Nevada opens the season with new players and renewable energy

Kenan Blackshear of Nevada shoots while guarding SDSU's Keshad Johnson (0) and Joshua Tomeke at Lawlor Events Center in Reno on March 5, 2022.

The Nevada men’s basketball team is coming off its first losing season since 2014-2015, but the players — and coach Steve Alford — say that’s in the past.

Wolfpack finished 6-12 last season at Mountain West, eighth, and 13-18 overall for only the second season of defeat in Alford’s 27-year career as a coach.

Will Becker, who came back from last season and will be a novice, averaged 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds.

“It was tough the way last season ended,” Becker said. “We have a lot of motivation this year.” “There is a lot we have learned, for example, just staying together and playing through adversity. Learning how to communicate with each other.”

Nevada coach Steve Alford scratches his head after a substitution in Tuesday's game against Eastern Washington at Lawrence Events Center on November 9, 2021.

The Wolf Pack opened training on Friday and talk centered around learning from last season’s disappointing result as well as how the newcomers will be counted on right away.

Jarrod Lucas, who moved from Oregon, is likely to be the starting point guard, and Hunter McIntosh, of Elon, is also expected to contribute immediately.

Nevada had to replace three key players who left through the transfer gate: Desmond Cambridge Jr (Arizona State), Warren Washington (Arizona State) and Grant Sherfield (Oklahoma). These three combined average 45.8 points, 15.9 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game.

Wolfpack also added Tyler Powell (Seton Hall) transfers; Michael Folarin (East Washington); Darion Williams, who played for Bishop Gorman last season; and high school recruits Trey Pettigrew; John Flanigan and Snooki Wiggington.

The Pack returned six letter winners in 2022-23, including junior Will Becker, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder at 11.5 points and 4.9 rebounds per game while shooting 54.6 from the field and 39.4 percent from a 3-point range; and goalkeeper Kenan Blackshire, who averaged 8.1 points while making 2.68 assists per competition.

Jacob Young (42) of Oregon State leads against Jarrod Lucas of Oregon (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the first round of the Pac-12 Championships on Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Las Vegas.

Alford said the rebuilding of the team is “very exciting. The journey begins today.”

Alford said he wasn’t the captain he needed to be last season. He added that canceling or postponing six games harms the group’s development, as Nevada played only four games from November 30 to January 12 last season.

Alford said the team’s chemistry is good now out of the season.

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