The Runnin' Rebels brought in their most ballyhooed recruiting class in many, many years, but the load can't fall on their shoulders, especially early in the season. UNLV needs its group of upper classmen - Anthony Marshall, Mike Moser, Quintrell Thomas, Justin Hawkins and Carlos Lopez-Sosa - to deliver consistent efforts on a nightly basis.
Last night against Dixie State, that wasn't the case.
The freshmen, excluding Katin Reinhardt, looked like freshmen. The seniors didn't look like seniors.
Head coach Dave Rice knows that he is going to have to rely on his experienced players to help get his youngsters through the growing pains that are inevitable.
UNLV lost four experienced seniors from last year, three of them starters, and reloaded with a group of uber talented players hand-picked by Rice. There's no doubt that the freshmen are going to be good, really good, actually.
But there's going to bumpy roads as Anthony Bennett, Savon Goodman, DaQuan Cook and Reinhardt find their groove at the collegiate level.
Rice is well aware of this fact. If his veterans can't show the way during the first month or so, the Rebels are bound to struggle on a nightly basis until those freshmen are ready to produce on a consistent basis.
TOO MUCH JACKING When you are competing against a club like Dixie there's absolutely no reason why the Rebels need to be tossing up brick after brick from beyond the perimeter.
Let's check the stats on this one: 6 of 32 from behind the 3-point arc.
The combination of Moser and Bennett went 1 of 13. Goodman didn't touch any iron on his two attempts. Bryce Dejean-Jones and Hawkins went 0 of 5 together.
Needless to say, it was a very brutal evening of shooting the basketball.
Granted, Moser and Bennett are much better shooters than those numbers appear, but whenever something isn't working, you must adjust and find another way to attack the defense. UNLV never made that move.
The Rebels just kept jacking. And jacking. And jacking.
Heading into the regular season UNLV needs to rely on playmaking more for one another than looking for the first open deep jumper. This roster is better than that. They may not have looked like it last night, but there is no question that this squad should be capable of making plays for one another.
Only Dejean-Jones made a conscience effort to break down the defense and look for open teammates when the defense had to react to his penetration. Others need to follow suit, and in a hurry.
INTENSIVE TRAINING - We are going to see just how good of a motivator Rice can be as we witness the evolution of this UNLV team on the defensive end of the floor.
With this much quickness and athleticism on the floor from players one through 10, UNLV should be able to change the game with an intense defensive effort that would allow its transition attack to flourish.
The Rebels only utilized that for a couple five minute stretches last evening. The remainder of the game saw UNLV struggling to get back on defense, allowing layups to Dixie, and simply losing their men during halfcourt defensive sets.
Some of that can be excused by youthfulness but the rest cannot. The rest has to be blamed on not being able to ratchet up a devotion to that end of the floor, which is ultimately going to dictate whether the Rebels live up to expectations or not.
Again, this will be Rice's first true test as a head coach. We'll see how he fares.
For more in-depth information, be sure to check out Rebel-Confidential.
Click Here to view this Link.