At several points during Saturday’s loss at Wisconsin, many UNLV fans watching from home wondered: Where is Quintrell Thomas?
The Rebels’ junior forward did not get off of the bench for the first time in 44 games at UNLV. Since scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the season-opening victory over Grand Canyon, the Kansas transfer has had a tough time producing both on the glass and the offensive end, though the effort has been there throughout.
Following Monday’s practice at the Cox Pavilion, coach Dave Rice said that Thomas not playing against the Badgers shouldn’t be read into too much.
“On Saturday, and the whole season really, it’s really hard to play three guys at one spot, and we have three very capable (centers),” he started, referring to Thomas, Brice Massamba and Carlos Lopez. “I’ve played Carlos at (power forward), and I still plan to play Carlos some there. On Saturday, we were having a really hard time scoring the ball, and Chace was our best scorer, so I played him 36 minutes.
“I had planned to play Carlos more at (power forward), and Quintrell at (center), but when Chace was the only guy having any success scoring, I kept Chace on the floor and moved him over to (power forward). That was really all that happened with that. It was just a coach’s decision. Quintrell is not in the doghouse, there’s no issue there, and he can earn more minutes in practice. In that particular game, the other two guys were the guys I wanted to play in the game because I was playing Chace as the backup (power forward). That simple.”
It’s been a tough season for Thomas, to say the least. After averaging 6.7 points and 5.2 rebounds as a reserve last year and coming up huge in a few spots — most notably in a win at New Mexico — he’s struggled to be a reliable facilitator in the paint within Rice’s offense, which relies heavily on working the offense through the posts.
Still, his effort in practice has remained good, meaning that Rice is being sincere when he says that Thomas will have more opportunities ahead of him.