Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Feb. 22, 2013 | 1:47 a.m.
- UNLV Extras: Can UNLV do something about its rising number of turnovers?
- Marshall lifts UNLV to victory in home battle against Colorado State
- Instant Analysis: UNLV gets tough again in last-second win over Colorado State
- Eustachy the catalyst behind Colorado State’s rebounding dominance
- Annual conversation about Mountain West tournament at the Mack commences
- UNLV Extras: Saturday’s victory was basketball entertainment at its best
- Rebels fight for victory in latest chapter of great rivalry with SDSU
- Mountain West basketball tournament to stay in Las Vegas through 2016
- UNLV Extras: Examining the reasons for the team’s constant road struggle
- UNLV coach expects his program to ‘grow up’ after no-show at Air Force
- All UNLV men's basketball coverage
What happened last week to the rest of us might as well have happened last year to Savon Goodman.
Whether you call it a short memory or the blissful ignorance of youth, Goodman said he felt like UNLV (20-7, 7-5) was riding a four- or five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at Wyoming (18-8, 4-8). Informed it was only two games because of a Feb. 13 loss at Air Force, the freshman forward smiled and shook his head.
“Was that last week? See, time goes by like that,” Goodman said while snapping his fingers.
You can excuse the lapse in memory, because for Goodman everything is different now. He doesn’t have time to think back to the seven conference games where he never got off the bench or the combined three minutes he played at San Diego State and at Boise State.
It’s actually funny that trip to Air Force seems so long ago only because that’s the game that started Goodman’s recent rise, though it came with an auspicious entrance. Goodman and sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones were late to the team bus to Clune Arena, causing Dejean-Jones to start the game with Goodman on the bench.
The tardiness didn’t really change anything for Goodman, though, who played nine minutes and shot 2-for-3 from the field. He followed that up with eight minutes (four points, two rebounds) against SDSU before setting a new personal league-high with 16 minutes in Wednesday’s victory against Colorado State.
Goodman and Dejean-Jones split all 40 minutes at small forward in that game, something that could be more common from here on out as UNLV coach Dave Rice said junior Mike Moser will stick to power forward the rest of the season. While that doesn't mean for certain Goodman will play 16 minutes again or even crack double digits, it's clear Rice has carved out a role for him.
“For people who want to have a vision of how I want our program to be in coming years it would be the toughness Savon Goodman brings every day in practice and every day in the game,” Rice said last week.
Rice calls his team’s performance a combination of effort and execution. Goodman’s problem this season has always been more of the latter as he tries to learn the schemes so he’s not like “a little freshman on campus and everything’s moving really fast,” Goodman said. So while the Philadelphia native makes mistakes, it’s never because he’s not giving enough effort.
And considering the Rebels’ difficulties on the road, that’s a trade Rice would seem willing to make. UNLV is 1-9 in its last 10 road conference games, though Rice said he’s more concerned about the last three.
“Those were very poor performances,” he said.
That included a five-point loss at Boise State and blowouts at Fresno State and Air Force, where UNLV trailed by 16 and 24 points, respectively. Results like that require change, and the 6-foot-6, hard-nosed freshman who yells at teammates on defense could be just the right fit.
“When things start going right defensively it seems like I stay out there a lot longer,” Goodman said. “So I’m going to try my hardest to make sure when I’m out there that the team is playing a hell of a lot better on defense, and on offense I’m going to try to find my niche.”
Goodman admitted it’s rare to see a freshman barking at upperclassmen, though that’s what he feels he has to do. Senior guard Anthony Marshall is regarded by most as the team’s leader, but as the Rebels enter their final two road conference games — at Wyoming and then at UNR next Saturday — the team is still searching for the cohesion and effort on the road that suggests they really know how to play together in tough situations.
Goodman doesn’t care about UNLV’s struggles on the road, because to him that seems like ages ago, back when he was mostly a spectator with floor seats. He’s much more interested in an expanded role that results in victories.
“I’m just trying to get out there as much as I can,” he said.Wyoming banged up
It's unclear just who exactly will be available for the Cowboys when the Rebels come to town. Leonard Washington, who's tied with CSU's Colton Iverson for the league lead with 11 double-doubles, missed the last game with an ankle injury. And according to the Casper Star Tribune, starters Larry Nance Jr. and Derrious Gilmore are both ill.
Throw in a back injury for reserve forward Derek Cooke Jr. and Wyoming has four key contributors who are uncertain for Saturday's game. Follow Taylor Bern (@TaylorBern) for updates on the players' statuses as they become available leading into the game.