Friday, October 19, 2012

Scarlet and Gray Scrimmage: It's going to be a great year!

2012-13 Scarlet and Gray Scrimmage

Last night I had the privilege of taking in the festivities at the Thomas and Mack.

First, this team looks far different from last year's team. Different = better. When it came to the scrimmage, guys were out there hustling and getting physical like we've wished they would in years past. The scrimmage itself can be summed up as two parts, the first half - solid unrelenting defense, and the second half - an offense show for the fans. I would like to go player by player to share some remarks about their performance last night.

#5 Katin Reinhardt - He looked like the solid point guard he was advertised to be. Extremely quick getting up court, confident in his handle of  the ball, and passes light lightening bolts. A nickname was thrown out there last night "the white mamba". While Katin wasn't Kobe-esq, he certainly could be Steve Nash-esq. Kind of felt bad for him, as the shots he put up (I believe about 5) didn't fall. No worries, everyone knows this guy is a lights out shooter, and his mere presence on the court makes his teammates better.

#33 Charles Rushman - Little was known about the latest UNLV walk-on, but he brought his game last night. He proved he can jump, was confident with the ball, and made several shots. The Rebels have apparently scored a fundamentally sound point guard option who is confident enough to score multiple times in the scrimmage, which is impressive in its own right (remember, the guys he's scrimmaged against are ranked between 13-19th in the country). Hopefully we'll learn more about Mr. Rushman soon.

#24 Demetris Morant - We knew he had leaping ability as the Nevada HS high jump champion, but the guy is confident and is an athletic specimen. He chose well by coming to UNLV, where there's many talented forwards and forward/centers to learn from. I was impressed by his defensive intensity in the uptempo

#0 Savon Goodman - Man, this guy was underrated in the rankings - hell of a score for the Rebs. Knew he was a great player from the damage he did in Canada, but this guy had the poise of a sophomore, and the developed physique to match. With guys like Goodman, Smith, Morant, Bennett, and Reinhardt at point, these guys are as physically built as some of  the Georgetown teams of the 80's, or perhaps more familiar  the SDSU teams of the early 2000's. Goodman showed great hustle, and made his way to the basket multiple times. He also defendant and gave others a lot of headaches around the basket. Count on Goodman to earn his share of minutes this season, it would be a shame not to play a guy like this.

#10 Daquan Cook - Unfortunately with all the glitz and glamour  he kind of got lost in the shuffle. I think Cook can be a good player, reliable point guard, and perhaps air apparent to Bellfield or Hawkins, but he needs time to develop. If an option, would be good if he would take the redshirt year and step in more prominently with Hawk and Ant-Marz graduate.

#15 Anthony Bennett - This guy is the truth, the answer, the fame, the joy, and basketball perfection. I am absolutely impressed with him, and seriously can't imagine how Shabazz Muhammad or anyone could be better than him. Bennett did not get the benefit of the early start having not played the Canada trip, but he didn't miss a beat. After easily winning the dunk competition  he stoked shot after shot, from distance, from close range, dunking. And besides showing off his skill set, he had pure joy for the game of basketball and showed his appreciation for the UNLV fan base - beaming from ear to ear and flexing his muscles in what is sure to be his trademark pose this season. From what I saw, he only missed one shot in the scrimmage. Whether he's the second coming of Larry Johnson, or something different - time will tell, but he is going to be a hell of a player.

#2 Khem Birch - The most impressive attribute of Birch is his defense. He had an excellent swat near the basket, and offensively, while he shot wasn't rolling he has a quick second leap that allowed him to clean up his own and other's garbage. I think once he gets some game time in, and his fellow teammates give him the confidence to dig into his arsenal, he'll be a really solid player. The downside is we'll have to wait till late December to watch him in that progression - hopefully scrimmages will suffice.

#12 Barry Cheney - The other walk-on Rebel (sophomore) he appears to have improved since last season, and was holding his own. Clearly a pass-first guard, he seemed to have the quickness to penetrate and kick when needed.

#13 Bryce Dejean-Jones - Bryce has been unlucky, as he's broken his hand and hopefully won't miss too much more than the Scarlet and Gray game. Somebody should have told him #13 is an unlucky number. As potentially one of the best offensive weapons the Rebels have this season, too bad he couldn't show off last night but here's to healing quickly.

#11 Carlos Lopez-Sosa - Notice anything different? Lopez added the Sosa to his last name to honor his mother and her hard work - good son. What have we come to expect from Carlos, crafty footwork and tricks - good player. In classic Carlos form, he didn't disappoint, he had an excellent fake and move to the hole, and then showed a lot of range for a 6'11" guy, by stepping out and hitting a 3. A perpetual fan favorite, hopefully Lopez-Sosa will be able to make the most of this year, he deserves it.

#22 Roscoe Smith - We won't have the benefit of Smith's experience this year due to the transfer redshirt, but he showed that he had the veteran skill set to be a difference maker come 2013-14. Solid both offensively and defensively is what I remember, again - so many great players and good stuff to watch that sometimes things blend together. I do remember that as advertised, he was great.

#1 Quintrell Thomas - Q has slimmed down considerably (I'd estimate 15-20 lbs) and is moving much more quickly than the previous seasons. He also managed to stay aggressive, and his 8 foot jumpers were hitting fairly consistently. He's always been a good player, he just needs to hold on to the ball.

#43 Mike Moser - Moser was a little bit of a disappointment  given all of the hype and the NBA ready talk. I've talked with other Rebels fans and we all scratch our heads a bit, because Mike Moser is best when he's being Mike Moser, not trying to be Chace Stanback 2.0. While for a good part of last season he was able to stroke the 3 with remarkable frequency for someone who rebounded like he did (statistical outlier), he was most effective when he was working inside. Conclusion - Kawhi Leonard wasn't drafted because he had a really strong outside shot, he was drafted for being a dirty-work rebounding beast, the outside shooting is bonus points. Moser needs to focus on what made him a sensation last year, and keep the talking heads out of his head about what he needs to do or highlight to make the league. Because Mike wasn't 'being Mike' last night, much like Canada - he faded into the background.

#31 Justin Hawkins - Hawk is spectacular when giving the chance to do what he does best. He picks pockets, he shoots, and he hustles. He did all three last night. Oh, I forgot, he is a hell of a passer too. Some of the more exciting hustle plays last night involved Justin Hawkins. As an energy guy and defensive dynamo, he normally comes off the bench but I think he could effectively be used to keep an opponents star guard from finding his rhythm if used on him man-to-man early.

#3 Anthony Marshall - Unfortunately for Rebels fans, and for Anthony he had hurt his wrist/hand the day before the scrimmage, and could not play. Fortunately, it appears not to be serious (x-rays negative). As a senior who also had volunteered for the dunk contest, you have to feel bad that he's missed out on his final Scarlet and Gray - but we know Anthony, he uses that for motivation and will come out hard when he's cleared to play.

So that's the evaluation from last night. Here are some pictures I took from the dunk contest and game. Enjoy. If I'm able to find a video of the actual game, I'll get that posted (as of now I can't find one anywhere, except of the player intros and dunk competition).

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