Basketball: Wolf Pack set to face Yale
December 27, 2012
Keith Fuetsch wants to get in one last jab at his friend Austin Morgan.
“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Fuetsch said with a smile. “He got me in high school a couple times. I want to get him this last time.”
Fuetsch, a Nevada Wolf Pack senior, will host Morgan and the Yale Bulldogs Friday night ( 7 p.m.) at Lawlor Events Center as the Pack plays its final home game of the 2012 calendar year.
“I’ve been talking to him everyday lately,” Fuetsch said. “In fact, I’m going to go see him (on Wednesday afternoon). I’m excited he’s coming here to play.”
What have the two friendly rivals been talking abut lately?
“I’ve told him I’m going to beat him up,” Fuetsch smiled.
Fuetsch and Morgan, two long-time northern Nevada competitors, have known each other for the bulk of their basketball lives. They were teammates on the AAU teams from the fifth through eighth grades and were on rival high school teams (Fuetsch at Bishop Manogue and Morgan at Reno High). Fuetsch’s Manogue Miners were 0-2 against Morgan’s Reno Huskies.
“He’s one of my best friends,” said Fuetsch, who has played in seven of the Wolf Pack 12 games this year as the backup to the backup point guard (Marqueze Coleman) behind starter Deonte Burton.
Morgan is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer at 12.4 points a game. He also is averaging 1.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals for the 4-7 Ivy League school. Yale has played just one game — a 112-63 win over Division III Albertus Magnus on Dec. 18 as Morgan scored 16 points — since Dec. 8.
“How he goes, they go,” said coach David Carter whose Wolf Pack is 8-4 and will bring a four-game winning streak to Lawlor on Friday night. “He’s their leading scorer.”
Morgan, like Fuetsch, is a senior. Unlike Fuetsch, though, the 5-foot-11 combo guard has seen considerable playing time since his freshman year at Yale in 2009-10. He averaged 4.7 points as a freshman off the bench but the last two years as a starter he’s averaged 12.6 (2010-11) and 11.8 points (2011-12) a game. His best year was as a sophomore in 2010-10 when he also averaged 3.2 assists. He’s also a career 39 percent shooter on threes, though he is struggling this year at 33 percent.
“The last time we played on the same team was when we were in eighth grade and back then he played more off the ball ( at shooting guard),” the 6-foot Fuetsch. “But he’s still the same height he was in eighth grade. He hasn’t grown much since then. So now we’re kind of the same. Small, quick guards who can shoot.”
Morgan is now fourth on Yale’s all-time list for most 3-pointers made in a career with 163. He passed former Reno High point guard Alex Gamboa for fourth place this season. Gamboa made 158 3-pointers for Yale from 2001-05.
“He wants to win,” Fuetsch said. “He’s as competitive as they get.”
Morgan was part of two state championship teams at Reno High in his freshman and junior seasons in 2006 and 2008 when one of his teammates was former Wolf Pack forward Olek Czyz.
“He won state twice in high school,” Carter said. “He definitely would have been a good player to have here (at Nevada). But I think he made up his mind pretty quickly he was going to go to Yale. Academics were a big priority with him.”
“He’s very smart,” Fuetsch said. “He tries to act like he’s not smart. But he’s a genius.”
Carter said Yale uses Morgan more as a two guard than at the point.
“In their system he’s playing off the ball a lot,” Carter said. “He’s a very smart player. He knows what he wants to do on the court.”
Carter said the pack will try to limit Morgan’s attempts from beyond the 3-point circle.
“We have to make him drive,” Carter said.
Morgan, though, loves to get to the free throw line. Last year he was fifth in the nation with a .900 free throw percentage. This year he is at .884.
“He drives quite a bit and gets to the free throw line a lot for a guy his size,” Carter said. “This is a big game for him. We know he’s going to want to do well.”
The Pack, though, will have a distinct size advantage when covering Morgan, who is generously listed at 5-11, 190 pounds. Burton, is 6-1, 190 and shooting guard Malik Story is 6-5, 215.
“Hopefully our length will bother him a bit,” Carter said.
The game against Yale will close out a four-game, 18-day home stand for the Pack that has already included victories over Cal Poly (69-56), San Francisco (59-51) and Cal State San Marcos (84-74). The Wolf Pack is 7-1 at home this year at 23-3 over the last two seasons.
“It’s very important to win your home games,” Story said.
“We have to protect our home,” Burton said.
The Wolf Pack has done very well during the month of December at home against weaker non-conference opponents since Carter joined the Wolf Pack coaching staff in 1999-2000, the first year at Nevada for head coach Trent Johnson. Since Johnson took over the program, followed by Mark Fox in 2004-05 and Carter in 2009-10, the Pack has gone 52-8 in December home games. Johnson was 16-2, Fox was 21-4 and Carter is currently 15-2 in the month of December at home.
“Anytime you win a game, it gives you confidence,” said Carter, whose Wolf Pack will play at Oregon on Dec. 31 in its final non-league tune-up before opening Mountain West play at Air Force on Jan. 9. “And we need to get a little more confidence before we go out on the road again.