The Rebels’ transition from a half-court-oriented offense to Dave Rice’s up-tempo attack has been a bit awkward through two games. And there’s little doubt that there will be more bumps along the way as the players continue to get more familiar with their new coach’s system.
Former UNLV coach Lon Kruger put so much emphasis on defense that he simply didn’t want his players to make mistakes on the offensive end. Every possession was cherished because there were limited attempts on that end of the floor. Rice is the exact opposite. His full attention has been on implementing a style of play that embraces pushing the ball up the court. There have been glimpses of the fluid offense that Rice is seeking, but there have also been wild attempts that came with plenty of time on the shot clock and left fans shaking their heads.
Rice noted after Monday’s 71-67 victory over Nevada-Reno that he doesn’t want to change that style, even in the waning minutes of a game. There’s a method to his madness. Pushing the ball is a mindset that, especially in the early stages of its inception, shouldn’t be altered.
It’s Rice’s responsibility to get his players to understand that a running attack means to attack the opponent quickly; it doesn’t mean to rush to get off just any shot. But with UNLV’s “Let’s Run” marketing campaign, featuring billboards and other ads all over the Valley, the players could be feeling a little pressure to quick things into high gear.
Once that perception eases and Rice is able to convey his message, UNLV’s offense should start to truly take form. The talent is there. The coaches know what they want. Now, it’s all about finding the balance needed to be successful in that approach. –