Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beating NAU - Observations, video, and charts

(Charts and video follows story)
It was an electric atmosphere at the Thomas and Mack on Monday, November 12. 18,100 Runnin' Rebels fans showed up for what would be the highest attended home opener in UNLV history. Unlike the exhibition, the now 18/18th (both polls) ranked Runnin' Rebels dominated the way they were expected to dominate.

The keys to demoralizing NAU and creating garbage time early, was getting an early lead, and then pulling away quickly when finally challenged. The Rebels took advantage of height and athletic ability advantages, and pounded the ball inside early and often. That combined with taking less than half of the three point attempts as compared to the exhibition game - and the Rebels found their brand of basketball.

Anthony Bennett was phenomenal  He scored 22 points in only 20 minutes of play, along with hauling in 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block. He could not have had a better NCAA debut. Freshman wise, Savon Goodman and Katin Reinhardt did not get to shine as they had in Canada, or the exhibition game (Reinhardt). Reinhardt led all players in minutes on the court, with 33. He scored 14, and did a host of other good things on the court. While he shot way too many very deep 3's, the most unappreciated stat I can find on him is with 33 minutes on the court, he only turned the ball over once! There was a broken play situation that especially impressed me, where he was able to rehabilitate a dead ball on the floor and then push it down the floor - the guy has skills, undoubtedly. Savon was efficient in scoring, having posted 11 points and 5 rebounds in only 16 minutes on the floor.

The need for speed - I realize that the team has often practices with an ideal of using a 10 second shot clock to condition themselves to move the ball upcourt and find a shot quickly. What I didn't expect, was how many times in real-game situations the team would move and shoot the ball with 30 seconds left on the 35 second shot clock. Obviously, the quicker you shoot the more potential possessions your team builds into the game, and we'll likely lead  the NCAA in possessions when playing this speed. But, the overall message (I thought) was to take the best shot you can, even if it comes quickly. This just seems a little too quickly, especially when some of those shots were deep threes, on a team we had a definite size advantage against, when we're up by over 20 points. I think the key to Runnin' the ball is to not allow the other team to line up their zone defense by pusing tempo, and hopefully create matchup problems as well. This will hopefully develop a lot better. I remember thinking last night - this is working fine against NAU, but if a legit team was here we'd likely be down 15.

Bryce Dejean-Jones is healing. Compared to the exhibition game, he is a heck of a lot more comfortable with his non-shooting hand. In the previous game, it was apparent from the get-go that he was in pain. In the NAU game he was making three point shots, and looked much improved. The hand is clearly still effecting him, as is the rust that came from not practicing for some time. This reared its head in the turnovers category (led UNLV players with 6). Minus that and the hand issue, I have great confidence from seeing a 70% Bryce Dejean-Jones play the way he did, and glad we got him - we'll need him.

Student section didn't get the memo - While I didn't attend nearly enough games last season, this season I've noticed something that may be new - and I don't care for it. When the opponent's team is announced, the student section faces away and chants "Rebels". I find this behavior disrespectful, when the point of a lot of fan behavior that pushes the boundaries is to be distracting, amusing, or gut reaction expressive. The student section had this coordinated during the exhibiton, but then during the NAU game only the band got the memo. Hopefully, this is a trend that will die out - because it's stupid. Stick with fatheads and mozilla - that's where the Rebellion shines.

Hamilton brothers in attendance - highly ranked Isaac Hamilton (2013) and brother Daniel Hamilton (2014) took in the game as a end to a recruting visit to UNLV, but to also watch a cousin play on the NAU squad. Although bittersweet for supporting the cousin on NAU, surely the performance by UNLV was a positive and may reap dividends down the road -- after all, what recruit wouldn't be excited about a place where a highly ranked freshman (Bennett) can go off like this in his freshman debut?

Interesting lineups - Coach Rice has mixed things up a bit, playing a two forward three guard lineup, and in the same game playing two would-be centers at the same time. What's evident is that the Runnin' Rebels are extremely deep from 1-9, but then Coach Rice has the limitation of two redshirt scholarship players (Morant and Cook) and the unavailability till late December of Khem Birch. Minutes are being spread pretty evenly, and he's trying to rely on people, and rest others more. Hopefully this builds the team concept, as well as keeps players motivated to play. Obviously, the Rebels would be hurting quite a bit with a key injury, regardless of depth - so lets hope that doesn't occur.

Here's some video(courtesy of mylvsports.com) and graphics (courtesy of statsheet) on the game:


  1. Student section has been chanting rebels during visiting team intros since conference season began last season.. its not anything new. Would you rather them turn their backs and flip the bird and boo like they have for the past 6 seasons??

  2. I'm with RR... Asking if you'd like something that's even worse lends no credibility to the argument. There is always a line that shouldn't be crossed... where is yours? We could throw dog crap at them when they come out of the tunnel - is that ok?

    Turning your back on them, I believe, crosses the line between supporting your team, and maintaining class. Besides, crow makes for a bad meal... Ya' never know what's going to happen.

    Maybe I'm wrong??? Of course... just an opinion.