After a 6 a.m. phone call from head coach Eric Musselman, Gus Argenal left his head coaching position at Cal State East Bay to join the Nevada Men’s Basketball team as the assistant coach in the summer of 2017. Argenal sat down with KUNR to give an inside look at what it takes to help coach the 24-2 Nevada Wolf Pack.
In a matter of 24 hours, Argenal accepted the new title without hesitation. What came after was something he describes as a dream. In his first season, he helped the Pack to a conference championship and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, better known as the NCAA’s March Madness.
As for this 2018-2019 season, the momentum has only heightened. The team is breaking school, conference and national records.
“This season we’re doing the same thing,” Argenal said. “ We’re challenging for a conference championship, we’re number six nationally, we’ve been in the top ten the entire year and we’re hoping to win a conference championship, make a run in our conference tournament and, hopefully, do something special in the tournament.”
Argenal is a second-generation American. His grandparents on his father's side were born in Nicaragua and met in the U.S. His father dedicated his career to medicine, becoming a doctor, but Argenal went a different direction with basketball after being coached by Frank Allocco in high school. Allocco was named ESPN National Coach of the year. He soon realized the impact and influence a relationship with a coach can have on an individual.
After earning his bachelor's degree and playing basketball for UC Davis, Argenal immediately went on to coach. He was a graduate assistant for Arizona State while earning his master’s degree. After, he became an assistant for multiple universities, including Rice, UC Davis and Chico State, ultimately landing his head coaching position at Cal State East Bay. He says he has always wanted to help develop young men into becoming great players but also fathers and better people overall.
“My biggest strength as an assistant or as a head coach are my relationships with the players,” Argenal says. “I think they know that I come from a spot of caring about them first as a person, then a player, and I think guys respect that. I am a high energy person; I’m not a negative guy. In terms of my coaching style, it’s build someone up rather than break them down.”
Now at the University of Nevada, Reno, he works alongside Eric Musselman, coaching players he says are great athletes but better people.
Nevada has seven players who have a career high of more than 1,000 scored points. They have the most Mountain West Player of the Week honors this season and have been ranked top 10 all year.