UNLV hoops notebook: A change in the warmup routine

The Rebel Room

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UNLV vs. Wyoming

Rene Rougeau dunks over Adam Waddell of Wyoming Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Rebels beat Wyoming 83-66. Launch slideshow »

Box score

The Layup Line Fiasco won’t soon be forgotten among UNLV players.

Wednesday night in Fort Collins, Colo., the Rebels warmed up in a most unusual way. They laughed. They cajoled. The dunked. They acted as if they were about to play New Jersey Technical Institute.

And the Rams upended them, 71-69.

What UNLV took offense to, at Texas-El Paso and Louisville, it perpetrated in Fort Collins.

It’s been an issue among the Rebels and coaches, a topic of how not to play the game over the past few days.

“We definitely won’t be warming up like that ever again,” said senior power forward Joe Darger. “We went out there and had a little too much time on our hands, I think, kind of messing around before the game.

“That’s not a good way to warm up. I wouldn’t necessarily blame it on that. But we came back today more focused, did little things in the game … we got rebounds and loose balls, all the extra possessions we could get.”

Peter Gabriel, anyone?

Wyoming has an interesting good-luck charm this season -– a 3-foot sledgehammer with a sizeable steel head.

One Cowboy held it as Wyoming jogged out for pregame warmups and left it standing on its head in front of the UNLV bench.

Quickly, it was moved behind the Cowboys' bench.

“It’s a team symbol,” said a Wyoming graduate assistant coach. “A toughness thing. It’s what we want to stand for.”

What’s it like traveling with the thing?

“You have no idea,” he said.

After scoring a game-high 21 points, Cowboys senior guard Sean Ogirri was asked about the hammer.

“It’s about rebounding,” he said. “I guess we didn’t do that tonight. We have to get better.”

UNLV won the battle of the boards, 44-33. The Rebels, who grabbed half of their rebounds under their own glass, have won that category in half of their past eight games.

That’s some improvement for the team with the worst rebounding margin in the Mountain West Conference.

But back to the sledgehammer.

“It’s real tough,” Ogirri said of getting the thing on planes. “I mean, I don’t deal with it. It’s too heavy.”

Now it can be told

Winning reminds a team how to have fun.

In a media interview room, Darger was asked what he would ask senior guard Wink Adams if he were an interviewer.

Ask him about his middle name, Darger said.

Adams laughed.

“I have no idea. I don’t know,” he said when asked about Javinski, his middle name. “My grandma came up with the name. It’s an old school name, I guess. I’ve got to live with it. Can’t change it.

“It would hurt her feelings.”

He laughed a bit and left the room with Darger. After a few feet, he playfully hugged and pushed Darger for spilling that one.

Free throws

Larry Hanni, UNLV walk-on guard Todd Hanni’s grandfather, drove to Las Vegas from Indiana this week with his wife and will spend a month watching the Rebels. He retired last summer after 50 years in education and he has been a timer at Indianapolis Colts games for 25 years … the Rebels avoided a three-game losing streak, which would have been their first since losing five in a row early in 2005-06, coach Lon Kruger’s second season. In his first, UNLV had a four-game losing streak … over the past three seasons, the Rebels are 14-3 after defeats. Of course, that doesn’t include season-ending losses in the NCAA tournament.

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  1. Where were the coaches when the players were acting like idiots, showboating instead of warming up focused on the CSU game?