2008 Nevada Wolfpack Basketball Preview
Last year, the Nevada Wolf Pack (21- 12 overall, 12- 4 WAC) won another WAC Championship, their fifth straight, but they did not get to the NCAA Tournament. The club went to the CBI where they lost to Houston 80- 79 in round one. This season, head coach Mark Fox will put a young team on the court, which will be composed primarily of sophomores and freshmen with an occasional junior and senior thrown in. Can the Wolf Pack make up for the loss of three major starters? Well, they have in the past.
The frontcourt is a work-in-progress. The loss of forwards Demarshay Johnson (6.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG) and JaVale McGee (14.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.8 BPG) is huge. McGee went in round one of this year’s NBA draft. One problem with this year’s frontcourt is its lack of size. The other challenge is its lack of experience. Transfer Joey Shaw, a junior, and Luke Babbitt, a freshman, will be asked to contribute immediately. Babbitt was a high-school All-American. Sophomore forward Malik Cooke returns as the frontcourt leader in minutes (11.4), points (2.4) and rebounds (2.9).
The backcourt features sophomore point guard Armon Johnson (31.2 MPG, 11.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 3.4 APG). As a freshman, he saw a load of action and earned the WAC’s Freshman Player of the Year honors. Across from him will be junior Brandon Fields (29.0 MPG, 12.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 2.4 PG); he shot 44.3% from the floor and 38.3% from the three-point mark. Lyndale Burleson (18.5 MPG, 2.7 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 2.3 APG), a senior, will come off the bench to give quality minutes, utilizing his defensive chops.
The youth movement on this team is not a primary concern. But the
lack of size is. There is not one Nevada player that is taller than
six-foot-nine. Still, coach Fox always manages to get premium performances
from his team. On December 31, the Wolf Pack meet national contender
North Carolina. That game may just define this team’s season.
Look for Nevada to go to the NCAA Tournament and lose in their first