Analysis:

Rebels could have lineup options for different styles of play next season

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV players cheer during their second round game against Cal at the NCAA Basketball Tournament Thursday, March 21, 2013 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.

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

Juniors: Khem Birch, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Roscoe Smith, Jelan Kendrick, DeVille Smith

Sophomores: Daquan Cook, Savon Goodman, Katin Reinhardt

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:

Opening-day starters

Kendrick

Reinhardt

Dejean-Jones

Roscoe Smith

Birch

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.

Full-court press

DeVille Smith

Dejean-Jones

Roscoe Smith

Goodman

Wood

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.

Twin towers

Kendall Smith

Reinhardt

Roscoe Smith

Lopez-Sosa

Birch

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

DeVille Smith

Kendall Smith

Roscoe Smith

Goodman

Birch

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.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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  1. Nice blend of experience and new players. I watched UConn during their title run but I do not remember much of Roscoe Smith so I cannot evaluate his game. However I still believe Savon Goodman is our guy at the four if Moser does not return. His tenacity, toughness, athleticism, and a nose for the ball are things that we really needed this year. I understand that Savon's offense is a bit like watching Moses Scurry underneath but he is so valuable in other areas. Between he and Birch, guys will think twice before charging down the lane to score. I still am not quite sure why Moser would leave. I cannot believe that he would be drafted after the terrible year he had. It would be a big mistake not to come back for a healthy senior year IMO.

  2. I can only see the first lineup happening. Kendrick will compete for point guard, but I see Deville Smith winning. I can't see Wood playing the five. Even though he's around 6'11", I can honestly see him playing some small forward. As for the twin towers lineup, I don't see Kendall Smith playing next season. I think he'll redshirt. Finally, I only see two Smiths on the court at the same time.

  3. And with all of these options UNLV still has a horrible coach who will magically find a way to ruin it all by an early exit in the MWC as well as Big Dance. It is pointless to write articles like this when we have a coach who has no idea what he is doing.

  4. If all the juniors stay for their senior season and you potentially add 5 star recruit Dwanyne Morgan... Wow, watch out.

  5. Uhhhhh I t better get better than this.....new Mexico returns their whole team!

  6. It's pointless to continue commenting on the coaching when you have to wait until midway through next season to even see the slightest possible chance of a coaching change. Turn off the broken record.

  7. RebelJedi - Not just New Mexico to watch out for, SDSU will return everyone except Stephens, Tapley and Rahon(Franklin declaring would be a big blow but I have not heard anything), and Boise St returns everybody like UNM. Conference will be strong once again.

  8. That is unless Tony Snell does indeed leave. That would be a significant loss.

  9. I think we are kidding ourselves with UNLV and the MT West next year. The Mt West is a very mediocre conference. The "Big Dance" showed that MT West teams are slow and cannot shoot 3's under pressure. These teams need to add more Big East and SEC/ACC teams to its preseason schedule to see how good they really are.

  10. @nyny - UNLV has Arizona, Louisville, and I believe Illinois in their out of conference schedule next year. They're also going to play in one of the prestigious tournaments during the out of conference season. The others teams in the Mountain West may lose in March next year because of a lack of talent, but that won't be why the Rebels lose.

  11. Phillips - In one of his coaching shows he did say that Illinois was coming to the Mack next year. But I also thought he said that the Louisville series would not start back up again until 2014-2015?

  12. Can UNLV hire a free throw shooting coach? maybe Grg

  13. If Moser returns and plays like he did in his first Rebel season, the team will be in great shape to compete. BDJ and Reinhardt will start as well, with 5 spot going to Birch and a real tossup between Goodman, Morgan and Roscoe Smith. It's another embarrassment of riches, hopefully without egos. Who will redshirt? Maybe Walker. who's been out of action for a long time. It's fun to predict, for sure, but playing time will be earned and I look forward to a better season this time around.

  14. Morgan won't be on the team until 2014. He's only a junior.

  15. @GoBruins do you have anything better to do then commenting on how horrible of a coach Dave Rice is? Perhaps you should be more concerned with your own team's coaching situation. FYI, how pathetic of a scenario will it look like when the best mid-major coaches out there (Brad Stevens Butler, and Shaka Smart VCU) turn down UCLA to stay at their own schools. Maybe you can give Jim Harrick a call to see if the will come back?

    Dave Rice will improve as a head coach, I truly believe. 95% of the schools out there (and their fans) would kill to have a 2nd year head coach with 50+ wins in two seasons, and two NCAA tournament appearances to boot.

  16. Savon Goodman makes Moses Scurry look like Pete Maravich. Sorry- I love Goodmans energy and desire but to me he is the perfect red shirt candidate so he can spend a year working on a semblance of an offensive game....or play tight end for Hauck!

  17. @rose1414 (aj foyt) - I highly doubt that Savon Goodman redshirts. A lot of his teammates think he will the most improved player on the team. I think that Kendall Smith is the most likely redshirt out of any of the Rebels. I would imagine that two more would redshirt.

  18. I have seen Kendal Smith play in person this year- he lives in my area. Kid can flat out play- WAY more talented than Goodman. He, however, does not have Goodman's good attitude- seems kind of like a punk- unfortunately. Hope he grows up in college.
    My point is that Goodman SHOULD redshirt (like Cook should have this year) because he could use the year off to develop skills he is lacking right now-bigtime.

  19. Goodman redshirting? No way, when he can contribute. Also, what pre-season toruney is UNLV in next year? and yes, Louisivlle does not come here till 2014-15. As for Kendall Smith, he's only a 3 star recruit, so he's the best redshirt candiate IMO. I a not so sure about redshiring Walker, he's Reinhardt 2.0 and we need a pure shooter and Walker is one.
    What I would do:
    D. Smith
    Reinhardt
    BDJ
    Mike Moser/R. Smith
    Khem Birch
    Rotation:
    Goodman
    Kendrick
    Wood
    R. Smith (if Moser stays)
    Mins in 1st half only:
    Morant
    Cook
    Walker
    Redshirt:
    K. Smith
    Bench warmer:
    Cheaney
    Rushman

  20. Ohhhhh goody goody, all kinds of line ups. Uhhhh hello you still have Phillips ,, I mean duh duh duh Dave Rice as a ca ca ca Coach. yah so so so dere.

  21. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - You're a debbie downer and a troll. I'm glad you have no personal involvement with the program.

  22. If I did Rice wouldn't be there, Reggie would. that would perty much put you out of a job Phillips , or whoever you are.

  23. Does anyone know Rebels non conference schedule. I have seen UCSB Illinois and Arizona. What tourney are Rebels playing in??