Rice taking long look at Rebels’ big men

Less than a week remains before the UNLV basketball team tips off the Dave Rice era with an exhibition game Tuesday night against Washburn. The Rebels’ starting lineup is relatively set besides one position: center. Three players are currently vying for the spot—senior Brice Massamba, junior Quintrell Thomas and sophomore Carlos Lopez.

Thomas and Massamba got most of the playing time last season, but all three have looked promising during preseason workouts. As of now, Lopez and Massamba look to have the edge for Tuesday night, but Rice isn’t tipping his hand just yet.

“It’s still early. We are still mixing up the teams a little bit,” Rice said of his lineup. “We are giving guys different opportunities with different combinations. A lot of that sometimes is based on the chemistry of our team, so there are a lot of things that go into deciding how that works. To have that depth [at center] is a positive for us, and they are all working really hard.”

Lopez and Massamba have also been working at power forward, giving the Rebels the option to play two big men at the same time (a strategy former UNLV coach Lon Kruger seemed unwilling to utilize). Such a lineup would be ideal against opponents such as Wisconsin and Illinois, which are traditionally strong in the post.