Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 | 1 a.m.
The only way to succeed in dunk contests these days is with props. This is a lesson the Rebels know well.
UNLV’s dunk contest, the first event at Thursday’s Scarlet/Gray Showcase in the Thomas & Mack Center, was a three-man competition featuring all big men: freshmen Demetris Morant and Anthony Bennett and sophomore Khem Birch. Senior guard Anthony Marshall had to pull out with a mild wrist injury and other guys who considered entering the contest were wishing they had done so midway through when the misses started piling up.
“Now that I think about it I definitely could have done it,” freshman wing Savon Goodman said after the fact.
It wasn’t the prettiest dunking exhibition, that’s for sure, but when it came to a close everybody on the court and in the crowd was happy. Why? Props, of course.
Morant, who had considered jumping over Bishop Gorman 7-footer Stephen Zimmerman but thought better of it, capped the contest by leaping over, and a bit through, UNLV’s mascot Hey Reb. That turned out to be just a bonus, though, as it followed Bennett leaping over the giant Mike Moser “Mozilla” creature from The Rebellion.
All in all the kids did alright and here are a few of the breakout highlights including video when available:
Birch ended up getting lost in the shuffle during the dunk contest.
Overall he’s more of a power dunker, the same reason Goodman gave for holding himself out of the competition, so he was at a disadvantage from the beginning. His two-hand reverse (see above) was the highlight of his night because his second round dunk, with freshman Daquan Cook tossing it off the side of the backboard for Birch to finish with a windmill, never got off the ground.
As a Miami Heat fan might say, “Good job, good effort.”
Anthony Bennett from the stands
If you think about it this dunk may not have been all that impressive on its own. After all, the result would have been the same had Katin Reinhardt bounced the ball from the baseline.
But going into the stands — about 10 rows up in the aisle between sections 107 and 108 — added not only distance but a bit more timing to the pattern, and the end result looked very nice.
It was their third attempt that finally connected. Everybody was only supposed to get two chances each round but that rule was quickly thrown out. This was a night to celebrate the Rebels both past and present, not get bogged down in exactly how many attempts these kids needed.
The best part of the (admittedly poor) video of Morant’s final dunk attempt may be Bennett giving him the charge call at the end.
As you can tell by the photo, this wasn’t the cleanest dunk. Morant didn’t split his legs — a key to success, as you’ll see in the next slide — and Hey Reb took the brunt of Morant’s left leg on the way up.
Oh well, that’s the price of being a Division I mascot. Some days you’re going to placed in the way of danger, and occasionally that danger is going to kick you in the face.
All in all it was an OK but maybe a little disappointing night for Morant, who was the courtside favorite to win the contest. Instead that title went to another freshman.
Anthony Bennett over Mozilla
When Mozilla was brought out onto the court, Goodman said he had his doubts about Bennett’s success. Rice saw potential disaster in letting his star freshman jump over a cardboard version of his star junior.
“I figured that Mozilla would make a full recovery but I was nervous about Anthony Bennett,” Rice said. “What an unbelievable play that was.”
It all turned out OK as Bennett just barely got over Mozilla’s head and flushed the bounce pass from Katin Reinhardt. Members of The Rebellion knew beforehand this could happen but to Bennett it was all a surprise.
“I didn’t know what to do so I was just going along with the flow,” Bennett said.
All in all it turned out to be a pretty decent debut for the big man.