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Rebels basketball:

Possibilities abound: UNLV has a plethora of lineup options for 2012-13

UNLV vs. New Mexico - Jan. 21 2012

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV’s Anthony Marshall, left, and Mike Moser wait for a rebound with New Mexico guard Phillip McDonald during their Mountain West Conference game Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack Center. UNLV won the game 80-63.

The months leading up to UNLV’s first practice will feel like an eternity for a lot of people, coach Dave Rice included.

Last week he said he would get the team on the court that day if he could, and this was before Anthony Bennett — the No. 7 overall player in the class of 2012 — committed to the Rebels. Now the sweltering summer days will take on the kind of slow, dragging feeling usually reserved for kids counting down the days until Christmas.

So to help pass the time, we thought we would take a look at some potential lineups the Rebels could play with in 2012-13.

The city’s anticipation for this season is predicated on the enormous potential this team has, and even more exciting is that the Rebels look, at least, like they could win in a variety of ways. Speed will always be the preferred style, but this roster looks to be more suited to adapt its game and take what the defense is giving them.

The roster could change again as UNLV has one scholarship still available and UConn transfer Roscoe Smith, a forward who could play immediately with two years left, is expected to make an official visit this week. So, have fun with this and feel free to post your own favorite lineup in the comments.

Note: Bryce Jones will now go by Bryce Dejean-Jones, his legal name.

    • Pre-Khem(istry)

      Anthony Marshall

      Bryce Dejean-Jones

      Mike Moser

      Anthony Bennett

      Carlos Lopez

      There’s at least a decent chance this will be the starting lineup when UNLV takes the court for the first time in 2012. Certainly not a guarantee, but I’d be very surprised if it’s not at least 80 percent accurate.

      Positive: Very balanced; four guys can shoot the 3; versatile enough to try to play fast or slow; strong rebounding with Bennett, Moser and Marshall, who had five rebounds per game last year.

      Negative: Obviously would like to have Birch as an option at center; only Marshall and Moser have played significant minutes in real games together; can Dejean-Jones handle the ball well enough to help out Marshall?; Lopez must improve his rebounding to make up for Moser being on the wing.

      Rating: 4 out of 5

    • Athletic

      Marshall

      Dejean-Jones

      Moser

      Bennett

      Khem Birch

      The toughest thing with this group is just picking the most athletic players at each position. You could make a case for at least three other guys to be in this lineup, which is a good problem to have and one of the many reasons people are so excited about this team.

      Positive: With arms extended, Moser/Bennett/Birch nearly cover the court from sideline to sideline. Imagine trying to score against that; against most teams, they would have superior athletes at at least three positions; four guys can extend the defense with perimeter shots; the intimidation factor is very high.

      Negative: Three new pieces, although Birch and Dejean-Jones already have UNLV practice experience; could this group play at a slower pace if necessary?; is too much athleticism actually a negative thing? (No, why would we even ask that?)

      Rating: 4.5 out of 5

    • Track team

      Marshall

      Reggie Smith

      Justin Hawkins

      Moser

      Birch

      This is arguably the fastest player at each position, and while it’s not the most practical, it would be fun to see this lineup in the open court.

      Positive: Opponents would have to send multiple defenders back in order to slow the fast break, which would open up UNLV’s rebounding; this is also close to UNLV’s best defensive lineup; three capable ball-handlers.

      Negative: Not much of a post offense as Birch is a work in progress and Moser wants to play on the perimeter; three guards means an opponent could have a big size advantage at small forward; Smith, the fastest player on the team, needs to prove that he’s not a liability with turnovers.

      Rating: 3 out of 5

    • Half-court

      Hawkins

      Katin Reinhardt

      Bennett

      Quintrell Thomas

      Birch

      UNLV’s offense last year could never consistently rely on feeding the post for a bucket. That shouldn’t be a problem with this group.

      Positive: Three potential weapons in the post; Bennett and/or Thomas could bull their way to the basket if the opponent doesn’t have two guys of that size; good inside-out potential with jump shooters on the outside.

      Negative: The lane could get crowded as the bigs try to stay out of each other’s way; lack of experience with three new players and two bench players; questionable mid-range game could allow defense to pile defenders in the paint.

      Rating: 3 out of 5

    • Refuse to lose

      Marshall

      Reinhardt

      Dejean-Jones

      Bennett

      Lopez

      Whether you’re playing basketball or Monopoly, these are the guys most likely to pull out all the stops — or in the case of Monopoly, throw the board — in order to avoid a loss. Slots 1-3 definitely belong in this category, but 4 and 5 are tossups among a few different guys.

      Positive: Mean streak that UNLV often lacked last season; balanced lineup with two versatile big men and four possible perimeter shooters; at least three guys not afraid to take the last shot.

      Negative: Two freshmen and only one returning starter; perhaps too many guys trying to take the last shot.

      Rating: 4 out of 5

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

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