The Big West Conference and the Mountain West Conference play 16 non-conference games this season. In order to become more familiar with our not-so Mid-Major foes, we sat down with different Mountain West writers to answer a few questions about their respective teams. Today, we learn a little about Nevada, thanks to NevadaPack of Mountain West Connection.
CH: Nevada went from being a WAC powerhouse to a MWC bottom-feeder. What needs to happen for the Wolf Pack to start contending again?
NevadaPack: To put it frankly Nevada needs to find some nasty big men. There is a big difference down low when you take a step up in conference competition. Last year our guard play was above average, but the big men on the block could do next to nothing. Our two main contributors in the front court from last year, Kevin Panzer and Devonte Elliott, both transferred and were likely pushed out by coach David Carter. A recruiting class to replace these players consisted of mainly JC transfers with two standouts in Chris Brown and AJ West. Unfortunately for the Wolf Pack both players will be out by the time they play Cal Poly: Brown out indefinitely with a medical issue and West dealing with eligibility issues with the NCAA. If Nevada can get bigs to match the talent level of the guards, the Wolf Pack could again find themselves as contenders in conference.
CH: Deonte Burton is the go-to guy for the Wolf Pack this year. Is there anyone else?
NevadaPack: Look for UTEP transfer Michael Perez to be Nevada's next best player on the floor. Perez, the starting shooting guard, has the ability to be a spot up shooter but can also create of the dribble and get to the rim, something Nevada lacked last year. Additionally Perez showed great passing ability in the exhibition game albeit against NAIA school Montana Tech.
CH: The Wolf Pack are picked to finish 9th in the MWC. Is this too low, too high or just right?
NevadaPack: This is a tough call because Nevada has a high ceiling but has yet to prove much of anything. Sophomore point guard Marqueze Coleman and freshman guard DJ Fenner should provide a spark off the bench in both scoring and energy. Senior Jerry Evans Jr., known as a three-point shooter and defensive specialist, struggled last year on offense but should get back to his previous shooting ways. If we just looked at the guards, Nevada is a top five team in the conference. But the bigs are unproven JC transfer that could either pan out or be complete duds. I do though think the guards can carry the team if the big men can just rebounding and play a bit of defense. Therefore 9th seems a tad too low and 7th is more realistic.
CH: How do the Wolf Pack plan on containing Chris Eversley?
NevadaPack: It all depends on how coach Carter decides to tweak his lineup. Nevada has the ability to play more of an nontraditional four-guard lineup with sophomore Cole Huff, a natural small forward, playing the power forward. Especially with West and Brown out this may be the smart way to go, in which case Huff will likely start out on Eversley. The problem with this matchup is Eversley would bully Huff in the paint and out rebound him fairly easily. If this is the case look for Nevada to put JC transfer Ronnie Stevens Jr. on him in an attempt to keep him off the boards.
CH: Give us your prediction for the game on Tuesday.
NevadaPack: Last year in Reno, the Wolf Pack was hot from deep hitting 47% of their three pointers in a 69-56 victory over the Mustangs. Don't expect Nevada to be that hot from long-range this time around, but anticipate the Wolf Pack to walk away with a victory.
Nevada 73 Cal Poly 59