Muss’ Miracle Men
Nevada Men’s Basketball team has advanced to the “Sweet 16” field of the NCAA tournament for only the second time in history. Last Sunday, Nevada overcame a 22-point deficit (tied for second largest deficit overcome in NCAA tournament history) with 11 minutes to go and defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats in the second round. This victory came on the heels of another comeback victory in the first round when the Wolf Pack overcame a 14-point deficit. They will now play Loyola-Chicago on Thursday for a spot in the round of 8. Coach Musselman (“Muss”) and his players deserve tremendous credit for this great accomplishment.
Since Muss took over as the head coach, the team has shown steady progress. His first year, Nevada won the College Basketball Invitational championship. His second year, the team won the Mountain West conference championship. This is his third year, and the team has advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament. Who knows, by the time you read this in the print version, we may be in the final four!
In addition to a successful coach, Muss has also been a model citizen. He expressed his gratitude for a new contract by immediately donating $50,000 to Nevada Athletics. On Veteran’s day, Muss donated 2,500 football tickets to Northern Nevada members of the military, first responders and teachers.
Nevada’s road to success has been paved by Athletic Director Doug Knuth. When President Marc Johnson hired Doug Knuth, many of the programs were not doing well. In addition to hiring Muss, Knuth has also hired Women’s Basketball Coach Amanda Levens (whose team is currently making a run in the post-season) and former Baseball Coach Jay Johnson (the team was ranked in the top 25 in the country during his tenure). Knuth has also done a great job of retaining some of those coaches while facing seemingly insurmountable constraints. When Cal-Berkeley came calling for Coach Muss last year, Doug Knuth rallied the community and pulled in private funding to keep Coach Muss in Reno. From securing a $1 million donation from former Nevada star Ramon Sessions for a practice facility to building new tennis courts, Knuth has set a new benchmark for Athletic Directors.
As a community, we owe our sincere gratitude to Coach Muss and Director Knuth for putting Nevada Athletics on the national map. We compete against much larger markets like San Diego and Las Vegas whose donor base consistently draws far more cash than ours. While major donors in our community have stepped up with their contributions, we can do our part in a small way. It is great to have a ranked team in our community. Let’s show up at the games, enjoy these great athletes and support Nevada Athletics.
One final point: There are many ways to show appreciation to those like Coach Muss and Director Knuth. I hope both these exemplary men stay in Reno long and win many championships and make Nevada a national powerhouse. If they stay here for a long time, we will name arenas after them and erect statues in appreciation of their contribution to our great community. In the meantime, as a token of appreciation, how about naming 16th street (which is the main entry to Lawlor Events Center) Coach Muss Way?