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Nevada basketball moves on without West, hosts Santa Clara on Friday night

Joe Santoro
Nevada Appeal

Wolf Pack Game Day

Nevada (7-3) vs. Santa Clara (4-7)

Friday 7 p.m. at Lawlor Events Center

Online/Radio: NevadaWolfPack.tv / 94.5 FM

The Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball team now must adjust to life without A.J. West.

“Anytime the roster changes there are always new opportunities for players,” Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman said on Wednesday, Dec. 16, as his team prepared to host the Santa Clara Broncos on Friday night, Dec. 18, at Lawlor Events Center — tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Musselman, whose Wolf Pack is 7-3 after a 79-71 win over Drake last Saturday, Dec. 12, would not comment specifically on West’s decision to leave the team on three days later. The senior, who was given an extra year of eligibility before last season by the NCAA, left the team for personal reasons, according to the Wolf Pack athletic department.

West’s departure leaves the Wolf Pack with a huge hole in the paint on both offense and defense. The 6-foot-9 West was averaging 9.6 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks this season in 23.7 minutes a game.

“Collectively we need guys to step up,” Musselman said.

The task of somehow replacing West, who was one of just 15 players last year in Division I to average a double-double (12.1 points, 11.0 rebounds), seemingly falls on freshman Cameron Oliver, sophomore Elijah Foster junior Kaileb Rodriguez and senior Lucas Stivrins.

Not all of West’s nearly 24 minutes a game, however, will go to the remaining big men on the roster. Musselman hinted at using a smaller lineup more frequently in the future, emphasizing guards Marqueze Coleman, Lindsey Drew, D.J. Fenner, Eric Cooper, Tyron Criswell and Juwan Anderson.

The Pack guards will have their hands full on Friday trying to contain Santa Clara’s Jared Brownridge. The 6-3 guard is averaging 18.0 points a game.

“When asked what concerns him most about the 4-7 Broncos, Musselman just smiled and said Brownridge’s number three times. “Number 23, number 23, number 23,” the Pack coach said. “Jared Brownridge is one of the best scorers in the country.”

Brownridge, from Aurora, Ill., averaged 15.9 points a game last year as a sophomore and 17.2 a game as a freshman. He is the Broncos’ first option on offense by far, shooting the ball 15 times a game.


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