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October 19, 2013
Goodman opts out
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In college basketball fresh starts are about as commonplace as jump shots and layups. Sophomore Savon Goodman became the latest Runnin' Rebel to leave the program whenever it became public on Friday that he would be transferring as early as the second semester.
Already suspended from the UNLV team for this upcoming season, it appears the two sides mutually agreed that moving on from one another would be the best possible outcome for both.
"I have enjoyed my time at UNLV and am thankful for the support of the fans, my teammates and coaches since I have been here," Goodman said in a statement. "However, I have felt a lot of pressure the last few months. I feel it is best for me to leave the program at this time. Even though I am from Philadelphia, I will always think of Las Vegas as another home."
Goodman was a late commitment in the 2012 class that seemed to be perfect for the Runnin' Rebels high octane approach. Despite showing glimpses of success on the offensive end and around the glass, Goodman failed to pick up the nuances of Rice's defensive philosophy.
A year long suspension was brought down on Goodman after he was arraigned in Las Vegas on a pair of felony charges in August.
The writing appeared to be on the wall whenever the Rebel coaching staff went out and signed bruising forward Jamal Aytes this summer to help relieve with the departure of Goodman this season.
There's no doubt that Goodman probably could have, eventually, been an impact player for the Rebels, but a fresh start may be just what he needs to turn the corner.
BIRCH SHOWS OFF
Khem Birch has always been a standout on the defensive end of the floor. That was pretty evident after he won Defensive Player of the Year in the Mountain West in 2013 while averaging just 21 minutes a game.
What Birch was lacking was an ability to affect the game on the offensive end of the floor. At the Scarlet and Grey scrimmage on Thursday night, it's apparent that Birch may have made the necessary steps to take the next step.
In almost man against boys fashion, Birch showed a couple times an aggression that Rebel fans hadn't seen yet, grabbing rebounds and putting the ball on the deck and going coast-to-coast for punishing slam dunks.
Word from multiple sources over the summer said that Birch's offensive capabilities were starting to catch up to his defense. It has started to show already. If and when he reaches that point, Birch will likely shoot way up the draft ladder and be recognized as one of the top players in the nation at any position.
If it wasn't recognized by UNLV fans before, it definitely is now - the Rebels roster is extremely deep. There is, literally, two or three athletic and talented players at every single spot on the floor.
Now, the question is whether head coach Dave Rice can use that to his advantage or whether it will be a hinderance in building chemistry throughout the season. Rice plans to utilize this depth in a way to keep swarming fresh productive players onto the court, wearing out the opposition in the process.
The problem lies in the fact that everyone isn't going to get the playing time that they probably feel is adequate. That, generally speaking, can cause dissension in the ranks. Sometimes too much depth can be a bigger problem than having too little of depth.
But this is what Rice has set out to do - get a bunch of guys who he thinks can help him win. When they are buying into the system, it has the potential to work out magnificently. When they aren't, forget about it.
Chemistry has been an issue in the past. Will a group of guys that Rice hand-picked stick with the philosophy he's preaching? That will be the biggest hurdle for the coaching staff and the players involved.