Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Coach Steve Cleveland and the Bulldogs were able to begin WAC play with home victories over Idaho and Utah State. Unfortunately, the home stand lasted only two games and now the Dogs are playing the third of the three game road swing Thursday against WAC leader and #15 ranked Nevada Wolfpack.
The Bulldogs enter this game with consecutive losses at Hawaii and San Jose State, the most perplexing coming Saturday in San Jose 64-61 to the Spartans. Forward Dominic McGuire has had a difficult two game stretch in which he has shot a combined 3-16 from the floor and not been able to produce to his previous standards.
The Dogs have also had major issues protecting the basketball and averaged 14.5 turnovers in the two losses. Look for McGuire to get back to his slashing and attacking ways against a Wolfpack front line that will be minus leader Nick Fazekas.
Nevada enter Thursdays contest with victories on the road against both San State and an overtime victory over Hawaii. They have been led by Junior guard Marcellus Kemp who was named WAC player of the week for a 3 game stretch in which he averaged 23.7 pts. 5.3 rebs and 2.3 assts per game. The Dogs must be aware of Kemps location on the court because of his ability to both slash to the rim but also shoot the three at a 42% clip.
One area of weakness for the Bulldogs to exploit will be both McGuire and Hosley posting up and getting to the rim. They have had much difficulty finishing on the inside of late, but look for both to bounce back with solid efforts. San Jose State and Hawaii both had post players score over 20 on the Wolfpack.
Nevada guards Ramon Sessions and Kyle Shiloh of Garces High (Bakersfield) have been playing well of late and will prove to be a difficult cover for guards Kevin Bell and Javance Coleman. The key to the Bulldogs success will be keeping themselves out of double digit turnovers against Nevada, and Bell must improve his assist to turnover ratio on the road.
The keys to a victory Thursday for the Bulldogs begins with the improvement of their Field Goal Percentage inside of the three point line and finishing much better around the rim. They have been attacking the rim but shying away from the contact, causing them to shoot wild and off balance shots.
Guard Eddie Miller needs to continue his scoring production off the bench (9.1 ppg) to keep them in the game against the Wolfpack. The Dogs must avoid another disaster similar to in San Jose where they yielded 28 points in the paint and far too many second chance points. They will also need to force some turnovers on the defensive end; Nevada comes in averaging 13.5 turnovers per game.
This will be a most difficult task for the Bulldogs, but they can do a lot towards building their confidence and proving to themselves they can overcome adversity in hostile environments on the road if they can sneak out of Reno with a big conference victory.