Home Unfiltered Articles Players Baseball Prospectus
Basketball Prospectus home
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Click here for Important Basketball Prospectus Premium Information!

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overperformers (01/20)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Around the Rim (12/22)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Around the Rim (02/01)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (01/20)

January 20, 2012
Around the Rim
Putting the Runnin' Back in Rebels

by John Perrotto

Printer-
friendly
Contact
Author

Dave Rice knew he didn't need to overhaul the program when he became the coach at Nevada-Las Vegas last spring.

In fact, he walked into a great situation at his alma mater after spending the previous five seasons as an assistant at Mountain West Conference rival Brigham Young. Before leaving for Oklahoma, coach Lon Krueger led the Rebels to at least 21 wins and NCAA Tournament berths in four of the previous five seasons.

"The thing I was most impressed with coming in here was how well-coached these guys were," Rice said.

Still, Rice wanted UNLV to go back to its roots and play like it did in the glory days like 1991 when Jerry Tarkanian led the school to the national championship and Rice was one of the players. They weren't called the Rebels then. They were the Runnin' Rebels.

Rice has put the Runnin' back in Rebels this season are they are 17-3 as they get set to host New Mexico on Saturday night in a Mountain West Conference game. UNLV is No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, No. 7 in the RPI and No. 18 in the Pomeroy Ratings at KenPom.com.

UNLV is also 21st in the nation in adjusted tempo, playing at 71.6 possessions a game. That is up from 67.8 last season. The Rebels' highest average under Krueger was 69.9 in 2004-05, his first season after replacing the retired Charlie Spoonhour.

"It's been a transition by we're getting better offensively and we're better for longer periods of time," Rice said.

The style of play has certainly suited senior guard Chace Stanback as his 126.3 offensive rating ranks 31st in the nation and his 61.8 effective field goal percentage and 64.3 True Shooting Percentage are 58th and 59th. Stanback also leads UNLV in scoring with an average of 14.7 points a game.

"Chace can catch and shoot the three or he can post you up," Rice said. "He also makes a difference as a rebounder. He can hurt you in a lot of ways."

The biggest revelation for UNLV has been sophomore forward Mike Moser, who played sparingly at UCLA before transferring but has begun to develop his outside shot since joining the Rebels. He is averaging a double-double with 14.0 points and 11.4 rebounds a game. Moser is also eighth in the nation with 28.3 defensive rebounding percentage and his 12.3 offensive rebounding percentage ranks 111th.

"We knew Mike would be a great player but we did not know how quickly it would happen," Rice said. "He has a great work ethic. He's one of the first guys in the gym and one of the last ones to leave. He continues to get better and he plays with a lot of confidence. The way we play is good for Mike and the way Mike plays is good for us. He thinks every rebound is his, every loose ball is his."

UNLV's 113.4 offensive efficiency is 16th in the nation but the Rebels also play sticky defense as their 91.5 defensive efficiency ranks 38th. Junior guard Justin Hawkins is the key to UNLV's defense. Rice calls him "about as good an on-the-ball defender that you'll find," and Hawkins' 4.5 steal percentage is 30th nationally.

"Our staple will continue to be defense," Rice said. "We inherited a group of kids who are committed to that end of the floor. I've been impressed with how guys come to practice every day dedicated to playing defense. You don't always find that. They're a very coachable group that is making progress."

UNLV also has the depth to keep playing the up-tempo style all season as Rice usually employs a nine-man rotation.

"The way we play, the way we defend, the way we try to pressure all game and switch a lot and screen and play fast--you need to play more guys," Rice said. "We're fortunate enough to have a roster that's deep in talent."

The Mountain West is also deep in talent as all eight teams have overall records over .500 and at least 10 wins.

"It's like I keep saying, people across the country are starting to understand how good basketball is in the Mountain West Conference," Rice said. "It's a situation where teams in our league have become accustomed to winning. The coaching is good but the players are good, too. When you have a guy like Kawhi Leonard leave early and still see San Diego State having the kind of success it's having, it really shows how all of our programs have stepped up because of the culture of winning that has developed in our league."

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overperformers (01/20)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Around the Rim (12/22)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Around the Rim (02/01)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections (01/20)

RECENTLY AT BASKETBALL PROSPECTUS
State of Basketball Prospectus: A Brief Anno...
Tuesday Truths: March-at-Last Edition
Easy Bubble Solver: The Triumphant Return
Premium Article Bubbles of their Own Making: Villanova, Temp...
Tuesday Truths: Crunch Time Edition

MORE FROM JANUARY 20, 2012
Premium Article Start/Sit Projections: Week of Jan. 23-29
Premium Article Overperformers: Most Improved Projections

MORE BY JOHN PERROTTO
2012-11-09 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Crean Doesn't Mind the Hype
2012-02-01 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Showdown in Hattiesburg
2012-01-26 - Premium Article Powerful Pack: N.C. State Starts Strong
2012-01-20 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Putting the Runnin' Back in ...
2012-01-19 - Premium Article Finding Alabama's Identity: Grant Wants to P...
2012-01-04 - Premium Article Reloading: K-State Surprises
2011-12-22 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Indiana Ahead of Schedule
More...

MORE AROUND THE RIM
2012-11-09 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Crean Doesn't Mind the Hype
2012-02-01 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Showdown in Hattiesburg
2012-01-20 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Putting the Runnin' Back in ...
2011-12-22 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Indiana Ahead of Schedule
2011-12-16 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Aggies at Full Strength
2011-12-02 - Premium Article Around the Rim: Iona Could Be Next
More...

Basketball Prospectus Home  |  Terms of Service  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us
Copyright © 1996-2014 Prospectus Entertainment Ventures, LLC.