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Nevada reaches new heights by relying heavily on transfers

From FOX Sports - March 17, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Nevada has made itself a factor again by developing into one of college basketballs greatest melting pots.

Only in this case, the roster doesnt include players from a variety of different countries. Instead, guys from various Division I programs banded together in Reno to form a winning combination.

All five of the Wolf Packs starters began their college careers at other Division I schools. This team full of transfers has given Nevada its first NCAA Tournament victory in over a decade.

Nevada, seeded seventh in the South Region, faces No. 2 seed Cincinnati (31-4) on Sunday. A victory would send the Wolf Pack (28-7) to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004.

Everybody coming here wants a second chance and wants to win, Nevada forward Jordan Caroline said. (Were) just buying into what the program believes in.

Twin forwards Caleb and Cody Martin came from North Carolina State. Guard Hallice Cooke started out at Iowa State. Guard Kendall Stephens transferred from Purdue. Caroline began his college career at Southern Illinois.

Transfers have helped Wolf Pack coach Eric Musselman rebuild a program that had produced three straight losing seasons before he took over. Musselman has gone 80-28 in three seasons at Nevada, which went 9-22 the year before his arrival.

We kind of all had a similar situation when we left our last schools, Cody Martin said. We were looking for something like (where) we were allowed to have freedom and just play how you want to play. I think thats something our coach does for us. He instills confidence in us. It makes us easy for our chemistry to connect because we all had similar situations that we were leaving and coming into.

Musselman cited the example of former Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, who built the Cyclones into a national power with transfer-laden rosters before the NBAs Chicago Bulls hired him away in 2015.

As he tried recruiting these transfers to Nevada, Musselman offered a simple sales pitch: Theyd get heavy minutes and plenty of freedom on the court.

We take some crazy shots sometimes, but thats who we are, Musselman said. We take quick shots. We take 3-balls. They have a tremendous amount of freedom offensively. Guys like to play in that system and that style.

That autonomy is just what many of them wanted.

Coach lets you play, Caleb Martin said. All he does is ask you to just play defense as hard as you can. Other than that, he doesnt ask you to do much more.

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