Reno’s college basketball team doesn’t have the Biggest Little Expectations in the World, but it certainly does in the Mountain West Conference.
The media that cover the conference have picked the University of Nevada to win its third-straight Mountain West championship. Three Wolf Pack players — Jordan Caroline and Caleb and Cody Martin — were named Preseason All-Conference and Jordan Brown was named Preseason Freshman of the Year.
There’s more: Caleb Martin was selected to be Player of the Year and Cody Martin is on the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Bob Cousy watch list as the nation’s top Division 1 point guard. He’s the only player in the conference on that list. On Wednesday, Cody Martin was placed on the Julius Erving watch list for best small forward. On Thursday, Brown was put on the Karl Malone watch list for power forward.
Just the second school to win consecutive Mountain West titles, Nevada’s season extended to three thrilling games in the NCAA Tournament last season. It defeated Texas in overtime and topped Cincinnati by two before losing 69-68 to Loyola-Chicago. It was the second time Nevada had ever reached the Sweet 16.
Eighteen of the 19 media voters picked the Wolf Pack to win the conference title. San Diego received the other first-place vote.
Eric Musselman enters his fourth season as Nevada’s head coach with a 81-29 overall record and 39-15 in conference. He is the former head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings, and he’s the son of legendary NBA coach Bill Musselman, who happened to have coached the Reno Bighorns professional team in 1978-79 when Eric was in high school.
The Martin twins, who almost bolted for the NBA last summer, combined to average 32.9 points a year ago. Caleb was named Mountain West Player of the Year. Cody Martin, the league’s 2017-18 Defensive Player of the Year, moved to point guard for the last 10 games of the season after Lindsey Drew was injured. Drew returns for a senior year this season, as does Caroline, a power forward who led Wolf Pack in rebounding and was second in scoring.
The team’s top 3-point shooter, Kendall Stephens, has graduated, but there are four highly touted freshmen who are joining the team, including Brown, who is 6-foot-11 and is the Pack’s first five-star recruit and second McDonald’s All-American. In his senior year of high school in Napa, California, he averaged a double-double with 23.5 points and 13.1 rebounds. In the McDonald’s All-Star Game, he scored 26 points and hauled in eight rebounds.
Nevada, which plays its first four games at home, opens the regular season in Reno on Tuesday, Nov. 6, when it will play BYU. It will have a highly anticipated rematch with Loyola-Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 27, in Chicago.
In the meanwhile, the Wolf Pack will play two exhibition games at home.
It tips off against Washington at Lawlor Events Center at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21, with all proceeds donated to wildfire victims. The game is set for 3 p.m. and all seating will be general admission at Lawlor. Tickets prices are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children eighth grade and younger.
The Wolf Pack also will bring back its Throwback at Virginia Street Gym, which debuted last season. On Friday, Oct. 26, Nevada will play San Francisco State at the VSG with tip-off at 7 p.m. The Wolf Pack will wear special retro uniforms for the event. Last year’s event sold out and this year’s is expected to as well. Tickets are $25 per person. To purchase tickets go to NevadaWolfPack.com or call 775-348-PACK (7225).
2018-19 Preseason Picks
|School||Points (First-Place Votes)|
|San Diego State||188 (1)|
|San Jose State||19|