Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013 | noon
With the Super Bowl in the rearview mirror and another week until a big UFC card, this show is all Rebels basketball as Las Vegas Sun reporters Ray Brewer, Case Keefer and Taylor Bern break down the up-and-down week that was and what it may mean for the future.
- UNLV Extras: Can Rebels learn from victory against New Mexico?
- Four-star forward wowed by weekend trip to UNLV
- Motivated Rebels snap skid by controlling New Mexico in the Mack
- Instant Analysis: Rebels begin fixing what was broken in 9-point win against New Mexico
- Take 5: Resetting the storylines halfway through Mountain West play
- UNLV Extras: Assessing the damage after the Rebels drop to 4-4 in league play
- Rebels have only simple explanations for complex loss at Fresno State
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The last guy on the court after practice Monday night in the Mendenhall Center hit shot after shot. Curling off a screen set by a chair and lifting mid-range and 3-point attempts over the outstretched arms of student managers, you’d never guess the guy swishing most of those attempts hadn’t scored more than five points in a game in nearly a month.
That’s the tricky thing about UNLV junior forward Mike Moser. Often, especially in practice, he looks perfectly fine, but then he only plays two minutes in a nine-point victory against New Mexico and you know something’s still amiss.
UNLV coach Dave Rice said Monday it was New Mexico’s big men who kept Moser mostly on the bench.
“The physicality of (Cameron) Bairstow and (Alex) Kirk made it difficult for Mike just because of his elbow. It was that simple,” Rice said.
So he’s still feeling pain in that right elbow, which he dislocated more than two months ago in the first half of a one-point victory at Cal?
“Absolutely,” Rice said. “Particularly against big, strong post players like that.”
His teammates know this weakness and avoid it in practice; opponents may know it and exploit it in games.
After nearly leaving school early for the NBA draft, Moser has been going through what at times must feel like a nightmare season. In conference games, he’s played 18.6 minutes per game, including four starts, and only his rebounding numbers (4.9 per game) are respectable for a preseason first-team all-conference pick. He’s shooting 31.9 percent from the field, 26.7 behind the three-point line and 45.5 at the free-throw line, averaging 4.3 points per game.
Moser last scored double digits (14) in UNLV’s overtime victory against Air Force, the Rebels' opponent again Wednesday at 6 p.m. Las Vegas time on Time Warner Cable SportsNet. Only this time, the Rebels must go to Colorado Springs, and the only thing they can really count on from Moser is that whether he’s on the court or on the bench, they’re going to be able to hear him.
“Mike is going through his troubles and we wouldn’t even be able to tell,” sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones said. “Mike is one of the most vocal guys on the team, keeping us together, even through the losses.”
Rice previously said he didn’t expect Moser to be completely healthy the rest of the season. And although his draft stock is certainly not where it was last year, there’s no guarantee Moser returns for a senior season.
It’s possible this is the final month and a half of his collegiate career, and while it’s far from the double-double production he churned out last season, Moser is still yelling and encouraging his teammates. He’s very much part of the team, even if most of his on-court success involves a chair that won’t hit his arm.
“It’s been a rough year for him, but that hasn’t changed his attitude,” senior guard Anthony Marshall said. “That’s what you need out of one of your leaders.”