UNLV coaches stop practice in order to preach need for consistency

Tuesday practice could be looked at down the road as major learning experience for Rebels under Dave Rice


Sam Morris

UNLV basketball head coach Dave Rice motions to his players during practice Thursday, October 20, 2011.

A few months from now, if Dave Rice gets his wish, his UNLV men's basketball team will look back at what transpired mid-way through its Tuesday afternoon practice as a meaningful learning experience.

The Rebels were running a 10-minute, five-on-five scrimmage of sorts, which was broken up a few times in the opening minutes by the coaches pointing out poor effort or execution in certain situations. Rice had a consistent expression on his face throughout the drill that made it clear he was not liking what he saw.

About half-way through, Rice had seen enough, stopping play and saying "That's it, let's go meet."

The team and staff shuffled off quietly through the back door of the North Gym and into the Lied Complex, where it stayed for about 10 minutes.

No one other than the players and coaches will likely ever know what was said during the impromptu pow-wow, but the general message was clear.

"Today, we really didn't bring it like we should have," junior guard Anthony Marshall said. "That's in the past, so in order for us to be the team that we want to be, we can't have days like this. All we can do is think about today, look forward to tomorrow and not let it happen again."

Even the casual observer could sense a general malaise on the floor as the Rebels reconvened Tuesday following a day off to start the week.

It's well known by now that with the pace and intensity Rice and his staff want the Rebels displaying, that won't fly. Especially on the practice floor.

"We're a work in progress, we've got really good kids on our team who work hard and we've got a chance to be a really good team, but I think the challenge for every basketball team this time of year is practicing every day and trying to be as consistent as we can possibly be," Rice said. "It's a long season, and I think the teams that do the best job of being consistent and bringing a great effort every day are the ones that are successful at the end of the year.

"We talked about the fact that our pressure is about bringing it every day and working really hard, and everything else will take care of itself if we bring it every day and stay together."

Added senior guard Oscar Bellfield: "We just went inside the locker room, tried to get things back together. Once we all communicated and agreed that it wasn't good, that was a start right there."

After re-entering the gym, the team ran three sets of suicides, then completed the practice as scheduled, displaying an effort that showed that the message was indeed received.

Once it all ended and the team huddled, assistants Stacey Augmon and Justin Hutson each took turns talking to the team, reminding them of what they demand from them each day at practice.

Overall, it was an intriguing look at some of the new staff's motivational tactics.

The reasons for the poor display to start Tuesday's practice could have ranged anywhere from fatigue to the initial buzz of the season officially starting 10 days ago having worn off. Whatever it was, the Rebels got a strong reminder that they shouldn't let it happen again.

"We definitely have to get prepared and mentally push ourselves," Bellfield said. "This is something new and something that we have to get accustomed to. That's what we're trying to do. At times, there are going to be spurts where it's not as smooth as we want it to be, so that's where we have to pick each other up and concentrate more."

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  1. Glad to hear that the players are responding to the coaching staff when things aren't going well. This is a great sign of what's to come.

  2. UNLV "culture" of success in basketball seems to have have now transcended the Tarkanian era. The team and the leadership needs to build upon the idea that UNLV basketball is a nationally-ranked program.

    Thank goodness that the team is in the capable hands of David Rice, a person who knows what UNLV basketball is all about. I perceive the players understand this, meaning the brand equity of UNLV hoops is strong.

    If Bobby Hauck has the intestinal fortitude, he will eventually put UNLV in the same place. My hope is that Jim Livengood has the ability to withstand the 'slings and arrows' that come with bad years to overcome some rough seasons of UNLV football.

    Go Rebs!