Starting with the second half of the Loyola Marymount game, UNLV has been showing clear signs of improvement. Less one-on-one, more ball movement, the emergence of Marcus Banks and Lou Kelly, and the consistency of Dalron Johnson in the post give Rebel fans reason to hope for a strong showing in the MWC this year - beginning January 5th vs. Wyoming at the Thomas & Mack Center. This is a very hard team to figure out, but we'll try…Here is our list of opinions/notes thus far:
Where better to start than with Marcus Banks. In a single word: WOW. After seeing him numerous times at Dixie JC his freshman and sophomore years, he is proving to be even better than expected. He finished the 2001 year with 4 consecutive career scoring highs (finishing with 31 vs. ODU). It appears that nobody in the Mountain West will be able to keep up with his quickness and ability to get to the rim. Without Marcus, the Rebels would only have 3 or 4 wins right now. UNLV finally has a guy, when the scoring droughts happen, they can go to for a bucket or penetration and dish. He also leads the conference in steals. Marcus is the leader and the play maker needed to be a very good team.
Dalron - A much better player when he stays in the post, rather than settling for the 18-foot jumpers. He finished with 14 rebounds vs. ODU, and that will need to continue for UNLV to be successful. Expect many double-doubles from him the remainder of this season.
Lou Kelly - Exploded vs. Texas draining three after three, showing he really can score like we all heard about. His offense still remains a bit inconsistent, and his defense is average at best (though he has been playing hard). His offense is desperately needed to go along with Marcus and Dalron.
2 guard spot - Jevon Banks is making a case for more minutes with his energy and quickness. In the open court/pressure style of game, he flourishes, but in the half court it's not the same story. He did hit a huge 3 during the late run vs. ODU, but Rebel fans still hold their breath when he pulls the J. Booker, well he's still Booker - not a lot of ability, but he plays hard. His minutes will continue to go down as the year goes on. Lafonte - good shooter, but not very quick and can't create his own shot. Ernest Turner - has played more following the public crying about playing time by his guardian Rick Barrett. ET still has a long way to go before deserving extended minutes, though his offense is needed.
"Big" guys - Richardson continues to bring energy and athleticism which UNLV clearly needs, especially on defense and on the glass. Chris knows his role and seems to be accepting it quite well. Omari - great kid with limited ability, doesn't play with that "mean" streak needed from a center. Amundson - plays his tail off every minute he's on the floor, and deserves more minutes at the center position.
The positives: Spoon and staff seem to be getting a better feel for the players and the rotation, and how to use Marcus Banks. Marcus has really come to life, and right now is the best player in the MWC…let's hope it continues as he can still get better. Ball movement and patience on offense - this is key for this team when the fast break isn't available. Lou Kelly's shooting and Dalron's all around game have also been very key so far this season. Losing Jamal Holden was very good news and will open up another scholarship for next season. The free throw shooting appears to be improving, which is always important.
The negatives: Rebounding, especially defensive needs MAJOR work. UNLV has
just been horrible as of late under the defensive glass allowing 20 offensive
rebounds to Texas, and a ton of second chances to Old Dominion. Omari, Louis,
Dalron, and Richardson ALL have to be tougher in the paint against opposing
centers and forwards.