64.3 ppg, while surrendering 64.7. They dish out 13 assists and allow 14.6. 38 boards per game for Nevada and 35 for their opponents. The Wolf Pack is shooting 40.4% from the field, while opponents are shooting 41.3%. This could be a good or bad thing for the Huskies depending on how the tempo of the game plays out.

If UW can push the tempo the game will be easier as the Huskies average about 8 possession more per game than Nevada. The Huskies are averaging 1.1 points per possession while Nevada is averaging around .96 points so every extra possession the Dawgs can manage gives them another step up towards a victory.

What Nevada is doing best at is rebounding and preventing the opposition from cleaning the glass. The Pack has 3 players averaging 6 or more boards this season, something I wish our squad could get to. I won’t complain too much as the Huskies are averaging 43 boards per game (third in the nation), but if we could notch up a third rebounder to help N’Diaye and Ross I would be one happy camper.

Predicted Line-Ups:

Nevada:
G: Deonte Burton 6-1 185lb
G: Malik Story 6-5 225lb
F: Olek Czyz 6-7 240lb (by the way, can someone buy this dude a normal vowel, or perhaps a consonant, for his last name?)
F: Jerry Evans 6-8 188lb 
F: Dario Hunt 6-8 230lb

Washington:

G: Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G: C.J. Wilcox 6-5 190lb
G: Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F: Darnell Gant 6-8 240lb
C: Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Rebounding – This could be a tough game for UW in terms of rebounding. Nevada sizes up pretty well against our wings, a place where we find a lot of rebounding success. This is also the category where Nevada finds its biggest positive “disparity” from their opponents, which to me reads as a strong point. UW is far from a poor rebounding team, but they have also been known to give up far too many offensive boards. As much as it pains me to think so, I kind of expect Nevada to out rebound the Huskies on Friday. The key to avoiding this is shutting down Hunt and containing his movement.
  • Frontcourt Pressure – Normally I am a big proponent of backcourt pressure to deny the big men rather than tougher defense on the block, due to our bigs’ foul troubles, however, with Hunt playing sloppy with the ball and having such a well rounded game I believe it will be important to not only ride him tight on defense, but also offensively by working the ball down low to draw fouls.
  • Ball Control and Tempo – I hope Romar continues to be tough on his players, pulling them when mistakes are made. It seemed to get through to Tony Wroten Jr. and helped him play a more calm and collected game. Let him make some risky passes, but also hold him accountable when it gets out of hand. Abdul Gaddy continues to be one of the best ball handlers in the conference, if not the nation. With an assist/turnover ratio of 2.9 he is on his way to another fantastic season. The Wolf Pack is turnover prone, as I stated earlier, and UW needs to take advantage of that with tough, man-to-man defense. I know this wish will never be granted under Lorenzo Romar, but for god’s sake, please can we start the game with a press? I’ll even settle for a 3/4 court press or a half court press.

Final Thoughts:

The Huskies blew out Nevada at home last season 90-60 and if not for garbage time and bench substitutions, UW could have won by 40 (they lead by 39 at one point in the second). UW is a much different team from last season, as is Nevada, but I highly doubt the combined difference is worth 30 points. This will likely be a closer game as UW traditionally struggles early on the road as the SLU debacle showed.

UW has the advantage of a deeper bench and some taller players. We also possess an array of sharpshooters at every position outside the 5. I’m excited to see if Desmond Simmons can continue to supply the occasional 3 point shot with extreme accuracy. So far he is 3-3 on the season.

I think the late start, 8pm, will benefit the Huskies as they have more time to prepare watching tape and warming up. This should prevent the terrible start that occurred against SLU and will hopefully allow the Dawgs to get up early rather than having to claw their way up from a deficit.

Final Score Prediction: UW-80 NEV-68

I think UW will have their hands full, but with the SLU defeat in mind and the recent HBU win supplying some good feelings, the Huskies should be able to pull off a solid win and make them a little more confident heading to the Big Apple. A loss could send the Huskies spiraling downward for what will definitely be tough games against Marquette and Duke.

Go Dawgs!