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February 21, 2014

Doolin could be missing piece

In what could be Dave Rice's most important season of his young career next year, it was important that he find the right player to hand over the keys to a UNLV program that will be oozing with talent at almost every position.

It seems like Rice got just the man he was looking for on Thursday night.

This will only be a temporary fix, as Cody Doolin will need clearance by the NCAA to play his fourth season of basketball, but the benefits of getting Doolin to be a member of the 2014-15 Runnin' Rebels is worth all the gamble.

Doolin, who started all 103 games and averaged over 30 minutes in each during his time at San Francisco, will be given the responsibility of leading UNLV's uber talented club next year.

Bringing in a highly competitive point guard for his senior year is something that has worked well for the Rebels in the past, so it was a move that Rice was willing to make. UNLV captured lightning in a bottle whenever former head coach, Lon Kruger, brought his son, Kevin, on board from Arizona State for his final collegiate season.

UNLV used Kruger's leadership and determination to help turn the corner during his one year at the school. It was the last time that the Runnin' Rebels have made it to the Sweet 16, before being bounced by Oregon.

This time around the overall nucleus of the Rebel roster is clearly more decorated. What it was missing was someone with experience that could run the UNLV offense and defense the way that Rice requires. It appears that Doolin has the capabilities to do that.

The Rebels currently have a scoring point guard, DeVille Smith, a traditional point guard, DaQuan Cook, and a combo point guard, Kendall Smith. But they don't have a hybrid of the two. And they, especially, don't have one that will take the reigns whenever it is necessary.

Deville Smith started to play much better around Christmas of this year, but has been late for the team bus twice, which forced him to see the opening tip from the sidelines. Cook has never looked comfortable in running the Rebel team for an extended period. The more you watch Kendall Smith play, the more it seems that he is more suited for the off-guard role rather than the lead guard.

With all this uncertainty at one of the most important positions on the floor, if not the very most critical, Rice made a decision to bring in a player that is experienced, hungry, and determined not to allow his final days as a Don to be his last memory as a college player.

It is well documented that Doolin left the San Francisco program four games into his senior season after a scuffle in practice with a teammate left Doolin injured and re-evaluating his future with the Dons.

In his first four games of the year, Doolin scored 33 points against Nevada and Deonte Burton. The contest prior to that, Doolin dished out 11 assists to his teammates.

A microcosm of this season came for UNLV in its last game against New Mexico. With six minutes left and trailing by 10 points, the Rebels were given a gift when UNM's top player, Cameron Bairstow, picked up his fourth foul.

Rather than attacking Bairstow and forcing Lobos' coach Craig Neal to make a decision about Bairstow's involvement, UNLV proceeded to toss up four straight shots from beyond the arc. It's this type of on-court decision making that has plagued the Rebels all season, especially in close contests.

There was never any doubt about how loaded UNLV is going to be next year. With the addition of top shooting guard, Rashad Vaughn, last week, the Rebels' only had one glaring weakness heading into next year - a playmaking point guard.

Rice appears to have gotten his man.

For more in-depth information, be sure to check out Rebel-Confidential.



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