Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012 | 11:35 a.m.
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Inside-out was a mantra often ignored last season, especially during the stretch run that signaled UNLV basketball’s premature end.
It’s a simple idea — work the ball inside to a post player who then can make a move for a shot or draw attention and pass back out to an open teammate. But it’s easier said than done, at least in the Rebels’ offense. Any open shot with your feet set is a good shot, according to UNLV coach Dave Rice, unless a teammate is more open, then you should have passed it.
And when playing in transition, as the Rebels expect to do often this year, the post player is usually the forgotten man on the floor. If he doesn’t have a breakaway dunk, he’s often watching the guards and wings sprint into the lane or pull up for presumably open jumpers.
Rice always wanted to work the ball inside-out last year and, arguably, the most frustrated he got on the sidelines all season was when that wish was ignored multiple possessions in a row. This year, he still wants guys taking open shots, but it’s even more important to feed the ball inside whenever possible.
“I have a lot of confidence in our ability to score out of the low post,” Rice said. “So in addition to hurrying the ball up and shooting open shots, we have placed more emphasis, especially in transition, in throwing the ball to the low post.”
Rice said he likes the variety of scoring options the Rebels will have down there, though it only takes watching a couple of minutes of practice to know UNLV can’t afford to ignore freshman Anthony Bennett the way it sometimes did Brice Massamba last season. Bennett has his own inside-out game with the ability to knock down contested 3-pointers. But when he’s down low, the priority for everyone is to pass first, ask questions later.
Newcomer is one of four team captains
Three of Rice’s team captains this year were no-brainers because seniors Justin Hawkins and Anthony Marshall and junior Mike Moser are the faces of the program. However, at this point, maybe only the diehards could probably pick Roscoe Smith’s face out of a crowd.
Smith came to UNLV this offseason from UConn and he must redshirt this season because of NCAA transfer rules. Despite the fact he won’t play a minute, Rice tabbed Smith as his fourth team captain.
“Roscoe brings great credibility to the team being a two-year starter on a national championship team, but it’s more than that,” Rice said. “Just the way he was able to help lead our group from the day that he got here. And the other thing, too, is I think it will motivate Roscoe and help him get through the redshirt year, which is tough.”
The practices thus far, especially Tuesday’s, have been as competitive as any I’ve seen. Smith isn’t the sole reason for that, but he has a lot to do with it.
Much like Bryce Dejean-Jones last year, without any games, the practices and scrimmages are the only competition Smith will get this year, so he goes all out. And that will be big for UNLV as the year continues. Physically, Smith is nearly a carbon copy of Moser — both are 6-foot-8 and 205-210 pounds with good jumpers — and practicing against someone like that who’s motivated this season can only help.
“To have a guy on the scout team whom I consider one of the main leaders is important to the development not only of Roscoe but of the team as a whole,” Rice said.