Nevada basketball to face toughest challenge yet at San Diego State

After winning its two-game series at New Mexico, Nevada basketball will travel to San Diego State to take on the Aztecs on their home court. Undoubtedly UNR’s biggest matchup so far this season, there are going to be a couple strategies and players for San Diego State that the Wolf Pack will have to keep a watchful eye on defensively before and during this weekend’s series.

As a precursor, the first and primary thing that Nevada will have to focus on is the pace and pressure. This may sound redundant but in its last couple of games, Nevada has been slow to start and then picks up the intensity after the first couple minutes. However, if UNR does not want to fall too far behind, it will have to start hot and stay hot because the Aztecs will come out with high pace as they usually do.

Nevada is having a tough time transitioning from a man to a zone defense, sometimes leaving opponents wide open for 3-pointers or on the inside because someone lost track and missed their slide in the zone. Even in the Wolf Pack’s second game against New Mexico last weekend, there were a couple inside and outside shots from the Lobos that went fully uncontested because of a missed slide by UNR.

Nevada will not only have to deal with high pressure, but high pressure from some experienced, older players at San Diego State. The Aztecs’ senior guard Jordan Schakel is going to be a major outside shooter while junior forward Nathan Mensah will be a threat under the basket. These two players work very well together to create space and throw defenses off balance, which they did several times in last Saturday’s game versus Colorado State. Schakel had three back-to-back 3-pointers toward the beginning of their last game because of effective passing to create space. Nevada’s players are going to have to keep their heads on a swivel in order to properly snuff out those two large threats. This may sound cliche, but as long as they communicate who needs to slide and split quickly, decisively, and effectively they should be able to suppress some of the Aztecs’ biggest scoring threats.

Offensively, Nevada will have to be patient and create openings for shots and passes. While UNR needs to keep high pressure throughout the game, it needs to settle down into its offense and rotate the ball until the Aztecs miss a slide or have left an alley open for a drive. As for Nevada’s players, Desmond Cambridge, Grant Sherfield and Zane Meeks will all have to show up this weekend. Although Nevada has a relatively young team with things to work on as a whole, it has the talent, skill and the basketball IQ to play with a more experienced team, but it will have to play as an experienced crew to beat the Aztecs this weekend.

Photo courtesy of