UNLV 2010 NCAA Tournament Preview

    
March 14th, 2010
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UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

Mountain West Conference (25-8, 11-5)

 

Big Wins: 1/9 at New Mexico (74-62), 1/13 SDSU (76-66), 3/12 BYU (70-66)

Bad Losses: 12/25 vs USC (56-67), 1/16 Utah (69-73), 2/17 at Utah (61-66)

Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Second Round loss to Kansas

Coach: Lon Kruger (14-11 in 11 NCAA appearances)

 

Why They Can Surprise:

UNLV has one of the best turnover margins in the nation and all those extra possessions have made them difficult to beat. Tre’Von Willis is the catalyst of not just the turnover margin, but the entire team on both ends of the floor. Willis dishes out 3.4 assists per game and is one of four players who average at least one steal per contest. But Willis is also the team’s top scorer. While his outside shooting leaves something to be desired, Willis will use his 6-4 frame to attack the basket and he does so with ease.

 

Oscar Bellfield does a majority of the ballhandling and dishes out a team high 4.8 assists. With Bellfield on the ball, it allows Willis to work off the ball and be a more effective scorer. Bellfield is not a bad scorer in his own right and averages nearly ten points per game. Kendall Wallace and Anthony Marshall help with the assist-to-turnover ratio too. Wallace is a fine scorer off the bench and Marshall is a solid defender who just needs to learn to stop shooting.

 

Why They Can Disappoint:

The problem with UNLV is in the frontcourt. Chace Stanback is a wing who is usually forced to play at the four spot. While he is a fine rebounder and a capable scorer inside and out, he lacks the physicality to go up against some power forwards around the nation. Brice Massamba is the big body under the basket at 6-10 and 240 pounds. He is not much of a scorer or rebounder and will not play too many minutes, but he is usually in the starting lineup due to his size. Darris Santee is one of the better rebounding forwards on the team and Matt Shaw can stretch out the defense with his outside shooting ability, but this is a frontcourt that lacks a consistent scorer in the paint and a major shot blocking threat.

 

Who To Watch:

Despite the shortcomings in the frontcourt, UNLV is not a bad rebounding team thanks to Willis and fellow guard Derrick Jasper. Jasper is another quality ballhandler who has the size to help out on the glass. However, he missed all of February with a sprained MCL and his return to the lineup has been a slow process. Before the injury he was averaging 6.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game and the Runnin’ Rebels will need him back in that form come tournament time if they hope to make a deep run.

 

Probable Starters:

Oscar Bellfield, Sophomore, Guard, 9.2 ppg, 4.8 apg

Tre’Von Willis, Junior, Guard, 17.3 ppg, 3.4 apg

Anthony Marshall, Freshman, Guard, 5.2 ppg, 1.8 apg

Chace Stanback, Sophomore, Forward, 10.7 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Darris Santee, Senior, Forward, 4.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg

 

Key Roleplayers:

Justin Hawkins, Freshman, Guard, 3.4 ppg, 1.4 rpg

Derrick Jasper, Junior, Guard, 6.7 ppg, 2.9 apg, 4.9 rpg

Steve Jones, Senior, Guard, 1.6 ppg, 1.2 rpg

Brice Massamba, Sophomore, Center, 4.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg

Matt Shaw, Junior, Forward, 6.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg

Kendall Wallace, Junior, Guard, 6.9 ppg, 1.1 apg

 

By the Numbers:

Scoring Offense: 74.4 (66th in nation, 3rd in conference)

Scoring Defense: 63.9 (60, 3)

Field-Goal Percentage: 46.3 (47, 3)

Field-Goal Defense: 40.0 (38, 1)

Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 6.8 (97, 4)

Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (213, 5)

Free-Throw Percentage: 71.9 (75, 3)

Rebound Margin: -0.5 (210, 5)

Assists Per Game: 16.5 (12, 1)

Turnovers Per Game: 11.5 (31, 2)

 

 

Follow Joel Welser's Postseason Capsules & College Basketball Previews on Twitter @Joel_Welser and on his Facebook page. Joel will be back in June for his annual Top 144 Teams in 144 Days preview on CollegeHoops.net

 

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