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Carter fears West might have "hit a wall"

The Nevada Wolf Pack will open Mountain West tournament play on Thursday night (8:30 p.m.) against either San Jose State or Boise State.
The Nevada Wolf Pack will open Mountain West tournament play on Thursday night (8:30 p.m.) against either San Jose State or Boise State.
Mountain West

David Carter insists he hasn't lost confidence in A.J. West.

"I'll go back to A.J.," the Nevada Wolf Pack men's basketball coach said this week before leaving for the Mountain West Tournament in Las Vegas. "He'll start."

Carter, though, only played West 48 seconds in the second half of last Saturday's 76-72 win over UNLV at Lawlor Events Center. The 6-foot-9 center played just nine minutes in the game, took just one shot and had three rebounds, two points and two blocks.

The nine minutes are the fewest the junior has played in a game since making his debut 20 games ago on Dec. 22 against Iona. Carter gave West's minutes to senior Ali Fall (21 minutes, six points, three rebounds) and junior Ronnie Stevens (10 minutes, two points one board) though neither one played well enough to steal West's starting job.

In the 48 seconds he playd in the second half, West allowed the Rebels two offensive rebounds and then fouled UNLV's Khem Birch before getting taken out of the game.

"He might have hit a wall a little bit," said Carter of West. "You have to remember that this is just his first year at the Division I level. All players in their first year hit a wall eventually. (Freshman) D.J. Fenner hit a wall earlier this year and he fought through it. It's just something a player has to go through his first year at this level."

West, who is averaging 6.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.4 blocks a game this year in 25 minutes a game, has not payed well in three of the Pack's last four games. The Pack, oddly enough, won all three games against Air Force, Boise State and UNLV despite West scoring just seven points with nine rebounds and three turnovers and getting whistled for eight personal fouls in 58 minutes combined.

"This level is a big adjustment for a player," Carter said. "In junior college, they just play a 2-3 zone and they don't scout opponents. They do the same thing every game so a player doesn't have to make that many adjustments. At this level you have to adjust game to game."

Carter said West can still help the Wolf Pack this year.

"His confidence is still there," Carter said. "He just has to play with more intensity at times. A.J. wants to do whatever you ask him to do but right now he's just struggling with everything he has to learn."

Carter admitted the Pack will need a productive West as well as a productive Fall and Stevens if it is to win three games in three nights and win the Mountain West tournament.

"We are going to need everybody," he said. "And we are going to need everybody to be on the same page."

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