College Basketball Nation: Olek Czyz

Nevada draws 'Fab Five' comparison

October, 18, 2011
Nevada Tuesday was named the popular pick among WAC coaches to unseat perennial conference champion Utah State this season, as the Wolf Pack topped the preseason poll.

Reigning WAC freshman of the year Deonte Burton was selected as preseason player of the year, and the point guard is the headliner for an entire starting lineup that returns this season.

The inexperienced team that was filled with newcomers last season went 13-19 and is now looking strong with former Indiana Hoosier Malik Story leading in scoring and former Duke Blue Devil Olek Czyz also providing a veteran presence. Senior Dario Hunt nearly averaged a double-double.

"Toward the end of last year, I thought we peaked," coach David Carter said. "You have to look forward to moving on to this year. I do think with experience that they gained, it's going to help them in the long run."

Another factor is the team chemistry. According to the Nevada Sagebrush, Burton and three others in the sophomore class -- Jordan Burris, Jordan Finn and Kevin Panzer -- have taken to calling themselves the Fab Four.
"I watched the (ESPN 30 for 30) documentary of the Fab Five over summer … it reminded me a lot of us, and so now we call ourselves the Fab Four," Burton said. "The Fab Five had an awesome record, and we just try to look at that as motivation."

With the Wolf Pack's 13-19 record last season (the first losing season for the team since 2000-01), the team has a lot of ground to gain if it wants to be remembered similar to the Fab Five.

Nevada basketball head coach David Carter found the comparison somewhat humorous.

"Those four are very close on and off the court," Carter said with a giggle. "That's a unique thing and they'll be friends for life. But shoot, compared to the Fab Five -- we're not even close [in terms of performance]."

The starting lineup Nevada returns isn't quite the Fab Five either, but it could very well be the group that carries the Wolf Pack to a WAC championship.

Not everyone is so sure Utah State is in for a rebuilding year, though. The media picked the Aggies to successfully defend their title and Nevada to finish second. Carter appreciated the respect from his fellow coaches, but knows his team still has to prove it.

"That's on paper," he said of being the preseason favorite. "You have to go out and play the games."

Coach reminds Olek Czyz about Duke

October, 12, 2010
Nevada coach David Carter got a chance to roast his players over dinner at a booster recent event and didn't hold back, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.
"You may feel all sorry for them, that I'm saying these things, but don't you worry, they make fun of me and my bald head all season," said Nevada men's basketball coach David Carter on Wednesday night, as he went through his team roster roasting players.

"Are you standing?" he joked with Derrell Conner, a 6-foot recruit that he mocked all night for his size.

To Olek Czyz, the Reno High graduate who transferred to Nevada from Duke last year: "You should have stayed three more months," referring to the National NCAA Championship.

Ouch, and especially so on the needling of Czyz, who's already been the subject of his former team having some fun over the transfer.

At a charity event in May hosted by Jon Scheyer, Duke's team poster was turned into a photo opportunity that allowed fans to stick their heads where Czyz's was cut out.

The 6-foot-7 forward should be eligible to play for the Wolf Pack beginning in December and probably could have done without the reminder that he missed out on being a part of a national championship.

But at Nevada, more time on the court could be in store for him after averaging about 10 minutes in six games and two starts at Duke.

"Nobody really knows yet what their role is going to be," Czyz told the Nevada Appeal. "It really is an open battle."

Nevada adds to collection of new faces

July, 19, 2010
Nevada might not have the big-name players next season after Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson were selected in the NBA draft, but coach David Carter has an exceptionally large number of new faces that could fill the void.

The latest candidate is Devonte Elliott, a power forward who signed a national letter of intent with the program way back in November 2008 but has finally been cleared academically by the NCAA to play, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal. The paper also recently reported that Elliott has grown an inch to 6-foot-10.

"Devonte is a talented, versatile player who can do a lot of things on the court and should help us immediately," Carter said in a statement.

Ellott becomes the second Southern California recruit from that class to recently gain eligibility, as freshman guard Jerry Evans didn't enroll in school until January and gain NCAA clearance until March.

Nevada also will have two high-major transfers available next season with guard Malik Story from Indiana and former Duke forward Olek Czyz expected to be available midseason.

Oh, and then to top it all off, the Wolf Pack has a six-player recruiting class coming into the program headlined by Deonte Burton, ESPNU's No. 44-ranked shooting guard.
Before the 2009-10 season began, the Duke Blue Devils released their team poster. Like most teams, Duke's preseason team posters have a theme, and in 2009-10, the Dukies went with the "Goodfellas" look, dressing the players up in pinstripe suits and sitting them around a table in an ominous-looking mafioso setting. The poster was nothing major, but it was entertaining at the time. Now, it will serve as a keepsake for Duke fans who want to remember their team's brilliant, national-title winning 2009-10 season.

But for Olek Czyz, who transferred from Duke to play for his hometown Nevada Wolfpack in December, the poster served as a minor dis this weekend. Saturday, Jon Scheyer hosted May Madness: Gaming To Give, a video-game charity event to raise money for the Jimmy V Foundation and the Emily K Center. At the event, Duke fans could step up and be a part of the famous Goodfellas poster by inserting their head in a now-vacated spot. That spot? Right where Czsz's head used to be. Ouch.

Of course, Czyz will still be immortalized in the posters, even if he won't get a championship ring and a spot in Duke lore. If being in the Goodfellas poster got you that, this cute little guy would be the newest member of Duke's championship team. Which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world, but still.

What's next for Nevada?

April, 27, 2010
Losing both Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson to the NBA draft was not completely unexpected, but it dealt a huge blow to the Nevada Wolf Pack's chances in the WAC next season.

To the point at least one newspaper writer begged for their return, and with good reason if you're a fan of the Wolf Pack.

But not all is lost for coach David Carter despite his top returning player being fifth-leading scorer Dario Hunt, a sophomore who averaged 6.5 points.

The day after Babbitt announced he would hire an agent, Carter signed guard Deonte Burton from Compton, Calif. to headline a recruiting class that includes guards Jordan Burris, Derrell Conner, Jordan Finn, and 6-foot-11 Australian junior college transfer Illiwa Baldwin to play center.

Guard Malik Story should be ready to step in after transferring from Indiana, forward Olek Czyz is expected to become eligible midseason after having left Duke, and the NCAA has finally cleared freshman guard Jerry Evans to play.

It's a new crop of players that certainly has big shoes to fill.