Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Positives and negatives: UNLV fights for road win at Portland, W68-60

Starting out with what worked and won the game for the Rebels
Anthony Bennett, the future NBA lottery pick and UNLV’s fantastic freshman, was the rock in this game. Not only did he score the ball with authority, he was consistent in a game where consistency was lacking. His 18 points, 7 of which came as the first points in the game, kept the Rebels competitive in the absence of Mike Moser or any other scoring presence. He would have been more potent had he not been in early foul trouble in the first half, but nonetheless – he was brilliant. Making full use of his appearance on ESPNU, he began the game with an authoritative dunk, and ended it with another – posterizing the Pilot’s defender.

Justin Hawkins few in like the J-Hawk that he is, and saved this one. Playing behind from the jump, he turned the tide mid-way through the second half by putting up a barrage of three point baskets. In addition, he had some fantastic steals.

Quintrell Thomas is becoming a more reliable offensive weapon. He had 9 points and 7 rebounds (6 offensive) in 28 minutes of play.

Anthony Marshall filled out the stat sheet as well, and was the Rebels second leading scorer with 16 points. He was more reliable as well, only one turnover for the point guard and 4 assists.

The Ref’s had a large hand in the victory, citing the Pilots for many fouls and putting them in the bonus 5-6 minutes into the second half. The Rebels fine free throw shooting, although less precise than in the Thomas and Mack, was sufficient to carry the day.

Now for the bulletin board material (motivation to get better)

28-22 at the half? – And we weren't even the “28”. The Rebels anemic first half shooting came because they abandoned what worked so well in the first half of the Hawaii game – inside/outside basketball. There was plenty of runnin’ in this game, but it mostly came up short on the issue of points production. In the end, it’s a lot of energy expended, and inefficient basketball. Granted, teams will have poor shooting days, and hopefully (as was the case last night) those woes will disappear at some point during the game, but the Rebels have the talent advantage, and need to have the confidence to take and make shots that will then make more risky shots go in (if they need to be taken at all). The old phrase, work smarter, not harder, comes to mind.

Other players largely absent in the production department – besides Anthony Bennett, Justin Hawkins (second half), Anthony Marshall, and Quintrell Thomas there was very little production. If players continue to lack the ability to put points on the board, it makes it harder on the reliable scorers such as Anthony Bennett and Anthony Marshall. Teams may double those players when the get the ball, forcing the Rebels to come up with offense elsewhere. The Hawaii game featured a lot of nice backdoor cuts and layups/dunks with Savon Goodman – why not do that. Katin Reinhardt was breaking ankles out there with sick cross-overs, why not dribble penetrate to the basket, take a shot or kick to a forward for a finish? Reinhardt has proven himself a very effective catch and shoot three-point artist, why doesn't someone get him going by doing that? Any Bryce Dejean-Jones --- can someone tell me when they reclassified him as a small forward? Before the season started he was a shooting guard, now he’s rotating with the bigs, does this make any sense?

Why isn’t Lopez-Sosa playing inside? Too often Carlos Lopez-Sosa was playing on the perimeter  offensively throwing screens beyond the three point line, and defensively not near the basket. Last night, because he wasn’t matched up often enough, two of the Pilot’s taller players, Thomas Van Der Mars (6’11”) and Riley Barker (6’10”) scored with little difficulty over Quintrell Thomas (6’8”) and Anthony Bennett (6’9”). The two were a combined 8-12 from the field. Carlos Lopez-Sosa only had 1 foul in 21 minutes – which means he wasn’t working hard enough on defense. So to recap, we didn’t necessarily have a roster mismatch situation, but we created one by not having Carlos Lopez-Sosa defend those guys by the basket. I love CLS as a player, but I am not thrilled whatsoever with his shrinking role and confidence playing the 4/5.

We got outrebounded by Portland?! For a team that was top ten rebounding team, we certainly didn’t show it last night. Portland had 43 rebs, UNLV, 39. Again, perhaps having CLS inside would give us more rebounds. Portland is a scappy team, but seriously…. They average 33 rebounds a game (240th in the nation). Talent should be tempered with fundamentals, and if the fundamentals are equal, then talent should win the day.

How injured was Mike Moser? A lot was made that this game would be a homecoming for Portland native Mike Moser. The former Oregon’s Mr. Basketball was kept out of the game as a collaborative decision between coaching and medical staff. The contingent he promised of supporters showed up, and audible “Rebels” chants were heard when the Rebels finally did good things. BUT, if he was so injured that he couldn't play even a few minutes – why was he was jumping around on the sideline in street clothes? Seeing a supposedly injured player doing that leads me to two conclusions 1) not really that injured, 2) should use his head and not jump around to prevent further injury. That’s all I’m saying.

Will need to fine tune the machine to have a chance against Cal – California is supposed to have a good team this year; this likely will not be the demolition we watched at the Thomas and Mack last year. They've only lost one game to Wisconsin, and shoot and rebound the ball at a high percentage (top 50 in both categories). Provided Mike Moser is a go (maybe this is why they held him out, so he can be more healthy for this game), we will still have difficulties with them because they are a solid team and we’re playing on their court. The Rebels need to go back to what worked against Hawaii in the first half – it wasn't luck that had us playing like that, it was smart basketball and working to our strengths.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with most of the analysis. However, on CLoSo, I believe two of the questions can be answered at once... Carlos isn't strong enough - physically.

    He can't guard fundamental, strong inside players. Q and AB are able to prevent movement by other bigs... they go right through Carlos. Rebounding is the same. He's been a historically bad rebounder - Not because he isn't tall enough, but because he gets pushed off the block so easily. Pit AM and CLoSo against each other, and I'd bet large that AM would out rebound him in a contest. Strength is key, IMHO.