Friday, March 18, 2011

Expectations dashed

Friday's game turned out to be the last of the season for our Rebels

While the tournament thus-far has had it share of upsets, UNLV was favored to win and having shown competitive toughness and high-percentage shooting in our last outing against SDSU few believed the slumping Illini would beat us.

The story of this game is in the numbers, it was purely shooting and rebounding. UNLV did not play sloppy ball and won the turnover category only committing 9 vs 15 from Illinois, but we were hammered on the boards losing it, 25 vs 33.

Illinois shot 59.6% overall, 53.8% from 3
UNLV shot 38.9% overall, 29.2% from 3
Final score, Illinois: 73 UNLV:62
Offensively, we started the first few minutes and matched the Illini basket for basket. Then the drought came at the 13 min mark. Illinois built a 20 point lead midway through the first half, taking advantage of their size, quickness, and transition buckets. Our Rebels turned into the team from the Air Force game, couldn't make a shot if our lives depended upon it. Before the half was over we were losing 41-18. The score would fluctuate between a 25 and 18 point lead for Illinois for most of the game, until the last five minutes, garbage timeI'm sure at halftime all of the talk was about getting defensive stops and putting together a run. All we did was maintain the status quo for the second half, never making the game competitive. Must have left our offense in Las Vegas, the final score is in no way indicative of how much of a blowout it was.

Defensively, it appeared that the Rebels were moving with quickness and zeal, active feet and hands are always the keys to good defense; however let's just say that if our defense was good, then Illinois was the Lakers tonight.  Illinois is athletic, our players for the most part could not match up with theirs, they had quicker shooting guards, point guards, and big men. And, their big men could score at-will, make me think Utah's big men are hacks because we handled them just fine. The Rebels used too many players 3 sometimes 4 trying to create traps in the back court - a tool that was not effective against any of the talented teams we played this year and it was par-for-the-course with the Illini. The 'trapped' player would find the open man and then be able to pass/score with few defenders getting back on defense. The Rebels were not able to force steals until garbage time, nor was our rebounding anywhere near competitive.

- When the Rebels started digging that hole, the psyche of the team followed. The Rebels looked defeated most of the game, whereas the Illini had swagger.
- Remember that stat I quoted yesterday, when McCamey has 7 or more assists Illini are 14-0? He had 7, make it 15
- Willis was 1-6 from the floor (1-4 from 3). For the team captain and a senior he certainly didn't bring his "A" game and everyone would expect more from a leader playing what would be his last college game.
- Coach Kruger benched Willis for a good portion of the second half, well deserved, he was not producing and this opened up opportunities for Mashour to get some minutes and good experience
- What about Mashour! He went 2-2, one of them 3-pointers in 8 minutes of playing time. He's gotten very little playing time all season, very few touches this game, and he takes care of business when given the opportunity -- Great job, can't wait to see more from him next season!
- Seemed like Bellfield tried to take over the game too much, his shooting percentage told the tale
- Rebels had -0- blocks!
- I got excited for a minute early in the second half when it appeared Stanback was trying to post-up on someone, haven't seen much of that all season
- Guess its acceptable for the commentators to encourage viewers to change channels during the game, even if it is to another network!

Players who played well
Chace Stanback - 13 points (5-10), 2 rebs, 1 asst, 2 stls
Anthony Marshall - 13 points (4-9), 4 rebs, 1 asst, 3 stls
Quintrell Thomas - 9 points (3-6), 4 rebs, 1 stl
Karam Mashour - 5 points (2-2), honorable mention for the sparingly used freshman

Players who played poorly
Tre'von Willis - 5 points (1-6) shooting, 4 assts, 2 rebs
Oscar Bellfield - 14 points (led all Rebels) (5-15) shooting, 2 asst, 2 to, 1 stl
Dereck Jasper - 1 point (0-1) shooting, 2 reb, 1 asst

Tomorrow: Stats, charts and graphics

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  1. It looked like Kruger just didn't prepare the Rebels for this game. How can you play flat and get out hustled in a game like this? Illinois' game plan was right on, and played us to a T. The Rebels looked like boys playing against men.

    The biggest problem for me, as a diehard fan, is that next year looks like it will be exactly the same. An 8-9 seed with a tough first round game. We need to earn a higher seed to make any headway in the tournament. This is UNLV. We want more.

    I don't know why Kruger didn't push the ball harder, or try two big men a little bit. The front line of Illinois killed us with their size. Q is really a power forward and Kruger is playing him out of position. Any team with a big front line gave us fits this year.

  2. Chris, I agree with you. However 2 bigs was a limited experiment this season, not especially good place to try it again. Then again, Kruger inserted Mashour for 8 mins, and that was an experiment too. None of our bigs were in foul trouble, so it could have been done. Problem I see is Q has post skills, but is too small. Lopez has some post skills for a frosh, but is raw. Massamba lacks post skills.