Sunday, August 26, 2012

Does what happened in Canada stay in Canada? Lessons learned

The Runnin' Rebels wrapped up their exhibition tour of Canada, going 4-0.

The Runnin' Rebels benefited by playing their once-every-four-year tour abroad - but it was without 3 key pieces, 2 of which we know know will suit up during the 2012-13 season. Those two, Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett also figure to be collecting major minutes if not starting. So, the trip was a good bonding experience, a good way to assess how far the team needs to go, and a good chance to see the new-comers. Can anything really be gleaned from the north-of-the-border trip, or should it all be discarded as merely practice?

Ready now: Savon Goodman and Katin Reinhardt are ready for prime time

These two true freshman, one from Philadelphia and the other from California, are ready to play staring roles in Las Vegas. Yes, there were inferior teams on the courts in Canada - but these players shined, where as some others did not. Based upon first impressions only, Goodman should back up Bennett or Moser, and Reinhardt should share minutes with Marshall and Hawkins, or Dejean-Jones.

System different? Where did the assists go?

UNLV was a force to be reckoned with last season, in large part because of the high number of assists regularly tallied. Naturally, trying to speed the tempo and play Runnin' Rebels basketball means quick outlet passes post-rebound, and not a lot of taking the ball and working 1-on-1 with the defense. Surprisingly, this statistic stood out - 43 total assists during the trip, the opponents notched 41. As a matter of comparison, remember that romp we had at home last season against the University of Central Arkansas? The Runnin' Rebels had 40 assists in that game alone. Link In fact, in the 35 games played last season the Rebels averaged 17.6 assists per game. In the Canada trip, the Rebels averaged slightly more than 10. Not really running, at least not yet. Again, this is really preliminary stuff and speculation, but I really hope to see games where we are back to nearly 20 assists per game, if not more.

Don't be alarmed about Mike Moser

So Moser was a freak of nature for at least one half of the season in 2011-12, and then above average to finish it out. In Canada, he finished tied for 4th leading scorer, tied for 4th in rebounds, and his turnovers we off the charts. Anyone who has watched Mike Moser would be disappointed, hell I'm sure Mike Moser is disappointed - but it will come together. All of the above stats can be explained because the point of the trip in large part was to incorporate and get newer players playing time. The only stat that causes a person to scratch their head is the turnovers.. hopefully that stays in Canada.

Who should redshirt?

Well, we already know Khem Birch is stuck with a fall redshirt, and have recently learned that Roscoe Smith will be out all year. Who should burn a year now and then make the most of next season and beyond? The easy choices are DaQuan Cook and Demetris Morant. While the Rebs aren't loaded with depth at the PG position, DaQuan could really benefit by sitting this year out and filling in for Anthony Marshall when he graduates after this season. If not, I'm afraid he'll be lucky to get Reggie Smith type of minutes -- which isn't particularly useful or confidence building. Demetris Morant is stuck at a loaded position, and he could benefit tremendously by being an understudy to the bigs we currently have. When that log jam recedes, he can join Roscoe Smith on the court next year and make big things happen.

The fans are back and more dedicated

This season has everything going for it to be a special one, and people want to buy into that. Season ticket sales are off the charts, and the Runnin' Rebels are going to run again if Coach Rice has his way. The way I know that basketball will be more on the front burner of most Las Vegan's minds this fall and spring, is in traffic. In the build up to the Canada trip, as well as throughout the trip Rebel Reign had quite a lot of visitors -- comparative type traffic as a regular season game would bring last year. Also, got quite a few emails from loyal fans throughout the exhibition games. Its always a good time to be a Rebel fan, just tune in, show up, and digest the wins.


  1. If there are two elements of the game that suffer by bringing on 5 newcomers and throwing them out on the court, it would likely be assists and turnovers. Coordination is lacking in this circumstance. Therefore, the team is more likely to showcase individual talents as they are unfamiliar with each other. I have confidence in Marshall's willingness to distribute, and Rice's ability to coordinate, so both of these stats will improve. In fact, as an early prediction - I believe AM will lead the MWC in assists, and will be in the top 20 in the country. His supporting cast is going to be too good, and teams will pay dearly for double teaming. Marshall will take advantage of breakdowns.

  2. Rebelgrad95, I've been a fan of your bold predictions for some time, but Marshall top 20 in assists is perhaps the boldest! Honestly, I hope your right - and he does have a lot of targets to throw the ball to.

  3. If I'm wrong, it certainly won't be the first time!

    There are a lot of people questioning Marshall at the point. Here's my line of thinking... People forget the AM was leading the team in assists mid way thru the season last year, over Bellfield, who is the now all-time assists leader in the MWC. This was under Rice's system, where there are really two point guards depending on the defensive rebound. Bellfield received favor though... especially in tight or important games. Now, Marshall will have favor, and he's a much butter drive and kicker/disher than Bellfield, simply because defenders can't contain him. This causes help D, and I have the sincere feeling that Marshall would rather kick/dish than take it himself (some disagree with that). Adding to the mix is Birch, Goodman, Jones, Reinhardt, and Hawkins (haven't seen enough of Bennett to name him). Birch, Jones and Goodman are likely to finish at the rim, KR is a very good open 3pt shooter, and JH, I believe, will improve his 3pt shooting this year by at least 4%. All of this leads me to believe AM's assists will improve.

    The biggest factor in whether it pans out is how much he splits time per play. If JH, BJ, or KR bring it up a lot, their #'s will increase at AM's expense. That's ok, though. I won't mind being wrong if that's the case. Spreading the load is a good thing, overall.

    Who knows??? I may have stepped deep on this prediction due to style of play, or maybe we'll see AM head for the NBA at the end of the season with record number of assists. Anything's possible this year... but I'd be willing to put a Rebel Game Beer on the prediction.