Through eight nonconference games, Nevada has shown great improvement in one area from last year - 3-point shooting.
The Wolf Pack ranked next to last in the NCAA in three-point shooting a year ago, hitting around 28 percent. This year, they are at 40.2 percent, thanks to the efforts of Mo Charlo (11-for-22) and Kyle Shiloh (6-for-12). Denis Ikovlev is shooting 57.1 percent from beyond the arc in limited duty, Nick Fazekas is at 27.3 percent and Marcelus Kemp is shooting 33 percent.
The turnaround can be attributed to the presence of Kemp and Charlo, who can loosen up opposing defenses with their natural shooting ability, and take pressure off Fazekas at the same time. Charlo was up and down from three-point range a year ago and his consistent long-range shooting has been a welcome addition.
"We're not rushing shots," Fazekas said after last week's win over Division II Seattle-Pacific. "We're getting more shots in rhythm. Last year I felt like I didn't get my feet set a lot of time.
"This year we have guys around me that can score. It opens stuff up for all of us."
"Last year I wasn't getting my feet set all the time," Charlo said. "When I get my feet set, I can shoot a good percentage."
Charlo credits assistants David Carter and Dedrique Carter for his improved outside shooting. The duo constantly spent extra time with Charlo working on his footwork last year and this year.
WAC HONORS MILLSAP
Louisiana Tech's Paul Millsap, who led the Bulldogs to wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and McNeese State last week, has been named the Xbox Live Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week.
Millsap, a junior, averaged 24 points and 16 rebounds in the two wins. On Tuesday against Louisiana Lafayette, he scored 24 points, pulled down 19 rebounds, blocked two shots, dished out three assists and had two steals.
In the win over McNeese State, he scored 24 points and pulled down 13 rebounds. He also blocked four shots and had three steals. It's the fourth award for Millsap in his two-plus years with the Bulldogs.
Millsap beat out Nevada's Charlo, Boise State's Eric Lane, Hawai'i guard Matt Lojeski, New Mexico State guard Shaun Davis and Idaho forward David DuBois.
Jenean Ford of New Mexico State won the women's honor.
Ford averaged 15 points and nine rebounds in New Mexico State's road wins at UC Irvine and Cal Poly. Her 13 points and eight rebounds all came in the second half against Cal Poly, enabling the Aggies to bounce back from a seven-point halftime deficit. She has six double-double effort this season.
HAWAI'I MEN TOP AGGIES
The WAC opened conference play last Saturday when Hawai'i topped Utah State 69-59, thanks to 20 points by Lojeski and 19 by Julian Sensley.
The game was originally scheduled for February, but moved to an earlier date at the request of both schools.
Jeff Hurd, the WAC's senior associate commissioner, said the reason for the switch was because both teams faced three games in six days. The game was originally scheduled for Bracket Buster weekend.
"We move out all the Saturday games to Monday," Hurd said. "We gave all the teams the option of moving to a different day if they both agreed. If one didn't want to switch, the game would stay."
Hurd said he is trying to work on next year's schedule already and is trying to find a day where the conference can play, so teams won't be saddled with three games in six days.
The rest of the conference starts on Jan. 5 with a full slate of games. Nevada visits Hawai'i in its conference opener and then is at San Jose State at 3 p.m. on Jan. 7. Nevada's first conference home game is Jan. 12.
A GOOD START
Six of the nine men's basketball teams have winning records as we head into the final week of full nonconference action.
Nevada leads the way at 7-1. Hawai'i is 4-2, Louisiana Tech is 6-4, Boise State is 5-3, Utah State is 4-3 and Fresno State is 4-3.
GRIDDERS AREN'T DONE
Several Western Athletic Conference football players have already been named to postseason all-star squads.
New Mexico State's outstanding linebacker Jimmy Cottrell and teammate Nick Cole, an offensive guard, have been selected for the Las Vegas all-American Classic Jan. 14.
Donald Penn, an offensive lineman from Utah State, has been selected to play in the Hula Bowl on Jan. 21 in Honolulu. Dick Tomey, San Jose State's first-year head coach, has been named an assistant coach for the West squad.
No other squads have been announced, but South Lake Tahoe's Garrett McIntyre would seem a cinch to be picked for at least one all-star game. He was the WAC defensive Player of the Year.
n Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281