UNLV Rebels (Last Year: 25-9, 11-5 in Mountain West)
2011-12 Projected Depth Chart:
F/C: Quintrell Thomas (Jr)/Brice Massamba (Sr)
F: Mike Moser (So)/Carlos Lopez (So)
SF: Chace Stanback (Sr)/Karam Mashour (So)
SG: Oscar Bellfield (Sr)/Kendall Wallace (Sr)/Justin Hawkins (Jr)
PG: Anthony Marshall (Jr)/Reggie Smith (So)
Gone: G-Derrick Jasper, G-Tre'Von Willis
First-year head coach Dave Rice inherits a veteran UNLV team that should compete for the Mountain West Championship this season. With seven of their nine rotation players back from a year ago, the Rebels have plenty of experience on their roster. Add in the return of an injured player and a pair of transfers and the depth of this team will be their strength.
The team's top returning scorer, Chace Stanback has been suspended the first two games of the season after pleading guilty to a DUI, which is really nothing more than a slap on the hand since the only regular season game he will miss is against Grand Canyon. Stanback is a versatile wing who can play mutliple positions and is a solid defender.
With Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield back, the backcourt should be able to replace Derrick Jasper and Tre'Von Willis without missing much of a beat. Bellfield has been a major contributor since arriving in Vegas and became more of a scorer last season than a distributor since UNLV had several players capable of running the point. That includes Marshall, who will take over the point guard spot this season and is also a lockdown defender who fits perfectly with the Rebels' aggressive style of play.
Kendall Wallace returns after sitting out all of last season due to a torn ACL. He is a three-point specialist who will provide UNLV with scoring punch off the bench. Justin Hawkins adds even more depth at guard as will Marquette transfer Reggie Smith who becomes eligible after the first semester. He is another active guard who will pester opponents with his on-the-ball defense.
The frontcourt receives a boost with the addition of UCLA transfer Mike Moser, who figures to slide into the starting lineup right away. Quintrell Thomas, Brice Massamba, and Carlos Lopez provide size inside. That trio rotated minutes inside last year, and that will likely be the case again as Moser and Stanback figure to eat up the minutes at power forward.
Another transfer is on the way in former USC Trojan wing Bryce Jones. Per NCAA transfer rules, he must sit out this season but will be able to practice with the team.
Rice has said that he plans on putting the Runnin' back in the Runnin' Rebels this season. They have the athleticism to get up and down the floor in a hurry, but once again UNLV will rely on forcing turnovers with their smothering defense.
Player to Watch: Mike Moser, SF
The 6-8 Moser rode the bench in his lone season at UCLA and is looking for a fresh start in Sin City. He has a good combination of size, strength, and athleticism, and can also knock down shots from the perimeter. With a balanced offensive attack, Moser could be the factor for the Rebels this season. If he can be a 10-point, 6-rebound a night sort of player, that will make the Rebels an even more dangerous and complete team.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/25 vs. USC (Las Vegas Invitational)
11/26 vs. North Carolina/South Carolina (Las Vegas Invitational)