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Pack Track

Key questions to WOLF PACK hoops success
Wolf Pack men return a solid nucleus

Men's basketball coach Trent Johnson has never been big on predictions — especially when the predictions concern his team.

"Nobody can put a measure on wins and losses," Johnson said simply. "I never will be an individual who dwells much on that. I just want to make sure that we put the kids in a situation where they are socially, academically and athletically challenged every day."

Heading into the 2002-2003 season, Johnson, in his fourth year at Nevada, was cautiously optimistic about the Pack's chances to earn the school's first postseason bid in six seasons. Coming off a 17-13 record, Nevada returned a number of key players, including senior guard Terrance Green, junior guard Garry Hill-Thomas, senior center Matt Ochs and junior center Sean Paul, sophomore forward Kevinn Pinkney and sophomore guard Kirk Snyder.

Here is how Johnson analyzed this year's team.

Nevada Silver & Blue: How would you assess where the program stands now?

Johnson: Each year, we've improved the caliber of individual that we've brought into the program. What pleases me the most is that we've made important strides in the areas I consider most important, socially, academically and athletically. If you get the social and academic side covered, what should happen on the basketball floor will happen.

NSB: What are your expectations for this year's team?

Johnson: We've got to rebound and defend and take care of the basketball. And with this group, unlike any other I've had here so far, we've got to share the basketball.

NSB: Terrance Green will be moving to point guard. What kind of senior season can we expect from him?

Johnson: Terrance will have a lot of help at the point. We have (senior) Jerry Petty and (junior college transfer) Todd Okeson, as well as (sophomore) Kirk (Snyder), who is probably as good of a ballhandler and passer as we have on this team. Terrance should be able to handle the switch.

NSB: Speaking of Kirk Snyder, Pack basketball fans would be hard-pressed to recall a more exciting freshman than Kirk. Can he get better as a sophomore?

Johnson: Kirk just has to let the game come to him, and work hard every day. As he develops consistency, I fully expect him to find ways to make his teammates better by passing the ball. Kirk made some big baskets for us last year, and I think that says something about him as a person, and how he can help our team.

NSB: How do you handle the high expectations for this year's team?

Johnson: It's the small things — when guys can't stay consistent and committed and disciplined midway through the season — that determine whether or not you jump into mediocrity. Commitment is something that should last an entire season, and it's going to be interesting to see how we do on that account.

Coach Gee looks forward to 10th year

Entering her 10th season at the helm of the women's basketball team, head coach Ada Gee is looking forward to guiding the Wolf Pack to a WAC championship as she puts last year's disappointing 9-19 record behind her.

Nevada will return a trio of seniors including two-time, First Team All-WAC player Kate Smith, who averaged 15 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season. Along with Smith, the Wolf Pack returns point guard Laura Ingham, who set the Nevada single season assist record last year with 173, and guard Ashley Bastian, who enters the season second in school history for three-point shooting percentage.

Gee will also look for contributions from sophomore forward April Bankston, sophomore guard Ingrid Johnson, and eight new recruits, including five freshmen.

This is how Gee evaluates this year's team and the changes that have taken place within the program.

Nevada Silver and Blue: It must feel like it has been forever since the narrow four-point loss to Hawaii in the Western Athletic Conference Tournament. How excited are you to get back on to the basketball floor and what are your expectations for this year's team?

Gee: After coming off an uncharacteristic and disappointing season last year, we are anxious to begin our new season. Our four-point loss to Hawaii in the WAC tournament seems likes a lifetime ago. Last year is behind us. We are all extremely excited for the upcoming season. Our goal is to win a WAC championship and to make our first appearance in post-season play.

NSB: Last year, Kate Smith was named First Team All-WAC for the second consecutive year, making her the only repeat performer. Looking forward to the season ahead, what are your expectations for her and what role will she play on the team? Also, where do you feel she ranks among former Wolf Pack greats?

Gee: Kate Smith has had an exceptional career at Nevada. After being named First-Team All-WAC for two consecutive years, I feel she will vie for Player of the Year honors this season. In terms of where she ranks among former Wolf Pack greats, she has to be at the top. Two seasons ago she was named an Honorable Mention Kodak All-American. She has led us in scoring and rebounding in her first three years and she has been able to do this as we have made the transition into a much tougher conference. I look for Kate to have her finest season as a senior because she is an incredible competitor. Her leadership and play will be key to our success this season.

NSB: What do you feel will be the single greatest improvement in this year's team?

Gee: I feel that this year's team will be better than last year's team in every possible way. I expect for us to be much better defensively and on the boards. I also expect for us to be a much better shooting team. Our depth and our experience will be notable and will allow us to be in every game we play.

NSB: Looking at your roster, this year's team features five freshman (Sharice Green, Heather Massey, Katie Saltmarsh, ReAnne Lappinga, and Jemela Magee). What impact will this group have on the team and what roles will you ask them to play?

Gee: We have added five freshmen to our roster. I am optimistic that several of them will be able to contribute significantly this season. Heather Massey will play an instrumental role for us as our backup point guard. She will have an opportunity to contribute immediately and I am confident in her ability to run our team. Katie Saltmarsh, a two-time First Team All-State guard out of Oregon, is also ready to contribute considerably. She gives us size and strength on the perimeter and is an excellent shooter. Jemela Magee has tremendous potential as a power forward. She is an agile, rangy player who runs the floor very well. As she becomes stronger physically and makes the transition to the collegiate game she is going to help us a lot. Sharice Green and ReAnne Lappinga will give us depth inside. ReAnne is a 6-foot-5-inch post that is going to develop into a strong inside presence for us, while Sharice will be a versatile forward when she fully develops her skills.

NSB: Janet Soderberg and Colby Matney will be joining your coaching staff this year. Can you tell us about the two and what they bring to the Wolf Pack?

Gee: I have hired two new coaches this year and I feel that their addition to our staff is going to help us tremendously. Colby was our graduate assistant coach four years ago, so he knows me and is comfortable with our system. He is very knowledgeable about the game and also has expertise in the area of personal training and conditioning. Janet is, in my mind, one of the best recruiters on the West Coast. However, while recruiting is a strength of Janet's, she is also an excellent X and O coach and does a great job of teaching on the floor. Janet and Colby are both exceptional people and talented young coaches who love our profession. I feel blessed to have them on our staff. Their experience, knowledge, maturity, and positive outlook on life will benefit us greatly.

Of Note

SWIMMING

A year after Nevada's second place finish at the Western Athletic Conference Championships — their best finish since joining the WAC — the Wolf Pack swim team has its eyes set on a conference championship for 2003.

Although Nevada will field a young team with only one senior on the squad, head coach Mike Shrader still has high expectations for this closely knit unit.

"We are a very young team, and our freshmen have to come through and step it up in the meets," Shrader says. "We have a very close team that works extremely hard. We are like one big family."

The lone senior, Ashley Clendenin will be asked to supply leadership. Last year, Clendenin took third place in the 100-yard freestyle at the WAC Championships.

SKIING

After any collegiate athletic team loses two individual NCAA national champions, the following year is seen as a rebuilding year. This is not the case for the 2003 Wolf Pack ski team.

"Last year we finished sixth in the nation and we would like to duplicate that and even shoot for a top five finish," says head coach Tom Arnstein. "They (the team) are going to have to step it up since we lost two national champions."

Arnstein is relying on the men's alpine and the women's Nordic squads to take the Wolf Pack to the next level and cites these units as the team's major strengths.

Nevada will be led into action by women's Nordic skier Emma Garrard and men's alpine skiers Dan Gallagher and Mike Prado.

 

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