Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Post-Holiday Points: UNLV takes Runnin' to Chapel Hill

Versus Canisius: The Runnin' Rebels were the Defendin'  Rebels beating a much improved Canisius team 89-74. If the road game against UTEP was Khem Birch's debut, this would have been his highlight reel introduction. 6 blocks, are you kidding? Of course, anyone would have guess that was possible given the comments Quintrell Thomas had made about respecting Birch's swatting abilities, combined with the many plays where he all but had a block but someone else fouled the player just before the block. Major credit as usual goes to Anthony Bennnett, who when on the court had the Rebels comfortably ahead, and seemingly not-so-much when off the court. Justin Hawkins had 3 blocks himself, among providing valuable point production. Further worth noting, is Katin Reinhardt made his living this game not at the three point line, but by driving to the hoop - something he hasn't done a ton of since high school. It was efficient and well played basketball, and came at a much higher percentage than the three attempts. Katin realizes that his 3 ball just isn't falling at the click he wants, so he's decided to change his game a bit - bravo!

Trending Rankings: The trending stories are that the MWC, who has often had 3 teams in the rankings (UNLV, New Mexico, and SDSU in ever changing order) now only has two. New Mexico dropped a home game to a South Dakota State team who had just driven 1100 miles in a bus to get to Albuquerque because their flight got canceled. This forced a lot of voters to rethink the power of New Mexico, and pushed them out of the top-25 completely. UNLV now ranks 20/17 in the polls. Foe SDSU is likely to push even higher as suffered another loss but took it to the wire against #3 Arizona (67-68) in the Hawaii classic.

Something to prove: Although basketball games shouldn't be thought of psychologically  unless its to one teams advantage, people with too much time on their hands (like me) start to think about things. UNC has a lot of advantages coming into this Saturday's game, even though they are not a ranked team anymore. #1 Revenge - any team who was bested last season in the fashion the Rebels did would want Revenge #2 Nothing to lose - with no ranking to lose, UNC can play loose, where as UNLV would likely move down in the rankings  if we lost to UNC, even though nobody has beaten them at home all season. #3

Injuries: With Mike Moser doing better, but still a few weeks away from playing, other notable injuries occurred during the Canisius game that could have some impact on the UNC game. Savon Goodman suffered a quad injury during the game that limited his playing time to 3 minutes. Anthony Marshall was limping considerably in the second half of the game. And perhaps more seriously  Bryce Dejean-Jones took a hard fall on an offensive foul that left him dazed with a cut on the side of his head. With the holiday layoff being just the right kind of healing the Rebels need facing their toughest foe yet, all hope is that everyone rests and heals up so we aren't beaten by lack of depth.

Depth: With the emergence of Khem Birch, there is a lot of depth issue the Rebels can play with. Right now I'd have to say (with Moser Injured) this is the best team they can put on the court:

Center: Khem Birch
Forward: Bryce Dejean-Jones
Forward: Anthony Bennett
Guard: Anthony Marshall
Guard: Justin Hawkins

Next in line at each major position:
Center: Quintrell Thomas
Forward: Savon Goodman
Guard: Katin Reinhardt

With Moser back - things get pretty interesting. Likely the best thing to do regardless of position is to attempt to play our best players no more than 25 minutes a game, and have more-than-capable backups play the remaining 15. This will keep legs fresh and defense intense throughout the rest of non-conference, and then the difficult conference schedule.

Happy Holidays! Looking for a little holiday magic for an inspired late-December game in North Carolina! Go Runnin' Rebels!

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