Sa’eed Nelson has been "a monster" this season, and his performance against Wagner proves it
There’s a reason the junior played all 40 minutes without rest, said head coach Mike Brennan
There’s 30 seconds left in the game and the Eagles are down 60-55. Junior guard Sa’eed Nelson dribbles the ball up the court, moves it a little, then shoots a contested 3-point jumper. He scores, bringing the Eagles within 2 points with only 22 seconds left on the clock.
Even though AU (4-2) went on to lose the game 64-58 to Wagner (3-4) on Friday, Nelson’s contributions to the team were undisputable. He finished the game with 22 points, two 3-pointers, eight rebounds, five assists and four steals, leading the team in each of those five categories. In addition, Nelson played in all 40 minutes of the game without rest.
“He’s been a monster in every game so far,” said head coach Mike Brennan.
Nelson was on his game. He seemed to control the game on both ends on the floor, locking up players on defense and scoring on transition plays. He finished the game with 6-10 shooting, 4-4 on two-pointers. He was able to consistently drive to the rim and either finish the layup or get fouled in the process.
In addition to the clutch 3-point shot he hit with only 22 seconds left, Nelson also assisted on another shot to sophomore forward Sam Iorio with under two minutes remaining. Nelson scored 14 of his 22 points in the second half.
“He’s always ready,” Brennan said. “He makes plays constantly throughout the game.”
Not all of Nelson’s game was perfect. He struggled from the free throw line and finished the game 8-13, a lower percentage than the team’s 20-30. He also finished with four turnovers, the most on the team.
This season, Nelson is averaging 19 points per game (his career high), to go with 6.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists. He is shooting 50 percent this season, also a career high, and 37.5 percent from 3-point-range. Last season, Nelson averaged 18.6 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting.
“He’s improved in every way and has been a beast so far,” Brennan said.
Last season, the Eagles finished 6-24. However, that did not discourage Nelson, as that he has shown up even stronger this season and learned from his previous mistakes.
“He had to lead a team that was very difficult to lead the first two years,” Brennan said. “So now he understands what goes into winning and is just making so many plays all over the place, and trying to get his teammates involved as much as he can.”