Sunday, Nov. 16, 2008 | 2:13 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Rob Miech discuss UNLV's ugly-but-successful afternoon in the Thomas & Mack Center, as the Rebels opened the 2008-09 regular season with a 65-60 victory over a short-handed San Diego squad. Plus, postgame sound from Lon Kruger, Wink Adams, René Rougeau and Tre' Von Willis.
- Opponent: Texas-Pan American
- Where: Thomas & Mack Center
- When: Tuesday, Nov. 18, 7:00 p.m.
- TV: None
- Radio: 1100 AM ESPN Radio
There were at least two prospective Rebels in the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday afternoon, and two who will be Rebels next season.
They watched UNLV raise its newest red banner, from last season’s Mountain West Conference tournament title, before a tough victory over San Diego.
Mojave High guard Anthony Marshall and Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft guard Justin Hawkins sent their signed letters of intent to UNLV at the end of the week.
The national weeklong early-signing period started Wednesday.
"It feels pretty good," Marshall said of being signed and sealed. "I finally feel like a part of the Rebel family. Walking around, everybody knows you, it feels good. Every home game that I'm able to be here, I'm gonna be here.
"I think I'm gonna come in as a two (guard), but in spurts play the one," he added. "As you can see, Oscar and Wink, they really don't have a set position. They're interchangeable."
UNLV expects to get a letter from Findlay College Prep power forward Carlos Lopez, bearing his mother’s signature from Puerto Rico, on Monday or Tuesday.
The other potential Rebels who watched Saturday’s game were Carson Desrosiers and Will Spradling.
Desrosiers, a 6-foot-10, 210-pound junior center from Lawrence (Mass.) Central Catholic High, was at Arizona State on Friday night and caught a plane for the Bay Area and Stanford tonight.
Rivals.com ranks him as a three-star prospect and reports that he has 15 scholarship offers, including Arizona State, Providence and Syracuse.
Spradling, a 6-3, 170-pound guard who plays at Overland Park (Kan.) Shawnee Mission South, has offers from UNLV and Kansas State, according to Rivals.
Wink getting dinged
Early in the second half, UNLV senior guard Wink Adams fell hard on his tailbone while driving hard to the basket.
He was in obvious pain as Tomchek tended to him. Rebels coach Lon Kruger put Kendall Wallace in for Adams, and Wallace hit one of two free throws.
Forty seconds later, in game time, Adams returned from the locker room with Tomchek and checked back into the game.
“I fell kinda hard,” Adams said. “It kinda brought back a memory of playing Wisconsin. That’s the first thing I thought about when I hit the floor.”
Two seasons ago, UNLV beat Wisconsin to advance to the Sweet 16, where the Rebels lost to Oregon. Against the Badgers, Adams fell on his back and his status for Oregon was questionable.
He played 31 minutes against the Ducks, going 2-for-11 from the field and finishing with six points and a team-best eight rebounds.
“I’ve got to ice it, stretch it out and see how it feels by Tuesday,” Adams said early Saturday night.
Adams said his right calf, which got kneed during the Washburn game Tuesday, still is sore. “But I’m gonna keep playing,” he said.
“He’ll have a target on his back all year,” said coach Lon Kruger. “He got himself in the best shape of his life, and he’ll need to be.”
A few weeks ago, freshman forward DeShawn Mitchell said he wanted to average two spectacular dunks a half this season. In practice, he’s a highlight reel.
But he did not play Saturday as San Diego gave UNLV a test, which didn’t allow Kruger to play Mitchell or 7-foot freshman Beas Hamga.
Mitchell went 0-for-2 from the field in Tuesday’s exhibition victory over Washburn.
And sophomore point guard Tre’Von Willis, who wanted to have a 4-1 assists-to-turnovers ratio this season, had an assist and two turnovers against the Toreros.
Willis might, however, have a new nickname. Someone suggested “Willis the Illest.” Asked about it, Willis paused.
“That sounds pretty good,” he said. “But my nickname is on my jersey – ‘Tre Tre.’ The Illest? It’s pretty nice. It’s definitely printable. It’ll look good on paper.”
Derrick Jasper started wearing a red jersey in practice a few days ago, but that didn’t signal a major jump in his rehabilitation schedule. He still isn’t practicing with the Rebels.
Until then, he mostly wore sweat pants and long-sleeved Rebels shirts.
Jasper transferred from Kentucky, where he had microfracture knee surgery before the 2007-08 season. He started 33 of 54 games in two seasons as a Wildcat.
At UNLV practices, he has only taken part in some drills in which he throws the ball inside from beyond the 3-point arc.
As the team stretches at the end of practice, he and Matt Shaw shoot free throws and jumpers. Jasper has an effortless 3-point shot.
“I love this arena,” he said. “It’s going to be a great place to play.”
Jaspser said he still is in the process of strengthening his left quadriceps. He does leg presses and extensions, among other routines, under trainer Dave Tomchek’s instruction.
He walks for 20 minutes for cardio work.
“I still have a long ways to go,” Jasper said. “In a month, I can start jogging. Then I’ll go from there. I’m getting closer every day. Dave Tomchek is doing a great job with me.