2022 review: The year in Wolf Pack sports

2022 review: The year in Wolf Pack sports

It was an eventful 2022 for Nevada athletics, which changed athletic directors, welcomed a new football coach and — like every other program in the country — dealt with the give-and-take nature of the NCAA’s transfer portal.

Here are the Nevada Appeal’s picks for the best Wolf Pack sports stories of the year:

1. Series of 10 games

At the end of the first quarter of its game against Incarnate Word, the Nevada football team was 2-0 overall and held a 17-3 lead against the Cardinals, an FCS team playing on the road.

It didn’t go much right after that.

The Wolf Pack went on to lose to UIW, 55-41, in the first loss of what turned out to be a late-season 10-game losing streak. It was the first time ever — for a program that began in the 19th century — that a Nevada team had lost 10 straight in the same season.

The numbers were not encouraging:

• Nevada was outscored, 345-165, in the final 10 games of the season. Seven of the 10 losses were by 14 or more points.

• The Pack was outscored in its eight Mountain West games, losing by a combined score of 371-226.

• The 10 losses were the most by a Nevada team since 2000 (also 2-10).

• Nevada drew just over 89,000 fans in its six games at Mackay Stadium, an average of under 15,000.

2. The era of Knuth ends

After overseeing one of the most successful eras in Nevada athletics history, Pack athletic director Doug Knuth was unceremoniously let go in April.

Knuth coached Nevada from 2013 until early 2022 — his departure came nine years to the day he was hired — and oversaw a department that overcame some early struggles to start winning titles in the Mountain West. Overall, Wolf Pack teams combined to win eight MW titles (either regular season or tournament) under Knuth’s watch. Four of those came from former basketball coach Eric Musselman, a Knuth hire.

Knuth recently landed the AD position at Southern Utah, which is moving to the Western Athletic Conference.

3. Terrible transfer portal

After a lackluster 13-18 season, it didn’t take long for the Nevada basketball team to fall off the transfer portal. Within days of losing a heartbreaker to Boise State in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West tournament in March, rumblings had begun of a number of Pack players looking for greener pastures — or at least others.

In the end, Nevada lost its starting quarterback, its leading man and more. The exit list included: Grant Sherfield (Oklahoma), Desmond Cambridge Jr. and Warren Washington (both Arizona State) and Alem Huseinovic (Rice).

4. Little returns from Wilson

After the sudden departure of Jay Norvell for Mountain West rival Colorado in December of 2021, Nevada needed a new football coach.

The Wolf Pack went with a third straight head coach for the first time — Norvell himself and Brian Polian were also new to the role — hiring former longtime Nevada assistant Ken Wilson away from Oregon. After a lone spring scrimmage, Wilson’s public debut came in August, when he led the Pack to a 2-0 start with wins at New Mexico State and at home against Texas State.

Wilson became the fifth Nevada football coach this century, following Chris Tormey (16-31 with the Pack), Chris Ault (234-108-1 in three seasons), Polian (23-27) and Norvell (33-26). . ).

5. Rempe is hired to lead athletics

Nevada athletics entered a new era in June with the hiring of athletic director Stephanie Rempe, who became the university’s second female AD (after Cary Groth).

Rempe’s resume reads like a who’s-who of major college sports. She has held senior positions with LSU, Texas A&M, Washington and Oklahoma in an administration career that began in 1995.

She’s already made a big impact with the Wolf Pack, hiring a new baseball coach (Jake McKinley), restarting an intercollegiate skiing program and making her first personnel decision by firing football coach Erin Otagaki.

6. Basketball on a hot start

Coming off progressively worse records in his first three seasons — from 19-12 to 16-10 to 13-18 — and with one of its highly touted newcomers starting the season on the injured list, the much was expected of Nevada basketball coach Steve Alford. 2022-23 squad.

However, the Wolf Pack has defied expectations, starting 9-3 (through Tuesday) that includes wins over Tulane and Sam Houston State. Nevada has been able to depend on reliable scoring from Oregon State transfer Jarod Lucas (16.8 ppg).

Nevada’s first game in the Mountain West is Dec. 28 against Boise State, which has won nine straight.

7. Women win 20

There haven’t been many 20-win seasons for Nevada women’s basketball, a program whose history has been littered with long dry spells.

However, that is beginning to change under coach Amanda Levens, who led the Wolf Pack to the 2022 Women’s Basketball Invitational and a 20-13 final record. It was the Wolf Pack’s first 20-win season since the 2010-11 team went 22-11.

With the program moving in the right direction, Nevada also took steps to keep Levens in place. In October, she signed a contract extension that runs until 2027.

8. Ader captures the record career

With no home dates, it was sometimes difficult for Nevada songstress Nicola Ader to get the notice she deserved.

However, this did not prevent him from taking the final steps in a distinguished career. Ader, who came to Nevada from Affolterbach, Germany, earned her seventh All-America honor with a ninth-place finish in the heptathlon at the NCAA Championships in June.

For her career, Ader received three All-America honors in indoor track and four in the outdoor championships. Her best single weekend came in 2019, when she placed at the NCAA outdoor meet in three events.

9. Bruce leaves – to become an assistant

The Wolf Pack baseball program enjoyed a streak of success under former head coach TJ Bruce, who posted four straight winning records (not counting the drastically shortened 2020 season) and led Nevada to the 2021 NCAA Regional.

Bruce, however, chose to move from head coach to assistant by accepting a position with TCU in June. He finished 171-166 with the Pack, winning Mountain West titles in 2018 and 2021.

10. Taua’s career ends after 59 games

It wasn’t the season he had hoped for, but Nevada running back Toa Taua capped his long Wolf Pack career with a 144-yard performance against rival UNLV in November.

Taua has been a workhorse since making his freshman debut in 2018. His career numbers – 3,997 yards rushing, 1,192 more receiving; 37 combined tackles – likely won’t be matched by another Nevada running back for some time, especially considering Taua played in 59 games. Taua’s rushing yardage is the sixth most ever for a Pack career.

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