Nevada Focuses on Ball Movement

Nevada Focuses on Ball Movement

The Golden State Warriors may be fresh off their second championship in three years, but you would not know that from watching them prepare for the upcoming 2017-18 season in training camp. The Warriors attack practice with focus and attention to details. Head coach Eric Musselman, along with assistant coach Anthony Ruta and Director of Player Development Hays Myers, attended both the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves training camps last month and what they learned will help shape the Wolf Pack for the upcoming year.

The Warriors have become a juggernaut, not only because they have great players, because they have implemented a system that emphasizes ball movement. The entire team, including superstars Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson, have all bought in to the idea of team basketball. The Golden State coaches established a goal of completing 300 passes per game in order to get everyone involved and utilize all their weapons.

Getting that type of ball movement through 300 passes, even if it does not lead directly to a bucket, serves a variety of purposes. First, it makes the defense work every single time down the floor and ensures they cannot take a break on any possession. Secondly, it ensures a level of trust between Warriors teammates because they know if they give the ball up, there is still a good chance they will get it back later in a possession through hard cuts, post splits, weakside movement, and ball reversals.

Similar to the Warriors, the Wolf Pack led the Mountain West in assists last season. However, the Nevada coaching staff knows that there is still more room for improvement.

"We had a great deal of success last year from being unselfish and moving the ball," Musselman said, "Marcus Marshall was one of our most unselfish players and he also led us in scoring. With the number of new players that we have on the team this year, it will take some time to get back to that level. We aspire to be even better than we were last year with even more pace, space, and ball movement. Tracking the number of passes is definitely going to help us get to that level."

Coach Musselman is a former NBA coach focused on implementing a NBA style offense at Nevada. He is committed to preparing his players for professional careers after college. Emphasizing aspects of what the Warriors do within their offense, helps Pack players get accustomed to what will be expected of them at the next level.     

With the NBA game being 8 minutes longer than the college game, with more possessions, a shorter shot clock, and a faster pace of play, Nevada coaches have established their own goal of 200 passes per game.

During Camp Brotherhood leading up to the start of the regular season, there are specific drills every practice tailored to help the team accomplish that goal. In Nevada’s recent exhibition victory over Grand Canyon, the offense totaled 143 passes, shooting 45.6% from the field, and winning by a score of 81-72. While it is definitely a process to execute half-court offense like the Golden State Warriors, the Wolf Pack are excited to be heading in the right direction.  

Coach Muss and Anthony Ruta (assistant coach) join Coach Tom Thibodeau at Minnesota Timberwolves Training Camp.

Nevada found they were 57 passes (28.5%) away from reaching their goal of 200 passes per game.


Coach Muss, Anthony Ruta (assistant coach), and Hays Myers (director of player development) join Nevada alum JaVale McGee (2006-’08) on the first day of Warriors Training Camp.