Runnin’ Rebels prepare for Canada at Mendenhall
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Notes from UNLV’s opening practice before making the trip up north
Saturday morning saw the Runnin’ Rebels take the court to prepare for a series of games the team will play in Canada in two weeks.
Over 1,000 Rebel fans were there to greet the team to a standing ovation as they took the court at Mendenhall Center.
With the exception of Anthony Bennett, all players were in attendance, though Khem Birch and Roscoe Smith were held out of practice due to ineligibility. Birch cannot practice with the team until the start of
October, and will be eligible to play immediately following the conclusion of the Fall semester in December. Smith is still awaiting word from the NCAA on whether he will be eligible to play this year.
Rice confirmed after practice that Bennett is cleared to play beginning in the Fall.
The practice started off with layup drills, which went into stretching as all practices do, until they broke into position groups.
The first group in front of the fans was the guards, which feature seniors Anthony Marshall and Justin Hawkins along with freshmen Katin Reinhardt and DaQuan Cook. Hawkins and Reinhardt have a pure stroke and were continually knocking down threes, much to the crowd’s delight. They then went into a drill were they worked dribbling and dropping in floaters over an outstretched pad.
Another group, which included Mike Moser, Bryce Jones and freshman Savon Goodman, were intriguing to watch as well. All three have displayed great athleticism and quickness for their size. Moser looks noticeably bigger — a scary thought for opponents. Already a formidable force on the boards, the added strength should only help him improve upon his breakout year last season.
The last group was the forwards that were working with assistant coach Stacey Augmon, who kept a smile on his face throughout practice.
After the individual groups, the team gathered back together to work on fastbreak drills, where players were instructed to pass the ball three times before taking any shots. The players immediately sprinted back the other way doing the same thing.
Following the fastbreak drills, they worked on three-on-two breaks. Jones hit a big shot with a hand in his face. Immediately after making the shot he tipped the ball and hustled, diving for the ball, which attracted cheers from the fans for his effort.
Jones displayed the ability to knock down the clutch shot and get the turnover when needed. His hustle and tenacity will be a big asset to this team in the Fall.
The team then shifted to defensive drills, working on traps and creating turnovers.
To wrap up practice, the team worked on free throws individually before taking them together. If they made it, it went on to the next player; if they missed they had to sprint the full length of the court and back.
Though there were quite a few misses, the team was visibly relieved when Rice let Marshall attempt one final shot to end the drill, which he made.
After practice wrapped up, Rice talked about the opportunity to hit the court early and go to Canada with the team. He knows getting a head start will be huge in building the teamwork needed to make the team successful.