Tuesday’s practice at the Mendenhall Center gave the Rebels big men a chance to shine, and they took advantage of it.
The session was open to the media, and it may have been the team’s most up-tempo practice to date. Sophomore center Khem Birch was one of the standouts, rebounding well and finishing with authority on the fast break. And freshman forward Anthony Bennett continued his impressive play, flashing his explosiveness in the open court and around the rim.
At one point during a full-court 5-on-5 scrimmage, Birch emphatically blocked a layup attempt to finish the drill. His teammates quickly mobbed him, led by Bennett.
Junior forward Mike Moser, the team’s veteran All-American candidate, was also on point. His mid-range jumper looked smooth as he continuously knocked down shots in the elbow-extended area.
As expert after expert continues to extoll the potential of the Rebels’ frontcourt, Tuesday’s practice may have provided a glimpse of things to come.
Scarlet & Gray Showcase set for Thursday
Practice had barely ended before talk turned to Thursday’s Scarlet & Gray Showcase. The free-admission event, which will be held at the Thomas and Mack Arena, will feature a legends’ game comprised of UNLV alums, a dunk competition, and a full-squad scrimmage.
The Scarlet & Gray Showcase also marks an unofficial beginning to the season, and with the Rebels sporting one of the most talented rosters in school history, the excitement level is high.
“You got some of the Top 100 players playing this year,” said senior guard Anthony Marshall. “You got some great transfers, incoming freshman, so it’s going to be fun. People have been talking about this since before [our Canada trip], so now that it’s finally here it just means that the season is right behind it.”
Coach Dave Rice is hoping it can be a learning experience for some of the team’s first-year players. With Thomas & Mack expected to be near capacity, it will be the first chance for UNLV fans to see the new guys, and vice-versa.
“There’s such a value when it’s an inter-squad game,” said Rice. “And every opportunity we have, particularly for our new guys, to play with the lights on and people in the seats is just a better opportunity to get ready for when the games count for real.”