Monday, November 19, 2012

Ugly victory: UNLV beats Jacksonville State 77-58

Things started ugly from the jump, with PawnStar's Chumlee announcing "Lights Please"

The key trends to take away from this game were slow-ball may be a strategy against us, Moser is back, balanced output, turnovers hurt, but rebounding doesn't, free throws down.

Slow ball - Its very simple, if your competitor likes to run, make them slower and maybe they'll falter. Falter the Rebels did not, but sputter - they did. In what's very likely to become a trend this season is teams utilizing several easily available tools to keep the game at a snails pace. Step 1 - use a lot of timeouts. Use a timeout to prevent a run, use one to waste time, and use one to lengthen the game. It seemed as though there was as much time wasted in timeout situations as there was game play. It took the crowd out of the action, and it likely added to the Rebels turnovers and miscues on the court. Step 2 - foul often. While avoiding the dreaded double bonus, the Gamecocks fouled the Rebels any chance they could, especially within the paint. This limited the Rebels to only 1 dunk (to be fair, I left with about 3 minutes to go so there may have been more dunks.) and very little post play that wasn't met with a hard foul. This made the Rebels earn it from the line, as well as a jump shooting team. In the end, it didn't hamper victory, but it made for a dull event that likely wasn't much more fun to play than it was to watch. Because the "slowball" strategy did effectively strip the Rebels of momentum, and kept the overall point total down, it is likely to be utilized by various coaches this season. The untended consequences are that the opposing team likely will not make much headway either in the slowball offensive mindset, unless of course their name is Wisconsin - whom we don't play this season (thank god).

Moser is back - Mike Moser, long lost during the end road last season and MIA in Canada is back with a vengeance, showing he can still ball and why in all likelihood he'll be in the NBA next year. Moser's offensive success started early, as he scored the first five points for the Rebels and didn't look back. As primary rebounder, he has shared those duties with Anthony Bennett - but still posted a double-double (19 pts, 10 rebs). Last seasons team was intriguing because anyone could heat up at any time, making the Rebels very dangerous and preventing double-team schemes. This year's team is definitely the same way, which is a great advantage to have. Welcome back Mike Moser - show us some new tricks you learned at the Lebron camp!

Balanced output - if you take a look at the chart below, you'll see that there is fairly even output, distribution between the players who saw action. Again, a great thing to have so many people contributing and not having to rely on 1-2 key guys every game. This chart validates the depth of the Runnin' Rebels.

Turnovers hurt - 19 turnovers certainly doesn't help. Frankly, this contest may have been a lot closer if the Jacksonville State Gamecocks had capitalized on the times the Rebels gave away the ball. Example: Lets say the Rebels turn the ball over approximately 20 times, like last night. Its not out of the question for a team to shoot 50% from the field if they are doing well. Lets say that on 10 of the turnovers the opponent scored 6 field goals, 2 three point field goals, and went to the free throw line a total of 4 times, making three attempts. That equals (6x2=12 + 2x3=6 + 3x1=3 == 21 points). I don't have the points off of turnovers stat for last night's game, but this kind of sloppiness can lead to close games that shouldn't be close.

 Rebounding doesn't hurt - Besides shooting the ball at a higher percentage than the Gamecocks, the Rebels largely won because they owned rebounding, offensively and defensively. The Rebels out-rebounded offensively 15 to 9, and defensively 26 to 15. In total, 41 to 24. Yes, we have the better athletes, but our players have a knack for being in the right place at the right time, which makes a world of difference. This is an improvement from earlier games, where the Rebels jacked up shots and had nobody there in case we missed. Great job on the rebounding!

What happened to FT%? - In the exhibition and the first game against NAU, the Rebels made full use of their time at the free throw line. Against NAU, the Rebels shot a respectable 81% from the line, whereas against Jacksonville State they shot just 72% from the line. Anthony Bennett had lost a little magic, as he was golden on the easy buckets in the first game, not so much in the second. Hopefully Coach Rice impresses how important it is to make your free throw shots, and how it wins close games for you. I was really proud of the Rebels (although didn't mention it last time). PLEASE WORK ON FT SHOOTING!

Overall - Who can hate a win? I can't. It wasn't enjoyable basketball, but we won and they didn't. We're still ranked 18th and undefeated, we handed Jacksonville State their first loss. Life goes on, hopefully it will be more entertaining against Oregon and whomever we play Saturday.


BTW, check out this Jacksonville State stupidity!

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