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Nevada basketball preview: What are the expectations for the Wolf Pack?

What is to be expected for Nevada this basketball season?

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 Record: 15-17 (10-8; 3rd in the Mountain West)

Head Coach: David Carter, 6th Year (89-75 record overall)

Key Returning Starters:  F/C A.J. West (6pts, 6 rbs), G Marqueze Coleman (6 pts, 2 rbs),  G Michael Perez ( 11 pts, 3 rbs, 3 ast).

Key Departures: Deonte Burton (20 ppg, 4 ast, 4 rbs), Cole Huff (12ppg, 5 rbs), Jerry Evans Jr. (12 pts, 6 rbs).

Key Additions: F Kaileb Rodriguez (Juco transfer Sheridan College, Wyoming), G Tyron Criswell (Juco transfer Central CC, Nebraska), G Eric Cooper (IMG Academy, Florida)

Preview:

- The Wolfpack, despite injuries and eligibility issues improved from three conference wins in 2013 to ten conference wins in 2014 and finished third in the Mountain West conference but they have not made the postseason since 2012 and the key contributors on last year team are gone and now the question is for Coach David Carter going into the new season is can the mix on transfers, and new comers along with returning players with limited experience gel together to elevate the Wolfpack into the top have of the Mountain West?

Key Losses and Returning Players:

-The Wolfpack loss leading scorer Deonte Burton (20 ppg last season) and Jerry Evans (12 ppg last season) to graduation while foward Cole Huff transferred to Creighton and took his 12 points per game average from last year with him.

The Wolfpack are looking to 6-4 guard Marqueze Coleman to try to fill in for the departed Deonte Burton. Coleman, a former Wooden Award winner for the top high school basketball player in Southern California, is a different player from Burton but has elite athleticism, great speed and can be a lock down defender and his teammates have raved about his ability to get the ball to the open man. Shooting guard Mike Perez is the team's returning leading scorer (11.5 ppg) and will be counted on to increase his scoring and provide three point shooting threat to keep teams from packing the paint and leaving the paint open for Coleman and  promising 6-6 returning forward DJ Fenner to attack the paint. Fenner  can provide perimeter defense and can attack the paint driving the ball to the rim but, he needs to improve on his shooting ability from eighteen feet(averaged two points per game last year) in order to make up the production loss from Burton, Huff and Evans.

One time Arizona commit Freshman Eric Cooper Jr. and juco Player of the Year for 2013 Tyron Criswell will add talent and experience to the Wolfpack backcourt. And on the frontcourt, the Wolfpack return junior center A.J. West who excels at offensive rebounding and shot blocking to improve his still raw offensive game and defensive rebounding and  if West can improve, he has the potential to be one of top players in the Mountain West. Nevada welcomes juco transfer (and former Cal Golden Bear) Kaileb Rodriguez to add much needed size and depth to the Wolfpack frontcourt.

Expectations:

The Wolfpack overcame last year's obstacles to finish third  in the conference due in large part to Deonte Burton but he along with their other top two scorers are gone and its up to some unproven players to step up the production in order for the Wolfpack to compete with San Diego State, Boise State and Wyoming to name a few. The non-conference schedule is not difficult(outside of the first game in Paradise Jam Tournament against Seton Hall) so it will give the Wolfpack time to gel as one before conference play begins on January 3rd against Air Force. Ten wins in the rugged Mountain West will be a stretch this year but if they can play well together, they could be a team to watch out for in the Mountain West Tournament and a .500 overall record or above is achievable goal.