Saturday, July 14, 2012

Updates- Canadians may not play in Canada, Players witness Team USA, Schedule

This weekly update features a quick recap and analysis of a few recent stories, including one that just broke over the last few days regarding Anthony Bennett.

Canadians may not play in Canada

Already known was the fact that Pittsburgh transfer Khem Birch, who still has one semester left to wait due to a transfer redshirt, unfortunately will be unable to participate in the exhibition games in Canada starting in August.

What is now breaking news in the last few days, is that the NCAA is dragging their feet on declaring fellow Canadian Anthony Bennett academically eligible. At least one news outlet, has cited the reason for Bennett's eligibility decision taking so long is because he attended multiple high schools - and that normally slows the process. So, the NCAA has to look over his academics from Findlay Prep, as well as the Canadian HS's. Coach Rice believes that determination may take up to a month, but it could potentially come after the Canadian exhibition - leaving Bennett unavailable to play in the games.

The terrible irony of both the Birch and Bennett situation, is that UNLV is as loaded as anyone with solid Canadian talent. The fact that Birch and Bennett cannot enjoy a homecoming of sorts is a terrible shame and shows the NCAA's rules and regulations, at least in this case, have gone to far and have cost a couple of young men some valuable and meaningful experience. To make matters worse, this is a once-every-four-years type of trip, so its not like provided either Bennett or Birch are still at UNLV next year (think NBA draft) they can experience it in the 2013-14 campaign. Tempering the blow, the last trip was to Australia and we had -0- Australian talent, and have gained -0- Australian talent from the experience.

The Canadian public will just have to enjoy the performance put on by what is still a terrific college basketball team, but what purpose did this solve? Couldn't the athletic department have fought to get these guys to be able to play in games that don't mean anything anyhow? Maybe they did, it just wasn't publicized... Regardless of the insignificance this has on the the part of the season that actually counts, you have to feel bad for these guys.

The above cited article also mentions the possibility for Bennett not being available this season -- slow your roll Sporting News, let's not plant those seeds of doubt.

UNLV Players witness USA National Team Practice in their diggs

It was hinted, they'd find a way to watch. Low and behold, the balcony from the Mendenhall Center provided ample views of what must have been entertaining basketball with Team USA tuning up their performance before hitting the court against the Dominican Republic on Thursday night, then taking the show to DC and then off to London to hopefully dominate the 2012 Olympic Games.

What's initially clear, is that UNLV - who has had a good relationship hosting the national team as well as the NBA summer league most years (except for the lockout shortened season this past year) has received tons of free publicity from hosting the event. That clearly benefits UNLV as a basketball program, and highlights not only our facilities but our arena to potential future UNLV talent. After all, if its good enough for the best NBA players, isn't it good enough for you?

Although I was in attendance at the USA v. Dominican Republic game, my seats were so far up I didn't get a chance  to see if any UNLV players were in attendance. That said - even if they were the best basketball played in Las Vegas likely was left on the practice floor of the Mendenhall center. Calling it a sloppy game would be too kind. The only fun takeaway is that the Mack was packed, I'd have to estimate at least 16k showed up. Lakers fans heavy - as evidenced by the overwhelming applause for Kobe Bryant in comparison to other players. In all honesty, I've been to three of these now including the FIBA, and for the money its the cheapest way to see the NBA's biggest stars play. The one criticism, an intra-squad practice would be far more entertaining and meaningful then beating up on a team who was just knocked out by Nigeria from even being able to compete in London.

Back to practice, in publicized photos Roscoe Smith, Anthony Marshall, and Justin Hawkins were seen taking in the activities. Anthony Marshall actually tweeted quite a few photos from practice. What can a forward and two guards learn from the elite crew? Obviously plenty of tricks. When top players, who are also friends with each other get together - they want to show off. Take the amazing Blake Griffin dunk off of the wall. Unfortunately, the torn meniscus moved him off the roster. For Justin Hawkins and Anthony Marshall, they got to view some great workouts from players such as Kobe Bryant, James Harden, Derron Williams, and of course - Chris Paul. But, as seen only in practice, they got to see these players compete against potential future Olympians in the form of the USA select team. This included Demar Derozen, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Jrue Holliday, Kyrie Erving, and John Wall at the guard spot. Roscoe Smith got to see Kawai Leonard, Lance Thomas, Gordon Hawyard, Taj Gibson, and Derrick Favors try their best to prepare Carmelo Anthony, Lebron James, Andre Iguodala, Blake Griffin, and Kevin Love for the games.

Time will tell whether the experience lent any takeaways to the UNLV players who watched the NBA's best and NBA's up-and-comers tear up the courts, but hopefully this pays dividends beyond the publicity.

Non-Conference Schedule Set

Here is the Non-Conference schedule, just recently released this past week (schedule page updated as well). In Rebel Reign style, the opponents will be looked at, predictions will be made, and comparisons to previous schedules will be mentioned. This all takes time, which is why no major media outlet has done the dirtywork either. We'll get it done, and there is plenty of time before the season starts to start thinking about how winning that winning record will be. Feast your eyes on our foes:

The Rebels' non-conference opponents for the 2012-13 season:
Nov. 3 at UCLA (closed scrimmage)
Nov. 7 Dixie State (exhibition)
Nov. 12 Northern Arizona
Nov. 17 Jacksonville State
Nov. 23 Oregon
Nov. 24 Cincinnati or Iowa State
Nov. 28 UC Irvine
Dec. 1 Hawaii
Dec. 4 at Portland
Dec. 9 at California
Dec. 13 University of La Verne-z (D-III)
Dec. 17 at Texas-El Paso
Dec. 19 Northern Iowa
Dec. 22 Canisius
Dec. 29 at North Carolina
Jan. 3 Chicago State
Jan. 5 Cal State Bakersfield
z-at Orleans Arena; all other home games at Thomas & Mack Center    

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