Wolf Pack Basketball Team Hopes CBI Sets It Up For Future Succes - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Wolf Pack Basketball Team Hopes CBI Sets It Up For Future Success

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It has been 12 years since the Nevada basketball team made it's historic Sweet 16 run, and the team has not made it back to the NCAA Tournament since Nick Fazekas' senior season in 2007.  Wolf Pack fans have been longing for a return to the big dance ever since, and the new generation to wear the silver and blue say they hope their success in the College Basketball Invitational serves as a springboard for next year.

"It definitely gives us the experience of playing in the postseason, so hopefully, by next year it's just a different postseason," D.J. Fenner, Wolf Pack Guard said.

Nevada will play Morehead St. for the tournament's championship.  It is a three-game series that starts in Kentucky, Monday, before coming back to Lawlor Events Center for a Wednesday match-up.  A third will be played on Friday, if necessary.  Nevada first-year head coach Eric Musselman says the team's success is giving the Wolf Pack some valuable postseason experience.

"I think it's a great experience for our guys," Musselman said. "We want to prepare for it like we would an NCAA Tournament game but we also want our guys to have some fun."

The CBI is the third on the list of postseason tournaments, after the NCAA Tournament and National Invitational Tournament (NIT).  Still, Nevada Director of Athletics, Doug Knuth, says the Pack's tournament run into the championship series has fans optimistic for the future.

"People are calling us already for season tickets, next year, and thinking about the season and the team that could be coming back," Knuth said.

Knuth is hoping season ticket sales will increase, next year.  Larger crowds will mean more ticket sales, adding more money to the university's bottom line that Knuth says could be used to reinvest in coaches and facilities.

"The success of our team has the ability to engage people and excite people about this great university, and then also to draw people to the university," Knuth said.

Musselman and the players say they are excited about the future, but they say the focus is still on the CBI.

"This thing has been a neat progression for our team and I think we keep playing better and better basketball, which is what you want, this time of year," Musselman said.

Obviously, the next basketball season does not start for several months.  The team will have some new faces and it is hard to tell how talented it will be, but Knuth says he expects the team to build off this year's success.

"Coach Muss tells me it's happening already," Knuth said. "There's recruits around the country that are watching us. They're watching our games. They like the style of play. They like the excitement. They love seeing the fans and the excitement in the stands."

If Nevada beats Morehead State, it will be the basketball team's first postseason championship.

"Hopefully, we end with a championship this year and that will just kick-start us into next year for basketball," Knuth said.

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