Thursday, November 29, 2012

UNLV vs. UC Irvine - Disappearing Apturds

Highlights courtesy of

Article by Jason Taylor

Let’s be frank - The Oregon game at the Thomas and Mack was packed solid by the Rebellion, and seemingly everybody else in town, but the game flat stunk.

For the minute, however, this fact is turning out to be a good thing, let’s hope.

Before we get to the “good thing”, let’s review.  To give perspective, we can move one game forward from the O game to the Iowa State game, and simply give measure to the crowd.  It was baffling to see that, suddenly, after one measly loss, fans disappeared.  It was a 5:00pm game on a Saturday night… Perfect!  Students can pick up their free tickets, pack the “Rebellion” sections, and still have plenty of time to hit the bars afterward.

Wrong.  I, mean - maybe they hit the bars… I dunno.  However, one thing is for sure - they didn’t fill the Rebellion sections up, or any other sections for that matter.  The T & M itself felt like a deflated whoopee cushion.  Ya… That bad. 

Before getting red-faced over fair weather fans, let’s examine why, possibly there was such a radical shift in fan energy over the course of one day, and one game.  While the reasons may be many, much of loss of enthusiasm could be described by APTRDS [Common name: Apturds] - Associative Post Traumatic Rebel Disappointment Syndrome.

While Apturds is still under investigation by the Board of Psychiatric Disorder Analysts as to whether it should be included in their official “Mental Disorder Guide”, some Rebel fans are, indeed, afflicted.

Sliver of Evidence:

Two years ago, the Rebels were off to a great start.  Hopes of healthy athletes, like Oscar Bellfield, Chace Stanback, Derrick Jasper, and Trevon Willis might deliver a long desired conference championship.  Then, came SDSU.  The Rebels went to Viejas Arena, jacked up 18 3’s, and made one - The Rebels lost by 6 points.  In the next meeting with SDSU, Rebel fans packed the Mack where the Rebels cranked out 15 more 3pt attempts and made 2, and lost again by 6 points.  Hopes of a conference championship were thereby extinguished.

The seeds of Apturds had been planted. 

Then, lessons learned… Right?  Play hard-nosed, inside-out basketball, and stop with the “jacking” fixation. So, when matched up against SDSU for the third time that season in the MWC Tournament UNLV found solid presence with Willis manning the “elbow”, and Massamba crashing to the basket.  Rebels banged and clawed their way back into a game where they were about 10 points down.  With 3 minutes left, fans then watched in awe as Stanback, Willis, and who knows who else began firing away from 3.  DJ Gay ended the game with a runner in the lane, walking away with a deserved, yet assuredly Rebel-fan-traumatic SDSU win. 

The seeds had produced a complete garden full of evidence indicating the exact nature of how to lose games, and symptoms of Apturds began:  Fans went home, never to return - until fairer weather.  Some became severely depressed; others became angry, referring to their superior foe as, “STDSU”.

With a background understanding, then, it’s easy to see how the Oregon game re-ignited the syndrome.  The Rebels attempted 30 - Yes, count them - 30 3-pointers.  Incredibly, Super-Duper-Surprisingly, the Rebels lost.

But wait… There’s more to the story.  The Rebels threw the ball away a lot (17 turnovers), which is a fairly new thing.  And then, on top of being too lazy to attack the basket, some seemed as though they thought contact with the ball caused the disappearance of all teammates.  The height of frustration was achieved when Katin Reinhardt was running wide-open, hands up on the weak side for an easy layup, but instead of receiving an easy pass, Bryce Dejean-Jones went for the glory, crashed into strong-side traffic, committing a charge.   The next basket was an Oregon 3 pointer.

The good news is, that was way, way back, in the distant past - two games ago.  The Rebels took a kick in the pants, now realize they are human, and are thankfully taking study.  The Oregon loss added merit to the Rebels’ season, hopefully.

In come the Anteaters of UC Irvine.  Now, Anteaters may not seem so intimidating, but they easily knocked a decent Nevada Wolfpack over by 14 points, took the pre-season #11 UCLA Bruins into overtime, only to lose by a single point, and then gave SMU a run for their money losing by only 5 points. 

The Anteaters seemed to have done their homework.  Oregon did a terrific job of running a stretched zone defense that provided a full court press, and they turned the Rebels over several times in a row.  Further, they dropped quickly, preventing expected fast break attempts from the Rebels.  Their zone defense caused the Rebels to settle: hence the 30 3-point attempts.  When the Rebels chose to attack, it was often with individual - rather that team - effort.  Oregon took several charges, albeit with the aid of some favorable calls, and prevented the Rebels from getting into a good flow.

Any good coach would look at what works, study film, and attempt to replicate.  So, the Anteaters attempted.  Little did they know that they would not be playing the team that played Oregon last week.  The Rebels that stepped on the floor Wednesday night were completely different.  As they threw the full-court zone press, the Rebels were patient, simply waiting for the double team to come, and threw the ball back and forth, crossing half court with ease.  Then, as they ran their zone defense, the Rebels had several lines of attack.  A favorite strategy was using Carlos Lopez-Sosa as a mid to high post receiver, who drew defenders, and then he quickly found the low post, making some great passes.  CLoSo ended up with 4 very nice assists, usually to other “bigs” - gotta’ love good interior passing!

Another strategy of attack gives segue to an overall key performance by Anthony Marshall.  While I may show bias to my pre-season predictions of AM assist “greatness”, his effort was undeniable, and admirable, ending with an “under-rated” 9 assists - I’ll explain in a moment.  Getting back to the idea of zone breaking, however, AM was especially solid and steady as a baseline receiver and distributor.  His threat to drive must be honored, and his strength is difficult to overcome, so he is able to hold ground until plays develop, and he is beginning to hit runners and shooters at their most deadly points - quietly critical.

The reason AM’s 9 assists are “under-rated”, is because he hit numerous players that had wide-open jumpers, but missed, and he fed several players in positions where the Anteaters had no other option but to foul, or give up the basket.  I saw an easy 14 assist game from our so called “non-point guard”.

AM has more work to do.  He hasn’t mastered the Kendall Marshall knack of hitting runners up ahead, and he’s still getting comfortable with timing, making the offense seem a bit stuttered at times, but the learning curve is present.  He’s a smart player who cares most about the team.  With AM, the chances are that the Rebels will get comfortable and hit their flow - and they will be seriously dangerous.

Anthony Bennett is proving more “beastly” than expected, adding another 19 points and 7 rebounds.  Importantly, many of his rebounds are coming at the offensive end where it used to seem like a miss for the Rebels was a turnover.  Not any more.  Quintrell, Moser, and Goodman add to the effect.  The Rebels have a legit chance of adding several put-backs per game - finally!  In fact, the Rebels had multiple offensive rebounds off of missed FREE THROWS against UCI.  Such a breath of fresh T&M air!

Moser’s motor is running.   Katin Reinhardt is proving a tremendous value.  Justin is even better, adding a confident offensive threat good for 8 to 10 points per game, and Savon Goodman is beginning to get more comfortable, keeping away from those baseline turnovers.  He had the back-slapping, “no you di’int” fast break dunk of the game, and 7 rebounds.

All in all, the UCI game was a great “practice” against a good team.  The impetuses of Apturds have disappeared, and Fans (you know who you are), the fair weather seems to be returning… You may re-take your seats.

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