The Dons traveled to Reno last year and picked up a loss to the Nevada Wolf Pack. The Green & Gold were held to a mere 51 points losing to a final score of 59-51. It was a relatively tight game in the first half but the Wolf Pack came back from half time with some impressive adjustments. The Dons were playing catch up most of the final minutes and hope slowly dwindled. At one point during the second half, junior Cody Doolin was smacked in the face causing a bleed over his eye. He was bandaged up and played the rest of the game doing his best “Karate Kid” impression. Ultimately, the Dons lost their second straight game in the middle of a five game loosing streak. The Wolf Pack improved to 7-4 in the middle of a five game winning streak.
— James Stapleton (@jastape) January 8, 2013
I mentioned Cody Doolin’s Karate Kid impression earlier, above is a Loch Ness monster type photo for your entertainment
I believe this particular game in December 2012 had a very real impact on how USF and UNR defined their seasons. The Dons continued to only win two of the next eleven games – including starting conference play at 0-5. One of those wins was against a D-2 program. The Dons also seemed to lack the confidence to close games out with authority. The Green & Gold went well into conference play before they were able to define themselves as a team. Nevada won it’s next two games, but then feel into a deep spiral once they lost to Oregon. The Wolf Pack went 3-14 in the final seventeen games placing them in last place in the Mountain West Conference. Nevada may have peaked against USF.
Fast forward to the Nevada at San Francisco game this Friday night – things will be much different. As Dons fans all know by now, USF will be returning most of last years squad, but with some key improvements. In the backcourt, Nevada lost a starting guard, Malik Story, but gained a junior transfer, Michael Perez. UNR’s frontcourt will return all of their players and have an additional four newcomers. It is apparent that both teams improved from last years teams.
In Nevada’s season opener against Pacific, the Wolf Pack went into halftime with a five point lead. During the rest of the game, the lead was traded among both teams seven different times. Nevada seemed to have momentum in the final minute as Marqueze Coleman hit a three pointer to tie the game at 78, but the Tigers had different ideas as Pacific’s Andrew Bock hit a last second lay-up to take the lead. UNR went down court and missed a last second shot – the Wolf Pack were heart broken on Opening Night in Reno.
Looking to avoid an eight game losing streak dating back to least season, the Wolf Pack went into their second match up of the season determined to get a win. This time around, UNR’s opponent was Cal Poly. The Wolf Pack trailed the entire contest by as many as 11 points in the second half. However, UNR went on a 16-2 run as the Mustangs hit a cold spell near the end of the game. With the lead in had, Nevada saw Cal Poly scratch back to take the lead with just over a minute left in regulation. Deonte Burton then hit a three pointer to put UNR up for good. For the second straight time in as many games, the match’s outcome was decided in the final minute.
On the other side of the ball, USF will go into this game with some positive momentum. They are currently 2-0 and will play a relatively weaker squad on Monday Night when they play the Idaho State Bengals. A win over Nevada on Friday could set the Dons squad up for a strong start to the 2013-2014 campaign. The Dons have lost four straight games to Nevada and are hoping to end that slump on Friday.
This is a game USF will have to take an early lead as the Wolf Pack have become accustomed to exchanging the lead through out their previous contests. A tight game near the end will very well fall in favor of Nevada as they have already gone through the stress of a last minute play twice this season. Key players will be Mark Tollefsen at the post and Avry Holmes from beyond the arch. This will be a high scoring, physical game were Matt Christiansen can really show his dominance in the paint. Expect multiple fouls and visits to the free throw line. If the Dons hit their free throws, Matt Glover and the Dons will have a shot to win the game with the defense side of the ball – keeping UNR at bay. Let’s hope the final minutes of the game will be left to a relaxing game of “keep away” as the clock runs out. If not, the Dons are in for a bumpy ride.
One for the Road
Here are some highlights from WhoGotNext featuring USF’s win over Cleveland State.