By Joel Welser
Rank: #1 WAC
27-6, 13-3, 1st
Fazekas returning for his senior season,
Nevada may have its
best team in years. Even without Fazekas and his 21.8 points
and 10.4 rebounds, the Wolf Pack would battle for the top spot
in the WAC. With him, Coach Mark Fox and company are aiming for
a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Fazekas does lose a couple of his frontcourt mates with the
graduations of part-time starters Mo Charlo and Chad Bell.
Charlo averaged 10.2 points and 5.3 rebounds during his senior
campaign, and Bell added 2.6 points and 2.9 boards.
newcomers will be asked to help replace Charlo and Bell. JaVale
McGee, Matt LaGrone and Richie Phillips will give Coach Fox
plenty of options. McGee, a 6-11 Chicago product, is mostly
just potential right now, but with a little more strength and
experience, McGee could end up to be the next in line of quality
big men at Nevada. LaGrone will also benefit from watching
Fazekas work his magic before the 6-8, 215 pound power forward
will be asked to contribute too much. Phillips, who redshirted
last year, is a great athlete and can get to the glass with
ease. With a year on the sidelines in Reno, Phillips may end up
being the newcomer to make the biggest impact, at least early in
the season. Small forward Tyrone Hanson and shooting guard
Brandon Fields will add some more depth to the wings.
Who to Watch:
all know that Fazekas is good for 20 and 10. It’s the play of
the guards that is underappreciated and will make the difference
between a trip to the Sweet Sixteen and an early trip home.
Ramon Sessions isn’t a major scoring threat, but he has proven
to be a great team leader on the floor. Sessions was forced
into action as a freshman two years, and now as a junior, the
expectations on him are greater. Marcelus Kemp and Kyle Shiloh
are the main shooting threats from long range. Kemp missed the
2004-2005 campaign with a knee injury and picked up right where
he left off last year averaging 15.0 points per game. Shiloh,
who is the underappreciated player in an underappreciated
backcourt, quietly put up 8.7 points, 2.6 rebounds and 2.2
assists as a junior. There might be too much talent on the
floor for Shiloh to find much recognition for his senior season,
but he’ll be on the court making plays all year long. Lyndale
Burleson is a decent option off the bench and will once again
spend the season spelling the perimeter starters.
The only real
question with Nevada is the spot next to Fazekas up front.
Demarshay Johnson is expected to get the nod after starting 16
games last season. The increase in playing time for Johnson
raises foul trouble concerns, but the 6-9 senior is a solid
rebounder and there are plenty of options for the depth in the
frontcourt with the trio of newcomers and Denis Ikovlev and
David Ellis. Ikovlev and Ellis have had to wait their turn, but
both have the potential to be more than just roleplayers.
Junior, Guard, 4.7 points per game
Senior, Guard, 8.7 points per game
Junior, Guard, 15.0 points per game
Johnson, Senior, Forward, 5.0 points per game
Senior, Forward, 21.8 points per game