Eric Musselman’s failure with Kings led to profession rebuild, star flip at Nevada | NBA


On Sunday, Nevada coach Eric Musselman was at his lodge in Nashville making ready for what was the largest sport of his teaching profession, dealing with No. 2 seed Cincinnati within the NCAA Event’s spherical of 32. He wanted the toilet mirror for a second or two to placed on his tie, however there was an issue. His eight-year-old daughter, Mariah, who’d been a fixture on tv throughout the Wolf Pack’s thrilling additional time win over Texas within the first spherical, was busy doing her personal pregame primping.

“I mentioned, ‘Mariah, can you progress? I’ve obtained to place my tie on and make the group bus,’” Musselman advised Sporting Information on Monday evening from his group’s lodge in Atlanta. “And he or she goes, ‘Dad, I’ve to do sideline reporting tonight.’ I couldn’t get the mirror to place my tie on as a result of my daughter thought her two-minute sport cameo was far more essential than what I used to be about to do.”

All Musselman and Nevada did that day was pull off one of the crucial memorable comebacks in NCAA Event historical past, upsetting Cincinnati after trailing by 22 factors with a little bit greater than 11 minutes to play, vaulting the seventh-seeded Pack into the Candy 16.

“The best way that each video games went the place we have been form of struggling and probably not taking part in our fashion of play,” Musselman mentioned, “and issues weren’t going our method. Texas and Cincinnati each managed the sport and performed on the tempo they needed to. And we simply type of hung round and hung round and hung round, and ultimately our fashion of play began to show the tide. However simply two unbelievable video games. To assume you’re down 22 to the No. 6-ranked group within the nation within the second half with 11 minutes to go and also you win the sport, is unprecedented.”

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For followers of the NBA, seeing Musselman on a sideline once more feels a bit like a resurrection. Musselman had spent a lot of his skilled life teaching within the NBA, as an assistant with Chuck Daly’s Magic, with the Hawks and the Grizzlies, and as a head coach with the Warriors and Kings.

Sacramento was his final NBA cease. He was employed in 2006-07 to interchange Rick Adelman on the finish of the Kings’ run of playoff groups that had stretched again to 1999. However that Kings group was ageing and coping with important accidents, and with the group house owners — the Maloof household — beneath strain to get a brand new area, Musselman was fired after only one yr. The Kings have had six coaches since, however haven’t made the playoffs.

That have impressed Musselman to rebuild his teaching profession, which wound by way of two seasons within the D-League, stints as the top coach of the Venezuelan and Dominican Republic nationwide groups, earlier than hitting a brand new frontier: faculty. Musselman spent two years as an assistant at Arizona State and a yr at LSU earlier than getting the Nevada job, his first head-coaching expertise in faculty.

“I beloved my time within the D-League and in every single place else,” Musselmman mentioned. “I really feel just like the one place I failed was Sacramento. With Golden State, I’m an enormous Warriors fan, I’ll watch their video games, I’ll go to a sport within the Bay Space. I’ll put on my Warriors stuff to work out. However the Kings, I simply didn’t really feel like I did a adequate job and so I — I do assume, I at all times wish to attempt to show to myself greater than anyone else simply that you could put collectively a profitable program so, I simply know that that’s the one place I may have and will have achieved a greater job.”

He credit his time as a school assistant with vaulting him to success in Reno. Musselman has at all times had a knack for Xs and Os, however there’s extra to teaching than that within the faculty ranks.

“I ask myself on a regular basis, ‘How did this occur?’” Musselman mentioned. “I used to be teaching within the NBA, after which I’m teaching the nationwide group in Venezuela and the Dominican. I determine to make the transfer to school. I knew what I didn’t know, and if I didn’t go the assistant teaching route, I’d fail. I didn’t know recruiting. I didn’t know that side of being a school coach. I’m glad I had a very good spouse who principally advised me, ‘Hey, you higher study and be prepared, so while you do get a job, you could be profitable.’”

Musselman turned issues round shortly. He inherited a 9-22 group, however introduced in freshmen Cam Oliver (now within the G-League) and Lindsey Drew (son of NBA coach Larry Drew) and went 24-14 in his first season. Final yr, the Wolf Pack went 28-7 and earned a spot within the NCAA Event for the primary time since 2007, shedding to Iowa State as a 12 seed.

This yr, Nevada cracked the highest 25, rating as excessive as No. 20 and posting a 29-7 file. Nonetheless, regardless of being the No. 7 seed, few anticipated the Pack to get out of the primary spherical, the place the Longhorns have been favored. That underdog standing has been gas for the group.

“We form of felt like Texas was the group that everyone thought was going to beat us,” Musselman mentioned. “Individuals have been filling out their brackets and selecting Texas and considering that they have been going to beat us. Definitely, once we obtained to the following sport, our household thought we may win and that was most likely about it.

“For us, we performed the underdog position and we felt that for the final 5 weeks we have been a ranked group. For us, we’ve got been an underdog even once we’ve been ranked. It’s been that method.”

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Now, nevertheless, Nevada is dealing with an excellent greater underdog within the Candy 16, No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, which defeated Miami within the first spherical and No. three Tennessee on Saturday to earn its spot. Musselman has harassed to his group that the Ramblers are to not be taken frivolously.

“With our group, we don’t need our season to finish. Now we have obtained to play 40 extra minutes of excellent basketball so as to advance,” Musselman mentioned. “That’s all we’re speaking about. Now we have unbelievable respect for Loyola. They’re a very good passing group, they’re a superb taking pictures group, they’re a top-50 defensive group. They received at Florida. We all know their resume. Anytime you beat Tennessee and Miami and win at Florida, they’re a very, actually good group.

“We all know there may be going to be lots of curiosity all through the nation as a result of we’re two underdog groups and we’re each taking part in one another. Considered one of us, our season goes to finish and the opposite, goes to maintain this underdog story rolling.”

After all, in case you’re shocked to discover a one-time NBA lifer popping up on the massive stage of the NCAA Event, you’re not alone. Musselman mentioned he’s gotten messages from a slew of NBA coaches and executives he’d not heard from in years — Mike Fratello, Doc Rivers, former Magic government John Gabriel, former Cavs government Chris Grant, assistant coaches Clay Moser and Brendan O’Connor and extra.

“It’s superior,” Musselman mentioned. “Right here we’re within the best sporting occasion we’ve got and we’re in Yr three at Nevada, and it’s so cool. Now we have achieved a superb job of getting youngsters who hate to lose. However in case you had requested me 10 years in the past or 12 years in the past, and mentioned I’d be teaching within the NCAA Candy 16, I’d have mentioned, ‘Come on, man!’”

Extra essential, nevertheless, is the star flip that Mariah has taken, not one thing each second-grader can declare. She, in line with her father, is taking all of it in stride — after which some.

“Each time I get an electronic mail or a textual content now about doing one thing media-related, I instantly assume they really need her to seem,” Musselman mentioned. “We obtained an electronic mail that she must be on the Ultimate 4 on Sunday evening for some taping, and she or he is now coming again to Atlanta a day earlier to enter the studio and do one thing. My spouse is now a supervisor for our second-grade daughter. It’s loopy.”

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