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Preview Links: 2004-05 Preview Top 144 Reviews Writer Picks Team/Conf Previews


Beginning Monday, June 21st, 2004 CHN began unveiling 144 Team previews in 144 Days. CHN ranked the nations top 144 teams, and is unveiling one per day leading up until the opening day of the 2004-05 Season.


Bookmark the 144 Teams in 144 Days home page, and check back each day to see which team is previewed next.


#32 UNLV Rebels

Mountain West

2003-04: 18-13, 7-7, 4th

2003-04 postseason: NIT


By Joel Welser


New head coach Lon Kruger stepped into a good situation at UNLV.  Thanks to Charlie Spoonhour, this Rebels squad is talented and ready to become a force again in the Mountain West.  Spoonhour, however, is out due to health reasons and Kruger is the lucky candidate to take over the Rebels.  With a trio of explosive seniors returning led by Odartey Blankson, UNLV should improve on their 7-7 conference record of a year ago.  A supporting cast of Romel Beck and Jerel Blassingame should get the Rebels thinking much bigger.


Who’s Out: Forwards J.K. Edwards and James Peters will leave an open spot next to Blankson in the frontcourt.  Edwards and Peters combined for nearly 18 points and ten rebounds during their senior campaigns.  Returnee Louis Amundson and a few newcomers will compete for those minutes.  Guard Demetrius Hunter played in all 31 games as a senior, scoring 7.1 points, 1.7 boards and 1.1 assists per game.


Who’s In: There are six solid players returning, but don’t be surprised if a couple of the seven newcomers get some starting time throughout the year.  The five junior college transfers will use their experience to see some quality minutes.  The frontcourt will see some help with power forward Dustin Villepigue and center Joel Anthony.  Both are 6-9 and tilt the scales around 235 pounds and will provide some big bodies and depth for Coach Kruger’s squad.  Juniors Robert Berkey, Ricky Morgan and Wilbur Williams step into the backcourt and will look to make an immediate impact.  The one to watch is point guard Ricky Morgan.  Morgan signed with Iowa State two years ago, but then transferred to Schoolcraft College in Michigan.  Morgan might challenge Blassingame for the starting job at point guard.  Either way, Morgan will get his chance to run the team, at least off the bench.  A couple freshmen are headed to UNLV but aren’t expected to make an immediate impact with a roster full of talented upperclassmen, but swingman Curtis Terry and guard Rene Rougeau will have some gifted players to watch and learn from until they get their opportunity. 


Who to Watch: UNLV has one more year of Odartey Blankson.  The 6-7 forward flirted with the NBA, but he’s back for bigger things.  Blankson can dominate the Mountain West and has consistently done just that.  Blankson scored under ten points just three times in 31 games last year, averaging 17.6 points per game.  His rebounding is even more impressive, averaging a conference high 10.2 boards a season ago.  Blankson will led this team again and if he has a great year, so will the Rebels.


Projected Conference Rank: A team with this much talent should be able to get 2nd place in the Mountain West.  Some newcomers will have to step up, but even the proven talent can carry UNLV to the upper echelon of the conference.


Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA


« Team #33 , Team #31  »


Email Joel Welser: jwelser_chn@ameritech.net

Chat About CHN's Top #144 Ranking: http://pub14.ezboard.com/fcollegehoopsnetfrm8

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