The Nevada Wolf Pack are 2-0 for the first time since the 2006-07 season, which was the last time Nevada made the NCAA Tournament. The Wolf Pack's wins have come against inferior competition, Cal Poly and Adams State of Division II, but they have struggled offensively especially in the half court. This team has had to rely on its very solid defense and offensive rebounding to generate scoring opportunities. If the Wolf Pack want to perform well in the Paradise Jam Tournament or even win this tournament, the Wolf Pack needs to improve on its offensive execution.
Despite the issues on offense, the Wolf Pack are getting great production from Junior Foward AJ West. The 6-9 center scored 17 points, grabbed 18 rebounds to go along with two assists and one block in the win against Adams State. West has the makings of a becoming an All-Mountain West Player while DJ Fenner scored a career high 18 points on Monday. Fenner can be one of the players on Nevada's team that could have a huge impact for the team. Of those 18 points he scored on Monday, Fenner scored 12 straight late in the game to pull away from Adams State.
The Wolf Pack tip off the Paradise Jam on Friday against the Seton Hall Pirates at 2pm PST. I did a brief Q& A with Christopher McManus Editor of the Seton Hall Blog South Orange Juice about the team performance early in the season and the expectations for the Paradise Jam Tournament.
1) I know the Pirates have only played one game so far but, with the mix of talented freshman and veterans how do you think the team meshed as a team?
It may just be coaches speak, but there is a different feel around this team chemistry-wise compared to recent years. Players have told me the leadership is better than last year with Sterling Gibbs, Jaren Sina, and Brandon Mobley taking up the roles as unofficial captains (Kevin Willard is going with "game captains") and that has helped the team bond off the court, which is important with so many (8) newcomers. As for on the court, it's wait and see.
2) The talk of this Pirates team is obviously its talented freshman class, guys like Isaiah Whitehead but how important do you think the veterans are to this team if they are to compete in the Big East and make the NCAA tournament?
If Seton Hall's seasonopener against Mercer was any indication, they will be very important for the Hall this year. My game story was titled 'Trio of veterans steal the show from freshman class' as the three aforementioned veterans stepped up to carry the team past Mercer. However, I don't think Sina, Gibbs, and Mobley alone have the collective talent to carry this team to a successful Big East season, they will need help from Angel Delgado, Isaiah Whitehead and the rest of the freshmen to take it to the next level.
3) Of the talented freshman on this Seton Hall team, who is freshman that will determine how far this team will go in 2014-15?
Everyone immediately thinks Isaiah Whitehead, and for good reasons, but Sina and Gibbs are two very talented guards, so it's not just all him in the backcourt. Up front, freshman forward Angel Delgado teams up with senior Brandon Mobley in a very inexperienced frontcourt, so he may be the more valuable freshman, especially in the Big East. He is a freak on the glass -- Willard compares him to Dennis Rodman -- and has surprised everyone with his ability to score as a young big.
4) Lastly, How far do you think this team will go? Do you see this team competing for the Big East? Possibly a deep run in the NCAAs?
I've been asked this a lot leading up to the season, and it's still a tough question. Seton Hall has NCAA potential, but eight newcomers (6 freshmen, transfer, redshirt freshman) and just one senior starter is a very young team. I ranked the Big East schools a few weeks ago and put Seton Hall sixth in an NIT/bubble-out scenario, which I think is realistic. There are a lot of wildcards, but Willard has to prove meeting expectations to me first before I give his teams the benefit of the doubt.
Special Thanks to Christopher McManus, Editor of SouthOrangeJuice.com for his Q&A on the Seton Hall Pirates. Nevada faces Seton Hall in the first round of the 2014 Paradise Jam Tournament at 1pm PST on the CBS Sports Network.