Wolf Pack Basketball Notebook: Bench starting to make an impact | RecordCourier.com

Wolf Pack Basketball Notebook: Bench starting to make an impact

by Joe Santoro

David Carter likes what he’s seen lately from his bench.

“The bench has kind of grown up a little,” the Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball coach said Tuesday. “We’re finally getting a nice rotation and everyone is settling in.”

The Wolf Pack bench contributed 10 points in last Saturday’s 69-67 victory at Boise State. It was the first game the Pack bench has scored in double figures since it scored 13 in a blowout (90-60) loss at Washington on Dec. 22, a span of six games.

Devonte Elliott and Kevin Panzer led the way for the bench with four points each against Boise. Derrell Conner added two.

“Delonte gave us great minutes (he also had four rebounds in 18 minutes) and Kevin Panzer and Patrick Nyeko (six rebounds) also chipped in and did a nice job,” Carter said.

Boise State is the first game the Pack’s bench has outscored the opposition’s bench since a 79-73 victory over Portland State on Dec. 20 at Lawlor Events Center. The Pack bench outscored Portland State’s reserves 26-20.

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In the six games between the Portland State and Boise State games, the Pack’s bench was outscored a combined 115-52. The Pack was 1-5 in those games. The only time the Pack won in that stretch (86-69 over Hawaii), the Pack bench tied Hawaii’s bench 7-7.

Carter said he is optimistic his bench will continue to grow.

“We will see more production out of our bench,” he said.

Carter added that he isn’t looking for big things out of his bench.

“What we want is for them to come in and just chip with some solid minutes,” he said. “We’re not looking for them to come in and score 10 or 12 points each. If they can just come in, chip in and do some things to help, that’s what we’re looking for.”

EVANS READY TO RETURN: Carter said starter Jerry Evans, who sprained an ankle before the Idaho game on Jan. 12, is ready to return to the lineup when the Pack hosts New Mexico State Thursday night at Lawlor Events Center.

Evans sat out the Idaho game and played just one minute at Boise three nights later.

“He’s fine,” Carter said. “He probably could have played at Boise but we didn’t need him to get through that game. I put him out there but I didn’t like what I saw.”

Jordan Finn replaced Evans in the starting lineup at Idaho and Boise and scored a total of two points in 20 minutes combined in the two games.

BURTON MAKING STRIDES: Pack freshman point guard Deonte Burton says he is growing more and more comfortable in his role as a team leader.

“I’m kind of getting the hang of the leadership thing,” he said.

Burton had 20 points, three assists and three steals to go along with four turnovers in the victory at Boise.

“I think I’m about 85-90 percent of where I want to be learning the offense,” he said. “There’s a lot of responsibility as a point guard. You are the floor general, you have to know where everyone is. You are kind of the second coach so to speak. I’m getting better, getting everyone in the right position.”

Carter, who compared Burton favorably to past Pack freshman points guards Ramon Sessions and Armon Johnson, said Burton has made great strides this year.

“He’s still learning,” Carter said. “I don’t think you ever stop learning, especially your freshman year. But he’s getting more and more comfortable.”

“His decision-making has gotten a lot better since the start of the year,” sophomore guard Malik Story said. “He just plays hard every game. And he’s aggressive. That’s what separates him from most players.”