The Nevada Wolf Pack clinched their first-ever Mountain West regular season title after beating Colorado State 85-72 this past Saturday. The win gave the Wolf Pack their first in any league since they won the WAC outright in the 2011-12 season, so obviously the team was going to celebrate hard.
However, no one expected head coach Eric Musselman to be the one celebrating the hardest. He joined The Jim Rome Show on Tuesday and talked about his legendary role in the party.
“After the celebration, my wife’s mother had flown in from Atlanta, we go to dinner,” Musselman said. “My wife goes, ‘Eric, here’s the deal. I saw someone running around, pumping his shirt without his shirt and the first thing that came to my mind was I hope that’s Charlie Tooley.’ Well, Charlie Tooley is our walk-on freshman from Sacramento. She said, ‘Then I looked a little closer, and I was like oh my gosh, that’s my 52-year-old husband running around like that.’”
Musselman continued, “Obviously those emotions don’t happen in the NBA, but we’ve come so far, our guys have worked so hard, they’ve put in a ton of time away from the coaches late at night, shooting on their own, and it was a really emotional night, and again, if we go backwards twenty-four months, we never thought we could be in this position this quickly, but we’ve been really lucky with some really talented recruits, and then those guys have worked so hard to become the players that they’ve become.
“I got a little emotional no question about it,” Musselman said laughing.
Musselman spent thirteen seasons as an NBA assistant or head coach, so he has a great understanding of the differences between the college and pro games.
“I just think they’re so different on so many aspects,” Musselman said. “Obviously, at the college level you’re worried about so many things other than basketball. It’s guys academically, it’s guys socially, it’s players off the floor, it’s developing as young men. Where in the NBA, you show up and you give them your expertise you can give them about basketball stuff and that’s it.”
“They’re grown men with families, they go their own way,” Musselman said about NBA players. “You see them at the airport, you see them at practice and that’s about it. Where at this college level, they’re so much a part of your life. Parents are basically handing their children over to be under your umbrellas, so to speak, and so there is a lot of differences, and there’s a lot of positives on both sides of it obviously.”
But to Musselman, like most, nothing beats the thrill of college basketball during the third month of the year. “In the NBA you only deal with basketball, but the college game, the electricity and especially this time of year, I mean its absolutely incredible what goes on for these three weeks in March.”