Nevada to Host GCU in Charity Game

Nevada to Host GCU in Charity Game

In support of the recent fires all over Northern California, Nevada has added a third exhibition game to their schedule this Sunday, October 22nd at 4 pm against Grand Canyon University. Tickets can be bought for $5 and will be available either in the ticket office or at NevadaWolfPack.com in advance of the game. All seats will be general admission. 

“We felt this exhibition was extremely important as so many people in the Reno community (both fans and members of our team) have been personally afflicted by these tragedies,” Head Coach Eric Musselman said, “our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected and we hope to help heal some wounds by bringing the community together in support of the Wolf Pack.”

Grand Canyon offers yet another quality opponent for a Nevada team fresh off of their first NCAA Tournament since the 2006-07 season. Having completed the requisite four-year transition year to Division I in the spring, the Antelopes will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament for the first time in their history this season.

While many programs struggle to make the jump to Division I, that has not been the case for an upstart Grand Canyon program. Led by former NBA All-Star Dan Majerle, GCU has finished second in the Western Athletic Conference for the past three years, highlighted by back-to-back seasons of over 20 wins. Based off this success, the Antelopes are the preseason pick, by both the coaches and the media, to win the WAC as they return four starters from last year and add graduate transfer Casey Benson from Oregon.

Preseason Conference Player of the Year Joshua Braun will be a focal point of the GCU offense as he returns coming off back-to-back appearances on the All-WAC first team. Braun averaged 16.6 points and 5.2 rebounds a year ago and will look to increase production his senior year.

Keonta Vernon and Oscar Frayer also return to the team having been crucial role players on last year’s team. Vernon finished 3rd on the team in scoring with an average of 9.3, while also pacing the Antelopes in rebounding at 7.0. Bay area native, Frayer averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 rebounds as a freshman last season and also provided a defensive presence, averaging over a steal and leading the team in blocks. 

GCU adds a veteran leader in graduate transfer point guard Casey Benson, formerly of Oregon. The veteran leaves Oregon with the second best assist-to-turnover ratio in Pac-12 history and was the national leader during the 2015-16 season with a ratio of 4.88-to-1. Having started 51 games and averaging over 20 minutes the last three years, Benson will bring a steadying presence to this years squad. 

GCU also adds a pair of 6’10 big men from Europe, Roberts Blumbergs and Alessandro Lever, who will provide an influx of size to the team. Blumbergs, a native of Latvia, averaged 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds at the FIBA U18 European Championships while shooting 45% from behind the three-point line. Lever, another standout at the U18 European Championships, also represented Italy at the recent FIBA U19 Basketball World Cup where he averaged 9.1 points and 4.3 rebounds.

Other significant role players who return include Gerard Martin, Shaq Carr, and Fiifi Aidoo who averaged 29, 18, and 16 minutes per game respectively last season.

GCU associate head coach Todd Lee was an assistant coach on Musselman's staff when Musselman coached the Rapid City Thrillers to the CBA's best record in consecutive seasons in 1993 and 1994.

The net proceeds from the game will be donated to North Bay Fire Relief via the Redwood Credit Union Community Fund Inc. (RCUCF), a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Additionally:

  • Basin Street Properties has announced that it will match all money raised from Sunday's game.
  • Eldorado Resorts has purchased a large block of tickets for employees, and their families, of its three Reno properties to attend the game.
  • Sodexho, Nevada's concessionaire, will donate half of all net sales.
  • REMSA is donating their time and services at the game.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone that has been affected by the recent tragedies. Not only do we want to thank everyone who will be in attendance for the event but we also want to thank Basin Street Properties, Eldorado Resorts and all of those supporting this game and helping rebuild the communities that were affected," Musselman said.

This will be the first of three exhibition games for the Wolf Pack. Nevada will take on Stanislaus State on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. and will play Dominican University in the "Throwback" game at Virginia Street Gym at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3.

The season opener is against Idaho on Nov. 10.

For tickets and more information on Wolf Pack basketball, call (775) 348-PACK or CLICK HERE.


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