Despite a shorthanded roster at the end of last season, the University of Nevada still managed to work its way into a spot in the Sweet 16, in large part thanks to the efforts of Jordan Caroline, Caleb and Cody Martin, as well as Halice Cooke and Kendall Stephens. This season, with the return of Caroline and the Martin twins from the NBA draft and the addition of key transfers, the Wolf Pack is hyped as a legitimate contender in college basketball and for the Final Four.
— Nevada Basketball (@NevadaHoops) October 1, 2018
With this preseason hype comes a slew of expectations for the players and head coach Eric Musselman. Throughout the summer and preseason, Musselman’s goal has been to use the hype as a motivating factor, and somewhat of a scare tactic, for his players.
“We are trying to get our guys to understand,” Musselman said, “that our mentality, everyday, has to be ‘How can we get better?’ It’s showing them…top 25 teams that have not made the NCAA tournament. We have done that with our team almost on a daily basis. Not to do anything other than warn our guys that you have to play every night. Every game has its own identity and you have to go out and earn what you have the talent to do this year.”
As a coach you want a roster of players that love basketball. The month of October is a grind. It’s not easy, it’s hard. Great teams have guys who love basketball and want to go out every day and work no matter what time of year it is.
— Eric Musselman (@EricPMusselman) September 30, 2018
Hoping to help the team live up to the hype are key returners in Caroline and the Martin twins, all of whom returned for the season after showing potential interest in the NBA draft. For them, Musselman sees this season as another year to improve and prepare themselves for a future career on an individual basis while using those skills to support the team.
March Madness 365 podcast: @NevadaHoops @EricPMusselman on the most anticipated CBB season in school history; @UCLAMBB Kris Wilkes on how the Bruins will be a player in the @pac12. https://t.co/srKnKQt09J
— Andy Katz (@TheAndyKatz) October 2, 2018
“We gave all three of those guys a detailed report,” Musselman said. ”We spent many hours as a staff collecting the information from the NBA people and we…sat down with them and explained, hey here’s strengths, here’s weaknesses, and here’s areas that you must improve. And then it was our job to come up with a plan on how we could do all that from an individual standpoint, but also from a team aspect.”
Despite the predictions and excitement from the community and nation, Musselman feels his team and staff are well equipped to handle the pressures and focus on their game.
“It’s a good feeling knowing that you have talent and that you have respect,” Musselman said. “Now we have to put it all together.”