#57 UNLV Men's Basketball 2013-2014 Preview

UNLV Runnin' Rebels

2013-2014 Overall Rank: #57
Conference Rank: #5 Mountain West

UNLV Team Page#57 UNLV Men's Basketball 2013-2014 PreviewBuy UNLV Basketball Tickets

UNLV returns to the Mountain West Conference and will be welcoming some new blood this season. Turnover is occurring all around the nation in college basketball these days and the MWC is not exempt. Third place finishers a year ago, the Rebels will now have to deal with WAC transfers Utah State and San Jose State. While San Jose State is no powerhouse, finishing 9-20 last season, Utah State brings along a tournament pedigree with it. Along with perennial power New Mexico and others, the Mountain West is losing its mid-major luster, perhaps to the detriment of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

2012-13 Record: 25-10, 10-6
2012-13 Postseason: NCAA Tournament second round
Coach: Dave Rice
Coach Record: 51-19 at UNLV, 51-19 overall

Who’s Out:
The big, gaping hole in the Rebels' roster for the 2013-2014 season comes in the form of the NBA's number one overall draft pick. Forward Anthony Bennett left school after his freshman season. It ended up being quite a fine decision for the young man but it sets UNLV back. Bennett led the team in scoring, averaging close to 60 percent more points per game than his next closest teammate. He also led the club in rebounds, made free throws and was second in blocks. To make matters worse, the team's second leading scorer and leading assist man, Anthony Marshall, was a senior. The two Anthonys, one in his first and only collegiate season, the other a three year contributor, both moved on and took much of UNLV's production along with them. If that was all, it would be bad but able to be overcome. However, Katin Reinhardt (second on the team in minutes while averaging double figures scoring) decided to transfer to USC, citing disagreements with Coach Rice in usage and style of play. To top it all off, adding insult to injury, 2011-2012 conference All-American Mike Moser is moving on to the University of Oregon. Moser was awful as a junior last season but the man averaged a double-double while shooting 45 percent from the floor in his first season as a Rebel. He will be sorely missed, as will the rest of these men. And oh yeah, rotation players Justin Hawkins and Quintrell Thomas, who played in a combined 67 games last year, were both seniors.

Who’s In:
Essentially six of Rice's top eight players are out. For a third year head coach, this is...less than ideal. Although expectations were not met last season considering all that talent, it is hard to think this team will be anything but worse this coming year. The slack will need to be picked up by the incoming freshmen, as well as guard Bryce Dejean-Jones and forward Khem Birch. Aiding the two returning Rebels will be a couple of well-traveled transfers. Forward Roscoe Smith is eligible to play this season after coming over from Connecticut and sitting out in 2012-2013. The long and slender three man was an important contributor on the Huskies' National Championship squad his freshman year. The following season his minutes were chopped a bit and his play suffered. He comes to UNLV though as an experienced D-1 player ready to contribute for a team suddenly desperate for leadership. The other new transfer took a more winding road than Smith. Six foot, six inch guard Jelan Kendrick was a top high school recruit. His talent is not up for debate. However, he was kicked off the Memphis basketball team before he even played a game; he was benched for the conference tournament and postseason NIT at Ole Miss after an incident in their regular season finale. Now he comes to UNLV in a situation littered with holes where he could thrive if he gets his mind right.

Who to Watch:
While Bryce Dejean-Jones and Jelan Kendrick could be characterized as chuckers, and Roscoe Smith is more of a stretch forward who faces up, Khem Birch is going to be the man who needs to consistently score inside for this team. Even if his post-up game is not superb, the Pitt transfer shot over 56 percent from the floor in his first season as a Runnin' Rebel. With the uncertainty surrounding guard play on this squad moving forward, and all the moving pieces coming in and out through transfers, it may be up to Birch to become the team's presence: someone who controls the paint on both sides of the floor. Last season, in limited minutes, starting just half of UNLV's games, Birch led the team in blocks by a healthy margin and was second in offensive rebounds. If this trend continues once Birch is playing every game, UNLV will be in much better shape.

Final Projection:
The Mountain West Conference has gotten a bit harder. More importantly however is that UNLV has gotten worse. Coach Rice and the Rebels have relied on transfer students. Smith and Kendrick are two more who will play this season; Birch was one who played last season and is back for another year. However, the transfer has also bit them back this time with the departures of Mike Moser and Katin Reinhardt. Combined with the early departure of Anthony Bennett and the graduations of a number of other main contributors, the Rebels have lost so much production from their NCAA tournament team. It is not even clear who the starters will be going into the season now. How much better will Birch get? Is Roscoe Smith good enough? Will Kendrick give this team anything other than trouble? There are more questions than answers for this squad moving into the start of the season.

Projected Postseason Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:
Daquan Cook, Sophomore, Guard, 0.5 points per game
Bryce Dejean-Jones, Junior, Guard, 10.3 points per game
Jelan Kendrick, Junior, Guard, DNP last season
Roscoe Smith, Junior, Forward, DNP last season
Khem Birch, Junior, Forward, 7.2 points per game

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.3 (79th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 63.0 (80, 5)
Field-Goal Percentage: 43.6 (157, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 38.9 (19, 1)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.5 (130, 4)  
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (214, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 70.3 (152, 6)
Rebound Margin: 6.4 (18, 2)
Assists Per Game: 16.1 (10, 1)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (224, 9)

Madness 2014 NBA Draft Rankings:
#63 Khem Birch
#84 Mike Moser

Madness 2013 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#48 Christian Wood


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