Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | 2 a.m.
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As long as you go in understanding that they could be completely moot by the time the season starts, projecting lineups can be a lot of fun.
That’s the crux of what we’re doing here as we look ahead to some possible UNLV lineup configurations for 2013-14 before the decisions of a few 2012-13 pieces have been formally announced. For the purposes of these projections, we’re assuming both freshman Anthony Bennett and junior Mike Moser leave early while junior Carlos Lopez-Sosa returns for a final year. It’s very possible this isn’t exactly how things will play out, but that’s the scenario with which we’re working.
Here is the roster as it would look next year:
Senior: Carlos Lopez-Sosa
Freshman: Demetris Morant, Kendall Smith, Dantley Walker, Chris Wood
Of that group, Walker seems like the most likely redshirt candidate. Cook is also a possibility, as is Wood, although UNLV coach Dave Rice has said the Findlay Prep product would have every chance to come in and compete right away.
For the second straight year, about half of the rotation could be guys who haven’t played for UNLV. That’s obviously a concern, but there’s nothing to do about it now. This is the group the Rebels have and it’s up to everyone in the program to make the pieces fit.
Here are a few possible lineups. Have a better one? Put it down in the comments:
Why it could work: Very athletic and with another full offseason in the program, it’s fair to expect some improvements from the 2-5 guys. Who takes the lead in the point guard battle will be a continuous offseason storyline.
Why it could flop: Roscoe Smith is probably miscast as a 4, so it may make more sense to start Goodman there and move Roscoe Smith to the 3, Dejean-Jones to the 2 and Reinhardt to the bench. Considering Reinhardt started 34 of 35 games this year, that seems unlikely.
Why it could work: The 1 and 5 are probably interchangeable pieces in this one, but Dejean-Jones, Roscoe Smith and Goodman all seem capable of applying significant pressure and still being able to recover on defense. Roscoe Smith and Goodman, especially, could be matchup of problems for opponents either smaller or slower than that duo.
Why it could flop: Goodman has a tendency to over pursue plays, and Roscoe Smith hasn’t played in more than a year, so this would be a role he may have to grow into. Also, Kendrick might work better at the 1 because his reach could help blind opponents in a double team.
Why it could work: Sub in Wood or Morant for Lopez-Sosa or Birch and the idea’s the same: Get the ball into the post and let somebody go to work. Double team on one side? Pass to the other. Zone sagging down toward the basket? Kick out to a shooter. There are three of them.
Why it could flop: Birch displayed only flashes of his offensive abilities this year, something he can and needs to develop this year. And the freshmen big men offer more athleticism, but Lopez-Sosa (if he stays) has more experience, though often in a limited role.
Keeping up with the Smiths
Why it could work: For the purposes of this lineup, the three perimeter players are the focal point and Goodman/Birch both seem willing to pass out of the post. All three Smiths handle the ball well.
Why it could flop: All three Smiths have combined for exactly zero minutes at UNLV, and it’s unclear whether Kendall Smith will end up more as a point guard or shooting guard. The good news is all three Smiths should be back in 2014-15, so the coaching staff has time to go out and recruit a couple more of their namesakes so this can be a proper all-Smiths lineup.