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Q&A With Andrew Maurins Of Silver And Blue Sports

Andrew Maurins of Silver and Blue Sports has been kind enough to grace us with an interview about UW's matchup with the Nevada Wolfpack

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They didn't get the call.
They didn't get the call.
Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Thanks to Andrew, and to Silver and Blue Sports for doing this. You can see their questions and my responses here. CODawg and I collaborated to interrogate Andrew for information regarding the Wolfpack, and after some coercing, he relented.

He really puts some thought into these responses, so thank you Andrew.

Nevada hasn’t exactly lived up to their expectations coming into the season, coming close to a 1-6 start if not for heroics by Deonte Burton. What has gone wrong to this point?

The team's struggles have mostly centered around what they've failed to accomplish in the low post without Dario Hunt or Olek Czyz to lean on. The inability of returning players Devonte Elliot and Kevin Panzer to consistently do much, coupled with their fellow forwards and centers having no prior experience at the college level, have further exacerbated what would've already been a difficult situation on its own.

Nevada recently underwent changes in the starting rotation, inserting Cole Huff and Jordan Burris. How did those changes affect the energy and the play of the team?

It gave them a nice shot in the arm on offense, particularly for Jerry Evans, who had been in a funk leading up to Tuesday's game and seemed to play much better in his new non-starting role. Their rebounding improved a little bit as well, though how much of that had to do with Pacific's slower pace of play and their own difficulties on the boards is hard to say. On defense, it basically did nothing, as Nevada once again allowed an opponent to hit more than half of their shots.

It is no secret that Deonte Burton is Nevada’s best player. What is it that makes him so dynamic, and how would Washington hope to slow him down?

I can't recall any other Nevada player who has hit as many game-winning, game-tying or otherwise clutch shots as Deonte Burton has hit in his two and a half years here (as Washington fans
can attest to). He truly relishes pressure-packed situations in a way I've never seen before, and in turn, that confidence can be a powerful aid to his teammates and coaches.

The flip side of that, however, is that the team can sometimes become complacent and too reliant on his heroics. His three-point shooting is a little off from previous seasons, so cutting off his teammates and forcing him to jack up contested perimeter shots has produced a lot of rebounds for opponents this year. Using another aggressive point guard to get him into foul trouble and make him play more tentatively has also been effective.

Last season Nevada graduated a player who averaged almost ten rebounds per game in Dario Hunt. Obviously one player can’t replicate that sort of glass-cleaning, but has the team stepped up all-around to make the drop-off minimal, or has Nevada struggled mightily on the boards?

Nevada averaged 37 rebounds per game last year, so their current average of 32.9 per game is actually not a significant drop. Their main problem has been in surrendering rebounds to their opponents, which has happened in spades through a combination of ineffective positioning from the returning players and no experience behind them to fall back on. This will continue to be a big problem until the team settles on a consistent scheme that starts producing some semblance of a front court game.

Who is the one player we will write about in our post game but not our pre game?

I think Jordan Burris fits that description. He has taken advantage of the team's instability in the front court to earn more playing time, and has brought some much-needed improvements in ball-handling, shot selection and all-around variety when he's on the court.

Both teams are terrible on the boards. What will have to give for Nevada to win that matchup?

The team's poor shot selection has further compounded their rebounding problems, so I think doing a better job of running offensive sets and choosing optimal shots to take will go a long way towards alleviating their front court problems.

Burton is the top scorer. If UDUB shuts him down. Who will need to step up?

The team has had some good to great outings from bench players in many of their games this year, so if Burton gets into foul trouble or just has a generally poor game, (former) bench players like Burris and Cole Huff and (current bench) player Jerry Evans will have to pick up the slack.

Who does Nevada have behind Deonte Burton who may be flying under the radar due to Burton’s exploits?

At the point, the team has brought in another highly touted recruit in Marqueze Coleman. He's only playing about 10 minutes a game so far, but he's already showing some of the same swagger and play-making ability as his mentor. At forward, Cole Huff has already earned a starting spot with his varied skill set and a unique nose for getting to the ball that belies his youth.

What will be key to a Nevada victory?

The team has to do well on the boards to give themselves a chance, for starters. Not necessarily out-rebound Washington, mind you -- just don't surrender an exorbitant amount of second-chance points. They have to make better decisions in critical situations than they've shown thus far, and above all, they can't let this recent string of futility continue to frustrate them.

Last year's win over the Huskies had a big hand in catapulting the team to fourteen consecutive wins afterwards, and our fans are hoping this game can be a similar -- if less ambitious -- turning point for the team.

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