Sunday, August 19, 2012

Two down eh? Runnin' Rebels strong in beginning of Canada tour

The Runnin' Rebels are in the midst of their exhibition tour of Canada.

With a pair of weekend games out of  the way, the Runnin' Rebels Canada tour is halfway over, and two more games remain. The first two games gave Coach Rice a way to test his team in an opponent's gym and with a raucous crowd. The first game, against Canada's best team, was close. The second, not so close. As a UNLV fan you have to be optimistic about this team and how good they can be when they've played together a bit more - and have added both Canadian bigs. Here's what we know so far.

Accounts of the games:
There's no point in me recapping the games for you, that's already been done well in several places. 

What I would like to do is point out a few things that I think are important, or have not been fully pointed out elsewhere. I, as everyone should, take into full account that these are very premature preseason games and what can be gleaned from them must be taken with several grains of salt. 

  • In the first non-scrimmage action for the Runnin' Rebels, they proved that they could tough out a win against a team that was hot from behind the line. They did so having traveled as far as they might at any part of the season, and facing a whole host of difficulties (late flight, late night fire alarm). 
  • Its nice to see the Rebels finish out the game and grit out the win by-any-means-necessary, in contrast to how the season ended last year. That said, the 2011-12 season began in a similar fashion as can be seen in these exhibition games - different people stepping up on a given night and giving the other team headaches. 
  • Everyone should be excited that the new additions of Brice Dejean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt have tempered the losses of Oscar Bellfield and Chace Stanback. Although the two newcomers - sophomore and freshman respectively are "new" to the Rebels, its an amazing feat to be able to step into the gap filled by such capable seniors as the ones we lost. 
  • The leaned down Quintrell Thomas has a very good and smooth look about his game. I'm expecting at least early success from him in a similar way that Brice Massamba had a breakout senior season (ironic that both lost a ton of weight before their senior seasons?)
  • Not the three point jacking team of years past - from the Lon Kruger days into Coach Rice's first season, the Runnin' Rebels jacked up a substantial amount of three pointers which when they went in got us past the likes of the Tarheels, but when they didn't made us look like a tired/lazy team who was afraid to drive to the hole. What's interesting in these two games is that UNLV attempted 126 field goals, with a make percentage of 48%. Of those 126 field goals, only 34 were 3 point attempts. On threes, the Rebels were 44%. So, 27% of shots are threes, and the Rebels are shooting a high percentage regardless of shot. Now, this means although the Rebels are making a substantial portion of the three point shots - they may be doing so because they are being more selective about it. i.e. haphazardly jacking up threes tends to lower the percentage. Bravo, this is a commendable change. 
  • We're dominating our opponents in these categories: points per game, field goal percentage, three point field goal percentage, free throw attempts, rebounds, steals, and blocks. Care to be greedy and want it all? It may suprise some because of the brand of basketball the Rebels have played that in the two exhibiton games the opponents have a slight edge in assists, as well as turnover ratio and actual turnovers. Nobody said you had to dominate all categories to win a game, but the opponent out assisting the Rebels is a bit of a change. 
  • New guys setting the tone: In the first two games we've seen three new players dominate in scoring - Katin Reinhardt in the first game, and then in the second Brice Dejean-Jones and Savon Goodman. All new players, two of them freshman!
  • Sloppy play - only Katin Reinhardt and Demetris Morant have more assists than turnovers. We get it, its way before the season and the guys haven't played together before. Still, was expecting slightly better from Dejean-Jones, Moser, and Marshall. 
  • Most not in foul trouble - Only Bryce Dejean-Jones has been plagued with foul trouble, racking up 8 total fouls in two games. Bryce leads all players in total points, so its not like he's a tremendous liability out there. Still - moving forward he'll need to learn how to keep his hands to himself or be on the bench more than he would like. But great job to everyone else by not being foul prone. 
  • Final point - we're winning, and UNLV athletics as well as the local media are doing their best to keep the fanbase engaged and updated. Nicely done. 

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